I think that the majority of people in this country are overwhelmed with information about their diet – what’s good to eat, what’s bad? It’s easy to become confused.
Nutrition is a one component of our lifestyle that’s important for good health and wellbeing. I find the information out there very confusing and I try to look at my own nutrition in a very simplistic form otherwise I also become overwhelmed. It can be particularly confusing when I think about what food I should be giving my children and family as a whole.
To simplify things there are 4 rules I aim to follow, none of us are perfect but this helps to give me a rough guide;
- Try to eat seven different coloured vegetables every day.
The seven can include two fruits but the other five should be vegetable based. Eating these will mean that you are receiving all the phytonutrients (nutrients from plants) that you need for your body’s systems to function. This variety will stimulate your mind, make the plate look colourful and is satisfying to eat.
- Where do you get your food from?
Try to use seasonal and local produce, this means these is less packaging and less storage time, and therefore a higher nutrient content compared to out of season produce and from far flung parts of the world.
- If I purchase any processed food I try to buy things that have less than five ingredients.
This is also suggested by Dr Chatterjee in his book ‘The Four Pillars of Health’. This is in important rule in terms of knowing what’s going into our bodies. Food with long complex ingredient lists are more likely to create problems with the breakdown of food and the way the body reacts to it.
- Don’t be afraid of fat.
Fat is an essential part of the diet, we’ve had lots of misinformation telling us to have a low-fat diet to thrive, unfortunately this has not been helpful. Remember we need good fat, make salad dressing with olive oil and use full fat products. When fat is taken out something is put in its place, for example low fat yogurt, has more sugar than full fat yogurt.
One other element to good nutrition is the idea of time restricting our eating to 12-hour window. This reflects our body’s natural rhythm and ability to break down our food. For example, if you have breakfast at 6am then you should aim to finish dinner at 6pm. Research shows that this helps our body maintain weight, stay fitter, and reduce chance of getting diabetes.
How much should we drink and when?
What should we drink and why?
Hydration is a part of good nutrition and we often know when we feel a bit dry and dehydrated, as our mouth feels dry. The evidence says we should be drinking water, it comes from nature, has nothing added, and we are mostly made of water.
For a rough guideline of how much to drink see the table below;
2 litres per day
Children up to five
1 litre per day
Children over five
1.5 litres per day
It’s worth remembering that 20% of our fluid comes from the food we eat. It can be hard to check how much you and your children have drunk. One good way is to check the colour of your wee. It should be straw coloured and that shows you are well hydrated. Often wee is very concentrated when we wake up, but it should become like straw during the day.
Our poo also tells us about our nutrition and hydration. It is important to look at your poo! We should poo once or twice a day, with a well-formed stool, this is a good indication of enough fibre and fluid within our diet.
We can all judge our body’s nutrition and hydration according to how we feel, don’t be afraid to look and see what’s going on with your body.