As someone who has advocated a healthy lifestyle for many years, I find it fascinating that the mainstream media still talk about anything holistic / natural / organic / eco as though it’s ultra-weird, of the devil, and anyone who encourages taking responsibility for their own health and wellbeing and opting for natural alternatives rather than simply bowing to ‘big pharma’ should be at best – regarded with suspicion – and at worst, if they could only turn the clock back, burnt at the stake!
This is of course especially prevalent when it comes to diet and nutrition. We have an epidemic of obesity and high rates of diabetes, yet still arguments rage about how we should eat.
Recent news reports that have caught my eye include the headline ‘Step Away from the Blender; Juice Diets Can Make You Fat’… according the Daily Mail ‘trendy juice diets beloved by celebs can make it easier for people to put on weight, because they are ‘easy to consume’. So say heart doctors who point out quite rightly of course that once the fruit is squeezed the sugars become ‘free’ and it’s more rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. That’s true of course, which is why anyone in the know recommends drinking vegetable juices sweetened with a small amount of fruit if needed. The article did point out that juicing can be useful for anyone struggling to reach their ‘five a day’ (there was a furore only a few weeks back when we were told it should be 10) but in my view the piece omitted to offer a good healthy approach to drinking juices and smoothies which, for me there’s no doubt, can be incredibly helpful at getting nutrients into what in many cases are bodies that are overweight yet undernourished.
Reading a report like that could send anyone who already struggles with their weight into denial and have them reaching for the processed snacks rather than blending up some spinach, cucumber, half an avocado and a chunk of lemon, because – the powers that be have warned it could make them fat. I feel rather like the late great Terry Wogan when he used to appear exasperated that everyone seemed to have the same (clearly the wrong) viewpoint – Is it me?
You will be aware of the furore around ‘clean eating’ and a recent article claimed that ‘young dieters following “clean eating” regimes that cut out dairy produce, face developing osteoporosis in later life’.
Apparently, a survey done by the National Osteoporosis Society (NOS) survey found 4 in 10 young adults have tried the fashionable diets that often involve avoiding dairy, gluten, grain and sugar, while more than one fifth had severely restricted their intake of milk and cheese. I entirely agree that restricting food groups and having to stress about what you will eat in order to make a good impression on Instagram is far from healthy, but again not many of the papers or media reporting this piece offered healthy suggestions.
To me it’s clear, we should all be eating real food, as unprocessed as possible and as wide a variety as possible, just because Kale seems to have hired a publicist this month doesn’t mean we have to eat it with every single meal, including drying it and making Kale crisps (mine always tasted like old fish) but having said that, scaring people who cut out dairy by saying they will develop osteoporosis is not helpful. Offering real nutritional advice around good sources of calcium is. I do drink milk, but wherever possible I opt for raw milk, and I’m guessing original studies on the benefits were based on that, rather than highly processed milk, but there are many other excellent sources of calcium from sardines and salmon, through some leafy greens, nuts, grains and of course seeds, especially sprouted seeds which are tiny little nutritional power houses.
One thing most news reports seem to agree on is that the intermittent fasting diets can work well, mainly because they are restricting calories for a couple of days a week only and the idea is that on the other days you eat ‘normally’ (whatever that means). There has also been a huge amount of positive publicity around the importance of the microbiome, don’t just reach for the probiotics either, we need fermented foods, drinks and a wide variety of natural foods to keep the ‘good bugs’ populating.
So, while I appreciate it won’t make as sensational a headline… my message is, ‘eat a rainbow, avoid anything processed, (within reason – I mean a girls gotta live), and find a way to get your fresh leafy greens down you, and if that means a juice or smoothie so be it’. Trust me it’s not the freshly squeezed juice that will pile on the pounds, (note I didn’t say the carton variety is ok) it’s the burger or cookies you opt for because you have believed the hype that juice is bad for you! You can have your ‘imperfectlynatural’ cake and eat it, just don’t make it every day. When we were kids, cake and sugary treats came around at birthdays and occasionally on a Sunday, not as a daily snaffle on the way to work.
Above all take all the advice and opinions you read in the print media – as well as this opinion of course, with a massive pinch of salt, (make it Himalayan if you want to be trendy), and remember you know instinctively what you should be eating. If you overdo it for a day or so, back off, and if you have issues around food, get them sorted. If you want a really balanced approach to nutrition, some brilliant recipes and a sensible way to control weight gain, check out Zoe Harcombe www.theharcombediet.com
Her recipes and diet protocol are easy to follow and not at all faddy, she is a believer in real food, meat and all, she has spent twenty years researching food cravings, intolerances and workable diets. I’m not on commission; I just love it when people talk sense rather than being sensationalist….and don’t forget …’Stressed’ spells ‘Desserts’ backwards…my take on that is that you WILL be stressed if you never have any…just go easy!