What is a Healthy Diet?

What is a healthy diet? At its most basic level a healthy diet should consist of good quality protein from an array of different sources, low GI carbohydrates, healthy fats, and a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. All of these will work together to keep your blood sugar stable and stop those sugary carbohydrate cravings we all get when we need of a quick energy boost.

In this post is I will show you the best foods to eat for a healthy, well rounded diet, and more importantly how to combine them together to make every meal and snack ‘complete‘ which will keep you full and fuel your body for longer. The other advantages of this will be stable blood sugar – the cornerstone of good health, especially when you consider the damage that sugar can wreak on your body.

 

Chronic inflammation:

smart phone images of food

Sugar contributes to inflammation, and chronic inflammation is thought to be the root cause of many major diseases, however you can temper this inflammation by changing your diet and making it more plant based.

Many of us have different ideas and beliefs as to what constitutes a healthy diet, and many of these beliefs are probably misguided. There are so many different diet and eating plans out there that it can all get very confusing at times. We are obsessed by food, and this is more evident now than ever before, especially with the new culture of instagram and other social media platforms all seemingly awash with pics of beautifully prepared meals.

 

So many different diets – so little time!

woman in bikini on beach

We are in a culture full of many different types of diets and ways of eating – there’s veganism, plant based, raw vegan, high protein, low carb, fruitarian, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg lettuce. There are also many different short term diet plans and detoxification systems out there, all promising you that fabulous beach body in an impossible amount of time.

It’s all pretty exhausting and can leave you confused, and worse still, despondent. But don’t let this be a reason for you to give up as knowledge really is power in this game; don’t go on some set up to fail crazy diet plan, but instead apply small changes that will add up over time and help set you on the path for LIFELONG changes. Ultimately this is what you need to aim for if you want increased vitality, a stronger immune system, and a longer, happier life. Well worth the effort it right?

 

The body can heal itself given the right conditions

missing pieces of a jigsaw

I started my healthy eating journey many years ago after looking endlessly for a cure for my depression and anxiety (this was back in the dark ages where there wasn’t the help available that there is today). I quickly realised, after finally discovering nutrition, that the body is this amazing tool that can heal itself from most things if given the right materials (i.e. the food we eat), and this PROVED itself over and over again to be something that would change my life forever.

The reason I go on so much about nutrition and mental illness is because it is the single most effective thing  can do to help yourself, and no matter how dark things are you should make the effort for nutrition AND exercise.

Here I want to help you understand the foods you need to be eating for supreme health, the foods you should cut down on, and how to implement correct food combining

 

FOODS TO DITCH FROM THE DIET

ring dougnut

  • Anything deep-fried.
  • Confectionery such as sweets, pastries, biscuits and cakes.
  • All kinds of vegetable oils such as corn, canola, soybean, safflower, sunflower and cottonseed.
  • Anything refined such as white bread, white flour, white rice, white sugar and white pasta.
  • Fast foods such as burgers, fries, pizzas and takeaways.
  • Ready meals/ frozen meals such as pizza, pies, chips and most things in the frozen section. Exceptions are frozen vegetables, fruits, and some ranges of healthier low salt low, fat convenience meals.
  • Fizzy drinks and fruit juices.

 

FOODS TO ADD INTO THE DIET

CARBOHYDRATES

whole pineapple

Fresh Fruits of all Kinds:-

  • High carbohydrate fruits – pineapple, papaya, mango, grapes, banana (check out these other amazing banana benefits), pomegranate, fresh figs.
  • Medium carbohydrate fruits – melons, apricots, peaches, apples, pears, orange citrus fruits.
  • Low carbohydrate fruits – all berries, including blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants.

Dried fruits:- (these are high carbohydrate as their sugars have been condensed)

  • Dates, figs, sultanas, raisins, apricots, mango, pineapple, prunes, goji berries

Vegetables of all kinds:-

  • High carbohydrate vegetables- potatoes, parsnips, carrots, beetroot, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash,
  • Low carbohydrate vegetables – all greens, broccoli, asparagus, spinach, courgette, cauliflower, avocado, peppers.

Wholegrains:-

wheat grain

  • Wholegrain bread
  • Brown rice
  • Wholegrain pasta
  • Oatcakes
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Cracked wheat
  • Oats and oatmeal
  • Corn
  • Buckwheat

Pulses:-

  • Green peas
  • Yellow split peas
  • Lentils
  • Beans – black, pinto, cannellini, butter, chickpeas, borlotti, haricot, kidney beans.

