Basic Nutrition – 2014

Should you be on a full fat, fat free, low sugar, no sugar, Aitkin’s, cabbage, low GL or GI diet? There is so much information out there regarding the perfect, ultimate, or ‘the right’ diet that it’s possible to get information overload, which if you are like me, will result in nothing getting done for fear of making the wrong or uninformed decision.

IMG_2735When it comes to dieting and weight loss there are three basic rules;

1 – If you eat more calories than you use in a day you will gain weight.

2 – Exercising is virtually essential. It only contributes 20% to your weight loss but is important for being fit, healthy, having a glowing skin and some form of a sculptured body. If you hate the gym don’t go. Cycling, walking or playing ball with the kids or dancing around the living room with friends is much more fun!

3 – If you don’t like what you’re eating, the chances are extremely high that your diet will fail.

IMAG0665I have annoyed friends and family for nearly a decade with my theory that we should all eat like our ancestors did thousands of years ago. Before the industrial revolution when we were all hunter gatherers we used to live on seasonal fruit, nuts and seeds and fresh meats and fish. This was pre agriculture and dairy farming when obesity, diabetes, heart disease and a whole variety of other developed world diseases didn’t exist!

Cngomekerira 005hildren didn’t think that doughnuts and a milkshake were a healthy meal and family dinners didn’t consist of chips, processed meats and out of season, fruit and vegetables which more often than not have travelled huge distances, thus losing all their vitamin and nutrient value, plus contributing to global warming, (I won’t go into that debate today!) to grace the tables of developed countries.

Today’s IMAG0617gluten intolerance’s are believed to exist because our post Industrial Revolution diets changed too quickly and our bodies couldn’t develop quickly enough to manage them. Lactose intolerant, the body’s inability to digest the sugar found in dairy products is also on the rise. We are after all the only mammal species to eat milk, in all its many forms, into adulthood.

My hunter gatherer diet theory is the same as that of the Dr Cordains Paleo diet. His diet promotes;

  • A higher protein intake up from today’s 15% to our ancestor’s daily intake of 19 to 35%.

  • Eating of starchy vegetables which have a low Glycaemia Index are slowly absorbed, which leaves us feeling full without producing sugar highs.

  • A higher fibre intake, which means more non starchy veg and fruit and less grains and processed foods.

  • Increasing your Omega 3 and mono-unsaturated fats from your diet and abandoning the saturated fats. 

  • Raising your potassium levels, think bananas, avocados and dark green vegetables, and lowering your sodium / salt levels .

  • Balancing your acid intake from meats, fish, grains, pulses, cheese and salt with alkaline from fruits and vegetables.

  • Increasing your vitamins, minerals and antioxidants intake

How can you do this? If the food has been processed IMAG0668in any way then our ancestors didn’t eat it and if it can sit in your fridge for over a week it probably has more chemicals in it than vitamins. Think colourful vegetables and organic proteins. If it’s white, it’s probably processed, with the exception of cauliflower and beans that is. If you are an active person doing a lot of sport then you’re going to need good quality carbohydrates like pasta and brown rice. Most of us however can get away without them.

I’m not saying cut out the unhealthy stuff altogether. I’m the first to order a carrot cake after a 30km bike ride, or pizza just because it’s Friday night. Treats are a necessity and there’s nothing worse than being that difficult dinner-party guest just because you’re on some crazy diet. Everything in moderation is the key, with the exception of some delicious carrot cake or dark chocolate and a good glass of Pinotage maybe.

The Basics

Consider this as a general guideline, not something written in stone. You can adapt all of this to your own personal needs and preferences.

Foods to Eat:

  • Meats: Beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, pork and others.

  • Fish and Seafood: Bream, salmon, trout, haddock, tuna, shrimp, shellfish, etc

  • Eggs: Choose free-rangepreferably.

  • Vegetables: Broccoli, spinach, peppers, onions, carrots, tomatoes, etc.

  • Fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, avocados, strawberries etc.

  • Tubers: Sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, etc.

  • Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and more.

  • Healthy Fats and Oils: Lard, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil

  • Salt and Spices: Sea salt, himalayan salt, garlic, turmeric, rosemary, parsley etc.

Avoid These Foods

  • Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup: Soft drinks, fruit juices, table sugar, sweets, pastries, ice cream and many others.

  • Grains: Includes breads and pastas, wheat, rye, barley, etc.

  • Legumes: Beans, lentils and many more.

  • Dairy: Avoid most dairy, especially low-fat (some versions of paleo do include full-fat dairy like butter and cheese).

  • Vegetable Oils: Soybean oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil, safflower oil.

  • Trans Fats: Found in margarine and various processed foods. Usually referred to as “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils.

  • Artificial Sweeteners: Aspartame, Sucralose, Cyclamates, Saccharin, Acesulfame Potassium. Use natural sweeteners instead.

  • Highly Processed Foods: Everything labelled “diet” or “low-fat” or has many weird ingredients.

When it comes to hydration, water should be your go-to beverage.

It is a good idea to clear all unhealthy temptations from your home, including fizzy drinks, pastries, biscuits, chips, crackers, bread, ice cream and cereals.

And remember the simple guideline: If it looks like it was made in a factory, don’t eat it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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