We asked our friends at The Fit House to tell us more about what they believe is a healthy diet.
“What is a healthy diet and why is it important?”
A healthy diet does what it says. It keeps us healthy.
But what does healthy mean? According to the dictionary, ‘healthy’ means being “in a good physical or mental condition.” Having a healthy diet will help you attain both of those goals. Eating well not only keeps our bodies in great condition but also has direct effects on our mental wellbeing.
What do we mean by “in good physical condition”?
It might include:
- Not getting sick e.g. colds and flu, stomach bugs or more serious conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer or mental health issues.
- Being able to move freely without pain e.g. low back, knees, hips.
- Not being overweight or obese, which puts stress on our organs and joints
- Having good bowel movements
- Feeling fresh, alert and energetic, rather than lethargic and exhausted.
- Clear and fresh skin
All of these things are affected by the food and drink that we consume. No matter how hard you train you can’t outrun a bad diet. It’s true what they say “food is fuel” and “you are what you eat”. Everything you eat has a direct outcome on your body and how you feel.
At The Fit House we try to live by a few simple guidelines which keep our bodies and minds healthy. We stay at a healthy weight, in good shape and we still get to enjoy pizza, desserts and a few glasses of wine at the weekend! Being fit should be fun, not boring!
- The 80/20 rule – 80% of the time we eat well and follow a clean, healthy diet. 20% of the time, we let our hair down and enjoy food like chocolate, burgers or wine.
- Eat mainly vegetables, a little fruit.
- Eat a portion of protein, vegetables and healthy fats at every meal.
- Eat fish a few days a week
- Limit red meat
- Eat food as close to their natural state as possible. Biscuits don’t grow in the ground, but carrots do.
- Drink plenty of water – 2 litres per day.
- Limit alcohol intake (e.g. no drinking on weekdays).
- Eat foods that are colourful (they’re usually nutritious and full of vitamins and minerals)
- Enjoy eating and don’t let food stress you out.
What should my plate look like?
We recommend a diet based primarily around vegetables, protein (animal or vegetable sources), healthy fats and some carbohydrates.
Vegetables are full of vitamins, nutrients and fibre All of which help keep our bodies functioning properly and our gut in good condition. That in turn supports our immune system, which is particularly important during the winter months!
Protein is essential for growth and repair of the human body. All our organs, muscles, hormones and body tissues are made from proteins. That includes skin, organs, muscles, hair and nails. Protein also helps to regulate our metabolism, balance our hormones and produce antibodies. You can see why it’s so important to eat enough protein, our bodies can’t function properly without it. Read more about protein.
Healthy fats are important for function of the human body and provide a lot of energy. But that doesn’t mean you can scoff a donut! It means eat moderate amounts of healthy fats. You can find healthy fats in nuts, oily fish, avocado etc. What we want to avoid are saturated fats. Too much saturated fat can increase your risk of heart disease. You’ll find this in processed foods and fatty meats such as pizza, pastries, rib eye steak or deli meats.
But what about carbs?
This is a topic we will explore in more detail in another post. Carbohydrates are absolutely fine in moderation, but many people eat much more than they need. Carbs aren’t only found in potatoes, bread, pasta. They are also found in fruit and vegetables. We get “energy” from any calorie. For the average person it’s important to keep these in check and avoid overeating them.
Will I still have energy if I reduce my carb intake?
The average person who sits at a desk and exercises 3 times per week, doesn’t need to “fuel” themselves with a plateful of carbohydrates at every meal. Sitting down doesn’t require much energy! Energy lulls are often the result of blood sugar levels changing. After we eat carbs, our blood sugar rises, when it drops we experience an energy “crash”. If you use this added energy as fuel for a workout, you won’t experience this same crash. Eating mostly vegetables, protein (and some fat) will keep you full without the dips in energy. Don’t forget, there are carbohydrates in fruit and vegetables.
In a nutshell…
Eat well at least 80% of the time. Eat mostly vegetables, protein and some healthy fats. Drink plenty of water. Eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. Keep treats, processed foods and alcohol in moderation.