Healthy Eating

Healthy. This is a term that actually annoys me. What determines healthy? We know that fresh fruit, veges and lean meats/proteins are really good for us. But how do we determine what is healthy? What is good for one person may not be good for another. Healthy eating is a term that is used far too loosely in my opinion.

The amount of people who advise me they “eat healthy” is astounding. Yet the amount of those people who can tell me HOW MUCH they are eating is pretty abysmal. If you think you’re eating healthy, yet you have no idea how many calories you consume on the daily, then I’m sorry you have absolutely no idea about basic thermodynamics or how to lose/gain muscle and fat, and you are in fact NOT eating “healthy.”

To be healthy, one must be getting the right amounts of required micronutrients. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals and such. Their body must be functioning properly. They must be getting enough fuel for their day-to-day life and their exercise. Someone eating a paltry diet consisting of only 5 different foods is NOT healthy. Someone only eating vegetables and fruit, yet missing out on important proteins is NOT healthy. People that are cutting out certain food groups or whole macronutrients (carbs, anyone??) are NOT healthy. People who are slaves to their diets are also not healthy. A healthy mind is so so important.

Here is the problem with the word healthy. It is used incorrectly to describe certain things, and thus gives people the “ok” to consume excess amounts. Its ok, almonds are made up of healthy fats. HEALTHY FATS? I’m sorry what now? Fat is still FAT! And fat is still 9 calories per gram. That is more than twice the calorie amount of protein or carb. Just because an avocado is healthy, does not mean you can consume it in excess and not gain weight. The law of thermodynamics suggests otherwise.

What is important is this – calories. Calories in vs calories out. This is basic, and this is the most important thing to know about to control your weight. Breaking it down further in to protein, fat and carbs is simply counting calories in a much smarter way. Protein and carbs provide 4 calories per gram and fat provides 9 calories per gram. Protein, fats and carbs (macronutrients) ARE calories. Mind blown? But wait there is more.

Your body has a certain requirement of calories each day. This is dependant on many things. Current body composition, desired body composition, activity level, gender, age, height, weight, the list goes on. Your BMR (basal metabolic rate) is the amount of calories that you need simply to exist. Your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) is the amount of calories you need to counter for your daily activities and exercise. These numbers are important.

If you eat more calories, even from “healthy foods” than you need in your day-to-day life, then I’m sorry but no matter how “clean” your diet is, you will gain weight. It is simple science. It is the basic rule that if you eat MORE than you burn the excess is stored as fat. If you are weight training, then you will utilise the calories to gain some muscle, but the bottom line is this – eat more and weight goes on, eat less and weight comes off. No ifs buts or maybes you cannot defy the laws of thermodynamics. Especially if you are natural.

Any food consumed in excess will result in weight gain. This is fact. Yet some people still seem to think that if their diet is “clean” this doesn’t apply to them. It does. Everyone is the same. Everyone. Whether they get their calories from poptarts or chicken breast, if they consume more calories than required then they will gain weight.

Food types. This is another interesting piece of information. Your body doesn’t know (or give a damn) where the calories come from. It simply processes them. Protein, fat and carbs are all used by the body for different things, so it is important to be getting the right amount of each macronutrient for you and your goals. But what foods you use to get them really is up to you. If you like chicken and broccoli day in and day out, then yes you can use them for your protein and a small amount of carb. BUT. By doing this you will not be hitting your micronutrients. Fibre probably (that is a LOT of broccoli) but iron, vitamin b and c and others; these will most likely be deficient. If you are deficient then you are unhealthy. Colourful veges are full of vitamins. Fruits as well. Fruits are also full of sugar! Oh no! But sugars are carbs, and carbs are an essential macronutrient. You need them for energy.

Freelee the banana girl. All she eats is bananas. I would love to see the blood test results of that woman. She will be deficient in a number of things (sanity being the number one) so her insides are completely unhealthy. You cannot expect to eat the same thing day in and day out and be healthy, no matter how healthy the food you consume is said to be, and no matter how healthy you think you look on the outside. Bananas are healthy, sure! But not in excess. Nothing is. Even water in excess can kill you. Think I’m being dramatic? Look it up. Water intoxication. Any substance when consumed in excess over a period of time can be considered poison. People have literally died from drinking too much water.

Consuming excess amounts of anything is not necessary and can be detrimental to your health. Balance is important. Balance, variety and moderation.

I eat ice-cream. And I eat poptarts, and bread, and pasta and all kinds of foods that aren’t necessarily considered “healthy” by some. Do I consume them in excess? No. Do I consume them in quantities that are inline with my calorie and macronutrient requirements? Yes.

Example: one serving of that delicious Coles peanut butter ice-cream contains 19.7g of carb (13.9g of which is sugar) 15.4g fat and 6.6g protein. Those sugars make up around 3% of my current carb allowance for the day. Hardly excessive. The fats make up around 20% of my daily fat allowance. Considering I usually eat 4 meals per day, fitting one serve of that ice-cream in really isn’t a big deal.

For someone with a much lower calorie intake than me, that ice-cream may be more difficult to fit in or justify. They may only have a half serve, or use a lower fat ice-cream. The point is some foods can be “healthier” for some people than others. And everyone is different. And as long as you are aware of your current calorie requirements and work within this, then that is what is important.

Variety is also important. Your body craves variety. If you have the same thing day in and day out it not only gets boring but depending on what it is, your body may not like it so much. Excess cooked veges can cause bloating as they create gases when break down in your stomach. Having a balance of cooked and raw vegetables helps. Having things like rice and pasta to break up a mundane diet of just protein and vegetables is also important. Having foods you enjoy is also important. Eating foods you don’t like, just because they are considered “healthy” is wrong. You don’t need to do this and you don’t need to suffer through a bland and boring diet even on a weight loss phase or comp prep.

I don’t particularly like sweet potatoes. So guess what, I don’t eat them. I can’t stand brown rice so that is 100% OFF my menu. Actually, brown rice is an interesting one. It’s processed. Just like quinoa. Yet these foods are considered to be on the “healthy” list. Isn’t that odd? Word on the street is that processed foods are bad. L O damn L. No. They are not. It’s the same as anything, foods whether they are processed or not are not good or bad. It’s the amounts of these foods that is important. Excess of anything is not good.

Processed foods – so as mentioned above brown rice and quinoa are processed foods. A rice grain that has the outer husk removed is brown rice. Once this then has the next layer removed it becomes white rice. Does that mean white rice is “more processed” than brown rice? Please. It is irrelevant. What is relevant is much of this food are you consuming and does it fit within your calorie requirement? And do you like this food? End of.

This whole healthy living, clean eating BS has to stop. It makes you sound like an idiot if you preach chicken and broccoli all day every day. Whats more, it makes you sound like a wanker if you think your diet makes you better than the next person. Chugging down gluten free kale smoothies doesn’t make you any better than someone who enjoys a glass of wine and a slice of pizza on the odd occasion. Yet people seem to think what you eat reflects on your internal healthiness, and therefore overall place in the world. Eating healthy, and suffering through a bland boring diet somehow makes you more hard core than someone who has learned to enjoy foods in moderation and has balance in their life. Incidentally the same people who claim they are so hard core, are only hard core until their next cheat meal, where they binge uncontrollably on the foods they have deprived themselves of for the past week. This isn’t hard core. This is mental.

If you have a handle on your nutrition, and know how to eat the foods you enjoy without it having a negative affect on your health, your body or your LIFE, then you are what I would call healthy.