Your eating-well guide

According to a YouGov poll1, eating more healthily and getting fitter top the list of New Year’s resolutions, yet many individuals return to previous food and lifestyle patterns by the end of January.

Most people understand what is wrong with today’s Western diet: an over-reliance on processed foods heavy in sugar and harmful fats with inadequate quantities of critical vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fibre. Even so-called “balanced” diets can be high in hidden sugars and starches and deficient in critical fatty acids, increasing the risk of obesity, diabetes, and other health problems. People who believe they follow a healthy diet may benefit from dietary changes.

Although we know what is wrong with our existing behaviours, there is a lot of uncertainty about how to make better choices—what is the best diet? Is it low in fat, high in fat, low in carbs, or low in calories? While there is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to our daily diet, there are several rules that may be followed that focus on consuming nutrient-dense meals rather than empty calories.

We at have created a new free pamphlet, “Your Guide to Eating Well,” which is accessible as a PDF and discusses the ideas and practicality of a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet. The pamphlet is available for download here. You may use it for yourself or with your clients. For individuals who feel they may have food intolerances or sensitivities, the booklet also includes advice on portion sizes, a basic shopping list, and a thorough step-by-step “how to carry out an exclusion diet.” We will go through some of the important points addressed in the handbook on this blog.

Go straight to the key takeaways.

An anti-inflammatory diet is a healthy way to eat that:
  • Meals are based on a variety of veggies.
  • Sugary meals are avoided.
  • It contains no inflammatory lipids.
  • Every day, include healthy fats.
  • This includes tiny amounts of lean meat, fish, and eggs (or vegetarian or vegan protein sources).
  • gluten is reduced or eliminated; and
  • Other inflammatory foods are reduced or avoided.
Meals should be based on a variety of veggies.

The majority of individuals do not meet the UK Food Standards Agency’s recommendation of five pieces of vegetables and fruit each day. The average daily consumption is three servings, compared to ten for Victorians. Fruit is not a substitute for vegetables; while it has health benefits, such as supplying fibre and antioxidants, it is also heavy in sugar.

Why are veggies and fruits beneficial to one’s health?

Vegetables and fruits are high in vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre (vital for intestinal health) and phytonutrients. According to research, vegetables play an essential role in the prevention of chronic illnesses. Vegetable phytonutrients, for example, can help to decrease inflammation. Inflammation plays a role in almost every degenerative illness, including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, obesity, periodontal disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

How many servings do you eat every day?

Increase your vegetable intake until you’ve met the “half-plate rule,” which states that half of your plate should be vegetables (excluding potatoes) for both lunch and dinner. If this is too much at first, you may gradually increase the number of veggies over a few weeks. Half a dish at lunch and dinner will supply about 6 servings of veggies each day.

Some ideas for increasing vegetable intake include:
  • Don’t rely solely on your evening meal to meet your veggie needs.
  • Include a variety of veggies in each meal.
  • Bring a Tupperware with you to work with fresh vegetables for lunch.
  • In restaurants, always order a side of additional veggies.
  • Make additional veggies in the evening and serve them cold for lunch with an olive oil/lemon juice/garlic sauce—you may even use raw vegetables.
  • Consume plant-based protein sources such as nuts and seeds.
  • Green smoothies are great for breakfast or as a snack.
  • With picky eaters, be persistent and urge them to try at least ten times! Tastes may be altered or taught.
  • Make vegetable soups, such as pea and broccoli soup, which may be portioned and kept in the fridge or freezer.
Sugary meals should be avoided.

Our conventional diet 10,000 years ago was low in concentrated sugar sources—estimates suggest humans ate roughly 2 kg per year, which would have come from sources such as wild honey. Modern tribes continue to consume sugar at this level, i.e., around 2 kg of sugar per person per year. Sugar consumption in the United Kingdom is closer to 1 kg per person per week than in any other country.

So, where are we getting all of this sugar from? A large portion of the sugar we consume is found in processed foods and beverages. A can of cola, for example, has 9 teaspoons of sugar. Even foods that are thought to be healthy, such as yoghurts, morning cereals (including mueslis), fruit juices and smoothies, and cereal bars, can contain a lot of sugar.

When reading food labels, keep in mind that sugar has many different names and that an item may include a variety of them. Sugar is known by many different names, including sucrose, glucose, fructose, lactose, malt, malt extract, syrup, and honey.

What is the problem with sugar?

The government recommends that adults consume no more than 30g of added sugar per day (8.5 teaspoons), children consume no more than 19g per day (5 teaspoons), and children aged 7 to 10 consume no more than 24g per day (6 teaspoons). This is still a large amount of sugar, and people with chronic health issues should limit their intake to less than this amount. Sugary meals are pro-inflammatory, and inflammation is a major contributor to a variety of health problems.

Sugary and high-carbohydrate diets can also cause a variety of symptoms, including
  • Inadequate memory or concentration.
  • Depression or mood swings
  • Frequently occurring headaches
  • Anxiety, irritation, or weakness, especially if a meal is skipped.
  • drowsiness in the afternoon.
  • stressed out?
  • Losing weight is difficult.

Cravings may occur during the first few days of limiting sugar consumption. Following this, you should have greater energy, better sleep, and see an improvement in other problems as well.

Consume healthy fats.

Despite the importance of fat, many individuals are fat-phobic as a result of the negative publicity fat received in the 1980s and 1990s. As a result, extensively advertised ‘reduced fat’ meals with high sugar content have appeared. Since then, the importance of fat in the diet has been recognised – rather than avoiding all fat, the emphasis should be on consuming reasonable amounts of the proper types of excellent quality fats. The low-fat diet advice that has been widely disseminated is now shown to be erroneous.

What is the significance of fats?

