OUR HABITS FOR EATING HEALTHY, WHOLE FOODS AND LIVING AN ACTIVE LIFESTYLE
It seems to me that there is so much confusion as to what constitutes healthy eating. There is a lot of information out there, so many different diets are being marketed and hypes are followed by all who want to believe in an easy way to lose a few pounds. And of course marketing teams all over the globe also do a great job in creating flexibility for the word “healthy” to make their products more attractive.
There are a quite a few myths around the concept of healthy eating that have become firmly established in the minds of many. Yes, even highly intelligent people, including those who work in the food, wellness or health industries often share these misconceptions. I often can´t help but cringe at the colleague who tells me I should´t be eating nuts because they are “too fatty” before he digs into his non-fat yogurt and drinks a sugar-laden “sports shake” for lunch. Or those ones that have taken to the “green smoothies” trend, sipping on their “fruit with detox powder” drinks throughout the morning only to fall into the inevitable trap of high sugar, high calorie snacks in the afternoon to counter their hefty blood sugar dip.
Healthy eating is not a one size fits all solution. Our bodies and metabolism are all different so by all means, everyone should figure out what works best for them and what foods are suited to their bodies. For my family though, we live by some basic “rules” to keep healthy and these could apply to anyone wanting to stabilise their blood sugar levels, lose some weight, maintain a healthy weight and up their energy levels.
Our 8 simple rules:
- Eating healthy, whole foods. There is an increasing number of people who say that they eat “clean”, but I really am not a big fan of that term. For those people who eat differently, does it mean they eat dirty? If I cheat and have some chocolate, does that constitute dirty eating too? I do not think it helpful in developing a healthy relation toward food to think of foods as clean vs dirty. For us eating healthy, whole foods simply means we try and eat foods that are not processed: for starters, we include as many fresh fruits and vegetables as we can, preferably whatever is in season and available. We eat fresh proteins, mostly fish, chicken and lean beef cuts. And unsweetened, unsalted dried fruits, nuts and seeds. This also means generally leaving out any heavily refined carbohydrates like white flour (breads, pasta) and other heavily processed foods.
- No dieting. This is quite important. No diets in terms of calorie restrictions or short lived changes in eating habits. We just eat this way, not as “a diet”.
- Eating protein at each meal, including at snacks. Including some proteins every time we eat means that sugars in foods are released slower into the bloodstream, managing to even out glucose levels and preventing high peaks and subsequent lows, needing a “pick me up” to correct low blood sugar levels a few hours after eating.
- Eating good fats. Really important. Your cells need good fats to remain supple and function properly. So, it is imperative to include good fats into eating habits: nuts and seeds, fatty fish for fish oil, linseed oil and good quality olive oils are our favourites.
- Having frequent meals and not skipping breakfast. Yes, we eat about 5 or 6 times a day. And we eat breakfast. Always. Gives you a good start of the day and a head start on steady energy levels throughout.
- Drinking plenty of unsweetened liquids. About 2 litres of water and herbal tea a day. And no, coffee doesn’t count!
- Move. A lot. I use an activity tracker to understand how much I move during the day and correct accordingly. I run, cycle and swim regularly and walk or cycle everywhere. I try and break up my day in the office to go for a walk and I never use the internal company telephone system. Moving helps my stress disappear and helps me find solutions for things I worry about. My one year old and my husband are pretty much the same, except my husband runs, plays team sports and goes to the gym and the one year old just runs around like a maniac ever since he is able to.
- The 80/20 rule. We eat like this 80% of the time. The other 20% get taken up by guilt free pleasures of juicy steaks, chocolate, glasses of red wine and ice cream!