Nutritional therapist Amelia Freer has been guiding us through her healthy summer body plan. This week - what clean eating really means
Some of you find the nutritional changes I have suggested easy; for others they are radical. Weight management is so much more than calories in vs calories out; it encompasses everything from our emotional wellbeing to the state of our guts and a deeply ingrained belief system that, these days, we no longer have time or ability to cook our food from scratch.
Achieving a healthy, sustainable weight does of course require engagement and effort – how we shop, how we think and how we live. So far, I have talked about the impacts of stress, the need for mindfulness around how we eat, the avoidance of “diets” and a restrictive mentality around food. I’ve avoided breaking my advice down to looking at specific food groups such as avoiding sugar, gluten and processed foods as this information is here in my Eating Overhaul , but also because I don’t want to isolate a healthy “diet” and give the misconception that this is all that is required.
I want to help you move away from the “good” and “bad” mindset of diets and learn to enjoy a happy relationship with healthy foods. The meal plans I have provided are naturally free from the main food terrorists and of course require kitchen time. If long-term bikini confidence is your desire, then making friends with cooking and being “present” at the table are a must.
To clarify, cooking does not mean creating lavish gourmet meals that take hours of attention and skill. It’s just a case of food assembly, which can be simple, fun, nurturing as well as nourishing. There is no one diet that is the winner for you all; there is, however radical or not, a very clear, evidence-based option of eating real, unadulterated, fresh food. To quote Michael Pollan: “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food”.
So this week I want to get back to your plates and ensure that you have the tools, guidance and confidence to strategise your way through these last few weeks and beyond. Here are my top five tips to plate perfection:
1: The big boys (macronutrients)
Fats, protein, carbohydrates – these are what your plate needs to contain at each meal. Some of these food groups overlap but just make sure that you can visually tick off these three at each meal – ALL three, not just one i.e. carbs!
For example, organic, grass-fed beef mince is a source of fat and protein. Butternut squash, broccoli, onion and red cabbage are carbohydrates. This would be a complete meal – no need for anything extra. And for vegetarian or vegan options – pulses such as lentils, chickpeas or butter beans count as a protein and a carb so it’s key to add in a fat such as avocado, coconut oil, nuts or seeds. Please don’t fear the fats! There are factory fats, which are created by Darth Vader, but there are natural fats, which are our metabolism’s bosom buddies.
2: The triumphant trio (micronutrients)
Vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Imagine if you won the lottery and employed a housekeeper, a chef and a chauffeur! Micronutrients are our helpers. We simply can’t glow or grow without them. And we get them from REAL FOOD – green vegetables, berries, beans, onions, nuts, seeds, fish and meats. Do not mistake these for cardboard boxes or plastic packets that say “fortified with vitamins”.
3: Aim for the rainbow
I’m sure you have heard it before but have you tried it? Making your three meals each day as colourful as possible is the key way to pack in the micronutrients to help you thrive. Go back to your food diary from weeks 2, 3 and 4 and circle with different coloured pens each colour in each day. How colourful is your diet? Yes, get your kids involved too! This is a great way to engage them in food awareness and get them creating their own charts along with helping form better food relationships for the next generation. Use this week’s food diary to really maximise the colour. We want purple/blue, green, yellow, orange/red/pink and white/beige – this is literally a powerhouse for our health and no one can be overweight when eating this way.
No, you don’t need to snack. No, not even if you exercise. No, not even if you feel hungry. No, no, no. The snacking theory is 1980s' science. Let’s move on. If you are a snacker, start to remove them gradually, using the meal plans I have provided and these five points for how to eat at each meal. You may find it a struggle for the first week but your body (and your mind) will adapt accordingly. Be patient. But persevere.
You know it, but do you do it? At each meal and when you think you need to snack – have a glass of water. Be it hot, cold, sparkling, with added mint, rosemary, coconut water, citrus fruits or berries, green tea with ice and lime, rooibos with cinnamon, good old Earl Grey with lemon – the possibilities are endless. Sodas, fruit flavoured waters, cordials, fruit juices and smoothies are like accepting a gift from the devil.
These five tips are what eating clean means. It’s not as hard as you think. Do it with your heart. Have fun. Ask others to join you in the kitchen or around the table – get everyone involved. We are not aiming to become domestic goddesses and find unlimited time; ask for help, cooking is no longer just a female chore. Find your local farmer’s market and buy things you haven’t cooked before. If you are snorting at these suggestions – I ask you – how much time do you spend watching cookery programmes on TV?! Apparently, we spend 60 hours a year doing this… how about we just get back in our kitchens and cook instead? You’ll be amazed at the results, beach and beyond.
This week’s meal plan idea
Super smoothie – 2 tsp ground turmeric, 1 frozen banana, 2 tbsp almond butter, 1 tsp Baobab powder powder, ½ tsp cinnamon and 1 cup coconut water.
Add ginger or vanilla for a twist.
Courgette, pea and mint fritter (blitz an egg and coconut flour, finely grate courgette, chop mint and cook in a little coconut oil in a pan) with aioli (blitzed garlic and lemon juice) and a big mixed salad – leaves, beetroot, tomato, cucumber, peppers and spring onion.
Sardine fillets lightly grilled with a salsa verde (parsley, mint, garlic, mustard, olive oil and lemon juice) with a small serve of new potatoes and steamed broccoli and green beans.
You don’t need it!
Ready for the next instalment? Click here to read week 6 of Amelia Freer's summer body plan or head to week 1 if you've missed the series here