Walk past any magazine rack and there’ll be a plethora of dietary fads to choose from. Every season, almost every month – there’s a new, weird and wonderful way to lose weight. Sadly, few of these work, I know because I have tried most of them. My greatest failure was a cold meat and lettuce diet. After three days I nearly fainted in an underground carpark and my sister had to revive me with coffee and doughnuts!
But as we grow older, it becomes increasingly important to eat for health and not aesthetics. And believe it or not, following some simple rules will actually lead to improved body shape and tone as well as boosting immune systems, increasing energy and building resilience.
It takes Guts!
First and foremost, keep your gut microbes happy and you’ll be happy – and healthy! The gut microbiome is also known as the second brain and the food you eat has a direct effect on your mood. Luckily, these helpful little microbes are easily pleased.
What to eat
High fibre plants, proteins and fats are key to microbial bliss along with variety, so plenty of different colours. All whole foods and vegetables will do, as well as some meat and fish. Our gut a 12-hour window between our evening meal and breakfast to allow for optimum digestion.
However, our microbiome is absolutely not a fan of highly processed food, so avoiding these are a priority. Processed foods contain too much sugar, too much salt and most are filled with additives, which can have a negative impact on our health.
Sadly, processed foods are our ‘’go to’ snacks – crisps, biscuits and complete meals that come in a box and are fully cooked in 20 minutes, so try and cut down on these. (I love potato crisps and have to limit how many I eat!) But eating healthily doesn’t have to be difficult, or expensive.
A good diet includes:
• Legumes: black beans, butter beans, pulses and lentils
• Seeds: sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and hemp seeds
• Nuts: almonds, brazil nuts, hazel nuts pecans, cashews and walnuts
• Whole grains: oats, barley, quinoa and wild, black and red rice
• Oily fish: mackerel, wild salmon, sardines, herrings
• Probiotic foods: Jerusalem artichokes, onions, garlic
• A variety of fruits: kiwi fruit, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, apples, pears, bananas, pineapples, oranges
• Vegetables: broccoli, kale, chard, spinach, cabbage, asparagus, celery carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, sweet potato
• Dried fruit, (prunes, apricots, dates, raisins, sultanas) which contain a lot of fibre
• Extra virgin olive oil which contains polyphenols as well as fats that are good for the body
• Meat: Grass fed beef, free range or barn raised chicken and turkey,
Here is a typical day for me:
I fast in the mornings (I will be writing a blog on fasting soon) so I have:
· A glass of warm water with a dash of lime or lemon juice first thing, followed by coffee
· A mid-morning snack of some nuts and a banana or dried fruit and porridge
· A light lunch – avocado, fruit or biscuits and cheese
· A pot of tea in the afternoon
· Dinner (eaten around 7pm if possible) consisting of protein and 4 or 5 different vegetables
Organic? What’s the difference?
The short answer is pesticides, many of which are proven to be carcinogenic,
so it’s perfectly reasonable not to want to consume such chemicals! But more importantly, organic produce, untreated fruit and vegetables contain far more vitamins and minerals.
Treated produce (inorganic produce) have been shown to contain 50% less iron, 15% less Vitamin A and 12% less calcium. That’s a big difference! So, although they can cost more, they are feeding our bodies (especially our children’s) with what we need for a strong, vigorous life.
We now recognise that too much sugar is a killer, but don’t be fooled by ‘no added sugar’ or ‘sugar free drinks’ they usually contain artificial sweeteners like Aspartame, which are known to upset our microbiome and have a toxic effect on the body.
However, I have listened to experts who wear monitors to measure their glucose levels and sugar spikes and live a practically sugar-free, dairy free, meat free life, but my advice from my seventy odd years, is to enjoy what you eat! If you are constantly worrying about it, you could end up with ulcers and high blood pressure! Everything in moderation is still a good rule but try to ensure you stick mainly to the healthy stuff.
Are essential to life and well-being! They can also contribute to suppressing the appetite and clearing the body of toxins. The body is made up of 60 – 70% water so we need to replenish on a daily basis. Water is the purest and most natural thing to drink, but the psychological benefits of a pint or two, or the odd glass of wine should not be overlooked.
There is much more in my book, ‘A Recipe for Life - 7 Steps to becoming Happy, Healthy and Confident’ coming out soon!
My next blog is ‘Di’s Easy Exercise Plan’ hope you can join me then!