Understanding nutrition is critical to maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle. As with all essential facts of life, nutrition today seems to get harder to clarify with every passing minute. In the 21st century, hard facts about food are often shrouded in rumour and innuendo. We’ve all heard a cranky relative say it: “well doesn’teverything cause cancer these days?!” And what doesn’t cause cancer is almost certainly going to make you gain weight and waste absolutely every single positive moment of exercise you have ever had ever, right?
It’s hard enough most nights to pick what you’re going to have for dinner. Factoring in nutrition shouldn’t have to feel like an obstacle. Nor should it have to crush all notions of what you eat possessing flavor and variety – or even indulgence! A big problem today is that when it comes to food, we’re too often separating fact from fiction. What is sound nutritional advice? And what is clever advertising designed to lead us astray?
To help you keep some perspective, here are a few things you thought you knew about diet and food brought back to basics. These pesky myths have been cracked open and served up in context of your day to day needs.
Unless you are a diabetic (diabetics should consult their health professional about eggs), you’re going to find that eggs – specifically the egg yolks – are full of nutrients that your body needs.
The Downside: Don’t overindulge. Eggs are in virtually every processed food, so while whole eggs are awesome for you, that fraction of egg that exists in virtually everything else you eat cuts out the nutrients and delivers the fat instead.
Unless you’re eating an older style of grain bread such as Einkorn and Kamut (and it’s unlikely you’ll find these available at your local supermarket), then no matter what bread you eat they will not be a healthy choice. That’s not to say, however, that grain breads are not healthier for you.
The Upside: on’t cut wheat out of your diet or start growing your own Einkorn in the backyard just yet. Bread is still high in fibre and a good slow release source of energy. Just remember, it’s not the only way to get that energy or the nutrients to be found in wheat. The best rule of thumb is to pick your moments.
It’s the single greatest source of useful antioxidants (better than fruit and vegetables combined), it improves brain functionality, reduces the risk of depression, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, and studies are even beginning to show that people who drink coffee tend to live longer.
The Downside: Coffee may be great – but sometimes how you drink it really isn’t. Stale or burnt coffee loses a lot of its effect (and flavor!), as can over processed coffee. A good rule of thumb is if it tastes bad, it probably is. It’s also a good idea to avoid all the extras like iced coffee with ice cream and whipped cream.
Whether you eat three standard meals or nine tiny meals, your body is going to burn what energy it needs. In fact, you may even be increasing the amount of belly and liver fat you accumulate by eating more frequently.
How you plan your daily meals needs to be all about balance. You need to spread your meals across the day so that your body gets the right amounts of energy and nutrients at the right times.
The Upside: The distinction needs to be made between the term “meal” and the term “snack.” A meal should be filling and tasty, and a good nutritional energizer for your body. A snack should be a light piece of food eaten in between meals to ward off the munchies. Some good suggestions include berries, nuts, tinned salmon, and Greek yoghurt. These snacks are not only a good hit of positive nutrients for your body, but they’re also tasty for the tongue.
Our bodies do have to work to digest gluten, however most of our bodies are also naturally able to recover. If you aren’t coeliac or gluten sensitive, there isn’t a need to cut gluten completely out of your diet. In fact, if you do then you’re cutting yourself off from a lot of foods that most effectively deliver a lot of necessary vitamins and minerals by doing so.
That said, medically there is nothing at all wrong with going gluten free – and if it makes your body feel better, you’re most likely on the right track. Have a chat to your health professional to ensure you maintain a good balance of the nutrients your body needs first.
The Downside: When you go gluten free, you’re not going fat or sugar free just by default. Soft drink is technically gluten free. Junk food is still going to be junk food whether it’s gluten free or not. You should watch out for gluten-free foods where the gluten has been deliberately rather than naturally removed. These can amount to a large concentration of fat and sugar, with all the good nutrients for your body removed with the gluten. Naturally gluten free products are the key here, and fortunately that is an extensive list of foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and meats.
As with all good things, moderation is the key. So often we are tricked into complicated, boring or downright flavourless eating regimens by simple misinformation. The fact remains that you can have your cake and eat it too, so long as you don’t get too greedy and you do burn those extra calories.