Being healthy without going to extremes.
We often see the statistics about how unhealthy we are as a nation. But then, we are also able to support innumerable gyms, Cross-fits, F45s, yoga and pilates studios and personal trainers. So we certainly have our fair share of gym junkies. We have an alarming burden on our health system created by obesity-related conditions, while on the opposite side of the fridge we have the health-conscious to the point of obsession: orthorexia, the eating disorder where people are obsessed with only eating particular health foods, often leaving out whole food groups and threatening their bodies with malnutrition.
As a society, we struggle with balance. We need to recognise the ability to enjoy food and life in moderation without feeling deprived and without heightening your risk of chronic disease. A good, varied, healthy, clean, seasonal diet with natural sugars, healthy fats, unrefined carbohydrates, convenient meal and snack choices combined with a realistic exercise regime.
Who says you can’t have your 3pm sweet treat without destroying your diet? It’s all about making the right decisions while simultaneously satisfying those cravings.
Easy ways to regain balance
- Don’t give up an entire food group; swap it for a healthier choice. Quitting sugar may sound like a great easy idea, but it is rarely sustainable and even less enjoyable. We were blessed with sweet taste buds for a reason, you just have to learn to make the right food choices to satisfy them and maintain your health. For example that 3pm Snickers craving would be much better solved with a few pieces of dark chocolate and a handful of walnuts. We are so lucky these days to be surrounded by healthy snack options, meaning you can grab a Clean Treat ball and have your afternoon craving sorted without having to worry about your blood sugars, waistline, or increasing your risk of diabetes (all things we should be aware of!)
- Fats are certainly not off the menu, but there are certain ones to choose and ones to avoid. Eat healthy fats in the form of olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, fish, lean red and white meat, full fat organic grass fed butters and yoghurts, coconut flesh, oils and creams. and unheated nut oils. Healthy fats are required for satiety (food satisfaction), nutrient absorption, brain and mood health and help decrease insulin resistance and inflammation. Unhealthy fats to avoid include all vegetable oils, margarine, trans fats found in processed biscuits, cakes, crackers. But that doesn't mean you’ll have to find time to bake your snacks from scratch every weekend: great brands include Mary’s Gone Crackers, the Clean Treats range and The Protein Bread range.
- Carbs are not the enemy. In fact, we need this food group to obtain our B vitamins which enable our bodies to deal with stress and provide energy. Just ensure they’re in their most natural form, such as brown rice, amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, all fruit and vegetables, legumes and lentils and sour dough breads. Avoid the starchy carbs, which are generally an overly manufactured food, such as white bread, white pasta, white rice, store bought muffins, biscuits and cakes. All of these refined carbohydrate foods has the same impact on your blood sugar levels as sugar, which in excess can lead to insulin resistance, weight gain especially around the waist, stagnant weight loss, and eventually diabetes.
- Be smart and make good food swaps. When baking, try swapping our white sugars for more natural ones like coconut sugar or even pureed fruit like apple or mashed banana. Try experimenting with flours other than white, such as almond meal, quinoa or buckwheat. Swap your margarine for butter, try almond or coconut milk on your morning porridge, swap your morning tea for organic brands. Have a healthy Clean Treat organised for afternoon tea, and a few squares of dark chocolate for after dinner. If pizza is on the menu, choose a vegetarian one and add a side salad to eat beforehand so you know you’re at least getting some fibre and nutrients.
A few small changes can start to make all the difference to a diet, without going to extremes and upsetting the whole family. You don’t need to feel deprived or overwhelmed, or reinvent yourself as a health junkie to start seeing positive change