Before you read on however, I want you to know that my knowledge comes from personal experience. I haven’t yet completed my study to qualify as a nutritional advisor.
But here is the reason why I have learned so much about nutrition and diet over the years.
My dear mum passed away much too early at an age younger than I am now. So for the last 29 years since she died, I’ve made it my mission to eat for good health. That’s not to say that my mum didn’t by the way. On the contrary, she led a very healthy lifestyle.
And that made me wonder why she developed a disease like breast cancer, which is why my research began.
Of course, there is so much more to that than diet, but it does play a bit part. I wanted to make sure for my own sake and that of my young family, that it didn’t happen to me.
As I’ve aged and even more so since menopause, I have been inspired to deepen my knowledge. I have noticed changes in my own body, which has always been slim and toned. The bloating and weight gain around the middle showed me something needed to change.
Once I started to make the adjustments in my eating habits, I noticed the changes in my body. It’s also very noticeable to me how quickly my body responds when I put something into it that it doesn’t like.
The number one key is awareness as with everything.
Just recently I was asked by one of my clients to share some healthy diet tips. Personally some of my best insights have come from listening to how others eat. Most especially the knowledge I have gained from talking to friends who already enjoy good health and vitality. Also from reading books, seeing naturopaths and then seeing what my body responds well to.
Understanding what foods work for our own body is paramount.
Remember there are no two people who have exactly the same physical requirements. Many of us also have health issues that need to be kept in mind. So it’s more about doing your own research, playing with foods and seeing what works for you.
Here’s what works for me, and my body:
Eating plenty of veggies maintains good health
We hear about this a lot don’t we. However, it’s important to know which veggies we need an abundance of and which can be kept to a minimum.
For example a starchy vegetable like corn is known to be high in fibre, certain vitamins and minerals. However it can also spike blood sugar levels and is often genetically modified.
Other starchy veggies like potatoes are higher in carbs, a form of sugar. If I overindulge in these it can create bloating. I include these in my diet, but they are kept to a minimum. Sweet potato and pumpkin are better, but I still keep these to a minimum too.
When I talk about abundance of veggies, I am referring to those delicious deep green leaves like spinach, kale, broccoli, silverbeet, cauliflower and cabbage. Green beans I love, especially snake beans. Carrots too are highly nutritious.
A rich selection of vegetables, most especially those cruciferous vegetables I just mentioned give your body a whole myriad of vitamins and minerals. These can help reduce inflammation and I’ve learned that they can also guard against diseases like cancer.
Good health is maintained by eating fruit
The key here is that fruit consumption needs to be lower than vegetables. But that doesn’t mean that’s the best advice for everyone. Some people who are devout fruitarians enjoy thriving health and vitality.
Here’s the reason why I changed my fruit consumption.
After burning out with adrenal fatigue I dug deep into understanding how our body processes food. I came to understand that too much fruit can cause a rush in blood sugar levels. And where there is a rush there is always a fall that follows.
It’s my understanding that low blood sugar levels can cause our body to release cortisol, which gives our body energy. However too much cortisol in our body repeatedly can lead to other health issues and weight gain.
Because of this I personally include a variety of fruit in my diet, but it is kept to a minimum. I also prefer to eat it with some other protein-based food, like nuts, seeds and yoghurt to keep blood sugar balanced.
A good variety of fruits feed our body with essential antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Fruits like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, black berries, papaya, rockmelon, water melon, dragonfruit among others, depending on what’s in season. I have banana, but only normally half a day because of the high sugar content.
If you would like to learn more about the importance of fruit quantities and eating for health in general, read Adrenal Fatigue by Dr James Wilson. Also reading The Wisdom Of Menopause Dr Christiane Northrup will give you in-depth information.
Is it good for health to eat meat, fish and dairy?
That’s a debatable question for sure. For many healthy vegans the answer would be no, but my answer to this is yes.
Over the last three decades I’ve sampled many different eating styles, some of them included animal foods and some didn’t.
In my view it’s more about where those products are sourced and grown than the product itself. Nutritional chef Izabella Natrins knows heaps about this and it’s been an eye opener for me.
There are so many nutrients that our body misses out on if we don’t include animal sourced foods in our diet. I personally could write for hours on this. Izabella’s book The Real Food Solution is a resource I found much of the recent info I know around meat, fish and dairy.
However if you were to ask a vegan they would argue against this and I totally respect their point. I have friends who are vegans who are extremely healthy, remember everyone is different.
