Eat real food to help protect your health


One of the most pressing global challenges in healthcare to be faced over the next thirty years is to reduce the impact of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain forms of cancer. We know that changes to our eating patterns combined with increasingly sedentary lifestyles are major causes, with an extensive five-year French nutrition study published earlier this year finding that eating ultra-processed foods leads to an increase in overall cancer events. Ubiquitous foods like bread, pastry, sodas and sweetened drinks, chicken nuggets, instant noodles, frozen ready meals and processed cheese.

So, nutrition and its impact on health is slowly becoming more accepted, yet pharma solutions are still hailed as magic bullets, with a new weight-loss pill hailed as the ‘holy grail’ in fight against obesity this very week, even though we have known for well over a century that micronutrient deficiency is the big issue linked directly to human disease.

Make smarter eating the aim

Addressing the importance of balance and variety in our diet should be our primary goal, including identification of the “wrong kinds of foods” and “right kinds of foods” – foods that can damage us as opposed to real foods that deliver health benefits. Eating a varied diet of unprocessed food with everything in moderation is a likely better way to protect health than obsessing about individual nutrients; a diet high in plant-based foods i.e. consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts has been widely advocated by international agencies.

Extraordinary as it may seem, in the developed world micronutrient deficiency and malnutrition has made a comeback as obesity is a common example of malnourishment. A balanced diet is the answer and is now strongly associated with the promotion of health and the reduction of major chronic disease.

Begin an ‘Eatucation’

Of course, our relationship with food is a very personal one that develops from birth, heavily influenced by nature and nurture; our sex, taste, culture, society, wealth plus many other psychological and emotional issues will have an impact. Yet while there are a multitude of factors influencing our food consumption, most of us only really seem to question what we eat once we become focused on one particular issue: our body image. Then, in most cases, it becomes a question of counting calories, with the focus on our weight, rather than an evaluation of what we actually consume, what particular foods can impact our health and whether these will help us achieve our goals.

Just Routine turns this approach on its head, focusing instead on what is consumed and providing an ‘eatucation’ around a whole new way of looking at food. Rather than focusing on short term outcomes – a particular weight target – we focus on developing better eating habits that will lead to sustainable weight management, enabling a whole range of recipes and meals being stored in your personalised Cookbook.

Real foods are the focus of attention as these make the metabolism work harder, a significant advantage in weight management, while also aiding our overall health. The database helps minimise the risk of loading up with empty calories from energy dense foods low in nutrition by categorising such foods as ‘Treats’ and ‘Cheats’. By focusing on creating a diet based on high-quality nutrient-dense food you use more energy to break it down and digest it, in the process keeping blood sugar levels stable and better fulfilling energy demands. Powerhouse fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, lean protein and fats will work together with all the elements to optimize nourishment, leaving a feeling of satiety and fullness.

Switching to healthier alternatives can require simple tweaks, good examples being:

  • Soda: switch from soda (regular or diet) to fizzy water or naturally flavoured water with cucumber, lemon & lime or orange
  • Carbohydrates: switch to 100% whole grain carbohydrates
  • Protein: keep it lean and eat red meat in moderation
  • Fats: don’t avoid healthy fats (olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, fatty fish)

The benefits to be gained increasing the proportion of plant based real food in our diet versus processed are truly extraordinary and offer a worthwhile risk reduction of chronic disease caused by poor food choices. It’s why I developed Just Routine. Understanding the need for changes in our food habits is one thing, making them is the challenge. Just Routine can help, while the cumulative benefits of even small changes make the effort more than worthwhile.

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Iris is the founder of No Targets Just Routine. She has researched food since 2009 and believes “Happiness is real food shared with loved ones.”

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