Superfoods

Superfoods  – myth or magic?

Are you buying the superfood hype; either literally or figuratively?  These foods have been in the press for the last few years but recently new magic morsels have been added including lentils, quinoa, chills and green tea.

Its worth remembering there is no official definition of a “superfood” and the EU has banned health claims on packaging unless supported by scientific evidence.

So do certain foods deserve that badge of honour?

What makes a food ‘Super'; they often contain higher than average amounts of antioxidants or compounds that can keep the body healthy and potentially help fight some diseases.  In that respect foods like blueberries, broccoli, oily fish, beetroot juice, dark chocolate and to a lesser extent red wine all deserve praise as they have high levels of compounds like polyphenols and flavonoids

homemade chocolate bar

But so do blackberries, carrots, apples, oats, nuts, red cabbage, raspberries, flaxseeds, and most fruits and vegetables.  And importantly they are often cheaper than their ‘superfood’ cousins

The superfood debate got the attention of BBC radio Leicester, so I joined them for a discussion along with Sangita the owner of a local Leicester deli.

Click here to listen to the interview (15 minutes)

https://soundcloud.com/user-95908886/radio-leics-superfood

 

fruit-and-vegTo eat a ‘superfood’ rich diet we agreed that it should contain more fruit and veg than we currently eat.  Incidentally, did you know that only about 30% of the UK adult population get their 5-a-day.

cakesTry and reduce your level of processed foods; anything from ready meals, cured meats to pastries and cakes

Go for variety and moderation; the occasional treat is fine

 

Drink within safe alcohol limits (max 14 units a week) a small glass (125ml) of red wine can be beneficial

Stay hydrated with the original ‘superfood'; Water

In other words adopt a more Mediterranean diet that includes plenty of wholegrain, pulses, vegetables, fruit and olive oil and you will feel “SUPER

 

 

 

Hangovers – the morning after!

The morning after…..Hangover cures 

alcoholThat double vodka, large glass of wine or a whole bottle or one more for the road seemed like a good idea last night.  But this morning it’s a different story, you feel nauseous, thirsty, have a headache, feel tired; basically you’re hungover

So how can you start to feel like your old self again?

 

  • Hydration – water is the best thing, sip it in case your stomach reacts.  If you prefer and have them available an isotonic drink is a good way to replenish lost fluids and minerals.  But they can be expensive and have a fair amount of sugar.  An answer is to make your own; mix one part orange juice, one part water and a pinch of salt.

IMG_9999This is exactly what I told a Notts Tv reporter when he visited me yesterday

Click on this Youtube link to hear the 30 second snippet

https://youtu.be/XsWPvQ0O-dc

 

 

  • If you have a headache water will help with the dehydration and a painkiller could also ease the discomfort.  Be careful with aspirin based medication as they can upset your stomach
  • Eating some protein can aid recovery, especially eggs as they contain  a protein called taurine that helps the liver to recover
  • If you can’t stomach eggs, a bowl of porridge will restore some energy especially if its served with some fresh fruit like a banana, which will help replace your depleted potassium levels
  • fruitA fruit smoothie made with yoghurt will also give you some much needed protein.
  • failing that some wholemeal toast with either jam or wholenut peanut butter
  • Try and take some gentle exercise, a walk would be a great idea as it releases  ‘feel good’ endorphins
  • Try and resit the temptation to have too many cups of strong coffee.  Caffeine can upset your stomach and it also acts as a diuretic increasing your dehydration
  • Don’t overdo the amount of sugar you consume as it produces an energy spike and then a crash, leaving you feeling more tired and lethargic

To minimise some of the symptoms of over indulgence take painkillers with a pint of water before you go to sleep   That way you may wakeup feeling more human!  

 

 

 

 

“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

Why your diet is never going to work!

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

Why your diet is never going to work!images

You’re about to embark on yet another diet so you can be fit, healthy and slim for that bikini in a few months time.  But in your heart of hearts you know you will be miserable, moody and hungry.  And more importantly you will fail.

