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What Am I Supposed To Eat?

Eating can be so confusing these days! What am I supposed to eat I often hear? How much of everything should I be eating? It can often be a very confusing minefield understanding what to eat, so let's break it down to make it easy. In essence, for optimal health, we need to eat foods that feed our gut microbiome and protect our liver.


What am I supposed to eat made easy

A very easy way to consider what you need to eat is simply by looking at your hand, as per below. This means no weighing foods, and is perfect for your body, as a small body frame will have a small hand and smaller consumption needs, while a larger body will have a larger hand with larger consumption needs.


Picture of a hand highlighting estimates of food sources we should be eating
Size guides for food consumption

What foods to eat with greater explanation


  • Firstly - avoid, or minimise processed foods. If it can sit on a shelf and not 'go off', or it comes with a whole list of ingredients that you know are required to preserve it, or sweeten it, then try to eliminate these from foods you consume.

  • Secondly - minimise or eliminate (depending on your health), gluten, sugar, alcohol, and dairy (milk). These foods are all inflammatory to our bodies. Keep them for special, social occasions.

  • Thirdly - the foods that we are left with are natural, whole foods. Once we are consuming these and restricting processed foods, we can focus on our macronutrients and micronutrients balance.

What are macros and micros? Food is broken down into macronutrients and micronutrients.


Macronutrients (Macros)

Macronutrients are classified as the protein, carbohydrate and fat we must eat, and they provide us with the energy that we need, and building blocks for growth and repair.

  • Protein is our source of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans etc), seeds (chia, linseeds, pumpkin, quinoa etc), cheese etc.

  • Fat is our butter, avocado, oils, nuts, seeds etc.

  • Carbohydrate is our bread, grains, and includes our fruits and vegetables etc.

To make it relatively easy to consider for the average person, we should aim for:

  • Fat - 30% of what we eat should come from fat

  • Protein - intake should be roughly calculated on your body weight (0.75g -1gram of protein/ kg of body weight)

  • Carbohydrate - the rest should be made up of carbohydrate.


Proteins

Proteins are often seen in a great light these days, with many people consuming protein smoothies. Protein intake is essential, and should aimed to be consumed across the 3 meals of the day, but make sure the amount is just right as too much can lead to kidney issues, while too little can lead to carbohydrate cravings as your body isn't nutritionally satisfied.


Proteins are made up of amino acids, of which there are 20. Some of the amino acids are essential amino acids and others are non-essential.


  • Essential amino acids, of which there are 9, cannot be made in the body and so it is essential that we get them from our diets. The essential amino acids are arginine, histidine, isoleucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

  • The remainder are non-essential amino acids meaning we can make them in our bodies and therefore not essential to obtain from our diets. It's a good idea to eat protein spread across all the meals of the day.


A vegan diet will usually have some but often not all of the essential amino acids so ensuring you have a variety is imperative to ensure you consume all the essential amino acids. Some foods that do have a complete essential amino acid profile include quinoa, and hemp.


Only athletes and extreme exercisers should aim for more protein. Consuming too much protein when you are inactive is actually a negative and can place a burden on your kidneys and liver.


Signs of Protein Excess
  • Constipation

  • Liver and kidney overload

  • Calcium leaching from bones

  • Strong body odour

Signs of Protein Deficiency
  • Tiredness, weakness, mood changes

  • Poor wound healing

  • Diarrhoea

  • Bloating and poor digestion


Fats

  • What is important to consider for fat consumption, is the type of fat consumed. A healthy Omega 3 source is desired. More information is found on the blog discussing healthy forms of fat.


Carbohydrates

  • Carbohydrate tends to be either overly represented in a lot of people's food intake, or demonised and under-represented. Carbohydrates are our brains first choice for fuel. As the brain needs it to survive, when we are low on 'carbs' we can have negative mood changes , and feel very tired. Carbohydrate sources include breads, fruits, vegetables, milk (providing lactose), seeds and nuts. We need great sources of fibre via our carbohydrate food sources to fuel our microbiomes needs, not just our tongue. The ideal amount is 1-5g/ kg body weight, depending on the amount of exercise you do. Excess carbohydrate consumed beyond our needs can potentially be stored as fat.


Picture of Carbohydrates, proteins, fats and graphical examples of food sources.
The 3 Macronutrients

Micronutrients (Micros)

Micronutrients are the smaller vitamins and minerals found in our foods, that we need but in smaller amounts. Conveniently, micronutrients are found in the macronutrients we eat.


Vitamins

  • Vitamins include fat soluble vitamins Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E. We need fat in our diets to be able to absorb these fat soluble vitamins.

  • Vitamins also include water soluble vitamins Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B9 (Folate), Vitamin B12, Vitamin C. The food sources can be found here. Being water soluble means we need a constant supply as they will flush out in our urine on a daily basis.


Minerals


If you would like to discuss your own personal dietary needs, then please don't hesitate to make a booking with me.



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ARTICLE/CONTENT DISCLAIMER

The information provided in this blog/article/handout is for your personal or other non-commercial, educational purposes. It should not be considered as medical or professional advice. We recommend you consult with a GP or other healthcare professional before taking or omitting to take any action based on this blog/article/handout. While the author uses best endeavours to provide accurate and true content, the author makes no guarantees or promises and assumes no liability regarding the accuracy, reliability or completeness of the information presented. The information, opinions, and recommendations presented in this blog/article/handout are for general information only and any reliance on the information provided in this blog/article/handout is done at your own risk. Any third-party materials or content of any third-party site referenced in this blog/article/handout do not necessarily reflect the author’s opinion, standards or policies and the author does not assume any liability for them whatsoever.



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