In Eat to Beat Cholesterol, I wrote: ‘Some people are genetically programmed to be larger and the effort to slim down substantially is unrealistic. If this is you, be as healthy as you can. You are better off being fat and enjoying a healthy diet than being fat and eating badly. The same goes for physical activity – you are better off being fat and fit, than a fat couch potato.’
What this boils down to is that if you are larger it doesn’t mean you are – or have to be – unhealthy. As my Mum reminded me the other day, ‘It’s what inside that counts.’ Eating the right foods and exercising regularly can balance the health ledger in your favour and give you better numbers ‘on the inside’ too – your BGLs, cholesterol and blood pressure.
We also need to put nutrition and health as a priority over the obsessive quest for ‘the body beautiful’. Happiness, contentment and wellbeing are more than what size clothing we wear. Here are my tips to be healthy on the inside.
Choose top-quality fuel This simply means you give your body the fuel it needs to protect your health and improve your performance in every aspect of life. In fuel for motor vehicles, octane level is important; in fuel for people, nutrient density is the key. Nutrient-dense foods offer more ‘bang for your kilojoule buck’.
Balance the fuel mix The fuel mix you put into your body is just as important as race fuel in a Formula One car. You need it to be balanced between the food groups and nutrients to give you the right mix of power and endurance. Eating to be healthy on the inside you need to:
- Power up with protein – Lean red meat, pork, chicken, fish, seafood, eggs and legumes (beans, lentils and chickpeas).
- Re-fuel with carbs (look for the low GI ones) – Grain foods such as low GI grainy breads and breakfast cereals, pasta, noodles, low GI rice like basmati or Doongara Clever Rice and starchy vegetables like lower GI potatoes (Carisma or Nicola), orange-fleshed sweet potato, corn, carrots, butternut pumpkin and parsnips.
- Rust-proof with fruit and veg – Tomatoes, onions, broccoli, mushrooms, lettuce, capsicum, celery, zucchini (courgettes), peas, cabbage, beans and beetroot etc. Fruit and berries such as apples, oranges, bananas, pears, grapes, kiwifruit, plums, nectarines, rockmelon, papaya (paw paw), mango and strawberries etc.
- Reinforce your frame with good dairy foods – Reduced fat milk, yoghurt, cheese and custard.
- Grease the machine with the right oils – Sunflower, olive and canola oils; spreads like margarine or peanut butter; nuts and seeds, and avocado.
- Prevent overheating with fluids – Water, juice, cordial, tea and weak coffee
And remember, your body was designed to move, so move it and keep it in working order to give yourself the strength and fitness to cope with whatever life throws at you. Cars, sedentary jobs, technology and the quest for convenience have all made it easier to do very little. If you want to be active, you usually have to plan to make it happen. Apart from not smoking, being physically active is the most powerful step you can take for being healthy on the inside.