By trying to be 'super' healthy, you may actually be developing some extremely unhealthy traits and ultimately decreasing your wellbeing. I also would remind you that eating some low-grade confectionary now and then won’t cause you to suddenly become unhealthy!
My inspiration for this blog came from reading an article in GQ magazine written by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. She discussed the social problems in family homes and schools regarding personal eating habits.
Families are being stretched (financially and emotionally) partly due to stubborn teenagers following social media juggernauts offering up their eating/juicing advice. I won’t start dissecting each online guru’s advice, but I will say that simply going Dairy Free/Vegan/Paleo/5:2 (delete as appropriate) for no reason other than ‘because celebrity X does it’ is just silly.
Healthy and low calorie are not mutually inclusive
Funnily enough, I’ve personally just gone dairy and egg free (no humble Paleo pie for me). But I’ve done this based on some intolerance testing. My plan will be to slowly reintroduce eggs, and then eat a sensible volume.
Yasmin’s article ends with a mention of a school, where a staggering 27 out of 30 female students were off dairy. The head teacher suggested the students were displaying obsessive behaviours and body dysmorphia.
While dairy is a genuine problem for many people, I find it impossible to believe that 27/30 female teenagers suffer a dairy intolerance. This is scary reading, an example of people jumping on a band-waggon but having very little understanding about why their doing it.
Chocolate has long been demonised but, if we go back many centuries, there is data to suggest that certain parts of the world where cacao consumption was high (the beans grew freely) experienced some of the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease. These populations generally also had a low prevalence of atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension.
There are current studies highlighting positive correlation with lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Type 2 diabetes may be controlled due to cacao improving insulin sensitivity.
Cacao itself is the purest form of chocolate you can consume, having been through much less of a process, and as such is high in antioxidants and magnesium.
In order to create a bar of chocolate, we heat cacao to create cocoa. Aim for plain varieties and obviously the higher % bars have less sugar in exchange for more of the good stuff! Be aware though that a high % bar of chocolate contains a high amount of calories, so eating a large bar a day in order to maximise the benefit may not be recommended!
To round off my blog, I'd like you to ask yourself this question: Do sweet potato, date, and chia seed brownies actually satisfy your sweet tooth? If so, then fantastic! If they don’t, then what's the point in making and eating them?
Be conscious of the calories in your Paleo cheesecake. Healthy and low calorie are not mutually inclusive. And eat with your tastebuds, not your eyes. Don’t spend 30 minutes creating ‘egg clouds’ for breakfast – they look ridiculous and taste revolting. Judge food on flavour, not whether your young children think it looks ‘fun’. On that note, please never bake an avocado!
Finally, don’t feel guilty for any occasional slip ups in your quest to eat healthier. If you have a blip, just accept it, enjoy it and move on.
Philip Jones is the Director of Wellness London