Hello and welcome to my very first health blog. I have agonised over where to start, I’ve just got so much to say! I have covered the basics in How to Nourish in the main menu and I have an arsenal of additional topics to inspire and inform you. So please comment, make suggestions and help me to shape this website into a valuable health resource. So, after much procrastination, here’s some more pointers to get you thinking…
Nourishing your body and making healthy food choices is quite straight forward if you aim to simplify your approach to food. Eating well is not about being on a diet or becoming hung up on every morsel that passes your lips. I derive endless pleasure from knowing that the food I prepare for my family and I is whole and nourishing. However when I’m in a food situation that is out of my control, I just do the very best I can. I don’t starve and I don’t stress.
Eating mainly a low human intervention, whole food diet is possible for anyone, of any age. For some, it may involve embracing change and re-evaluating your health values and approach to sourcing and preparing food. Though I assure you, it is not at all complicated or time consuming and does not need to be expensive either. Once more, eating well is not only nourishing but delicious too.
Here are some guidelines for inspiring you to choose to eat well. As you will see, it is not only about what we eat, but how we eat it. Many of these points I will elaborate on in the near future.
Have a health plan
Most people have a wealth plan, but no health plan. By eating only food with nutritional value, you will be continually depositing to your health bank. It is certainly cheaper to be well than sick (both financially and physically)!
One of the most important things you can do for your own health is to participate in your food acquisition and preparation. Support your local community farmers market. Grow a few herbs or vegetables. If you have kids, get them involved in some part of the process. Things like choosing the apples from the market or helping in the kitchen with lots of praise, no matter how small their contribution. My kids love simply spinning the salad leaves or pressing the buttons on the food processor.
Preparing delicious meals is not rocket science, it can be as simple or complex as you like. This is why I have structured my recipes with lots of options and variations so you control the complexity and how much time you are wanting to spend preparing a meal.
One thing that has always astounded me is how many people happily shop for food daily, then complain they haven’t enough time to prepare a decent meal! There is no need to shop more than once or twice a week maximum! Having a well stocked kitchen, a little forethought and preparation will make eating well much simpler. See ‘In the pantry’ for lots of ideas of the sorts of things that should grace your cupboards. I personally like to head to my local farmers market once a week and shop for extra bits and pieces once a fortnight. I also buy my dry stores in bulk as it’s cheaper and more convenient (I shop here). Work out what is easiest for you, but with some forethought you should spend less time shopping and more time preparing real food.
Also, don’t keep foods in the house that you are trying to avoid. I often hear, ‘if I have chocolate in the house, I just eat it’. Well, don’t have it in the house. Out of site – out of mind I say!
Variety increases nourishment
Poor variety is the primary cause of poor nourishment. It’s very often not what a person is eating, rather what they are not eating that causes nutrient deficiencies and poor health. For example, if someone drinks lots of milk it leaves less room for nutrition from other foods.
It is critical to make sure that you have lots and lots of variety in your diet. The less variety you have in your diet, the less your body is able to have all of its nutritional needs met. This leads to deficiencies and disease, both clinical and sub-clinical (like obesity and poor immune function). The human stomach has a finite capacity, so you need to make every mouthful count. This is especially critical with children who’s capacity is less, though their nutrient requirement is so much more.
I find many diet trends or fads, whilst they may be whole food based, they sometimes close the door on many health-giving foods and leave their followers very restricted with food choices. This may result in a lack of variety, poor nourishment and nutritional deficiencies. I believe just a little of any whole food is fine, unless of course you have an allergy or intolerance.
For ideas on varying the grains you consume, see here.
Eat S.L.O.W foods
Choosing to eat S.L.O.W – that is eat mainly Seasonal, Local, Organic (or sustainable), Whole food. If you do this you will be consuming the freshest, most nourishing and nutritious produce possible. Ask yourself is this a food we can grow, raise, hunt or gather if we were living a self-sustaining life i.e.; no cold storage, transportation or supermarkets available? If the answer is yes, then you are making a nourishing food choice. See my resources guide for where to find S.L.O.W foods in your area. By eating S.L.O.W foods, not only do you improve your own health, but you dramatically benefit the health and wellbeing of the whole planet.
What about packaged foods made from whole ingredients?
I would love it if we never had to look at an ingredient panel again. But the sad reality is that the average person is frequently confronted with packaged foods. So when you are, see if you recognise each and every ingredient in the product. It is important to understand exactly what you are ingesting. If it is an ingredient you are unsure of, then you may need to further investigate it or find an alternative. Generally packaged whole foods have short ingredient lists of maybe four or five ingredients. Long lists of ingredients are usually found in very processed products. For example, bread should be simply flour, water and a raising agent whereas many breads these days have over fifteen ingredients. For more information on how to choose the best bread, see here.
I am also instantly cautious of a product that makes health claims and never, ever buy any product claiming to be ‘low fat’, fat reduced’, ‘lite’ or ‘fortified’. These sorts of claims scream ‘processed’! I will be giving you many examples of these foods and how to choose the best options in topics to come.
There are no healthy ‘fast food’ choices
I know many of you are going to hate me writing this, but I am yet to find any nourishing foods on the menu of your big chain, fast food outlets. Everything is processed – even though it may on the surface, appear not to be. I recently met with a doctor who had in a little lunch box, a hamburger from a fast food chain that was 6 years old! The scary thing was that it was entirely intact – other than being rock hard (dehydrated), each and every part – the bun, the lettuce, the pickle, the cheese, the meat, was as it was the day it was purchased. No mould (even shoes grow mould in Queensland!) and no decomposition at all. Same with the fries! A burger made with whole ingredients would show signs of decay within 24 hours. It seems that micro-organisms know better than us humans. Think of this sordid tale the next time you head for drive through!
It’s your choice
Lastly, as omnivores, we are fortunate to have lots of choices. If you choose to supply your body with a balance of nutrients derived from the variety of the foods nature provides, you shouldn’t have to worry about your weight or developing degenerative disease.
Arm yourself with knowledge that makes sense to you, and pay attention to how you feel when you eat well (or not). Understanding what you eat and how it affects you, fuels you and motivates you to prioritise your health and make any necessary changes.