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So, what exactly IS a healthy diet?

(52 Posts)
Rooobs Mon 31-Dec-12 15:29:46

I'm confused.

NHS says the age old low calorie, low fat, plenty of fruit and veg and starchy carbs (the eat well plate etc).

I've heard sports nutritionists say high protein, low starchy carbs (but plenty of fruit carbs and grains), low fat is the way forward.
Then there's the John Briffa stuff, which I do find convincing tbh and he appears to back it up with evidence. This WOE says that fruit is too high in sugars, but certain veg ok. Pulses etc only occasionally.

Then there's the other low carbing diets (IPD, Dukan etc)
that include fairly high levels of fat, claiming that it's not actually fat that causes heart problems and that the evidence has been misunderstood.

And then there's the thing about restricted eating plans which send me fecking bananas for whatever is forbidden. I can low carb up to a point and then I go completely psycho for pasta and toast. So Susie Orbach suggests learning to eat mindfully, eating in tune with hunger but whatever your body is craving for as your body knows what it needs (to paraphrase).

So, what do you think?

OwlCatMouse Tue 01-Jan-13 11:41:24

Oh, and no 'low fat' processed products. Just normal real food.

mrsnec Tue 01-Jan-13 12:32:26

Interesting about the fat. On the days when I eat things like fish and veg I would have eaten very little fat during the rest of the day. I think I'm almost scared of it unless it's cheese! As the docs have put me on statins I think the rice is the way to go and I can knock the OJ on the head soon too as it's mainly because we have so many on our trees and I wanted to enjoy them and the juice helps some of the side effects of my meds. Also with low carbing I struggle to stomach eggs and other high protein food first thing. How do you get round that?

VerySmallSqueak Tue 01-Jan-13 12:35:23

For me it's as unprocessed as possible and as organic as possible.

I find that cuts out much of the rubbish (sweets,cakes white bread etc)

Thumbwitch Tue 01-Jan-13 12:45:40

A healthy diet = one you can stick to for life, not just use for weight loss. smile

It also = one that contains little refined starch/carbohydrates, and as little modern processed food as possible.
Fat has been unnecessarily demonised and is in fact essential for body processes and to hold us together. Not too much, but you need a decent amount for proper fatty acid turnover, therefore extreme low fat/no fat diets are insanely bad for you.
Refined sugar is completely unnecessary in the diet, as we can take all the sugars we need from fruit and carbohydrates; and we can create glucose de novo in our bodies when needed.
Protein and fat both break down into acids (amino acids from protein and fatty acids from fats) and, in a well-regulated body, you will self-limit on both because your blood acid levels rise and cause biofeedback that stops you eating.
Fresh fruits and vegetables with decent levels of vitamins and minerals; unrefined cold-pressed oils; a good mix of fish and meats (unless you're vegetarian) but not too much of either - include vegetable protein as well (legumes, mushrooms etc.)
Some raw foods but not a whole diet of raw - some items are digested better when cooked, and release their nutrients better.

There are lots of different ideas out there but my basic principle is to go as natural and old-fashioned as possible. smile (Although not to the extent of using arsenic salts to colour boiled sweets, that's just silly.)

Xenia Tue 01-Jan-13 13:43:46

I think just about everyone agrees which is nice (I certainly agree with Thumbwitch).

On fats if you eat avocados, almonds, fat on meat, eggs you tend to feel pretty healthy. Whether higher protein or higher fat is best is probably debatable but you certainly need both and plenty of people lost most weight by going for high fat rather than high protein (lots of debates about it on the paleohacks website).
However as long as you are cutting out the junk then I think whatever you do will be better than before.

As for eggs first thing the English original breakfast was always bacon and eggs and it's what I eat. Why is it it hard to eat an egg for breakfast? I never understood that really. You've starved all night. Breakfast should be a big meal to make you feel good and not be hungry until lunch time.

SCOTCHandWRY Tue 01-Jan-13 19:49:59

Low carb breakfasts, if you don't want to cook, what I usually have is -

Parma ham with a handfull of berry fruits or raw tree nuts.

Cold cuts left over from roast the night before, with a handful of salad leaves.

Paleo fritata which can be cooked ahead and sliced up for breakfast for 2 or 3 days (egg and veg base "pizza" basically), great as a hot meal too.

All served with fresh coffee with double cream.

Rooobs Tue 01-Jan-13 20:33:15

I think I agree about the avoidance of processed foods being a major step in the right direction. Though this rules out bacon/salami etc which figures heavily in IPD but not recommended by Briffa due to nitrite content IIRC.

However, I think the finding a WOE for life is the hard part, and that there's a psychological aspect to dominate too. I need to think differently about food. I need to think like a think person grin

Rooobs Tue 01-Jan-13 20:33:43

*THIN person!

SCOTCHandWRY Tue 01-Jan-13 21:37:30

Yes, hard to get bacon (surely the perfect food in terms of taste!) nitrite free, which is the reason I have Parma ham for breakfast (2 ingredients, ham and salt, nothing else)... Aldi does it for a very good price.

Xenia Tue 01-Jan-13 21:55:42

I am happy with bacon although I agree it is rather processed. it's certainly better than crispy creme donuts. I eat a lot of eggs too.

Sensible article here if you can stand to access a DM link... Robert Lustig has it right about sugar.

mrsnec Wed 02-Jan-13 08:44:32

I am very odd and sometimes like to eat a full english at tea time! But I can do cold fritatta or cold hard boild egg with meat and salad we often have them hanging about as DH thinks a hard boiled egg is a salad vegetable! Could easily alternate that with yog with seeds and berries and not get bored.

