How many times have you heard that certain food groups are bad for you? Stop eating dairy, meat, fatty foods, the list goes on and on. Is it time we paid attention to this, or is it all just a fad and clever marketing? In my younger days, I don’t remember any of the issues that are highlighted today, we ate good ‘old-fashioned’ home cooked food.
All these new trends and guidance certainly haven’t made us healthier. According to the NHS Digital, Health Survey for England2019, ‘Around three quarters of people aged 45-74 in England are overweight or obese’.
We are all eating less and less fresh whole foods, much of this can be put down to the convenience of pre-packaged ready meals. Many of us are time poor and these can be seen as an easy solution. In a recent study of 19 European countries, it was found that the UK buys more ultra-processed food than any other European country. Nearly 51% of our diet is made up of ultra-processed food, Germany was second with just over 46%. Is there any wonder we are overweight!
So, what about our old traditional eating habits and ingredients. Let’s start with dairy products. We have been told to eat reduced and low-fat products; milk, cheese and yoghurt all now come in low or reduced fat options. However, recent studies suggest that consuming full fat dairy products isn’t bad for us, potentially quite the opposite. Research suggests that they may protect us against heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Eggs have also been portrayed as something you should limit in your diet. Over recent years the advice has again changed and there is no recommended limit. Eggs are one of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat, and despite previous suggestions they don’t increase your cholesterol.
How often have we been told to eat your five a day? This is now so engrained we assume it as fact. But did you know it started as a marketing slogan in America, designed to sell more fruit and veg! We know that fruit and vegetables are good for us, but they can contain a lot of sugar, which we need to be aware of. One cup of pineapple, for instance, contains 16 g of sugar while the same amount of banana contains almost 28g. The message is not to stop eating fruit and vegetables, they are obviously full of nutrients, but we do need to be aware of their sugar content.
How about meat? We are often told to reduce our consumption to save the planet, but is meat itself bad for us? Whilst limiting our intake of processed meats such as hot dogs is a promising idea, there is no evidence that meat is bad for us. Reducing meat consumption because of environmental concerns could be a good idea, but the consumption of meat itself, is not bad for our bodies.
So, what should we be eating? In this time of mixed messages, particularly from the internet, you really can’t go wrong with fresh, simple ingredients, cooked at home so you really know what you’re eating. Just like we used to do!