I hear this all the time; it is all about balancing calories in/out, just a numbers game. This is simply not true. Food is information, it sends various messages around your body switching genes of and on off. This is called epigenetics, you are born with certain genes but your lifestyle is a powerful influence on whether they are switched on or off!

You literally are what you eat. Your body uses the fat and proteins from your diet to regenerate skin cells, blood cells, bone, brain, liver etc are all made from the nutrients you consume and are able to absorb. Every cell in your body is surrounded by a double layer of fat referred to as a lipid bilayer. How well each cell functions, how healthy it remains is dependent on the nutrients available to make it.

The fat in your diet is essential to make quality cell walls, your body needs natural fats for this, fats that exist in nature such as eggs, full fat dairy, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, fish oil and other omega 3s, raw nuts and seeds, coconut oil, avocado and animal fats. When we eat a diet low in natural fats and high in synthetic and unnatural fats such as margarine, canola oil, vegetable oil and hydrogenated oils, our cells can’t function well; this leads to health issues such as insulin resistance, chronic fatigue and general poor health. Brain cells, nerve insulation and sex hormones like testosterone and oestrogen are all made from fat.

We also need to ensure that protein is included in all meals palm to hand sized (palm for red meats and hand for white meats). Eggs, raw nuts and seeds, cheese. It is required for skin, bone, muscles, nails, organs and to make neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine and so much more.

A typical Australian diet which tends to be low in fat and high in carbohydrates including sugar and packaged foods, or high in the wrong kinds of fats will create poor health as you can only build so much and achieve so much with poor building materials. This kind of diet also has a tendency to be low in nutrients and draw nutrients from your body; it is not uncommon for people to be deficient in vitamin D, zinc, magnesium and B vitamins. You are also more likely to suffer from digestive issues and have less ability to absorb nutrients from your diet.

It is important that you focus on the quality and balance of your food rather than the calories. Calories from fat, protein and carbohydrates all behave differently in the body. A study of 154 countries looked at the correlation of calories, sugar, and diabetes. Scientists found that adding 150 calories a day to the diet barely raised the risk of diabetes in the population, but if those 150 calories came from soda, the risk of diabetes went up by 700 percent!

Include meat, chicken, fish in your diet with plenty of the natural good fats and oils listed above and loads of colourful vegetables with a little bit of fruit. If you choose a vegetarian diet, be aware that you will need to ensure you get enough protein and fat from your diet with legumes, beans and fermented tofu products. Regardless of the source of protein you choose, it is important to ensure that you have good digestive health. It is not only about what you eat but what you absorb!

Food is medicine, food is information, food is nourishment, and you have the power to choose the materials that make up your body so make good choices.

Fiona Kane, Nutritionist, Holistic Counsellor & Life Coach