With the healthy eating week nearly done, many clients have been asking me this question, and it’s a very interesting one. You could ask a million different experts or professionals, and get an equal number of different answers.
Many experts will have different approaches, or protocols, and advice tends to change over the years.
Even leaving aside expert advise, we are subjected to daily stories about what we should, or should not eat, in the press, sometimes even seeing two contradictory articles in the same publications.
Little wonder then that people are confused, and that around 60% of us are categorized as overweight, and 27% of us are classified as obese.
Confusion leads to frustration, and a ‘what the hell attitude’. Just this one, can’t hurt. But it does. The compound effect of these small decisions over the years is what makes us overweight – the slight edge effect.
However there is another factor. This is where ‘Healthy Eating’ comes in. If we eat the ‘wrong foods’, they will addict us, and we are far more likely to eat too much. So what exactly are the ‘wrong foods’. Sadly, 80% of what is on our supermarket shelves!
It may help if you distinguish food products, from foods. Stuff in packets, which comes from factories, you can categorise as food products. Stuff which had a face, (meat poultry or fish, or products from either) or came from the ground (vegetables fruit, berries, nuts grains) is food.
Food tends to be processed well by the body, which has evolved to digest and thrive on it. It tends to give us the nutrients vitamins and minerals we need, and leave us feeling full. Food products are manufactured to make us feel a certain way. Food manufacturers are in business to sell products, they want us to eat more of whatever they are selling, and they are great at making products which make us want to eat more.
So if you are seeking a simple way to understand healthy eating, make as much as possible of your diet, real food. You need to look for foods with as few steps as possible from field (or sea) to plate. Portion control is important, but if you’re choosing your food wisely, it’s likely to be easier. For example eat an oven pizza, and you’ll easily consume 1,200 calories, and may even still want more. Try consuming more than 1,200 calories of a healthy salad!
Other factors are: Focus on your food! Take some time out for lunch, to focus on eating, chewing, and appreciating your food. Eat more slowly, drink plenty of water, and don’t confuse thirst for hunger.
Finally, think about your relationship with food. Food can fulfill a number of functions. It can nourish you, it can make you feel a certain way. It can make you well, or make you sick.
In most food choices, we have to chose between a temporary feeling, a temporary high, and a good choice. The indulgence, fizzy drink, etc will give us a quick fix, but over the long term, leave us in poorer health. The healthy choice, may initially not give us the buzz which we may enjoy, but over time, it gives equal pleasure, and has the benefit of building our wellbeing, making us feel better all the time.
So back where we started, the ‘slight edge’ effect of our food choices will always be at work, either for or against us. Maybe now would be a good time to start looking towards Healthy Eating Week 2019, with a view to by that time entrenching good habits, and enjoying the results.