Arm yourself with nutrition knowledge to eat clever, prevent health problems and keep your body in the best shape possible
You're a Zestie, so of course you want to eat right. Maybe you do feel better for cutting out gluten or dairy. We're not going to tell you otherwise, but these seven simple steps are the food rules we can all live by to create a truly healthy diet.
1. Don't be fooled by health halos
'If we think something is low-calorie, low-fat, or "free from", we seem to believe this makes it automatically good for us,' says Rick Miller, The British Dietetic Association's spokesperson. 'Don't choose a food because of what it doesn't contain - think about what nutrients it does contain. If they answer is 'not many', you need to make a better choice.'
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2) Eat clean meat
That means unprocessed, unmessed-about-with cuts of steak, lamb and pork. 'The negative studies regarding meat and the risk of heart disease lump together all kinds of meat - that includes processed meats, meat pies, sausage rolls. But when researchers have divided types of meat, no increased risk of heart disease has been found from eating meat in its purest form,' says nutritionist Dr Carrie Ruxton. The recommended intake of red meat is 500g a week.
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3) Add a thumb-size portion of fat to each meal
It could be oil, it could be nut, it could be avocado or salad dressing but it will ensure the carotenoids in your vegetables - plus any fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K - actually make their way in to your system. Fertility specialist Dr Geetha Venkat from the Harley Street Fertility Clinic advises that if you're trying to conceive, 'you should swap one serving of low-fat dairy each day for a full-fat one like a glass of whole milk.'
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4) Don't be elimination-focused
'One reason deficiencies can occur is because we exclude a food from our diet, but don't put enough thought into how we need to replace it,' says dietician Alana MacDonald. If you decide not to eat a food substance or group, research other foods that contain the same nutrients and work these into your diet.
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5) Know about the Super Six
We're talking about the list of high-nutrient grains anyone who is avoiding wheat or gluten in their diet needs to add instead, according to dieticians. These are amaranth, buckwheat, teff, millet, quinoa and sorghum. Some you can buy in supermarkets; others you may need to source from health-food shops or online.
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6) Limit cardboard-calorie foods
Egg whites, rice cakes, no-calorie noodles - they fill you up but they don't nourish. In fact,they contain virtually zero nutrients between them. 'Try and replace these with something more nutritious,' says Rick. 'For example, get a spiralizer and make noodles from courgettes or root vegetables.'. Ensure dairy replacements are fortified and eat at least one whole egg for every two whites as the yolk is where the nutrients are.
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7) Eat something different daily
It's suggested that one of the reasons the Japanese are so healthy is that they aim to eat 30 different foods each day - and 100 different foods a week. Even the healthiest eaters get stuck in a food rut eating the same foods day in, day out, especially if they start to see weight loss or other benefits. 'That's when deficiencies stack up,' says Alana. 'But if you vary what you eat each day, even by just a few foods, what you may be lacking one day - say, magnesium or copper - you'll get the next.'
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