eating outdoors'Nutrition' or 'nourishment' simply means getting the right stuff - in the form of the food we eat - into the cells of our body to keep us fit, active and healthy.

Many everyday health problems can be improved with a healthy diet, while a poor diet can have a damaging impact on health in the medium to long term, causing deficiency diseases, obesity and other chronic conditions.

Yet with a little more understanding and a little more thought we can all have a positive impact on how we feel every day.  Although the whole process of nourishing ourselves is hugely complex we think that by following some basic guidelines it's simple to make real change.

Here’s the thinking behind our food, broken down into our...

Perfect Ten ©

1: Variety is the Spice of Life

Eating a wide variety of healthy food is essential for good health, so it’s no coincidence that the Japanese (who have the longest life expectancy) eat as many as 100 different foods per week compared to only around 30 for people in the UK. Why is variety so important? The answer is simple: we are complex creatures that have countless processes going on inside us each and every day, and each of these processes requires a variety of different raw materials, which has to come from our food. Hence the saying, ‘You are what you eat’.

2: Love Your Fruit & Veg

Fruit and vegetables are not only a great weight loss food and provider of fibre, they are easily the most important kind of food because they provide us with the greatest variety of nutrients. They all provide varying amounts of nutrients, but some are real stars.

3: Fish for Nutrients

We’re keen fish fans. They’re a great low-fat alternative to red meat and they’re a great source of essential fatty acids (EFA’s), especially omega-3, which are necessary for good brain health, for your cardiovascular system and for fighting illness. Oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, tuna and sardines are particularly good for providing EFA’s and also as a source of vitamin D, a very important disease-fighting antioxidant. Fish are also a good source of calcium.

4: Lose the Wheat

One of our core principles is being wheat-free. The Nutrichef team have all enjoyed wheat bread and pasta in the past, but, by being aware of the down sides of wheat, we decided way back in 2004 that our meals would be wheat-free. The problem with wheat is that its constituent protein – gluten – is difficult to digest, which can cause people considerable digestive problems and is also linked to depression. Our clients are pleasantly surprised at the difference they feel going wheat-free, often saying that their digestion has improved and that they feel happier and more positive!

5: Lose the Dairy

Another of our core principles is being dairy-free. Did you grow up with the marketing slogan ‘Drink a pint of milk a day’? It really worked because millions of us took it as gospel that we can’t live a healthy life without dairy, and we simply accepted that it’s normal for us to need the milk that cows produce for baby calves! What about calcium? Where do we get it if we don’t consume dairy products? We get it the same way that cows get it – by eating green vegetation: in cows’ case that means grass; in our case that means eating green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, asparagus and peas. We also get calcium by eating fish, nuts and seeds. When you eat our muesli and granola breakfasts, we recommend that you use a dairy-free ‘milk’ made with oats, soya, quinoa or rice, which you can purchase when you order a meal plan.

6: Take Pride in Your Protein

Good quality protein is essential for growth and repair of cells. So we steer clear of fatty protein, choosing to use fish, lean cuts of lamb and chicken, nuts, seeds and beans. We also provide protein by way of cereals for breakfast, rice and quinoa.

7: We Don’t Add Artificial Additives!

We make all of our meals fresh, then we either deliver them to your door the same day, or the following day, or we immediately freeze our meals for clients in our fresh-frozen delivery area, for them to eat within a week of receiving them. So there’s never any need for us to use artificial additives. We believe strongly that manufacturers who use artificial colours or sweeteners such as aspartame are risking the health of their customers by expecting their bodies to process chemicals that are not naturally found in food.

8: Not All Fats are Bad

Have you ever thought that ‘healthy fats’ seems like a contradiction in terms? Not so! Without fats we wouldn’t be alive because they have various different functions; for example, cholesterol is a component of every cell wall in your body, especially in the cells protecting your brain and nervous system. Most of the cholesterol you need is actually made by your body, but it’s when we consume excessive amounts of cholesterol in fatty foods like meat and dairy that cardiovascular disease can develop.

You may have heard of omega-3 and omega-6. These are known as essential fatty acids (EFA’s) because we need them in our diet due to the fact that our bodies can’t actually make them. Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in the oils from cold water fish such as mackerel, tuna, salmon, herring and sardines. They are vital for health because they are needed by the brain, spinal cord and immune system, and they are necessary for regulating blood pressure and the process of blood clotting. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in cooking oils such as olive oil, sunflower oil and rapeseed oil. These fats are essential for maintaining a healthy immune system and a component of your cells. Our favoured cooking oil is olive oil.

9: Mind Your Salt & Sugar

We could all do with less of this dastardly duo in our food. We’ve lumped them together because they exist in western diets for similar reasons: as a preservative and as a flavour enhancer – salt being added to savoury foods and sugar to sweet foods. The problem with salt is that it raises blood pressure, increasing the likelihood of stroke and heart disease. Sugar acts differently because it is loaded with calories, which, if they aren’t burned off during the day, have to be stored away into fat cells, resulting in weight gain. Great news! After a few days on a Nutrichef meal plan, our new clients not only experience the health benefits of reduced salt and sugar intake, but they often find that their taste buds ‘reawaken’, allowing them to taste some of the more subtle flavours in our delicious meals.

10: Seasonal, Local, Organic

Although not always possible in practice, we strive to use locally produced, organic ingredients that are in season. Seasonal ingredients are considered best because they are bound to be fresher and, therefore, their nutrient content will be at their maximum levels. Local ingredients are preferred because – being closer to Nutrichef HQ – they will be with us sooner and are, therefore, fresher. From an environmental point of view, locally produced ingredients are more favourable because they impact less on the carbon footprint of producing our meals. Finally, we prefer to use organic ingredients as they are produced without the use of pesticides.