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Nutrition Made Simple: Fundamental Tips for a Healthier Life

First of all, it is only right to point out that every one of us is completely different. Obviously we all look and behave differently but how we portion, digest and metabolise whatever substances that pass our lips every day is also completely different for everyone. Some diets work for some people and not for others – and vice versa. So to claim that one particular product, or food item, or technique, can change your life immeasurably is utter trite. Unless, of course, you are talking about ingesting something like cyanide before you go to bed tonight, which will definitely do something to you but then you won’t be able to read any more of my blogs again, so don’t.

The food you consume is not solely for energy. It is meant to provide you with all the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs to function effectively. It is also meant to taste good and most importantly, it is meant to be enjoyed. If you go on a fad diet to lose weight, it’ll be a bit of a pyrrhic victory if you achieve your desired goal after consuming only cabbage for 2 months solidly. You’ll stink, your house will stink, you’ll have terrible wind and you’ll be sick of the sight of the stuff. This is an excellent example of a dreadful fad diet. I hope none of you have tried it. There are far better approaches to losing the belly, which will not only provide you with all the necessary, essential nutrients; they will taste good and you will enjoy them. In the same way as misery can feed misery (as described in the context of my own self-punishment/eating cycle), happiness can feed happiness; if your food makes you feel better about your body, your body, in turn will make you feel more positive about your food.

So, if none of these diets work, what am I suggesting you do about it?

I, like anyone else, cannot claim that my wise words and techniques in this area are the answer to your problems but there is a considerable amount of scientific evidence to support what I have brought together here, coupled with first hand personal case studies conducted by yours truly. What I can confirm is that none of what I propose will induce any negative side effects (assuming you’re not allergic to anything, in which case, be prudent).

It is through this collection of blogs on nutrition that every topic I have already covered in my previous blogs can be utilised specifically to help you achieve your desired weight and or nutrition plan. You can’t expect to have the perfect body if you’re not happy with your life, if you don’t love yourself and if you don’t even believe that you can achieve it. As you’ll have learned by now, perseverance, dedication, mindfulness and belief are the foundation blocks to leading an optimal life. All I am trying to do is to make you and everyone who reads this realise that you have the ability to do anything if you are happy, you love yourself and you believe. Come back to this blog whenever you are unsure, in order to access the information again, through the eyes of a self-loving, gloriously happy, future You. At this point I will again stress the importance of mindfulness; it brings everything into perspective.

Whether you need to reconstruct your daily eating habits to lose weight, or simply in order to lead a healthier life, the following information that I am about to share is all scientifically justified to do just that and will hopefully inspire you to modify your culinary regimes, assuming you’re not already doing it.

I am not going to  label and categorise every different detail of every type of diet. What I will do, however, is note down the basic, fundamental points for making a start to your new eating regime. You can then feel gloriously inspired to research the next level yourself and, in the same way as with your mindfulness, create a system that fits you, not the other way around.

As already discussed, fad diets don’t work in the long run and aren’t intended to, they’re merely a quick fix that won’t last. It may sound rather drastic at first but along with everything else I have mentioned in my blogs, you need to alter your train of thought to properly adjust to a brand new lifestyle. It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle approach and the longer you do it, the more natural and easy it will be to follow. There is NO quick fix. You have to work at getting your body back to how it should be. When trying to adopt a new lifestyle, the majority of people get bored and are happy to just slip back into their old ways of living before giving it a chance. If that happens to you, you have to question your commitment and drive for becoming fit and healthy in the first place. If you don’t want it, you won’t achieve it. If you do, you will. That is a really negative way to look at it but hopefully it will spur you on to categorically commit yourself to your new lifestyle and to re-establish the fond love and affection for yourself that you deserve. I should just emphasise here that this is not about being ‘thin’. It is about being healthy, in body as well as mind, to the point that is appropriate for you to feel good about yourself.

Let’s deal with the common sense of dieting, first. The more you put in to your body, the more you need to burn off. There are established guidelines for the amount of energy required to fuel your body, relating to age, weight, sex, build and height. It’s pretty simple. If you over-indulge on any particular day, you either need to eat less the following day, or partake in an exercise regime of sorts to burn it off. If you fail to do either of those two things, unless your body is incredible at metabolising, you are destined to gain a little bit of weight.

I read an excerpt from a book entitled Changing Habits, Changing Lives, by Cyndi O’Meara, an acclaimed Australian dietician. She puts forward the notion that practically everybody would change their lifestyle and diet if a doctor told them that they were going to die very soon unless they changed their eating habits. That’s just it, many of us will die considerably sooner than you might think if we don’t make a concerted effort to make sure the way we eat is healthy. Your diet is connected so intrinsically to your health, which impacts your every living moment.

