Vegan Lancashire HotPot

Diet & Weight Loss

Here’s a classic we first presented to you over a year ago-our take on a Vegan Lancashire Hotpot! 🙂 It’s been a recent lifesaver since the weather has taken a turn for the worst! Enjoy it some side green vegetables or topped with some nutritional yeast (so delicious!). We’ve updated this page and have now included an easy-print PDF version- so just go for it folks! 😀 Happy cooking!

Eat2Health Blog

Serves: 6
Prep: 40-45 mins
Cooking Time: 25 mins
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Sieve, colander, non-stick pots w/lids, wooden spoon, chopping board, sharp knife, veggie peeler, casserole dish

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamins C & K, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and per serving is low in added sugar, salt and fats!

Like some other great British recipes, a hotpot is somewhere between a stew and a casserole topped with potatoes! We know ours does not depict a true representation of a British hotpot; there’s no use of butter, beef, offal, lamb or mutton in this one were afraid to say! It is however still a very hearty, cheap and versatile dish that is not lacking in great flavours! Perfect for those that crave healthy, stodgy winter meals that can be shared by the whole family. 

Admittedly, we did overestimate the content…as you’ll see we needed more than one dish…

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Avocado & Spinach Soup [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Diet & Weight Loss

A blast from the past! Our quick & delicious avocado and spinach soup! Use fresh or frozen ingredients (yes, some supermarkets now sell frozen avocado!). It only takes about 5 mins to get this recipe cooking on your stove top! Cooking really doesn’t get any easier than that! 🙂

Eat2Health Blog

Serves: 4
Prep & Cooking Time: 20-30 mins
Type: Main Meal or Side Dish
Tools: Chopping board, sharp knife, large pot, frying spatula, blender or food processor, silicone spatula, resealable container

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-vitamins, Vitamins C, K & E, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, no added sugars and per serving is low in salt and saturated fats!. 

If you’ve never have an avocado-based soup before, you’re in for a treat. It’s creamy, delicious nutritious and it literally only takes about 5 minutes to get this recipe cooking on your stove top! Cooking really doesn’t get any easier than that!

Quick Foodie Facts:

  • This soup provides you with about 2.5 servings of vegetables/serving towards your 5-A-Day!
  • Avocados are actually a fruit, or more specifically, a single-seeded berry! They are a great source of: B-vitamins, Vitamin E, protein, fibre, potassium, zinc and mono-unsaturated fats (‘good’ fats that can help lower LDL cholesterol…

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Cooper Smith_Orthorexia nervosa_Flickr

A Healthy Diet & Lifestyle: Why You Should ‘Detox’ Your Attitude and Goal Setting Criteria & Not Your Body

Diet & Weight Loss, Exercise, Healthy Mind

HAPPY 2016 EVERYONE! 😀

We’ve had a relaxing break and hope that you’ve all had a safe, happy and healthy festive period too!

As we transition into this sparkling New Year, it offers the chance of promise and a ‘clean slate’ of fresh opportunities. What are you planning; resolutions to rid yourself of bad habits, drastic diets or some realistic permanent and positive changes?

 

This is a cheeky picture of us during Christmas and no we hadn’t been drinking, but we were still enjoying the moment! You do not have to drink to enjoy social occasions, and having preconceived ideas of what you need to do to have a good time can set you up for a bumpy ride. This can also apply to ‘getting healthy’, especially at this time of year.

January usually brings a flood of clichés and crazy regimes, including ‘detox diets’. We have previously mentioned how we feel about ‘superfoods’, ‘detox/BS Health Terms’ and ‘diets and to recap, it’s unnecessary and typically diets will set you up to fail. Instead of trying to ‘detox’ your liver, gut, or your right foot, maybe you should try ‘spring cleaning’ your attitude and goal setting criteria instead.

 

 

 

…So here are five areas which we recommend you concentrate your energy on:

 

1. Give Up On Quick Fixes & Following Fad Diets

Photo by: Steve Davis, Fad diet stock photo_flickr

Photo by: Steve Davis, (Fad diet stock photo) Flickr

We all know that quick fixes and fad diets do not work long term and yet a great many people convince themselves that this time they’ve discovered the secret to easy and rapid weight loss. The only secret is the one kept by the marketers of these diets, which is that you’ll regain the weight as soon as you stop following the diet. However, this isn’t much of a secret, as we’re sure many followers of these quick fixes have been through this cycle at least once already. So what we should be doing is retraining our brains and attitudes.

Creating bad, good or even easy habits can be addictive by nature, but when it comes to creating long term and permanent commitments, we should be seeking only positive ones. Recognise your strengths and weaknesses when modifying your diet and lifestyle and realise that it’s a long-term commitment, not just an intermittent hobby; meaningful changes will not occur overnight.

We have previously talked about ‘fad gluten free diets’, but the principle can be applied to most fad regimes. You might think you need to give up carbs, gluten or go on a seven day detox to lose weight, but why has this become ingrained into your thought processes? The important question to ask yourself is why no accredited nutritionist and/or Dietitian worthy of the name would suggest a quick fix or unscientifically based mantra?

So if someone and/or a product suggests that you can achieve meaningful weight loss through a quick fix (a.ka. a fad diet!), you should put as much distance between them and yourself as possible… and query any other health advice they have to offer.

Which leads us to….‘Detoxing’.

The term ‘detox’ is very real, especially if you’re suffering from alcoholism. When it comes to ‘detoxing’, there isn’t enough credible scientific data published to show that we should take it upon ourselves to ‘cleanse’ or detoxify our bodies in the absence of any genuine addictions. Eating whole foods and eliminating processed foods is a lifestyle change that will benefit anyone. A healthful diet and lifestyle helps our liver, kidneys, colon and other organs to preform our natural mechanisms of ‘detox ’to help keep our bodies running without fail; detox kits and/or regimes do not offer us any substantial benefit and can cause diarrhoea, short term water loss, nutritional deficiencies and a dent in our wallets.

 

2. Be Realistic About Exercise

Photo by: Randy and Sarita, Shoemakers Photostream (ReneeB_Crunchy time) Flickr

Exercise can help reduce our risk in developing heart disease, dementia and other chronic conditions but it does not always promote weight loss, especially if we disregard food portion controls and other healthy eating advice! It can be a great way to improve our mental and physical fitness, but don’t expect it to provide you with a ‘detoxing’ solution. When we sweat, we release sodium, not toxins; as mentioned above, our body has other processes to deal with this. Don’t get us wrong, you can work up a great sweat and detoxify your mind of negative and destructive thoughts, which is great a way to de-stress your mind of day-to-day anxieties and fears.

Developing a realistic exercise programme (one that we can easily fit into our day-to-day lives and enjoy!) can take time and a lot of trial and error. As we are hardwired to conserve energy, we can naturally procrastinate, trying to put off the inevitable… including regular exercise.

If you are new to exercise, it might be worth checking with your healthcare professional first. Embarking on a new exercise regime will take persistence and patience and there are ways to make it easier, but quite honestly it won’t always feel ‘fun’. There have been times where we have felt that exercise was a bit bothersome or that prior to the session it just wouldn’t be ‘good’. All of this pessimistic thinking only leads to failing before you have begun. Putting it into perspective, you wouldn’t expect that going into your office everyday would be prefect, bad days happen, but you do get through them; no one calls in sick because the day in question might be rubbish, so why treat your exercise sessions any differently?!

 

3. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Photo by: Comradehomer (Easy tricks to help you lose weight fast) Flickr

Genetics, age, personal circumstances… we are all different, including the way that we lose weight. For example, Alex has the metabolism of a jet engine and struggles to gain weight, whilst my metabolism needs regular exercise and meals to make sure it’s running efficiently and to help keep my health (and waistline!) in check.

When it comes to meaningful weight loss, there are no quick fixes and there is definitely not a ‘one size fits all approach’; one method that will allow everyone to lose weight in the same timespan or manner.

Additionally we all come in different shapes and sizes; not everyone is designed to be a size 4! We need to appreciate our own circumstances, bodies and cast aside any unrealistic or unhealthy ideals.

A picture of a skinny body does not necessarily depict a healthy diet, it might be down to genetics or a case of someone having high levels of will power and/or potentially disordered eating behaviours.

So don’t compare yourselves to others, we all have our own journey and it is never truly finished; healthy living continues beyond ‘weight loss’, which is only one of many steps.

 

4. Manage Negative Influences

Photo by: Beauty Playin 'Eh's Photostream_img8564_digging for more_Flickr

Photo by: Beauty Playin ‘Eh’s Photostream (img8564_digging for more) Flickr

Negative influences can include anyone or anything that provokes or causes unnecessary stress, roadblocks and/or illness in our lives. Remember it is OK to say NO to people, especially to those ‘office feeders’, a friend that always gets you to skip your gym sessions, a spouse that does most of the cooking but refuses to cook vegetables or to fad health enthusiasts or even your friend’s mother that advises you to give up carbohydrates or that you shouldn’t eat after 6pm… these are all examples of negative influences.

 

Social Contagion Theory

It’s been shown that social networks can influence the size of your waistband. According to a study (regarding obesity in large social networks) published during 2007 in the New England Journal of medicine, their analysis showed that a person’s risk of obesity has a greater influence from their social networks than their genetics. When a study participant’s friend became obese, that first participant had a 57% greater chance of becoming obese himself. We guess that it can be put down to social norms or preconceptions of what is ‘normal behaviour’.

To paraphrase a leading psychologist speaking on a BBC Radio 4 programme last month “we normalise our own behaviours and attitudes based on the averages of our social groups.” E.g. If your entire social network is overweight, you are unlikely to believe that being overweight yourself is unhealthy and/or a problem and are likely to avoid examples, groups and messages to the contrary. You may have heard the saying ‘we create our own realities’!

It’s not all bad news though; a study published during 2013 in Public Health Nutrition looked at weight-control strategies among adolescents with the assistance of family support. It showed that 50% of the group reporting sustained weight loss seemed to have more familial support.

Quite truthfully, you might lose friendships as you adapt and change your lifestyle because not everyone is ‘game to being a fitness buddy’ or ready to make permanent lifestyle changes themselves. However, true friends should understand your principles about making these healthy changes and should not be out to sabotage your good intentions.

 

5. Create Regular Consolidation (a.k.a Zen & Realistic Problem Solving!)

Photo by: Hannah Johnson_yoga_flickr

Photo by: Hannah Johnson (yoga) Flickr

It’s important for us to be diligent and create regular ways in which to reflect, focus on the positives and generate our own bespoke plans; allowing us to change our attitudes, behaviours and/or thought processes that could inhibit us from leading a healthier life, particularly one that we truly desire and deserve!

Plans might be set in motion in order to:

  • Quit smoking.
  • Reduce our alcohol consumption.
  • Improve our cooking skills so that we can eat healthier meals.
  • Go to our GP to see why we are having intestinal cramps (not just putting ourselves on a GF diet!).
  • Understand what the potential reasons are as to why we are overweight.
  • Learn how to control our emotions- jealously, anger, fear or sadness could all be a recipe for disaster!
  • Exercise to improve our total quality of life- but hey, that could mean spending more time in the bedroom too! 😉
  • Learn how to unplug from the mainstream (saying goodbye to long hours spent in front of a computer or iPhone!).
  • Become more social- spending more quality time with the people that matter.
  • Reduce frivolous spending, learning how to budget and/or reduce debt.

 

It could also include ways to help us unwind and deal with the stress in our lives, such as: meditation, yoga, trying not to overcommit to social engagements or making time to read in our bedrooms without any interruptions for one hour a week. Another trend is expressing your thoughts on paper; daily or weekly gratitude journal entries. Planning can help instil positive and long term behaviours, helping us to avoid temptations, distractions and/or being able to find the best time(s) in order to start modifying our diet and lifestyles.

It can be recognising that changing one thing in our life may not create the happiness that we have been craving, e.g. losing weight will not necessary make us happy. If you were depressed before the weight loss, it might be there afterwards. Sometimes it’s not only about weight loss- it’s about finding ways to enrich our lives, becoming happy, healthier and hopefully blessed with more friendships and positive experiences as a result.

 

So let’s remember that everyone has the ability to lead healthier and happier lives (no ‘detox’ pills, drinks or crazy regimes needed!)… we just need to focus on the right decisions, methods and actions to do it!

Are you feeling optimistic? Are you ready for some permanent
and positive changes this year? What are your SMART goals?

 

Article written by:
A. Risby BSc, RD and L. Risby BSc, Nutritionist

 

Sources:
BDA-Detox Diets
NHS Choices- Benefits to Exercise
NHS Choices- 10 Minute Workouts
PubMed
The New England Journal of Medicine
BBC Radio 4 Programme – A leading clinical psychologist !
Public Health Nutrition
BDA-Weight Wise (SMART Goals)
Feature Image by: Cooper Smith (Orthorexia nervosa)_Flickr

 

Has Using The Toilet Become A Chore? 5 Reasons Why You Can’t Poop!

Diet & Weight Loss

Hi everyone! We hope you’re all having a lovely week? Yes this is a reblog, but it includes a UK fibre update! 🙂

Eat2Health Blog

It’s a taboo subject yes, and I’m sure most of the British public do not wish to talk about their daily throne action…but here we are….and I want to talk… and you’ve stopped by to listen!

 

Constipation is a common condition that disrupts our usual and ‘normal’ bowel movements, causing the inability to pass poo regularly, or an inability to completely empty our bowels.

It’s estimated that one in seven UK adults and one in three UK children have had constipation at any one time (myself included) (¹), with the reality that it affects more women than men, particularly those that are pregnant or elderly.

For some of us it’s a chronic condition, for others it’s the result of dietary or maybe environmental factors. Either way, it can be painful, annoying and affect our quality of life.

‘Toilet’ topics have been discussed in great detail over the last ten years…

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It’s Meet and Greet Weekend @ Dream Big!!

Diet & Weight Loss

Meet n greet’s are a great way to meet some new bloggers around the globe! 🙂

Dream Big, Dream Often

imagesIt’s Meet and Greet Weekend at Dream Big!!

Ok so here are the rules:

  1. Leave a link to your page or post in the comments of this post.
  2. Reblog this post.  It helps you, it helps me, it helps everyone!  So don’t be selfish, hit the reblog button.
  3. Edit your reblog post and add tags (i.e. reblogging, reblog, meet n greet, link party, etc.), it helps, trust me on this one.
  4. Share this post on social media.  Many of my non-blogger friends love that I put the Meet n Greet on Facebook and Twitter because they find new bloggers to follow.  This helps also, trust me.

Now that all the rules have been clearly explained get out there and meet n greet your butts off!

See ya Monday!

Danny

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Roasted Vegetable Terrine with Mock Goat Cheese and Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

Diet & Weight Loss

What a fantastic recipe! So creative and nutritious- we can’t wait to try it! 🙂

The Calgary Beet

If you’re hosting over the holidays, you may have at least one friend or family member requesting a vegetarian or vegan meal option. This roasted vegetable terrine is festive and makes a rich and hearty vegan option for those on special diets. And it tastes divine – food from the Gods in my opinion! Don’t omit the smoked chipotle pepper – it adds such great flavour! 

There is nothing difficult about making this terrine but there are three separate components that come together to make this dish what it is – the tomato pesto, the nut cheese and the roasted vegetables. Each of the individual components can be made ahead, and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the terrine. Make the mock goat cheese first as it needs 24 hours to ripen. 

  IMG_6028

SERVES 8-10

Ingredients

  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper
  • 1 small eggplant, cut lengthwise into 14”…

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8 Modern Fitness Hacks That Are Making Your Workouts Easier

Diet & Weight Loss, Exercise

Avoiding exercise is like trying to avoid the tax man, it may be possible in the first instance, but both have unavoidable repercussions in the end!

We should all know that having a daily fitness regime will have a huge and positive impact on every aspect of our health. Most of us know that this can be difficult and even contemplating a jog around the block can seem like too much effort, but it is possible to go from your ‘Couch to 5k‘ within two to three months. It takes motivation, dedication and plenty of will power, and there are not any short cuts to getting in shape, but they are things that can help.

…So let’s look at some modern fitness hacks that are allowing us to lead healthier and easier lifestyles as a result!

 

Workout Kits

Apparel That Holds Your House Key!

Image: courtesy of Nike.com

Image: courtesy of Nike.com

Particularly during the summer months, I find that not all of my workout kit has appropriate pockets… so this hack is essential! Gone are the days where keys were placed under door mats, or in our shoes or sports bras! Modern key holders come in many forms, including:

  • Pouches that attach to your waistband or trainers (as shown above).
  • In the form of wristbands.
  • As part of your armband that holds your phone or Mp3 player.
  • Devices that allow your key to be clipped to your finger!

 There is something for every budget!

 

 

Specialised Sport Trainers!

saucony-ladies-hurricane-15-shoes

Image: courtesy of Barrington Sports

Personally, this modernisation has been a lifesaver! As an adult, I’ve felt the effects of having predominately flat feet; they’re great for swimming (ha!), but unfortunately nature is not very forgiving towards those that lack arches!

