Feed Yourself Smarter | Eat Curiously and master the Diet Maze

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Eat Curiously and master the Diet Maze

09 Nov 2016, Posted by Angela in FYS News

• Are you confused about what to eat?

• Do you worry about whether you are eating the right diet?

• Are you trying to eat clean, adding olive oil because you’ve heard about the Mediterranean diet and then wondering about coconut oil because everyone is raving about that?

• Do you feel guilty eating fruit, wonder about cutting carbohydrates, considering intermittent fasting?

It is confusing, right?

Actually no, it really doesn’t need to be confusing. All of those foods and concepts have scientific evidence behind them as well as clinical experience from nutritional therapists, nutritionists and functional medicine experts.

It’s all about context. It all depends on what YOUR body needs, right now.

As a nutritional therapist, I’ve worked with over 1000 people directly on their diet and health issues. The FeedYourselfSmarter mantra is to keep it simple, keep it visual. Our Eat Curiously and master the Diet Maze is the first in a series of infographics designed to help you.feed-yourself-smarter-diet-maze-infographic

Diet Dead Ends

The sad truth is that most of the diet dead ends come from those we thought we could trust; government guidelines and packaged food from leading brands.

So much has already written already about sugar, but honestly, too many people continue to eat or drink hidden sugars. Switching away from pre-packed food and drink changes that. Educate yourself, read labels. It will always tell you the amount of carbohydrates plus how much of those are from simple sugar, when more than 50% of the total carbohydrate come from sugar, skip that product. Read the ingredients which are always listed with in order of volume, when sugar or something ending in ‘ose’ are the top one, two or three ingredients listed, skip that product.

Remember that the 5-a-day recommendation for fruit and vegetables was based on being achievable for the majority, not on what is optimal for health for individuals. Recently there was a call from the chair of the Royal College of GPs that the level should be lowered as it is demoralising many people (73%) don’t meet that level. Personally, that sounds like dumbing down. Fibre and phytonutrients from vegetables and fruit enhance our health, so aim high!

The first changes:

The most common changes I make to clients diets are first to increase protein, especially at breakfast. The majority of people I see eat a breakfast that is too high in fast release carbohydrates and too low in protein sources. Most people are quite surprised that the protein bit of their breakfast is so low, adding nuts, seeds, eggs, cheese or cold cuts of fish or meat can make all the difference. As a guide, aim at about ¼ of your plate being protein, or about 15-20g protein for breakfast. Secondly, I ask them to increase the colour, number and variety of vegetables. I will talk much more about phytonutrients in later posts, but for now, the colour pigments in vegetables and fruits contain phytonutrients which when eaten help us have more anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities – this is good! Plus the fibre in these goods is exactly what out gut bacteria need to flourish. Thirdly I suggest a reduction in the amount of carbohydrates and to avoid meals that are based around pasta and bread. My recipe section and ‘pimp your meal’ section offer plenty of recipe ideas.

The FYS Foundation Plan

This leads to my FeedYourselfSmarter foundation plan where 50% of the plate is vegetables, 25% is a protein source, 25% is a whole grain or a starchy vegetable like the potato. Oils and fats are in the dressings or sauces and fruit is in the dessert or in the vegetable bit of the plate.

The 3:4:5 Rule is a key part of the foundation plan and helps work out when to eat. Start with 3 meals a day, at least 4 hours apart. This means your digestive system has time to rest between meals (which is super important for healthy bacteria). If your schedule means you end up with more than 5 hours between meals then have a snack, otherwise, avoid snacking.

A key to success with the foundation plan is thinking ahead. It is the nutrition version of “In failing to plan, we plan to fail”. If you know what you are eating for the next two meals you will find it easy to stick to your plan. Some simple tips to help here are to keep breakfast simple and have two or 3 breakfast options, which you alternate between during the week. For lunch and dinner batch cook; make extra when you do cook and use it the following day to build the next meal. You will see examples of how this works in our recipes section.

Set your goals and track them

If you are embarking on a new diet what do you hope to achieve from it? What are your health goals? Do you want more energy or less bloating? Do you want to improve your skin, lose weight? Write down your goals and be as specific as possible. Then plan to follow the new diet for at least 4 weeks. Has it helped your goals?

Not only will this help you to be more aware and curious about the impact of food on your body, it also helps you to work out which diet is working for you.

The FYS Foundation diet is based on the Mediterranean Diet. It has lots of evidence to support it, from published scientific papers to clinical experience (i.e. when people try it, they feel better on it). It is the start point but not the final optimal diet for everyone. Some people need to eat a different way in order to achieve their health goals.  If you find that it hasn’t fully met your health goals after 4 weeks then you may need to try eliminating gluten or eliminating grains (the Paleo style Diet). We will be covering the simple steps of how to do this in future posts.

So stay tuned!

  • Mary=Lynne Stadler

    Very interesting advice. And so beautifully simple. One question, though, about the protein source – if you don’t eat much meat and absolutely no cheese, and you use pulses and grains to provide complete source, how do you work out the percentages of grain and protein…..?

    • admin

      Hello and thank you! The basic ratios of protein / grain / vegetables would remain the same, but the foods you eat would be more likely to contain more than one food group. So for example you pulses contain carbohydrate as well protein. In practice therefore a well balanced meal might be beans with vegetables; with or without some grains as well (more of an individual basis as to whether you need additional grains for more slow release energy or not). I hope that helps. Angela.

  • Feed Yourself Smarter | Falling in love with food that loves you back

    […] foundation diet I advocate is based on bringing out the intrinsic flavour and taste of real food. It is full of […]

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