180 Nutrition: Does your plate contain real food or just edible food-like substances? If you want to transform your diet for the better, it’s worth listening to food writer Ed Pollan who stresses the importance of eating real food (i.e. vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fresh fish & meat) rather than highly-processed, packaged food stuffed full of harmful additives masquerading as food.
Understanding what constitutes eating healthily can be confusing, but certain messages are clear. Fresh food is where it’s at when it comes to clean eating. Most people know that there are specific foods that are particularly good for you; superfoods are packed with goodies like antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other things that keep our bodies functioning efficiently and protecting us against illness so it’s worth making sure we include plenty of them in our diet.
What to ditch
There’s no sugar-coating it, the average Australian eats an unbalanced diet. Most people’s food intake tends to be high in junk food and alarming low in fresh produce, with less than 7% of Australians consuming their daily vegetable intake requirement. This poor nutritional picture is contributing to growing rates of obesity, cancer and lifestyle diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Most people eat far too many refined carbohydrates and processed, packaged food stuffed full of harmful additives. Added sugar is often hidden in apparently savory foods too. As a rule of thumb, try not to eat anything with more than five ingredients, that has a long shelf life due to preservatives, or anything that contains ingredients that you struggle to pronounce.
What to load up on
Not all calories are created equal. While certain foods contain zero nutritional value, others are packed with beneficial properties and astonishing health benefits. In order to maximize the nutritional potential of your diet, load up on foods that have healing and restorative properties. While this is by no means a prescriptive list, some stand-out superfoods are; blueberries, broccoli, lentils, quinoa, nuts, salmon, and avocado.
Moreover, instead of a bland, beige colored plate of food, you should be aiming for more of a rainbow effect. Red/purple foods might be beets or red peppers, yellow/orange might be represented by sweet potato or carrots and green might be kale or spinach.
How to make smart changes without pain
Most people overindulge in the wrong kinds of food simply because they’ve never developed a taste for healthier choice; it’s a case of re-educating your palate. In the beginning, it can be easiest to “sneak” some superfoods into your diet or make a few healthy substitutions so it doesn’t feel like a drastic change. Eating well doesn’t have to break the bank either; it’s a myth that a healthy diet is expensive – there are plenty of affordable foods packed with nutritional punch.
Given that superfoods can boost energy levels, feed the brain, fight the ageing process and help you maintain a healthy weight, it’s well worth making the effort to give your diet an overhaul and reap the benefits.
This article was written by Jane Munro a health enthusiast and freelance writer.