Spring is on its way, and you may feel like you need to give your body a thorough spring clean. On sites like Instagram this week I noticed some friends and acquaintances have started ‘juice-cleanses’ or ‘detoxes’ in well-meaning quests for health. It pains me to see people make it so hard for themselves. It is far easier than these short-term diets. Eat healthily for the majority of the time and you can indulge occasionally, stay lean and trim and have a positive relationship with food.
As I have discussed previously, I believe the human race has both a physiological and psychological relationship to food. My 20 rules deal equally with both of these, teaching you what to eat when everything goes right and teaching you how to eat when everything is going wrong.
To recap, the 6 rules we have covered so far:
What to Eat:
- Combine the food groups
- Good Hydration is Essential
- Avoid Sugar in all forms
How to Eat:
- Spend Wisely
- Eat Consciously
- Avoid Uncontrollable Hunger
This week’s new rules are:
Rule 7/ WHAT TO EAT: Fat doesn’t make you fat.
People who count calories will know that ‘fat’ contains over twice as many calories per gram than carbohydrates and protein. Therefore calorie counters traditionally see fat as the enemy. It is not. Essential fats, found in many foods, are vital for optimum bodily function, and may even help you lose weight.
The Right Fats
There are many types of fat; ‘essential fats’ are the ones we need to consume, as our own bodies can’t produce them. These fats are converted by a complicated interaction between enzymes and key nutrients into substances that can be used internally. Even a little saturated fat is required, but less than essential fats. Fat adds satisfaction to food, and this is vital if we are to enjoy what we eat. Eating fat releases galanin, which helps to moderate appetite but also makes eating fat pleasurable.
The best fats are found in oily fish (e.g. tuna, salmon and mackerel), raw nuts, seeds, olives and avocados. Coconut, despite containing saturated fat is also beneficial– the unique type of medium-chain fatty acid in coconuts has been proven to be genetically different from that in meat products. Use good quality oils in your cooking, salad dressings and marinades. These include: olive, avocado, pumpkin, sesame, rapeseed, walnut and sunflower oils.
Around 30% of your energy should be composed from fat – this helps slow down glucose conversion and maintain reasonable appetite.
Rule 8/ HOW TO EAT: Know your differential.
Everyone has his or her vices. Mine is Roquefort. A sharp, salty blue cheese on a crisp green mackerel salad is, for me, heaven. Unfortunately, blue cheese isn’t the healthiest option and I’d be better off liberally sprinkling nuts or olives on my salad.
The ‘differential’ is the difference between two choices and whether or not it is worthwhile in your opinion. We have to balance our diet in order to be healthy, and it’s important to understand which differentials are important to you in order to be able to live by the 80:20 rule.
For me, a piece of salmon gives just as much pleasure as pizza. I prefer the tangy taste of yoghurt to ice cream. However, I can’t stand most reduced-fat cheese. In order to be able to eat this and be healthy, I choose not to consume many other unhealthy foods in order to balance my cheese intake. And when I eat cheese, it’s usually alongside a variety of healthy foods (e.g. in a salad or quinoa bowl). Always eat as healthily as possible so you can save yourself for the sugary or high-in-saturated-fat foods that matter to you.