What is a good diet?

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In recent months, Tim Noakes has created some hot debate about what is good food. He has been singing the praises of a high fat, low carbohydrate diet or HFLC diet since 2012. This way of eating started in 1861 and is known as the Banting diet. It favours fatty foods like butter and meat over sugary foods like breads, pastas and fruit. It is passionately promoted and refuted by experts.

This is not the first time this type of eating has come into fashion. It has come in and out of fashion since its invention... showing up as the Atkin's diet in the 90s and more recently as the Paleo diet.

What to eat (and serve at dinner parties!) has become tricky. So here is some good, ol' common sense to help you along... whether you decide to banish potatoes or not.

1. Eat.Good.Foods. Limit ingredients.Whole foods are foods in their natural state. Think carrots, berries, eggs, full cream milk and yes, cows. Eat them as they were meant to be. Anything that has a list of ingredients longer than our president's name is a no-no. The more they put in, the less goodness you are actually getting out of eating it.

2. Jump up and down. Being overweight is not mysterious. You can see it and feel it... just jump up and down naked in front of the mirror. If it wobbles, it needs to go. Fat stores are energy stores and signal that you are getting too much energy in. Yes, you are eating too much. Exercise is essential for good health. No diet is going to make you look or feel as good as exercise is. Plus the more you exercise, the longer you will live (without yucky diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol). Oh and there is such a thing as skinny fat. These folk look great with their clothes on. But get them to jump in front of that mirror.... and yoh!

3. Don't eat alone. Everything is better when shared; and life really is too short not to socialise. If you can't find a way to integrate your new way of eating into your everyday life, then it's not going to last very long. And, just like drinking alone is a sign of alcoholism, eating alone is linked to disordered eating like anorexia and binge eating!

4. See food as fuel. It's time to listen to your body. If you are hungry, eat. If you aren't hungry, don't eat. Let your activity level match how much you are eating. If you do more, eat more. If you do less, eat less. Take note of how your body responds to what you eat. Get snotty after a yogurt? Bloated after eating bread? Runs after munching bacon? Your body is telling you it can't handle what you are putting in. Cut out the offending food for a week and see if you feel better. If you feel tempted to return to your old ways, remember this: nothing tastes as good as healthy feels!

5. Everything in moderation. Grannies are usually right. It's not the odd chocolate that's the problem, it's the slab you devour every night after dinner. Take your time, chew and enjoy your food.That way, you'll be happier with just one block.

For interviews with Tim Noakes and a good list of reading material for and against banting go to Men's Health or Health24.

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