Food For Thought (6 of 8) – Dairy – think about it

How are things progressing? Around this time in your concerted efforts, you should start to experience changes in your palate. You may be noticing that the processed foods you are still eating tastes overly sweet or too salty – this is great news. However, if you have not reached this point yet, do not be disheartened, it will come, and your palate will become progressively refined as the weeks pass. Additionally (and whilst I do not condone the use of weighing oneself at every given opportunity), do go and step on the weighing scales and see how much weight you have lost, but do remember, the focus of this series is not about weight-loss, however, if you have been implementing my simple guide to a healthier you, you will undoubtedly note a reduction; expect this to continue until your body reaches its natural equilibrium.

Now, let us progress with this week’s blog. Think again to the whole food philosophy I have been promoting throughout. Dairy comes under the same influence as other food groups when it comes to processing. Manufacturers have 'developed' things like margarine, low fat spread, various types of cheeses, milks, and yogurts – the list is seemingly endless. If you are continuing to adopt for the cleaner and healthier lifestyle I unreservedly encourage, then go back to basics: think live natural yogurts, unflavoured milks; think butter, think real cheese.

And so, still keeping it simple…

  1. When it comes to yogurts (a very popular item marketed extensively to target the weight-loss audience), it bodes well to avoid the majority of these: opt instead for live natural yogurts, blended with your own choice of fresh fruits, nuts and seeds, and if you must, sweeten with a tiny amount of honey or similar.
  2. Milk comes in a plethora of guises, and unless you have to opt for a specific type due to dietary/medical purposes such as lactose free or dairy free, go for plain old regular milk (blue or green top), and providing you are implementing the healthier food choices I have been guiding you towards, there is little need for skimmed milk. Milk contains not only calcium which is essential for healthy bones and teeth (not an exhaustive list), but also fats essential in helping our bodies to absorb nutrients. Avoid flavoured and coloured milks entirely.
  3. Fats such as margarine and spreads may sound like a great idea – they promise lower fat levels and inclusion of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which undoubtedly catch the eye. However, what we are not informed about is the impact processing has on the fat molecules in these products and the effects they have on your body (do additional reading if you are curious, but please use reliable sources). So, instead, use butter as your choice of spread; for low temperature cooking/frying, use extra virgin olive oil; and for higher temperatures use rapeseed oil, and to complement your healthier choice of fats, your aim must also be to reduce the consumption of fried food and overall fat consumption as a whole. And as for your omega-3s and omega-6s, well, if you are on the path to improving your eating habits, then everything you need will be provided for naturally, from the whole foods you are now choosing to eat (think about the seeds, nuts, oily fish, eggs, and other whole foods you are now introducing).
  4. Many of the cheeses available in supermarkets are produced to a price point. Manufacturers use large quantities of salt to enhance the flavour (it's cheaper this way). Cheese made with real milk, and those which are air aged are the way to go. A quality cheese, whilst still containing salt (it's a necessary ingredient in cheese making), relies more upon the length of the ageing process than on the quantity of salt. That said, cheese can be very expensive, so whilst I have made these recommendations, supermarket staples, regardless of their inherent issues, are still viable options, providing that your consumption is monitored, and that it constitutes part of the balanced and healthily eating regime you are striving to achieve.

This episode has been the lengthiest by far, and yet there is so much more to add. However, my aim is to provide (as you already know), a simple and easy to follow healthy eating guide, so this is where I leave you on this matter, but please do take the time to do your own reading: knowledge is key.

Until next week, where hydration and drinks will be discussed, happy food shopping and cooking!

Yours, Al

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