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The 10 commandments of healthy eating: your cut-out-and-keep guide

September 5th 2016 / Victoria Woodhall

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Want to get your healthy eating back on track post-summer but don't know where to start? These 10 fad-free steps from Nutritional Therapist Eve Kalinik are all you need

Here at GTG we've all got that back to school feeling, with fresh starts in the air - and that includes getting back on track with heathy eating, leaving the baguette habit in Provence where we found it and the margaritas in Ibiza.

But we're not getting all puritanical about it - that way disater (not to mention grumpiness, unhealthiness and general lack of fun) lies. For most of us, we just need to be reminded of what's important. We enlisted nutritional therapist Eve Kalinik to take healthy eating back to basics with these ten utterly doable, stick-on-the fridge rules. (Did she say wine?)

Eve says: "There is so much confusion around nutrition and often I hear my clients say that they are totally overwhelmed with advice on what is and is not good for you. So rather than over-complicating things, sometimes it is best go back to basics, eating foods in their most natural state - that means fresh, local and seasonal wherever possible (farmers markets being the best place to source this). It’s easy to get caught up in the latest fads or expensive powders and potions, but the simple act of chewing your food properly, for example, can instantly improve the way your digestion works.

"So with that in mind these 10 tips can not only help to kick start a healthier and happier approach to eating that will serve you for the long term too."

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1. CHEW, CHEW, CHEW

"Digestion starts in the mouth where enzymes in saliva begin the process of breaking down food. If you experience bloating then insufficient chewing may be why - you want food to be liquid before swallowing. Aim for 20 to 30 chews per bite (bite - not heaped fork full). Chewing encourages mindful eating - taking time over meals as opposed ‘inhaling’ food. Eating in a ‘rest and digest’ (rather than fight or flight) state will benefit your gut and your mind immeasurably."

2. THERE IS NO ‘BAD’ FOOD

"We really need to be more discerning where ‘ostracised’ food groups are concerned (I'm not talking about refined and processed sugar here – that’s an outright baddie). Foods in their most natural state are almost certainly going to be more nutritious than any ‘free from’ alternative. With dairy, there is a marked difference between processed, sliced and unpasteurised full fat cheese - the latter bursting with probiotics and fat-soluble nutrients. It’s the same with gluten - probiotics are a natural part of the sourdough fermentation method and produce a bread that is generally gut friendly. Highly processed white bread, on the other hand, acts like a digestive bomb for a most people. Carbs have also been demonised. The refined sort found in white bread and pasta are not going to do you much good in large quantities, but high quality carbs found in some whole grains, pulses, legumes and vegetables should be part of a balanced diet. They provide primary fuel for the brain and support the growth of certain beneficial gut bacteria, among many other things."

3. UNDERSTAND YOUR SNACK ATTACK

"You shouldn’t need to snack if you have included some protein in each meal - a piece of meat/fish, a serving of quinoa/lentils/beans, or even a small handful of nuts, alongside an abundance of nutrient-dense veggies. Snacking could be a sign that you are low on energy because you are not getting enough nutrition from main meals. Snacking can also happen when we mistake hunger for thirst - so drinking water and herbal teas throughout the day is essential. Aim for around two litres, however you may need more depending on your level of activity. Boredom is a classic snack trigger, so distract yourself with a cup of herbal tea or by going for a walk. Of course, if you are training or have some other blood sugar issues then consult your healthcare practitioner."

4. DRINK WINE NOT WATER

"Thought this might get your attention! Staying hydrated is key (we are around 80 per cent water and almost all cellular processes are conducted in a watery environment - dehydration causes constipation and fatigue). Have water between meals rather than with food. Sipping water at mealtimes is OK, but chugging a huge glass can dilute gastric juices and impair the breakdown of food which can lead to bloating (a very common complaint). One small glass of red or white wine can act as a digestive - go for organic, natural and biodynamic varieties where you can. Check out Borough Wines or organicwineclub.co.uk."

