Angela Berrill is owner/director of ABC Nutrition. A well-respected registered dietitian, media commentator and educator, she’s passionate about health and nutrition and believes in finding ways we can enjoy food while also nurturing our bodies.
dish: Are there ‘bottom line’ rules for eating well?
There are no hard and fast ‘rules’ when it comes to eating well and having a healthy relationship with food. In fact, having a firm set of food rules can lead to feelings of deprivation, resulting in yo-yo dieting. The key is to be flexible and to do the best you can.
However, you can’t go wrong by basing what you eat around including mostly whole foods and those that have undergone as little processing as possible. Buying in season helps from an affordability perspective, as can looking for canned or frozen alternatives.
Many of us could benefit from eating more plant foods too – such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
dish: What does your own daily eating look like?
I eat foods I enjoy and those that nourish my body (and soul); nothing is off limits, unless I don't like it! Each day is different depending on what twists and turns it takes. Although there is always a morning coffee… dish: How can we let go of our angst around food but also eat healthily in a way that’s sustainable for life?
We need to remove the guilt and shame associated with certain foods. Healthy eating is about more than simply eating healthy food. It’s just as important to have a healthy relationship with food – not one that is fed out of a fear of slipping up or food restriction.
Food is neither inherently ‘good’ or ‘bad’; all foods can be enjoyed as part of a healthy pattern. There is no right or wrong way to eat – it depends on the individual and what their body’s needs are. Whatever changes you make, they need to be sustainable for the long-term, rather than a quick fix or something that makes you feel deprived.
We all need to tune more into the process of eating by being mindful, rather than eating on the go or being distracted by devices too.
dish: Why do we keep falling for fad diets and eating trends, do you think?
Fad diets offer a magic bullet, a quick fix. Often the hype around these ‘diets’ is based on testimonials, heavily edited ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos, or shonky science.
Unfortunately our society has been built around diet culture; we are bombarded with images of what we should look like, rather than embracing bodies of all shapes and sizes.
dish: How do we know what eating advice to heed and what is just a craze?
Do your research. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You can always find a study to support the latest ‘superfood’ or fad diet; the key is to look at where the majority of the research lies rather than a small handful of studies. Look to the experts for advice, those with a formal qualification in nutrition from a reputable university, rather than someone who has the most followers on Instagram.
As for the crazes, while we will always like things that sound exciting and new, the reality is the fundamentals of eating well really haven't changed. When it comes to your health, it is the quality of your whole diet that is important, rather than focusing on any one specific food or nutrient.
dish: How do you feel about carbs? They're a nutritious food group that doesn't need to be viewed as the enemy.
Carbohydrate-rich foods, such as grain foods and legumes, provide us with a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and fibre that our body needs, as well as being a source of energy.
Emerging evidence also suggests that fibre-rich foods can have a positive effect on your gut microbiome, which may have additional benefits for your health.
As with all foods, it’s important to focus on quality – think whole and less-processed carbs, rather than going for those that are heavily refined.
You can’t go wrong by basing what you eat around including mostly whole foods and those that have undergone as little processing as possible
Jackfruit and Rice Noodle Salad (page 76)