How do I Eat for Best Health?

How do I Eat for Best Health?

I love the New Year! After a little ‘life space’ and time off from usual activities over Christmas and New Year, it’s easier to step back from life and see a big picture view.  It’s a great time to re-assess ones goals for life.  For me this includes business, health, holiday and family goals. I have also had more time for reading over the holidays, which means new ideas, or a fresh understanding of why I do things.

Health always forms part of my goals and the New Year is a great time to refocus on whole, nutritious eating. These are some of the things that I consider when cooking for my family. I’m not saying these things will be right for you, but being aware of how different foods might affect us, can help us to determine if they are right for us. So here’s the basic conscious eating guide that I use for my best health.

Eat whole foods

I choose to cook and eat with whole foods. This is a great start to eating for your body’s best health – it eliminates preservatives, colourings and flavourings from your diet – all which can be irritants to the gut and brain.  When we remove processed foods and additives, it then becomes easier to listen to our body and see if there are any whole foods that aren’t right for us.

I don’t get caught up in being super strict when I’m out – as avoiding processed foods isn’t always possible. I have a good friend who says ”Everything in moderation – even moderation!” I think this is a great thing to take on board. If we are so strict with our eating that it causes us to worry when we can’t avoid the things we want to – the worry about this may well be as bad for us as the food!

As well as the food itself, consider how it is grown or raised – chemical free, 100 % grass fed, free range for meats and eggs and chemical free fruit and vegetables wherever you can access them (or grow your own!).  I have written before about the benefits of grass fed beef – the principles and advantages of which can be applied to other meats and eggs.

Include protein with all meals

I always include a protein source with all of my meals. The proteins I choose from include:

  • Grass fed red meats, pasture raised poultry and pork
  • Eggs from pasture raised chooks.
  • Cheese & yoghurt
  • Nuts (best soaked – see below).
  • Wild fish from clean waters
  • Legumes. I personally don’t eat legumes as I can feel that I dont’ digest them well (even when they’re soaked), but they may be for you – listen to your body! (Best soaked – see below).

I want to include protein in all my meals as it is essential for normal growth, for building and repairing cells and for building and maintaining muscle. It can not be stored by the body, so it is important to consume every day. There are 22 amino acids that make up proteins, eight of which cannot be synthesized by the body, so must be consumed in food.  Of these essential 8 amino acids, animal proteins are the only proteins that contains all of these essential amino acids in the one food. Maybe this is why we have a number of ‘reformed’ vegetarians and/or vegans that come to us for quality beef – not having felt well on a strict vegetarian or vegan diet.

Including protein with each meal helps to make me feel full (satiated) for longer.  I love to eat porridge made with soaked oats, but I feel hungry within about 40 minutes and it also just doesn’t make me feel great in the stomach.

Hormones and enzymes (which carry out chemical reactions in the body) are both proteins and both very important parts of a well-functioning body so another reason to include proteins with each meal.

With regard to grassfed beef protein, consuming a variety of cuts, including slow cooked, collagen rich cuts is also a great thing for health.

Be informed about grains, seeds, nuts and beans

Some of our customers are paleo eating, some are gluten free – our family are not strictly either, but we do limit our grain, seed and legume intake and I’ll explain why. Regardless of what YOU choose to eat though, what I would hope is that you are making informed, conscious choices and then taking note of how you feel (energy levels, thought clarity, physically).

The main reason I limit the intake of grains and seeds is due to anti-nutrients. Anti-nutrients are compounds in the food which prevent the absorption of minerals and vitamins during digestion – especially calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and copper.

They are present in grains and seeds to prevent their attack by pests or in the case of phytic acid (you may have heard of this), it is present to prevent the seed from germinating until the correct conditions are present. It inhibits digestion by binding to the above mentioned nutrients and prevents their absorption into the body. Many foods also contain phytates (compared with phytic acid), which are helpful enzymes that break down phytic acid. The problem being that phytates can be damaged through modern day processing of food – even the modern milling of flour.

It seems that some people have a greater ability to digest seeds and grains well – most likely a reflection of healthy gut flora and a strong constitution. For those that aren’t blessed with this, the results of not accessing these nutrients can be cavities in teeth, general poor growth and osteoporosis, as the bones don’t get their required calcium and other nutrients.

The negative impacts of phytic acid can be somewhat overcome through thoughtful preparation of seeds, nuts, grains and legumes. Because the phytic acid inhibits is present to prevent germination when the seed has less than ideal conditions, if we provide those ideal conditions then we can influence the phytic acid.  Soaking seeds and nuts begins the enzymatic changes that occur for the seed to germinate – part of which is the activation of the enzyme phytase, which breaks down the phytic acid.  So, soaking seeds, nuts, legumes and grains before using them will make digestion of them easier. You can learn detailed explanations of what to do to reduce phytic acid in seeds and grains at the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Another small comment on legumes – I refrain from eating soy products, as I don’t want their oestrogen like effects. I do cook with tamari, as it is a fermented soy product, similar to soy sauce, but I always choose an organic form to avoid any GMO’s (as so many soybeans are genetically modified).

Choose your fats wisely

Fats have gotten a bad rap in the past, but the tide is turning. I know they’re important to have in my food – so long as I choose the right ones. I make sure that the fats I include in cooking have a low Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio, which comes in meat from animals that are grass fed and wild fish.  I avoid polyunsaturated fatty acids (like sunflower, canola and soy oil), avoid hydrogenated fats or oils (like margarine), and choose something with an appropriate smoke point for how I am cooking. I have written in detail about these things before. So the fats I choose to cook adn eat are tallow, butter, lard, coconut oil and olive oil.

Fruit and vegetables

Fruits, vegetables and grains are actually all forms of carbohydrates. I generally choose fruits and vegetables for my carbohydrate intake – limiting grains for reasons mentioned above. I think comments about fruits and vegetables are pretty straight forward. There are lots of vitamins and minerals to be had from both fresh and cooked fruit and vegetables (although not as much as what there used to be unless you know it has been grown in healthy, microbial rich soil). Organic is best but if cost is a factor, do some research on which fruits or vegetables have the most pesticides applied and prioritise buying those organic.

When we consume protein, easily available energy is required in order for the body to be able to break it down. If we consume some fruit or a small amount of freshly squeezed fruit juice with a meal, this energy is readily available.  Now this is really important, especially if you have or are considering omitting sugar (in its many forms) from your diet. In the absence of this energy to help break down the protein, the body activates the stress response and draws on stores of sugar (glycogen) in the liver. If liver stores are low (which they commonly are today, due to the stress of life, past eating influences etc), then this becomes an even greater stress to the body.

We have written about this here on our website and here is another great source of information for your reference (

So, I always try to include a readily available energy source with my meals that is not highly starch based.

Good health to you!

There will be many influences on what foods nourish you best and those that nourish me best. These include heritage, age, hormones (time of the month for women), nutrition from childhood and general health or constitution. Just because you used to be able to eat something 15 years ago without any trouble, doesn’t necessarily mean that will still apply – things change with age.

Here I’ve merely told you what I do as a way of raising awareness. Listen to your body, how do you feel when you eat? Consider energy levels, brain clarity, how your gut feels and other more chronic things like aching joints or stiff muscles.

It’s somewhat frustrating that we can’t just eat any whole food and be done with it – but a little bit of exploration might help you reap greater health rewards. If you’d like to order one of our chemical free, 100% grass fed beef hampers to contribute to your new year’s conscious eating, you can see options and order here.

Good health, Kirrily