Specialised trainers have allowed me to enjoy the activities that I love whilst preserving my knee and hip joints. Variable to your sport and personal needs, they have really come a long way, both from a fitness and design perspective. When it comes to workout kits, you should only invest in the essentials (trainers being at the top of the list!). The phrase that I am familiar with goes like this, “spend £80 on your trainers and a fiver on your t-shirt”!

This is partially true, apart from the next couple of items.

Such as…

 

Sports Bras!

Image by: Heikki Siltala_Flickr

Whether you’re well-endowed or not, all bosoms need some TLC when it comes to sports and leading an active lifestyle! Expect to forgo at least £30 for anything decent. It’s a small price to pay considering what the alternative is, but can you really imagine a world without this fitness hack?!

 

sports-bra_BBC image

Image: courtesy of the BBC

The first sports bra was developed nearly 40 years ago! It was initially called ‘The JogBra‘, developed by Lisa Lindahl, Hinda Miller and Polly Palmer Smith. It’s certainly come a long way since then and our appreciation and recognition for this light-bulb moment has definitely not been loud enough!

Many major brands offer support to all shapes (big and small), even for nursing mothers.  However, a lot like well-used trainers, they will lose their shape and support over time (especially if you skip the handwash cycle girls!) and will need to be replaced…but this item is indeed priceless. No?

 

Specialised Clothing (and we’re not talking brand names)!

SION Apparel_Trapani_BSO_Flickr

Image by: SION Apparel_Flickr

Thermal or moisture absorbent tops, bottoms, socks and/or hats can be a lifesaver for die-hard runners and/or year-round fitness enthusiasts. Helping to regulate your body temperature and/or draw moisture away from your skin is a modern day fitness hack that most people take for granted. Definitely worth spending the pennies if it keeps you active and enjoying the outdoors all year round! Some general advice regarding fitness attire, wear something fun but skip the name brands unless it’s really offering you something of substance; the words ‘Do it!’ across your chest is free advertisement at best and only professional athletes reap the benefit of that one!

 

Fitness Aids

Image by: Fitness Crazy_Bosu Ball_Flickr

Fitness devices might sound ‘gimmicky’ to some, but I cannot stress enough the importance of a core (aka our back and abs) workout! Ever suffer the result of bad posture and/or weak core muscles? Well naturally slumping forward in a chair, being struck down with sciatica and/or slipping over wet rocks/leaves on a nature hike might ring a few alarm bells! Some of you might regularly practice yoga or Pilates, whilst the rest might be doing nothing or relying on these fitness aids! None the less, as we rely on our core for a variety of everyday movements, it’s especially important that we develop our own core workouts in order to improve our mobility, balance and overall muscle strength and fitness.

I was first introduced to this gismo over eight years ago and it was love at ‘first step’, particularity because I hate ‘standard’ sit-ups! It was an overdue awakening, highlighting that I was not truly as fit as I would like to think. It’s just so much fun too- no matter how silly I looked doing it!  How it works, you will simply wobble so much on it that you will really have to engage your core muscles, keeping them iron-tight so as not to wobble off!

The Bosu company provides a range of products (research before buying!), but the Bosu Ball offers a multitude of exercise platforms:

  • Dome side up: to build lower body strength, work on your core and for cardio workouts (which will have you in a pool of sweat)!
  • Platform side up: for upper body workouts and some ab work.

It’s great for all levels and if treated with respect, it can last a very long time! Unless you already have a rock-solid core, your legs will start to ‘shake like a leaf’ initially, but over time you will grow stronger and really feel and see the positive affects it has on your body (as long as you consistently use it!).

Thinking back, the infamous eighties ‘Pogo Ball’ (for those lucky enough to have one) got children active whilst strengthening their core muscles at the same time!

Now that's a happy face! :D Ignore the iconic stone wash jeans and '80's phrase shirt'.

Now that’s a happy face! 😀 Ignore the iconic 80’s stone wash jeans and ‘phrase shirt’.  Image by: Billy Lane_Flickr

 

 

Home Cardio & Strengthening Equipment 

Image: courtesy of Review-fr.com

This has always been an area of debate! Some might question why we would want to exercise indoors when we have nature on our doorstep (particularly those lucky enough to live near a lot green space or parks)?! Well sometimes it’s just not that clear cut; professional and/or personal circumstances (had a baby recently?!) don’t always allow us to have our dream or even the ideal and frequent workouts that we desire! Sadly, sometimes the things that we can afford (aka nature walks) do not offer’ the same benefits as, e.g. a cross trainer, some dumb bells and a yoga mat will.

I’ve owned my cross trainer for nearly four years and it’s been bliss, particularly for the times where I’ve finished work late, couldn’t afford leisure activity, the weather has been less than desirable or when I wanted a joint-friendly/diverse exercise; it’s really facilitated the momentum of my healthy lifestyle. I initially bought it and lost about ten pounds of laziness (bonus!) and it has not become a coat rack, dust magnet or a nuisance to my neighbours (its’ very quiet when in use)!

If you consider the cost of an average gym membership, it’s paid for its self in less than a year and a half (given that you use it frequently- and I have!).

My top tips, as long as you do try and make this your sole source of cardio and keep updating your music and the exercise programmes that you use on it, home exercise equipment is never boring.

Oh, and do not skip on doing some research before you invest in one!

 

 

‘You Got Music In Your Step (Literally Whenever You Feel Like It)’! 
Xnet Online_Flickr_Mp3_Mp4 Player

Image by:Xnet_Flickr

Kids today (yes, I’ve said it- I must be getting old!) don’t fully appreciate the handicaps of their predecessors! Walkman’s and portable CD players were not the best mediums for fitness (our struggle was very real)! Previous generations did not only endure the stress of manoeuvring them throughout their workout, with occasionally poor and inconsistent sound quality, but we had to source the music first! Recording music off the radio, creating ‘mix tapes’ or purchasing expensive CD’s ring any bells?? Torrent sites and Spotify were non-existent!

Ash Dowle_vintage sony walkman_flickr

Image by: Ash Dowle_Flickr

Mp3 players and modern mobiles that act as music players have limitless music supplies (ahem! large storage capabilities and internet connections!), enabling us to create timeless and/or addictive work-out playlists; not to mention that we can also source audio books to listen to whilst cycling at our local leisure centre (score!)

These devices are obviously a lot smaller and/or compact, making listening to music easy for everyone.

Some studies have shown that listening to music whilst working out can be moderately healthful… and I for one could not imagine workouts without music!

 

 The Internet
Computer screen macro

Image by: Cvrcak1_Flickr

The internet, for good or the bad can offer a huge range of information that can facilitate us with healthy eating and fitness hacks. Some areas of interest includes:

  • Your local markets for cheap produce and other food items.
  • Free workout videos (*but consult your GP before embarking on a new regime).
  • Food and fitness apps: making us accountable for our calories and fitness (as mentioned below!).
  • VLOGS: informative food prep and cooking instructions for all levels.
  • Blogs and health sites: that offers a tonne of free recipes and ‘health advice’. ****Click here for some tasty plant-based recipe ideas!****

In terms of health advice, just make sure to access quality information. For the love of God, use evidence-based information over someone’s opinion, pleaseee!

 

Fitness Trackers and Apps 
Karlis Dambrans_FitBit_Flickr

Image by: Karlis Dambrans_Flickr

For the tech-savvy or those that are motivated by having the facts and figures staring them straight in the face, these type of gadgets could possibly assist you in reaching your fitness goals and developing a more positive and permanent quality of life!

 Making yourself accountable for what you are eating (at the touch of a button!) and the rate at which you are ‘actually’ burning it off, could be the wakeup call and motivation that you need to make some informed choices about your health.

These devices and apps can aid a better workout (as some studies have shown) by tracking your fitness and helping you to meet your fitness goals. Personally, I think that  they could also help to bring out our competitive sides, pushing us to go on and be a healthier version of ourselves!

Unfortunately, unless you use them more often than none, it could end up being expensive paperweight.

 

The World Around Us Has Changed to Facilitate Our Health

Image: Eat2Health Blog Photography ©2015

It has been show that sitting for extended periods can have a negative effect on our health; it’s linked with chronic diseases and premature morality- as shown here.

Luckily the modern world has facilitated us to get off our bottoms by:

  • Modernised trails (some of which used to be rail lines, now allow for on-road and off-road cyclists and easy walking).
  • Modernised parks with free fitness equipment for all ages.
  • Free tennis and basketball courts (although we still need more!).
  • Dirt cheap and (occasionally 24 hour) gyms and leisure centres; some of which have childcare!

…just to name a few, all of which can help us to lead healthier lifestyles! #change4life

It’s also worth considering modern day architecture! Yes, odd structures and buildings, e.g. sports stadiums in the heart of our cities can allow us to make use of their design (and space) as part of our daily exercise regime.

Herrett_061015_0036 Steps leading to the new Arsenal Emirates Football Stadium London UK Copyright © Roberto Herrett. All rights reserved.

Image by: Roberto Herrett_Flickr

For instance, we used to run up and down the Arsenal Stadium’s front and posterior steps as part of our half marathon training (many moons ago)!

This particular stadium also allows for people to run or skate around it’s outside…just please do not do it when matches are on- unless you want possible confrontation with angry football fans!

And finally…

 

Inventive Workouts- Something for everyone!
Kevin__Flickr

Image by: Kevin_Flickr

I think that most people would agree that workouts have the nature of becoming very repetitive and boring. Changing our workouts is great for continued motivation, (keeping our sanity!) and partially because our body has an amazing ability to adapt, and exercising is no exception. Over time, doing our ‘go-to’ exercises over and over will decrease the effectiveness of our workouts. #weightlossplateau

This is why, if you are able, you should have a variety of strength and cardio workouts.

It’s a great feeling to do a new regime, testing our abilities and feeling ‘new muscles’… ones that might even keep us walking like a cowboy for three days! Yes, I’m sure we’ve all been there, the realisation that we have not utilised our inner thigh or glute muscles as much as we should of in the past. One sure solution, make sure you ‘stretch it out’ after each workout to help prevent your muscles from seizing up.

It’s worth looking at local bulletin boards or having a quick internet search; these should highlight a variety of fitness classes (there is something for everyone, no matter how young or old!) that should help to spruce up your current regimes.

If all else fails, you can literally exercise anywhere…

  • At your work desk: ‘glute flexing’ or bicep curls with water bottles anyone?!
  • In your kitchen: dance or do some squats whilst your waiting for the kettle to boil or your pasta to cook!
  • On your way to your local shops: speed walk or take longer strides… even break into full-blown lunges if you dare!
  • Whilst talking to your friends or family on your mobile: hands free options allow you to go lift some dumb bells and do leg lifts (Jane Fonda style if you like!).
  • Especially in front of the TV: cardio equipment or yoga poses can be easily positioned in front of your tube!
  • Utilising tried and true fitness hacks: walking whenever you can, e.g. getting off the bus, train or tube a couple of stops early, cycling to work, using the stairs instead of the lift or limiting the time spent in front of electronic devices.

Just go for it (30mins every 5/7 days if you can)! The only thing that can truly stop you from enjoying fitness and a healthy lifestyle is yourself…

…well, maybe your boss?! exercise with discretion!.

 

Sources:
NHS Choices
Nike.com
Flickr
BBC
Bosu.com
NCBI
Written by: L. Risby BSc Nutritionist

Saturated Fat: A Killer or Not?

Diet & Weight Loss

This is a topic that I have sat on for some time, mainly because the media have been all over it and opinions have been going back and forth. However, I was eventually drawn into writing this article because of an experience in my work recently; I was educating a group about fats and was interrupted by a patient stating that butter is good for us and I was wrong to tell people to avoid or limit it. They were quite insistent and it required all my diplomatic skills to respond and move past the point. Afterwards I reflected on the experience and realised that many people might feel this way due to the recent (relatively) debate around the effect of fat, especially saturated fats on heart health.

 

So what’s all the hype about saturated fats?!

You’re likely already aware but to summarise…fat has long been blamed for causing heart disease, and in particular saturated fat; international guidance pushed for a reduction in total fat and saturated fat intakes with swaps to unsaturated (poly and mono) fats. So far no surprises, but in the last couple of years rumblings began about the evidence behind this stance, and in short order several studies and meta analyses came out which appeared to contradict our long held beliefs(1,2,3); namely saturated fats have no impact on heart disease risk, and that the guidance on reducing fat intake was based on unfounded research!

Some commentaries and media organisations took this further and suggested we had been lied to or that the carbohydrates were the real killers.

 

So what’s the real story?

To preface, as a Dietitian (yes there is no C) I am required to follow evidenced-based guidelines and best practice, this can appear to sometimes lag behind the latest research and trends/fads but for a good reason.

I had heard the news stories and read up on the topic when the topic resurfaced over a year ago… but I didn’t change my practice or advice!  Why you might ask?

Well the obvious answer is because the guidelines haven’t changed; but maybe they’re lagging? Well, that’s where best practice can step in… but no, that hasn’t changed either and neither has my own personal opinion.

 

…Why not?  You ask.

 

It’s because of what the media missed (through no real fault of their own), is that the underlying message from the studies is that more research and evidence is needed before any real conclusion can be made, and certainly before guidance is changed. Such was the confusion that many of the authors of the studies issued statements to try and clarify the situation; from the British Heart Foundation:

At the moment UK guidelines encourage us to swap saturated fats for unsaturated fats. You might have seen reports about a recent study we helped to fund which suggests there’s not enough evidence to back the current UK guidelines on the types of fat we eat. We think more research is needed before suggesting any major changes to healthy eating guidance.

 

So what does this mean?

 

Well it might turn out that saturated fat isn’t as bad as we all feared but hold off on eating that bacon and cheese sandwich full of butter.

It would be unwise to think that the claims that saturated fat is healthier than we previously thought, provides some sort of answer to our current health crisis. If your already obese and don’t exercise, eating more saturated fat and less sugar is not going to solve your problems.

The issue is further complicated because our overall health is affected by many factors; saturated fats being only part of an equation that includes almost every diet related public health message out there.

 

Why is this?

1. For starters, we don’t eat foods in isolation and many people avoiding saturated fat replace them with equally unhealthy foods.

2.Secondly, fats are twice as high in kcals as other food groups and it’s easy to over consume on a high fat diet and become overweight or obese, which increases heart disease risk. As our national rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease show; with ischemic heart disease a leading cause of death in the UK.(4)

3. Thirdly, a diet high in animal products (a major source of saturated fats) can be a risk factor for cancer.

4. Finally, processed meat products are high in salt, which is a risk factor for heart disease.

 

For now though, the UK Guidance for a cardioprotective diet is:

  1. No more than 30% energy from fat and less than 7% from saturated fat/day*.
  2. Replace saturated fats with mono and polyunsaturated fats.
  3. Aim for 2 servings of oily fish per week.

 *66g of fat and 15g of saturated fat/day based on 2000Kcals.

 

The bottom line, don’t take news stories at face value and appreciate that scientific studies are designed to be read by scientists who can fully evaluate the results; that’s not to dissuade you from taking an interest and reading up on nutrition, and I would recommend the following article: Is butter really back? It was written by the school of public health at Harvard, which does a great job of explaining the situation.

 

 

Article written by: Alex Risby BSc, RD
Feature image source: Krivochenco_Flickr

 

References:
1: Patty W Siri-TarinoQi SunFrank B Hu, and Ronald M Krauss (2010). Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/91/3/535 (accessed May 2015)
2: Chowdhury et-al 2014. Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis, http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1846638 (accessed may 2015)
3:Harcombe et-al (2015).  Evidence from randomised controlled trials did not support the introduction of dietary fat guidelines in 1977 and 1983: a systematic review and meta-analysis:  http://openheart.bmj.com/content/2/1/e000196 (accessed may 2015)
4: ONS 2014.Mortality Statistics: Deaths Registered in England and Wales (Series DR), 2013 : http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/mortality-statistics–deaths-registered-in-england-and-wales–series-dr-/2013/stb-deaths-registered-in-england-and-wales-in-2013-by-cause.html#tab-Leading-Causes-of-Death-in-2013

Leading A Healthy Lifestyle & Weight Loss: A Personal Account

Diet & Weight Loss

When it comes to leading a better quality of life, we all have a journey, a story to tell, one that most can relate to… including mine. I am not searching for empathy or a pat on the back, nor am I trying to be your go-to health-nut guru. I’m just trying to express my views, my personal account of the pitfalls and harsh realities of weight loss and healthy living; an account that not everyone is capable of or willing to divulge. So, before you judge a book by its cover, let me tell you about some very candid personal truths.

 

Photo by: alyssa kirby_flickr

Photo by: Alyssa Kirby (Flickr)

I too can empathise with you…if you’re trying to lose weight…trying to find a balance of diet and exercise, or mindlessly eating without reflecting on the contents of your food. You may not believe it to look at me now, but I too have overcome my own personal demons and moved on with my life.

