I’m more than a little interested in the subject of healthy eating. In fact, I’m morbidly and pathologically obsessed by diet, exercise and longevity. As a result, I’ve learned a thing or two about eating.
One of the things I’ve learned is that healthy eating isn’t really about packing in a handful of acai berries or pine nuts or organic broccoli every day. It’s much more about excluding unhealthy items like processed meats, refined carbohydrates, and sugars. Do that, and you’re 90% of the way to a healthy diet.
When you read government recommendations to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, that doesn’t mean in addition to the unhealthy foods people normally eat. It means instead of them. And by the way, five a day isn’t really enough.
In fact, if you really want to live for a long time, you need to think about reducing your calorie intake quite significantly, and the only way you can do that is by eating a diet of exclusively low energy-density foods.
In practical terms, that means mostly fruit, vegetables, whole grains and some lean meat and fish.
I know what you’re thinking. Yum, yum! No more burgers, no more bacon, no more cheese, no more sugary desserts!
If you’re vegetarian, you’re part way there, but it isn’t necessary to go vegetarian to eat well, and a vegetarian diet isn’t necessarily a healthy one.
One of the persistent myths about healthy eating is that new research keeps throwing up conflicting results, but that isn’t really true. Newspapers, magazines and social media keep throwing up conflicting research, but that research isn’t representative of mainstream thinking amongst professionals. There’s still a fair bit of noise in the research, but the key finding is always the same – less (calorie intake) is more (life).
There are three key rules for living a long and healthy life:
- Eat less.
- Exercise more.
- Don’t smoke.
It doesn’t have to be much more complicated than that.