Donna Peters column: What is the perfect diet for our bodies?

The sad truth is that we have fallen out of love with real food.
The sad truth is that we have fallen out of love with real food.

As a nutritional therapist and health coach, I am always asked ‘What should I eat to support my overall health and help me maintain a healthy weight?’

I can answer that easily for you right now. Eat in a way that balances your blood sugar at least 80% of the time, focussing on whole foods like fish, meat, lentils and pulses, lots of veg and salad, a little fruit, and small amounts of rice, potatoes and pasta. BUT (and it is a big but) for any healthy lifestyle plan to work in the long term, it has to be sustainable, and that means not only easy to follow but enjoyable. And the truth is, cutting out entire food groups (unless you have a specific medical reason to do so) and never having the scope for a glass of wine or a piece of birthday cake is a recipe for 
disaster.

The sad truth is that we have fallen out of love with real food, and we no longer know what to eat any more. It all started when an American scientist called Ancel Keys reported that eating fat gave you heart disease. He looked at data from 22 countries and ditched three quarters of it because it didn’t fit with his theory. To cut a long story short, fat was blamed for giving us heart disease, but recent medical research has now shown that this was incorrect, however, the damage was done. Food manufacturers filled supermarket shelves with their processed, fat free, ‘healthier’ versions of the food. Unfortunately, lots of these ‘low fat’ foods contained added sugar to improve the taste.

But there is something else going on, too. It’s common to reward ourselves with treat foods like cake and biscuits. My experience in running a nutrition clinic is that so little of why we eat what we eat has to do with nourishing our body (regardless of whether we believe anti-fat propaganda or not). The far greater part is to do with how we feel about ourselves and about life in general. Eating half a packet of chocolate biscuits is much easier than figuring out what we really need, which might be a way to de-stress, feel loved, get attention, kick back our heels and even sleep.

When I’m working with clients, we focus a great deal on lifestyle and mindset because it is a critical factor in deciding whether we make healthy food choices. Simple fact: if you feel stressed or miserable, the chocolate biscuits are always going to win – unless you have a plan in place for dealing with those things.

My passion is to spread the word that eating real food to nourish the body and soul is both desirable and achievable. And you can have cake. Really you can. Just not every day! Find other ways to feel what you need to feel and nurture a healthy relationship with food. Just as relationship gurus advocate not looking to another person for happiness, the chocolate biscuits won’t make you happy either and you know that.

If you want to learn more check out my website (www.donnapetersnutrition.co.uk) or get in touch to book a free 30 minute phone call to discuss your specific concerns and health goals.