What Really Constitutes a Healthy Diet?

Is there really only one healthy option that is right for everybody?

Healthy OptionsRecently I have been questioning the various "healthy options" that are hailed to be the answer to the world's ills. It has taken me on a journey back to my nutritional diploma and the feelings I had during and after that time. 

I trained as a nutritionist in 1988. It seems like another life time away now. I remember thinking, just after I qualified, that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Even though I had completed an excellent  2 year diploma with the then "renowned" Institute of Optimum Nutrition in London, I felt ill prepared to enter the world of a nutritional consultant and consequently chose to continue with my career as a teacher . 

I remember being totally shocked that some of my peers had actually set up their nutrition business whilst still training. I was in awe of their confidence. After all we were talking about people's health here, and not only that we were taking money from people for the advice we were giving. Needless to say I never became a fully fledged nutritional consultant, though to this day my passion is still health and wellness and I love to research and read anything health related.

Does it get any easier to find the right healthy option?

Well here I am 25 years later and guess what, there is still so much to learn. Health trends change with the wind. The latest fad is soon to be replaced by the very latest fad etc etc. Where will it ever end. For me the biggest difficulty has been deciding which side of the fence I sit on. Do I think that "real food" is the way forward the paleo diet of our ancestors or do I believe that the semi raw veggie option and the alkalising diet are the correct way forward. I am easily persuaded by a good argument and can see pros and cons on both sides. 

If I were to listen to my gut (I tend to be a gut reactor) I certainly veer towards the vegetarian diet with the addition of fish, as too much meat doesn't really suit me. But I do feel strongly that good quality, meat from animals reared in the traditional way has a lot to offer our nutritional well being. So as a result I do eat organic meat from time to time. I also feel that I need to eat both raw and cooked vegetables so the raw food diet in its entirety is certainly a "no no" for me.

My reason for starting to question my allegiance again is because I have recently joined the Village Green Network and I have been very impressed with the quality of the blogs belonging to the other members. Their dedication and passion is evident, as is their seeming ability to decide which side of the fence they sit on.

About 10 years ago I trained as a metabolic typing advisor. I learned that "one man's meat is another man's poison". This made a lot of sense to me and explained why some people seem to thrive better on a high protein diet whilst others preferred a diet higher in carbohydrates. It was through this training that I was introduced to Sally Fallon and the Weston Price Foundation and I started on yet another journey of discovery about the food we eat.

Four years ago I was diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity and through my research I discovered the GAPS Diet. It was a complete revelation to me that there existed a completely different way of eating. The GAPS diet was quite a steep learning curve, especially as a diet for people with gut and psycological issues. It was one I embraced, though not in its entirety, in an attempt to heal my damaged gut, and one I have taken some aspects of into my current eating plan

Of course the GAPS diet was very closely linked to Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions and I started to feel as though I had come full circle. Real unadulterated food was very much on the agenda again along with fermented foods.

GrainsBut then came the controversy about grains. Are they healthy or are they not?? Certainly the GAPS diet discouraged eating all grains and also some other difficult to digest carbohydrates.

As a gluten sensitive person I had already given up grains with gluten but what about these other grains such as rice and buckwheat? Are they unealthy? For me the jury is still out on this part of the conundrum. I accept they are not advisable for those requiring the GAPS diet but it almost feels like a step too far for me at the moment. 

So although I still have some uncertainties in my nutritional thinking I feel that I have made some positive, informed choices over the last few years that have helped to improve my own and my family's diet. I look forward to reading more excellent blogs in the future written by the members of the Village Green Network and improving my own knowledge and subsequently my own health. 

I think maybe my goal for the future needs to be to think clearly about my health intentions and decide on the right angle for my blog that reflects me and my opinions about health. Healthy Options seemed like a good name for my blog 4 years ago now I need to be be clear what those options really are!!



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2 comments to What Really Constitutes a Healthy Diet?

  • Chef William

    I really enjoyed reading this article because I have followed the same path. Presently I am 95 percent vegetarian, with some wild caught fish, but only free range fowl or beef. When I look at the paleo diet, I also consider the shorter life span ot the people that first ate that type of diet. As for the grains, wheat is not the wheat of old, the wheat we use today is mass produced in a ground full of chemicals. I am anti-GMO and try to avoid such foods. I do not purchase foods that have been bulk produced and stored in a can, or plastic container. There is so much out there that one must continue to study and learn all their lives. As for all the latest and greated, I watch with a questionable eye. The giant food companys will "invent" something and then spend millions to make us believe that if we want to be healthy, we must eat or drink this product. They will even package it to look like it is very healthy. The saying "Buyer beware" is more true in the food industry than anywhere in the world.

  • Janet

    Thanks for your input William. It is very heartening to hear that your views are similar to mine. I think it is a matter of being alert to the trends and going with what feels most natural. I am still a little confused about the raw v cooked debate. Some foods are more obviously for the cookpot than others.

    I agree regarding the way food companies make their food packages appear as if the food is healthy. I am just about to publish my next Kindle ebook in which I look at the way the food industry fools unsuspecting people, encouraging them to purchase their gluten free products, many of which are far from healthy

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