When I was younger I could eat what I like and never put on an ounce in weight (or a gram if you are metrically minded!) I stopped growing when I was twelve. Upwards that is. I started to grow outwards from my mid-thirties onward! It’s a depressing fact of life that we seem to be programmed to develop a middle age spread. I once read that the spare tyre helps to protect vital organs, as we fall over more often as we get older. Seems logical, but it’s not an attractive look and I have done my best to keep mine looking more like a bicycle tyre rather than one from a tractor!
To this end I am always interested in the latest dietary advice to maintain a steady weight and avoid health issues related to obesity. For years I have chosen the low fat alternatives wherever possible and have kept an eye on my calorie intake. Imagine my confusion last week when the National Obesity Forum declared, and I quote, “Eat fat to get slim; don’t fear fat, fat is your friend”. Of course this has been countered by the medical profession and scientific evidence suggests a clear link between saturated fat and heart disease. The point is that there is such conflicting advice on what constitutes a healthy diet and this advice constantly changes. Take eggs as an example. When I was a child there was an advert with the strap line “Go to work on an egg”. We did. Edwina Currie put a stop to that in the eighties with her allegation of salmonella infestation and later we were told that the cholesterol in eggs means that we should eat no more than two a week. Now it seems eggs are okay again.
By far the most convincing trend in food fads is the lean towards “clean” food, meaning a diet of fresh, unprocessed, organic meals cooked from scratch. By eliminating refined foods such as white flour, sugar, bread and pasta you naturally cut out excess calories and restricting additives can only be a good thing. Of course, this way of eating requires planning with time to shop and cook, so it may not be suitable for busy family lives, but with more time on my hands now I have given it a try. The easiest thing is to make a huge batch of soup made from organic vegetables or a lovely fresh green salad. Meat and fish are allowed from responsible sources, as are dairy products and good fats such as olive oil and coconut oil.
The problem with this and any other eating plan, is that it all falls apart if you go out for a meal or are away from home. Some restaurant chains print the calorific values of their meals in the menu and this helps us to make informed choices and avoid the meals that contain a whole day’s worth of calories! All too often though I am tempted to have a treat and my good intentions are blown away by the thought of chips. Not to mention a glass of wine. I’m living for the day when it counts as one of your five-a-day – it’s made from grapes after all!
I think the key to a healthy diet is to use common sense. A little bit of what you fancy is not going to do any harm as long as you count it as a treat and not a staple. We all know that fat and sugar will make us put on weight and these can be avoided by reading labels on packaging and steering clear of the biscuit and chocolate aisles! If you fall off the wagon, don’t beat yourself up; there’s always Monday!