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Anxieties of eating healthy.

Anxieties of eating healthy… Part 1

As I write this title I feel a panic attack approaching. In my Cosmopolitan-reading days, I would jot down whatever they suggested I should eat to maintain a healthy body, convinced that I would look like those women on the cover… I never realized that editing, eating disorders, drug addiction, and excessive exercise were mostly the solution to these perfect looking women.

Whilst looking at my health notes, I realized that living healthy (according to magazines, websites, and experts) seemed a bit more unrealistic than you would think it is logically. Looking at all the ingredients needed for glowing skin, healthy hair desired bodily function, and prolonging aging physically and mentally I felt another panic attack creeping. Besides it looking like an impossible task to consume all these ingredients, daily, I became paranoid about not having done so by now and seemed I have screwed up(myself) royally. Another thing that causes heart palpitations for me is the term ‘superfoods’. When I hear or see that the only thing that comes to mind is another food trend causing havoc on the farmers and communities that need to suddenly live up to the world’s sudden interest in these foods. 

I present to you an example of what my list would look like. Please take a deep breath and remember that living healthy is possible within your means.

Healthy hair and skin:

Omega 3 and 6 that’s found in fatty fish i.e. Salmon

Healthy fats and vitamins required

Nuts, a daily handful should suffice in essential fats, vitamin E and B

Coconut Oil which contains healthy fats and vitamins E and K

Oysters are high in zinc which is important for the growth of skin cells… I guess that’s why the rich love oysters and champagne…

Oats, which contains zinc, potassium, and magnesium 

Eat foods that aid collagen: red peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, legumes

The big ‘A’… Antioxidants: Berries, teas and red wine (in moderation), leafy greens, onion family (leeks, garlic, etc ), citrus fruits, seeds

Healthy gut:

Fermented foods contain healthy bacteria for your gut

Plain Yoghurt, which has probiotics

Sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, etc

Sourdough bread/pizza instead of processed bread

High fibre foods – legumes, berries, whole grains, green vegetables, sweet potato

Polyphenols reduce blood pressure, inflammation, cholesterol, and stress

Dark chocolate, raw cacao



Red wine (again, in moderation!)

Important Spices/Herbs:

Cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon is the true and better option. What we have easy access to is the cassia which isn’t as good for you and should not be consumed in large quantities

Antifungal and antibacterial properties

Good for the heart by lowering blood sugar levels

Loaded in antioxidants 

Cayenne Pepper contains capsaicin which gives it that spiciness

Believed to reduce cancer risk, hunger, and inflammation

Helps to improve metabolism and aid in antioxidant activity

Helps to relieve pain and easing skin issues


Helps to reduce the cause of stomach ulcers

Reduces arthritis pains

It’s fibre content helps for the healthy guts

Keeps skin hydrated and rejuvenated due to its antioxidant properties


Has medicinal properties and can help fight colds, improves cholesterol, and contains antioxidants

Turmeric/Borrie contains curcumin which is beneficial to us in numerous ways

Believed to improve depression and arthritics symptoms

Improves brain function. Studies are being done to see whether curcumin can prevent, or even reverse, the progression of Alzheimer’s disease

Can help prevent cancer

Sage contains a lot of nutrients and is packed with antioxidants

Controls inflammation

Can help with cognitive health and used in Alzheimer’s treatment

Daily required meals must-haves.

Vegetables – 5-6 servings a day and a variety of vegetables

Fruits – 2 servings a day

Proteins – these are the different sources of proteins a day, not altogether for 1 day

Legumes – about 1 cup a day: lentils, chickpeas

Fish – 100-120g of cooked

Poultry = 80-100g cooked

Red meat – 60-80g cooked

Eggs – 100-120g (about 2 large eggs)

Nuts – 30-40g


Whole wheat bread 1-2 slices

1/2 a cup of oats or porridge that is high in grains

Dairy – 1 cup of milk or plain yogurt a day

Looking at these lists I wondered where anyone would find the time to eat all of these foods daily and still have a life, never mind a budget left. There also seems to be limited room for spontaneity. I also can’t believe that if you eat all of this that you would look slim and fit because you would probably not have any time to exercise between shopping for all these ingredients and preparing and eating them. 

The thing no one ever told me is that the numbers on the scale don’t mean anything. Being healthy doesn’t mean that you are skinny, or thin necessarily. Being fit does not mean that you are thin either. The truth is that the only way to lose weight is to eat less. Being healthy is important for your physical and physiological being. So what do I consider to be healthy for me? 

I believe that you eat food as close as possible to its natural form ie vegetable with skins on, unprocessed food, vegetables that still have a crunch, not frozen foods etc.

Locally sourced foods! This also means your food traveled less and has not been ripened in the traveling process

Seasonal foods! Eating foods that are in season will mean that it is fresher and most likely not imported food. Seasonal foods tend to be cheaper as well.

Reading the labels! The ingredients are listed from the ingredient that is used most in the product to least in the product. If your first ingredients are sugar that would mean that most of that product is made out of sugar.

Do not neglect your soul! You should enjoy that glass of red wine at the end of the day, you should enjoy it with a piece of dark chocolate as well. If you want that freak-shake with the millions of calories and kilojoules then enjoy it but don’t enjoy it daily, or even weekly because that would defeat the point.

Enjoy healthy food. Healthy doesn’t mean nasty, teach your palate to enjoy healthier food and it would adapt to it.

Avoid cool-drinks, sauces, sugary alcoholic drinks, restaurant vegetables (unless fresh or stir-fried), low-fat products (they tend to have a lot of sugar), and ‘healthy’ foods like granola or muesli or flavored yogurt… read the labels and you’ll know why.

Don’t have food in the cupboard or fridge that you can eat immediately, for example, biscuits, chips, processed white bread, and jam (jam consists of 1:1 sugar and fruit)

Mainly it comes down to trying to eat natural food that you make yourself or knowing what you are eating. The cliché of ‘Living healthy is a lifestyle’ is in fact true. You do not have to change everything in your life all at once, slowly make the transition to a healthier life and soon you would notice that you feel better and eventually you would look better as well.

In my next blog, I will give you a few recipes to inspire a healthy living life, the keyword being easy as well! 

Photo: Handmade Sweet Potato Ravioli with Red Pepper Purée and Sage.

Until you read again, treat yourself to good health!

Blog post by Anel du Preez. (