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?

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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.

Eating For Better Gut Health

Eating For Better Gut Health

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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.