1.The simple approach -
the starter pack.
2. Detailed information for those
who want to know more -
fine tuning your diet.
3. Food ideas to help you eat well
achieving your diet.
4. What about organic produce -
it better for you?
Growing your own fruit and vegetables.
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A general comment to start.
As you read on you
will be aware that we should be heading towards a more plant-based
diet. Possibly the ideal way of eating for the world would be to
adopt the lacto-ovo-vegetarian style of eating where eggs and dairy
products are still consumed but other forms of animal protein are
avoided. This has significant social implications such as having
special meals prepared when visiting, the increased time it takes to
prepare fruit and vegetables and most especially be seen as
different from the herd.
opportunistic vegetarian. Where ever possible eat vegetarian and
if meat is served, have it. Alternatively, a good compromise
is not to totally remove meat from your diet but to greatly reduce
consumption say to once a week or to use meat as a garnish to
largely vegetable dishes. That way you get the best of both worlds:
you are not seen as different but you are making a significant
contribution to improving sustainability. An excellent discussion of
this is in the third section, "Foraging" of Michael Pollan's book, "An
Omnivore's Dilemma" (Pollan 06 -1).
The starter pack.
Diets are often made to seem complicated
with lots of confusing numbers and portion sizes. People become very
concerned that they are not getting the right mix, particularly when
they feel less than their best, often resorting to tonics and pills.
It is quite usual for most people to feel a little tired or less
than your best some of the time. This is not a cause for concern.
Don't be tempted to rush into miracle diets and cures. The approach
here has been clearly shown by large studies to give the best long
term health. If you are overweight reduce your food intake very
slowly over a period of months. Crash diets rarely work in the
longer term. Remember that exercise no matter what your weight is
the best thing you can do for yourself.
1.1 Increase the amount of fruit
and vegetables that you eat (for a standard 2000 Kcal diet).
- Fruit: eat at least two full
sized pieces of fruit or their equivalent such as apples,
oranges, pears a day. Other smaller fruits such as grapes,
plums, Kiwi fruit, work out roughly the volume that would be
equivalent to that of an apple or orange and substitute that.
(This corresponds to two cups or more.) Canned or frozen fruits
are also OK.
- Vegetables: your main meal
should have at least two and a half and preferably more cups of
vegetables a day. Eat the widest range of vegetables. The
greater the range, the greater the benefit - yellows, deep
greens and reds. Two cups of leafy greens is equivalent to one
cup of vegetables.
- A special point
about potatoes: while the humble potato is a vegetable it
doesn't have many positive qualities beyond providing energy. It
is low in fibre and has a high glycaemic index and load. It is
not recommended that you pad out your vegetable quota for the
day with these by devouring fries or crisps. They don't count
beyond a small serving. You will do just as well eating cakes,
cookies or white bread.
1.2 When you eat cereal based
foods, make sure it is wholegrain (or wholemeal).
- Eat at least two slices of
wholegrain bread a day.
- Have cereal in the morning but
make sure it is whole grain such as shredded wheat, whole wheat
biscuits, porridge, un-toasted muesli and the like.
- Avoid white bread and cereal
products that have little fibre.
1.3 Limit your intake of meats -
high protein intake does not give you big muscles.
- Don't sit down to a
predominantly meat meal. Use meat as a garnish for salads,
curries, stir-frys. Look at the way traditional Indian and Asian
food is served: these dishes are largely vegetable with either a
small amount of meat or none at all.
- If you do eat meat, avoid eating
the fat. Cut it off and throw it away. Remember that even if the
fat melts into the sauce or gravy, it is still very bad for you.
- Chicken meat has less fat than
red meat as long as you avoid eating the skin.
1.4 Don't consume at lot of dairy
products - dairy foods are not health foods.
- Don't consume a lot of milk,
around two cups or less, and make sure it is low fat.
- Don't use butter. Make sure your
margarine is low in transfats.
- Eat ice cream only as an
- Either avoid or eat very
sparingly cheese, particularly hard cheeses.
1.5 What to eat as snacks?
- Nuts or dried fruit are good.
- Whole wheat crackers spread with
hummus, pesto or tapanade.
1.6 Limit your intake of
manufactured foods including take-aways and restaurant meals - save
yourself a fortune.
