Ophelia's Guides to Shaping Your Future

Ophelia's Guides to Shaping Your Future

How to Eat Healthily & Not be Obsessive - Sorting the Wheat from The Chaff

Ophelia Hogan - Saturday, July 23, 2016

Sorting the Wheat from the Chaff

Pardon the pun - but the world seems to have gone mad and to ridiculous extremes with regards to food.                                                                                                         On the one hand we are getting fatter and more unhealthy with more 58% of women and 65% of men being overweight and the consequent health complications costing the NHS £5 Billion a year.  So that's costing you and me £5 billion a year just to be fatter! (for more details read my blog on Obesity Stats).                                                           Then there is prevalence of ridiculous diets. At one end there is the new "flexible dieting" which promises weight loss and tight abs with no restrictions on the foods you eat - from cakes & pasta - as long as it doesn't exceed your daily requirement for macronutrients. On social media it has millions of followers #IIFYM (if it fits your macros) boasting about having perfect bodies and being able to eat cakes and blatantly ignoring the quality and healthiness of the foods consumed. People are led to believe that they can eat rubbish and still look how they want with no consideration for their health and well being.                                                                                                                                                          #Clean Eating is at the other extreme and was highlighted in a program on BBC iPlayer  ' Clean Eating's Dirty Secrets 11th July 2016 and in an article in the Sunday Times Magazine June 2016 'The Acceptable Face of Eating Disorders'. I am astonished how brazen some people can be in misleading vast numbers of people on social media with unsubstantiated claims on healthy eating, advocating; meat-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, smoothies, raw foods and superfoods as the only way to be eat well. It is desperately sad that these extreme, so-called 'healthy' diets, are now leading to a new eating disorder known as 'orthorexia'.

So how do we 'Sort the Wheat from the Chaff' and know what is a nutritionally healthy, balanced diet?                                                         Jamie Oliver's Superfoods recipes are great and Michael Mosley's Blood Sugar Diet are among some of the balanced plans out there. And there are others. I have general guidelines below but working with clients over the last 20 years have found that because of our different tastes, preferences, lifestyles, cooking abilities and desires - a personalised plan works best.  Focus on what you are going to eat. From the very wise words of Polly Morland in her book, Metamorphosis - How and Why We Change, 'it is loss that we fear not change'. So we can change.

1. Eat more vegetables - at least half of your plate at lunch and supper should be vegetables. They are full of nutrients that our bodies need, lower calorie dense, keep us fuller for longer and there is a huge variety to find ones you like and numerous ways to prepare them from soups to salads and roasted to steamed, the options are endless.

2. Eat good quality protein - meat, or fish or pulses (lentil, peas, beans)

3. Eat whole-grains - brown rice, oats, spelt, buckwheat, rye bread, quinoa    

4. Dairy - semi-skimmed milk, natural yogurts, cottage cheese, feta cheese, goats cheese

5. Good fats - olive oil (add to cooked foods so that you maximise the health benefits by not heating it) nuts, seeds, avocados     

6. Know and understand your energy/calorie balance - we only have hormones that let us know if we are hungry or full - nothing tells us if we have 'over-spent' on our calorie needs.                                                    

7. Decide on your treats of choice - look forward to them and enjoy them

            We don't have to be perfect - only good enough. It's about balance: energy in and out; work and play; fun and serious; sleep and doing. Eat the right foods that your body needs 80% of the time, move more, get enough sleep and your body will reward you for that. By not only looking great but also by functioning great. And that will give you the best chance to live the life that you want to. To explore all the options available to you. In an extract from Miranda Sawyer's Book "Out of Time - a Mid-life Survival Guide" - "This is the game. This is our life. This is it. Let's play with whatever we've got left."

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