The basics of good nutrition: Is it really just common sense?

Chopping board

I’ve done a lot of research into nutrition and diets over the years, and I must admit, the information out there is thoroughly confusing. Paleo, low carb, high carb, high protein, dairy-free, sugar-free…it’s totally overwhelming. No wonder we’re all ass-about when it comes to what we put on our plates.

Advertising and media does nothing to help this situation either. We’re constantly bombarded with fat-free and sugar-free advertisements for this and that. What they don’t tell you is that fat-free snack is loaded with sugar, and that sugar-free snack is loaded with so called “natural” sweeteners, which, if you look a little deeper, are not natural at all. So how do we navigate through this seemingly impossible maze? The answer is suprisingly simple.

Just eat fresh!

I have endeavoured, over the last 12 months or so, to get myself and my family into the habit of cooking from scratch for each meal. Think it’s too time consuming? Not really. While forward planning is definitely required, I often find that cooking up a simple, fast, fresh meal can take as little as 15 minutes. The benefits of not using processed food is immediately evident.

  1. You know what you’re eating, down to the last ingredient.
  2. The food will be naturally more nutritious when it’s not processed or packaged.

So what kinds of food are we talking about here?

Wholefoods, like fresh vegetables, meat, fruit, seafood, nuts, and wholegrains like brown rice, or seeds like quinoa and chia are great as well. I am not subscribed to the low-fat theory – in fact, I believe this nonsense has really gone too far. As humans, we need fat. We use it for maintenance of our nervous system, digestive system, for hormone production and a variety of other uses throughout the body. While I obviously don’t recommend fast foods as a source of fat, those that are found in avocados, nuts, eggs, coconut oils, olive oils and to some extent full fat dairy and organically farmed meat is most beneficial to our bodies.

Of course, this must be kept in balance with our other nutrients. Fresh vegetables should form the majority of our diet, and an adequate supply of protein is very important to support a healthy metabolism. Keeping refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits, etc) to a minimum is essential. These types of foods provide no real nutritional value and contribute to weight gain and blood sugar imbalances.

Is it just common sense?

I guess the answer to the question is, yes, good dietary habits are just common sense. However, we need to have the correct information to make these decisions in the first place. For many years, we’ve been fed rubbish by governments and food manufacturers about the so-called benefits of high-carbohydrate diets, mainly because of some faulty clinical research suggesting that saturated fat was the devil. Now we see the outcome of this nonsense, and it’s not pretty. Sky-rocketing rates of obesity, diabetes and other inflammatory chronic disease fed by a diet mainly constructed on grain-based foods.

Lets get back to basics on this one: fresh vegetables and fruit, good fats from oils (coconut, flaxseed, olive), nuts, avocados, and good clean protein should constitute the basis of the human diet.

 

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