Brazil has been making the headlines with their new guidelines for the nations Nutrition. The advice from the Government is dramatically different dietary advice to any other Governments in that they tell people to ignore advertisements as that is just marketing and not sound nutritional information. They also emphasise the social aspects of eating and that cooking and eating together is a large part of our humanity and development of our culture and civilisation. They encourage people to shop in places that offer a variety of natural or minimally processed foods, to eat produce locally grown and in season and whenever possible to buy organic, ecological based foods from the producers. If you would like to read their guidelines in more detail then Brazil’s 10 Steps to a Healthy diet can be seen here.
Their four food categories are also very different and are as follows:-
- Natural or minimally processed foods – freshly made dishes and meals over ultra processed foods and drinks. These should form the bulk of the daily diet.
- Oils, fats, salt and sugar – the guide states that as long as these are used in moderation in preparing healthy food without making them nutritionally unbalanced. This is probably the only area that I feel needs some clarifying for a healthy diet. I personally always stress that it is important to avoid processed fats and oils and to concentrate on healthier fats like butter, coconut oil and olive oil, to buy Celtic sea salt rather than processed salt and to avoid sugar as much as possible in favour of natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.
- Processed foods – include foods like bread, cheeses, cured meats and pickles and these can be eaten in moderation.
- Ultra-processed foods – to be avoided or kept to an absolute minimum.
So this guide is advocating a return to eating freshly prepared, home cooked meals and passing on the traditions of cooking and eating as a family as opposed to grabbing fast food on the go or ordering Pizza. It is great to see a Government taking this strong stance that goes way beyond normal Governmental dietary advice and against the massive Food Production Companies.
How do we get back to eating this way?
There are degrees of how much you might need to change depending on how you shop and eat now but the rules for change are the same –
- Make a statement that you are going to stop eating JUNK
- Go through your cupboards and get rid of anything that falls into that category as out of site out of mind
- Plan some meals for a week – get the family involved and base those meals on some healthy proteins like chicken, lamb, fish, beans, fresh vegetables and fruits. Make sure you have some healthy choices for breakfast like eggs, bacon or fresh fruit/veg smoothies so that you don’t default to sugary, processed cereals.
- Shop for those meals – remembering the key words FRESH and NATURAL and making sure that you have some healthy snacks in the store cupboard like nuts and raisins, dates etc. Also buy tins/jars of beans for salads or casseroles, fish such as sardines, tuna, pilchards, salmon; tomatoes (plus some dried Italian herbs for quick sauces) and frozen vegetables like spinach, peas, peppers to fill the gaps when you can’t get fresh.
- Get the family to help with the preparation and cooking and motivate everyone by having a big sign up in the kitchen like this one
If you have a sweet tooth at the moment and you know it will be difficult for you then have a couple of dates or a few raisins and an apple for dessert or make jelly with pure fruit juice ( not pineapple ‘cos it won’t set!)and gelatine and have chocolate just one designated night a week – we say Friday night is chocolate night!
This is what we call EATING CLEAN and has to be preceded by SHOPPING CLEAN and you will soon realise that there are whole isles that you can avoid in the Supermarket or if you shop on-line start with a whole new shopping list and then your favourites will come up without the temptation of all the branded convenience foods. This is what my shopping from the Supermarket looks like when I haven’t been able to get to a market.
I am lucky and have a local Free Range delivery service so I am able to stock my freezer with good quality meat. It is more expensive than some of the supermarkets but I order smaller portions of Pork, Lamb and Beef mince, medium to large whole chickens so that we can have at least a couple of main meals, and a couple of lunches off of it and then I boil all the bones to make a big pot of chicken broth. Try to buy cheaper cuts of meat on the bone for casseroles or crock pot slow cooker meals as the bones make for more flavour and great gravy. I buy special offers as much as possible and freeze some so that we don’t waste any. I make chocolate Brownies and Date Slice with oats and you might notice that a bottle of wine is lurking at the back! Appetite and enthusiasm for good food is back.