With constant access to information, you would’ve thought we’d be top of our game in nutrient knowledge, but sadly, food companies and the media have left us totally baffled.
The more I’ve studied, the more I’ve seen how we’ve been fooled by clever marketing campaigns and total mixed messages, so I’ve put together my most important points that I’m hoping will help filter out the nonsense!
Here are the top 10 mistakes we can make along the way to wellness:Opting for Low- FatLow fat is exactly what it says on the tin… there is a low amount of fat in the product. The question is, does it make YOU low fat? Absolutely not. In order to still be palatable, that fat needs to be replaced with something, and more often than not it’s sugar or some crazy chemical replacement. To cut a long story very short, excess sugar will be converted to fatty acids, which get stored around your body, mainly the bum and tum! Stick to the full fat version, it’s a much safer option, plus, our bodies need fat in the diet for things like brain health, and the proper functioning of our hormones.Probiotic YoghurtsThis is marketing at its best. People heard about the wonders of good bacteria and decided to use it to their advantage. Unfortunately this was at the expense of our health, so lets get this straightened out. Beneficial bacteria can be phenomenal for our wellbeing, and can seriously help restore digestive problems, boost the immune system, improve mood and help with weight loss. However, by putting them in sugary yoghurts with chemical additives, it’s completely preventing that from working, as a) bad bacteria feed on sugar and b) a lot of people with digestive complaints can’t tolerate dairy! Just because beautiful celebs are promoting it, does not mean it’s good for us.Counting CaloriesOh boy, this bugs me majorly. I almost ended up with an eating disorder when I started to count calories. I remember standing in the biscuit aisle comparing calories for 20 minutes before I realised I had a problem. A calorie is not a calorie, meaning that they don’t work equally in the body. Let me give you an example… Coke Zero (the name just makes my blood boil) is zero calories… an apple is around 80 calories. Let’s think about this… which one is better for you?! Not to mention the apple is fibrous, which means it will help get rubbish out your body, and the Coke is full of chemicals, which will cause your body to retain rubbish and retain fat. Coconut oil is another example, 1 tablespoon is over 100 calories, but this food is so incredible that it speeds up your metabolism, helping you lose weight. STOP COUNTING CALORIES. Count nutrients instead, that’s a much better way to live.Choosing SaladsWait, hear me out, salads are great… but there’s a but… A lot of ready-to-eat salads are absolutely covered from head to toe in dressings, and I think from the theme of this article, you know what’s coming next. Sugar. Again. The best bet is to opt for salads with their sauces in pots and then chuck those bad boys in the bin!VeganismDon’t get me wrong, I’m pretty much totally vegan, and a lot can be said about this diet. The problem comes when meat is eliminated and replaced with veggie crap, and by that I mean Quorn (please read the ingredient list!), dairy-free milks (a lot of them have tons of sugar), vegan cakes (sugar), veggie sausages (processed chemical fillers), vegan cheese (don’t get me started), and the list goes on. Veganism can be amazing when you’re upping your plant game, and including loads of fresh vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds, but don’t be fooled… if it’s processed and in a packet you may be better off eating meat!Gluten FreeThe dietary approach that’s on everyone’s lips. This is for a great reason though, as gluten can cause a LOT of issues in the body, especially for those with autoimmune conditions or digestive complains among many other things! The problem arises when we start trusting the supermarkets and venture over to the ‘free from’ aisle, loading up our baskets with goodies. Once again I encourage you to read the label… most of the companies are filling these gluten free foods with excess sugar and ingredients I cant even pronounce. Stay away or you’ll do your gut more harm. Always opt for proper gluten free grains like quinoa, millet and buckwheat, or go to a proper health food shop and see what’s available there.PaleoWow, what is with this new craze? Since when did Paleolithic people hunt cows and pigs? And why is there an obsession with bacon? I think this diet can be done well with careful thought, an odd piece of LEAN meat and wild fish here and there, and even a couple of eggs a day. I just can’t be hearing about all this meat consumption; not only is it ridiculously bad for the planet, but our intestines are not designed for so much flesh! Where the paleo movement does score points is the promotion of no sugar, low dairy, low grains, and a high intake of plants, just don’t use it as an excuse for consuming a farm each day.Trusting PackagingMy biggest gripe with the food world is packaging. If I’m ever elected to be Queen, this will be one of the first things to change. We put a lot of trust in companies and when we see something that is plastered with the words ‘wholegrain’ or ‘high fibre’, something in our brain goes ‘oh yeah, I’ve heard good things about this, it must be healthy’. Bloody manipulative, money seeking companies! They find buzz- words, utilise science and then deface it to make money. Oh yes, your bran flakes are definitely enriched with vitamins, and they will definitely provide you fibre and wholegrains… but they’re also full of sugar or sugar alternatives like corn-syrup or glucose rubbish, which will ruin you from the inside. Many people have approached me with pride telling me what they eat for breakfast, yet can’t understand why their health isn’t thriving. This is it, right here. SUGAR AND LIES!!! I think I’ve found the title for my first book.SushiI apologise now that this one may make you cry. I nearly bawled my eyes out when I uncovered the myth behind this seemingly healthy meal option. Rice, seaweed, fish and vegetables… sounds healthy, right? Wrong. Firstly, the rice is always white, meaning it’s been stripped of all its B vitamins and nutrients, and secondly, they cook the rice in sugar!! Why on EARTH do they put sugar in sushi???? No wonder my stomach used to suffer after an all-you-can-eat sushi binge… it wasn’t just to do with the sheer volume of food (although that may have contributed slightly), but the copious amounts of the white stuff. Make your own at home, it’s so easy!! Just boil short grain brown rice and when it’s still a little warm, put it in the seaweed. That’s all you need to do, shove the rest!Protein Shakes & BarsYes, you big, bulky men, I’m talking to you. I don’t care about how sexy you may look in that tight t-shirt, because I’m questioning whether you’ll be around long enough to look after me years down the line. So many of these cheap protein powders are full of absolute chemical crap. Ok, you’ll build muscle, but at the expense of your kidneys? Forget it! Read the ingredients list and please invest in your health. Of course the more nutritious brands (found in quality health shops) will be more expensive, but that’s because you’re paying for real ingredients. I love brown rice powder and hemp protein, they’re clean, efficient and less acid- forming in the body.
So there you have it, my top 10 tips on how not to do nutrition. The best advice I can give is to stick to simple, clean eating, and for every single piece of food you come across that has a packet… READ THE INGREDIENT LIST!! Never be fooled by words on the front, and stay away from brightly coloured boxes with cartoons and promises of a better life.