Healthy eating – what do you want to know?!
New Year is usually about new resolutions, getting fitter, healthier and more focused. So I decided to ask my clients and social media followers what healthy eating questions they had for me so they could get on track and stay there.
Here’s a selection
What generally constitutes a healthy balanced diet?
I tell my clients and cookery class guests that its all about variety i.e. eating a rainbow of colour, so lots of different coloured vegetables and fruits will small amounts of wholegrain pasta, bread and rice. Moderation is also key and by that I mean portion control.
A good guide is to use your hand; protein should fit on the palm of your hand, potatoes (also rice, bread and pasta) should fit in to a cupped hand and veggies in both open hands. That brings me to balance; no one food should dominate your plate, meal or daily diet i.e. wheat or sugary foods/drink. We often hear about people cutting out food groups (wheat and dairy are the obvious ones) but I prefer substitution not elimination. That means having rye or oats instead of wheat and replacing cows milk and cheeses with non-dairy substitutes. And finally for a healthy diet it’s essential that you curb your caffeine, alcohol and sugar intakes.
Best vegan cookbook?
These two books come highly recommended: Eat vegan, Smith & Daughters by Shannon Martinez and Mo Wyse for a Spanish vibe to vegan recipes, and Super Foods Super Fast by Julie Montagu. Does what it says on the tin!
Any foods recommended that help combat dementia?
Firstly I’d start with a healthy balanced diet that’s low in sugar, salt, saturated fat and processed foods.
More specifically include vegetables (especially dark skinned versions like aubergine, courgettes, spinach, kale and peppers), berries/fruits, nuts, green tea, olive oil, fish (especially oily fish like salmon, trout, mackerel) and unsaturated fats from milk products and spreads. Think Mediterranean diet.
How do I ensure my vegan teenager gets enough protein?
Nuts and seeds, tofu, tinned beans (chickpeas, borlotti, cannellini, butterbeans etc), hummus, vegan cheese/dairy, edamame beans, peas, vegan quorn are all great protein sources
How does 5:2 fasting work?
When we eat a lot of carbohydrate (like bread, potatoes, rice and pasta) or foods high in sugar, it causes our blood glucose levels to rise. Our body produces the hormone insulin as a reaction to eating to keep our glucose levels stable.
Insulin also encourages fat cells to take up fatty acids and store them, the way it encourages liver cells to take up sugars and store them.
Studies have shown intermittent fasting increases the effectiveness of insulin to store glucose and break down fats. This process will reduce your risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cognitive decline
Another way fasting works is by reducing the amount of insulin-like growth hormone, which has been shown to reduce your risk of many age-related diseases, like cancer. High levels of this hormone later in life appear to lead to accelerated ageing and cancer.
Is Agave a good alternative to sugar?
It has the highest fructose content of any commercial sweetener (90%). Fructose causes insulin resistance and significantly raises triglycerides (a risk factor for heart disease). It also increases fat around the middle, which in turn puts you at greater risk for diabetes and heart disease. It also has the same calories per gram as all other sweeteners (4 calories per gram). So like all sugars use agave with caution and moderation.
Could you suggest some healthy cooking oils for a vegan diet?
It depends on how high you are getting the oil, as some degrade and de-nature which will not only alter the taste but make it harmful. For high temperature cooking i.e. stir-fries or deep-fried I’d go for rapeseed or coconut oil. Sunflower oil should not be used for high heat cooking as it breaks down and forms aldehydes and lipid peroxides, which are harmful.
For general frying both coconut and rapeseed oils are also good and you can add olive oil to the list. But again not sunflower. But be aware that all oils contain the same calories per gram i.e. 9 cals. So whichever you choose try and use as little as possible and pat the food dry after frying. Also do not re-use the oil and keep the bottles out of direct light.
Let me know if you have some burning healthy eating question that you’d like some help with. Or maybe something’s caught your eye in the paper but you’re not sure about it?