There is not one set of nutrition rules that everyone should follow. Good nutrition is all about developing eating habits that will enhance your health as an individual. This is absolutely not a fad diet. Good nutrition is simply a way to nourish your body and help prevent disease, in a way that is sustainable.
Fat Loss and Health
If fat loss is your aim, good nutrition can naturally aid this. By eating predominantly natural and wholesome foods, most people find that they feel more satisfied throughout the day, and cravings for processed foods decrease. By cutting empty calories from sugary foods, and increasing consumption of vegetables, fruits, unrefined carbohydrate foods, protein foods and healthy fats, blood sugar is regulated more effectively, cravings are reduced and fat loss can naturally follow. Many find that they are eating more than ever, whilst becoming leaner and more energised with little effort. Bare in mind however, that ‘weight loss’ shouldn’t be your absolute and only goal when it comes to thinking about your diet. We all know at least one junk food consuming, non-exercising ‘skinny’ person, whom we feel deserves to be twice our weight. Genetics, metabolism, and many other factors contribute to why this person remains ‘skinny’. But, their unhealthy behaviours increase their risk of suffering health problems, regardless of their weight. I use the word ‘weight’ with inverted commas because this is a word which we, and the health and fitness industry, are too fixated on. See the blog for more on this.
Good nutrition involves reducing consumption of inflammatory foods, which have been associated with metabolic diseases such as diabetes, and some cancers. Personally, I feel healthier, happier, and more energetic than ever, and I put this largely down to the foods that I eat. The old saying “You are what you eat” couldn’t be more true.
Small changes make big differences. Attempting to transform the way you eat over night will most commonly lead to a constant cycle of lapses, and consequently relapse. I recommend that you pick one or two changes at a time, and commit to these before attempting to make more changes. We all have different lifestyles which affect the way we eat, including time schedules, exercising patterns, jobs, budgets, habbits and family lives. Time is one of the most common factors that has an affect on how we eat, but there are so many solutions that can solve time related food issues, just take a look at my blog and recipe pages for inspiration.
Psychological relationships with food and individual cravings can also play a big part in our dietary patterns. For instance, some people find that completely staying away from sweet foods eliminates the cravings for sugar, whilst allowing themselves ‘clean sweet alternatives’ continues to feed their cravings leaving them wanting more. Others find that total elimination actually drives their cravings. They find themselves better suited to a diet of moderation, in which they allow themselves homemade sweet treats, or small amounts of sugary foods, to keep their cravings at bay. The take home message here is simple, you need to experiment with your diet and find what works for you as an individual.
Ideas about Good Nutrition
Whether you’re just starting out, or are a fully fledged healthy food fanatic, here are some ideas which may inspire you to improve your own nutrition….
- Consume whole (real) foods, whilst avoiding processed foods and additives most of the time
- Consume a plant based diet (vegetables), combined with meats, fish, eggs, starchy and minimally refined carbohydrate foods, nuts, fruit, seeds, olive and coconut oils, dairy products, and occasional treats
- Avoid alcohol; limiting alcohol to consumption to special occasions and events
- Avoid or minimise refined sugar consumption; this is a big one for me, as research now indicates that sugar is a major contributor to obesity and metabolic disease through inflammatory responses. As well as this, it is thought to be addictive to some people. We are biologically programmed to crave sugar for survival, but in modern day society where sugar is readily available, this has become a problem for our health. Complete restriction can drive obsession and cause some people to binge on the exact foods they are trying to avoid. So if incorporating small amounts of refined sugar in your diet prevent this, then it is likely to be a good option.
- Consume raw vegetables and fruit as often as possibe. This helps to preserve the nutrient content which can be reduced by preparation and cooking processes
- Consume organic and free range produce where possible. See my article on ‘The Dirty 15’ for help with organic shopping
- Consume healthy Fats; the old view of fats being an enemy is long outdated. See my blog for more on this.
- Drink enough water; Our bodies are approximately 70% water, and many of our metabolic processes require water to function effectively, so water is vital for health
More Tips and Advice
My number ONE piece of advice for maintaining good nutrition is to focus on preparation. Another saying that drives me is “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. Identify your weaknesses and prepare ways to combat them. Personally, I carry some kind of nutritious snack practically everywhere I go. This means I am far less likely to resort to buying refined sugar based and processed snacks. My blog gives many tips and guidance for preparation and preventing set backs.
It takes time to develop the habits that make good nutrition an unconscious and natural part of your lifestyle. If your taste buds are accustomed to highly processed and refined foods, it can seem difficult to change. However, believe me when I say that your tastes do change. You will enjoy different foods and different tastes if you make them an enjoyable part of your life.
Another important point to note is that fixating on your diet should not take over your life. Good nutrition is majorly important for health, but remember that like one healthy meal won’t lead to a life time disease protection, one meal containing processed or refined foods will not send you into a spiral of obesity and disease. So don’t get too caught up in feelings of guilt in relation to eating single meals or foods, as it is more important to look at the overall picture of your diet and health. Being too restrictive can have a negative impact on your long term relationship with and enjoyment of food, and can consequently make good nutrition more difficult to sustain. It’s best to experiment and find out what does and doesn’t work for you.
I went through a spell where I attempted to go fully paleo with my diet, but this included cutting out all dairy. I soon found that I struggled, to the point where I was starting to want processed and junk foods because I felt so restricted. I now eat many meals which could be classed as fully paleo, but I enjoy natural yoghurt, cheeses, and other dairy items which provide good sources of protein. So I’m going to say it again, find what works for you.
Good nutrition doesn’t mean complicated recipes, cupboards full of expensive ingredients, and endless hours of food preparation. On the other hand, your unlikely to sustain this lifestyle if every meal consists of lettuce and chicken. When I first started changing the way I eat, I planned every meal, and every shopping trip. Over time I was able to open my mind to all of the different foods that are out there, and am now able to combinine foods in different and interesting ways, without thinking about it. The ability to create different food combinations is probably one of the biggest parts of good nutrition, you need to clear your mind of traditional “meals”, and learn to make your plate or lunch box full of colour and life.
You will notice that my recipe section contains ideas that may be better classified as ‘food combinations’ as opposed to recipes. This is because good nutrition involves learning how to combine foods in order to obtain the macro and micronutrients which you need. Therefore you may need to change your ideas about what a plate should look like, and this is why I aim to inspire you with different food combinations. Eventually, you won’t have to think about it, you will open the fridge and throw tasty combinations together in no time.
Clean Food Queen Aim
MY AIM is to create as many tools as possible to make good nutrition simple, helping people to sustain, and most importantly enjoy, a healthy lifestyle. I want to help people take charge of their own health, promting the prevention of disease and illness, by changing people’s perceptions about how to be healthy. I want people to realise that declining health is not necessarily inevitable, and that it is never too late to make improvements to your lifestyle. All this involves is looking at food in a different way, changing what you assumed was the right way to eat, or challenging yourself to change the things that you know need changing.
Remember, there is more to life than plain chicken and limp veg…. so check out my ‘Recipes’ section, or see what I’m eating on a daily basis by accessing the ‘Follow My Food’ section of this website.
Clean Food Queen xxx
“Disclaimer: I am not a health professional. I have a level 3 and 4 qualification in Nutrition and a degree in Biomedical Sciences [Health, Exercise and Nutrition]. The aim of this website is to share my experience of nutrition, in order to inspire others to develop their own healthy eating habits. I am happy to answer questions about my lifestyle, based on my own knowledge and research.”