Sunday, 15 July 2012

So what is a healthy diet anyway? Part 1

This is a tricky question which is open to many different points of view. Everyone has their opinions on this often based on government guidelines or information they have picked up from the media or organisations such as Weight Watchers or Slimming World if they have been on diets (and according to the BBC more than 1 in 4 adults are trying to lose weight at any one time in the UK).

Up to about two years ago I would have considered myself a very healthy eater. Lots of fruit and vegetables (I used to graze on fruit most of the day in between meals), wholemeal bread and pasta, beans and legumes and some meat and fish. I ate low fat versions of dairy products and didn't eat any thing I knew to contain a high fat content such as avocados and nuts. So I should have been my ideal weight and very healthy. However I was about 7lbs heavier than I am today, had cellulite around my thighs and had some very bad stomach problems such as gas, bloating and pain. Some evenings I would be so bloated I looked like I was expecting twins again (I actually had twins in March 2002!).

I began to search for answers to my stomach problems and came across some discussions about fructose which is found in sugary foods and fruits and how this can feed a yeast called candida which lives in the body but can overgrow causing IBS type symptoms. As I didn't eat much in the way of sweets I suspected it might be the amount of fruit I was eating that was causing my stomach problems. I cut out the fruit (I found an amazing book which details how damaging fructose is to health and lists foods both high and low in fructose which helped me to minimise the fructose in my diet.

I immediately began to see a vast improvement in my IBS type symptoms. Today I can eat small amounts of fruits, usually on their own or mixed into yogurt and usually low sugar fruits like berries without any problem. I steer clear of apples, pears and grapes and most dried fruits. I make sure I never eat fruit immediately after a meal too as doing so can cause the fruit to ferment on top of the other foods in the meal as fruit is digested much more quickly than other foods.

Whilst researching the low fructose diet I began to see links to paleo and primal type diets. The next post will discuss these diets and why I decided to try them out and what impact they have had on my weight and health.

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