5. BE FAT FRIENDLY

"Eating fat doesn’t make you fat (that’s normally due to excess sugar). We need healthy oils and fats (saturated and unsaturated) to support metabolism and anti-inflammatory processes, among many other functions in the body such as hormone balancing. For anti-inflammatory benefits, ensure a good intake of Omega 3. Oily fish (wild where possible) provide the highest amount, but it is also found in grass-fed meats, organic free range eggs, spirulina as well as chia, flax and hemp seeds. Healthy sources of saturated fats are coconut oil, coconut milk, ghee, organic unsalted butter. Round this off with nuts and seeds, avocados and cold pressed oils - just don’t cook with those oils and instead drizzle over your food afterwards so that you can reap their nutritional benefits. Heat or roast with one of the saturated fats above or use macadamia nut oil, which also has a higher smoke point."

6. NO RAW AFTER 4

"Just like our minds, digestion gets tired towards the end of the day. While raw food is packed full of energy, it also needs a lot of energy to break it down. Eating raw earlier in the day allows time for the body to process it more efficiently. In the evenings, lightly steam veggies and have them cold if you prefer to eat them this way. Large meals in general late at night are not the best for our gut as digestion is less effective art night partly due to the fact you are lying down. If you eat a big meal and then jump into bed, you may experience unpleasant symptoms such as reflux or indigestion. If you know you will be eating late, aim to eat lighter. Soup or scrambled eggs with greens can be a quick, healthy and light evening meal."

7. TAKE TIME TO MAKE TIME

"This may sound counterintuitive, but spending a bit of time food prepping can return your investment tenfold. When cooking in the evening, make double portions to take to work the next day. Working with your hands and real food, as opposed to with the microwave, will inevitably produce something more nutritious. Boiling a half a dozen eggs for the week ahead or cooking a couple of fillets of salmon to have cold for lunch options are really simple protein options. You also avoid waste - how many of us walk into a supermarket after a long day at work and buy a load of ingredients that we end up throwing away? Planning means you spend less money too."

8. HAVE A KITCHEN DETOX

"Get the spring clean feeling you have after a wardrobe clean out. Chuck out all of the saboteurs that get us in moments of weakness - yes, that packet of biscuits, I’m talking to you! It sounds obvious but if they are not there you can’t eat them. Instead, pack your kitchen with nutritious and inspiring foods - dried herbs such as rosemary, thyme and sage are great added to a quick vegetable puree for a tasty soup. Spices including turmeric, cumin and chilli totally lift a meal (Steenbergs have an amazing organic range) and I love blitzing these in a food processor with cauliflower to make cauliflower ‘rice’. I also have cold pressed oils such as olive, walnut, hazelnut and sesame to flavour vegetables and salads. Flours such as coconut, chestnut and buckwheat are fab for making easy pancakes - just add eggs or chia to bind plus some milk and voila! I have plenty of nuts and seeds that I turn into nut milks or add to salads and vegetables. Coconut oil and ghee are always in my cupboard. I’m also not short of some garlic and fresh lemons too as they are super versatile and again can transform a plate of food."

9. IGNORE THE HYPE

"Forget diets, detoxes and fads and instead concentrate on nourishing your body with local, seasonal (and organic if possible) food. Invest in good quality ingredients. Check out farmers’ markets where you can buy the freshest ingredients at a good price and spend time chatting to the producers. They can give you ideas of how to prep your purchases, which important as you become much more involved in the preparation of your food and gain a much deeper connection to your plate."

10. DON’T BE A PERFECTIONIST

"A healthy approach to eating well involves giving ourselves permission to enjoy the things we love - in moderation. Being a nutrition perfectionist is neither realistic nor fun and just makes us miserable. You can have your cake and eat it - just not every day. The most important thing about moderation is understanding your triggers. Could they be stress - or boredom? If so, try introducing relaxing activities into your day and using mealtimes as pockets of mindfulness and recovery rather than bolting your food down or checking your phone as you eat. If your triggers are specific cravings, seeing a practitioner such as a nutritional therapist to help you manage the physical side or an acupuncturist for more energetic alignment can help."

Find Eve at www.evekalinik.com and @evekalinik. Eve’s book ‘Eat Well: How To Have A Healthier Happier Digestion’ is out August 2017 and available to pre-order. Follow Victoria @vwyoga.

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