Why Eating Healthy Is Better Than Dieting

Being On A Diet Doesn’t Mean You’re Eating Healthy

Let's make one distinction very clear before we start, eating healthy and dieting are not the same thing.

The two phrases are used interchangeably these days and at a glance they may seem synonymous but in reality they’re poles apart.

The definition of diet can mean either “the kinds of foods that a person habitually eats” or "a special course of food to which a person restricts themselves, either to lose weight or for medical reasons".

And it’s the presence of the “word” restriction in the second definition that is at the crux of the whole healthy eating/dieting debate.

Consider the difference between having to weigh and measure your food or eliminate whole foods when on a restrictive diet as compared with healthy eating which is more about finding a balance (unless you have to eliminate certain foods for medical reasons).

Short Term Solutions vs Long Term Sustainability

Today you won’t find the word “diet” on it’s own, it’ll be wrapped up in a miracle package that promises you everything.

They’re generally short term in nature and impractical to be following in the long run.

If you’re looking to improve your eating then creating sustainable long term habits will be crucial.  Any diet needs to be flexible to your lifestyle not the other way around. It should add to your life not take away from it.

A good diet will offer long term solutions, empower you with knowledge and help you to find ways to incorporate healthy eating into your lifestyle.

Reframing

As soon as you start a diet you have to commit to a rigid set of rules around food groups, meal times or portion sizes.  Healthy eating is about being more mindful about choosing the best foods for you each day and sometimes that means having some biscuits.

If you feel you need a biscuit, then have it and enjoy it, but in the context of healthy eating also being able to connect with why you felt you wanted the biscuit.

A healthy approach to eating focuses on adding good foods rather than the battle between what you can or can’t have.

You want to create a mindset that looks at food as a delicious and wonderful experience for yourself and your body and not the typical diet approach which will label foods as high fat, high salt and relegated to the banned list.

Don’t limit your food choices with sets of arbitrary food rules that don’t add anything except taking away the joy of eating.

Is Eating Organic Food Better For Me?

Is Eating Organic Food Better For Me?

1822262.png

Firstly let’s define what organic means.

It is a farming process that grows and produces food without using synthetic chemicals such as pesticides and artificial fertilisers. The use of genetically modified components or exposing food to irradiation is not used.

The term organic can also cover animal products like eggs, chicken, and beef.

This has lead to an increase in demand for organic products.  Walk into any supermarket and you’ll notice how much more shelf-space is being taken up with organic items.

It would make perfect sense to conclude that choosing organic food over conventionally grown products would be a healthier because of the processes used and the way it’s marketed.

But Does Organic Live Up To The Hype?

Several studies have been conducted to compare the nutritional content of organically grown food and conventionally grown produce, and most have shown no significant differences in key vitamins and minerals.

However some research has shown small differences in some organic foods with regards to:

  • Lower nitrate levels.

  • Higher Vitamin C levels.

  • Higher levels of selenium.

Although organic foods do have fewer pesticide residues than their conventional counterparts,  the levels in both foods are well within the levels for safe consumption.

It is also unclear whether the pesticides used in organic farming are safer than those used in more conventional farming methods.

What Does That Mean For You and Your Health?

You don’t have to eat organic to maintain your health according to current research.  

Organic products are generally more expensive than conventionally grown food products.  It takes longer to produce organic food as it is more labour intensive and the yield is lower.  Conventional methods are more time efficient and produce more which keeps costs down.

At the end of the day you have to balance the extra cost vs the perceived benefit of lower pesticide and chemical use.

If cost is not an issue then organic will provide you with some small extra benefits but not buying organic won’t mean your health is going to be hugely impacted.

Will I Feel Better Eating Gluten Free?

Will I Feel Better Eating Gluten Free?

1959786.png

Throughout the years certain foods and ingredients have been targeted as the cause of various health conditions.

The latest recipient of this wrath is Gluten with many believing that it will solve a myriad of health problems when it’s eliminated from their diet.

We’ll discuss whether going gluten free is going to make you feel better and whether it is necessary for a healthy diet.

What Is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats.

The Number 1 Reason To Avoid Gluten

If you have Coeliac disease then a gluten free diet is the only long term treatment. Drinking or eating anything containing gluten will cause an immune reaction. Common symptoms are inflammation and damage to the intestinal tract.

