There is a myriad of different foods available to us on this wonderful planet we call home. New Zealand is particularly blessed in having a great climate for agriculture and horticulture. There are innumerable ways to prepare food for healthy eating. Honestly there is no end to the delicious and nutritive possibilities available to us.
However, if you’re like me you’ve probably come across a heap of conflicting directives about a healthy diet. Here’s a new one a friend sent me the other day that I hadn’t seen before: Not everything should be eaten raw, especially vegetables! (evidently, according to the article, cabbage, cauliflower & broccoli always need to be cooked).
Or how about; don’t eat grains, do eat grains, don’t eat grains and white sugar mixed, don’t eat meat, eat only vegetable protein, fish is good for your brain, only eat certain foods fermented, sprouts are bad for you, sprouts are good for you, take supplements, buy super-foods, don’t fry with olive oil, don’t eat cooked foods, eat raw, use coconut oil, use raw milk, don’t use homogenised milk, use kefir instead of yoghurt, avoid soy products… and the list goes on!
As I’m interested in healthy food options and I have the privilege of working from home and developing Happy & Healthy with my husband, home educating my young adults and tending my vege garden, I get to invest some time into reading, research & experimentation with healthy food. I know you might not have that focus as perhaps you may work outside your home, or are so busy with family & everything else you’re involved with.
Maybe you just don’t get the time to read the research or keep up with the fads, so perhaps I can give you a few helpful principles that guide me in trying to provide healthy nutrition for my family. I don’t want to get caught up in fads or make unwise choices yet I do want to be aware of healthy nutrition without having a fanatical approach to it.
The principles I go by when I shop for food items that contribute to healthy nutrition are:
Principle #1: Moderation in all things. When we start putting our trust in that way or this food we inevitably end up not being moderate in our consumption of this food or that method of preparation.
Principle #2: Avoid all bad numbers! This means I always check food labels for numbers which indicate emulsifiers, preservatives, colouring, thickeners, stabilisers, anticaking agents, flavour enhancers and so on….some numbers are okay by the way. I’ve now worked out a list as to what I do and don’t buy from the supermarket. The Chemical Maze quick reference shopping companion, that I use, is very helpful to understanding all "the numbers" that are in the food - the good, the bad & the ugly.
Principle #3: As unprocessed as possible – meaning that we eat things as they were created, before we’ve changed them into things humans think might be better (usually commercially better). We avoid foods that have undergone complex, commercial processing using chemicals, high heat and so on. Simple processing like low-heat home cooking, or juicing, or dehydrating, or chopping, grating, blitzing, sprouting, and fermenting is fine if we use a good variety of foods and a variety of preparation methods. I don’t get stuck on just one thing.
Principle #4: Avoid items that indicate a high level of processing has gone into this food - for example: hydrolysed anything, starch anything, enriched anything, milk solids, natural flavourings (which are not actually natural), refined sugar, maltodextrin, sweeteners like aspartame (in chewing gum etc)... and again the list goes on.
Principle #5: Fresh is best. That’s why I have a vege garden and a sprouter. I like and prefer organic, but if I find veges that are super-fresh and not organic I’ll go for them instead. The same with fresh dried goods rather than products that have been sitting open in a bulk bin oxidising. For us personally, fresh outweighs organic at the moment.
Principle #6: Avoid addictions. I keep an eye out for things we eat too much of, or have cravings for. Sugar for example, and in my case chocolate. You could also look at fried foods, meats, takeaways, sweets, baking…or even carrots. I have a good friend who told me she once started turning orange because she ate and juiced too many carrots!
Principle #7: Don’t follow the crowd in doing what’s easier or the accepted norm – educate yourself, you don’t have to be a fanatic, just be wise - dare to be healthy!
Actually, we also use these principles in the decisions we make about the goods we sell through Happy & Healthy. We don’t put anything on the website that we wouldn’t select for our own use. In fact most of my weekly shopping is done at Happy & Healthy now.
Anyway, here comes summer! Happy days!