With such a cacophony of voices in the area of nutrition and gut health, it is no wonder that we might be confused over what we should or should not be eating. However, shunning certain foods can, at best, leave us with fewer options on the menu and, at worst, lead to nutritional deficiencies that can have a bigger impact on our health and wellbeing. Limiting entire food groups, such as carbohydrates, can reduce both our physical and mental energy. It can even lead to a gut microbiota that is ‘starving’, as our gut microbes feed predominantly on the fibre found in carbohydrates.
Relish the smorgasbord
No one should be judged over what they do or do not want to eat. However, unless you have a bona fide, diagnosed allergy, I would encourage you to enjoy as inclusive and diverse a diet as possible. Aim to include a wide variety of wholefoods, and make sure you have foods that you truly enjoy. It is vital that we get pleasure from our food, at the same time as including those that support our health. And, once we embrace all foods and enjoy the foods that we may once have deemed ‘bad’, we can enjoy a sense of balance rather than guilt, and feel much happier about our relationship with food.
"Try not to get hung up on trying to achieve the ‘perfect diet’ or even the perfect gut or body for that matter – it simply doesn’t exist."
Words such as ‘elimination’ and ‘restriction’ lead to heightened anxiety and fear around eating. By removing those words, we also reduce stress around food, another boost for optimum gut health. Having a healthy, happy and meaningful connection with our food is all about balance, love and respect – if we think of it in that way, it will bring us joy from the deepest part of us.
Treats to tantalise your tastebuds
Chocbuster: Nothing sparks food joy like chocolate, and Cocoa Runners know a thing or two about top-notch and ethically sourced bars. Try the Naive kefir milk bar, £6.45.
It’s the berries: Nourish your gut and give your taste buds a zingy treat with super thick organic yoghurt from Yeo Valley. New, summery flavours include blueberry, blackcurrant and raspberry, £1.10 for 150g.
Bubble up: Charge your glass with this superlative Blanc de Blancs English sparkling wine, £59, from champion producer Gusbourne. Even more special with oysters!
Photograph: Getty Images