Our Western diet is appalling. Although it is true that we no longer suffer the ravages of starvation and malnutrition, the money we spend on food could and should make us the healthiest specimens of humanity that have ever graced the face of the earth (given a few life-style rules thrown in). This diet may be impossible for you to live by, but it is an attempt, by one eccentric G.P. to address the question "What should we really Eat?" if health considerations were the only one. To anyone reading this, I would only say: "Do your best; the closer you can come, the healthier you will be!"
1. "Nibblers" do better than "Scoffers".
Studies show quite clearly that small frequent meals are better than infrequent large ones: they improve the blood fats, prevent the larger fluctuations in blood sugar and help prevent the development of diabetes. Ideally you should not allow yourself to become hungry at all, especially if you are trying to lose weight, as this makes you more likely to go on an eating binge; small frequent snacks are best.
2. Learn the art of successful snacking!
Fruit is the ideal snack, but don't forget cherries, grapes, mango, melon and pineapple slices; as a variation mix in with a portion of low fat yoghurt. Nuts or nuts and raisins are very easy to store and have ready availability on their side, though do watch the high calorie fat content of nuts. Walnuts, incidentally are probably the most healthy and Brazil nuts are rich in selenium. Tupperware containers can be invaluable to store your snack 'for emergencies' and this allows greater flexibility - even salad, with all its' exciting variations, is amenable to the tupperware treatment. Do have a drink with your snack - zero or very low calorie of course.
3. Certain Foods are totally junk, belong in the dustbin and should be abandoned. These are: fried and deep fried foods (including chips), cheese, butter, cream, milk (except skim milk), prepared meats (sausage, burgers etc), any meat (other than the very leanest cuts), chocolates, cakes, biscuits and pastry; these all contain fat - almost always of the most unhealthy sorts; don't keep these dangerous foods in the house. Never snack on these junk foods!
4. Have a side-salad with meals.
If you like a dressing with it, experiment with all the low calorie dressings to find the ones you most enjoy.
5. Experiment with vegetables!
These are generally very cheap but need some work to make them truly delicious. Legumes (peas, beans and lentils) are worthy of particular mention, both nutritionally and for their versatility in what you can concoct from them. Generally vegetables which grow above rather than below the ground are best as the latter can raise the blood sugar too rapidly (see below). Allowing these (potatoes, carrots, parsnips etc) to cool and then re-cooking them improves this tendency.
6. Wheat is the worst cereal we have! Whenever possible use oats, rye or barley in 'bread' products. Porridge is of course just wonderful.
Different foods have different abilities to rapidly raise blood sugar; if the rise is rapid, your body responds by overproducing insulin which drives hunger later on. Therefore avoid foods that are loaded with sugar or easily digested carbohydrate (especially products made from wheat flour)
7. Fish is wonderful!..and the fats in fish are healthy, thinning the blood and lowering cholesterol, but don't sabotage their advantages by batter and/or frying. If you are weight reducing, you have to bear in mind the calorie content of oily fish, however.
8. Drink plenty of low calorie fluids. Add vitamin C to all your drinks; it is an anti-oxidant vitamin which 'mops up' those waste products of tissue activity which can damage cells, accelerate the aging process and cause cancer. Vitamin C tablets which fizz and dissolve in water can be bought at any chemist and are perhaps the most convenient. Coffee or tea without milk or sugar (use an artificial sweetener and/or lemon slices in tea for taste if you wish) are calorie free.
9. Take extra anti-oxidants each day ; your body metabolism produces lots of 'toxic waste' that lies around damaging cells - aging them and making them more likely to become cancerous. 'Natural' anti-oxidants are found in the 'coloured' fruits and vegetables - red, orange, yellow, purple, black, green are colours that scream out 'loaded with anti-oxidant!' ..."what we call ageing is largely a fruit and vegetable deficiency."
10. If you wish to lose weight, remember the 3 basic appetite cheats:
a. Don't get hungry (risk of losing control) b. Drink plenty of very low calorie drinks (best with Vitamin C) c. Have a snack 20 - 30minutes before your meals (it takes that length of time for your body to realise you aren't really hungry!
"There are two major pains in this life - the pain of discipline and the pain of regret; the former pain you can weigh in ounces, the latter weighs in tons"
Doctor Bernard Shevlin
Old Rd., Tean Staffs.
Selenium: A study undertaken in the UK by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in 1994 showed that the average daily intake was 34 micrograms per day; 22yrs ago this was 60 and the recommended daily dose is 75 for men and 60 for women. Selenium is essential for certain vital functions such as fertility and to 'clear out' waste products which otherwise damage arteries and cause cancer. A recent study showed that 200 micrograms per day greatly reduced cancer rates. My own best guess is a supplement of 100 micrograms daily. Natural sources are cereals, fish, poultry and meat, but Europe in general has low levels of selenium in the soil and hence products grown in Europe tend to be low in Selenium.
Vitamin E: Several vitamins have been suggested as helpful 'anti-oxidants' - i.e. they 'mop up' the waste products of cell metabolism which otherwise damage living cells. At the moment Vitamin E seems to have the best credentials and the dose should probably be 400 i.u.s per day. Natural sources are vegetable oils, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Calcium:best sources are dairy produce (but note that skim milk has as much Calcium as 'ordinary'), green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts,seeds, dried fruit and canned fish. Maybe a Calcium supplement if you don't take much of these?