How 'super eating' could help you take a fresh look at healthy food

We may know that eating healthy foods is good for us, but if we don't eat the right combination of foods together then we might not be doing ourselves as much good as we think.

In his new book, Super Eating, nutritionist Ian Marber tries to explain what different nutrients should be used together to enhance the benefits we get.

He believes that some combinations can be used to tackle a range of health problems including an impaired immune system, osteoporosis, heart health, stress reduction, chronic fatigue and problems with poor skin.

For example, it is not enough to increase the amount of calcium in your diet, as without the complementary effects of magnesium, the benefits can be almost completely lost.

"Food is one of the few things that binds us together," explains Ian Marber, "and the significance of what we eat and how we eat it has come to define nationalities, religions and cultures.

"Good cooks become celebrated, none more so than the world-famous chefs that dominate in the media, as they show us how it could and should be done.

"Their creations exude flavour, colour and extravagance, and their recipe books combine foods to enhance the experience of eating.

"At the other end of the scale lie the nutrition consultants, dieticians and food gurus who cluck and lecture about what not to eat, with their dire warnings and statistics about painful consequences unless you eat this but don't eat that.

"The image of the nutritionists is one of science and misery, a far cry from the indulgence and joy that typifies celebrity chefs."

Marber says he can see how this has happened, as many nutrition books are filled with advice on how to eat but solely based on looking at food for its constituent parts. The food is deconstructed and reduced to being a collection of nutrients, to help this or do that, with a function and a purpose. Food loses its magic and much of its joyous nature, as it is taken apart and left that way.

"My book is about food and still incorporates the joy of eating, together with eating in a way that promotes good health," he says.

"While it does analyse and deconstruct food, it differs from so many other books of this kind as the food is put back together again. It's about the combination of foods, which ones work together and which ones you should avoid, and is written for those who love food but would like it to love us back. The food that we deconstruct ends up intact again as we apply the concept of super eating to meals and snacks, with no mention of weight, ratio of proteins to carbohydrates or recommended daily allowances of vitamins and minerals," says Ian.

Super Eating investigates the relationships between vitamins and minerals and demonstrates how the super eating approach can be used to optimum effect. Marber applies the principles of super eating to particular areas of well-being and examines a wide range of foods, showing how superfoods can become supermeals.

Marber, who studied a London's Institute for Optimum Nutrition, says he loves eating and cooking but rarely finds time to cook as he really wants to.

"Instead I happily cobble together meals. I am aware of what I eat without being overly careful, and, from time to time enjoy the sort of food that my more extreme peers tell me will probably kill me."

So does this nutritionist spend his time eating boiled fish and steamed vegetables? Not at all comes the reply.

"My favourite meal is probably a fillet steak, plenty of vegetables and some French fries, served with barnaise sauce and enjoyed with two glasses of a full-bodied Pinot Noir, so I don't fall into the typical eat-well-all-the-time group that perhaps I am expected to."

He believes that super eating is the future.

"It is a revolutionary way of eating food, not simply ingesting ingredients."

Super Eating by Ian Marber is published by Quadrille (12.99). To order a copy from the Yorkshire Post Bookshop, call free on 0800 0153232 or go to www. yorkshirepostbookshop. Postage and packing is 2.75.