Try this – do a Google search for ‘Diet to prevent… ‘ and any disease you care to name. ‘Diet to prevent diabetes’, ‘Diet to prevent heart disease’, ‘Diet to prevent arthritis’, etc, etc, etc.
It all boils down to the same basic diet (if you need a specialised diet because of food allergies/intolerances, some things will be slightly different – but the basic principle still applies) –
- Eat unrefined carbohydrates. Avoid the refined ones.
- Don’t eat processed foods.
- Don’t drink fizzy pop.
- Eat lots of fresh fruit, salad, and vegetables.
- Reduce the amount of red meat you eat.
- Eat fish, particularly oily fish.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Have less salt.
- Avoid saturated fat.
- Drink less caffeine.
- Drink less alcohol.
- Control your portion size.
And that’s it.
It isn’t a fancy diet. There are no pills or potions. You don’t need to sign up to anything. It isn’t difficult to do. You will not feel deprived. You don’t have to cut out any major food group. It isn’t expensive. And it will help to prevent a lot of different diseases – so bring it on. Let’s do this!!
First I need to check how things stand at the moment.
Eat unrefined carbohydrates. Avoid the refined ones. Unrefined carbs (that’s wholemeal bread, brown rice, wholewheat pasta, unrefined sugar and wholemeal flour) tend to be a bit more expensive and sometimes a bit harder to source than the refined alternatives. Because of my extreme economising I’ve been buying white sugar, normal pasta and white flour – but now that there’s a wee bit more money coming in I’m going to start replacing them with the real thing as and when stocks get low again.
Don’t eat processed foods. I don’t buy much processed food – but I have been buying a bit. Sausages, principally. That’s going to stop. But where do you draw the line? I wouldn’t buy turkey twizzlers, but I like to have pizza in the freezer. Aargh – pizza has refined flour in the base. Bugger.
Don’t drink fizzy pop. I don’t drink fizzy pop. I actually can’t remember the last time I bought a can of pop to drink. Yay!!
Eat lots of fresh fruit, salad, and vegetables. There isn’t a veg that I don’t like. Apart from green beans – they make your teeth squeak, that can’t be right… But even green beans – if I came to your house and you served green beans, I would eat them. But I don’t buy them. Everything else, I will eat with gusto. Lots of colour, lots of variety. And I love a salad. I don’t eat as much fruit as I should. I don’t really know why, because I like it well enough. I suspect it’s something to do with the stickiness – I don’t like my fingers to be sticky. Time to get over that particular hang up and just eat more fruit. I will buy more fruit.
Reduce the amount of red meat you eat. I don’t eat a lot of red meat – I only have it once a week, usually either mince or a pork chop. I think that’s probably OK.
Eat fish, particularly oily fish. I have fish once a week. I need to up my intake of oily fish – in fact there’s a tin of sardines in the cupboard, so that’s a start. There’s a breaded haddock in the freezer – when I’ve eaten that, I’ll buy more oily fish. I sort of aim to have it twice a week, but generally end up only having it once a week. Must try harder.
Drink plenty of water. I don’t drink as much water as I should. I reckon I make up for it with the amount of tea I drink. I try to only have one coffee a day, but I do drink a lot of tea. Some experts reckon that’s OK – the water doesn’t have to be ‘just’ water. I’ll go with that. I don’t often feel thirsty, so I guess that means I’m well enough hydrated.
Have less salt. I have very little salt – I never add it at the table, and I only add it during cooking if I’m making scrambled eggs or an omelette. I don’t eat much processed food, so I’m not getting it from that source either. In fact, it’s possible I’m not getting enough salt, as I’m prone to cramps in my calf muscles, which might be due to a lack of it!! Takeaways, and things like bacon butties, are very salty – I can tell, because the only time I really feel thirsty is after I’ve had something like that.
Avoid saturated fat. This is where things get a bit complicated – some fats that we thought were OK turn out to not be OK, some are fine so long as you don’t use them for frying. I use sunflower oil for frying (I don’t do much frying) and butter for baking/spreading on bread. I know butter is a saturated fat, but it seems to me that it’s more ‘natural’ than all the spreads etc that try to tell you how healthy they are. The important thing to remember is that they’re all fats – so don’t have too much.
Drink less caffeine. I try to only drink one coffee a day, and I don’t bother with energy drinks. So I think I’ve got this one too.
Drink less alcohol. I have a couple of drinks a week – ideally a glass of wine on a Friday night and another on a Saturday night. Recently I’ve been working my way through the alcohol stocks, instead of buying more – over the summer that meant a G&T or a Pimms rather than a glass of wine. Now that we’re into the colder weather it might have to be a glass of port. I’m rather partial to a glass of port. Maybe I was an elderly Victorian gentleman in a past life…
Be aware of portion size. I think I’m good with this – I don’t like to feel over-full, and I have no qualms at all about leaving food on my plate if I’ve had enough. In fact I get quite cross with myself if I’ve ended up eating too much – I should know better.
So where does that leave me?? Not doing badly – but could be doing better. I need to ditch all the refined carbs and replace them with unrefined. I need to eat more fruit. I probably need to drink more water.
And mostly I need to think carefully about the processed foods that I buy – oh, but that might mean not having pizza on a Friday night!! That’s what Friday nights are for!!
What do you think – should I sacrifice my Friday night pizza? There’s refined flour in the base, but the topping is tomatoes, cheese and herbs so nothing much wrong there. Oh, but my favourite is Cajun Chicken – processed meat. Pizza – good or bad??
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