by VEJAY STEEDE
What we consume, becomes us – wait! That’s not it! We are what we eat – that’s it! Either way, the concept that the food we eat largely determines how we’re able to live our lives is a tried-and-true notion.
So, when we’ve gone too far with the – very popular – processed foods, and the sugar, fat, calorie, and cholesterol filled foods that do way more damage than good to our bodies, a medical professional might direct us to cut out certain ‘indulgences.’
This directive can often be quite daunting, but is doesn’t have to be. With moderation and a few good dietary strategies, we can still enjoy many of those ‘living your best life’ foods we love to post pictures of on Instagram.
We had a conversation with Ms Keelin Hankin, a registered dietician at Island Nutrition, to find out how ‘eating clean’ can be indulgent, satisfying and delicious.
“Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health and can help you feel your best. This means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions and consuming the right amount of food and drink to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
“The Eatwell Guide shows that to have a healthy, balanced diet, people should try to:
• Eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day.
• Limit starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta to quarter of the plate or meal, and choose wholegrain options where possible.
• Aim for two servings of low-fat dairy or unsweetened dairy alternatives, such as almond milk, per day
• Include one source of lean protein at each meal. For example, beans, pulses, fish, eggs or meat
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat them in small amounts
• Aim for six to eight glasses of water or unsweetened drinks per day
• Limit foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt and sugar”
Following these guidelines will probably keep the doctors, and chronic diseases, at bay, but we want to know all about indulging.
On whether people trying to maintain a healthy weight, or even lose weight, can still enjoy their treats, Ms Hankin asserted that food should be enjoyed and added:
“When trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight it is important to make sure that your dietary changes are sustainable. For example, if you are currently eating out four times a week, try reducing this to once or twice a week instead, rather than telling yourself you can never go to your favorite restaurant again. Stick to one course where possible and maybe swap out the starch for extra vegetables.
“The positive changes you make need to be realistic, alongside your current routine and lifestyle, so making compromises with yourself can yield better results than telling yourself ‘I can’t have.’ Whether that be a dessert or your favourite chocolate treat, these can be included alongside a healthy balanced diet in small amounts.
Checking the nutrition label of foods, and sticking to the recommended serving sizes is also a good way of achieving good portion control.”
One way to self-monitor when doing what you need to improve your own health is using the trusty 80/20 rule, which can be a very rewarding nutrition aid, if used correctly.
“The 80/20 rule is the idea that if you follow a healthy balanced diet 80 percent of the time, then the other 20 percent can include a few servings of your favourite treat. It is a good way of basically saying ‘everything in moderation.’ It is much more likely that we will be able to stick to our health or nutrition goals if we are able to enjoy everything we like, within reason.
“For the 80 percent part of the plan, focus on drinking lots of water and eating nutritious foods that we have discussed within the Eatwell plate: whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein, including plant-based proteins such as beans, soy and edamame, and limited amounts of healthy fats from avocados or olive oil.”
Moderation, the 80/20 rule, and following the Eatwell Guide will enable us to enjoy our treats and still maintain a healthy diet, but what else will further the eternal quest for a healthy, efficient, pain and disease-free body?
“A healthy, balanced diet is a very important component to maintaining good health, however there are other important aspects to include alongside a balanced diet,” she continued. “Regular physical activity, avoiding smoking and limiting your alcohol intake is also crucial.
“The minimum weekly recommendation for physical activity is 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. This can be broken down into 30-minute sessions, 5 days per week. This can be achieved through walking to work, going for a swim at any of our beautiful beaches, or getting busy with some housework. If you have a fitness tracker on your watch, a good way to set small goals is by tracking your steps. We should be aiming for 10,000 steps per day, but even aiming to add on 1,000 steps to your current daily average makes a lot of difference by the end of the week. Even five minutes of activity may be five minutes more than you achieved last week.”
Ms Keelin emphasised the urgency of eating clean when it comes to avoiding chronic diseases, depression, and many other health complications:
“Opting for a balanced, adequate and varied diet is an important step towards a happy and healthy lifestyle. Following a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, beans and reducing our overall meat intake has been shown to reduce the risk of developing health complications such as heart disease and diabetes. This means less medication and fewer trips to the doctor. A healthy, balanced diet has also been linked to a lower risk of depression and can also improve brain health. All of this means we can continue to do the things we love and feel good doing them.