I don’t subscribe to many of the ‘diets’ out there. I think most are unsustainable and create a mental state where we are consumed by thoughts of food – what we can eat, what we can’t eat, how many calories that is – and the list goes on. They create a state of deprivation and hunger where we eat too little and think too much. It’s a prison and it’s exhausting.
The best diet in my opinion is one that frees you from thinking about food all the time, and simultaneously removes that irrational emotion – guilt – from ever being associated with your food.
We should eat when we’re hungry and eat until we’re full and satisfied. Food should be the fuel that nourishes our bodies, and eating it should be a joy.
I passionately believe that balancing blood sugar, eating to nourish our cells and removing artificial substances and chemicals are the key to achieving those objectives. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t LOVE food – I definitely do – so there’ll be no starvation nonsense here.
Coming from the average western diet, understanding how to do that and gradually implementing changes can take time. But that’s ok. Strive for progress rather than perfection and what you build is a new way of life that comes naturally, as opposed to a crash diet that does just that – crashes. It’s a learning curve. I’m still learning. I still make improvements. Because my concern is health, not calories.
Will you lose weight? Probably, yes. But that should be a nice side effect, rather than a sole focus. My ethos is 100% about nourishing our bodies so that we can have the energy we need for work, kids, partners, exercise, and for keeping our immune systems strong.
BALANCING OUR BLOOD SUGAR IS SO IMPORTANT..
Ever felt grumpy, nauseous, shaky, tired when you’re hungry? These are all signs of blood sugar imbalance. We take them as normal since so many people experience it, but it’s really not. Hangry is not a normal state!
When we eat sugar, it enters our bloodstream. If we eat too much of it and/or it enters too quickly, an ‘alarm’ goes off and insulin is released to bring our blood sugar down again. Essentially, our bodies panic! It pre-empts the sugar to come and produces too much insulin, and so our blood sugar crashes causing the symptoms I just mentioned.
Then what do we do? We eat more sugar or drink caffeine (hello coffee/tea + muffin at 10am) to feel normal and the cycle continues. Meanwhile that extra sugar that the insulin just dealt with? It gets stored as fat. Wonderful.
So, how do you balance your blood sugar?
#1 Eat less sugar. Our bodies are not designed to deal with the amount of sugar we as a society are eating, it’s a very new thing to have that amount of sugar available; our bodies just can’t deal with it. Plus sugar weakens our immune system, ages our cells and is generally pants.
- Limit your added sugar as much as possible, between 4-6 teaspoons (1.5 – 2 tablespoons) per day is ideal. This means all granulated sugar, honey, dried fruit, even fruit juice.
- Limit fruit to 2 servings per day. I know, this sounds crazy; fruit is full of nutrients – and this is true. But veg has more but without the sugar. I’m not saying don’t eat fruit (that would be silly) we just don’t need to load up on it that’s all.
- Reduce carby things like bread, pasta and rice. That doesn’t mean cut them out, just don’t rely on them. Fill your plate with colourful veg, protein and good fats, THEN add a little carbs if you need them (about 1/2 cup of rice/pasta or 1 slice of bread = 1 portion). Personally I try to skip the carbs at dinner and have them earlier in the day, but that’s just my preference.
#2 Slow the rate that the sugar we do eat is absorbed into the bloodstream by pairing it with good fats and/or protein. This means that less insulin needs to be released and we don’t store anywhere near as much fat. As a bonus, you have more energy, mental clarity and stay fuller for longer. #Winning.
- Try to add some protein at every meal such as eggs, meat, fish or natural yoghurt.
- Make sure you eat some fat or protein with your fruit (some nuts or nut butter work really well).
EAT MORE (GOOD) FAT..
Yes I know this sounds crazy, but fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar makes you fat.
We need fats to lubricate our intestines, to absorb fat soluble vitamins in our food and for our cells to work properly. They are very necessary for health. Aim for 6-8 tablespoons per day made up of real butter, healthy oils like coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts and nut butters, seeds and cheese.
EAT MORE VEG..
Try to get as much veg on your plate at each meal as you can, and choose things you like! Personally I try to get about four cups worth per day. This will help you to feel full and the fibre is great for your digestion, not to mention the phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. Add some good fat to your veggies while you’re at it – it will help you to absorb more of their vitamins.
Our bodies are made up of mostly water. I’m sure you’ve heard that a thousand times -but it’s true. And every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs adequate water in order to function properly. Additionally, drinking enough water will keep you keep you feeling fuller for longer (and prevent you from confusing thirst with hunger), help to flush out toxins, hydrate your skin and reduce headaches. Around two litres a day is enough for most people, so that’s a good goal to start off with.
DON’T FORGET GUT HEALTH…
Many new nutritional studies are showing the importance of keeping your gut lining healthy. Up to 80% of our immune system is located in our guts. Removing processed foods and getting enough digestive enzymes and probiotics are the best way to maintain your gut health. This doesn’t necessarily mean supplements – raw salad, nuts and veggies all contain digestive enzymes. Probiotics are found abundantly in natural live yoghurt and fermented foods like saurkraut and kombucha and just one portion per day is plenty.
MOST OF ALL..
We eat for pleasure as well as nourishment, and enjoying your food is important. Never give that up!
Thankfully real food ALWAYS tastes better.