“Must haves” for a healthy balanced diet

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/

“Must haves” for a healthy balanced diet

Do you think you eat a balanced diet or are you confused about what a balanced diet looks like?

I’m seeing more and more clients who seem lost and confused about what to eat and what not to eat

thai-tofu-curryEating a nutritious, balanced diet will help you improve your overall health. In particular, a balanced diet can help:

  • Reduce your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure
  • Reduce your chances of getting cancer
  • Give you more energy
  • Keep you well
  • improve weight loss
  • Improve your bowel health
  • Your skin, nails and hair look healthier

 

The two key elements to a healthy balanced diet are:

  • Eat the right amount of food for how active you are, and
  • Eat a variety of foods – this is where the ‘balance’ comes in

healthy eating advice

The “Must haves” for a healthy balanced diet should include:

  • fruit-and-veg-225x300Plenty of fruit and vegetables – at least 5 portions a day. Think ‘A rainbow of colour’.  And if its convenient use fresh, frozen or tinned
  • Fruit like grapefruit or melon eaten before a meal can help fill you up so you are less likely to overeat on higher calorie foods
  • Small amounts of bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods (choosing wholegrain varieties when possible)
  • Some milk, dairy or plant-based alternative likes (soya, oat, nut etc).  Aim for 3 servings a day.
  • Sufficient protein such as tofu, Quorn, quinoa, nuts, beans, meat, fish, eggs.  Aim to eat low fat protein at every main meal.
  • Just a small amount of foods high in fat, sugar and salt
  • Keep within the safe alcohol limits (14 units a week for men and women).  Its also advised to have alcohol free days
  • activity exercise walkingDrink plenty of water, about 6-8 glasses (or other fluids) every day: more if you exercise or if the weather is hot
  • Green tea contains two compounds; caffeine and catechins, that may boost your metabolism for a couple of hours.
  • Stay active – aim for 150 minutes of activity a week.  this can include classes at a gym, running, weight training.  But equally housework, gardening, walking and dancing can all count too

 

Some people make the mistake of thinking that because they are eating healthy food they can eat more of it.  This can lead to weight gain in the same way that eating unhealthy foods can, because all foods have calories!

Follow this portion guide and you won’t go far wrong

  • A healthy 75g serving of protein (tofu, Quorn, quinoa, nuts, beans, meat, fish, eggs) is the same size as the palm of your hand
  • A medium potato is the same size as your computer mouse
  •   A serving of dairy is:
    • 200ml of milk or plant based alternative – regardless of full-fat, semi-skimmed or skimmed.
    • 30g hard cheese (including non dairy): around the same size as a matchbox
    • 150g of plain or fruit yoghurt.
  • A medium piece of fruit is the same size as your fist
  • pasta-portionA serving of rice is half a teacup or 75g (uncooked), which weighs 125g when cooked
  • A serving of pasta is 75g uncooked which weighs 170g when cooked al dente
  • A serving of vegetables is about 80g or about 2 tablespoons
  • A teaspoon of butter or margarine is the size of the tip of your thumb.
  • A unit of alcohol is half a pint of standard strength (3 to 5% ABV) beer, lager or cider, or a single pub measure of spirit. A 175 ml glass of wine is about 2 units and alcopops are about 1.5 units. A bottle of white wine has up to 9 units and 650 calories

If your diet is in a bit of a tailspin, then why not contact me for some nutritional advice

what i do 4

Supplements – do you need them

Supplements

Walk into any health food shop, supermarket or pharmacy and the shelves will be bursting with bottles and boxes that contain tablets, capsules and liquid drops that will (according to the blurb) have you feeling better, fitter and healthier.

supplements

But the big question is do we need to take these vitamin supplements or is there another alternative? 

