Tuesday, August 30, 2005

What is healthy eating?

This isn’t rocket science. Personally I have little time for all these eating plans that mean you have to work out in meticulous detail exactly what food types you can have at which particular parts of the day. This approach undermines the sustainable side of the equation. If I have to go to that much trouble, I probably won’t bother keeping it up.

No, basically what we are talking about is eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and steering clear of processed stuff. If you ever want an insight into what excessive processed food can do to you, I seriously recommend you watch Super Size Me.

Maggie was a full time vegetarian for many years, but has now started eating the occasional bit of fish and chicken, so that’s about the limit of our meat intake (although I’m not averse to the odd ham sandwich).

So, a typical day for me will be:

Fruit juice or smoothie
Bowl of muesli with soya-milk

Bowl of home-made soup with sunflower and pumpkin seeds sprinkled on the top and a variety of rice crackers on the side.

Mid-afternoon (if peckish):
Piece of fruit

A wide variety of usually vegetarian dishes with a high vegetable content

Evening (if peckish):
Piece of fruit

The main things here are that if I feel munchy, I’ll have an apple with a cup of herbal tea (not a bag of crisps and a bar of chocolate), and that we avoid the processed food – so it’s brown rice, not white, for example, and we’re not buying things like pizzas and pies from the supermarket.

Health experts reckon you should eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg per day. I used to have one on average, and two on a good day. Now it’s probably closer to seven.

I don’t believe in going hungry and I don’t believe in eating food I don’t like. I would never have believed I could have enjoyed food like this, but once I stopped having food with high salt and additives (crisps for example) every day, I found my taste buds came back with a vengeance. I had no idea that over the years they had become almost numb, and that I was requiring greater levels of salt to enjoy the taste of anything.

Since changing the way we eat, not only have I been losing the weight, but my skin is healthier, my insides work better, I don’t get anything like the amount of headaches I used to get, I have more energy, I’m less lethargic, and my libido has increased significantly.

There are 2 things you need food for – energy and health. Most people understand the first, and so change the number of calories they ingest to alter their weight. What most forget is that you also need the right balance of foodstuffs in order to make your body work the way it’s supposed to.


ReallyTooBig said...

2nd time I stopped by the post, and while we agree a great deal there are differences: I find keeping a detailed calorie log extremely motivational (though this is hardly meal planning), we still eat a lot of pizza (it's the only way to escape my cooking), and a lot of processed foods - mostly canned and frozen veggies and legumes, all of which have extreme salt, but a) I'm no chef and b) the grocery is too far away for daily purchases of fresh produce. But on the whole, I believe we are on the same road - Bob

Kim Ayres said...

Hi Bob,

Obviously you have to work within the means you have. The one thing I have on my side that is extremely powerful is a wife that is a excellent in the kitchen. These days she uses her powers to create tasty healthy food instead of tasty unhealthy food - and I'm aware that gives me an advantage not everyone has.

However, I'm still and advocate of doing what you can where you can. If you can only buy fresh veg once a week, then it will still last you at least 3 days or more, so you can still have it for half the week, which will be doing you more good than once or less per week.

And where possible I really would try and cut back on the salt. It ruins the taste buds and sets up cravings and addictions.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment. I'm open to further discussion or debates if you wish :)

ReallyTooBig said...

ah well, the wife with the tasty food is a luxury!

all in all, it's the calories that count. My head is swimming from all the food pyramids I've read in the last 24 hours. During the next week I'm going to try to put it all together for an enty in my blog. what I am totally surprised by is that fruit has been down graded to about 3 servings a day - no problem for me, I had been stretching to get it up to 6. I am going to have to find more veggies that I like and that are suitable for replacing some of the gains/bread and fish in my diet - that seems a stretch at the moment. back later

Kim Ayres said...

Not sure what you mean about replacing fish in your diet. It's my understanding that fish is good for you (as long as it's not deep fried), especially oily fish such as mackerel.

Sayre said...

At one time, I was married to a man with big blood pressure/heart issues. Part of keeping him healthy was virtually eliminating salt from his diet. Since I ate the same thing he did, I eliminated salt as well.

I have to agree with you - salt numbs the taste buds much the way smoking desensitizes the nose. Since I quit smoking, I could suddenly smell EVERYTHING. Things I missed (and a few I didn't).

I don't have that husband anymore, but I should re-adopt that way of eating. As it is, I already have the habit of not adding salt to anything, but watching salt content in prepared foods is where I have fallen down.

Also, I just want to say thank you for all your support of the "Operation Lose That Ass" gang. It is always inspiring to talk to someone who has been where we are and done what we are attempting to do. Thank you.

Kim Ayres said...

Hi Sayre,

You're so right about the smoking - I mentioned the smell effect on a blog entry I wrote about giving up smoking over on the Ramblings site:

Giving Up Smoking Part 2

And thank you for your thank you :)

The biggest problem we all face is misinformation and the food (and diet) industry. The more we can help each other out, the more we all benefit

♥ Caitlin said...

You may have already heard of or read this book but it is a great piece of work and just might help you in your quest to be healthier. Ive just finished reading it and am looking forward to reading the authors next book. Its called The Omniviore´s Dilema and it is writeen by Michael Pollen. His newest book is called In Defense of Food. Good Luck! ;)

Kim Ayres said...

Thanks for your suggestion, Caitlin - I'll keep a look out for it :)

Carole said...

I love salt. When I was little I would go out in the cow pasture and break of pieces of their salt lick.

I salt almost everything. I didn't realize that would actually effect my taste buds.

Does it help you to weigh in every week?

Kim Ayres said...

Hi Carole,

Our bodies are kind of pre-programmed to want salt - a salt deficiency can cause health problems. But we need very little. In fact health experts recommend we have no more than 6 grams a day. But you can get that much from 1 big mac (without the roll) + the roll + small bag of potato chips. One quick lunch and your entire salt allowance has been used up and you still have to take breakfast and dinner into consideration!

The food industry knows we like salt, and puts ever higher amounts into our food to make it taste more appealing, so we will buy more of their products.

But as well as steadily numbing the taste buds, too much salt can lead to high blood pressure and thus heart problems in the long term.

Ideally, we should look to cutting out as much salt as possible from our diet.

To begin with everything tastes a bit bland, but in a fairly short period of time, we get used to it, and then start noticing just how salty every one else's food is.

As for weighing myself every week, I've found it to be immensely useful. Subjectively we cannot tell whether we are gaining or losing. There are weeks when I'd swear my jeans were tighter yet I've lost a pound - and the other way round.

The thing about doing it every week is it forces us to face up to it when we've gone off track. If you randomly select some of my weekly stats entries, you'll see that on weeks I've gained, I have to justify why I did. And the act of doing so often shows how poor the excuse really is.

Basically it forces us to be honest with ourselves - which is not an easy thing to be, but ultimately is a much better way to be