What Foods Are Bad For You – The Never Ending Debate!

I am passionate about helping my clients make the right choices for them, whether it is how many times to train with me, what to eat or even decide whether they should go for a promotion at work!

I take a lot of interest in articles to help me improve the way I work. There is some really useful research going on but there is also a lot of repetitive nonesense out there too!  It is very apparent that we are going full circle with our attitutes towards exercise and nutrition – particularly nutrition. It used to be so simple when I was growing up but then money got involved and there was one new initiative or company being itroduced after another advising us to change this that and the other until the amount of contradictory information was ridiculous! And we have ended up right back where I started with the the simple approach, although I would say that my meals are a tad more interesting than meat, boiled potatoes and veg these days but the principle is very similar!

Emma Downey Shopping Trolley - EVS Fitness, Personal Training and Sports Massage SouthamptonIt is very difficult to get it right 100% of the time, though, which I why I don’t even try. I work on the principle that if I am eating whole and natural foods 80-85% of the time then I’m not worried about the rest of it. My husband and I have some different views on what should be in our shopping trolley – I would prefer to eat less meat than we do but enjoy snacking during the day to have smaller main meals, whereas he is not as keen on pulses and pretty much just eats three meals a day. Due to our differing work hours we often eat breakfast at different times but our main meal is always eaten together and we always eat the same thing – I like to cook because I am a bit more adventerous with flavour and texture but he does cook a mean spaghetti bolognese and is pretty good with a set of instructions! We never cook anything using packets or jars (everything is cooked using fresh or single ingredients) but we also enjoy the odd takeaway and other junk food, such as crisps for me and biscuits for him.

The latest research is a documentary discussing which is worse for you – carbohydrates or fats on BBC 2 at 9pm tomorrow. I will definitely be tuning into this programme even though I won’t be surprised by the conclusion that neither carbohydrates or fats are ‘bad’ for you, in fact you need them for a balanced diet, but that it is choosing the natural and whole food version of each one that is important and EAT EVERYTHING IN MODERATION!

What did surprise me in this article, though, was that these two are doctors (one also has a degree in public health) and admitted that they don’t cover weight loss and healthy eating as part of their training because it doesn’t ‘sit within any medical speciality’.

I would agree that it isn’t a medical speciality, it is a pretty crucial and fundamental part of every person’s life and should not be the responsibility of doctors to get right. I ultimately believe that it is the individual’s responsibility to get this right, BUT, I am becoming increasingly aware that people are genuinely confused and/or didn’t have the role model in their life (that I had from my parents and grandparents) to know how to make the right choices.

Therefore I am definitely not saying that doctors should cover this topic in medical school but if the fact remains that they don’t then until there is an NHS system in place to successfully refer patients to someone that can help them then I would really urge people to seek support from other sources because some of the advice I hear given by GPs (that I know is often what they are encouraged to give) is quite frankly disturbing. I have spoken to many people who simply do not know where to start when making their food choices – some need more help than others but these are the rules I work by:

  1. If it has more than 3-4 ingredients in it then don’t buy it (1 is best but not always practical, e.g. bread)…it can be really confusing at first but just take some time to look at the ingredients of food you have at home and familiarise yourself with what goes into these products and compare them to other products – online shops are great for doing this.
  2. Don’t be fooled by pictures of slim models or ambiguous marketing campaigns on packets – look at the ingredients.
  3. Change one thing at a time. Use what you have at the moment and when you need to replace it choose a natural and wholefood alternative. This has three benefits 1) You don’t waste food 2) You don’t waste money and 3) You make small changes gradually which are more sustainable
  4. Choose one new recipe a week or month (whichever is realistically practical for you) that is made from only fresh ingredients. Ensure you have all the things you need in advance and cook it! Over time you will build a little collection of dry ingredients and utensils so you can make other things more easily.
  5. If you have the freezer capacity, make a larger batch of things like stew, bolognese, chilli, curry paste etc. Make sure you only eat the right portion size for you and freeze the rest – these are all things you can get out of the freezer in the morning and heat up for dinner in the evening.

Good luck and enjoy your food!