When you consider the fact that each and every one of us has different metabolic requirements it makes good sense to learn what ratios of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) your body requires, in order to maintain good weight and health. Before you can get to this point though, you’ll need to know what make up these macronutrients, as well as the best quality to chose. So, to help, I’m going to break it down for you...
As much as possible, avoid commercial breakfast cereals (such as Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, Pro-Nutro, Granola, Wheat-bix etc.). Try oats, amaranth, spelt or other whole grain porridges instead, if you feel you need a carb-rich start to the day. Also avoid processed grains such as white flour products, white rice, commercial bread and pasta. If you really enjoy the latter two, eat stone-ground, wholegrain options, and not too regularly. Whole grains include brown rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, brown basmati rice, wild rice, barley, spelt, amaranth and oats. Be aware though that grains in general are not as healthy as they’ve been made out to be, so should be avoided in a healthy diet.
Try and eat raw vegetables every day. Buy vegetables in as fresh a state as possible, and preferably organic. Choose three or four different colour vegetables daily e.g. green broccoli, red pepper, orange carrots, etc. Try and eat vegetables you wouldn’t normally buy, so that you get more variety in your diet. Ferment, steam or steam-fry; avoid boiling.
If you enjoy fruit, try and avoid eating the same ones every day, throughout the year; rather go with what’s in season as these will be most nutritious. Eat these in small amounts with a handful of nuts/seeds, as a snack between meals. Avoid having them directly after a large meal, as they digest faster than other foodstuffs and so tend to sit and ferment in the body (causing gas and bloating). Don’t overeat, as fruit is very high in sugar.
Avoid all processed sugars, such as fructose, glucose and anything else ending in ‘ose’ as well as those ending in ‘tol’ (e.g. sorbitol, mannitol etc.). These can very quickly lead to weight gain, due to their carb-rich, insulin-producing content, and poor health, due to their effect on the immune system (a teaspoon of sugar can suppress your immune system for up to four hours).
Unlike heat-extracted honey, which is a processed sugar, raw honey is a healthy foodstuff when consumed in small quantities. Altogether, avoid artificial sweeteners as these are man-made chemicals with a track record that includes potential cancer links, neurotoxicity and weight gain amongst other things. Xylitol and Stevia are two natural sweeteners that can be used safely, without impacting on insulin production.
Avoid tinned food as much as you can as tins are lined with plastics which leach chemicals directly into your foods.
Try and avoid farmed fish and shellfish; choose wild options instead. Don’t eat seafood too regularly as mercury contamination has become a very real problem in the oceans. Choose only free-range, grass fed, non-medicated beef and lamb. Eat only organic or naturally reared free-range eggs and untreated (unpasteurized), organic milks and cheeses.
Soak beans for 48 hours (changing water at least once) and then rinse and cook on a low heat for up to 6 hours. Pulses (lentils, peas, chickpeas etc.) should be soaked overnight before cooking. Avoid using tinned beans and lentils, but if doing so check for those without added sugar, salt and other preservatives.
Fats and oils:
Cook only with organic coconut fat. Use cold pressed oils like flax, hemp, olive, almond and walnut etc. Use these cold, or add into warm food, but never heat in a pan or cook with these oils as they are destroyed by high temperatures. Eat high quality butter, especially with vegetables as this will help you absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in the vegetable matter. At all costs, avoid margarines (which contain hydrogenated fats and trans-fatty acids). Try and eat a number of different oils daily.
For snacks, eat fresh seeds or nuts. Buy these as fresh as you can, preferably from a health shop that keeps them refrigerated and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. Eat them with, for example, fresh fruit or plain yoghurt, or add some to your salad. Eat unroasted and unsalted (i.e. raw). Alternatively, try crudités with humus, tahini, avocado or cottage cheese. Also, low-temperature roasted peanut butter with, for example celery or banana. Leftover meat and boiled eggs also make a good snack.