I am a typical woman when it comes to my relationship with food. Having always had a strong interest in the topic of health and nutrition I have done a lot of research on how the foods we consume can affect our health and well-being. Now, as most of you probably know, the health industry is one that loves sending a million different messages. One week we are told nuts are the ultimate superfood for longevity, the next week they are actually toxic for us and we should have a maximum of 8 almonds a day or even better ban them from our staple lists and replace them by goji berries until they themselves are turned into dietary devils for their high fructose content a few month after.
In a time when the nutritional benefits and drawbacks of specific foods are as passionately discussed as matters of politics and fashion trends it can be difficult not to get completely frustrated and throw the towel on healthy eating altogether. Or alternatively you could follow every trend that lurks about with the result of changing your diet like other people change their underwear. The last couple of years of my life I opted for the latter option. To say I was easily influenced would be a huge understatement. I regularly switched between eating a low-carb diet, being vegetarian or vegan and even had a short ‘frutarian phase’. My ‘adaptability’ to new food trends was in part motivated by my nutritional curiosity but also by the fact that I was completely confused about how to ‘eat right’ and how to feel at peace with food, i.e. not to fear foods I was once advised could be harmful to my health in some way.
The time of what I like to call my ‘dietary confusion phase’* lasted a few years until beginning of 2014. I lived in Australia at this point in time and picked up a copy of Sarah Wilson‘s ‘I quit sugar’ book from a shelf in the cookbook section of my local book store. Now, this could have been just the start of another one of my dietary reorientations. Instead, I found myself being able to relate 100% to the symptoms Sarah described she experienced before eliminating sugar from her diet. I wasn’t eating much animal protein at this point in time and heavily relied on fruit for snacks. Not quite knowing where I was going wrong I felt tired, moody and constantly hungry. I started researching more about the topic of reducing sugar intake (you can find some of the books I read on my ‘Library’ page) and started making some small changes. I ate less sugar and increased my protein and fat (something I was scared to even look at before) intake. Shortly after making these little changes I noticed drastic shifts in my energy levels as well as my mood and appetite control. I felt like I was at ease with food – something I had long missed.
My take on healthy eating summarized in three simple points
The main factor I attribute these positive changes to, however, is that by cutting out sugar I automatically scratched out all heavily processed foods. Which brings me to my food philosophy. For me eating a healthy diet comes down to three main points:
- Eating the foods nature intended for us to eat – highly processed food (things that typically come out of a plastic wrapper with a million words on the ingredients list, most of which we cannot decipher) is something we have created in the last couple of decades. Hence, it is unlikely for our bodies to be genetically capable of digesting them without there being any harm. The good news is nature has created an abundance of healthy stuff to fill our tummies with – vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, high quality animal protein (eggs, meat and fish)…
- Eating foods the way nature intended for us to eat them – the fresher the better. Again, this cancels out most packaged and processed foods. It also means not overcooking our produce – to get the most nutritional value of most fruit and vegetables eating them raw or gently steamed/blanched is the best option. This also saves time and hassle when preparing meals, another piece of evidence that eating healthy is not complicated or time consuming!
- See what works for you and don’t take things too seriously – I am a big advocate of the ‘see what works for you approach’. Every body is unique and will thus respond to diet changes differently. I encourage you to be your own guinea pig and try out how different tweaks to your diet make you feel. And most importantly: don’t take this stuff too seriously. There is no point in cutting out things from your diet in order to live a longer life, if your life will be spent in misery without it.
There you have it, my take on healthy eating in three bullet points. If you wanted to make it even shorter I think you could phrase my food philosophy in a 4-word sentence (that is what I call German efficiency!):
JUST EAT REAL FOOD
Most of the recipes I share on this website are paleo-inspired, free from any processed ingredients, sugar and gluten. As I am not a big fan of fancy (read: complicated and pricey) meals they will also be simple (not using more than 10 ingredients), easy to make (using little equipment) and affordable. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Happy thrifty cooking! – Johanna
Disclaimer: Please be aware that I am not in any way a qualified health professional, so please consult the appropriate professional before making any changes to your diet. The content shared on this website is purely based on my personal opinion, thoughts and experiences.
* As light heartedly as I am speaking about this topic here, I do consider the mass influx of conflicting nutritional advice a genuine problem, which may cause serious psychological issues for many women and men alike.