Purify your plate: Simple ways to eat a more natural diet
Words by Victoria Jain Hamilton (BSc Biochemistry with Immunology).
Over the years the food market has developed from one of simplicity and pureness which suited the lifestyle of the time, to one of convenient processed foods which support our ever increasingly active and fulfilling lives.
A large part of the growth in convenient foods has been in the health food market, where you are now able to buy a plethora of ‘free from’ foods, especially gluten-free and vegan products, protein enriched snack bars to refuel after exercise, and salted kale chips as appose to crisps. These foods taste great and they can be a trusted supply of energy if you have a busy schedule to attend to, but they often contain a high amount of sugar and refined carbohydrates, as well as damaged fats which can be harmful to the body.
So what simple real foods should you turn to rather than the processed varieties which are so readily available to us, to help you purify your plate and eat a more natural diet? Read on.
Nuts are usually a key component of some of the processed foods on offer, so it is better to eat these straight from source. Almonds, cashew nuts and walnuts are a great option to carry in your bag when you need to restock. Soaking nuts over night and then heated on a low temperature helps to enhance the nutrient value of these savoury snacks, and with a sprinkle of Himalayan pink salt and a drizzle of extra virgin oil, they taste even better than their refined counterparts.
A Pinch of Spice (is quite nice)
Spices not only help bring flavour and excitement to our foods, but they also include some wondrous health properties, including protecting our bodies from free radical damage caused by pollutants and toxins, helping to decrease inflammation in the body and supporting our detoxification pathways. These super spices can easily be added to many types of food and drinks including curries, salads, and toppings on meat and fish. They have even become a popular addition to matcha and coffee lattes. Some of my favourite spices include ginger, cinnamon, turmeric and paprika which have been shown to help alleviate symptoms of chronic inflammatory illnesses and improve general wellbeing.
‘Good’ undamaged fats in the diet provide an assortment of health benefits including supple beautiful skin, aiding the body to absorb some key vitamins and minerals, as well as providing you with a robust energy supply. Convenient foods often contain vegetable oils which may be damaged in the refining process and can cause havoc in the body, so it is better to eat real wholefoods which have a high healthy fat content including avocado, olives, oily fish such as salmon and mackerel, eggs (boiled eggs are a great option for a snack) and extra virgin olive oil. Our body operates like a complex mechanical system and we know a well-oiled machine works much more effectively and stays strong, so we should apply the same values to our health.
Green in Nature
The colour green is the perfect representation of health and nature, which is created from the remarkable green pigment of a plant called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll has been shown to optimise
circulation, detoxify the body and it is even thought to delay the aging process. So rather than reaching for a snack bar after lunch, it is better to accompany every meal with either a green salad or vegetable side or if you are feeling adventurous, the vibrant sea vegetable is an opulent source of this emerald treasure. This not only ensures that you are easily able to eat the 10 portions of fruits and vegetables that you are recommended to consume every day, but it also means that you are more likely to stay fuller for longer, so the mid-afternoon nibbling will become a thing of the past.
The Smell Test
The principle of eating a natural diet is that if you can’t identify the food you are eating, don’t eat it. Live by eating real food where you can identify the original source of the produce. This is the best way to truly purify your plate, and live a life feeling enlivened and bright.
Three Easy Ways to Purify Your Plate
1. Only consume wholefoods: if you need to snack, a piece of fruit, a handful of nuts and seeds, or some seafood or meat is much better than a processed option.
2. Experiment with your cooking: cooking doesn’t have to be difficult, and just familiarising yourself with a few key herbs or spices allows you to make a raft of interesting meals without the need of processed jarred sauce or prepacked convenient food.
3. Avoid plastic packaging: although it is getting better, so much of our food is still sold in plastic packaging, so try where possible to buy products sold in paper or store these products in glass containers or transfer to paper wrapping.