The ‘five a day’ recommended  fruit and vegetable consumption isn’t a fabricated statistic to follow as and when you feel inclined. The vast amount of trusted scientific data from almost every health board in the world is geared towards making people realise the importance of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that we can obtain from consuming said foodstuffs. It should actually be seven a day (it is in Australia), to comprehensively cater for as much of the goodness we should be receiving on a daily basis. Some recent studies have suggested as many as ten a day but five a day is more workable for the entire population (a bit like setting yourself a meditation target you can meet). Despite this, even that is very rarely met by the vast majority of people you talk to.

We, as a human race, should be shying away from foods created by technology and processing, instead welcoming and cherishing everything that nature provides, because therein lies the key to health and wellbeing. There is a plethora of different food groups that have a whole host of contrasting effects on our bodies, so it is imperative that you learn and understand how your body reacts to certain food types, before giving up on the chance to allow it to fulfil its potential.

Although, as we keep being told, cases of obesity have multiplied significantly in the last decade or so, we have also experienced a very positive and necessary food revolution by seeing the availability and inclusion, in the majority of our supermarkets, of almost every naturally-grown foodstuff from around the globe. There is so much readily available choice in fruit and vegetables – far more than in meat and processed foods – that you could probably eat different varieties for every day of the year and still not have tried everything. The stepping-stone to fulfilling the needs of your body is quite literally at your fingertips, so take heed of the glorious gifts on offer to you, which have never been so easily accessible as they are today, and start loving your body. If, in addition, you choose to eat seasonally, you’re doing something good for local food suppliers and for the planet, too.

Health doesn’t need to cost you more money than you already spend. If anything, you may find eating healthily reduces your outgoings on food. It costs nothing to learn about the extraordinary benefits natural produce can offer, yet many people are so stuck in their ways that they don’t want to even contemplate a routine change that could significantly enhance their wellbeing, let alone actually do it.

I know that when I was overweight I still seemed pretty happy on the outside – but that was just a front to cover up my inner demons. I will get into trouble with a lot of my friends for saying this but our bodies aren’t meant to be fat. You may very well seem to be the happiest and ‘bubbliest’ person your friends know but for those of you who are inwardly struggling with your weight, until you can confront your inner turmoil (as was explained in the Mindful Baker's guide to rekindling self-love blog) you will never be able to develop a fond love for yourself and put an end to the over-eating and plus-sized jeans.

The biggest division between fat people and thin people hasn’t got anything to do with money, even though that seems like a plausible excuse, it boils down largely to education and mindful awareness. There just needs to be some sort of collective nutrition hub that brings everyone together and explains the benefits and ease of eating well. But where? Maybe at a mindful blacking workshop that brings everyone together?

As good as the media and supermarkets have been for igniting the much needed shake-up in the nutrition world, they are also very good at ‘unintentionally’ excluding the poorest of us, by proclaiming the boundless benefits of superfoods and organic crops, while merrily hiking up their prices to such preposterous heights that it only leaves the wealthier half of the population able to benefit from them. Superfoods are, frequently, foods that have received super PR. There are categorically no proven health benefits to choosing a cheaper alternative to whichever gem of a produce you have been told will offer the elixir of life.

I watched an incredible programme on the BBC called The Truth About Healthy Eating, which put 5 ‘superfoods’ up against their cheaper alternatives. The results are fascinating and prove that with enough positive PR you can raise the price of anything. The documentary contrasted the claimed health benefits of goji berries, chia seeds, coconut oil, kale and quinoa, against their ‘budget’ counterparts.

Goji Berries: Although high in vitamin C, which is their selling point, there was no noticeable difference between their levels and those of a strawberry or even a bag of frozen summer fruits, which falls under one of your five a day and costs a fraction of the price.

Chia Seeds: Apparently are a good source of Omega-3, yet no difference was found between the amount released by sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and linseeds, which are all much cheaper.

Coconut Oil: Claimed to be a ‘good source of saturated fat’. I must admit, I have fallen for this particular ‘superfood’ but I do quite like the coconut flavour I get when using it for cooking a stir fry. When contrasted with its oily counterparts, though, it scored no better than some of its rivals. Interestingly, rapeseed oil, which already has a good name for itself, is quite often what you get if you look on the back of most supermarket own-brand vegetable oils; so be investigative when purchasing your oils. Many people swear by olive oil – to the point of dosing up on an eggcup a day of the golden elixir, even if they’re not cooking with it. It’s great for your hair, skin and nails amongst other things too.

Kale: Low in calories, high in fibre and low in fat. Having said that, so is cabbage or spring greens, to look to its most similar counterparts. When it comes to flavour, however, I much prefer kale, so on that front, it wins every time for me; it’s also not terribly expensive and in some cases can actually be cheaper than its peers.

Quinoa: Releases carbs slowly and has lots of proteins but then so do pearl barley and spinach. Depending on whether or not you know about the plight of the Bolivian farmers and how the global distribution of Quinoa is affecting their economy, it might alter your opinion on this ‘superfood’.

The survey was conducted for the BBC by Reading University’s Dr. Gunter Kuhnle and the programme was presented by Fiona Philips.  They spent £36 on the superfoods but only £6 on the cheaper alternatives. Conclusive proof that you do not need loads of money to eat healthily.

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