So what is a healthy diet?

There is so much advice pushed out by the media every day telling us what we should eat, whats bad for us and why our food choicesstock photo : healthy diet; pear and apple with measure tape over white background will make us thin or fat! So what is the truth?

If you take every diet plan, piece of government advice  or lobby group and try to find a consensus you will be sadly disappointed – everything you read contradicts everything else from government advice telling you that your diet should be based around starchy carbs to the paleo lobby asserting that all grains are bad. To be honest, whatever you WANT to believe you will find someone prepared to promote it as the next best weight loss plan and lets face it will all know an equal number of people who say that Atkins / Dukan / Weight Watchers / Lighter Life is the best thing ever and the worst invention known to man!

The trouble is so many diet plans do work, up to a point.  If you are extremely overweight and eating mountains of food every day, anything that cuts down your intake will result in a weight loss over time but the issue is whether that weight loss is sustainable over the long-term and sets up life long eating patterns or whether you are simply ‘on a diet’ and revert to so-called normal eating at the end of the exercise.

stock photo : A comparison matrix showing that the ideal foods are those high in nutrients vs those high in calories, serving as a guide in weight loss and overall healthy livingThe difficulty with all of these weight loss plans is that there is nothing to correct the obsessive. mindless attitude to eating; once you finish with the diet and revert back to so call normal eating patterns all the weight will pile back on as there has been no mental shift to a healthier way to view food. All that happens is that people obsess about how many calories they are eating without actually judging the quality of their intake – it really is so much more than calories in vs calories out! And just because that McDonald’s meal comes in at 500 calories it doesn’t mean that it’s actually good for you!

We would do well to remember that we are all different, we all have different metabolisms, we have differing hormones and differing stresses in our lives, all of which will determine weight loss, our ‘set point’ (the point at which our body almost naturally settles) and our ability to lose weight or build muscle. So, in short, just because someone you know tried weight watchers (or any other diet plan) and it worked for them it doesn’t necessarily follow that it will work for you.

As far as I am concerned the ONLY way we can and should lose weight is to improve the quality of our diets; if we all ate real food, cooked at home, in proper portion sizes, a healthy mixture of fats, carbs and proteins and added in some physical activity every day, many of our health issues would simply disappear.  We eat too many carbs, too much sugar, too many non-foods (foods that bear no resemblance to anything natural) we stress our bodies with toxic food every day and yet we constantly wonder why we can’t get thin or why we feel ill?

Physical activity is so much more than going to the gym its much more about simply being active every day – not taking the car when stock photo : An old fashioned televisions with a broken screen hit by an arrow marked Exercise, symbolizing the need to reduce television watching and other sedentary activities and increase physical activitygoing to collect the paper or take the children to school, walking to work, taking the stairs, all the things our parents used to do. If we all just moved more our bodies would respond accordingly – I challenge anyone not to want more of the high you get when you have just completed an activity or workout you thought you couldn’t do.  The mental, physical and emotional satisfaction is incredible and once you make those healthy choices it’s a small step to making healthier food choices too.

For me, a healthy diet consists of lots of good protein (including meat and fish), good fats, carbs from fruit and vegetables.  No bread, pasta, potatoes, lots of water, some supplements – and the odd treat now and again.  I listen to my body and I know when its craving protein to repair my tired muscles, I know when it needs a carb hit for energy and I know how it reacts when it doesn’t get enough fruit or veg. I feel alive when I move my body, when I run or play, when I workout, when I challenge my body with something new; I have more mental energy than at any other time in my life despite juggling more than I ever have!

stock photo : Fresh butcher cut meat assortment garnishedI know I am not perfect and I don’t claim to have found the perfect solution, just a solution that works for me and for my body.  I feel better than I ever have and realistically my body is in far better shape that its been since before I had my children. Clean and lean combined with a little bit of Paleo seems to work for me……!!

 

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