Ex­perts set the record straight on mis­con­cep­tions about healthy eat­ing.

Do we re­ally need to be gob­bling Hi­malayan berries and bee pollen to be healthy? What about ditch­ing carbs, gluten and meat? LINDY ALEXAN­DER clears up some com­mon food mis­con­cep­tions

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents -

Type “healthy eat­ing” into Google and a whop­ping 60 mil­lion re­sults pop up. Not ex­actly sur­pris­ing when you con­sider that ev­ery week brings with it new stud­ies, nutri­tional claims and trend­ing in­gre­di­ents that pur­port to be good for us.

Ideas about eat­ing for well­be­ing have changed no­tably says Kelly Donati, a gas­tron­omy lec­turer at Wil­liam Angliss In­sti­tute in Mel­bourne. For Donati, the em­pha­sis should be on the range of in­gre­di­ents we eat.

“It’s a com­mon mis­con­cep­tion that health comes in a pack­age and that in­di­vid­ual in­gre­di­ents are healthy or un­healthy,” she says.

We asked some of Aus­tralia’s most re­spected nu­tri­tion­ists, di­eti­cians, aca­demics and chefs to set the record straight on ev­ery­day food fal­la­cies.

Meat is the best source of pro­tein “Fif­teen to 20 per cent of a healthy diet should be com­prised of pro­tein,” says Bryce Ed­wards from Mel­bourne’s Trans­former, a res­tau­rant fo­cused on plant-based cui­sine. That pro­tein doesn’t need to come from meat. Bal­anced veg­e­tar­ian and ve­gan di­ets have been con­firmed as nu­tri­tion­ally ad­e­quate by the US Academy of Nu­tri­tion and Di­etet­ics. Meat-free sources of pro­tein in­clude beans, pulses, legumes, eggs, yo­ghurt, nuts and quinoa.

It’s ex­pen­sive to eat well If you’re fill­ing your trol­ley with acai berries, matcha pow­der, bee pollen, raw ca­cao, and spir­ulina, then your bank ac­count might be tak­ing a hit.

“When peo­ple de­cide to eat healthily, they think they have to get goji berries, co­conut oil and chia seeds sourced from ex­otic places,” says Clare Collins, a pro­fes­sor in nu­tri­tion and di­etet­ics at the Univer­sity of New­cas­tle. “Peo­ple think healthy eat­ing costs a lot of money and they go back to eat­ing take­away.”

Over a third of the av­er­age Aus­tralian’s diet comes from food such as pro­cessed meat, sweets, ice cream, bis­cuits and cakes. Collins says the com­mit­ment starts with eat­ing fewer ul­tra-pro­cessed foods.

“Buy less junk and eat less foods that have a whole bunch of chem­i­cal names or num­bers in them,” she says. “These are en­ergy-dense but nu­tri­ent-poor foods.” Eat­ing what is in sea­son is the cheap­est way to eat well.

Your body needs to detox “Your body has its own detox­ing or­gans,” Collins says. “So as long as your liver is func­tion­ing and your kid­neys are work­ing, your body is do­ing its best to detox it­self. The best way to boost it is to con­sume more fruit, veg­eta­bles and whole grains.”

Our an­ces­tors didn’t eat grains or gluten so we shouldn’t ei­ther “I don’t agree with the Pa­leo avoid­ance of grains, legumes and dairy,” nu­tri­tion­ist and dietician Dr Joanna Mcmil­lan says. “There is good ev­i­dence for all of these food types.”

Collins also ad­vises against cut­ting out gluten, breads and ce­re­als with­out a med­i­cal rea­son. “Whole grains have an in­de­pen­dent abil­ity to pro­tect you from heart dis­ease and bowel can­cer,” she says. “You need ba­sic whole­grain, nu­tri­ent-dense foods to fuel your body. If you don’t, you are likely to feel tired, cranky and you’re in­creas­ing your risk of chronic con­di­tions.”

Eat­ing well is com­pli­cated “There are many ver­sions of a healthy diet pro­vided it is made up of whole foods,” says Mcmil­lan. Put sim­ply, that means no or min­i­mal junk foods (such as pro­cessed meats, sweet­ened drinks, bis­cuits, fried fast food, cakes and other sweet treats) and re­fined grains (foods made pre­dom­i­nantly from white flour).

“You can in­clude meat or be ve­gan, but we need plen­ti­ful plant foods, par­tic­u­larly ve­gies,” adds Mcmil­lan.

Graz­ing is good We eat far too of­ten and this af­fects hunger and sati­ety at meal­times, ac­cord­ing to Mcmil­lan. “I rec­om­mend only hav­ing a snack if you’re truly hungry and there are more than two hours un­til meal­time.”

If you can’t wait, opt for some­thing sim­ple like a hand­ful of nuts or a bowl of berries and nat­u­ral yo­ghurt sprin­kled with chia seeds or pepi­tas.

Fast food is bad for you Not the new kind. Chef and owner of Pu­tia Pure Food Kitchen in Banyo, Queens­land, Do­minique Rizzo, says the best kind of fast food is veg­etable-based, sea­sonal and de­li­cious. “I love tuck­ing into a smashed av­o­cado with fresh le­mon, chopped cu­cum­ber, co­rian­der and diced to­mato on lin­seed and veg­etable crack­ers,” she says.

For Bondi chef and The Bucket List owner, Tom Wal­ton, fresh rice pa­per rolls, let­tuce leaf wraps and sea­sonal fruits are go-to fast foods. “There is no magic trick to healthy food,” he says.

“It re­ally comes down to eat­ing a bal­ance of good qual­ity, nu­tri­tious foods that are min­i­mally pro­cessed.”

PLATE EX­PEC­TA­TIONS It’s of­ten said you are what you eat, but how to nav­i­gate the thorny world of healthy food?

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