We are what we eat

Are you a Rolls-Royce or a City Golf? JOY DUFFIELD shares how food can influence our appearance

Some of us are born with stronger constitution than others. Some of us (the Rolls-Royce) can eat unhealthily with loads of sugar and alcohol, and yet others (the City Golf) developed diabetes or liver conditions even when eating well. Our bodies contain an engine which requires consistent servicing and refuelling with the correct fuel.

Even the Rolls-Royce requires good quality fuel and oil to run smoothly! However, the City Golf may require a little more engine attention and body polish just to keep going. The same applies to our bodies. The older or more damaged (for example wheelchair users) the vehicle or, in this case, body, the more attention it needs!

So, let us talk about the fuel. The basic rule is to eat a variety of foods and a variety of colours every day. See below a general guideline:


Carbohydrates should make up a quarter of your plate. It is one of the main forms of fuel. The fibre in carbohydrates assists in the movement of food through the digestive system and removal of waste. For those who struggle with bowel management issues, this is an absolute must.

Carbohydrates can be found in fruit, vegetables (like potatoes) and starches such as pasta, rice, bread, quinoa, oats and brown rice. For individuals with diabetes, it is advised to opt for the healthy starches like brown rice. However, it is best to consult a dietitian before making any dramatic changes to your diet.


Protein also should make up a quarter of your plate. It is made up of amino acids which are found in animal and plant proteins. Protein is essential to the growth and repair of cells in the body. For athletes, protein can assist in muscle recovery. It is also essential to those who are seated in a chair and struggle with compromised skin.

It can be found in red meat (for example, beef), white meat (for example, chicken), fish and other diary products. Protein is also common in beans, nuts, grains and lentils for those who prefer not to eat meat.

Vitamins and minerals

Arguably the most important food source, vitamins and minerals should make up half of your plate. They assist with the growth and repair of all cells, healthy skin, hair, teeth and vision, antioxidants, immune boosting, repair and function.

All fruit and vegetables contain some or other vitamins and minerals. It is best to have a variety and colourful selection of fruit and vegetables in your diet. Choosing seasonable fruits and vegetables will give you the most benefit and are usually cheaper.

However, be wary of potatoes if you have diabetes. It can have a negative impact on blood sugar. Consult a dietitian for more guidance.


Although an important aspect of a diet, fats can be harmful to some. It should always be consumed in moderation. Individuals with high blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes should consult a doctor or dietitian regarding the recommended amount of fats to include in their diet.

Fats assist with insulation, warmth and protects the internal organs. It also stores our vitamins A, D, E and K. Fats can be a source of fuel and it is essential to keeping the intestinal tract running smoothly.

There are various fats. Some healthy fats are safe to consume (although moderation is still recommended) while others should be avoided completely.

Some fats, for example, are chemically altered to stay solid at room temperature, which gives them a much longer shelf life. These should be avoided. Trans fats increase your bad cholesterol and clog the arteries and put us at higher risk of heart disease and strokes. They should also be avoided completely. Read the food labels rather than simply assuming your products are “healthy”.

Ideally, you should focus on polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which are found in oily fish, plant oils, meats, avocados and olive oil. A second choice can be saturated fats, which are foind in meats, dairy products, eggs and coconut oil.

When in doubt, opt for a colourful plate to keep your motor running smoothly. If you are still unsure, consult a doctor or dietitian on the best diet for you.


Joy Duffield is a C4 – C5 quadriplegic since 2005. Married with no children, she founded the Beauty Academy International in 2002. She was also a finalist in the entrepreneur category for the Business Woman Association (BWA) in 2015.




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