Today I am handing my blog over to the fantastic Micaela from Life in Lilac, who is going to be talking all about diet and how what you eat now, can help your future health.
This year I decided to radically my diet having had enough of being unhappy with myself and the path my health was taking. I changed from a long term vegetarian that ate cheese, eggs and processed foods to a whole foods plant based diet. The WFPB diet excludes all animal products and focuses on whole plant foods with as little processing as possible involved in their preparation.
Now, why did I do this? I have always been interested in nutrition and when I was introduced to a weight loss program called Bright Line Eating in October of last year it rekindled my passion. Since then I have given up flour, sugar and all animals products, I have lost 13kg (28 lbs) in weight and feel more vibrant and happy than ever. It has even spurred me on to study for a Diploma in Nutrition and Weight Loss.
So, how did I do this? There are some simple steps you can take if you are tired of being lethargic, bloated, overweight and unhappy with yourself and I’m here to tell you how. Here are my 3 top tips for future proofing your health through diet.
Eat less sugar
Simply put the human body was not designed to consume large amounts of sugar. Today we are facing an onslaught of processed foods and snacks which are ridiculously high in sugar which ends up messing with our health.
Diabetes UK estimates the current number of people diagnosed with diabetes, a disease influenced greatly by consistently high levels of blood sugar, in the UK to be 3.5 million. Sadly I have personal experience with diabetes as both my mother and my late maternal grandfather developed type II diabetes and I am trying hard to avoid doing the same.
To avoid diabetes and to boost weight loss one thing is key: eat less sugar! The UK Government recommends that no more than 5% of our daily calories come from sugary carbohydrates. Try and avoid sugary snacks, puddings, adding sugar to hot drinks and processed foods like ready meals which tend to have high levels of sugar.
It is best to avoid smoothies and juices where possible and instead enjoy whole fruit, the fiber in the whole fruit will slow down the release of the natural sugars and will ensure no sudden rise and fall of blood sugar levels. It’s this rollercoaster of high and low blood sugar which leads to insulin resistance, one stop away on the road to diabetes. Keep in mind that the body reacts in the same way to sweeteners as it does to sugar!
Eat more fruit and vegetables
We’ve all been told at one point in our lives or another that we should eat our greens and there is a reason behind this! Starchy food like fruit and vegetables are a really important part of a healthy diet and should make up just over a third of the food we eat.
Don’t just stick to 5 a day! Researchers from Imperial College London have shown that consuming more vegetables may prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer, while another study found that if everyone ate 10 portions of fruit and veg a day we could prevent nearly 8 million premature deaths worldwide.
The vitamins found naturally in vegetables are essential for health. They act as regulators in the body, aid in the energy release from food we eat and some have antioxidant properties. Vitamin supplements simply don’t cut it when it comes to replicating all the nutrients and benefits which come with whole foods, so rather than popping a pill every morning why not try adding whole fruits and grains to breakfasts, a side salad with lunch and snack on nuts.
Fresh, frozen or canned, fruit and vegetables can easily be incorporated into meals to boost nutrition. It’s important to choose healthy cooking methods and to watch the fats you add when you’re cooking as this will add more calories. Roasting, steaming and boiling are among the best ways to cook vegetables to retain their goodness.
Eat less animal products
For someone who has animal products at every meal I can understand how reducing or even removing these products from the diet can be a daunting idea. However, there has been lots of research which shows consuming meat, dairy and eggs increases the risk of death from heart disease, stroke or diabetes.
Now, you don’t have to give up animal products all together from the off. I was vegetarian for a long time before I quit dairy and eggs, in fact I left it so long because I didn’t think I could do it but a little research and testing in the kitchen has paid off and it can for you too!
I recommend trying to reduce your consumption slowly and try lots of protein alternatives, (don’t panic you can get plenty of protein from plants, afterall where do you think the animals get it?), lots of them are cheap, quick and simple to prepare. Here are some of my favourites:
- Beans and peas (all types)
- Seeds and nuts (all types)
Example WFPB Menu
Breakfast: Porridge made with coconut milk, with peanut butter, cinnamon and blueberries.
Lunch: Big salad with mixed leaves, fresh herbs, olives, carrot, tomatoes, beetroot, cucumber, peppers and cabbage served with hummus and baked tofu marinated in soy sauce.
Dinner: Chili made with bulgar wheat, onion, carrot, peppers, jalapeños, tomatoes, kidney beans, black beans, garlic, chilli powder, cumin and coriander.
Recommended Further Reading
- Bright Line Eating – Susan Peirce Thompson Ph.D.
- The China Study – T. Colin Campbell Ph.D.
- How not to Die – Dr Michael Greger and Gene Stone
Micaela is a lady based in Kent, she is a digital marketer by day and lifestyle blogger by night. Micaela is passionate about learning and sharing knowledge about nutrition and helping people improve their health.