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Healthy eating simplified: an introduction of what to eat (and what not to)
How do I eat healthily? The question that gets more confusing and less useful the more a person seems to give it thought. An excess of pedantic information paired with decades of unsustainable fad diets has made sure that most people don’t have a clue.
“How do I eat healthily” can be a simple question. It does have a simple answer. If you remember one thing from your course over the following weeks let it be this... our underlying theme to successful and sustainable healthy eating:
“Eat a variety of real, natural, unprocessed foods – not too much, not too little.”
What is a natural food?
An edible food source made with whole ingredients from plants or animals that haven’t been reformed/transformed isn’t heavily processed, are identifiable on their own and don’t have man-made or unnaturally occurring chemicals added. Our dishes, for example, are made only from identifiable whole natural ingredients.
What is a processed food?
Stuff people eat that has been reformed or transformed, has added chemicals or ingredients that are difficult to pronounce that we know little about. A common example may be something like a cracker containing Butylated hydroxytoluene (a preservative derived from petroleum).
Is there a grey area between the 2?
Unfortunately, there is; some foods like olive oil, for example, are technically processed but would be considered natural (it is a good source of food). As a general rule of thumb, if you know what the individual ingredient is, it hasn’t been changed or had anything unnatural added to it and you are satisfied where it has come from, then you can consider it natural. We shouldn’t focus on pedantic issues. you will develop your understanding of what natural food is week by week throughout your program, overcomplicating the issue isn’t going to help you.
Why natural food?
Health and weight problems associated with an unhealthy diet have globally increased in line with an increase in consumption of processed foods. Many of the ingredients within the processed foods are new and we don’t have enough evidence or time to know if they are good for or harmful to us. Other ingredients or chemicals in processed foods have substantial evidence stacked against them, suggesting they are harmful to human health. Natural foods have been discovered and eaten over thousands of years, we are quite aware
of their impact on the body. Most of the time we actually find that natural foods are full of vital nutrients not contained in processed foods (nutrients that our bodies need). Unless we eat the same 3 or 4 ingredients and nothing else, we are much more likely to get a variety of nutrients from natural foods in comparison to processed foods.
Reasons why processed foods contain these harmful chemicals:
To preserve the foods so they can be centrally massed produced, stored for longer and distributed easier. This minimises the producers and sellers’ costs which can then be passed on to the consumer who is expecting a convenient bargain (remember everything has its price and it’s not always money).
To make you come back again. Repeat sales make good business so putting addictive ingredients such as fructose corn syrup or aspartame in food, benefits the producer at the expense of you, the consumer.
To save costs again – A common example is man-made trans fats (even though they have been hugely linked to many health problems) used instead of natural fats or oils because they are cheaper.
Why then do we eat these processed foods?
Convenience – it’s easy to get, easy to “cook”.
It’s addictive – too much added sugar, added salts and ingredients we can’t
pronounce, make us crave these foods.
All or nothing mindset – people go in too heavy. The body can’t function well on just 200 calorie salads (unless you’re eating 3 of them in a single sitting) so it snaps back
eating convenient (and often unhealthy) foods for some well-needed energy.
It’s all some people know – that no longer has to be you.
Harmfulness is well hidden – the products don’t exactly forewarn their harm.
Natural vs processed foods impact on the appetite
As discussed, processed food is often made to be addictive, it enhances your appetite making you want more. As a result, you end up eating more than your body needs because you actually think you are hungry. Natural food doesn’t generally do this, it’s a lot easier to stop when you are eating natural foods that aren’t designed to hide the off switch. After a few weeks of eating natural cravings will significantly subside.
Processed foods rarely have enough of the nutrients your body needs. Therefore, to get the amount of nutrients you need, you end up eating more food. The processed food isn’t likely to be balanced though so eating more food to get nutrients isn’t necessarily healthy and can cause one to gain weight.
Natural foods, on the other hand, are full of these nutrients and are more balanced so your body isn’t always in need of more food than is necessary.
When you only eat natural foods, you can be confident in knowing if you are actually hungry or not. As a result, you are less likely to eat more than you are supposed to when only eating natural foods.
This extract is 1 part of our step by step weight loss program. This program comes with information activities and support organised to help you get on top of your health goals once and for all. Get the rest of the course below.