Healthy eating is fundamental to a healthy life. For many people, healthy eating becomes increasingly confusing as they try and make sense of all the different information and styles of eating today. Unfortunately, much of the western world is now seeing the consequences of poor eating habits through many chronic diseases including but not limited to, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, gall stones, coeliac disease, lactose intolerance, , Crohn’s disease, arthritis and stroke.
Having a poor diet can also contribute to our emotional states, feelings of well being, illnesses, energy levels, depression and more. That may be due to imbalances in the body such as gaining weight or nutritional requirements are not met. Therefore our brain and bodies don’t function at their best, our immunities aren’t as strong so we are more susceptible to disease and illness.
Proper nutrition is essential for:
- normal organ growth and development
- normal reproduction
- maintenance of body systems
- resistance to infection and disease
- wound healing and injury (how often do you hear someone say, “thanks to my health and fitness I recovered quickly.”)
- mental concentration
- healthy weight
Fundamentally healthy eating should consist of a variety of foods from each of the food groups. Fruit and vegetables, breads and cereals (preferably wholegrain), milk and milk based products such as yoghurt, fats, good fats like avocado, olive oil, lean meats and meat alternatives such as legumes, fish and poultry. Each of these groups contains nutrients our bodies require for optimal health.
Foods should be low in fat. Healthy oils and fats such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated varieties should be used as saturated fat is associated with chronic diseases. Foods with limited or no refined sugars. Moderate alcohol consumption is encouraged. Although research suggests 1/2 – 1 glass of wine can have health benefits.
Avoid fast foods and pre-packaged foods as much as possible. These often contain added sugars and are high in fat. Be sure to read the ingredients label and amount of fat and sugar per 100 grams. Under 10 grams is fine but under 5 is better! Other things to avoid are, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup (can be found in some breads, cereals and even yoghurt!), hydrogenated oils, processed soy products and microwavable meals. A number of these foods, not all, contain chemicals and food additives such as MSG.
As I say to my clients, fast food costs a fortune, has no real nutrient benefits and is generally high in fats and sugars so your left feeling hungry later or over full thus leading to weight gain. Not to mention the additives that are included. I’d much rather spend the time making my meals and snacks or paying a bit extra for natural foods than spending it at the doctors and on medication. Just another way I look at it.
You need to consume a balanced diet, that means you are consuming a range of nutrients your body requires for physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and even financial health. The way you manage your life is important to your health. You are responsible for the choices you make and they way you choose to live. Research healthy ways of making the meals you and your family enjoy. Make extra’s and freeze them so you can avoid the fast food options. Choose foods low in salt. Check your nutrient labels on packaging and even check the National Health and Medical Research Council for daily nutrient requirements, (your more like to understand the references such as 47% of your daily intake). And be sure to include all the food groups throughout your day. As the saying goes, “eat all the colours of the rainbow.”
Remember, food is fuel for energy, it keeps the body alive and healthy and functioning at its best. Another saying I love, “You cant fill a petrol car with diesel fuel and expect it to run properly”. As with the human body, you cant fill it with unhealthy foods and minimal nutrients and expect it to work properly either.
Australia For more information you can check their site here
Check your government sites for more information for your guidelines.
Nutrition Australia’s healthy eating pyramid, 2015.
Fitness Trainer Essentials, Tony Attridge & Martin Felice, 2008
The Essential Guide to Fitness, Rosemary Marchese, Andrew Hill, 2011
Nutrition Australia Website