I’m someone who could put on and lose weight fairly easily- if I put the effort into it; whether it is eating too many snacks, having frequent/large portions or exercising 4-5 times a week with sensible meal planning. Genetically speaking, I am predisposed to a number of ailments….but so is everybody else…but this doesn’t mean that my health or future is completely mapped out.

Avoiding type two diabetes, heart disease, stroke and obesity is in my hands; I do not wish to live a life dictated by chronic illness and prescribed medications.

 

As our blog has mentioned before, we all have to take personal accountability; there is always a price to pay for lack of awareness and ignorance. Obviously one shoe does not fit all… but we can all take similar steps to lead healthier lives; as we’ve mentioned in a previous article in January.

There were periods in my life where my weight yo-yoed. I’ve never been clinically overweight or obese, but my BMI was 24.5kg/m2; the cusp of being overweight.  Some may think that it’s not that significant, but the revelation of deciding to change is the same…no matter what weight you are.

 

The truth is a bad diet, lack of exercise, or trying to out exercise a bad diet wreaks havoc on mental and physical health…and I was caught up in this vicious circle like all the other serial dieters…up until about my mid-twenties.

Photo by: Rose Waterman_Flickr

Photo by: Rose Waterman (Flickr)

During this time I tried these types of diets/ideas:

-A Very-Low Calorie Diet (VLCD)
-High protein, low carbs (or more commonly known as ‘Atkins’)
-Loads of exercise, low calorie but a high protein intake
-No-sugar, low-fat
-A Smoothie/juice cleanse

 

I don’t need to tell you that these types of fad diets are all rubbish and some are potentially dangerous… and for good reason. Obviously this was before I saw sense, took responsibility and of course when off to university to study human nutrition.

 

Photo by: Katherine of Chicago_Flickr

Photo by: Katherine of Chicago (Flickr)

I took a dogmatic approach towards health, an all or nothing view, and I could never find a healthy and happy medium; a common mind-set I’m sure.

I am not even going to try and justify why I attempted any of these regimes… because I can’t and equally I know the reasons why these diets did not work; I didn’t and couldn’t comply with them (especially long term) and I did not educate myself on portion sizes and general healthy eating. I just bought into the same hype a lot of young health-enthusiasts do, e.g. carbohydrates are bad, don’t eat after 5pm, everybody juice! and your body needs to be detoxed; nonsense. These types of myths and poor insight still exist which fuels similar diets; check out our article on  gluten free diets.

I also bought into media images; this was before the massive trend of social media and the dreaded skinny selfies…and perhaps there was less fat shaming and instant victimisation of those that were not a size two as a result, perhaps not? But I think that seeing any picture of yourself (fat or thin), or of a thin celebrity, when your mindset is that skewed can bring it all home and produce black and white thinking; creating distorted body images and a shit storm of dieting. It’s funny though, when I look at some of those pictures now- I wonder what I was complaining about?!

 

None of these types of behaviours or drastic thinking sat comfortably with me, and taking my health into my own hands without being properly informed only meant one thing, doomed to start again! Whether that be in a week, a fortnight or in a month’s time….and I don’t know about you, but I was tired of it and completely aware that it was my own fault. I needed to take a step back and analyse ‘what was the driving force behind my behaviours’… what steps did I need to take in order to change… and who do I turn to for some sound advice?

Photo by: Oliver Symens_Flickr

Photo by: Oliver Symens (Flickr)

 

When it comes to weight loss, there are some that say “I’ve tried everything and nothing has worked”…well it’s because they are going about weight loss the wrong way and potentially they’re not dealing with any underlying (personal) issues. The dynamics of weight loss and good nutrition isn’t complicated, but humans are… by nature we can over complicate everything! If more of us would just comply with our healthcare professional’s advice, we would see results…this might sound trite, but it’s true; sadly (healthy & permanent) weight loss won’t happen overnight, and it takes complete compliance and most of all patience…so don’t be too hard on yourself.

As I have mentioned in a previous article, there are too many reasons to be fit and healthy, but ultimately it’s just easier to take the whole healthy lifestyle approach and just run with it! No more fad diets, no more excuses.

Photos by (starting from top left/clockwise): Sam (Flickr), Mikey Sklar (Flickr), Nadyana Magazine (Flickr) & Karyn Bosnak (Flickr).

 

From June last year my husband I started to adopt a vegan lifestyle, but we still ate fish on occasion; that aspect has now diminished. Doing this really helped give my whole outlook on food (ethically and medically) and my health a ‘full 360°’; I never thought my digestion would improve so much, or that I would be able to get off the unpleasant ‘sugar-train’… and now I have. If you’re worried that your vitamin and mineral levels will decline, then don’t. A recent blood test showed my iron and Vitamin B12 levels were thriving; plant-based lifestyles are sustainable! Check out our article on Plant-based proteins for more persuasion and read our articles on Supplements and ‘Superfoods’ before you part with your cash! I’m not saying that this type of approach is suitable for everyone, but countless studies offer evidence to support it. Check out our article on veganism to help you digest some further reasons why people might adopt this type of lifestyle. As always, everybody should consult with their health care professionals before making any drastic changes to their health.

 

As far as healthy eating goes and what foods to buy- everybody has their own individual considerations. Social media, time, cooking skills and affordability can all dictate and influence what we will choose to buy, e.g. buying ground flaxseed may be expensive to some but not for others…and that goes for just about anything on the supermarket shelves.

Photo by: Thinkpanama_flickr

Photo by: Thinkpanama (Flickr)

 

…But I’m telling you right now, everyone can eat healthily on a low-income. We did it when we were students and we do it now because we’re frugal and trying to prevent food wastage! The ‘frugal diet’ can put everything into perspective. Try checking out some of our recipes!

Plant-based diets are relatively cheap; on average, we spend £50-70/week (and I’m sure we could reduce it further if we tried). This feeds two people (three meals and one a snack a-day/ 7 days a week). As long as you meal plan, then there really isn’t a problem…and hey, anything to prevent food wastage right? BBC1 has recently started a miniseries on healthy eating & food wastage (Eat Well for Less?); assisting families with how much they spend on the weekly shops by encouraging them to do more of their own food prep (and therefore improve their health), eliminating brand biases (sometimes value brands are OK!) and reducing their food wastage through meal planning; very apt and things everyone should reflect on. It’s also worth checking out thecountyfare.net, they have written a great article recently that touches on meal planning; definitely worth a read. What’s in your supermarket basket? Are you making the most of you pennies? Do your current choices depict your current health status? That reminds me of a post  the Life is Good blog put out last year; check it out!

 

Photo by: Diabetes Care_Flickr

Photo by: Diabetes Care (Flickr)

 

I know, sometimes jumping through these hoops is quite mundane, especially when it comes to chopping vegetables and potentially spending a chunk of your Sunday prepping for the week ahead…but it is worth it in the end.

It’s the same with exercise, it’s something that we should all partake in…but do you opt for more sitting and serial munching or walking and eating healthily? Your waistline and your overall disposition will reflect your choices. A recent article I saw on the blog ‘The Zeit‘, emphasises how we all should have a healthier relationship with exercise; don’t use it as an escape from your problems. By doing this, exercise can fast turn into a chore and a military style punishment…but I was guilty of this. Guilty of pounding the pavement to forget or suppress unpleasant feelings or events…. Pounding the pavement (at times) to try to out exercise a bad diet! I started running when I was nineteen and quickly clocked up a lot of mileage. Unfortunately my knees aren’t built for long term running, but that’s besides the point. I have now developed a healthier relationship with exercise too.

Photo by: Patrick Marella_Flickr

Photo by: Patrick Marella (Flickr)

 

We should all remember, the three P’s: patience, persistence and a positive attitude, along with having the ability to stay motivated and applying/adapting realistic expectations into our health and well-being. This outlook will carry you through to help you meet your weight loss goals and guide you into that permanent healthier lifestyle that you desire.

We have to remember that were only human and we’re all fallible; even those with health credentials smoke, drink and can be generally hypocritical with the health advice they supply us with.

Life is there to be lived and we all need to find a healthy balance; negative thoughts and filling our heads with nonsensical information isn’t living. We just end up punishing ourselves through gruelling exercise and nightmare eating regimes, making life a lot harder than it needs be.

 

So…

  • Don’t set yourself up to fail…
  • Don’t torture yourself over small mistakes (this journey is not perfect)…
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help (especially if you feel a bit blue or recognise that you are an emotional eater)…
  • Don’t give up too easily. It can take time to develop a permanent and healthy relationship with food and/or exercise again… to be able to ‘trust your body’…
  • Don’t take everything at face value, whether that be about what you read about health or how you feel; people can be quite good at suppressing emotions…stiff upper lip and all…

…just follow attainable and informed/accredited health advice and remember to embrace life.

 

This may just be only one person’s opinion and personal account… but I am offering you some informed advice that will hopefully set you up for life and prevent you from making the same mistakes that I’ve made; some of my thoughts and experiences may resonate with you…or you may choose to ignore them…

Just remember though that healthy living and healthy weight loss is achievable, and there is nothing to be ashamed of; I got there and so can you.

 

 

Article written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist
Feature image by: Katherine Of Chicago (Flickr)

“Tread with Caution- Gluten-Free Is a Fad” A Reader Response

Diet & Weight Loss

Hello everyone! Thank you for taking some time out of your busy schedule today and stopping by our blog! Before you begin to read this post, please visit our friends over at theCountyfare.net. They’re a lovely, family-orientated nutrition-based site fully supporting and supplying everyone with evidence-based nutrition advice. They wrote this fantastic article on Gluten-Free (GF) diets last week that prompted us to write a response… only it turns out we actually had a lot to say!

Which is exactly what’s brought you to our blog today; this post shows our views and mutual agreements with thecountyfare concerning gluten-free diets.

Before we continue, we would like to quote thecountyfare regarding this topic “…I want to make very clear that one’s being incorrect on or unaware of the underlying science does not make him a bad person or a dumb person….I hope no one will take this article as a personal criticism – I’m attempting to criticize an idea here.”

 

Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let’s get chatting!

 

 

Firstly, we would like to say what an outstanding post guys! To sum it up in one word… Agreed! For non-coeliac sufferers, the ‘gluten free diet’ is a fad.

You only need to enter the search terms: gluten free diet + weight loss into an internet browser to see how out of control another fad diet has become. Is it unprecedented? …No.

When it comes to nutrition people seem to think that just because we all eat, we can all be experts and everybody has an opinion and sometimes strong convictions. Unfortunately these opinions can be born out of ignorance and misinformation which is often the result of cyclic promotion amongst outspoken individuals, who resort to the online equivalent of playground yelling with their dime a dozen SEO snippets.

The truth of the matter is that there are too many people supplying us with unregulated health advice.

 

Gluten Free Diets And Weight Loss

Anyone opting for a ‘gluten free diet’ as a weight loss tool will ultimately lose weight by reducing kcals. Here’s what the British Dietetic Association (BDA) says in their article entitled “Top 5 Worst Celebrity Diets To Avoid in 2014” in which Gluten free Diet was number 3 “While important for those with coeliac disease … there is no credible published research showing that a gluten-free diet per se leads to weight loss in those without.”

 

What a gluten free diet can do is make it easier to lose weight because it can be very restrictive; but this isn’t a good thing:

1. A lot of people will cut out staple carbohydrate sources going down this path, e.g. pasta, breads, cereals etc. but do not find suitable replacements…possibly because they think they need to buy like-for-like (but GF products are pricy, so they don’t)…however, legumes, pulses, potatoes, millet, buckwheat, rice etc. are all naturally GF folks.

 

2. People typically end up cutting out a lot of processed foods in the process, e.g. all of their usual take-aways, cakes, biscuits and doughnuts etc. become off limits; empty calories that would normally expand anyone’s waistline become a thing of the past. However, there are always exceptions; people might substitute cakes for GF ones or make GF / ‘Paleo desserts’ themselves, some of which are full of coconut flour and sugar (this completely contradicts the Paleo diet in the first place!). We’re adamant that you wouldn’t see any cave men hunting ‘cakes’ or grinding up coconuts into flour and refining sugar in order to bake a cake in their imaginary ovens!

 

3. For reasons mentioned above! This new restrictive diet can be a tool for those with disordered eating behaviours (and possibly a full blown eating disorder) to fashionably lose weight under the pretence that they have gluten intolerance. Apart from medical professionals, who is willing or capable of challenging their views and diet? As one of these medical professionals I can tell you it’s not easy.

 

 

Responding To thecountyfare’s Article

Nutrition Is A Science…

(One that we have both studied) and it needs to be respected. We need to refer to evidence and studies to form relevant arguments and points as is made clear in the article by thecountyfare.

Frustratingly, even with the structured evidence that science provides, people will continue to have polarised views on what’s healthy and how they should live their lives; shutting down conversations that make them uncomfortable and/or where they are unable to back up their views with anything substantial and/or relevant.

Some people will unfortunately always argue science, even when it’s in black and white; a lot of people do not like facing change.  As mentioned, science isn’t perfect, nor does it have all the answers…but some people (when approached with new concepts) will always react as if there is some conspiracy taking place.

Most people are perfectly happy to use prescribed medications, despite the fact that almost all the research on them has been carried out by the companies that intend to sell them to us. So calling into question the ethics of researchers in nutritional subjects is a little hypocritical; whatever happened to approaching things carte blanche?

Understandably we should question the motives of the researchers and investigate possible vested interests, but it would be grossly unfair to dismiss out of hand decades of research just because of who may or may not have picked up the cheque.

 

‘Weight Loss And Feeling Better’

The ‘Paleo guy’ would have undoubtedly lost weight on a diet that was low kcal, low-fat, high protein and low G.I, and we’re sure he would have felt better (losing 60lbs would do that!).  However, the concept of feeling better than 10 years ago is such an ambiguous and subjective statement that it’s rendered almost meaningless; with the foibles that memory has, you can’t compare the state of your mind in this way over the course of one month let alone a decade.  This is one reason why subjective measurements in research are always considered second rate to physiological measurements, i.e. blood tests.  This is linked to the ‘nocebo effect’ that was discussed.

 

‘I’m Getting Everything I Need’

thecountyfare makes another good point, unless this guy has blood tests or strictly monitors and analyses his diet, he cannot evaluate his overall diet/health with confidence- no one can. In the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) will only request vitamin and mineral analysis on an ‘as needs basis’ and only if you can convince your GP, so the majority of people will not have these types of tests; you’ll be lucky if they go for routine blood tests. Unfortunately people seem to take matters into their own hands and do their best to avoid healthcare professionals and needles!

Now some people may use nutritional databases such as the USDA one here  and calculate their nutritional intake, but this is very time consuming and to further complicate matters there is the issue of bioavailability and optimal absorption;  put simply, this is how well micronutrients are digested and made available for use.

The body tightly regulates the absorption of some to prevent toxicity, which can mean high dose supplementation is a waste of money.  Even from food sources micronutrient absorption can be impaired by competing micronutrients and other foodstuffs, not to mention that some micronutrients come in different forms depending on the food they are found in and these forms are absorbed at different rates.  To call the matter complex is an understatement but it does highlight why you can’t be blasé when claiming ‘to get all you need’.

 

Gluten Free Promotion

The science is there to support why people need to be GF (as a coeliac) but not as a ‘gluten free fad’. As it stands, people’s lives seem to be governed by GF propaganda and overpriced GF products; there is no need for this. As thecountyfare mentioned, there seems to be a monopoly over who sells what.  It’s ridiculous how many GF products are now available; it’s true, companies saw a market and now they are cashing in… on people’s concerns and laziness.

These companies have also started producing products that are not only GF but dairy free (DF), egg free (EF) and/or  Vegan (V) as well, in the hope that their products will ‘appear’ even healthier. Unfortunately some of us might not realise that something that is GF, DF, EF and/or V can still be unhealthy and inappropriate. This can confuse the matter and adds to these ‘diet trends’.

 

Seek Advice

Living in ignorance about your health isn’t bliss and nor is pretending you have all the answers. For example, a simple blood test for coeliac disease could provide a diagnosis (if someone has enough antibodies), but the gold standard is still a bowel biopsy (at least in the UK).

For those that have symptoms and are concerned, the worst course of action (as with all health conditions) is to self-diagnose and self-treat, due to the risk of misdiagnosis, e.g. putting yourself on a GF diet for six months and then paying a visit to your doctor to request blood tests. This would be an exercise in futility; blood tests would show a skewed result because there would be fewer antibodies present, giving you a false negative; this might result in you having a more cavalier approach to a GF diet, rather than the total exclusion required.

We’re not saying gluten intolerances do not exist and the studies mentioned in the article raise some interesting points (especially regarding FODMAPs), people just need to seek their healthcare professional’s advice. Unfortunately, using Google (other search engines are also available!), fad diet books or your own hypochondria to base health decisions on is not a great idea.  We agree that it’s incredibly irritating and potentially harmful if these people start spreading their misguided information regarding nutrition; this is where fads of eating 100 bananas a day come from. We wish people would stop producing ‘trendy diets’ and that celebrities could make do with one less wheelbarrow full of cash and stop endorsing them!

