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

November is world vegan month

world-vegan-monthNovember is World vegan month

Taking better care of the earth’s resources and the environment, ethical issues about animal welfare, the use of antibiotics and growth stimulants in animal production or the health advantages of a plant-based diet. These are just some of the reasons why an estimated 1 million UK adults are now vegan

 

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 soya-based dairy alternatives

But on the whole 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.

vegan-cakeOver the last year I have seen a number of changes occurring across the Nottingham hospitality landscape.  As well as an increase in wheat/gluten/dairy free cakes and goodies, I have also noticed more vegan options in shops, supermarkets and eateries.

 

For instance did you know that the Peacock Hotel on Mansfield Road, Nottingham has a 100% vegan kitchen, Zaap, a Thai street food restaurant on Maid Marion Way had a good range of vegan options, Cafe Roya in Beestion front-menu-peacockis a vegan and vegetarian restaurant that does amazing food, Chakh le India on Trent Bridge does great vegan starters.  The Parlour in West Bridfgord has an impressive range of vegan cakes.  And the Alley Cafe, which has been around for years is still turning out great healthy vegan food.  Not to be outdone Sainsbury’s has launched a vegan cheese range and Tesco has launched a selection box suitable for vegans

 

Many vegans have a lower BMI (body Mass Index), lower cholesterol levels and a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

For some the transition to being vegan is a staged process; they cut down on red meat, then only eat fish, progress to becoming vegetarian then decide to take the plunge and go  for a 100% plant-based diet

 

vegan-shoppingFor those people the move can be manageable and not too daunting. But if your main protein source as a vegetarian has been eggs and dairy then it can seem more of a challenge. But as I’ve mentioned above supermarkets and other retailers are now producing more products that are suitable.

There are now many non-dairy alternatives.  Soya has the most similar nutritional value to milk and can be used in sweet and savoury dishes.  Always buy the unsweetened versions for a better nutritional balance.

 

If you think a vegan diet is worth trying then why not come to my vegan cookery classes more info can be obtained by following this link simply veg . I will also be running a Vegan Christmas cookery workshop every Saturday in November ; you can find out more on my blog page vegan merry Christmas

 

Three simple food tips

tofu-eggTip #1 – If you love eggs then consider making scrambled tofu.  It has a similar texture and is delicious.  Many baking recipes can be made without eggs, or use linseeds soaked in water.

Tip #2 – For vegetarians considering the move to a vegan diet start incorporating more beans, pulses, nuts and seeds in to your meals.  These will become the protein staples on a plant-based diet i.e. bean salads, chilli, curries, and pasta dishes.  Use nut butters in sandwiches and savoury dishes. All these protein sources are high in fibre, low in cholesterol and generally low in saturated fat

miso-non-veggieTip #3 - Learn to love labels. Some foods that appear vegan could contain meat or fish by-products. Look out for bonito (fish) in Miso, cochineal or E120 (a red food colouring) found in some alcoholic drinks, bakery, biscuits, desserts, drinks, icings, pie fillings, sauces and sweets. Worcestershire Sauce (anchovies), Marshmallows and jelly sweets (gelatin) or Beer (Isinglass).

 

Eating a balanced diet is important for all of us, however vegans may have to pay particular attention to their intake of B12 and iron.  Some cereals, breads, non dairy spreads and milks etc are fortified with B12 and as long as you have plenty of green leafy veg, dried fruits, pulses, oats and other wholegrain you should be ok for iron.

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

“Must haves” for a healthy balanced diet

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

Do you think you eat a balanced diet? Read on and see if you still feel the same way at the end!

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
  • You have more energy
  • Keep you well
  • You to lose weight
  • 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

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’
  • 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 and dairy foods (or diary alternative like soya).  Aim for 3 servings a day.
  • Sufficient meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein i.e. Quorn, tofu and quinoa.  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 catechises, 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 (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, tofu) 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 – regardless of full-fat, semi-skimmed or skimmed.
    • 30g hard cheese including cheddar, brie or stilton (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)
  • 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

For Fat’s sake!

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

IMG_6167Fat has been in the media recently; more precisely the row between Public Health England (PHE) and the National Obesity Forum (NOF) as to what foods should form part of a healthy balanced diet.  This is an important issue because more than half of all Britons are overweight or obese.

PHE believe “We are eating too many calories – if we want to tackle obesity people do need to eat fewer calories and that means less fat and less sugar.” So far so expected! But then NOF weighed in with “eating fat could help cut obesity and type 2 diabetes.” Not so expected

Where do you sit in this debate for or against fat?!

Let me tell you what I think, I’ve been working with clients for a long time and the consistent message I give to anyone seeking a healthy or healthier lifestyle is MODERATION.  It’s boring, it’s not sexy and its not headline grabbing. But, it does work.  

IMG_5896Our bodies are designed to eat a diverse range of foods, however some people for a number of reasons chose to exclude certain foods; I’m vegetarian for instance and coeliacs for medical reasons avoid gluten. But even within those constraints a healthy balance diet should be achieved and that means eating a wide variety of permitted foods, including fat.

Problems often occur within our diets when moderation and balance isn’t observed, for instance the over consumption one food type such as refined or simple carbs like potatoes, bread, pasta and rice (especially white versions) and sugars.

More than half of all Britons are overweight or obese. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Does this look familiar?

Sugary cereal or white toast with jam for breakfast or grab a sausage roll  and syrupy coffee on the way to work; a biscuit or two for a mid-morning snack; a sandwich from the local deli for lunch on the go (accompanied by a packet of crisps and a chocolate bar); a piece of cake for a mid afternoon pick-me-up; homemade pasta dish with garlic bread for your evening meal followed by a little sweet treat

IMG_4640There will be elements of good nutrition within this diet; milk in the cereal and the coffee, salad in the sandwich, maybe some veggies and protein in the pasta dish.  But it is rich with refined and processed food and therefore out of balance.

And most certainly it will be oozing Fat.  Now according to NOF Fat is not the enemy and in that I agree.  However the fat in the above foods will predominately be highly refined (hydrogenated or trans fat). And that is where the problem lies.  Both sides in this row are actually saying a lot of similar things, limiting the amount of fat from highly processed foods is one of them.

I would suggest you regularly eat foods such as unsalted nuts, avocados, eggs, olive and nut oils, full fat diary, lean protein.  These are all deemed high in fat but in Moderation they should form part of a healthy balanced diet.  It’s about portion control!

Making slight adjustments to your diet now can have a big impact.  ‘One You’ , a new campaign believes that living healthily in midlife can double your chances of being healthy at 70 and beyond

What does moderation look like?

IMG_5321A portion of nuts is 28g or a small handful, an avocado a day is acceptable, 2 – 3 eggs a day is a great way to get good quality protein,  an ideal salad dressing is olive oil and balsamic vinegar, a portion of cheese is 28g, (if it’s a hard cheese grate it and it will look more!), 2 – 3 portions of oily fish a week – or lots of flaxseeds and nuts if you are veggie, a couple of squares of dark chocolate a day

Intersperse that with lots of vegetables and fruit, plenty of water, regular exercise, safe alcohol limits and no smoking and you achieve a healthy balanced diet

Talk radioIf there are folks out there who didn’t catch my chat on Talk radio a few weeks ago (there can’t be many of you surely!), then you can listen again https://soundcloud.com/user-95908886/talk-radio-fats-23516  ‪#‎nutrition coach‬