Healthy fats – every one of our cell membranes is partly made up of fats. Fats are also the basis for many hormones and play other critical roles in our body’s function. This means that the type of fats we eat have a role in how our bodies work. Healthy fats including extra virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts and oily fish ensure our bodies have the right materials for health readily available. They are also linked to better brain function and heart health.
Avoid ultra-processed foods – according to Public Health Nutrition, ‘ultra-processed’ foods are energy-dense, high in unhealthy types of fat, refined starches, sugars and salt, and poor sources of protein, dietary fibre and micronutrients. Unfortunately these are the foods that are also most accessible to us, since this includes many breakfast cereals, granola bars, supermarket bread, hot dogs, instant noodles and more. These foods are designed to overcome our own satiety signals, so no matter how much we eat, we don’t feel full.
Meat is not essential, although I do eat it – after reading widely, while there are ethical reasons not to eat meat due to environmental and animal welfare concerns, there is insufficient evidence that excluding it completely is essential for health. Meat is a good source of some micronutrients, like B12 and iron. If you choose to include meat in your diet, it should only take up a small part of a plate that is mostly filled with plant-based foods. I also try and buy meat that has been ethically raised.
No soda or fruit juice – soft drink is full of empty kilojoules, has no effect on satiety and its consumption is so strongly linked with obesity that some countries have introduced a tax on drinks with added sugar. Fruit juice has just as much sugar as soft drinks. This sugar rush is absorbed quickly, and doesn’t fill you up. Diet soda has also been linked to poorer health. Stick with water if you are thirsty.
Time-restricted eating – the evidence around fasting as a strategy to promote cellular repair and prevent or delay age-related conditions is interesting, but since we still haven’t definitively shown it extends human life, I can’t bring myself to miss out on the enjoyment of food a couple of days a week. There is, however, some evidence that giving ourselves a break for a few hours a day from eating is another strategy for cellular repair so I give myself a 12-hour eating break in a day, which just means not eating again until breakfast after an early dinner.
Eating consciously – if I am at a restaurant, I have dessert. I love having ice-cream with my family on Fridays. While I savour these foods, I don’t expect them to fill me up. If I am hungry I eat wholefoods and if I enjoy a special occasion treat, I eat it consciously.
What I eat in a day
5.30am I get up before my family to have some quiet time early in the morning. I make a large flat white and savour it while I start the day with some writing time.
6.30am I make breakfast of porridge with rolled oats, chia seeds, pear, tahini, raw cacao and pine nuts. Sounds decadent, but it’s quick and very filling!
10am In a quick break between patients, I have my second coffee of the day, a black coffee with two pieces of 90 per cent cocoa chocolate. I love the bitter coffee and chocolate combination.
12.30pm Lunch is leftover mushroom and brown rice risotto with some sauteed kale and half an avocado. I follow it up with an apple with peanut butter.
4pm I get home and start cooking, I have a quick handful of raw mixed nuts to get me through.
5.30pm Dinner is one of my absolute favourites: roast chicken cooked over puy lentils with tomato, leek and peas. I love sharing this meal with my family while we talk about our day. I don’t eat again after dinner because I like to give myself around 12 hours off eating a day. It’s a gentle form of time-restricted eating.
Staying Alive by Dr Kate Gregorevic is out now, Pan Macmillan, RRP $34.99
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