There are certain vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are essential for keeping the body functioning and healthy, including 13 vitamins – A, C, D, E, K and the eight B vitamins. The body only needs them in minute amounts. Most of us can get enough of these by eating a healthy balanced diet and, in the case of vitamin D, from getting enough sunlight. However, certain vitamin supplements may be beneficial to some groups of people, such as the elderly, pregnant women and children between six months and five years old. Or if you have a restricted diet i.e. being vegan

healthy eating

To decide whether or not you need to take supplements I would always recommend you visit your GP and have some blood tests.

If you don’t want to do that or your GP is unwilling to do some tests, there are lots of companies out there who will, but unfortunately they have to charge.  One such company is Medichecks https://www.medichecks.com a UK based organisation that I have personally met and spoken to.  If you have any questions they are only too happy to help and their staff are all medically trained doctors or nurses.  There is an added bonus of a 20% discount if you use this code

medichecks

Once you have your results you can then book a nutrition session (or series of sessions) with me and I can help support you to make any necessary changes

 

Your lifestyle can affect your nutrient uptake

Stress – produces cortisol, which can affect your metabolism and loss of essential nutrients like magnesium (needed for sleep and stress relief), calcium (bones, heart rhythm)

Obesity – often as a result of poor portion control or a less varied/more processed diet that lacks nutrients – sugary foods hinder the uptake of magnesium

Tiredness and poor sleep – not allowing time for the body to repair and renew

Processed foods, ready meals and takeaways – These foods can be high in fat, salt, sugar and calories.  And may lead to digestive issues, increased weight, reduced fibre intake and lack of nutrients

Lack of activity – can lead to weaker bones and a potential surplus of calories

Smoking – destroys lots of beneficial gut bacteria

Alcohol – can affect the gut bacteria

last week I spoke to Mark Dennison on his BBC Nottingham breakfast show about whether we should or should not supplement our diets

 

Each nutrient has a specific role to play:

 

Vital nutrient What it does High in
Vitamin A Needed for good for eyesight and healthy skin Yellow, red & green (leafy) veg, sweet potatoes, red peppers, yellow fruit (mango, apricots, Sharon fruit) dairy, eggs, oily fish, liver
Vitamin B group Helps the body to breakdown release energy from food, maintain a healthy nervous system, make healthy red blood cells Peas, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, potatoes, soya beans, chickpeas, peanuts, fresh and dried fruit, rice, oats, wholegrains, fortified breakfast cereal, eggs, liver, milk, fish, cheese
Vitamin C Helps to keep cells healthy Oranges, berries, kiwi, broccoli, potatoes
Vitamin D Helps to regulate calcium and is essential for strong bones and teeth, The sunshine, mushrooms, oily fish, egg yolks, fortified foods, red meat, liver
Vitamin E Needed to maintain cell structure. Plant oils (olive, soya, rapeseed), nuts and seeds, wheatgerm, avocados
Vitamin K Needed for blood clotting to help wound heal Green leafy vegetables, vegetable oils, cereal grains
Zinc Helps make new cells, breakdown food and wound healing Wheatgerm, cereal, bread, dairy, meat and shellfish
Turmeric (active ingredient circumin) Linked to reducing cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, arthritis (TOO EARLY TO SAY) Take with black pepper. Check with GP about existing medications
Pro and prebiotic Prebiotics feed the good bacteria that live in the gutProbiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health Prebiotics – onions, garlic, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, green leafy veg, over the counter yoghurt drinksProbiotics – live yoghurt (dairy and non dairy), kefir (fermented dairy and non dairy), kombucha (fermented black and green tea), tempeh (fermented soya beans), kimchi (fermented vegetables and spice) sauerkraut (fermented cabbage). Miso (soya bean paste), Pickles, soft cheeses, sourdough bread

 

With a few exceptions (niacin and vitamin D), our bodies cannot make these substances, meaning we need to obtain them from other sources such as food. If you have low levels of certain vitamins, you may develop 
a deficiency disease. Too little vitamin D, for example, could lead to rickets in children, not enough Iron could lead to anaemia.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that vitamin C and B vitamins are water-soluble and are used rapidly by the body; any excess is excreted out when you go to the loo. So you could be literally flushing money down the drain