Another condition similar in symptoms but without the intestinal damage is gluten sensitivity or non Coeliac gluten sensitivity.

What Going Gluten Free Really Means

Eliminating gluten means more than just giving up breads, cereals, pizza, and beer. It is also present in foods like frozen vegetables in sauces, soy sauce, some foods made with natural flavourings, vitamin and mineral supplements, some medications and surprisingly toothpaste.

The one detail that you need to be aware of when getting rid of gluten is that you can set yourself up for nutritional deficiencies.

Whole grain breads and cereals are good sources of vitamin B. Avoiding gluten may mean you need to supplement with a multivitamin.

Whole grain wheat is a major source of fibre which is crucial to keep the bowels working properly. Most people’s diets are chronically low in fibre so taking away whole wheat can make it worse.

There are other sources of fibre like brown rice and quinoa, fruits and vegetables, and beans but you’ll need to be proactive to make sure you’re getting enough.

At The End Of The Day…

Choosing to go gluten free is going to be expensive, quite challenging and outside of needing to do it for medical reasons there is no health benefit that’ll be gained from it.

If you feel that you might have a health issue with gluten then your first step should be consulting your GP so that it can be assessed properly.


Eating Better On A Budget



eating_better_on_a_budget_facebook_post_3.png

Healthier food can be expensive.

It can be challenging to eat well when you’re keeping a tight grip on the purse strings.

But, there are ways to save money and still eat mostly, whole, minimally processed foods.

Have a look at these money saving tips to eat well on a budget.

Plan Your Meals

To save money at the supermarket, planning is essential.

Set aside some time during the week to make a list of the meals for the week.  From this create a grocery list of what you need.

Check out what you have in your fridge and cupboards so you only buy what you need so nothing goes to waste.

Write A List And Stick To It

Follow your list and shop mostly in the perimeter of the store where the healthier foods are located.

Make Your Meals At Home

Cooking at home is always going to be cheaper than eating out.

Choosing simple easy to prepare meals is going to take the stress out of cooking at home.

You can batch cook a week’s worth of meals on the weekend to make life easier during the week.

The meals you make give you the benefit of knowing what’s exactly in each meal.

Cook Larger Portions For Leftovers

A larger meal is a time saver and budget friendly at the same time.

Meals like stews, casseroles, and pasta sauces are easy to cook in large batches with cheap ingredients.

The leftovers can be used for lunch the next day or as an ingredient in another meal.

Avoid Shopping When You’re Hungry

Going to the supermarket when you’re hungry will make it difficult not to buy impulse items that aren’t on your grocery list.

These items can blow out your budget and are generally not healthy options.

Have a snack, like a piece of fruit or a yoghurt before you go if you’re hungry.

Buy Whole Foods

Some less processed foods are much cheaper than their more processed counterparts.

A block of cheese is cheaper than buying a bag of shredded cheese.

Whole foods generally can be bought in larger quantities which makes the per unit price much cheaper and you get more servings.

Buy Store Brands

For basic ingredients you don’t need to buy name brands.

Generic store products will be more than suitable.

All food manufacturers have to meet safety standards so the quality of food will be basically the same but at a cheaper price.

Buy Cheaper Cuts Of Meat

Steak and fresh fish can be expensive to buy.

There are cheaper cuts of meat that are great to use in stews, casseroles, soups and meaty sauces.

You can buy large amounts of these  cheap cuts to use in multiple meals throughout the week.

Have A No Meat Day

While you can buy cheaper cuts of meat, you can save money by having some non meat meals.

One or two times a week you could use beans, legumes, eggs or canned tuna or salmon.

These ingredients are inexpensive, nutritious and easy to make. Being canned they last longer on the shelf also.

Buy Ingredients That Are In Season

1924589.jpg

Fruit and vegetables that are in season are generally cheaper and taste better with a high amount of nutrients.

If you can by it by the bag it works out cheaper than individual pieces.

Any leftovers can be frozen or used for the next round of recipes.

The Bottom Line

Eating better doesn’t have to drain your bank account.

There are many ways that you can eat a healthy diet when money is tight.

Simple things like planning, shopping lists, cooking at home and buying mainly whole, minimally processed foods will keep your costs down.

