Food typically gives us macronutrients - protein, carbohydrate and fat, that offer us calories (energy) and other components our bodies need to thrive like fibre and micronutrients - vitamins, and minerals and phytochemicals. Each of these are incredibly beneficial to our wellbeing and need to be included in our daily diet. They promote good health, and defend against disease.
In today’s world of prepared convenience food, there are many foods that offer us quick energy while doing very little for our vitamin and mineral needs. As we, and our babies, are literally built from the nutrients we consume, we need to make sure we are providing our bodies with the things that nourish us and that are packed with vitamins and minerals. To help you achieve this, we thought we’d get back to basics and share some things we remember our mothers telling us about food.
Some tips our mothers gave us:
If you are hungry between meals, choose fruit, vegetables or nuts and seeds.
If you are thirsty, drink water. Our bodies are ~70% water, and it really is the best/only thing we need to be drinking once we are weaned from the breast.
When you sit down to eat, focus on eating. Enjoy the textures and flavours. Take your time, chew your food. Savour it.
Eat all your vegetables! Only 4% of Australians eat enough vegetables. Eat more. Choose all the colours of the rainbow!
Make as much of your own food as possible. This means you know exactly what’s in it and you get the satisfaction that comes from nourishing yourself and your family.
If it’s not there, you won’t eat it. Out of sight, out of mind. Don’t buy the stuff we all know intuitively isn’t good for us (the stuff in packets, designed to overpower you and encourage eating the whole packet!). Instead, stock up on the good stuff (raw whole foods, mother natures bounty, our sensationally good bars!).
Some tips that our mothers would have given us if they’d known what we now know:
Choose butter over margarine/vegetable spreads. The hydrogenation step required to solidify vegetable oils to make them spreadable turns them into trans fats which are bad news for our bodies. We were told for years how bad butter was for us, but it turns out what the food industry made for us as a replacement was much worse than what we already had.
Eat more fibre. Fibre is a natural bulking agent, so it helps keep us fuller for longer. It is also the fuel that feeds our gut microbes and these are the legends that help us extract nutrients from our food and even synthesise nutrients for us. So we must keep them happy. Fibre is the answer to many of our big societal health concerns - type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease can all be improved with increased dietary fibre intake.
If it no longer resembles something that came from nature, skip it. There are so many 'edible' things, that are arguably not real food. Most of the good stuff needs no/minimal processing and packaging. Lots of vegetables and fruits - all the colours of the rainbow each day, wholegrains/beans/legumes/pulses, some meat, fish and dairy (or alternatives for vegetarians/vegans).