Confused about what or what not to eat?

Don’t fret, we all are. It’s confusing even for the most established and sought after nutritionist let alone the keen onlooker trying his or her best to improve their health. I don’t encourage omitting entire food groups or demonising any particular food UNLESS ……

1. The ingredients list is far too long for the type of food you are buying. Check out the ingredients for Sainsbury’s Wholemeal Flatbread – they look OK, until you read the ingredients …

Wholemeal Wheat Flour, Water, Rapeseed Oil, Yeast, Spirit Vinegar, Fermented Wheat Flour, Raising Agents: Disodium Diphosphate, Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate, Calcium Phosphate, Fortified British Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Calcium Carbonate, Iron, Niacin, Thiamin), Salt, Wheat Flour, Emulsifier: Mono- and Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Mono- and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids, Skimmed Cows’ Milk Powder, Flour Treatment Agent: Ascorbic Acid

2. The food is made by Nestle, Pepsico, Kellogg’s, Mars …. any of the big food industry players. This information is always provided on the label. Watch out, they have an agenda!

3. The ingredients include things that even I need to look up to understand what they are. If you don’t recognise it as an actual food ingredient, don’t buy it.

4. Fastfood, ready-made-meals and eating out. We don’t know how the ingredients sourced, stored or prepared despite what we are made to believe. Most high end restaurants rely on sourcing ingredients and meals from large catering companies, who mass produce dishes or part dishes in large factories before packing, chilling or freezing and delivering to the restaurants. Because the main purpose of any business is to be profitable, the ingredients are cheap, the production is cheap, and the profits are bigger. We all go out now and again but maybe keep the ‘unknowns’ to a minimum.

5. Most foods with sugar in the ingredients. Unless they were put in the food for helping the fermentation process and therefore the sugar has been converted by the good bacteria.

6. Industrial vegetable oils. INFLAMMATION! Call the internal fire brigade to put out the fire!

7. Heavily processed foods. Items that become non-food-products. Low in nutrients. Low in chi (vital energy) and low in love. Its like polyfiller but it doesn’t even fill you up. Just slowly poisons you.

8. Look out for foods that make health claims such as egg-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, fat-free, made for Weight Watchers or look desirable for someone trying to improve their health. It’s not usually the case. The foods will be full of suspect ingredients, sugar replacements, thickeners, fillers and binders.

In some circumstances, I may recommend that a patient omit an entire food group or certain items as part of a therapeutic protocol. Certain diseases, disorders respond well to particular diets and thats when its helpful to apply such strict regimes.

Also, patients may have allergies, sensitivities and intolerances to certain foods and drinks. So we are safe to say it’d be a good idea to omit these foods from their diet during the healing stage (people can grow out of allergies, or develop new ones during any stage in their life).

Foods and food groups which are fashionably seen as ‘bad’ (I dislike using that word), include gluten, sugar, dairy and soy. All of these can be enjoyed (unless you have an allergy or intolerance), but there is a preferred way of consuming each one if you choose to include them in your diet, reduce their possible side effects and maximise on the nutrients they have on offer.

Gluten – lots of people feel that their digestion improves and that they generally feel better for not having this in their diet. That’s fine, carry on. But some people find if the grain is sprouted, and, in the case of bread, if it is soured, then they can enjoy these foods without the bloating and pain.

Sugar – in extremely small doses, occasionally, this can be enjoyed. Whatever the type of sugar, its still sugar. Whether its in the form of dried fruit, coconut nectar, agave, honey, table sugar, rapadura, your body metabolises it in a similar way. If you are not trying to keep trim, or have a particular disorder which would benefit from the omission of sugar entirely, I’d be looking at getting a sweet craving satisfied by eating a piece of fruit, occasionally. There is one exception, and thats highly active types or athletes who require an efficient, easily absorbable fuel source. But I would go recommending that they even consume pure sources of the sweet stuff!

