Thankfully, if we eat a balanced diet then we can pretty much eat what we want. Humans are omnivores after all, so we've always eaten a wide range of foods, it's just the way they're processed, packaged and delivered that's taking its toll on our waistlines.
Nutritionists have spent years looking at our diets and some standard advice from the NHS which has persisted for generations can now be discounted:
White bread can be as healthy as wholemeal and Sourdough. It's the cheap white bread that's the problem with all its preservatives. Buy it fresh from a bakery, and it's all good.
Porridge is an awesome start to the day. Yes, it's full of carbs, but they're good carbs. Throw some fruit into it and a bit of honey rather than refined sugar then you're set up for the morning.
Eggs! Don't separate the whites from the yokes as the cholesterol in an entire egg doesn't affect your blood cholesterol. The recommendation here is to poach your eggs rather than fry them so they're just as delicious!
Wine is good for us! Not a couple of bottles a day, but a couple of glasses are ok. The thing here is not to go for the cheapest wine. Those 2 for £10 deals aren't worth it as they're made from concentrate and a lot of the nutrition has gone. A nice Merlot has lots of flavanol heart goodness in it and a bottle of Malbac has been shown to be full of cancer-blocking procyanidins.
Beer drinker? A good quality beer has anticancer properties, gives us a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, increases bone density, helps to prevent dementia and coronary disease, aids the digestive system, has anti-aging properties, and treats diabetes, gallstones, kidney stones, osteoporosis, and hypertension. So a beer a day can keep the doctor away? Good news!
Dark chocolate is good and has often been called the athlete's friend and is packed with antioxidants. Poor, sugary, milk chocolate, on the other hand, is still considered truly bad for us so if you're choosing a snack, look at 70% (and upward) dark chocolate. It may taste a little bitter at first, but just keep thinking "a few blocks is good for me each day" and everything will be fine.
Full fat dressings have a lot of nutrients you don't get in fat-free ones. Even a little extra virgin olive oil on your salad is better for you than low fat or fat free dressings. A nice dollop of full-on mayonnaise sir? Go for it!
Chuck another steak on the barbie! Just don't turn it into a charcoal cinder and our beloved red meat is full of protein and flavour. But ... remember that cheaper cuts of pre-packaged meat could have steroids and hormones in them and have added water to boost the weight. Now may be a good time to visit your local butchers. Not only do you get freshly butchered cuts, you can find out how local that beef, lamb, pork and chicken is.
Coffee for everyone! If you can afford the time (and the price) to grind your own beans then you'll get the best nutrition from them, but if not, then Arabica ground coffee is next best. Instant? Not that good for you, but drinking it black would be the best way to do it (try a drop of cold water in the top to take the edge off). Keep away from a tempting Latte or Cappuccino at the local coffee shop as the milk and sugar in them really pile on the calories.
Everyone loves spread, but for years we were told that butter was bad and margarine was good. Now we know that marg is just one molecule away from plastic and, in fact, the fats in butter are good for us. Just remember though, soft butter will have other things like oil in them to soften them up. It's far better to eat pure butter which is simply churned with a little salt and leave it out under glass to soften naturally in the kitchen.
And finally ... cheese! Again, not the standard cheddar stuff you'll find on a supermarket shelf wrapped in plastic, but a good quality artisan made Brie, Gruyère or Roquefort will be wonderful for your liver. And yes, you can put it on a nice buttered cracker for that added boost of fibre as well!
We know how tiring a long day's work can be and so many of us are tempted to throw a ready meal into the microwave and veg on the sofa until we hear the ping. But there are so many 'real' foods that can be part of a healthy, balanced diet now that there's no reason to eat less, switch to 'diet' versions or deprive ourselves of the things we like.
"All it takes is a little longer to prepare, and you'll have something nutritious, tasty and filling that you won't feel guilty eating!
From a breakfast of porridge with honey or poached eggs on some nice buttered toast, through a lunchtime with a quality sandwich, some fruit and nuts and a flask of fresh-brewed coffee, to our beloved beef steaks on a grill with some salad, and cheese to follow ... it's all there waiting to be enjoyed.
Check out this Men's Health recipe you can eat straight from the pan!
A huge thank you to the Men's Health website for our inspiration this week. If you're looking for some good food and drink ideas to add to your healthy, balanced diet then do take a look at this page on the Men's Health website which has some great foodie ideas and dispells many of the myths we've all come to believe about our nutrition.
Happy healthy eating!
Until next time ...
RUGGED & TOUGH
It's fine to have a break day and eat something unhealthy! Just don't make a habit of it, ok?
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