I include all in my diet, but again they are kept to a minimum. You would never see a huge steak the size of a small plate in front of me. The meat we buy is as close to 100% pasture fed as possible. Our chicken is free range and organic if possible. The same goes for our eggs. Our fish is now wild caught and the majority of it is fresh.
Dairy products we consume are all biodynamic and organic where available. It’s essential to know how mumma cow was raised and whether she is treated well. If she is stressed or eats foods that cause inflammation, that same condition will be passed to us. The same goes for meat too.
Seeds, nuts, legumes and the list goes on
I believe that a good balance of all is important for good health and vitality.
Nuts and seeds are rich in protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. For us women there is also the added bonus of some seeds assisting in the balance of hormones. They have also been found to reduce inflammation and bloating.
Flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds contain phytoestrogens. Some legumes like soybeans contain these too, but make sure they are organic.
Here’s my version of a healthy balance for good health and vitality:
My breakfast consists mainly of a cold porridge containing nuts and seeds each day combined with a small amount of fresh fruit and some biodynamic yoghurt. Legumes I generally eat two to three times each week in place of meat or fish. And I substitute cows milk for my own homemade almond milk where I can, generally for my morning brekkie.
What role do fats play in maintaining good health?
There seems to be a huge misconception about fats and weight gain.
Foods that are cooked in trans fats such as potato chips will help you put weight on for sure. They also cause inflammation. But good fats like organic cold pressed olive oil, coconut oil and avocado are good for us. In fact they have been found to be vital for good health in smaller quantities. They are a source of essential fatty acids, which help us absorb a number of vitamins.
Even full cream milk and butter, as long as they are from pasture fed animals are far superior to anything processed. They give us so much more nutrition than those skinny products and processed margarines on supermarket shelves.
That’s my belief anyway and it works for me. I’ve always had a healthy dose of good fats in my diet. And I believe that’s one of the reasons I still have fairly supple, young looking skin.
Processed foods and refined sugar are the real culprits
If you’re looking to point a finger at anything for weight gain these are the culprits. They are also often responsible for an increase in menopausal symptoms too.
Processed foods are high in sugar and they are frequently laced with synthetic or chemical ingredients too. And refined sugar is devoid of any of the yummy nutrients contained in the raw plant. Too much of either causes massive inflammation.
Some nutritionists recommend that we cut out these foods completely. This is because they have barely any nutritional value other than that which has been added synthetically.
Examples of processed foods or foods that are high in sugar;
White rice, white flour, most types of bread, crackers, biscuits, ice cream, packets of chips, wine. The list goes on. It is basically anything that isn’t in the fresh section of the supermarket.
Personally I keep anything processed very much to a minimum. When I was recovering from adrenal fatigue I cut them out completely. By the way minimum for me is maybe a small bowl of biodynamic ice cream every week or two. Maybe a few rice crackers with cheese on a Saturday evening with a glass of bubbles.
My personal bottom line for my own good health and vitality
Nutrition and food is a big interest for me and I know it is one of the main reasons I enjoy good health. I believe that the food we eat and how it is grown play a huge role in our longevity and quality of life.
My final takeaways for now on this topic are this.
Educate yourself. Remember that everyone’s body is different and that means your requirement may be different to mine. Don’t just take my word for this, do your own research. Get to know your own body and how it responds to certain foods.
Look for quality in food. This doesn’t mean that your produce needs to look perfect; it means look into how the produce has been grown. Plant and animal alike, it’s vital to investigate whether the products are organic or if the farmer uses chemical sprays and pesticides. With animals, find out how they have been fed and reared. In my eyes, quality food is; organic and biodynamic food, pasture fed and free range.
Reduce quantities. This may mean you have smaller portions and eat more often. Or it may just mean you need to reduce the size of the meals you already eat. I have personally been guilty of eating larger portion sizes than my body can handle. I have been led by my desire instead of my body and it causes bloating. Notice where you might do this.
Maintain good balance. Remember too much of anything is not a good thing. The occasional indulgence isn’t going to harm you unless you have specific health issues. It’s when we make it a regular occurrence that it causes problems.
Being mindful of what we eat and what our body needs is paramount to leading a long healthy life.
Listen to your body, it knows.
Sometimes our beliefs and ingrained behaviour patterns can get in the way of developing sustainable healthy eating habits. This can create a yo yo effect. If you would like to see how coaching with Deb Johnstone an help you with this, CLICK HERE to book your complimentary Clarity Call.