Is there ‘a perfect diet’?

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I’ve been doing a lot of reading, following health-conscious public figures, and I’ll admit it, obsessing about what the perfect diet is. I’m left feeling quite overwhelmed, frustrated and like I’ve thrown my body into a state of confusion.

I think it’s quite easy to feel this way, and why so many of us do.

With all the alternative ways of eating out there it’s easy to feel confused and question what we usually eat. Most nutritional diets at the moment share a similar structure, being Paleo. While others eliminate all sugar. Another focuses on eliminating all inflammatory foods for a period of 30 days. After the 30 days if you reintroduce it and have a negative reaction then you know it’s no good for you.

When I read about the different theories they make sense. I’ve tried eliminating all sugar, followed a more Paleo approach to my eating, attempted an Autoimmune Protocol since I have an autoimmune disease. But didn’t last long on any of them. By following them I was mostly consuming meat for every meal since egg, nuts, seeds, grain, dairy and some vegetables are no good for autoimmune. By day 3 I was well and truly over meat. As much as I like it, eating dinner for breakfast isn’t what I enjoy and I feel better throughout the morning starting with a lighter meal. Followed by my cup of coffee rather than bone broth.

Being on a structured diet with a clear list of foods you can and can’t eat benefits some. Many in fact based on the followers and success stories for each way of eating. And I guess that is what keeps attracting me to them – the amazing success stories. But for anyone who knows me knows that I love food. I’m a very visual person and love a beautiful looking meal. And while I’m all for eating real food as much as possible, to restrict too much results in backfire and leaves me feeling unhappy and uninspired about cooking. I love spending time in the kitchen, meeting friends for a yummy breakfast on weekends and sharing food with family. So to always be thinking about every little thing I’m consuming isn’t what I consider enjoying life.

Is there such a thing as ‘a perfect diet? Maybe, maybe not. Personally I doubt that one size fits all. For me if I can do the best I can most of the time and my belly feels good after a meal, then I’m content with that. Mine seems to feel best on a mostly plant-based diet. With a little meat, dairy, grains and sweetness here and there. But too much of anything besides vegetables and I notice it both on the scales, and with how I’m left feeling after eating.

I think deep down as adults we all know what is good for our bodies, and what isn’t. That fresh food is best and processed in the long-term isn’t. And that paying attention to how our body responds after a meal is the best judge of what is good or bad for us. Using a little common sense doesn’t hurt. If we’re gaining weight and we are eating a lot of sugary things, then cut back. Do some exercise. If we feel bloated after a meal, then something in that meal isn’t so great for us. Could be the cheese, could be the type of vegetable, could be too much heavy meat. In which case we might cut back a bit next time or try switching what could have caused stomach upset for something else.

If we step back a bit and don’t overanalyse (which I’m guilty of) then it won’t seem so confusing. Most of us don’t need to be told what the perfect diet is. Listening to our body and how it responds will tell us what we actually need most of the time.

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Roasted peach and yoghurt ice-blocks

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Dessert / Snacks
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Have you heard of a Weis Bar? Those in Australia will know what I’m talking about. I LOVE them. Especially the mango and macadamia one. Creamy mango yumminess with macadamia nuts running along the edge. They are perfect for warm Aussie days.

This week I made a variation of the Weis bar for Soren. I used peaches since they are in season and Greek yoghurt rather than cream. Healthier and gentler on the tummy. He wolfed one of these ‘rocket’ popsicles down and was full of smiles for the rest of the afternoon.

The ingredient list is simple – peaches roasted with a little coconut sugar, Greek yoghurt, vanilla essence and cinnamon. I left the skin on the peaches, but you can remove them if you prefer. Mangoes also go amazingly well. And if nuts aren’t an issue then sprinkling some roasted crushed macadamias in each popsicle mold before pouring in the mixture would be nice also.
 

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Fig, hazelnut and chia yoghurt bowl

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Breakfast
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Good quality yoghurt accompanied with a few simple toppings makes a nice healthy and quick breakfast. Fresh seasonal fruit alone is great with it. Or a scatter of healthy roasted muesli is nice also.

The baskets of fresh figs at the grocery store tempted me yesterday so I used them for breakfast this morning. I heated them in a saucepan with a little ghee, water, honey and cinnamon. And added them to yoghurt along with hazelnuts and chia seeds.

You can play around with the toppings based on what you have available in your pantry. Pistachios, almonds and walnuts are all really yummy. And toasted shaved coconut would go well also.
 

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Homemade almond milk

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Drinks
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It took me a little while to come around to almond milk. Being used to cow’s milk I found almond too watery and a little weird. But cow’s milk can leave me feeling a bit heavy in the belly.

Lately I’ve been playing around with almond a bit. While I don’t think I’ll ever enjoy it in a latte (I tried), I really like it in a smoothie. I’ve also just started using it in my oats instead of cow’s milk and I feel better for it.

Making almond milk from scratch takes a few steps. And a few pieces of equipment. You first need to soak the nuts overnight in water. Then you need a blender, nut bag or cheesecloth, a strainer and a bowl. I lay cheesecloth in a strainer and have it sitting over a bowl.

You can make it with water, or add coconut water as well as filtered water which is what I do. And if you like a little spice then adding a touch of cinnamon is nice also.

Just note that when you refrigerate the almond milk it can separate a little. This is normal. Just take a big spoon and stir it around before using it.
 

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Gooey egg kale salad

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Lunch
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I did a juice detox a little while ago and swore I’d never touch kale again. Luckily that passed and now I’m back to enjoying it. Maybe not in a juice but I love making salads with it or adding a handful into a stew.

Today for lunch I mixed it with a dressing using some homemade mayonnaise, grilled prosciutto, parmesan, toasted walnuts and a soft boiled egg. Really yummy. Like with ham, you want to look for a good quality natural prosciutto. One with minimal added ingredients.

The salad is simple and can easily be adapted. If vegetarian then eliminate the meat and add in an extra egg, sautéed cannellini beans or homemade croutons. Adding in some quinoa would go nicely also.
 

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Homemade mayonnaise

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Condiments
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Along with stock, dips and nut butters, I’ve started making mayonnaise myself now also. The packaged varieties often contain sugar along with other ingredients and I much prefer the fresh clean taste of homemade. We use it throughout the week in salads, wraps and sandwiches. As well as a base for tartar or chipotle sauce to accompany meats and fish.

It’s pretty easy to make, especially after you have successfully made it once. You basically add everything except the oil into a processor or blender. Mix it for 30 seconds and very slowly drizzle the oil into the spout in a smooth stream. Once it’s all added you will have a smooth, light and creamy mayonnaise.

One thing to note though – with the oil you want to use a very light tasting oil. I use an extra light tasting olive oil. Otherwise the oil can be overpowering and too rich. I haven’t tried them yet, but I’ve read that you can also use macadamia or avocado oil as alternatives.

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