Coeliac disease is a complex topic, and one we won’t go into now; we plan to write about it on our own blog in the future.

 

Our Closing Thoughts

We would like to mention that we have never advocated a trending ‘gluten free diet’, but we do offer it as a choice through our recipes because as we have mentioned, coeliac disease is a very real condition. The quality of GF products haven’t been the best in the past and everyone should be encouraged to bake/cook from scratch (these are essential life skills for a healthy lifestyle/healthy living) whether you have a food allergy or not.

Adapting any alternative lifestyle (especially going WFPB) requires you to plan ahead; making sure your diet is nutritionally adequate. People need to reflect on the choices they make; are they making informed ones? …What is influencing their decisions?

Every pill, supplement or diet going isn’t necessary going to produce the life-changing results they desire, it may also be inappropriate and isn’t necessarily backed by scientific evidence; although companies like to take snippets from studies sometimes out of context to sell products.

 

So thecountyfare is right folks, tread with caution indeed.

 

Article written by:
Alex Risby BSc, RD and Lynn Risby BSc, Nutritionist

Crisps: Is There A Healthy Choice? (Plus Healthy Snack Ideas!)

Diet & Weight Loss

Crisps, potato chips-no matter what we call them, our love affair with them is all the same. Some of us crave an endless list of flavours and varieties; whether they’re baked, deep fried, or kettle cooked … how healthy are they? …And if this is your savoury snack of choice, are you aware of its nutritional consequences?

 

Put those down… and don’t roll your eyes, this is good advice! Photo by: Colette_Flickr

Crisps are notorious for contributing to our daily recommended fat and salt intakes and it’s been shown in a UK government poll that 1/3 of British children (8-15 years) consume crisps on a daily basis; children are led by our example remember?!

That’s a rather disturbing thought considering the current rise in childhood obesity  and how many packets people probably consume per year. Having a standard pack of crisps every day equates to having nearly 3L of oil per year!

 

High intakes of salt can lead to raised blood pressure and cause bloating, whilst high intakes of fat can cause raised cholesterol levels, obesity and other chronic diseases. Those with existing underlying health conditions, or those that are very young or even pregnant have even more of a reason to adhere to healthy eating guidance; for you constipation suffers, excessive intakes will only exacerbate matters. For help on how to distinguish high fat and salt contents on food labelling, check out my other article on ‘5 Steps To Cut Down On Sugar & Why You’ll Be Happier for it! for FSA links.

 

So how have companies responded to increased health warnings? Some have created alternative snacks in their range, e.g. popcorn, whilst others have come out with supposedly healthier varieties, e.g. ‘baked not fired’, ‘70% less fat’, or ‘vegetable-based crisps’ etc. You can see why some companies may be reluctant to do this at first; it would mean that they would have to admit that there current product is inferior…perhaps not so healthy after all??

 

 There are various types of crisp sold in the U.K. Some example include:
McCoy's_Crisps_wikipedia

Look at what’s happened to this lovely, innocent potato! Why do they have crinkles? Did the dip companies request these? Is it another ‘food conspiracy’? Like when we were kids and would have to fight over hot dogs buns because the hot dog bun company would always sell an odd number of buns compared to the actual hot dogs?! …But I have digressed- look at these greasy crisps …or potato chips for all the North American viewers out there!

  • Kettle cooked
  • Preformed & processed crisps
  • Baked crisps
  • Corn based crisps
  • Root Vegetable crisps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So is there a ‘healthy’ option when it comes to crisps?

Let’s review some current brands and see…

 

 

An Average ‘Brand Name’ Serving And How They Weigh Up!

 

The Walkers ‘Baked’ and ‘Pop’ varieties in addition to the ‘POP’ brand & the Plain ‘Doritios’ chips (in a 25g portion) …and perhaps arguably the ‘SunBites’ seem to run ahead of the game as ‘healthier’ (and lower fat) options go, but as with any food its best to eat it in moderation- which doesn’t necessarily mean, every day, every other day or a once a week. NB: The Walkers ‘POP’ & ‘POP’ brand sells their product in a slightly smaller bag/portion size than other name brands. 

This also exposes the circulating myth of ‘kettle crisps’; although the cooking method may technically be ‘healthier’ as conventional cooking methods for crisps oxidises the cooking oil (creating free radicals)… but all you have to do is look at the nutritional information. Kettle crisps do not seem to be any healthier than the traditional crisps.

At the end of the day, potato crisps may provide a source of vitamin C, some B-vitamins and also potassium and vitamin E (from the cooking oil)… but on the other hand they provide us with fat, salt and calories.

 

If you can’t get on with the ‘healthier’ crisp options, try having your favourite type in ‘moderation’ or maybe you could give one of the healthy snack alternatives a try?

 

 

Healthier Savoury Snack Options
  • A portion of unsalted almonds, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, or some mixed nuts.
  • Pretzels (unsalted).
  • Baked and seasoned chickpeas, wasabi peas or any other type of legume.
  • Homemade dip, houmous or a savoury yoghurt, e.g. plain yoghurt with fresh herbs and lemon juice, maybe garlic served with crudités  or crackers/wholemeal pitta slices etc.

There are so many types of dips and houmous to choose from, e.g. butter bean, black bean, chickpeas, beetroot, sweet potato, sun dried tomato, artichoke etc!

 

  • Homemade popcorn with seasoning, e.g. a little salt or pepper, cumin, turmeric, paprika or whatever takes your fancy instead of a tonne of salt, sugar, oil or butter.

 

Looks like some sort of  popcorn & crisp slumber party?! You get the idea though-healthier snacks anyone?! Smiley lady not included. Photo by: Wojciech Grzejdziak_Flickr

 

  • Homemade black bean salsa with toasted pitta wedges.
  • Homemade (low-fat) vegetable crisps.
  • Celery sticks with a low-fat cream cheese or some natural(unsalted) nut/seed butter.
  • Some low-fat/salt flavoured rice cakes/crackers.
  • Low-salt corn cakes.
  • Some plain (low-salt, unsalted) rice or oat cakeswith a natural nut butter or low-fat cream cheese with slices of cucumber/tomato.

—>Add apple, grapes, pineapple, strawberries if you prefer a sweeter version!

 

  • A portion of low-fat cheese(30g/matchbox size) and (low-sodium) crackers.

    For all you non-vegans out there- here is a cheese platter. Photo by: Alpha_Flickr

     

  • Cheese on toast! Use some low-fat cheese on multi-grain toast.
  • A portion of olives (approx. 10, depending on type). If in brine, rinse before eating.
  • ‘Mini pizza to go’! Use ½ an English muffin, a small pitta bread or a toritilla wrap with a 1 tsp. of tomato sauce or puree, fresh or dried herbs, some veggies and 15g of low-fat cheese.
  • 2 pieces of sushi or ‘faux ‘sushi (tofu and/or vegetable).
  • A healthy homemade version of ‘egg  or tuna mayo’ on wholegrain crisp breads/wheat crackers.
  • A small portion if cherry or baby plum tomatoes, feta cheese, balsamic vinegar, oregano or basil, seasoning and olive oil.

 

Yum! Lovely tomatoes. Photo by: Jacqueline_flickr

 

  • A small portion of tuna or seasoned tofu, white beans, e.g. butter, kidney, cannellini etc and a homemade vinaigrette dressing.
  • Small, homemade, grilled stuffed mushrooms (a little low-fat spread and cheese, green onions, herbs of choice, diced red pepper and bread crumbs) or try a nut or meat version if preferred.
  • 2-3 homemade bilinis with a little horseradish paste, smoked mackerel or tofu and a slice of red pepper or cucumber.

 

 

*For help with healthy portions, check out my portion sizes article !

 

This picture speaks for itself…someone has set this child a bad example and the world has gone mad! Photo by: Foundations UK_Flickr

It’s like they say with anything, keep to eating in ‘moderation’, have suitable portion sizes and realistic views about your food!

 

Whenever you pick up a packet of standard crisps, think about the 100-150 empty’ calories you’ll be consuming; of which 72+ will come from fat! Whilst eating an apple will provide you with much needed vitamins, some minerals, soluble fibre and lovely anti-oxidants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The choice is yours; just make it an informed one!

 

 

Article written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist
Feature image by: Loay Tattan_Flickr

A New Year’s Resolution: Weight Loss & Healthy Living

Diet & Weight Loss

Well, it’s that time of year again…yes, where everyone reflects on the previous year and contemplates changes; weight loss and creating healthier lifestyle choices normally making it into the ‘top ten’! Perhaps its your New Year’s resolution? Are you feeling hyped and positive going into 2015? … All ready with your new ‘kick-ass’ healthy-living regime to create a healthier you?! Perhaps you are now the ‘master of your temple’ and no one is going to stand in your way…not even yourself? If you answered yes, what is your plan of action?

 

Photo by: Israel Byrne_Flickr

Weight loss and living a healthier lifestyle should resonate further than a ‘New Year’s resolution’ though… because we deserve that much right? To be healthy and happy for more than 2-3 months of the year? Of course we do! But if you think it’s a simple process, think again (I’m not saying this to discourage you, I just think it’s better to be open and honest). If it was easy to lose and maintain weight loss, there wouldn’t be such an obesity epidemic!

 

Negative behaviours learnt over decades can take ages for us to convert into positive ones…but it is possible. It’s not a perfect system and we have to be able to accept the highs with the lows of this new journey that we’re about to embark on… and of course, how weight loss works. For example, I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet”…well you can’t change unhealthy habits until you can explain and accept what is causing them in the first place either!

 

Successful weight loss stems from a combination of controlling your actions & emotions…

 

The 5 Building Blocks For Successful Weight Loss

  1. Motivation: You might of have had a recent health scare or received unsolicited comments from your family or friends… but unless you are motivated for healthy changes and a better quality of life (maybe this requires you to ask for help & support?), you’re not going to change your unhealthy habits…period!
  1. Exercise regime: Firstly, do something you enjoy, your more likely to stick to it. Making time to exercise (with a realistic schedule) will aid weight loss and create a healthier body and mind; check out my previous article for fitness guidance. The more you exercise…the better you’ll feel….and eventually you’ll start seeing positive changes that will motivate you to keep it up…but you know that this is only part of the healthy living/weight loss equation.
  1. Healthy Diet: Weight loss requires a daily reduction of calories. You can’t out exercise a bad diet…. So do not treat your body like a human dust bin and expect to be the epiphany of good health! Do you know anyone that spends an hour in the gym a few times a week and still eats takeaways, sweets and drinks alcohol because they think they have created the perfect energy balance? How do they look? Are they a model for healthy living?

Calories in vs. calories burned folks! Even if you reduce your calories throughout the week and have a big ‘blow-out’ (you know, the “I allow myself to eat anything for a day”)…might be enough to undo all your hard work! To loss 1Lb a week you must burn 3500kcal through diet and exercise….so everything in moderation. Enough said!

4. Self-analysis: It’s your rational, explanation and acceptance ….why are you overweight? Why are you changing your lifestyle? If your emotions are running high they can reek havoc on your lifestyle choices… not addressing your: overeating at meals, how your emotions trigger mindless eating, secret binge habits that are possibly followed by hours of exercise to try and counteract it, or induced vomiting will not create the ideal environment for change….you are more likely to fall back into old lifestyle regimes.

You can’t expect weight loss to make you happy (thin or overweight, everyone has problems and concerns) and equally you cannot eat to try and suppress your emotions…

It’s important to address your mental health. Your mind is essential organ like everything else. If your heart or kidneys were sick, would you not seek intervention? Why not do the same in this instance?

  1. Commitment: You love the results, but do you know how to keep the momentum going? You have to plan ahead to help instil your positive lifestyle changes and commit to making these changes ‘permanent’; keep them small and practical to keep yourself motivated!

 

 

 

10 Reasons Why Weight Loss Regimes Fail

Photo by: Anitarium Nutrition Team_Flickr

 

 

1. You do not take the time to plan ahead, e.g. preparing healthy lunches, making time for  exercise, meditation etc.

2. Unrealistic goals/expectations: being too fixated on numbers or body shapes, e.g. losing a stone in one week and wanting to look like a super model is non-sense, as is assuming dieting alone will rid you of fat and cellulite.

3. Your emotions: Not trying to fix/address the underlying reason(s) why you are fat, overweight, unhappy etc and thinking weight-loss will make you instantly happy.

4. Lack of knowledge: about healthy foods/portion sizes and exercise.

5. Lack of support and/or pressure from: family, friends, work colleagues and the media (a.k.a horrible gossip magazines pushing the latest skinny celeb!)

6. Refusing to incorporate exercise.

7. Too restrictive! Not eating enough and the lack of nutrients will cause hunger and inevitably, unhealthy food cravings & binges takes over.

8. Undesirable physical side-effects, e.g. G.I problems (constipation, diarrhoea, bad breath) or mental decline (fatigue, irritability, brain fog, headaches or mood swings) due to (see number 7!).

9. You make the age-old mistake…you view it as just another fad diet or crazy ‘detox’ and not a lifestyle change.

10. Cheating in the kitchen, e.g. relying on ready meals or convenience foods (even ‘weight watcher’ ones) and do not try to learn essential cooking skills to maintain a healthy lifestyle (beyond your initial weight loss) through the acquired knowledge of ‘healthy foods and portion sizes’.

 

Ways to stay motivated, kick-butt & keep living a healthier lifestyle!

 

Weight Loss & Healthy Living Tools

Photo by: Yacine Amirl Flickr

 

  • Embrace changes and the lows and highs of your journey.
  • Ultimately we are our own worse enemies when it comes to sticking to healthy lifestyles… so stop making excuses and standing in the way of your own success!
  • Keep a weight loss diary. Record your food intakes, moods, exercise and body measurements. This can allow you to reflect on changes, possible set-backs and what stimulates your food choices.
  • Exercise! Make a plan, whether it’s using your local leisure centre, walking to work, only using stairs and not the escalator or a running app on your mobile to help motivate you….
    • Eat a healthy breakfast: set your mind, body and metabolism up for the best day possible!

      Photo by: Brent Hofacker Flickr

 

  • Knowledge of healthy foods and where to source them in your local town. Try cooking in advance, prepare your own lunches and snacks to avoid temptations at work.
  • Kitchen essentials: to prepare and  store healthy foods, e.g. tupperware, a blender, slow cooker, food processor, low-fat cookbooks etc.
  • Do not use foods at ‘treats’. Save for a holiday, new clothes, a down payment on a house….create positive choices and reinforcements (that will not cause weight gain) and reduce negative temptations and old habits.
  • Keep temptations out of the house! Its simple and the so many of us can vow for this (myself included). Its all about portion control …and sometimes that means making something very scarce!
  • No restrictive ‘diets’! Eat an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables and source: lean meats, fish, nuts, legumes, pulses and whole grains. Why not even try going vegetarian or vegan for a month? Veganuary anyone?! 

    Photo by: Helga Weber Flickr

 

  • Have a ‘Stress Outlet’, e.g. meditation, dance class, a spa day with your friends…something that will distress your mind and body…balancing hormones, mood, diet & a better quality of sleep= weight loss.
  • Create a support network! Have one in place consisting of friends, family, your GP, dietitian or recognised nutritionist or even weight loss club etc. It needs to consist of the people that are going to encourage, motivate and offer you support with your new journey!
  • Bedtime routines! Eat your main meal 2-3 hours before bed, wind down 1-2 hours before bed and create the perfect temperature, lighting etc. in your bedroom that will enable an ideal night’s rest (preferably for 7-8 hours!).
  • Read daily/weekly, do puzzles! Keep your mind active and prevent mental decline!
  • Photo by: Paul Bence Flickr

  • Being mindful of existing medical conditions, e.g. diabetes, PCOS, heart disease. Learn how to support and treat them through healthy lifestyle interventions.
  • Focus on body measurements rather than what your bathroom scale says.
  • Give your old, ’fat’ clothes to a charity shop because you won’t be needing them anymore!
  • Keep hydrated! Check out my other article for quick tips on hydration. 
  • Health ‘M.O.T’s’: Try and overcome any fear of needles and get your cholesterol, blood glucose and standard blood work checked… because ignorance isn’t bliss.

    Photo by: Gemanji Flickr

  • Don’t be afraid to say ‘NO’ to people! Whether it’s to their office baked goods or meeting them after work at a pub…especially if it interferes with your new lifestyle choices, e.g. tell them you’ll meet them for a quick bite after you go for your nightly jog! If they have a problem with this, then its something that they can reflect on….maybe they will realise they should be exercising more themselves!!

 

Major life changes…whether it’s weight loss, creating healthy living habits, planning for a family or saving for a house….these major milestones/events all require planning because they face potential hurdles, hardships and problem solving ahead!

If you stumble at the first hurdle, just pick yourself up from that moment and move ahead. Do not dwell on your failures; people are always too quick (by nature) to put themselves down. Praise yourself every step along the way and remember nothing is impossible if you really desire and work hard for it….especially now that you have the tools for success!