FurryDogMother Wed 02-Jan-13 15:08:40

I confess to being a bit of a bacon addict, which I realise is processed and at odds with my preference to eat unprocessed foods. Something that's worked for me in the past, and which I think I'll try again, is making home made burger patties (just minced beef and some seasonings) the night before, and having a couple of those under fried eggs instead of bacon for breakfast. I don't think it'll make any difference to my rate of weight loss, but it might be a healthier option. Of course, if I could afford it, I'd be having steak and eggs every morning, with mushrooms!

OddBoots Wed 02-Jan-13 15:11:30

There is a guy I really respect called Dr Karl Kruszelnicki he says: Eat food, mainly plants, not too much.

PlainoldWitchesTit Wed 02-Jan-13 15:34:56

I go by using as natural ingredients in fresh prepared, home made foods as I can with as few processes the better.

As little processed shite as possible, hardly any now which means I don't get prissy when i or the kids are offered sweets or fancy a bacon sarnie. grin

We're not trying to lose weight though so we eat plenty of (good) fats, simple sugars etc.

Home made juices, yoghurts, breads, home grown veg and fruit, baking and cooking simple meals with unadulterated ingredients. Never felt better since I began eating like this after clearing myself from candida last year.

mrsnec Thu 03-Jan-13 07:12:21

My doc has told me I shouldn't take any supplements at all unless they are prescribed so I'm looking for a WOE that doesn't leave me defficient in any essential vits and minerals.

Xenia Thu 03-Jan-13 08:09:37

In that case eat a lot of liver, onions, kale, spinach, meat, fish, eggs and seaweed if you can find it is pretty good too.

Rooobs Thu 03-Jan-13 12:21:17

So, for myself, I'm definitely veering towards the Briffa WOE, aiming for:

natural foods (minimal processing)
low carb
lots of greens
high protein
including fats
less alcohol <<(vague, huh? hmm )

But I also really love cooking (and cook books) and every now and again I get a pang to cook some beautiful pasta dish or pie or something.

Most recently, I've bought jamie Oliver's 15 minute meals. Now I love this guy, and I think he has done marvellous stuff for changing our views of how we, and especially our children, should eat. But his definition of 'healthy' seems to be the NHS version and includes fake foods like low fat yoghurt (which has carby fillers and/or sugar to improve the flavour). His meals are also fairly carb heavy, always including noodles, rice, pasta or bread.

I think this is what I will struggle with, managing my need to cook lovely stuff and having to ignore recipe books that I love sad


mrsnec Thu 03-Jan-13 12:21:51

I don't eat offal but I'm going to make it a NY res to fall in love with Kale. Just had massive plate of eggs and spinach for lunch over my usual PB on brown toast. Seeing if that will keep me full until dinner. Think I'm getting the hang of this now.

mrsnec Thu 03-Jan-13 12:26:33

Roobs I'm definately with you on your thoughts on JO I think I'm going to miss cooking too.

Rooobs Thu 03-Jan-13 12:36:40

mrsnec, I guess we'll have to be clever with how we use the ingredients we can work with eh?

I know the last time I low carbed, I became stuck in a rut of chicken and salad <yawn> so I'm going to have to make an effort to look for adaptable meals and meals that happen to be low carb. I've noticed that with any diet, once I start eating weird foods, that's when it goes down hill. So when I did WW I started eating a lot of muller lights (weird for me, I don't like yoghurt) and LF cottage cheese (another food I would never choose). On low carb, it's when I start making stuff with ground almonds that it starts feeling odd.

Does that make sense?! I need to feel I'm eating 'normally'!

mrsnec Thu 03-Jan-13 13:51:53

It makes loads of sense. Am very familiar with WW as DM works for them but I don't agree with a lot of what they do eg cornflour to thicken sauces. I haven't got JO book but saw the telly prog. Trying to get DH to eat more fish. But At the moment he only eats it fried or covered in chese and cream which I have to cut down on so I want to try and adapt the white fish tagine recipe to a low carb version. He'd eat that with veg and or salad as he hates cous cous.

Xenia Thu 03-Jan-13 14:02:58

Youc an do lots of healthy cooking if you eat well.
Jamie O is fat which I suppose illustrates the point above - that some of his proposed ingredients are not good for you.

The issue about fried fish above - fry it. I don't think frying is bad as long as it is not in batter. Some would argue cream is fine too.

SizzleSazz Thu 03-Jan-13 14:08:16

Homemade salsa verde with salmon is delicious. I use nick nairns recipe and fling in watercress and rocket if I have them (he just uses basil/mint/parsley iirc). Herbs are pretty easy to grow and really help with the flavour & 'normal' cooking.

SizzleSazz Thu 03-Jan-13 14:11:46

I usually steam fish - it seems to retain its delicate flavour better.

For a creamy sauce I would say mix the pesto with some creme fraiche.

Sauces with lime/chilli etc are lovely with fish too. Ainsley Harriot (albeit a tad annoying) has some lovely tasty recipes with loads of fresh herbs/garlic/chilli/ginger/spices which I think are imperative for a healthy diet too.

SCOTCHandWRY Thu 03-Jan-13 14:38:35

Re getting in a rut with low carb cooking... Paleo Slow Cooking by Chrissy Gower is an great collection of low carb (and gluten free, all of it!) ideas - all for the slow cooker (tho in reality most could be cooked in the normal oven or stove-top). As it's slow cooking, less expensive cuts of meat can be used so it's economical for cooking low carb for the whole family.
I bought it fairly recently and have not had a "dud" recipe yet, DH has loved everything and the DC have loved all but the spiciest ones.

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