You are what you eat, and you are what you eat eats.
You are what you eat, and you are what you eat eats. It is time to take a close look at what, why and how you are eating.
Lets start with the why we eat?
The simple answer to this question is that we have to. But there are also a number of other reasons why we eat. We can be addicted to the emotions and/or feelings associated with eating.
Do you eat because you are hungry? Or because you want to comfort yourself? Are you bored? Or are you just used to eating at set times everyday and have never stopped to think about why that may be?
Often 'why' we eat is closely linked to how we were raised. Did your mum or dad always make you finish what was on your plate...even when you were full?
Or did you come from a family that celebrated food and used meal times as a way to connect and interact? Was food how you were shown love or how you were rewarded for good behaviour?
Whatever role food played in your childhood, it is probably still influencing how you view food today.
I believe that it is possible to create healthy habits around the food we eat without being on a strict regime. Most of us just want to have a healthy, balanced life. We still want to be able to go out and socialise with our friends without being the person that doesn't want to go to the restaurant because they can't eat half the food on the menu.
I have friends who are body builders, athletes etc...and of course, strict tailored diets work for them. Because their goals are different. They have a very clear 'WHY' and have therefore made the choice to up-hold a strict regime. I'm personally looking for a 'diet' that can be a long term maintainable lifestyle.
Most of us don't want to dedicate our whole life to dieting. But of course we want to feel and look our best. As Hippocrates said "Let food be thy medicine."
It is in our best interest to eat well, not just for our outside appearance, but because that feeling of vitality and energy is what keeps us young and healthy for years to come.
So what should we be eating?
No matter where you look you will see diets advertising the latest way to lose 10 pounds or get that flat stomach in a week. The truth is, although these regimes may work for some people they are often quick fixes which are not maintainable. What we need to do is develop a lifestyle that can be maintained for a long time to come. A way of eating that makes you feel amazing all day everyday.
That particular 'way of eating' may be different for everyone. One thing I'm certain about is that no matter which 'diet' you follow the base should be fresh, whole foods, largely based around fresh veggies, healthy fats and good quality sources of protein. As mentioned at the beginning of this article you are what you eat - you are the sum of every decision, every mouthful, every meal you consume, that means fuel your body with the best quality food you can afford. And you are what you eat eats - so choose meat that has had a happy life, living on its natural diet free from hormones and pesticides.
I think if you can follow five simple rules you are already on the right track.
Avoid foods that contain more than 5 ingredients
Cook at least 80% of your meals at home.
Choose free-range, spray-free and unprocessed whenever possible.
Try to choose products that contain less than 10g of sugar per 100g
Where possible choose sustainable and environmentally friendly food stuffs
You want to make sure that your plate is well balanced at every meal. Try bulking up your diet with fresh green veggies. You can eat unlimited leafy greens and above ground veg.
Make sure to include some protein: fish, free range chicken and eggs, grass fed red meat etc. and of course some good quality fats such as coconut oil, ghee, lard from grass-fed animals, butter (grass-fed), avocados, nuts and oils.
I am not a fan of labelling or restricting your diet based on one persons idea or dietary plan. I think there is always room to move as an individual, so you need to figure out what works for you. So in saying that, I do not call myself strictly paleo although I do believe that at its core it is a fantastic way to eat. The foundations of the diet are simple. Eat what our hunter gatherer ancestors used to eat; protein from roaming animals, loads of veggies, herbs, some nuts and occasionally a small amount of fruit. But the main aim and principle we should all give consideration to is eating whole foods and avoiding the abundance of processed food in our diet. I think as a culture we need to go back to eating home cooked meals, knowing exactly what goes into everything that we make.
If you are new to cooking and being in the kitchen then start simple. Food does not have to be expensive or complicated. Get your basics right and move forward from there.
One of the best places to start is breakfast. It is great to fuel your body right, first thing in the morning providing energy and nourishment for the day ahead.
Try making a smoothie using half a banana, almond or coconut milk, vanilla essence and a tbsp of yoghurt.
Boil a couple of eggs to eat on the go with an apple.
Make a batch of granola (recipe) and eat with yoghurt and a handful of berries.
Use good quality bread (sourdough, rye, paleo or gluten free), and top with half an avocado, a few slices of tomato and a sprinkle of crumbled feta.
My favourite coffee bomb will keep you going and is a great breakfast on the run (recipe coming soon!)
Get to know your local farmers market. You will find the freshest produce, what’s in season, save yourself money and you will be supporting local farmers and cutting out pollution involved in shipping food across the country or the globe to your supermarket shelves.
Make it part of your weekly routine. I love my Sunday mornings which involve heading to the market where I pick myself up a coffee and soak up the atmosphere. I then head home and prep some core meals and snacks for the week ahead. If all of this still seems to overwhelming then follow this one simple guideline...