 

If you have any questions regarding the following information, please feel free to drop us a line.

 

Thank you for all of your kind thoughts and support this year. 

 

Article written by: Lynn Risby
Feature image by: Faycel fx_Flickr

Iron: Understanding & Supporting Healthy Intakes

Diet & Weight Loss

Most of us have been told that iron, especially in the form of spinach (think Popeye!) ‘gives us muscles and makes us strong’! Although I’m sure vegetables were the last thing I was thinking about when I was five!  However, when it comes to understanding the importance of iron’s role and making sure we have a healthy intake of it- how does your knowledge and diet weigh up?!

 

 

Photo by: Kalli McCleary Flickr

Photo by: Kalli McCleary Flickr

The human body contains 2-4mg of iron (men usually and naturally have higher levels); approximately two-thirds is found in Haemoglobin (Hb).

Haemoglobin is a protein found in our red blood cells that: carry oxygen around our body, mygoglobin in our muscles and it also gives it its red colour; myogloblin accepts, stores, transports and releases oxygen.

The body uses iron to make Hb. A protein called transferrin binds to iron and transports it around the body. Without enough iron, our organs and tissues become starved for oxygen.

 

Iron-Deficiency Anemia By: Ed Uthman Flickr

Ferritin is another protein that helps store iron by binding to it; approximately 25% of our iron is stored as ferritin.

It’s found in our liver, spleen, skeletal muscles and bone marrow. Only a small amount is found in the blood, but this is an indicator of how much is stored in our bodies; low ferritin levels are indicative of iron deficiency which causes anaemia.

 

Functions Of Iron

Photo by: Barack Shacked  Flickr

Photo by: Barack Shacked Flickr

Energy Production

If iron stores are low, Hb production slows down, therefore the transport of oxygen is diminished resulting in fatigue, dizziness and lowered immunity.

 

 

Photo by: The American Yoga Academy FlickrImmunitymmunity

Immunity

Our immune system depends on it for efficient functioning; the production of new enzymes is dependent on iron, which is important when we are recovering from illness or strenuous exercise.

 

 

 

 

 

DNA. Photo by: AJC1 FlickrRequired For DNA Synthesis

Iron is required for the function of many proteins involved in cell cycle and DNA synthesis, e.g. Ribonucleotide Reductase.

Production of red blood cells; they help carry oxygen around the body.

 

 

 

Consequences of Low Iron

  • Iron deprivation can result in harmful effects, in particular to our: cardiovascular, respiratory, brain and muscle function.
  • Iron depletion occurs when iron stores are low or exhausted and further decreases can produce iron deficiency anaemia. Iron deficiency anaemia is the most common consequence of a lack of dietary iron.
  • Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world. Mclean et al 2008, showed that it affects nearly 2 billion people globally; a significant problem in the developed world affecting approximately 50% of the global population and 74% of non-pregnant women.

 

 

Why Women Are At An Increased Risk?

Photo by: Mini-DV Flickr

  • Menstruation with long and/or heavy periods.
  • Eating disorders and/or various ‘restrictive dieting regimes’.
  • Following a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle with improper instruction.
  • Consecutive pregnancies/ bleeding during deliveries.

 

 

 

All women should be given dietary information to maximise iron intake and absorption regardless of whether they are vegan/vegetarian or following a ‘typical’ balanced diet.

 

 

Groups At Risk Of Iron Inadequacy

Photo by: Howard Dickins Flickr

Photo by: Howard Dickins Flickr

  • Pregnant women
  • Infants and young children (needed for physical and mental growth)
  • Frequent blood donors
  • People with colon cancer or heart failure
  • People with G.I disorders or that have had G.I surgery
  • Vegetarians/vegans/fussy eaters

 

 

Signs And symptoms of Iron Deficiency

Photo by: Rajesh Jhawar Flickr

  •  Pica
    • Apathy
      • Dizziness
        • Depression
          • A sore tongue
            • Breathlessness
              • Exhaustion/weakness
                • Reduced endurance
                  • Unusually pale skin
                    • Frequent infections
                      • Restless leg syndrome
                        • Memory problems/difficulty focusing
                          • Brittle nails/ concave or spoon-shaped depression in the nails

 

 

Iron DRV’s (UK)

Average adult woman:

(19-50yrs) = 14.8mg/Day (inclusive of pregnant women).

*Breasting feeding could require up to an extra mg per day.

Average adult man:

(19+) = 8.7mg/day

NB: Please refer to your own country’s nutrient guidelines; quantities may vary.

Quick Facts:

  • These DRV’s take in to account that with normal iron metabolism only approximately 5-10% of dietary iron is absorbed through diet and supplements.
  • Children and adolsences having growth spurts may find their intake of iron isn’t adequate.
  • The iron in breast milk has a high bioavailability. Unfortunately not in amounts that are sufficient to meet the needs of infants older than 4 to 6 months. This is why children older than 6 months should not be exclusively breast fed.
  • On average, 1mg of iron/day is lost through faeces, sweat, urine and the exfoliation of old skin cells.
  • Women of child bearing age lose on average 20mg/month through menstruation- but this can vary.
  • Blood donors can lose approximately 200-250mg of iron with each donation.

 

 

Types Of Iron In Our diet

Photo by: Michael T nicknamemiket/ Flickr

Photo by: Michael T nicknamemiket/ Flickr

Haem:

Is iron found in ‘meat’. Its bio-availability is greater and is generally unaffected by other food components.

The bioavailability is approximately 14-18%* from mixed diets that include vitamin c and substantial amounts of meat and seafoods.

 

 

 

 

Photo by: Ric W Flickr

Photo by: Ric W Flickr

Non-Haem:

Is iron found in foods of vegetable origin or fortified foods and is the main form of dietary iron.

The bio-availability is lower and is therefore harder for your body to absorb. The bioavailability is approximately 5-12% (1).

 

 

 

 

 

Some Common Foods That Contain Iron

*Sources: 2,3,4

 Have a look and see if you can roughly calculate what your current iron intake is!

 

Factors That Can Increase & Affect Overall Iron Absorption

Photo by: Flickr

Photo by:V/ Axiomista  Flickr

  • The absorption of iron is affected by the presence of other foods in our guts, e.g.

 calcium, tannins, phenols, protein (inclusive of eggs & milk) and phytates (phytic acid) which all hinder iron absorption.

We should all avoid drinking caffeinated teas, coffee and milk around meal times, especially if we’re taking iron supplements.

 

 

 

Photo by: Julia Khusainova Flickr

  • Vitamin and iron are best friends! Vitamin C helps to increase of the absorption is iron, particularly non-haem, e.g. drink a glass of orange juice with your morning porridge!

 

 

 Our Diets & ‘Supplementation’ For Health And Well-Being

  • Purchasing cookbooks can help inspire new ideas to make sure you keep your meals nutritious, varied and ‘iron rich’. 🙂
  • Some studies have shown, including this article (found in the Journal of Food Science), that cooking in cast iron pots/pans can possibly increase the amount of iron in your food, especially when cooking high-acids foods, e.g. applesauce or tomato-based recipes. Apparently the greater the acidity of the food and the longer you cook it= the more iron that is transferred into the food; it’s a nice thought, but this would be hard for us to measure!
  • If you are embarking on a vegetarian or vegan diet, it’s a good idea to talk to your GP, a dietitian or a recognised nutritionist to make sure you have all the facts & avoid ill health. If you do suffer from, e.g. ‘heavy’ periods, an underlying G.I problem, or have a limited budget, it might also be a good idea to speak to a health professional about possible supplementation to lower your risk of iron deficiency anaemia.
  • If you are diagnosed with iron deficiency anaemia, your GP might prescribe iron supplementation or iron therapy; even an oral contraceptive pill to decrease menstrual blood loss during periods.

We should consult with our health care provider before taking loads of extra supplementation, especially if you are taking prescribed medications, regardless of whether it’s iron or, e.g. vitamin A, zinc or calcium. Firstly, to make sure we are going to do ourselves any harm, e.g. unsupervised use of iron supplements can reduce the absorption of other essential nutrients (such as zinc and calcium) and secondly they can recommend the ones with the most bio-availability and that may cause the least amount of gastrointestinal effects etc.

Unfortunately, taking mineral supplements, especially iron can cause undesirable side effects…

 

Possible Side effects of iron supplementation:
  • constipation
  • nausea
  • sickness
  • diarrhoea
  • heartburn
  • tummy ache

These types of side effects can make compliance poor and will have knock-on effects on your well-being.

 

So having read my article, hopefully you are just a few informed choices away from improving your health….

…As everyone has a responsibility to themselves to source and eat a healthy diet, regardless of their food likes and dislikes…

…Because it’s all too easy to just assume that we are getting enough iron, but the reality is that it’s all too easy to not get enough!

 

Article written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist
Feature image by: Miserablespice Flickr

 

Sources:
1. Am J Clin Nutr May 2010 vol. 91 no. 5 1461S-1467S
2. USDA Database
3.Foods Standards Agency (2002) McCance and Widdowson’s The Composition of Foods, Sixth summary edition. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemisty
4.Foods Standards Agency (2002) Food Portion Sizes, 3rd Revised edition edition. London:TSO

Supporting A Healthy Smile

Diet & Weight Loss

A healthy smile is something most people desire and is something that some pay a lot of money for… but when it comes to maintaining what we have, we can often forget the impact of our eating behaviours.

 

Eating guidelines for our mental, physical and emotional well-being can sometime contradict dental advice, e.g. the age old saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’. Yes, but diets with ‘excessive consumption’ of acidic or sugary foods (or beverages) may produce dental erosion; paired with already softened dental enamel and the chomping action of raw, abrasive or fibrous foods, might cause further damage to our teeth, a.k.a. dental attrition.

 

Fruits, fruit juices, fruit ‘drinks’, ‘smoothies’ or fruit-based herbal teas are not the only contenders to produce such an effect; wines, sugary drinks (i.e. squashes), fizzy drinks, ‘alco-pops’, sweets, vinegar or vinaigrette’s, or even tomato-based sauces can all play their role as a catalyst to erosion and/or dental caries due to their high acidity and/or sugary nature.  Any food or drink with a pH value below 7 is considered acidic and anything below 5.3 can potentially cause ‘acid wear’ to our teeth.

 

I personally do not have an uncontrollable desire to consume fizzy drinks or sweets, but I do enjoy my homemade vinaigrette’s, whole fruits and some foods in brine. As a former dental nurse with over ten years of dental experience, I am more than aware of the pitfalls of completely neglecting your dental health, e.g. from a bad diet, stress-related factors or even a cleaning/hygiene point of view and I would fully recommend everyone to regularly visit a dentist for regular check-ups and hygienist treatments.

As a nutritionist, I am going to help you get the balance right with some comprehensive advice about foods and drinks, as well as some behaviours to avoid, so you can still enjoy your meals and drinks without worrying about damaging your teeth.

 

3 Foods & Dinks To Limit And/Or Avoid

Consuming these types of ‘enamel-eroding foods and/or drinks’ is a daily part of most people’s lives, but there are things we can do to help support our teeth and ultimately have a healthier diet too.

Consuming sticky dried fruits, hard candies and even crisps in between meals can be a dentist’s (and nutritionist’s) worse nightmare; these types of foods are likely to stick deep into the fissures of our teeth. Not only is consuming these unhealthy snacks a likely contributor to weight gain and chronic health problems, it can enable acid attacks on our teeth and cause dental decay. If you cannot avoid it, then try rinsing your mouth with water or chew sugar-free gum afterwards; this can help stimulate the secretion of saliva which helps neutralize acid attacks.

 

If you are a fan of drinking ‘sports drinks’, high-sugar energy drinks, fizzy carbonated drinks, fruit juices/drinks or ‘smoothies’, I hope it’s in moderation?! Type 2 diabetes, obesity, along with potential tooth decay and erosion is something you can look forward to otherwise.

Once more, if you are consuming these types of drinks, try to avoid them in between meals, don’t ‘swish’ them around in your mouth and if possible, try and drink them through a straw to reduce the quantity and frequency of the acid coming into contact with your teeth; I know this doesn’t sound very ‘manly or socially acceptable’, but there you have it! Also, diluting these drinks with water will allow you to cut down on the amount of sugar and acid you’ll be consuming.

 

3 Dental Practices To Think Twice About

1. D.I.Y Home Whitening (Or Using Unregulated Providers For Whiter Teeth!)

Photo by: Dr. Gary Lam DDS FLickrOur diets contain so many ‘stain-causing’ foods and beverages, as well as anyone that smokes will suffer from tooth discolouration. Therefore it can be all the more tempting to approach a cheap ‘salon’ or purchase a D.I.Y home whitening kit promising ‘pearly whites’.

Unfortunately, tooth whitening through bleaching agents is not a permanent procedure and unless we consume a bland/white diet (which is unlikely!), over time we will accumulate this staining once again.

 

If you do decide to have a tooth whitening experience, make sure it’s performed by a dentist or another regulated dental professional. It is illegal for someone that is not a qualified dental professional to perform this procedure (make sure to check their GDC registration if you are unsure).

This is one of the reasons why tooth whitening costs as much as it does. Its a cosmetic procedure deemed non-essential by the NHS and private whitening fees start at about £300… but you get what you pay for.

 

Photo by: Carmel Commons Dental Flickr

Dental professionals (like any other healthcare professional), but not beauticians (an example of an unregulated provider), provide an in-depth assessment for your care and well-being, including suitability for any procedure. If you haven’t been to the dentist in the past year, then you may have developed an ‘underlying problem’, e.g. dental caries, dental abscesses, broken teeth, exposed roots, clenching and grinding habits that have produced cracks and existing teeth sensitivity, receding gum lines or ‘gum disease’.

 

It’s also not suitable for anyone under the age of 16, pregnant women and those that have ‘braces’, as well as anyone with: pre-existing fillings, crowns or any other tooth restorations; as they must be advised that these materials will not whiten with the other ‘virgin teeth’. Ultimately, your teeth without restorations will end up looking whiter than the ones with.

Bleaching concentrations are regulated and their application is precisely controlled. Unqualified individuals may end up damaging your teeth or burning your oral tissue in the process if the incorrect procedures and solutions were to be used.

 

Photo by: Joan(henna lion) Flickr

Furthermore, dental professionals are not going to apply ‘mystery concoctions’ over your teeth and hope for the best. This is essentially what you are doing if you try to whiten your teeth with unregulated whitening kits (i.e. off the internet) or home-made solutions of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar and/or ‘fruit mixtures with potentially badly fitted bleaching trays.

These mediums can end up damaging your dental enamel (or worse) because they can be acidic/abrasive, leaving your tooth’s dentine exposed (which is naturally yellow in colour) and leaving you to prone to tooth sensitivity.

 

2. Immediately Brushing After Meals

Photo by: gary Joh Flickr

I know it can be difficult with our demanding lifestyles and time constraints, but brushing our teeth after meals is a sure fire way to scrub away our lovely tooth enamel… and we only get one set of ‘permanent’ teeth and one coat of ‘enamel folks’.

Our mouths can have an acidic environment from intrinsic or extrinsic factors. If our teeth are exposed to acids, the enamel can begin to soften; if you already have dentine exposure, this tooth surface is even more vulnerable to erosion. We need to allow the natural processes of ‘remineralisation’ to occur before we grab our toothbrushes. Ideally leaving 30 to 60 minutes to allow the saliva’s pH to return to ‘tooth-friendly’ levels; this will allow the softened enamel a chance to reharden/remineralise and be more resistant against ‘tooth brushing abrasion’.

 

Understandably most of us do not have this luxury of ‘downtime’ before we head off to work. In this case, rinse your mouth with a fluoride mouth rinse (and if your really proactive, take your tooth brush to work with you) before you leave. Ideally, brushing your teeth before breakfast would be more beneficial because your mouth has a neutral pH. I know you might detest this because the ‘toothpaste flavour’ can alter the taste of your food, but it’s in your best interests. Brushing after meals compounds the ‘dental erosion’ problem through plaque (which produces acid when exposed to sugar) and brushing softened enamel.

 

 

3. Using A ‘Fluoride Free/Natural” Toothpaste To Regularly Brush Your Teeth

Although dentistry has been improving, a 2009 report highlighted that 39% of adults were still experiencing some sort of dental problem. Another survey published by Public Health England in 2012, showed that 27% of 5 year-olds still had some form of tooth decay. Children’s teeth are smaller and have thinner enamel; if paired with a bad diet and improper brushing, it can increase their risk of dental decay.

Although it could be a combination of things, why in the 21st century are we still having this preventable problem? It has been shown in studies and reports that fluoride aids the prevention of dental decay. So why should we take something out of the mix that has got a proven track record to help?

Fluoride is a natural mineral that hardens tooth enamel to keep our teeth strong thus preventing dental decay and/or reducing the progression of cavities. Using non-fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses due to personal, ethical or may even religious stand points could increase your chances of developing tooth decay given the right conditions, e.g. dry mouth/ reduced salivary flow, improper tooth brushing and interdental cleaning techniques (to remove plaque/food), lack of regular dental check-ups and dental cleanings, poor diet and/or frequent exposures to sugar and/or acid foods and beverages.

