A while ago I wrote an article for a magazine called ‘The Ultimate Healthy Diet’. Well, then, case closed huh? It’s in writing, there’s nothing more to discuss, hooray, what a short blog post! um… If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about diet over the years, it is that it’s constantly evolving as our lives do!
So what is a ‘healthy diet’, how do we have one and, most importantly, how do we make sure it stays like that??
When I wrote that article about ‘The Ultimate Healthy Diet’ I had in mind a picture of a weeks worth of food- like a visual meal plan. I wanted readers to see what a healthy diet looks like in terms of their whole week and what that might look like in their shopping trolley.
What I’m beginning to realise is that even with a longer perspective like a week, it is still difficult to maintain that healthy diet because it is still a structured meal plan. The real ‘Ultimate Healthy Diet’ needs to ebb and flow with your energy needs, your busy life, your emotions, and whatever else may be going on. The reason why there are so many diet plans going around is because we are all trying to find that perfect plan to make us eat right, not put on weight and feel great. Well, unfortunately, the perfect plan does not exist and the ‘Ultimate Healthy Diet’ is a lovely concept but still only possible if we have the right access to shops, the time to cook and get organised.
So where does that leave us?? We’re adrift in an unstructured world of eating!!
Firstly, don’t freak out! Stop and take in the day around you. What season is it? Right now we are just about to start winter… that gets me thinking of root vegies, soups and warm bowls of oats…. Hey, what just happened then?? Without trying too hard and without ‘being healthy’ I just thought of some great healthy choices. This leads me to the three points of what I believe is the real ‘ultimate healthy diet’. (uh oh, still sounding slightly like a plan, bear with me!)
1) Seasonal Produce
Throw away your diet sheet and embrace what fresh food is in season. Go to your green grocer, see what fruits and vegies are at the best price and in the best condition- these will most likely be the in-season produce. Buy a whole heap of delicious stuff in a variety of colours and flavours. Take them home and arrange what doesn’t need to be refrigerated into an enticing bowl on your bench.
2) Go old school
To bump up your nutrition for the long term, your second easy solution is to keep it old school. The less processed, the less refined the food is, with the least amount of additives, the better! Go for dark grainy breads over refined fluffy white ones, home made cakes over refined, processed long-lasting muffins in wrapping, choose whole nuts and seeds as a snack over sugar laden muesli bars, buy a curry paste and add coconut milk instead of using a pre-made sauce packed with additives… you get the idea.
3) Actually enjoy your food!
Choosing to eat fresh, enticing looking food is a sure way to get you eating healthy for life. Shop at local growers markets, learn a few recipes you actually enjoy making, put music on when you cook, light a candle when you sit down to eat a meal, eat slowly and savour every morsel, share food with friends, try new foods you’ve never tried before, visit European grocers, Asian markets and gourmet deli’s. When you enjoy not only the eating part of food, but the whole experience, you naturally choose foods that are better for you. You will also more often avoid foods that aren’t good for you and you will start to treat food as a special event to look forward to, rather than see-sawing between it being a dreaded shove down of the boring tasteless healthy stuff or an ‘illegal’ shove down of the naughty stuff which you feel guilty about for the whole time anyway.
There are so many rules around food that we’ve grown up with or enforced on ourselves, as we’ve gotten older. Trying to have a healthy diet becomes a love-hate battle between eating what your mouth wants versus eating what your head says is healthy for you. Stop all the food guilt, all the ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots’ and focus instead on seasonal, old school, enjoyable food! Throw out the diet rulebook and focus on freshness, quality and fun. Enjoy creating food experiments and sampling the latest fresh stuff. It doesn’t have to be hard, keep it simple, but seasonal and ENJOY!