- Most of these foods are designed
to taste really nice using ingredients to improve sales and not
your health. Remember if you make your own you save heaps and
heaps of money. (The best things in life are free.)
- Things to particularly avoid:
soft drinks, potato crisps, food bars of all types, highly
processed foods (they are easy to detect because they have long
lists of ingredients - if a food has more than 10 it should be
- The less you have to do in
preparation for a pre-prepared meal, the less likely it is to be
good for you and the more likely it will cost you heaps.
Limit consumption of fruit juice
- Contrary to a lot
of advice, fruit juice (and drinks) are not health foods. It is
far better to eat the fruit itself. Fruit juice adds to the
obesity problem if consumed in volumes greater than 500mL per
day. Unlike whole fruit, it is much more acidic and along with
the sugars, will damage your teeth, particularly if sipped
without a straw.
- The best advice
is to drink tap water for fluids and eat fruit as a whole foods.
Drink tap water rather than drinks from bottles or cans.
- There is nothing
wrong with tap water and it comes free. Despite many claims that
bottled water is better for you, there is no reputable evidence
to back this claim, many of which are generated by the people
who produce the bottled water. Don't be fooled.
- Many soft drinks
are loaded with sugar which will make you fat and damage your
- Perhaps the worst
offenders are cola type drinks which in addition to all the
other problems listed already are even more acidic. They have
led to an epidemic of dental caries, particularly if they are
sipped without a straw.
- Sports drinks
don't give any advantage over tap water but they will damage
your teeth and your budget.
Useful easy-to-remember facts.
- Fats whether they be solid or
liquid such as vegetable oils are all fattening, containing
9Kcal/g (270Kcal/oz) Don't guzzle the salad dressing if you want
to stay thin, even small amounts are fattening.
- Alcohol is also fattening having
7Kcal/g (210Kcal/oz). It is the alcohol in beer (and other
alcohol containing drinks), not the other carbohydrates that
stack on the weight.
- High protein diets are not
useful as the extra protein is simply burnt up by the body,
adding to your fat stores and not your muscles.
- An additional 100 Kcal/day (400
Kjoules/day) about half a small bag of potato crisps will
increase your weight by 5kgs (10lb) in a year.
- Most snack foods are loaded with
fats, sugars and/or salt. Almost none of them are good for you
beyond the occasional treat. Added vitamins and trace nutrients
don't change their underlying badness. (A wolf in sheep's
- Exercise is of the utmost
importance no matter what your weight. Overweight people who
exercise regularly do better then thin people who don't exercise
at all. (Being the correct weight and regularly exercising is
If you stick to these simple
principles your body will do the rest. There is a very simple
test to measure whether you are consuming the right amount of food
provided you follow the food mix outlined above: stand on the
scales. (Many scales in shopping centres will also measure your body
mass index as well. ) This diet will keep you thin and healthy and
definitely add to your well-being and happiness.
You also have a built in indicator
to show you if you are getting the right amount of fluid. Your
urine should be paler than the background colour of this web page.
If it is darker, drink more. It is unnecessary to drink large
volumes if your urine is the right colour. Remember that sugary or
acidic soft drinks if sipped over any length of time will wreck your
teeth. This includes all types of sports drinks.
Polyphenols and fruits: importance of glycosylation, chirality, food
processing and organic farming. AAAS February 06 Meeting.
Timothy J. Key, Paul N. Appleby and Magdalena S.
Rosell. Health effects of vegetarian and vegan diets. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 2006);65:35–41
(Messina 03) Virginia
Messina, Vesanto Melina, Ann Reed Mangels. A new food guide for
North American Vegetarians. Can J Prac Res 2003;63:82-86
Mozaffarian, Eric B Rimm, David M Herrington.
Dietary fats, carbohydrate, and progression of coronary
atherosclerosis in postmenopausal women.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2004; 80:1175-1184.
What to eat. 2006, North Point Press.
An Omnivore's Dilemma. 2006 Bloomsbury, Chapter 15, The Forager, p
An Omnivore's Dilemma. 2006 Bloomsbury, Chapter 9, Big organic, p
Saxelby. Nutrition for life. 2006 Hardie Grant Books
The Great Aussie Diet. 2004 Boomerang Books.