 

A non-fluoride toothpaste does not contain anything more than naturally sourced ingredients and flavourings, e.g. xylitol, menthol, baking soda, which are not going to necessarily help you in your war against tooth decay. They need to be used in part of a good ‘oral health care plan’ (which includes going to the dentist) to maintain the integrity of your teeth and your oral health.

It’s advisable to speak to your dental professional, as everyone has individual needs and therefore he/she can enable you to make informed decisions about our dental health (tailoring oral health care plans accordingly), before making any major changes to your routines. Particularly, people who have a medical or physical condition, or those who are taking specific medications, might also consider their options first before changing their dental care.

 

Considering we only get one set of permanent teeth, one body and one life… our diet is definitely worth considering, don’t you think?

 

Recommended Reading

 

Article written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist
Feature image by: Clearskinacne Flickr

Plant-Based Proteins: It Really Isn’t A Mystery!

Diet & Weight Loss

Protein is essential, regardless of the type of lifestyle or diet we follow; it’s an important building block of life. Our digestion processes breaks down protein into amino acids that enables our bodies to perform a wide range of functions, such as: cell growth and repair, managing our metabolism and body processes (making hormones and enzymes) and also forming parts of our organs, muscles, bones, collagen, connective tissues, skin, nails and hair.

 

Besides the above, it can offer a high satiety level and depending on the source, comes bundled with a range of macro and micro nutrients, including: fibre, B-vitamins (niacin, thiamine, riboflavin and B6), Vitamin E, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and omega 3 fatty acids.

 

Every protein molecule consists of a chain of amino acids. There are many types of amino acids, but our body can only produce 11 ‘important’ amino acids that are used to make up proteins within our bodies. There are 10 essential amino acids that must be derived from protein-rich foods; good, quality protein sources (in adequate amounts) are essential as the body does not ‘store’ protein and therefore needs a regular supply from our diet.

 

 

If you have already decided to take the plunge and try a vegan lifestyle, even on a ‘flexi’ basis, I’m sure your more than aware of where your dietary protein is coming from.

It is one of the most common questions vegans or vegetarians get asked “where does your protein come from?”

Typical ‘westernised diets’ obtain protein from: meats, eggs, dairy, poultry and fish. These can all can be good sources of protein, but some of these foods are not ideal if we are watching our cholesterol, prefer to have alternative dietary choices or want to follow a vegan lifestyle! Good sources of plant protein include: nuts, seeds, pulses, beans and soya products; there is also some in grains.

 

 

Our Daily Protein Needs

For a ‘typical’ man or woman, the Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) for protein is:

0.75g Of Protein/Kg of Body weight (BW)/Day

For example….

  • A 70kg man needs 52.3g protein/D
  • A 58kg woman needs 43.5g protein/D

The average UK daily protein intake is: 88g for men and 64g for women. So it’s obvious that the current consumption is beyond the current recommendations.

NB: There is approximately 30g of protein in 100g of roasted chicken breast. So if you are having protein (from animal sources) at every meal in addition to grains etc, you can see how it quickly adds up!

 

 

Protein Combining

Various plant proteins are not considered ‘complete’ because they lack one or more essential amino acids, however they can be ‘combined’ as part of a meal, e.g. eating a grain and a legume. This is ‘protein combining’ which can result in a higher biological value of the food and provide complete proteins.

With any type of diet, it’s a good idea to look into how to make these ‘complete proteins’ (See Table 1);  the UK Vegetarian Society also gives a nice explanation.

 

Protein Combining: Meal Examples

 

Some of the major contenders for plant-based proteins…

 

Common & Nutritious Plant Protein Sources

Here’s a nutritional breakdown for some plant protein sources….

 

Nutritional Info: Protein From Plant-Based Foods

*Sources: 1,2,3

 

For example: If I consumed porridge made with 40g of oats, 15g of almonds, 10g of flax seed, 250ml soya milk and some berries, along with 2 standard fresh apricots, a 250g potato with 200g of baked beans and a small, a low-fat stir-fry with 150g tofu, a vegetable mixture (inclusive of dark leafy greens) on top of 65g of brown rice, I would be more than meeting my daily protein needs (it provides approx. 55g of protein); let alone whatever other fruits, vegetables or nuts/seeds/grains I decided to eat!

 

Photo by: nalm fadll Flickr

Photo by: nalm fadll Flickr

So let’s not let the food industry or anyone else dictate our dietary choices, because that’s what we have- choices.

Nature has so much to offer us, and there is such an assortment and amalgamation of cuisines… that I have to wonder why would anyone want to stick to a ‘typical westernised meal’ of meat and two vegetables anyway?

 

Whether you are trying to save money, are struggling financially, have decided to make some positive lifestyle changes to your health, or maybe even have a new ethical stance on animal welfare… rest assured, plant-based proteins are nutritious, varied and relatively cheap to buy; especially beans and lentils in their dried varieties.

 

We do not have to consume over-priced whey protein powders, meat, poultry, fish or any other animal products to meet our daily protein needs. With a carefully planned plant-based diet, we can reap the benefits of ‘complete nutrition’ and improve overall health. Whilst a high protein diet on its own is unlikely to cause you ill-health, if the source of the protein is from animal products high in fat, then your overall diet is probably unhealthy; if coupled with unhealthy lifestyle choices it can increase the risk of heart diseases, bowel cancer, stroke and possibly osteoporosis.

 

If you are unsure of where to start, there are lots of resources available…

  • The Vegan society
  • The Vegetarian society
  • BBC Foods (they have a decent supply of recipes that you can adjust to your personal preference)
  • An endless list of blogs that have personal recommendations of recipes and/or plant-based cook books.

 

And…

Photo by: Jena Jezy Flickr

Photo by: Jena Jezy Flickr

Don’t let all the chopping and meal planning discourage you, it comes with the territory and it’s essential to make sure your plant-based diet is ‘nutritionally sound’; like a lot of things in life, the best things take a little patience and perseverance but are worth it in the end.

 

Happy plant-based cooking everyone! 🙂

 

Article written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist
Feature image by: qual dieta Flickr

 

Sources:
1. USDA Database
2. Foods Standards Agency (2002) McCance and Widdowson’s The Composition of Foods, Sixth summary edition. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemisty
3. Foods Standards Agency (2002) Food Portion Sizes, 3rd Revised edition edition. London:TSO

5 Steps To Cut Out Sugar And Why You’ll Be Happier for it!

Diet & Weight Loss

Following on from my previous article, I am now going to offer some advice on how to reduce your sugar intake…without being the bearer of bad news! You may be currently worried about your health, or have been influenced by the media or even your best friend, but there have been some logical points made as to why we should monitor and reduce our sugar intakes.

Here are simple and realistic ways to improve your diet and the quality of your life without relying on a ‘sugar crutch’.

 

5 Small Steps To Reduce Your Sugar Intake:

 

1. Analyse Your Cravings & Retrain Your Taste Buds
Photo By: Angela Jin Flickr

Photo By: Angela Jin Flickr

Analyse and reflect on your cravings before you reach for your next sugary fix.

As a previous ‘Condiment Queen’ myself, I had to reflect on my usage; I was quite a fussy eater as a child and they made foods more pleasant.

Adjust your sugar intake over time and your palate will adjust with you; as a child I loved triple chocolate everything, now I prefer savoury foods.

 

 

 

2. Find Fruit & Vegetable Substitutions
Photo By: Lucky Lebepe Flickr

Photo By: Lucky Lebepe Flickr

Eating fresh produce will help fight sugar cravings through its natural sweetness and high fibre contents.  High fibre= fuller for longer and no sugar crashes.

Try naturally sweet vegetables, e.g.  carrots, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, squash and sugar peas. Instead of jam try whole or pureed berries on porridge or multi-seeded toast. Add whole fruit to plain yoghurt. Eat a multigrain wrap with grapes and peanut butter or sliced apple with almond butter. Be inventive and substitute sugar in baking with, e.g. pureed sweet potato, squash, carrot, apple or ripe bananas instead.

Take it easy on the dried or tinned fruit in syrups, as these have higher sugar contents; eat whole fruits instead of fruit smoothies/ juices as they offer more fibre and less sugar.

 

 

 

3. Don’t Use Sweeteners?
Photo by: Gianna Ferretti Flickr

Photo by: Gianna Ferretti Flickr

‘Natural sweeteners’ like honey and other unrefined sugars (i.e. coconut sugar) are slightly higher in nutrients but it is still sugar. Sweeteners, depending on the variety, can be hundreds or thousands’ of times sweeter than actual sugar; both sweeteners and natural sugars and can still enable your sweet tooth.

Information regarding artificial sweeteners is inconsistent. The EFSA has deemed them safe but studies still explore their possible side-effects.

Some studies suggest using artificial sweeteners could leave you craving more sugar, making it harder to cut it out, lose weight and fight chronic disease. While others suggest they might cause cancer or type 2 diabetes …but the jury is still out!

Don’t fall into media promotion, e.g. ‘Coca Cola Life’; there’s nothing natural about drinking chemicals sweetened by plants!

 

Photo by: FoodBev Photos Flickr

Photo by: FoodBev Photos Flickr

 

 

 

4. Read Food Labels
Photo By: Health Gauge Flickr

Photo By: Health Gauge Flickr

Refer to my previous sugar article for the ‘56 names of sugar’ when you go shopping; check for high and hidden sugar contents.

Check foods and beverages, e.g. some herbal teas have sugar.

Refer to the FSA guidance regarding healthy dietary sugar intakes.

 

 

 

 

 

5. Eat Balanced Meals & Exercise
Photo By: Steffen Egly Flickr

Photo By: Steffen Egly Flickr

Eat lean protein, complex carbohydrates and vegetables. Protein doesn’t have any effect on your blood sugar levels, therefore you will not get a ‘sugar rush and crash’, unlike refined carbohydrates and sugars.

Regular exercise will make you feel healthier and reduce sugary cravings. As mentioned in my previous article Diet and exercise, exercising is beneficial for both your physical and mental health.

 

 

 

Why You’ll Be Happier Weaning Yourself Off The ‘Sugar Train’!

 

Physical Motives

Having a high sugar intake can be a prerequisite for unpleasant health conditions. Check out some possible consequences.

 

 

Mental Motives
  • To control your moods and concentration levels

To operate at your best, your blood sugar levels should not be too low or too high. Consuming regular and ‘healthy sugar sources’ will enable sustained concentration and moods; mental focus and activity use a lot of energy.

  • To Increase your energy levels

A healthy diet will allow you to enjoy ‘active’ activities, as your waistlines decrease and mental and physical power increases.

  • To gain back control

Any sort of change requires motivation and willpower. Take pride in the fact you’re making healthier choices and reaping the benefits of a healthier lifestyle!

 

 

I know that people generally like to hear good news about their bad habits, but I’m afraid that’s not going to happen today.

Hopefully I have empowered you to try to cut down or even eliminate sugar from your diet over the next week or month, it can’t hurt?

 

Article written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist
Feature image by: Libby Babet Yahoo!7 Flickr

Has Using The Toilet Become A Chore? 5 Reasons Why You Can’t Poop!

Diet & Weight Loss

It’s a taboo subject yes, and I’m sure most of the British public do not wish to talk about their daily throne action…but here we are….and I want to talk… and you’ve stopped by to listen!

 

newsusacontent_flickr

Photo by: newsusacontent Flickr

Constipation is a common condition that disrupts our usual and ‘normal’ bowel movements, causing the inability to pass poo regularly, or an inability to completely empty our bowels.

It’s estimated that one in seven UK adults and one in three UK children have had constipation at any one time (myself included) (¹), with the reality that it affects more women than men, particularly those that are pregnant or elderly.

For some of us it’s a chronic condition, for others it’s the result of dietary or maybe environmental factors. Either way, it can be painful, annoying and affect our quality of life.

‘Toilet’ topics have been discussed in great detail over the last ten years or so, via numerous documentaries and ‘voyeurism’ television should we say? Sorry Embarrassing Bodies, as educational as you are, people lifting their shirts and dropping their trousers is voyeurism at its best!

I think that as reassuring as it might be to know many others have walked in your ‘constipated shoes’, it still doesn’t help the fact that of the most natural experiences in the world has become a bloody chore!

 

 

bristol stool chart_john C bullas BSc MSc PhD MCIHT MIAT

Photo by: john C bullas BSc MSc PhD MCIHT MIAT Flickr

The medical community has shown us the ‘Bristol stool chart’, which encourages us to ‘get to know’ our poo and re-evaluate our health based on what we see in the toilet bowl… as unappetising as that idea is!

For the super keen, you can also monitor colours and smells…any takers?!

However, if you are a regular constipation sufferer, it is likely you are a ‘type 1’ and ‘type 2’, finding it quite difficult to pass. So looking into the bowl on this occasion is not going to accomplish very much; the pain and is discomfort is enough of a red flag to seek advice and/or treatment.

 

 

 

I can appreciate why most of us probably suffer in silence, with distant memories of what it’s like to have a ‘normal healthy poo’….but that isn’t going to fix anything. Whether you have to seek further medical intervention or are able to take matters into your own hands, let’s talk about some pretty realistic explanations that keep you from getting on with one of your normal life processes.

 

 

5 Reasons Why You Can’t Poop

 

Photo by: Thomas Szynkiewicz Flickr

Photo by: Thomas Szynkiewicz Flickr

1. Dehydration
The human body needs water for it to function properly, which can be obtained in many forms. Ideally we should all be drinking between 1600-2000ml of fluids a day and only 2-3 cups of tea/coffee can be included, as more is counterproductive, as is drinking alcohol (which cannot be counted as one of your 8-10 glasses of fluid I’m afraid!).

Additionally, if we play sports, are ill, or happen to be in a hot/humid environment, then we should be consuming more to prevent dehydration.

 

Dehydration prevents your gut from working at its maximum. If water is pulled out of the bowel, then your existing poo will become a dried and hard mass as a result, making it uncomfortable and potentially difficult to pass later on. Staying hydrated also enables the body to ensure that enough of  the nutrients in food are digested and absorbed.

 

 

 

exercise_dial doctors_flickr

Photo by: Dial Doctors Flickr

2. Lack Of Exercise
I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times, that we should be ‘exercising for good health’ (you can refer to my previous article on diet and exercise for further information on this), but I bet you haven’t heard the motto ‘I exercise today so I can poop tomorrow’!

Regular exercise promotes ‘active’ bowel muscles, which creates better digestion and transit time. Lack of exercise or even mobility doesn’t allow you to have a regular ‘bowel routine’. This is one contributor as to why it can affect so many elderly people.

Exercise is also found to be vital in alleviating stress, which is something we all have to deal with.

 

 

Photo by: Alexander Ekman Flickr

Photo by: Alexander Ekman Flickr

3. Stress
Stress is an element that no one can avoid and it can affect our digestive system, e.g. feeling anxiety, high stress levels, can cause us to eat our lunch too quickly, on the go, leading to upset digestion and constipation.

Our stressful lives need to be counteracted. We need to find time to reflect and mediate, or do hobbies we enjoy on a regular basis, allowing our body’s normal processes (like going to the toilet) to take shape and work without glitches.

 

Being so busy that we have to constantly ignore the call of nature by, e.g. travelling for work (with unsettled eating, sleeping and pooping routines), or even dismissing the call of nature because we don’t want to use the shared office facilities where someone ‘might hear us,’ ultimately can contribute to our toilet woes.

Unfortunately for us women, PMS and pregnancy can create it’s own form of stress, leading to reduce transits times from a mental and physiological point of view; another good reason to keep up the exercise.

 

Creating time for yourself to use the toilet ‘properly’ (and I’m not talking about creating wall charts and using iPhone apps!), instead of ‘doing what you can’ in the time space you have will allow your body to develop a routine. I know this is complicated when the call of nature arrives, sometimes it’s impossible to stop what you’re doing to have some quality alone time with a book, but your gut will thank you in the long run if you can find time to schedule it in!

Another way to take the stress out of straining is to consider ‘squatting’. Once you stop laughing and looking bewildered, it’s worth looking at this link to see how gravity can ease the passage of your poo.

 

 

blueberries in a heart_heartdr2011_flickr

Photo by: heartdr2011 Flickr

4. Lack Of Fibre
A few months ago The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition released a fact sheet in the UK on Fibre (based on their Carbohydrates and Health Report), where they gave recommendations to increase the population’s fibre intake to an average of 30g/day for adults. (²) However, they used a different method of dietary fibre analysis, which would mean that the previous government’s recommendations for adults to consume a minimum of 18g of dietary fibre/day would equate to 23-24g/day using their new analysis.

The average person is currently eating 14g of dietary fibre/day; this is made up of both soluble and insoluble fibre sources. As constipation goes, you need to consume a mixture of both, but this could mean that you could be increasing your current fibre intake by at least 50% per day.