Fats, in addition to producing energy, serve a variety of important roles in the body. Fats, for example, are structural components of cell membranes. Every human cell contains a permeable protective barrier made up of phospholipids (fats), cholesterol, and proteins. Omega-6 and omega-3 fats are also employed in the production of hormone-like compounds known as prostaglandins. Different prostaglandins can cause or reduce inflammation in the body. In general, omega-6 fatty acids increase the production of inflammatory prostaglandins. As a result, the Western diet’s high omega-6 content is pro-inflammatory.

Fat classifications

Fat occurs in a variety of forms. The nature of the fat is determined by the primary kinds of fatty acids found in it. Saturated and unsaturated fatty acids (mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated) are found in all fats, however they are sometimes referred to as saturated or unsaturated based on the amounts of fatty acids present. Because a large fraction of the fatty acids in olive oil are mono-unsaturated, it is commonly referred to as a mono-saturated fat.

Saturated fats may be found in animal products (meat and full-fat dairy products), coconut oil, and palm oil. Some types of saturated fat, such as the one found in coconut, are extremely beneficial. Saturated fats from animals that are solid at room temperature, such as beef and lamb, are not suggested in large quantities.

Trans fats – Found in trace amounts in some animal products. Trans fats, which are present in processed foods containing hydrogenated or partly hydrogenated vegetable oils, are of special concern. Trans fat consumption has been related to heart disease.

Monounsaturated fats may be found in nuts, olives, and avocado. Monounsaturated fats are heart-healthy because they reduce bad cholesterol (LDL), increase good cholesterol (HDL), and lower blood pressure. Consumption is also associated with a lower incidence of cancer and diabetes.

Extra virgin olive oil (including olives), avocados, nuts/seeds, oily salmon, and extra virgin coconut oil are all good sources of fat.

Deep fried foods, meat pies, sausages, margarine, sunflower and maize oil are all fats to avoid.

Gluten should be reduced or avoided.

Wheat is a major carbohydrate in Western diets, appearing in some form at nearly every meal and snack. It includes a protein known as gluten. Barley and rye are also gluten-containing grains, while oats (unless gluten-free) may be contaminated with gluten. Gluten is found in a wide variety of foods, including bread, pasta, cous cous, beer, and wheat products. Soy sauce, gravies, sushi, and fried dishes in restaurants (even chips!) are less apparent sources.

Why is gluten problematic for certain people?

Gluten is a protein that cannot be digested by humans and promotes gut permeability (i.e. leaky gut) for a period of time following consumption. Every time gluten-containing meals are consumed, this occurs to some extent in everyone. This can trigger an immunological response and contribute to inflammation. A healthy body will’mop up’ the inflammation and restore the leakiness of the gut until gluten is consumed again, at which point the process will restart. However, because gluten containing foods are often eaten at every meal and snacks in between – the body’s capacity to ‘repair’ the gut after eating these foods may be exceeded and this can increase the likelihood of developing a sensitivity to gluten – which is linked to many conditions and symptoms, for example autoimmune diseases, digestive symptoms, mood disorders, skin conditions etc.

How much gluten-containing food am I allowed to eat?

Those who consume gluten-containing meals should limit their intake to no more than one serving per day. It is simple to select alternative breakfast alternatives and avoid them at supper. Lunch ‘on the move’ is where people turn to a’sandwich.’ Quinoa, rice, oats, and sweet potatoes are good gluten-free alternatives; commercially made ‘gluten free’ foods may be lacking in nutrients and heavily processed, so they should be consumed in moderation.

People who have symptoms that suggest a gluten sensitivity should try eliminating gluten from their diet for a week — a step-by-step guide on ‘how to carry out an elimination diet’ is available in ‘Your Guide to Eating Well.’

Important Takeaways
Foods to Try

White fish and oily fish are two types of fish. Choose tiny, wild fish, such as wild salmon or sardines (fresh or tinned in olive oil). Avoid farmed seafood as well as fresh tuna and swordfish. Fruit, particularly berries (frozen ok). Also available: apples, plums, and pears.

Eggs and lean meats in limited amounts – beef, lamb, chicken, preferably organic Vegetables – dark green leafy vegetables, cucumber, avocado, green beans, dark salad leaves, brilliantly coloured root vegetables Tomatoes, peppers, and aubergine should be consumed in moderation.

Almonds, walnuts (in smoothies), and Brazil nuts are examples of nuts.

Beans and lentils are examples of pulses.

Sweet potatoes, oats, brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat are examples of starchy carbohydrates (makes nice pancakes). In moderation, potatoes (or avoid)

Fats and oils from seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, and chia – Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and butter (in moderation)

Coconut milk and almond milk are examples of nondairy milks. (Once in a while, if dairy is permitted, sheep’s milk yoghurt) Dark chocolate with a 70% or an 85% cocoa content (after a meal)

Avoided Foods

Cakes, cookies, sweets, fizzy drinks, fruit juice, jam, white rice, dried fruit are examples of sugary foods.

Wheat, barley, and rye – pasta, bread, cous cous, beer, flour products, sausages, and so on. Check the food labels that have been added to, for example, sushi.

Sweeteners Include aspartame, sucralose, xylitol, and stevia (occasional stevia is OK).

Gluten-free items should be consumed in moderation. They are highly processed and devoid of nutrition.

Corn oil, sunflower oil, margarine, fried meals, and processed foods are examples of fats and oils.

Dairy in plenty.

Products containing soya* and quorn

*Many soy products are extensively processed (eg soy milk, yoghurt etc). It is OK to consume tiny amounts of fermented soy products, such as natto and tempeh, as well as tofu, as is done in Japan (most tofu is not fermented)

If you have any questions about the topics discussed here, or about any other health issues, please contact me (Clare) via email at any time.

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