There’s so many choices now when it comes to ‘healthy eating’ – do you go vegan, paleo, high carb, low carb? It’s easy to become confused by this alone, never mind all the fighting between camps and the additional fear-mongering of individual ingredients.
But I feel we’ve all been duped by the wellness industry. You don’t need to cut out food groups from your diet to be healthy, and you definitely don’t need to avoid all the foods that make you happy. All this ‘holier-than thou’ talk of ‘clean’ eating, of ‘guilt-free’ food, of ‘cheat meals’ is just a glamorised, social media-friendly restrictive diet, that can sometimes do more harm than good.
The rise of orthorexia in the media recently highlights this. We’ve become obsessed with eating healthy to the point where it’s made us unhealthy. That’s just plain ironic. Micromanaging our micronutrients may make us live a bit longer, but at the expense of our social lives and our happiness? Not on my watch.
Cutting out food groups can potentially lead to deficiencies, or to an unbalanced diet, that can leave you feeling worse than before if it’s not done carefully and with consideration. I’m not saying everyone should eat an omnivorous diet – I’m not here to tell you what you can and cannot do – but we need to be more aware of the fact that cutting out foods doesn’t equal healthy.
What happened to the simple advice of eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, eating in moderation, and eating a little bit of what makes you happy? Why is this no longer good enough for us? As someone who’s studied nutrition (a proper Masters by the way, not just one of those dodgy online courses) and who went through a phase of trying many versions of ‘clean eating’, I can tell you that balance really is the way to go. Being happy and healthy is the real healthy eating, and if giving up chocolate is going to make you miserable, then you damn well go ahead and eat that chocolate. Just make sure you eat your veggies too!
The Rainbow Bowl:
An easy way to pack in those veggies! The concept of the rainbow bowl is that you eat a rainbow of foods, in order to get all the benefits of the different nutrients that come with each. It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated, or take forever, and making batches of veggies can save you time over the week. You don’t have to go for every colour each time, but I recommend aiming for 3 or 4.
Red foods: tomatoes, red peppers
Orange foods: sweet potato, chickpeas, squash
Yellow foods: sweetcorn, yellow peppers
Green foods: broccoli, avocado, sugar snap peas, edamame
Blue/purple foods: blueberries, kidney beans, purple cabbage, aubergine
Ideally you want to start with a base of greens, get a good mix of veggies, plus some form of protein (beans, egg, meat, or fish), and some good fats in the form of maybe avocado or a few nuts or seeds.
If you want to make it more filling just add a grain like rice, couscous, or quinoa. Here’s some examples to give you an idea.
Vegan: Rocket, roasted tomatoes, roasted butternut squash, broccoli, avocado, kidney beans, quinoa.
Vegetarian: Spinach, red and yellow peppers, roasted sweet potato, sugar snap peas, 2 boiled eggs, a couple of almonds sprinkled on top.
Omnivore: Salad mix, tomatoes, sweetcorn, avocado, purple cabbage, and poached salmon.
To keep it interesting, mash the avocado as a dressing, or add hummus, pesto, or simply soy sauce and lemon juice for extra flavour!
To check out some more of Plantbased Pixie’s recipes and all things yum then you can find her blog here!
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