Fibre helps keeps food moving effectively through our digestive tract, as well as contributing to a healthy heart and weight maintenance (through satiety, controlled blood sugar levels and removing fat).

 

We can all increase our current fibre intake to help meet the new recommendations by:

  • Eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day.
  • Kicking off our day with a high-fibre breakfast cereal! Ones that include bran, oats and/or wholegrains.
  • Opting for wholegrains over ‘processed grains’, e.g. wholegrain bread or pasta instead of white bread or pasta.
  • Starting a love affair with beans, lentils and chickpeas! Check out our recipes for some ideas of how to incorporate more into your diet.

 

It’s also good to note that that you should increase your fibre intake slowly, to avoid experiencing excess, gas, cramps and/or bloating.

The recommended intake may sound like a lot, but it really isn’t if you are already following a well-balanced diet…which brings me to my next point.

 

 

Photo by: Fransmart Photos

Photo by: Fransmart Photos Flickr

5. A ‘Bad’ Diet
An ideal diet should consist of plenty of fresh, homemade foods that incorporate healthy living guidance for overall health, including your gut.

For some, creating ‘flexitarian’ days have improved their digestive function. From a personal point of view, switching to a plant-based diet has improved my digestion by at least 70%- which is amazing!

 

 

 

This list is not exhaustive, but they are some of the major contenders to constipation. For some, particular food allergies or intolerances, an imbalance of gut bacteria (due to antibiotics, stress or bad eating habits), existing haemorrhoids, medications, painkillers, or even particular mineral supplements, or other medical conditions could be an underlying cause of constipation.

So before you start forming a laxative or any other type of unhealthy ritual to rid your constipation, consider talking to a health professional.

 

Let’s go for a walk, eat, drink, be merry and let’s nature take its course!

 

 

Article written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist
Feature image by: OVENPOP 360 Social Flickr
Sources:
1.NHS Choices
2.SACN 2015 Fibre Factsheet
British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG)

Cellulite: Is There A Cure?

Diet & Weight Loss

Raise your hands if you have suffered from cellulite? I have and it’s not at all surprising. Cellulite is a common condition that affects approximately 90% of women, on areas of our bodies where subcutaneous fat tissue is found, e.g. our thighs, hips and buttocks.

 

It is a normal part of the female anatomy, no matter how unfair it seems. Cellulite is a term that describes the appearance of ‘bumpy/lumpy’ looking fat on our bodies but it’s not a disease. The term originated from French medical literature over 150 years ago and the term has evolved ever since (1); the media and beauty companies have played a terrible role in this.

Photo by: Heather gill Flickr

Photo by: Heather gill Flickr

The media have victimised and targeted female celebrities cellulite repetitiously. I’ve tuned off to the fact that they print these horrific pictures which try to dictate our self-worth.

The beauty industry is attuned to our insecurities and various names for cellulite have developed as a result: ‘orange peel’, ‘cottage cheese’, ‘mattress’ or ‘pin cushion’ skin. It’s all very distasteful and they throw insult to injury by endorsing products that supposedly ‘help alleviate all our cellulite worries’.

 

There have been a few scientific studies into the structure of cellulite but there has been many claims and products advocated by companies without scientific evidence. Some products and techniques include:

 

 

1. Spa Treatments
Photo by: Adam1175 Flickr

Photo by: Adam1175 Flickr

Massage And Other Treatments

Massage, body wrapping, laser and ‘radio-frequency’ techniques have been used.

They may have a temporary effect on cellulite reducing ‘dimpling’, but they do not necessarily ‘remove and eliminate’ cellulite in the long term.

 

 

 

 

Photo by: Maya Beauty Flickr

Photo by: Maya Beauty Flickr

Derma Roller
It penetrates the top layer of the skin without pain/bleeding; the puncture wounds are supposed to stimulate collagen and elastin production.

The claim:‘new collagen enables the skin to become thicker, stronger and more elastic, reducing the ‘dimpled’ areas and improving skin circulation’.

 

 

 

2. Potential Cosmetic Interventions
Photo by: Candace jones Flickr

Photo by: Candace jones Flickr

Surgery Anyone?
Going under the knife seems like a very drastic solution for anything, one that should not be taken lightly. The cost alone is enough to keep us out of hospital gowns.

Dermal fillers have also been thought to help, but again this is a costly endeavour and the results only last a few months.

 

 

 

3. D.I.Y Cellulite Accessories
Photo by: Wibisono AK Flickr

Photo by: Wibisono AK Flickr

Creams
Some products with Centella asiatica claim to help cellulite. Some are said to break down fat and smooth the skin, but none have shown permanent results.

“Their apparent effect on cellulite may be due to narrowing blood vessels and forcing water from the skin, which could be dangerous for people with circulatory problems.”  WebMD

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Wibisono AK Flickr

Photo by Wibisono AK Flickr

Thermal Compression Leggings
They claim: to eliminate cellulite through massage action and ‘special ingredients’. Mesh fibres in the leggings massage the skin as we move, and are said to ‘improve our circulation, encouraging lymphatic drainage and help to rid us of cellulite’.

Ironically, wearing our ‘normal’, tight clothing can contribute to the appearance of cellulite as it has been said to ‘cut off circulation and limit blood flow’.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Feline Butcher Flickr

Photo by Feline Butcher Flickr

Dry Body Brushing
Brushing and/or stroking in the direction of our heart (on a regular basis), is said to increase lymphatic drainage and encourage fat dispersion that help ‘combat cellulite’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by: Kyle Klassen Flickr

Photo by: Kyle Klassen Flickr

Food Items And Pills
Some things claim: to help improve nutrition to our bodies cells and connective tissue, displace fluid, influence blood flow and weight loss or remove ‘toxins’ from our bodies, all of which should ‘aid cellulite reduction’.

Staying hydrated will help keep our connective tissue strong and supple. This ‘might aid weight loss and assist with cellulite appearance and formation’.

 

 

So what types of myths have led to the marketing of these products?

 

Cellulite Myths
Myths True or False?
Cellulite only affects fat people, never skinny people. False. It can affect all body types.
Losing weight will get rid me of my cellulite. True & False. It will help reduce it and improve your skin’s appearance, but may not totally eliminate it.
It’s caused from toxins in our bodies. False. Cellulite is not directly linked to ‘toxins’ and this claim is not supported by science.
It’s caused only by a bad diet. False. An unhealthy diet can lead to weight gain, which is factored into cellulite formation, but there are a variety of aspects that cause it.
People that exercise don’t get cellulite. False. It can help to minimise the appearance, but certain type of exercises have been proven to be better than others for this.
Its caused by your genes True & false.  Some people have a genetic disposition, but it is only one potential cause.
It’s caused by lack of exercise. True & false. This can be a cause, but it is only one factor.
Smoking is the cause of cellulite. False. It has been shown to reduce blood vessel flow, and weaken and disrupt the formation of collagen (which doesn’t help our connective tissue or cellulite issues) but it’s not a sole factor in this debate.

Let’s analyse how it develops and maybe it will help debunk some of
these myths.

 

How Cellulite Develops

According to some dermatologists, there are different types of cellulite that can be caused by fat and fluid retention… but who is affected? …Mainly us I’m afraid to say.

Men and women both have different ‘outer and inner’ skin layers (the epidermis and dermis) in their thigh and buttocks and this is instrumental in why we develop it and why it’s less common in men. Men have a layer of fat under the skin that is separated by criss-crossed connective tissue, where a woman’s is not; collagen also helps to form the tissue.

 

Cellulite forms when the under layer of fat pushes against the (sometimes weakened) connective tissue, causing the skin to pucker and small pockets of fat to form, creating that ‘dimpling effect’ (as it pushes through the tissue) on the skin’s surface. The variations in connective and fat tissue could be due to hormone variations; hormones influence the production of both cellulite and fat tissue. Our fat distribution is heredity but the quantity is determined by our lifestyle choices/factors but we need a healthy layer of fat though to make us look good, otherwise we’d be walking skeletons!

 

Photo by: Joshep Fonseka Flickr

Photo by: Joshep Fonseka Flickr

 

In addition, if our muscle fibres are not stimulated through exercise, this creates no support for our outer layer of skin; muscle atrophy. Toned muscles help push the skin out, giving it a tighter & smoother appearance.  As we get older, our skin naturally loses elasticity, we have less oestrogen production, and if combined with bad lifestyle choices, can all lead to weakened connective tissue and cellulite formation.

 

 

So Is There A Permanent Solution?
Photo by: Moataz Ali  Flickr

Photo by: Moataz Ali Flickr

There are various websites that can offer toning and cardio advice to help improve our skin’s appearance, and you can refer to my previous articles for healthy eating advice.

The truth is that there is no definitive explanation for its appearance, which makes it hard to treat and improve it. Since it’s not singly related to diet or fluid intake, lack of exercise, stress levels, poor circulation, or our genes, consequently creams, pills or gadgets are not necessarily going to help. Even if there was an expensive cream or surgery to get rid of it, would you pay for it?

 

How much money or pain would you go through to get rid of it? Shouldn’t we be embracing our bodies and its imperfections? We have to remember that ‘body perfection’ does not exist.

So let’s follow a healthy lifestyle regime which includes: a healthy diet and an ‘all over’ weight-reduction program (cardio, strength training and toning exercises).This multi-approach will help minimise the appearance of our cellulite and help us look and feel our best.

 

What have you tried? Share your experiences in the box below.

 

Article written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist
Feature image by: Candace Jones Flickr

Sources:
1. The Journal of Dermatologic Surgery and Oncology Volume 4, Issue 3, pages 230–234, March 1978

 

 

Is Sugar Souring Our Lives?

Diet & Weight Loss

Are you currently reading this article and eating a sneaky bit of chocolate at your desk? It must be that inescapable afternoon slump or perhaps it’s your annoying ‘sweet tooth’ wreaking havoc again? Let’s not dismiss the obvious- you might have an underlying ‘sugar addiction’.

 

This is not sugar discrimination, with me suggesting you empty the entire contents of your kitchen to rid yourself of sugar, nor am I not getting paid to promote fruit and vegetables (Farmers don’t have the budget!)

The biological fact is we all need sugar, just not the stuff in the little sachets. Every time you eat carbohydrates they’re broken down by your body into glucose molecules. Our body takes glucose from our bloodstream and moves it into our body’s cells for energy via the hormone insulin. Glucose is the number one fuel used to power our brain and our bodies. Unlike our liver, our brain neurons cannot store an energy source and requires a regular and healthy source of it from our diet. …But let’s be honest, cake and chocolate have never been healthy (although they might be regular). We have all probably consumed too much sugar at one point in time, causing our blood sugar levels to spike and then crash; leaving us tired and looking for our next ‘sugar fix’.

 

It can be hard to undo habitual behaviours though, especially ones learnt from a very young age; allowing your brain to see sugar as a reward stimulates this on-going ‘sugar wars’. You might say that you’re not addicted to sugar… but let’s look at and consider some possible signs.

Sugar Addiction: Signs & Symptoms:
  • Constantly craving sugary things, even when you’re not hungry?
  • A cycle of feeling low in mood/ tired and then perked up by a sugary snack?
  • Regular ‘binges’ on sweet things? Or do have a constant supply in your cupboards?
  • Do you regularly eat white breads, crackers, pasta, long grain rice, sugary cereals or cereal bars?
  • Maybe you have a specific health problem related to eating sugar, but you keep eating it anyways?
  • How many days can you go without sugar? Only a day? Be honest…
Photo by: Daireth Winehouse Flickr

Photo by: Daireth Winehouse Flickr

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this could be wake-up call to the way you view or select your next meal, at least in regards to sugar.  If not, maybe the media can persuade you about the pitfalls of sugar.

 

Some current articles from this year that you might find worth reading include:

 

Additionally a U.S. programme ‘FED UP’ which started out as a film is gaining increased interest; it tackles the problems of the food industry and proactively gets people think about reducing their sugar intakes, highlighting the ‘56 names of sugar’ that lurk in our foods and drinks!

Photo courtesy of: the FED UP film & challenge

Photo courtesy of: the FED UP film & challenge

 

It’s obvious that the sugar industry isn’t making it easy for us, with ample ways of enabling our love affair with sugar. Not only is it widely and readily available, they insist on giving us ‘options’, yes options, ( i.e.) ten flavours or new and improved flavours of every product.

But let’s face it, sugar doesn’t improve our lives or give us a reason to live- it just makes us fat, tired, highly-strung and perhaps sour-faced from the spiralling reality that it can’t sustain our happiness long term!

So why do we do it? We all know the horrible cliché, ‘a moment on the lips and a lifetime on the hips’, but this topic resonates deeper for us than those tongue in cheek rationalisations of why we should be monitoring our sugar intake.

 

Sugar is sometimes compared to as a ‘drug’; it’s not surprising as a great deal of us share physical, emotional and mental dependencies on it.

Photo by: Sammy face :) Flickr

Photo by: Sammy face 🙂 Flickr

 

Could this be make or break? What are we going to do to make realistic changes to turn this situation around? I’ll be filling you in on’ 5 simple steps to cut sugar out of your Diet and why you’ll be happier for it’ in an upcoming article. So watch this space!

Please leave your thoughts in the comment box below if you have recently made positive dietary changes in fighting your sugar war or have any thoughts on this topic.

 

Article written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist
Feature image by: Denis Vrublevski on Flickr

The Truth Behind ‘Superfoods’

Diet & Weight Loss

So what’s this ‘superfood’ hype? Is it just a marketing ploy by shops or food manufacturers? Or perhaps there’s new research demonstrating their unique abilities, providing us with nutrients for optimum living that no other foods could?…. It’s not the latter.

 

The term ‘superfood’ was widely used within marketing and the media, but it’s not used by health care professionals. Its not a legally recognised term and is now tightly regulated; EU legislation in 2007 banned companies from marketing foods labelled as ‘superfoods’, unless the food comes with a reliable, scientifically based definition explaining why its beneficial for our health. The FSA has also provided some decent information on food labelling claims.

Generally we associate its definition as a food high in nutrients, antioxidants with impending health benefits. There are various categories advertised, e.g.  bee, green, or seaweed  ‘superfoods’, ‘superfood’ powders and drinks.

Photo by: dilynnroettker Flickr

Photo by: dilynnroettker Flickr

 

We have been overwhelmed by ‘superfood’ articles in numerous forms for a while now.  I’m sure at one point or another you’ve seen an article titled:

10 Top ‘Superfoods’ For….
  • Living longer
  • Weight loss or detox
  • Improving men’s/ women’s health
  • Chronic illness and disease prevention
  • Preventing flu and colds

 

So, where are all the scientific studies backing up these claims? These types of articles can create hype allowing food suppliers to charge more for foods, e.g. blueberries and quinoa, even though they are not marketing these foods with these suggestive marketing terms themselves. Subsequently on a personal level we can struggle to buy healthier foods but at a global level, local communities can find themselves unable to afford their staple foods, e.g. many South Americans, can no longer afford quinoa due to its worldwide popularity.

Quinoa salad. Photo by: savagecabbage.org Flickr

Quinoa salad. Photo by: savagecabbage.org Flickr

 

Supplements of ‘superfoods’ are another big market, e.g. Golgi berries in a powder form that suggest adding it to any recipe, for an inflated price of course. It’s easy to fall foul of claims such as: contains 5x more calcium than…, twice the protein of … and 150% more vitamin c than an orange.  The claims might be technically true but we have to put it into perspective. These supplements might be in a more ‘digestive state’, but no one can guarantee the rate of absorption, or how much we would have to consume to reap the ‘advertised benefits’ and they may not be in line with healthy living advice; they are certainly no substitute for a healthy diet.

Celebrities have also done their fair share of marketing & promoting  them, e.g. Elle Macpherson, Miranda Kerr, Salma Hayek and Victoria Beckham.

Here are some ‘superfood’ examples that have been in the spotlight and what nutrients they can offer.

Suggested ‘Superfoods’:

 

With any food, the portion size, bio-availability, its raw state when purchased and the cooking method can all dictate the amount of nutrients we absorb.

 

Some commonly advertised nutrients from these ‘superfoods’:

nutrient label

Please feel free to refer back to my vitamins and minerals article for further advice and links regarding nutrients and their food sources.

 

“Another big misconception is that antioxidants are interchangeable. They aren’t. Each one has unique chemical behaviors and biological properties. They almost certainly evolved as parts of elaborate networks, with each different substance (or family of substances) playing slightly different roles. This means that no single substance can do the work of the whole crowd”. Harvard school of public Health

 

The reality is that eating a well-balanced diet, not just specific foods will provide your body with enough nutrients to stay healthy and is key to producing the antioxidant effect within us. The body’s antioxidant cycle utilises the antioxidants from a variety of foods that contain, e.g. Vitamins: A, C and E, Selenium and plant chemicals (flavonoids & carotenoids).

woman and apple_c70

Photo by: CC-PR Flickr

I agree with the ethos, ‘let food be your medicine so you can reach good health’.