So let me share some secrets with you as to why you will keep on failing unless you change your approach

  • Portion control – Put it simply many of us eat too much even on a diet.  You have more control over what you eat at home but what about that quick latte on the way to work because you didn’t have time for breakfast; a large skinny latte could have up to 130 calories, add a ‘healthy low fat’ muffin and that’s another 340+. Or that sandwich from the supermarket at lunch time; an egg mayo could have upwards of 400 calories.  You may decide to meet friends after work for a low cal drink (or two) and a small bowl of pasta – where’s the harm! A small slimline gin and tonic will set go largeyou back a meagre 56 calories.  But restaurant portions are getting bigger and they are served on bigger plates or bowls so it is hard for us to judge the true amounts we are eating; a bowl of Prezzo’s  Penne con Salmon (light) still has a whopping 800 calories, a shared garlic bread will add 140 calories a portion and that sprinkling of parmesan is about 60 calories.  By now your one slimline G&T has morphed in to a large glass of house red (170 calories) so you decide to share a dessert (it would be rude not to!) half a portion of ‘healthy’ lemon Torte is 225 calories.

So in total on your diet you have some how managed to consume over 2,300 calories in one day.  Impressive!

  • Mindless eating – how often do you sit at a table to eat your meals?! When we sit in images front of the TV, laptop, tablet etc we are distracted and often do not register what we have eaten and therefore when we are full.  The signal from our stomach to our brain to say STOP takes about 20 minutes but if we are distracted we tend to eat faster, so that signal doesn’t get through until we are well into that unnecessary pudding.  How often have you been surprised when you look down at your plate and realised it is empty?
  • Stressed out – if you are stressed, anxious or worried then you are more inclined to comfort eat.  This is because being stressed can produce a hormone called ‘cortisol’, which can release glucose in to your bloodstream, promoting a hunger response thereby increasing your appetite.

So if you are not mindful of portion control then your weight may go up this will make you stressed and you will eat more!

  • Snack attacks! – Be careful what you snack on. Carrot sticks and hummus or rice cakes with wholenut peanut butter may be a better option than the low cal snack bar which could be full of refined sugars that your body processes very quickly, so it may not fill you up for long.  A small portion (28g) of unsalted nuts maybe a better option
  • IMG_5040What are you drinking? – Both alcoholic and soft drinks contain an abundance of calories.  Stay hydrated with water; not only will it quench your thirst but it will stave off hunger pangs.  A ‘healthy’ shop bought smoothie could have as many as 250 calories and up to 5 teaspoons of sugar.  Even though a can of diet drink has only a few calories latest research indicates that the artificial sweet taste prepares your body to expect calories and when they aren’t forthcoming your body craves food and your appetite could increase
  • Lack of sleep Scientists believe that if we don’t get enough sleep it disturbs the levels of two specific hormones leptin, which lets you know when you are full and ghrelin, which stimulates your appetite.

So put very simply the more you sleep the less you eat!

  • Are you eating enough?! This may sound odd but even on a diet you do need to consume enough calories to meet your bodies needs.  You can work this out on imagesvarious website to get you Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the calories you consume at rest.  But you may think you’re eating only small amounts and should therefore lose weight but as previously mentioned it is not just about portion size its also about what you eat.  For instance a flimsy cheese croissant, which is gone in seconds could have 340 calories.  Compare that with a medium sized jacket potato and a large salad with balsamic vinegar all for 300 calories.  Not only are you eating less calories but more fibre which will leave you feeling fuller for longer
  • 11701046_10207112983767058_664974267398185262_nAre you a couch potato? – Moving more (it doesn’t have to be structured or an expensive exercise class) not only burns calories but releases endorphins which can enhance your mood and make you feel good. The Government recommends at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, and  muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

Next week I’ll blog about the things you can do that won’t sabotage your weight loss goals but help you to lose the pounds permanently!

The Sugar tax

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

 

IMG_5653In this weeks Budget the Government announced plans for the much talked about sugar tax, which comes into force in two years time. Raising around £500 million revenue that will go towards investment in school sports.

 

So are you for or against a tax on sugary drinks and what do you think it will achieve?

