Good eating is about following the 80/20 rule. It is just not possible to eat right all of the time, but it is entirely possible to eat extremely well most of the time. Here is some food for thought.
Things to steer clear of or consider more closely
‘Fat free’ or ‘gluten free’
The problem with anything that is ‘free from’ normally means that the product needs to be padded out with stabilisers, emulsifiers, preservatives, additives and sugars to be palatable and look ok. Maybe one day I’ll write a whole article about processed foods but the short version is that they play havoc with your natural gut flora, and often contain synthetic additives that may have endocrine disrupting and carcinogenic effects. Emulsifiers may be partially responsible for digestive issues, eg constipation, bloating and diarrhoea. Preservatives have been linked with allergic reactions, headaches and migraines and hyperactivity in children to name a few. Choose products with the fewest amount of ingredients on the box.
Popular when watching calories, rice cakes are very high on the glycemic index with a GI of over 70; – a measure of how quickly a food raises blood sugar, so your blood sugars rocket and then drop rapidly. They actually make you feel hungry more of the time, so can have the effect of encouraging you to eat more. An alternative are oatcakes. They raise blood sugar more slowly, keeping you feeling fuller for longer – even better if you add some high protein peanut butter.
Despite what you may see on Instagram, nutritionists don’t drink their fruit, they eat it. Some of the ‘healthiest’ shop bought or freshly made juices contain more sugar than a can of soda. Eating fruit provides the added benefit of fibre – much needed for the gut and slowing the rate at which sugar gets absorbed into your bloodstream. Vegetable juice is a better choice, ideally home made. A commercial ‘veg’ juice can contain high amounts of fruit sugar. Try cucumber, celery, lemon and ginger, but again remember the fibre, so a blended ‘smoothie’ may be even better. Eat your food, don’t drink it.
This used to be a fashionable low carb sweet option, low on the glycemic index and ‘natural’. Unfortunately it is high in fructose, too much leading to insulin resistance, weight gain and even fatty liver. I can’t really recommend any alternatives, but at a push, stevia is the lesser of the sweetener evils. As for the agave, stick to the tequilla version only!
Some milk alternatives
That trendy barista oat milk you like? Take a good look at the label. Stabilisers, acidity regulators and seed oils are there to make it foam but in return can give you IBS symptoms. Some brands also add sugars to sweeten the milk. If you need to ditch the dairy, try Plenish, Rude Health or Rebel Mylk, all of which contain the very minimum of ingredients.
“Heart Healthy” Spreads
In our fridge, we have butter and we have ‘olive oil’ spread (less than 20% olive oil). Guess which one the nutritionist eats? Take a good look at the ingredients listed. Bean and seed oils are extracted by industrial processes at very high temperatures using solvents to extract the oil, which is then deodorised (because it smells awful), then bleached, then chemicals added to give it colour. Those “heart healthy” spreads then have chemical treatment added to make the oil hard but spreadable. Industrial seed oils raise our omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratios, characteristic of a western diet and linked to many chronic inflammatory diseases. If you are concerned about cholesterol, 2 tablespoons of olive oil a day helps raise healthy HDL and lower LDL. Dip your bread in it Mediterranean style……
And some things I do recommend from time to time…….
I frequently ask my clients to eat 85%+ dark chocolate on ‘prescription’ instead of their favourite candy bar. Dark chocolate is high in polyphenols, magnesium and iron amongst others. Heart healthy, the high flavanol content is great for brain health. 2 squares a day is my recommendation.
Minced beef (grass fed only)
Always a great freezer standby, the nutritional profile of grass fed (not organic), beef is very different to grain fed beef. A good source of heme iron, once a week is sufficient. Make your own burgers rather than the shop bought ones (which have additives) or an old fashioned chilli con carne. Support your local grass fed beef farm who will have traditional agricultural regenerative practices. It’s not the cow, it’s the how.
Full fat milk, cream and egg yolks are all healthy choices in moderation and therefore a good dessert option. The sugar is unfortunate but once in a while it’s fine! I’m a big fan of a weekly treat as you are more likely to stick to good eating the rest of the time. Again, avoid products with extensive additives and unpronounceable names on the carton. Dorset’s Purbeck Ice Cream or Baboo Gelato (the sorbet) are both superb and are additive free.
Whilst beer is high in calories and a good way to gain weight, it is a fermented product that we humans have been consuming for many years. Fermented foods are good for gut health – just don’t drink the entire six pack to yourself! Even people who are sensitive to grains can often tolerate the occasional beer. Cheers!
By: Karen Geary Amplify Nutritional Therapy