 

PROTEINS

chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils

  • Beans (beans are both a carbohydrate and a protein, though they do not contain a ‘complete‘ amino acid profile)
  • Quinoa (quinoa is one of the few known foods that contains both protein, carbohydrate, omega 3 fats, and a complete amino acid profile, so can therefore be eaten alone as a ‘complete’ meal). A true super food!
  • Tofu
  • Soy
  • Tempeh

 

FOODS THAT CONTAIN BOTH PROTEIN AND FAT

  • Nuts – peanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, brazils, macadamia, hazelnuts, pine nuts, and pecans.
  • Seeds – pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, poppy, flax, hemp, chia.

 

HEALTHY FATS

  • Nuts – peanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, brazil’s, macadamia, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pecans.
  • Seeds – pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, poppy, flax, hemp, chia.
  • Avocados
  • Tahini
  • Olive oil (for cooking)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (for using COLD only) – do not cook with extra virgin olive oil as it turns toxic when heated)
  • Extra virgin Coconut oil ( can be used cold AND for cooking at high temperatures, so a great all-rounder).
  • Avocado oil (cold only)
  • Flax oil (cold only)
  • SUGAR ALTERNATIVES (These should be used only in moderation)
  • Raw honey
  • Stevia
  • Xylitol
  • Maple syrup
  • Coconut nectar sugar
  • Brown rice syrup

eating an apple

You should also consider adding to your diet every day some super foods which will ensure you are getting optimal amounts of all the nutrients you need. The high amounts of antioxidants in these foods will not only help neutralise all those nasty free radicals in your body, but are fantastic for anti aging and will also keep your immune system strong.

 

Green Super Food Powders:-

hemp protein smoothie

Green superfood powders really are fantastic as they are bursting with antioxidants, phytonutrients, and all kinds of fat busting and detoxifying nutrients. When your body is in a high state of detoxification it won’t be storing toxins into fat cells, but eliminating them instead – which means the shrinkage of said fat cells, and a slimmer waistline for you (hurrah).

There are many different superfood powders available on the market so always be sure to source out the best quality you can find. This will make ALL the difference to how well they work for you. Here I have sourced out the best superfood powders of 2018 so you can browse through to pick the perfect one for your specific needs.

 

Superfood Blends

spirulina and chlorophyl

OR for ease you could buy a blend such as Dr. Schulze’s superfood powder. This has a unique blend of all of the green super foods and is processed in a way that gives it a high uptake and absorption rate: meaning it is quickly transported into cells to give you an energy boost within 20 minutes. This really works and is probably the best super food powder and most powerful detoxifyer I have ever tried.

 

WHAT IS A HEALTHY DIET?

CORRECT FOOD COMBINING:-

plate of healthy foods

All the above foods are healthy examples of what you want be eating at every meal and snack for optimum nutrition. I recommend veering towards a more plant based diet and obtaining most of your protein through nuts, seeds, wholegrains, and pulses. Animal products (especially dairy and eggs) are mostly acid forming and therefore may contribute to chronic inflammation in the body, which in turn may lead to accelerated ageing, chronic illness, and disease.

 

The awesome side effects of a plant based diet:-

jumping for joy

Since eating a plant based diet I have seen a lot of changes in myself: I have great skin, more energy, and I notice I never get the aches and pains after exercise that I used to have. I also rarely get PMS or hormonal problems, and I can sleep better; plus I haven’t been sick with any colds, flu’s, or viruses so far – not once!

I also noticed that the painful knees I suffered with for years (the result of too much running on concrete) have also got a whole lot better since cutting out animal products. This one is for sure a result of less inflammation.

 

Too much inflammation can make you sick!

swiss cheese

All of those problems funnily enough (or maybe not so funny) can be a result of too much inflammation in the body, and so this proves to me my point about animal products (especially dairy) and their role in chronic inflammation. It really is worth considering cutting down on these to see how much better you might potentially feel. BUT always make sure you combine foods properly so you don’t miss out on vital nutrients and amino acids.

 

HOW TO COMBINE FOODS CORRECTLY

sweet potato buddha bowl

To keep blood sugars stable you should make sure you always have, with every meal or snack, some protein, a carbohydrate wholegrain or vegetable, and a little fat. The carbohydrates and protein should be roughly in a 2:1 ratio. You should add low carbohydrate fruits and vegetables on top of this ratio for extra nutrients, antioxidants, and phytochemicals: all of which will boost your immune system, are anti aging, and help fight disease.