Eating For Better Gut Health

Eating For Better Gut Health

2022193.jpg

Your gut is home to over to over 100 trillion bacteria, which is referred to as your “gut flora”.  A healthy “gut flora” is super important for your overall health.

The food you consume can have a positive or negative impact on your gut bacteria.

Variety Is The Spice Of Life

A diet that contains a wide variety of whole foods, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains is a good way to maintain a diverse gut flora.

The nutrients in the food provide the ingredients needed for the bacteria to grow.  When you have a diet rich in whole foods your gut has a variety of nutrients that help different bacteria thrive, creating a varied gut flora.

The modern western diet unfortunately has lost much of it’s diversity with most of it coming from a narrow list of sources.

When compared with cultures that are more rural and are less affected by Western eating they have a more diverse gut flora.

The “F” Word

Many whole foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains naturally contain “Fibre”.

There is a kind of fibre called “prebiotic fibre” that helps the growth and activity of friendly gut bacteria.

Foods that are a good source of prebiotic fibre are:

-Lentils, chickpeas and beans

-Oats

-Bananas

-Asparagus

-Garlic

-Leeks

-Onions

-Nuts

Another “F” Word

Fermented foods like yoghurt, kefir, kimchi and tempeh have good bacteria already in them and can add to the population of gut flora in your body.

Wrapping Up

As mentioned the wider and more varied your diet of mostly whole foods like fruits and vegetables the better your gut health will be.

Adding in some fermented foods will be a good option also.

Lifestyle factors like good quality sleep with a regular bedtime routine combined with physical activity and stress relief will contribute to keeping your gut healthy.




How Can I Make Better Eating Choices?

How Can I Make Better Eating Choices?

It all starts at the supermarket. What you buy here creates your food environment at home.

To eliminate any confusion there are some pretty simple things you can do to make better eating choices.

Make A List And Stick To It

It takes a little time and some effort, but it will help you eat healthier and save money.

-Healthier eating will generally mean you’ll have to cook some of your meals at home. Having a few simple recipes that you can make regularly will help.

-Plan your meals a week ahead of time.

-Make a shopping list of ingredients for your weekly meals and any other basics like fruit that you’ll need for the week.

Buy Fruits and Vegetables In Season

In season items are less expensive and taste much better.

-Your local supermarket will sell in season fruit and vegetables.

-Try a local farmer’s market to get fresh in season produce.

-Canned or frozen foods are another option as they’re packaged or frozen at the peak of ripeness.

Spend Most Of Your Shopping Time In The Outer Aisles Of The Supermarket

The fringes of the supermarket is where you’ll find all the whole, minimally processed foods. All of the healthier food options like fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, eggs, dairy products and whole grains are found here.

-The closer you get to the centre of the aisles is where you’ll find the more highly processed products that are less healthy.

Keep It Simple

Having a plan and being a little more organised when you shop for food will make your choices much healthier. You can buy delicious food that is in season and fresh and importantly less expensive.

You won’t have the stress of trying to decide what to buy or wondering if you got everything or the right stuff.

You can be a little more adventurous and try some things you might have never eaten.




HELP! I’m Eating Better But I’m Gaining Weight!

HELP! I’m Eating Better But I’m Gaining Weight!

You would assume and quite rightly that by changing your eating habits that you’d start losing weight or not gain any weight. It’s sad to say that this isn’t always the case.

This can cause frustration because you’re doing everything right but it’s not being reflected in your results.

edited.jpg

The Power Of Habits

A major challenge that you’ll encounter when eating healthier is addressing eating habits. Changing your food to more healthy options doesn’t mean you can eat it in unlimited amounts just because it’s “healthy”.

Eating better and healthy eating habits are a powerful combination that can help you lose weight and feel healthier but also ensure you can stick with it long-term.

Below are some common reasons that can contribute to weight gain while eating better, and some handy tips to avoid it:

Too Many Calories

Highly processed foods are purpose built to be addictive; they taste good and make you feel great so you can’t stop eating them. They are calorie dense but you have to eat a lot before you feel full.

Healthier food options don’t have the above effect and are easier to eat in more appropriate amounts.

But if you’ve struggled with unhealthy eating habits, like overeating, emotional eating, or eating when you’re bored then choosing to eat healthier can only be half the battle. Continuing to eat the way you did before can lead you to over-consume.