 

We all know there is an obesity epidemic, and that being overweight or obese increases a persons risk of getting some serious long term conditions lie type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and some forms of cancer. But I believe one of the main reasons for a sugar tax is to try and reduce the number of obese children. And here’s why

 

  • 1 in 5 children is overweight or obese by the age of 5
  • For 5-9 year olds the biggest single reason for hospital admissions is tooth decay
  • The average five-year-old consumes the equivalent of their own body weight in sugar in the course of a year
  • Being overweight or obese in childhood can have an impact on both short and long term physical and mental health.
  • Children who are overweight and obese are more likely to become obese adults
  • Severe obesity in children has also been associated with absenteeism and poorer school performance

 

Recommended daily maximum added sugar for children

 

 

On average children are consumiing 3 times that amount, mostly from sugary drinks

Here are some typical drinks that children might have

 

sugary drinks table

Watch the size of the bottles, dome are 250ml, 330, 500 or even 750ml – they should all have average serving size information

 

11873788_10153625340999015_4728823108939216858_nChildren who are a healthy weight tend to be fitter, healthier, better able to learn and are more self-confident. They are also less likely to have low self esteem or be bullied. And crucially they are much less likely to have health problems in later life.

 

imagesTo help children understand the sugar content in their favourite drinks (and snacks) Change4Life have recently launched the Sugar smart App

Recently I visited Carnarvon Primary School, in Bingham, Notts and gave a talk about sugar.  The children were really engaging and loved the gruesome images of tooth decay.  But I know the message about too much sugar and unhealthy eating really hit home

 Could the Sugar tax be seen as an opportunity

for manufacturers reformulate drinks so

they are not as sweet?

 

What to give children to drink

 

  • Water is the obvious choice – its cheap and readily available and contains zero sugar!
  • Milk is full of bone building calcium and is a great thirst quencher. Non dairy milk alternatives are widely available
  • Fruit juices or ‘healthier’ drinks are often laced with sugar, so please read the labels

Healthy eating – Fact and fiction

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

In general all foods can form part of a healthy balanced diet as long as you practice portion control and don’t eat too much of any one group

Fruit and sugar

fruit-image-for-5-2-flyer1It is true fruits contain sugar, in the form of fructose.  But unlike pure sugar they also contains fibre, water, polyphenols, minerals and vitamins.   I would always advocate trying to eat most of your fruit whole, so you access all the nutrients, you also help your digestion by chewing the food and releasing digestive enzymes. And go for variety, red, green, yellow, orange or purple; they’re all good Homemade smoothies will count towards your five a day, but try not to peel the fruit and add some veggies for extra fibre and nutrients. A tablespoon of ordinary porridge oats will add soluble fibre; again this will slow down the rate at which the smoothie (and sugar) is absorbed keeping you fuller for longer and balancing out your blood sugar levels.

Steer clear of shop bought varieties unless it is an occasional treat as they often contain higher amounts of sugar and preservatives

Water

IMG_3503If you don’t get enough fluid you may feel tired, have poor concentration, get headaches and not perform at your best. Try and aim for 6-8 glasses of water a day. But other liquids can also count towards that tally – green tea, black coffee, milk (and non dairy milks), weak squashes, tea, coconut water, herbal teas etc. Water is still considered the best for hydration. It is also widely available, contains no calories and is free from your tap. For the record, alcohol does not count!

 

Couples eating habits

IMG_5377The latest research shows that middle aged couples who develop the same eating habits could increase their risk of becoming obese.  But the opposite may also be true; if one person eats healthily their partner may imitate those choices

 

 

Red wine

IMG_5006Contains some antioxidants that can offer some protection from heart disease. This protection is greater for men and post menopausal women. The benefit is lost if you consume more than 2 units a day, or one 175 ml glass

 

 

Carbohydrates from bread, rice, pasta and potatoes

WholegrainsA maximum of a 1/3rd of our diet should come from this group, and preferably wholegrain as they contain more vitamins and minerals and importantly more fibre; this helps us to keep fuller for longer by releasing energy slowly. Wholegrain carbs are also linked to a reduction in cholesterol and better digestive health.  A portion is generally 75g (uncooked weight)

What foods form part of your healthy eating regime?