A perfect example of a ‘complete’ meal would be a pick from each section. Here are some examples:-

Main meals:- Brown rice, chick pea curry, side salad with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and a piece fruit, OR:

A bean/lentil dish with quinoa and steamed greens, piece of fruit.

Snacks:- 2 oatcakes with peanut butter, tahini or avocado. OR

Handful of nuts or seeds with dried or fresh fruit.

Notice how these meals contain all the nutrients from the main 3 food groups of protein, fats, and carbohydrates.

cooked bowl of quinoa

In many cases a single food may contain elements of all the main 3 food groups and a perfect example of this would be quinoa. Another good example of a food that contains 2 of the groups would be peanut butter (or most nuts and seeds in general) as they are high in protein and healthy monounsaturated fats. Pulses are an example of a food that contain both protein and carbohydrates.

To keep things simple I have put them into groups of the nutrients they are dominant in, therefore if you choose your meals from all of these groups then you are sure to cover all bases.

Please check out this free 1 week diet plan for more great samples of correct food combining.

 

A FEW MORE TOP TIPS:

  • Sugars are CARBOHYDRATES, so when deciphering food labels you can look in the section where it says ‘carbohydrates‘ and it will tell you the total amount which will also include the starches. Underneath that section you will find the ‘carbohydrates of which sugars‘ this is the amount of actual sugar in that food. Check whether this is either per 100g, the whole product, or just a portion of that product so you can work out exactly how much is in the amount you are going to be consuming.white sugar cubes
  • Ideally you want to go for as low a sugar content as possible. I’m talking about the ‘carbohydrates of which sugars‘ here, and not just ALL the carbohydrates in total. 22g per 100 grams is considered very high so that will give you some set point. Try not to go over 10 grams per 100 grams in total. And don’t forget to count this towards your daily amount.
  • The average man should consume no more than 37.5 grams (9 teaspoons) of sugar; the average woman 25 grams (6 teaspoons); and a child 12 grams (3 teaspoons).
  • Always eat a rainbow of colours every day from the fruits and veggies section.
  • Eating fats and proteins alongside carbohydrates (especially the higher sugar carbs like potatoes, high sugar fruits, and the other sugar alternatives mentioned above) will slow down the sugar release even more, thus keeping blood sugar more stable.
  • Try not to eat fried, browned, or burnt foods (especially meats) as they are carcinogenic (carcinogens may be cancer causing, especially when eaten a lot and in a diet that contains few antioxidants).
  • It is always good to have a little fat with meals as it helps with the absorption of many of the fat soluble nutrients such as A,D,E, and K.fresh figs
  • If you have decided as suggested on going much more plant based with your diet, then be sure to add extra calcium in the form of sesame seeds (tahini is great), fresh and dried figs, and lots of leafy green vegetables. All of these are fantasic sources of calcium, and some even HIGHER than dairy. Please read this list of plant based calcium foods.
  • On a plant based diet you will more than likely need a B12 supplement as B12 is mostly found only in animal products.

 

If you have any questions you would like me to answer about the plant based diet then please feel free to post in the comments section below. Thank you for reading!

 

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Stefanie Taylor

I have studied nutrition for many years, and have since discovered that a plant based diet has been the most beneficial to my health and body. I have more energy and zest for life than I have ever had and this website is dedicated to helping others who wish to know more, and start out on this lifestyle.

14 Comments

Stefan Vogt · 27/11/2017 at 12:17 am

Hi there
Thanks for this detailed report. I always like to learn more about health and nutrition. I think the more we read about this topic the more we get used to the thought, and the easier it gets buying the right things.
It is great that people like you are concerned and write deep insightful posts like this.

    Stefanie Taylor · 27/11/2017 at 10:43 am

    Hi Stefan, I am happy to help you learn more about nutrition and I am glad you’re enjoying it. The more you know, the easier it gets, and a little knowledge can go a long way. And that’s my aim, to try and keep things simple for people to understand, as that way they are more likely to make changes. All the best to you on your fitness journey.

LaVerne · 27/11/2017 at 2:20 am

This a great article and timely. My husband and I were just talking tonight that we really do need to start eating better. There is so much information out there that its hard to know where to start. I came across your article at the right time.

    Stefanie Taylor · 27/11/2017 at 10:37 am

    Hi there, that is just really fantastic to hear and I am really happy I can help you with that. My aim is to make it as easy as possible for people to get healthier and fitter. There are a couple of links in the article such as ‘ and another good one is . Both of these will be really helpful to you too and I thoroughly recommend you take a look. Good luck with evrything, and if you ever have any questions then please just ask.

