Dieting vs Healthy Eating
by Dr. Troy Miles
There are a lot of different diets these days; the Atkins, lemon-
detox, weight watchers, lite and easy.. the list could keep going!
People may often lose weight whilst on a diet, but research has
shown that the majority will not only put the weight back on
afterwards, they often gain additional weight.
Poor food choices and a lack of getting up and moving is leading
to obesity becoming (if it hasn’t already!) one of the greatest health
issues in modern society. In 2007-08 the National Health Survey
found 61% of Australian adults were either overweight or
obese. They also found that 1 in 4 (25%) of children aged 5-17
were overweight or obese.
The problem with any diet, is that they do not teach people the
difference between goiod and bad eating habits. This is why diets
fail to help people make long-term changes to their eating habits
and lifestyle. Food is simply fuel for your body- if you put the
right food in, you will be rewarded with energy, good health and a
great life. Putting crap fuel (bad food, bad drinks and bad air) into
your body will cause you to struggle and you’ll never be able to
perform to you full potential.
A balanced diet
A healthy, balanced diet consists of a variety of different foods that
give your body all the nutrients it needs to function at its best. A
great diet is not about eliminating delicious foods and eating
boring stuff. Instead, a healthy diet is based on eating really fresh,
unprocessed foods. Your diet should include:
- a wide variety of fruits and vegies (fresh and seasonal. Different
colours provide different nutrients)
- good protein sources (our bodies are mostly made from protein)
- good fats- omegas 3 and 6 found in oils from fish, nuts and
- limited bad fats (saturated and trans- fats)
- limited carbohydrates (this includes sugars)
If you are looking to improve your diet, it is more important to add
great foods rather than just eliminate bad foods. If you want to
make a lasting change in your life, (be it food or anything else) you
must replace bad habits with good ones. Simply stopping or
eliminating a bad habit leads to a void that will most often be filled
again by the same things you are trying to eliminate.
“If diet is WRONG, medicine is of no use
if diet is CORRECT, medicine is of no need” – Ancient
the 80/20 rule
The 80/20 rule can be applied to many things in life. In relation to
food it refers to 80% of food consumed being highly nutritious,
fuelling your body well. The other 20% allows for indulgences: a
few things that taste great, but may not be great for us. The 80/20
rule includes all the food that we consume, all the snacks and
desserts that we might eat. Eating by this rule, 80% means that 4
out of 5 meals need to nutritious and healthy. Over a week, if we
have 3 meals a day, then we can only have 4 meals that do not
meet a high standard.
The 80/20 rule is a valuable tool for a healthy,balanced diet. It
provides a means to allow us enjoy things that we may not
usually. It helps to give us balance in our lives, so as not to
become a slave to food. Don’t forget, 80/20 also applies to what
we drink as well. Drinking lots of water (at least 80% of fluid
intake) is an important component of a healthy diet.
Replacing the food pyramid – with the plate
The food pyramid is dead!! The traditional food pyramid, based on
high carbohydrate consumption, that we were taught in school has
very little to do with a healthy balanced diet. This model was first
designed over 100 years ago and has barely changed since. The
high portion of grain-based carbs in the pyramid have been linked
to some of most common modern health issues such as obesity
Carbohydrates are indeed important for proper body function, in
particular as a source of fibre for good gut health. However, it is
a little known fact that we can we can get most of our carbohydrate
and fibre needs from fruits and vegies instead of grains.
It’s time to rethink the use of the Food Pyramid and instead use
something like the ‘plate’ model.
(Pic of plate)
The plate shows us the composition of each food group we need in
a meal. (There are a few differences in opinion about the details of
what is exactly the best make up) but basically your plate should
be 50% fruit and veg, 30% protein source and 20% starch. Don’t
forget that it also needs to include some good fats as well!
Over recent years in modern society, portion sizes of foods have
blown out. Everything these days , (especially fast food portions),
seems to be larger, super-sized or upgraded. Obviously if we are
eating more food and exercising less, this will be detrimental to our
health.he same things all the time!
(pic of portion sizes)
Made by nature or made by man?
There are many different ways we can classify and group foods;
high/low in calories, sugar or fat content , the food pyramid, fresh
or packaged. I myself, use and have recommended for many
years, Cyndi O’Meara’s very simple approach. In her book
“Changing Habits, Changing lives” she simplifies foods into two
groups – those made by Nature and those made by man
Natural foods Man made (Processed) foods
- Meats / fish
- Good oils
- Canned foods
- Breads and pasta’s
- Breakfast cereals
- Most sugars
- Soft drink / high
- Instant coffee
- Anything with a long shelf life
Natural foods are those that we recognise straight away, looking
much the same as they did when they were growing. Fresh is
always best! The more you know about where your produce
comes from and when it was picked/butchered the more confident
you can be about whether it is good for you.
The more processed a food is, the further from its natural state it
becomes. The greater the length of time since it was in that state,
the greater its depletion in nutritional value. Most processed foods
tend to be high in preservatives and other additives; salt, sugar etc
which have been shown to be detrimental to our health. The
longer the shelf life of a food or the longer it takes to go off, the
less likely it is good for your health.
Good food – part of a healthy lifestyle
A well balanced diet is an essential part of living a healthy and
happy life. The food we eat is the fuel for our body, so it pays to
choose wisely and invest in yours and your family’s health. Quality
counts. Where you can, choose fresh, organic and GMO free
produce. To do this you often need to source your food
differently. Getting away from the big supermarkets and instead
visiting farmers markets, your local butcher and green grocer you,
will find it much easier to find healthier food choices.
Along with regular exercise, adequate sleep and water, a healthy,
fully functioning nervous system and a good mental state, the food
we choose to fuel our body with has a huge effect on our ability to
express health and reach full potential throughout life.