Whereas fat soluble vitamins are stored in the body,  when taken in excess they could damage cells and organs particularly vitamin A and the liver

 

Zinc There is evidence that taking zinc within a day of developing symptoms
 of a cold reduces the duration of the 
cold by about a day and that regular supplementation (for at least five months) protects people against catching colds.

fruit-and-vegYou will have realised that fruits, vegetables, pulses and wholegrains are littered throughout the above table, so my advice to you is make sure these nutritious and delicious foods are regularly and consistently incorporated in to your diet.

But if you do have concerns about your health then please visit your GP, and then come and see me and I will help support you to make any changes.

Attending my vegan cooking class might be a good place to start

vegan classes gen

 

November is world vegan month

November is World vegan month

Does Nottingham cater for vegans?

A number of high profile celebrities like Beyonce, Lewis Hamilton, Ellie Golding and Liam Hemsworth to name but a few have all decided to follow a vegan diet.  And they are not the only ones, it is estimated that over ½ million UK adults are now vegan; that’s a 360% increase over the last decade.

Concern for animals, taking better care of the earth’s resources and the environment or the health advantages of a plant-based diet are just some of the reasons for becoming vegan.

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For some people it’s none of the above but they have allergies to dairy products or are lactose intolerant, hence the increased popularity and availability of non-dairy alternatives

But generally being a vegan is more of a lifestyle choice and a philosophy than a diet.

You can now buy ethical clothing, shoes, toiletries and makeup. But for ‘World vegan month’ I’d like to focus on the food aspect of being vegan.

Baresca

In Nottingham over the last couple of years I have seen more vegan options in shops, supermarkets and eateries, an increase in wheat/gluten/dairy free cakes and goodies and special vegan events to raise awareness.

vegan food Nottingham

Did you know there is a vegan market in Sneinton on the first Saturday of every month?

vegan market

 

I regularly write veggie food reviews for the Nottingham Post and the West Bridgford Wire, sometimes it’s a 100% vegan/vegetarian eatery like cafe Roya in Beeston or the Peacock Pub on Mansfield Road, Nottingham which has a 100% vegan kitchen.

front-menu-peacock

Or a regular restaurant that has a good selection of vegan options like Zizzi, Chocks Away (at Nottingham City Airport),  Baresca, The Angel microbrewery, Annies burger shack, Oscar and Rosies, Suda (Wollaton), Horse and Plough (Bingham), wagamama, Alchelmilla; the list just keeps on growing

fav vegan restaurant?

 

 

courtesy of TeenVGN (Twitter)

courtesy of TeenVGN (Twitter)

Not to be outdone the main supermarkets have also increased their range of vegan options.  You can now buy vegan ready meals, Christmas selection boxes, non-dairy milk, yoghurt, ice-cream and cheese, pesto etc.  And the cheaper supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl also have some great choices too

In Nottingham we are also lucky to have a number of Asian and world food supermarkets and shops that have a plethora of vegan goodies like tofu, spices, noodles, lentils, nuts, Asian greens, sauerkraut, fresh herbs and pulses

 

 

For some the transition to being vegan is a staged process; they cut down on red meat and processed meat, then only eat fish, consider following the ‘Meat Free Monday’ campaign,  progress to becoming vegetarian then decide to take the plunge and go for a 100% plant-based diet.

vegan classes

If you are considering eating a more plant based diet but are concerned about nutrition then why not come to my vegan cookery classes.  More information can be obtained by following this link http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/blog/vegan-cookery-class-7nov/

cookery feedbackYou can make sweet potato falafels, tofu rice rolls, beetroot risotto, lasagne, tacos and much much more. Contact me for more details 07946 301338

For more advice about adopting a vegan diet visit the vegan society website

How to be a healthy vegan

How to be a healthy vegan

What a vegan diet should include (macro and micro nutrients)

 

People have very different reasons for choosing a plant-based diet and for some the transition can be daunting and fraught with complexity.

people-ask-if-being-vegan-is-hard

Hopefully I can help you navigate your way through and understand what food types, nutrients and minerals you should include in your diet and what if any supplements you should ask your GP about

 

Lets start with the biggie PROTEIN!