We all should be eating healthier, but not at the cost of lining the shops pockets or following insincere and overzealous marketing and/or literature.

So eat every colour of the rainbow and avoid becoming obsessed with the search for that one perfect, healthy food… it doesn’t exist.

Let’s not eat in vain and just enjoy our meals!

 

Article Written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist 
Feature image by: Licia Accorsi Flickr
 
Sources:
Europa.EU
Food Standards Agency
NHS Choices
Harvard School Of Public Health

Veganism: What’s All The Hype?

Diet & Weight Loss

I’m sure we might all know a friend of a friend or are currently trying a ‘vegan diet/lifestyle’ ourselves. Let’s face it, there’s been a lot of media attention over the last few years. Oprah Winfrey encouraged us to try ‘The Vegan Challenge’, facilitating everyone to consciously think about what they’re eating and the bigger picture; the Meatless Monday  trend introduced in the U.S during 2003 shared the same principles. PETA and The Vegan Society (U.K) also highlight celebrities that are inspiring this trend.

 

Let’s just get something straight, veganism shouldn’t be looked as the newest ‘diet trend’, although it has been seen to produce weight loss results; as reported in a two year randomized weight loss trial shown in the Obesity Journal.

Veganism is a lifestyle, many starting it with different motives; for me it was partly to do with finances and ethics, but the majority was health related. Surveys  during 2012 showed that approximately 1% of the British population are vegans; the current population is about 64 million, which means just over 600 million people have committed to veganism. The Vegan Society reported a 40% increase in the interest of vegan lifestyles last year.  I suppose it’s not surprising, as we can be unaware of what’s in our food; does the ‘Horse meat scandal’ ring any bells? But why have so many people had this change of heart?  Surely, it can’t just be because of their desire to eat tofu and celery?!

 

Let’s look at some genuine reasons why people might have decided to switch…

 

Ethical Views

  • Pro-Animals rights. Media has pointed out that if we are going to consume animal products, we must inform ourselves on how it gets to our plate; if it disturbs us, than that just speaks volumes, doesn’t it.

Photo by_hello kelly Flickr_c60

To truly be a vegan, we must embrace and adapt the lifestyle; avoiding all animal products, not just the ones we eat, but within make-up /beauty products, clothing and even our mattress!

Environmental Factors

  • Sustainability. An AMJCN publication looked at land and water resources, food production costs and how many people primarily consume a meat or a plant-based diet. Overall, with current population trends, plant-based diets looked more sustainable.
  • Reducing our carbon footprint. A study assessing some U.K diets showed: on average, meat-eaters contributed 46-51% more food-related greenhouse gas emissions than fish eaters, 50-54% more than vegetarians and an incredible 99-102% more than vegans.

 

Women’s Health & Wellness

Views…
The Arguments…

High Vitamin C= Stabilised Blood Sugar Levels? = 🙂

Photo by: Lan Li Flickr

Photo by: Lan Li Flickr

A study that included 500 people with type 2 diabetes, gave a random dose of 500mg or 1000mg/D of vitamin C for six weeks.Results: a (1000mg/D) supplementary vitamin C intake may be beneficial in decreasing blood sugar levels in these patients and lowering the damaging effects of sugar.

Money Saving

Photo by: Ken Teegardin Flickr

Photo by: Ken Teegardin Flickr

Legumes and pulses are significantly cheaper than meat, particularly in their ‘dry forms’ and can be just as tasty and nutritious.

Enhances Natural Beauty

lips_Photo by_E J Grubbs Flickr

Studies, (one study based in Australia) could influence dietary choices when it comes to our beauty regime. Regular acne sufferers might be pleased with this update!

Reducing PMS

woman with cake and grapes_Photo by_Go Laura Flickr

PMS is affecting a possible 3 out of 4 women of child bearing age.The PCRM noted research linking low-fat, plant-based diets and the effect on PMS; by avoiding animal fats and keeping vegetable oils to a minimum, can help reduce physical symptoms.These outcomes have been reported from 1-2 months after changing lifestyles.Theories included these thoughts about oestrogen:
-Reducing dietary fats reduces the amount of it in our blood.
-Plant fibres help remove it from our body.
-Soya products contain phytoestrogens, these reduce the chances of natural oestrogen’s attaching to our cells; equals less oestrogen stimulation of cells (aka PMS).

Healthier Lifestyle

  • Prevention. A low-fat vegan lifestyle may be the easiest way to improve our overall quality of life, reducing weight gain, chronic diseases & illness; similar views were highlighted in a 2010 article by the Physicians committee.
  • Global recognition. Dietitians recognised that a well-planned, vegan diet can be appropriate. Check them out: BDA, ADA, CDA and DAA .

Need some incentives? An HSE report showed more than 6 out of 10 men (66.5%) and 5 out of 10 women (57.8%) in the U.K were overweight or obese; the WHO highlighted “65% of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.”

Maybe we should consider this lifestyle? We can always talk to a medical professional to make sure we avoid any nutritional pitfalls.

After all, what value do you place on your health?

 

Article written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist
Feature image by: Michiko Yoshifuji Flickr
Sources:
Meatless Monday
Peta UK
Vegan Society
Wiley Online Library
Vegetarian Society.org
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Springer International Publishing
Indian Journal of Medical Research (IJMR)
Pub Med
Patient Info
Patients Committee for Responsible Medicine(PCRM)
British Dietetic Association (BDA)
American Dietetic Association (ADA)
Dietitians of Canada (CDA)
Journal of The American Dietetic Association
Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA)
Public Health England
World Health Organization (WHO)

Portion Sizes: Getting It Right For Our Waistlines!

Diet & Weight Loss

Food: our friend or foe? Yes, I’m sure quite a few of us would divulge that we have a love-hate relationship with food; it’s not a secret that we have seasonal, emotional or even social tendencies to over eat! Overeating, whether its biscuits, cheese, turkey, or quinoa, can all lead to increased weight gain. Rising waistlines and obesity levels can be indicative of our portion sizes and/or general diet; as studies in many western countries have highlighted (UK , America, Canada and Australia). Hands up if you have overheard or maybe even quoted yourself expressing this phrase “I can’t seem to lose weight, even while eating healthy foods- what’s going on?”  Well I think the answer to that question is ‘how well do we know our portion sizes’?

 

Portion sizes can be very hard to visualise and the ‘portion distortion’ effect makes it even more difficult, for example, studies have shown that the size of bowls or plates used can influence the quantity of food we consume.  Public interest has also focused on how food portion sizes have increased over the last few decades, such as an increase to packaging sizes of 30-50%; we have also become the kings and queens of ‘supersizing’ and ‘BOGOF’ deals, this is very evident within fast-food chains. These bigger portion sizes are resulting in the rise of obesity, type 2 diabetes and associated chronic diseases.

As well as companies increasing portion sizes they use widely different terms, e.g. portion size, serving size, recommended amount, snack size, fun size, sharing size etc, it’s no wonder we’re getting confused.  What is the difference?

  • A ‘portion’: is based on our daily recommended calorie intake (our DRVs).
  • A ‘serving’: until recently it could be whatever size companies wanted it to be, now thanks to pressure from health organizations and the government; it is linked to portion sizes, but can vary between companies and products and is usually hidden away on the back of the package.

 

Not only is this information hidden away, the way it’s presented will vary greatly and even if the portion sizes are communicated clearly, it can be unclear what they mean in real terms. For example, a 200g crisp packet states there is 85kcal in one 45g serving …so what does 45 grams look like?!

Photo by_Maryvery1 Flickr

The reality is that we’re not going to pack a kitchen scale or measuring cup into our purse and whisk them out at dinner party; social death anyone?

These tangible instruments are a great starting point and give us an increased aptitude to visualise quantities, but this can be easily forgotten; before we know it, we’re eating ‘our normal portions’ again and purchasing larger dress sizes. After all, it’s not necessarily what we eat, but the quantity (and frequency) of which we consume it.

Subjectively speaking, the quickest way to gauge portion size is from a healthy eating regime or perhaps how we feel after finishing a meal; we can quickly distinguish the difference between volumes of rice, or what a portion of cereal looks like. I think it’s fair to say that ‘dieting’ or not, we understand that devouring an entire family-sized bar of chocolate will carry long-term consequences to our health.

 

Support is at hand though. The BDA has The eatwell plate; a food plate that addresses the quantities of the five food groups.

Photo by: Lee Baker Flickr

Photo by: Lee Baker Flickr

 

The 5 A DAY scheme similarly highlights fruit and vegetable portion sizes.  Frustratingly, some companies like to extort our indolence and time constraints by pushing their expensive 5 A DAY pots of fruit & vegetables; don’t buy them, make your own!

These guidelines supplied by healthcare professionals are all great, but are difficult to apply to individual foods, e.g. eating one 80g portion of fruit cannot be applied when eating calorific chocolate, peanut butter or cheese- well we can dream!

 

Let’s start from scratch. Here are some strategies to correct our portion size mind-set.

 

Some Simple Ways To Express Portion Sizes:

Photo courtesy of: Topsy Tasty

 

Obviously this is not an exhaustive food list, but it will help get us started. Check out my additional information below on ways to help make portion sizes relative and manageable.

 

A Handy Solution!

Photo courtesy of: Topsy Tasty

 

Recommend Reading:

So it looks like we’re going to eat a lot less with our eyes and more with our hands- bon appétit!

 

Article written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist
Feature image by: a james Flickr

MULTIVITAMINS, MINERALS AND SUPPLEMENTS: A NECESSITY OR AN EXPENSE?

Diet & Weight Loss

Hands up if you are currently taking multivitamins, minerals, or some form of supplement at the moment? How long have you been taking them and do you feel any healthier for it?

I think we all like to look and feel our best (myself included) and being healthy means different things to all of us. We all have different backgrounds, including dietary needs. I take calcium, vitamin D , some vitamin B12 and occasionally iron because I became a vegan this year.

Although I do try and get these things from my current diet, I know that it might not be possible to meet my dietary needs because:

  • Vitamin B12 predominantly comes from animal sources. (1)
  • Our Vitamin D intake mainly comes from sunlight (topping up our levels during April-September/October here in the UK) (2). My levels are reduced due to my factor SPF 40 I wear!
  • Calcium is more readily absorbed with lactose, a sugar found in cows, goat and sheep milk. (3)

Equally someone with high cholesterol could benefit from buying plant sterols tablets, taking 2mg/D, or those especially designed cholesterol lowering drinks/yoghurts with added sterols; studies have proven this along with healthy diet and lifestyle changes, they do help lower total cholesterol.

The market for dietary vitamins and supplements was worth more than £670 million in 2009, according to an NHS report in 2011; it highlighted 8% was for beauty use, and approximately 85% was for combined physical and mental health reasons.

The ‘health industry’ have created their own market by appealing to people’s desires and needs to be as healthy as possible, whilst preying on people’s lack of knowledge. The placebo affect is a very real phenomenon, which many of these companies know all too well; so how do we know that the products advertised and endorsed by celebrities are any better than sugar pills? So it’s understandable we are possibly making the wrong choices regarding the products we should buy or completely avoid.

Recently, articles have shown Kelly Brook to have accepted a new range of health products from her friend Gary Cockerill. His range of vitamin drinks contain: Green Caffeine, Raspberry Ketones, Colon Cleanser and Acai Berry. Health companies have had those various components in the spotlight for a while, have you tried them?

    Would you associate these products with solid healthy living advice?

Photo courtesy of: Holland & Barrett & Evolution Slimming

Photos adapted from: Holland & Barrett & Evolution Slimming

I could write a whole article debating on what these contain and why they aren’t necessarily worth your money.  A lot of articles push what are supposedly the best supplements to buy each season, but do you really want and can you a afford to have a cupboard full of pills valued over £200? No thanks. From a diet point of view, companies will always try to entice us with fancy terms, e.g. anti-oxidant and immune fighting, thermogenic  or colon cleansing effects etc, but if there was a ‘magic weight loss pill’, we’d all be taking it; this is just a costly and possibly unsafe endeavour.

The reality is that a healthy, balanced and well planned diet will provide the right balance of nutrients and keep you performing at your best, so buying a pill is a potential waste of money. Did you know that 50% of vitamins are water soluble? Which means you could literally be throwing money down the toilet if you take these in high doses due to poor absorption; many vitamins and minerals need to be taken with food for better absorption and many of them compete with each other for absorption whilst others can be lethal in high doses, e.g. vitamin A. Take a peek at the NHS or BDA sites for more information regarding vitamins, minerals and supplements.

Am I being cynical? After all, if you have the money we’re all entitled to spend it as we see fit. I suppose it can be a little concerning how much money we invest in health products, not knowing the full risks, but I guess it’s up to us to do our research and if you’re unsure that you’re at risk, talk to a health professional.

Ultimately it’s important to make informed choices regarding our health, don’t you agree?

Article written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist
Feature image by: Andreas Feldl Flickr
Sources:
1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17959839
2. Pearce SHS, et al. Diagnosis and management of vitamin D deficiency. British Medical Journal 2010;340:142-7.
3. Am J Clin Nutr August 2002vol. 76 no. 2 442-446

Diet And Exercise- Not Just Seasonal? Plus 8 Lifestyle Changes

Diet & Weight Loss

So you notice the changing leaves, cooler air, earlier sunsets, following by the torrential downpours on your journey into work? This all points to one thing here in the U.K… yes winter is coming but so are the dreaded changes to your diet and exercise regime. You know what I mean, keeping high-calorie carbohydrate cravings at bay, followed by the excuses that stop you from exercising now that its dark and cold outside…it’s inevitable, or is it?

 

It’s time to get real, be consistent with our health, in what we’re doing year round, not just season to season. There are too many reasons to diet and exercise sporadically… birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and I don’t know about you, but I dislike diets, especially as they don’t work and are a waste of energy! Wouldn’t it just be easier to maintain a healthy and ‘you-friendly’ shape all year? Yes, undoubtedly yes!

So how do we go about it? A personal trainer once told me that in order to achieve a beach body (or a celebrity’s body as I prefer to think of it) you would have to spend a year in the gym eating a ‘clean diet‘. Beach body- who has the time for that?! I’m way past keeping a diary of how many lunges and push-ups I’ve completed or the amount of couscous I’ve eaten; if this is you, I applaud it. It takes a strong drive to maintain this military-like regime and still keep you sanity intact!

For the non- G.I Jane’s out there, a more practical solution is needed. As a food lover and a nutritionist, I would never recommend anyone to follow a very low calorie diet (VLCD) or ‘fad diet’. Why put yourself through the misery? So it’s a new chapter, not a new diet; burn the diet books! By following the changes below you’ll develop a healthier lifestyle.

 

The 8 Lifestyle Changes You Should Make Year Round Include:
  • Mindfulness. Ask yourself if you are truly hungry? Maybe it’s just thirst? Think about what you are eating, the portion sizes and enjoy every mouthful; make time to enjoy meals with friends or family.
  • Sleep. Studies have shown getting less than 7 hours of beauty sleep a night can lead to weight gain.
  • Meal plan & eat in moderation. It’s possible to eat healthy meals on a budget all year; it just takes some planning and a little research. The My Supermarket app compares food prices and can reduce your bills. Your weight loss doesn’t occur on a daily basis, but over weeks & months, so avoid your daily, or weekly snacks or ‘treats’; your waistline will thank you!
  • Reducing alcohol. Remember, alcohol=calories, whether it’s champagne, a martini or whatever your drink of choice.
  • Experiment. Your old ‘diets’ or usual meals might have made you bored of food; seek a colourful dinner plate to make sure we eat as many nutrients as possible.

I encourage you try these healthy, alternative, stodgy winter recipes:

These versions slice the calories you would normally consume in their ‘standard’ recipes but do not fail to satisfy!

  • Eat to stabilise your blood sugar levels. Try legumes, yoghurt, wholemeal pastas and rice, porridge, nuts, seeds and whole fruits. Protein and fibre will help keep you going for longer and reduce your appetite, whilst cupcakes and doughnuts, courtesy of the ‘office feeder’ won’t.
  • Buy a measuring tape. Your weight can fluctuate daily, so ditch the scale; take measurements every 2-4 weeks to see your progress.
  • Exercise! Get your heart racing for 30 minutes, 3-5 times a week. Studies show that even exercising for three 10 minute intervals/bursts per day is beneficial for your overall health. Keep motivated by involving your friends and family! Just keep your goals SMART, as you want to be able to keep up this new regime.

Be kind to yourself and maybe have a crack at some of these new workouts:

Always get a health professional’s opinion if you are new to exercise. I don’t want anyone injuring themselves.

Making these changes will allow your body to adjust to a healthy, comfortable weight. Just keep it realistic, interesting and remember, its ‘lifestyle changes’ so keep it up as the seasons change!

Check future articles for more great ways to exercise throughout the winter!

 

Article written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist
Feature image: Running By: fatfeet_Flickr
Sources:
NHS Choices
Web MD
BDA Weight Wise
My SuperMarket.co.uk
Mayo Clinic
Department of Health (DOH)