Stress is a trigger for overeating, it makes you crave comfort food to take your mind of what’s bugging you.  Find non-food ways to de-stress, like getting outside, reading a book, having a bath or listening to music.

Balancing Fats, Protein and Carbohydrates

With your new commitment to eating better it opens up a new world of food that is very tasty, like nuts, avocado, and coconut that are high in fat and calories.  Keep in mind that loading up on higher fat healthy foods can make it challenging with weight management.

A more balanced approach that focuses on protein and vegetables some carbohydrates and a small amount of fats will help with appetite control and how much you actually eat.

edited.jpg

Hidden Calories In Processed Foods

While prepared and packaged may be labelled as “healthy” or “organic” they aren’t necessarily well balanced.  

Heavily processed foods are calorie dense and easy to overeat regardless of their healthy claims.

Making your own food that contain only the ingredients you put in are a great option.

An emphasis on minimally processed whole foods with a provision for more indulgent foods allows you to still have your treats without feeling deprived while still getting all the dietary benefits you need.

A commitment to eating better will do wonders for your health and help you lose or maintain your weight. Striking a balance between eating healthy food and still having the foods you love consistently is the key to long term success.

Why Is Eating Fruit Better Than Juice?

Why Is Eating Fruit Better Than Juice?

To eat or to drink, that is the question.

But Which Is Better?

To answer this you need to look at this topic through the lens of eating better for a healthier lifestyle then it becomes clearer.

If you’ve neglected your diet for years and have eaten badly then juicing is a step in the right direction. By starting to make your health a greater concern you’re doing a good thing.

Drinking juice is a convenient and quick way to get more vitamins and minerals into your diet.

But when you compare drinking juice to actually eating whole fruit, this is where juicing comes up short.

  1. Juicing removes the all important fibre present in fruit. We’ve discovered more recently that fibre feeds important gut bacteria that maintains our immune system.

  2. The juicing process releases the natural sugars present in fruit which is more rapidly digested by the body thus raising your glucose levels. Consistently raised glucose levels increase your Type 2 diabetes risk.

  3. What you end up with is a sugary drink that has some vitamins and nutrients but is a significant calorie hit and won’t leave you feeling full.

What Does Science Think?

While there hasn’t been a lot research into eating fruit versus drinking it, one study surveyed 190,000 Britons over 24 years and found that eating fruit lowered the risk of Type 2 diabetes while drinking fruit in the form of juice increased the risk.

Eat The Fruit, Skip The Juice

edited.jpg

Fruit juice is heavily marketed as a healthy option and while it contains some vitamins and minerals it is a big sugar hit.

If you like the taste of juice then small amounts are ok but don’t overlook the fact that it can be equivalent to drinking soft drink/soda from a calorie perspective.

Just remember all the good stuff you get with whole fruit, the vitamins and minerals and the fibre (which is almost non existent in fruit juice) fills you up and keeps your stomach in good health.

Will Eating Better Help me Lose Weight?

Will Eating Better Help Me Lose Weight?

The unsexy answer to that question is, it depends.

Weight loss is about energy balance.

calories-in-calories-out-CICO-Energy-balance-equation.png

Image courtesy of www.dietvsdisease.org

Think of it as a set scales, with energy intake on one side and energy output on the other.

You take in more energy than you use and over time your weight increases.

When your input and output are equal your weight is stable.

When your output exceeds input then your body weight decreases over time.

It is possible to eat really well but still exceed your daily energy needs.

But by simply making better food choices it’ll be much easier for you to eat an adequate amount of food that is right for you and create an environment where it is possible to lose weight.

How can eating better help with energy balance?

Less processed food choices maintain a healthy energy balance in some very helpful ways.

  1. Fruit and vegetables are chock full of fibre. This means food is digested more slowly and you’ll feel fuller and naturally reduce the amount of food you eat.

  2. Eating better food is less energy dense. It’s harder for your body to get all the energy from say a carrot as compared to chocolate.

  3. It requires energy to digest food after you eat it. Again better food choices will force your body to use more energy to break it down into usable stuff.

Extra credit

You can influence the energy balance equation by being as active as you can.

Take any opportunity to move.

Set yourself a movement target each day, it could be a length of time or a step count target.

A combination of good food choices and being more active is a great way to improve your health and potentially drop a few pounds.