There are lots of perspectives on what ‘healthy eating’ entails; from high-protein, to low-carb, high- and low-fat, dairy-free, vegetarian, Paleo, vegan, Atkins… Sometimes I feel my head is going to explode. But with a simple change in perspective, healthy eating becomes a lot less complicated.
I feel like a lot of diets, or healthy lifestyles as they are now called, focus on the omission of certain ‘bad’ or unhealthy foods. And those foods can be anything: sugar, dairy, salt, meat, fish, coffee, processed foods… The list is endless and ever-growing. And most importantly: nobody really agrees on anything. Even nutritional scientists constantly contradict one another. This makes it very difficult to decide on what’s healthy, especially for people who don’t know that much about healthy food.
What are the best foods to eat?
Here’s the good news: I think we can safely say that there’s a list of foods that are, indeed, healthy. This list consists largely of fruits, vegetables and whole grains (extreme diets or bodybuilding aside, who apparently are very picky with fruit). Leaving aside how much you should or are allowed to eat of these food groups, the most important fact is that they contain healthy nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. They are the most nutritious foods.
So if you’re unsure about what in God’s name you are allowed to put on your plate for your meal to be considered ‘healthy’, stop thinking about what you’re ‘not allowed’ to eat and just start piling on the nutrients. Say you really want to eat a piece of meat, or fish, or a nice heavily processed vegetarian burger. You may worry about how healthy that may be. Well, don’t. Simply add lots of extra, healthy food to your plate, in addition to the ‘questionable’ food you so enjoy.
Eat your veggies!
I always make sure I eat my vegetables. This can be as simple as eating a large green salad at dinner, or grilling some courgette, or steaming some broccoli. Whatever I feel like. As for fruit, this is my go-to breakfast and snack throughout the day, especially when I crave something sweet. I never have to worry about getting my whatever-number-it-is pieces of fruit a day, because I eat plenty of fruit. The same is true for vegetables. I never have dinner without a large addition of vegetables. Here’s the great news about that: I feel much healthier (whether I really am or not) and I feel much fuller after a meal. So that’s a huge win-win for me (I could literally eat all day long).
This simple trick is guaranteed to stop this healthy eating obsession and debate over what’s healthy and what isn’t. I eat plant-based foods about 90% of the time, but I am convinced it’s better to eat a little bit of meat or fish with lots of veggies, than to eat a veggie burger on a white bun with just one slice of tomato. It’s all about how nutritious your meal is. Even my hero Dr. Garth Davis, author of Proteinaholic, wrote on Facebook:
And that is exactly it. How many of us actually eat enough fruits and veggies every day? And those are the best foods to eat if you want to be healthy. So don’t feel bad if you continue to eat foods that every health guru is now telling you are absolutely disastrous for your health. Just add lots of healthy greens and other fresh veggies to ensure you get all your nutrients. That is what eating healthy is (or should be) really about.