Keeping eating simple

One minute we're being told we shouldn't eat too much fat and the next minute we're encouraged to consume olive oil to help prevent heart disease. We're told we shouldn't eat after 7pm but in the same breath we're told to listen to our body and eat when we're hungry. So when did deciding what to eat become so complicated?

Diabetes Queensland nutritionist Rachel Latimore agrees and suggests when it comes to what we eat, we should follow the simple words of US food writer Michael Pollan who says:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.


But what does it mean? Rachel explains Michael's statement below.


1. Eat food

We know we shouldn't eat too much food, and the food we should be eating should include lots of fresh fruits and veggies. But what Michael means by this statement is we should be eating real ood, the less processed the better. It's a simple rule, the more processed a food is the less healthy it tends to be. Processing foods usually involves adding extra sugar, fat and salt. So by choosing less processed food you can be more confident that you're making a healthy choice. Take bananas; eat it raw and it's a great low fat snack, but mash it into banana cake or slice it and fry it into banana chips you end up with a high fat and sugar food. The same applies to meat, a skinless chicken breast is fantastic, but process it into a takeaway chicken nugget and you're looking at a high fat, high salt and low nutrient food. So next time you pick up that food packet, have a think if there's a less processed option you can choose instead.


2. Not too much

Food serves are getting bigger, our plates are getting bigger and as a result, we are getting bigger. Eating too much of any food can still result in weight gain. That's why it's important to be careful of our portion sizes, even if you follow the most virtuous of diets. Often we try putting less food on our dinner plate and our brain sees all that empty space and decides that we aren't going to be satisfied.  Consider eating your meals from a bread plate rather than the dinner plate. Fill half the plate with vegetables, a quarter with a potato, pasta or small grain bread roll and the remaining quarter with your meat.  You'll be surprised at how easily you can trick your brain to feel satisfied with less food.


3. Mostly plants

Don't worry, you don't have to go outside and tuck into the rose bush. Michael is saying that we should eat mostly plant foods like fruit, vegetables and wholegrains. Only 11.3 per cent of Australians eat the recommended five serves of vegetables every day. We know vegetables are good for us, they are packed full of nutrients and fibre with many other benefits. What you might not know is eating more vegetables can help in weight loss. Nutritionist Rachel Latimore says vegetables are low in kilojoules, fat free and tend to fill us up for a long time.


"Vegetables can also be used to bulk out meals which means we can save money," she said. "So add vegetables to everything you can think of. Grate them into pasta sauce and meat patties, add them to curries and stir-fries and serve them as a side dish with every meal."


Although Aussies are a bit better at eating fruit we can still improve. Fruit is a great source of nutrients fibre and energy, so look for ways that you can include two serves of fruit into your day. Rachel says she likes to keep two pieces of fruit on her desk at all times. "This means I've always got a healthy snack on hand. I find that when I am hitting that 3pm slump and I could easily reach for a chocolate, a piece of fruit usually helps to give me that sugar hit."


So don't stress about every new food fad, start thinking about these three easy rules and get back to enjoying your food.