Kyra · 27/11/2017 at 3:28 am

Hi there,
You have some great content here and a lot of useful information. This article is a great read. All success to you.

    Stefanie Taylor · 27/11/2017 at 10:30 am

    Hi Kyra, thank you for reading and I am glad you found the information useful. That is my aim.

Ciara · 28/11/2017 at 12:03 am

You have a lot of great points in your article! I forget to incorporate carbs and protein together for a slower sugar release into the body. I enjoy making healthy, organic ramen bowls with veggies and seitan protein. Do you know if the veggies would lose their nutritional content if they are cooked for too long? Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!

    Stefanie Taylor · 28/11/2017 at 12:03 am

    Hi Ciara, thanks for reading and enjoying the article. Your ramen bowls sound absolutely fantastic and I am going to start making my own. As for the veggies, the only time I really cook them a long time is in something like a stew, soup or casserole, where all the juices are staying in the same pot and not getting lost or thrown away in cooking water. Any other time, always cook or steam lightly and for as little a time as possible as heat does destroy nutrients. In fact, there are a lot of people out there who only eat raw food as they say cooking destroys all the vitamins etc. I tried a raw diet for a week once and I have to say I could really tell the difference, and within a day, my skin was glowing and I had just oodles of energy, so that tells me that raw is probably best for our bodies. Having said that it is so hard to do and stick to as we have lifelong conditioning of eating cooked foods. But I’m getting there. For now, just eat as lightly cooked and raw as you can every day and you will still feel the difference.

Robert · 29/11/2017 at 3:17 am

Awesome. I really like how you laid things out to make it easy to understand. I need that.

I guess one of my problems is learning what to ditch. They so remind me of another time.

My favorites are fruits and nuts, vegetables, pulses, grains… they are so filling leave a felling of satisfaction.

I will have to come back for the food combining again.

What a great outline. Your effort is appreciated. I feel much more confident in my choices.

See you later.

Oh, what are your favorites?

    Stefanie Taylor · 29/11/2017 at 11:22 am

    Hi Robert, I’m so happy that you have found my post of value. I understand how hard it is to ditch those comfort foods (I still fall of the wagon, especially in winter ha ha). I guess we all have a lot of deep set conditioning going on when it comes to food, and this can be hard to break. The one thing I find really helps is exercise as it kind of makes you disciplined in all other areas of life as well, and this change in behaviour, when I first started exercising regularly, really stood out for me.

    Anyway, back to the point, you will find when you start combining food properly you will keep blood sugar stable and you won’t crave these other comfort foods as much. My absolute favorites for this are avocados, peanut butter and anything to do with coconuts (oil, flesh, milk). All of these are just great low GI foods and good for stopping sugar cravings in their tracks. Hope this helps and thank you for your comment.

Dr. Doug · 29/11/2017 at 5:55 am

Happily I have already purged the “do not eat” list from my diet. I did not know that I shouldnt cook with olive oil, so that will go too. You mentioned that you are closer to vegan, but what is your opinion of the paleo diet given that its quite close to what you recommend. I am not strict paleo myself as I’ve found more benefits in exactly the kind of diet you are promoting.

    Stefanie Taylor · 29/11/2017 at 5:55 am

    Hi Doug, glad you have got rid of all those bad things on the list :-). Cooking with normal olive oil is fine, it’s the extra virgin olive oil that you shouldn’t heat, just thought I’d better clear that up. I will go back and check that is clear in the post. My take on Paleo is I think it is a lot healthier than the average diet (I did it myself for a while) but I have never felt so good as I do on the plant based. I think it still comes back to the fact that animal products (although they are good sources of protein and other nutrients) are all acid forming which plays havoc in the body. 

    I also believe that we are all different, so what works for one may not necessarily work for another. However, I do have a friend who had all sorts of issues and problems that I won’t go into inflammatory diseases), and she went paleo for a couple of years believing that it would help her and she actually got worse. It is only now she has tried the plant based approach that she is finally feeling better, so this reaffirms  to me again that it is the way to go.

sarah · 05/02/2018 at 11:33 pm

Wow, an awesome article with a really thorough and detailed explanation of healthy diet. This article must be shared with everyone, it contains all the useful information about healthy diet, nutrition and healthy options. I am really glad that you also mentioned healthy alternatives as well. The first job I will do after finishing this commenting is to forward it to all the people I know. Superb work, Keep it up.

    Stefanie Taylor · 06/02/2018 at 10:21 am

    Hi there, I’m really glad you found this post useful. Many people become a bit stuck in regards to what a healthy diet actually is and where to even begin with it all. You may find useful also my post

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