Clean eating, high protein, more fat, less carbs, less sugar – no wonder we are left feeling dazed and confused about whether food is healthy or not. So called ‘clean eating’ can mean anything from a balanced healthy diet to extremely high protein, low carbohydrate food.

Recently I have had a number of clients into see me for 1-2-1 consultations who have been given shocking dietary advice by personal trainers and gyms. While I am sure the intentions have been good, this extreme dietary advice has left clients feeling frightened about food choices, confused about carbs and anxious about eating anything other than protein shakes and chicken salad – in some cases for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

These days we are bombarded with messages about cutting back on carbs, taking protein to the max and eating ‘clean’. While most of us know the basics of a healthy diet, in today’s fast paced world, the overload of advice we are exposed to can lead us to lose our way and hook onto the latest craze in a bid to keep ourselves fit and healthy. Instead, we end up feeling anxious about every bite of food, terrified of carbs and totally off our trolley with confusion about what to put in our shopping basket.

It’s time to get back to basics.

Instead of chicken for breakfast, lunch and dinner, let’s get a little perspective on the subject.

Oats are not bad for us, we should not be avoiding root vegetables like carrots and parsnips and there is no reason to be terrified of muesli.

  • Read food labels

If you don’t recognise the ingredients in the food you are about to buy, then leave it in the shop. Skip sugary stuff and check that your label has no more than 12g sugar per 100g. Sometimes it can be confusing as to what food to buy and I have seen granolas range from 3g sugar per 100g to almost 40g per 100g…

  • Eat a plant based diet…

    Some of the healthiest diets in the world are based on vegetables, legumes, fruit and whole unprocessed ingredients, packed with fibre, antioxidants, complimented with some locally caught fish, a little bit of meat or chicken as an occasional treat and plenty of herbs and spices.

  • Eat less meat

If you choose to eat meat, please only buy good quality, grass-fed, preferably organic meat. This is much better for you than mass produced, cheap meat. Check out your local butcher, farmer’s market, or BOXA for local suppliers of good quality meat and eat a little every now and then.

  • Eat more fish

Most healthy people around the world eat plenty of fresh fish. It is a lean protein, great source of vitamins and minerals and easy on digestion.

  • Eat lots of colour

Eat 7 portions of fruit & veg every day, eat more vegetables than fruit and eat a rainbow of colours. Not only will your food look much more appetising and appealing, but your body will thank you for the nutrient hit you are giving it.

  • Eat regularly

Eat three square meals and day and don’t skip any of them. Make every meal count – include vegetables or fruit, some form of protein like nuts, seeds, pulses, quinoa, fish, eggs, meat or chicken and a little bit of slow-release carbs like brown rice, sweet potato, rye bread or oatcakes.

  • Drink pure, fresh, clean water

A couple of litres of the stuff every day will reflect in your skin, digestion, energy levels and general wellbeing.

  • Treat your treats as treats

A little of what you fancy every now and then will do no harm at all. Diets that ask you to avoid any particular food group can lead to nutritional imbalance as well as a total loss of motivation after a while, so keep a balanced approach to diet and enjoy a treat every so often – just don’t let it creep into every day.

  • Don’t diet!

Eat real food, don’t count calories and enjoy eating again.

Any Nutritional Therapist worth their salt has trained for at least 3 years to degree level so that they can offer scientifically based, sound nutritional advice. if you are looking for someone who can help point you in the right direction, make sure they are fully trained and accredited – check out BANT to find your local Nutritional Therapist.