Protein, if you didn’t know is a “macronutrient,” meaning you need relatively large amounts of it to stay healthy. Different protein sources contains various amounts of amino acids that help build and repair muscles in our bodies

Vegan protein sources. jpeg

The average UK adult should eat about 50g of protein a day. To be more precise, it’s about 0.75g per kilo of body weight. If you weigh 11 st (70kg) your daily protein intake should be 52.5g. For a vegan that’s about 2 palm-sized portions of tofu, nuts, vegan quorn etc or pulses and beans

Protein rich meal ideas

Carbohydrates

This is another macronutrient, and its fair to say we should and probably do obtain most of our carbs from eating wholegrains, fruits, veg and pulses. And as with any healthy diet the carbs from simple sugars (cakes, biscuits, pastries, processed food etc) should be limited, as they have little nutritional value.

pasta-portionIf you need to lose a kilo or two I would advise you to portion control your bread, rice, pasta and potatoes. A balanced portion of wholegrain pasta or rice is 75g uncooked or 125g cooked. A portion of potato is 80g, and a serving of wholemeal bread is one slice

 

 

Fats

This is the final macronutrient. Its role is to transport fat-soluble vitamins, as a secondary energy source, to keep us warm and to aid brain function. It is the most calorific food at 9 calories a gram compared with protein and carbs at 4 calories a gram. So moderation is the watchword!

Too much fat has been associated with heart disease, obesity and some forms of cancer. With that in mind I would suggest for general cooking, dressings etc you use olive oil or rapeseed oil. Coconut oil has a higher smoking temperature and can be used for deep fat frying and roasting. Be careful of processed, diet foods and ready meals as these can have high levels of fats

vegan-shoppingAs more and more supermarkets are stocking vegan versions of family favourites it is now easier than ever to find vegan cheese, milk, yoghurts and ice cream. But just take a look at the labels and check the fat content as you may be consuming more than the recommended daily amounts of saturated fat (20g for a woman and 30g for a man)

Other fats to incorporate are from avocados, nuts and seeds.  They contain good levels of omega 3 fatty acids

Now we get on to the micronutrients! The foods we need in smaller amounts

 

Vitamins

Many vegans will have been told that they will be lacking in vitamin B12 and D. This of course can be the case but it could also happen to a meat or fish eater. It really depends on the person’s ability to absorb nutrients and how varied and balanced their diet is. That said vegans do have to take more care as B12 especially, is only found naturally in a few foods and most of those are animal in origin

B12

 

Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin; in order to keep your levels topped up spend about 10 minutes a day outdoors without sun protection. If that isn’t possible some vegan foods are fortified with this vitamin i.e. soya milk, orange juice, cereals and breads. Just make sure your D3 is from vegan sources. There is some evidence that if mushrooms are placed in the sunlight they will synthesise the rays in the same way we do and produce vitamin D enriched mushrooms

 

Calcium

Ryvita hummus

 

This mineral works with vitamin D to produce strong bones and helps maintain the function of our heart, muscles and nerves.

Good vegan sources are green leafy veg like chard, cabbage, spinach, kale, sesame seeds (hummus and tahini), oranges, soya (beans, milk, tofu)

 

 

Iron

Another mineral that vegans may have difficulty consuming because it is found in large quantities in meat and offal. But it is possible to have healthy iron levels if your diet contains some of the following: fortified breakfast cereals, kale, broccoli, watercress, soya based foods, dried prunes, dried apricots, nuts and seeds, beans, pulses and fortified wholemeal bread.

Vitamin C rich foods help with the absorption of iron but tea and coffee can hinder it.

Vitamin C