I run to eat.
I am not one of those people that will ever forget to eat, or just eat to fill myself up. I enjoy eating, a lot.
My philosophy on healthy eating is to eat a lot of what’s good for you, and a little of what you love. It’s all about the 80/20 balance. If I know I’m having a big boozy dinner, I’ll try to ensure that breakfast, lunch and snacks lean towards the healthy side of the spectrum.
I know there’s been a lot of slamming recently of specific diets, and although I try to be open-minded towards different view points, I do understand some of the arguments against detoxes and diets where whole food groups are eliminated. Doing this for health reasons I completely accept, however I don’t think it’s all that sustainable to cut out aspects such as fruit or dairy altogether. Unless you’ve got a specific goal, like fitting in to a wedding dress, then I don’t think it should be about going on a ‘diet’, it should be a change in lifestyle and attitude towards food. Although I do understand why a lot of people feel they need to reset by going on a detox, I cannot stand the idea of crash dieting, and know that it’s not for me.
I don’t do low fat, or low calorie, or low carb. I try to do low chemical ie. less processed foods the better (I’ve mentioned before that Tom and I are trying to eat more organic produce, particularly milk and meat). I try to do high nutrients, and diversity, and aim to eat between 7-10 servings of fruit and veg a day.
Ultimately, I strive for balance.
Where possible, I will opt to make healthy, more nutritious switches to my meals. If I can use cauliflower instead of couscous, then why not. If I can swap white pasta for brown, or even courgette spirals to make a more nutrient dense meal then I will. Additionally, when baking if you can sneak in a portion of fruit or veg, or cut butter out of brownies by using avocado, then I think that’s fab.
Of all the diets I resonate most with, it’s probably Paleo, however I don’t understand the lack of grains and legumes within the diet so would never adhere to this (I haven’t done any reading around this, so would love to hear more from those in the know or book suggestions please!). I like cheese, I love yogurt and I live with a boy that likes to eat a lot of meat.
One area that I am trying to cut down on my intake is processed foods, and above all, refined sugar. I could do with limiting the sweet treats, however as with everything, I think they are fine in moderation. I know that sugar is a big topic at the moment, but cutting out all sugar, including fruit, I think is a little extreme, and again, unsustainable (for me, anyway!).
I think the sharing of food on Instagram, twitter and blogs can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s great for recipe and meal inspiration, but it can leave you feeling guilty that your lunch wasn’t as ‘healthy’ as someone else’s, or that you ate 3 large slices of birthday cake while no-one was looking (or had chocolate cake for lunch). People only share online what they want others to see. If you look at more personal forms of contact, like Whatsapp, you’ll see that even ‘healthy living bloggers’ sometimes tuck in to a portion of McDonald’s fries (naming no names!).
It can also be easy to use exercise as an excuse, and one that I do all too often. ‘It’s OK to eat a whole packet of chocolate fingers because I’ve run 18 miles’. It would probably be better for my recovery and waistline if I chose foods that will help rebuild torn muscles and nourish my body, rather than giving it extra work to do processing the chemicals.
I love the philosophies of RDs including Anne, who suggests that ‘you should not feel bad if you indulge if you’ve decided that it’s worth it’ (read her article here onindulgence), and I also found this article that Steph shared with me really interesting on Sugar Simplified.
For me, a sustainable ‘diet’ is one that can be maintained in the long term, accommodates for parties, holidays, birthdays and off days, and doesn’t leave people wondering what the hell they’re going to cook you when you go over for dinner.
In October I’m going to take part in the October UnprocessedChallenge and would love to get other people involved too.
What are your food views? I love a little debate!