Dairy – it seems that this one can be over consumed. The English love their milk. On cereal, in smoothies, in tea and coffee. Better forms of dairy and far more gentle to the digestive system would be organic pure butter, organic full fat yoghurt, organic raw cheeses. They have all gone through a culturing process which enhance the available nutrients, breaks down lactose (responsible for milk intolerance), and casein (responsible for milk allergies).

Soy – this one can also get over consumed, mainly by people who follow a vegetarian, vegan or dairy free diet or those who think they are making a healthier diet choice. The best way to enjoy this is in its traditionally fermented state. Natto, miso or tempeh. The tofu that is sold on the supermarket shelf is not fermented, but in traditional methods of preparation, it is. So, best avoided.

The main points to follow for a healthy wholesome diet include:

  • Eat mainly vegetables, cooked, raw (for some), roasted, in soups, salads, in stews and casseroles, as zoodles, in breads, pancakes, green smoothies. Organic and produced with minimal impact to the environment is best.
  • Eat healthy fats. Use mainly coconut oil for cooking and frying, or high smoke point animal fat for roasting potatoes (lard, goose fat preferably from organic and pasture raised animals). Eat oily fish 2-3 times a week preferably from a sustainable and local source. Eat soaked, sprouted flax or chia seeds for Omega-3 if you follow a vegan diet. On salads use olive oil, walnut oil, avocado oil or sesame oil. Eat avocado.  Have a slice of cheese made from raw organic milk. From goat, sheep, cow, buffalo and camel mums.
  • Eat animal protein and animal fats. Eat small portions and in moderation. Eat different parts of the animal. Try the belly, the ear, the feet, the heart. Each part is full of a different balance of nutrients and is a superfood in its own right. If your digestion is weak or you need healing, or just because its so nourishing, drink the broth made from boiling the bones leftover from a Sunday roast.
  • Eat a variety of fermented produce. Try sauerkraut and other fermented veg, yoghurt made from goat, sheep or cow milk, apple cider vinegar (with the mother), coconut yoghurt, kefir milk or water, kombucha, lassi, kvass, tamari, organic miso, kim chi, some fish pastes and fish products – other items you probably did not know are fermented include the cocoa bean and the coffee bean. Beer, wine and spirits go through fermentation process. Sourdough bread is a way of fermenting the grain flour to make it more digestible and nutrient rich. And ketchup – not the Heinz variety but the traditionally made version.
  • Some grains and pseudo grain. If you are not following a certain dietary protocol as part of a healing process then eat a variety of grains in moderation, such as wild rice, basmati rice, buckwheat, barley, millet and oats. These are best eaten organic. They are also best prepared in the most traditional ways including soaking (water with a little whey, yoghurt) and sprouting.
  • Fruit. Go easy on the fruit as its easy to over consume and some fruits have a particularly high sugar content. Eat as a whole fruit. Not as a juice which may eventually rot your teeth and upset your gut flora.
  • Nuts and seeds. In moderation these are OK. They are best eaten soaked, dehydrated, activated, roasted or sprouted.
  • Eggs. I’m a big fan of eggs. Easy to prepare and they taste good with lots of different foods. Organic, and if you can find them, pasture raised chickens given a natural diet of grubs from the ground rather than corn and grain.
  • Legumes. Lentils are the most tolerated of them all and are the easiest to prepare. Most legumes are not tolerated well by people but it helps if they are prepared in a traditional manner which is to soak (e.g. with a little bit of whey), rinse, boil, simmer, for long periods of time. Think about dhal or refried beans, where both dishes are produced with thorough preparation of the beans/seeds).
  • Drink water – preferably filtered and not from a plastic bottle.
  • Herbs and spices. Preferably organic and unirradiated. They all have an array of medicinal properties and more importantly they ramp up the dial on the taste-o-metre. So go crazy and experiment. Remember, a little at a time. You can always add too little but you can ruin a dish when you add too much.

Remember, listen to your body, look at your food, smell your food, chew thoroughly, eat with friends and family as much as you can, smile and enjoy!