When I ask my clients what their diet is like, most of them will tell me that they are generally eating healthy. They reckon the reason they feel lethargic or are having various health problems isn't because of their diet.
I normally get them to keep a food diary for a while to see what's going on and then we go over it all together. Delving deeper into it, it soon becomes clear that what they think is healthy is actually full of artificial ingredients, pesticides, sugar, fat and ingredients that nobody really knows what they are.
It often starts with diverse cereals, which are marketed as a healthy start for the day - claiming to be full of fiber, protein, vitamins etc.
Let's take Kellogg's Nutrigrain for example, which claims to be iron man food and on the surface appears to be a healthy choice. Not too many people turn over the packet to check out the ingredients list though.
Here's what is in it: Cereals (51%) (Wheat Flour, Oatmeal, Maize Flour), Sugar, Wheat Protein, Maltodextrin, Molasses, Oat Fibre, Vegetable Gum (Acacia Gum), Salt, Barley Malt Extract, Minerals (Calcium Carbonate, Iron, Zinc Oxide), Raising Agent (Potassium Bicarbonate), Natural Flavours , Natural Colours (Paprika , Turmeric), Vitamins (Niacin, Vitamin B6, Riboflavin, Folate)
As you can see there are 3 different sugars added (highlighted in red) - a total of 24.2 grams of sugar per 100 grams. Considering the daily sugar intake should be less than 16 grams for kids, 24 grams a day for woman and 36 g for men - this is already starting us off on the wrong foot.
Maltodextrin is added to improve flavour, texture and shelf life and at the same time it may increase your risk of cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and weight gain.
Not really the healthy start to the day that they thought they had.
Unfortunately these days we are so manipulated by the food industry that we can't tell what is healthy and what is not. Convenience often outweighs health concerns and there is no shortage of convenience food available - from ready-made meals to takeaway food and frozen meals.
What we need to remember is that the food industry is big business, and as such they mostly care about their bottom line. That's why the majority of processed or ready-made meals and fast food is made with the cheapest ingredients to give them the biggest profit margin possible. This will obviously have an effect on our health if we eat this type of food on a regular basis.
Just like we look after our cars, our bodies run best if we give them the right kind of fuel.
It might be easy and convenient to live of fast food, but after time there will be a toll to pay - and that is your health.
Making your own healthier meals doesn't have to be time consuming, difficult or expensive. By buying all your own ingredients, you will know exactly what goes into your body. But be aware that some of the cheapest ingredients are cheap for a reason - so do some research first.
Buying the cheapest white flour for example might not be the healthiest choice, as during the processing of white flour essential nutrients get lost. The manufacturers then add artificial vitamins to replace those that where lost. Some flour is also bleached with several chemical agents. Regular consumption of white flour can lead to fatty liver, it can raise bad cholesterol in your bloodstream resulting in several health issues such as high blood pressure, weight gain and mood swings.
My advice is to grow your own vegetables if you can to avoid having to buy them from the supermarkets where they are likely sprayed with all kinds of pesticides. If growing your own isn't an option for you, buy whatever you can organic.
You don't need to go with the latest "superfoods" like açaí berries or Himalayan salt to be healthy. Eat lots of unsprayed fruits and vegetables in all colours of the rainbow, wholemeal grains in its least processed form, pulses, nuts and seeds and keep your meals simple. Cut down your meat consumption and stay away from soft drinks and your body will thank you for it.