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 clichĂ©s 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

 

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-Tarino, Qi Sun, Frank 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

Soya & Vegetable Spaghetti Bolognese

Healthy Recipes, Meatless Monday

Serves: 4
Prep & Cooking Time: 35-40 mins
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Chopping Board, sharp knife, sieve, bowl, 2* non-stick pots, wooden spoon

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamin C, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, iron, potassium and per serving is low in added salt, sugars and saturated fats.

‘Veganising’ a recipe of this nature was effortless! In no time at all we created a pasta sauce that is not only plant-based and versatile but most importantly, nutritious and delicious! If you’ve never used dried soya mince before and/or fancy something new for your pasta night, we’d thoroughly suggest that you give this recipe a try! It’s packed full of great flavours from a tasty medley of veggies and seasoning’s alike (hint: the soya mince is great at absorbing of all these tasty elements from your dish!), and a wonderful ‘meaty’ texture from the mince! Serve it over some hearty wholemeal or GF spaghetti and you’re good to go!

It’s good to note that:

  • We used some frozen veggies because we had some on hand, but feel free to use fresh, frozen and/or anything seasonal!

 

Quick Foodie Facts:

  • This meal contains about 4 servings of vegetables (per serving/*based on four servings) towards you 5-A-Day! 
  • The soya mince is easy to use, inexpensive and also a great source of protein! Check out some of other health benefits from soya products mentioned here.

Happy cooking everyone!

 

Ingredients

++++++++++++180g        Frozen Mushrooms
++++++++++++100g        Frozen Bell Peppers
++++++++++++80g          White Onion
++++++++++++8g            Garlic Clove
++++++++++++240g        Courgette
++++++++++++180g         Carrot
++++++++++++50g          Dehydrated Soya Mince
++++++++++++                 Low-Fat Cooking Oil
++++++++++++ 10g          Balsamic Vinegar (2 tbsp.)
++++++++++++10g           Lemon Juice (2 tbsp.)
++++++++++++4g             Herb Blend (2g of each: Dried Basil & Dried Oregano)
++++++++++++2g             Sweet Paprika
++++++++++++                 Salt & Ground Black Pepper
++++++++++++2               Tins Plum Tomatoes (800g/ unsalted)
++++++++++++40g          Tomato Purée (unsalted)
++++++++++++65-80g    Wholemeal Spaghetti (use GF if required)/person

Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂

 

Directions

  • If you’re using frozen mushrooms and bell peppers, place them into a microwavable dish. Place them into a microwave and defrost them. Drain.
  • Alternatively wash and prepare any fresh mushrooms and peppers to your own personal preferences. Prepare the remaining vegetables. Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic. Wash the courgette, trim off its ends, slice it (vertically) and then chop it into thin slices. Wash, trim the ends, peel and then dice the carrot.
  • Rehydrate the soya mince according to the packet instructions. Drain. Tip: Make sure to follow the instructions to a ‘T’! We used about 150ml of freshly boiled (and seasoned) water; the whole process took about 7 mins.

 

In the meantime…

  • Heat a non-stick pot over a medium-low heat. Spray it with some low-fat cooking oil.
  • Add the onion and garlic. Gently fry for 1-2 mins or until softened.
  • Add the mushrooms, bell pepper, courgette and carrot. Gently fry for 3-4 mins or until softened.
  • Add 2 tbsp vinegar, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 4g herb blend and sweet paprika. Season it to taste with some salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Mix to coat.
  • Add the tin tomatoes and tomato purĂ©e. Mix to combine. Tip: Use the edge of your frying spatula or wooden spoon to crush the tomatoes. 
  • Add the rehydrated soya mince. Stir it through the sauce.
  • Cover with a lid. Simmer and cook for about 12 mins, stirring occasionally. NB: Leave the lid loosely covering the pot for the last half of the cooking process.
  • Remove from the heat. Taste and season the sauce as necessary. Tip: Tinned tomatoes can be slightly bitter; if necessary just add a pinch of sugar or sweetener to help balance out the flavours! Leave the pot covered until you are ready to serve. Give the sauce a good stir before serving.
  • Meantime, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions whilst the sauce is cooking. Drain.

 

Serve warm. Transfer the pasta into a large serving bowl. Ladle over the sauce. Tip: A drizzle of balsamic glaze or a scattering of fresh herbs and/or toasted pine nuts would make for an extra tasty finish!

 

Enjoy!

 

Refrigerate any leftovers in an air-tight and resealable container; reheat and consume within 2-3 days. Alternatively freeze in a resealable container(s); best consumed within 1-2 months, just defrost and reheat before use.

A Walk In The Park: Birds, Rain & Romans

Exercise, Healthy Mind

Whether you are you a stickler for consuming your 5-A-Day or follow a vegan or a pescetarian diet… The very definition of being healthy incorporates not only eating a ‘healthy diet’ but by also by implementing some sort of realistic fitness plan/routine.

Exercise doesn’t have to consist of a gruelling regime in the gym. When given the chance, we think that most people would prefer to be outdoors. We’re designed to move and we should make the most of what nature has to offer…rain or shine!

We know it’s less motivating when the trees are still bare, the wind has an icy bite and a blast of rain is imminent… but that’s what big, fuzzy apparel and robust winter boots are for!

 

This week we decided to stretch our legs with a trip into a Hertfordshire park. As you can see from the map, it’s a great size with lots of things to do (including plenty of hills to climb!).

This park is named after the Roman city ‘Verulamium’ on which it stands….

 

 

 

 We enjoyed an hour’s walk through sunshine, rain, a freak sleet storm…

 

 

…and groups of ravenous ducks!

 

 

This is a lovely park located within the centre of a historic town….so it’s obviously close to local amenities, like this pub….

If you venture off into the other direction, it will lead you to ‘The Waffle House’! Haha! Despite it having excellent reviews… it is unfortunately not vegan friendly! 😩

 

Just joking! We did not go into any pub, even at the end of our walk when we were cold and drenched!

 

 

With cheap bird seed on sale in the park’s cafe, the birds appreciate and expect to be fed…some even started to quack at the sound of our little, brown paper bag rustling…

So many ducks and beautiful swans…

 

 

Some of the swans we all too keen to show me their ‘bullying technique’ when it came to ‘feeding time’…

 

 

…biting at my hands…they really didn’t like eating off the pavement…but I guess who can really blame them?!

 

 

So we gave up and just enjoyed the peace and quiet (once we tuned out the sound of all of the honking Canadian geese!) and the sites, like these Roman ruins…

The remains of  the Roman city walls

 

 

This one is for all you history buffs or lovers of everything ‘English’…

 

We would have loved to have shown you more of these sites….but if you didn’t notice, the sign is stained in rain drops! The sky soon opened up and pelted us with heavy rain, followed by sleet. So we had to get a move on!

 

 

Our walk quickly turned into sprint…but we realised we still had one more bag of bird seed; we decided to brave the birds one last time. They were hungry and perhaps a bit aggravated about the freak storm…

Please excuse my ‘bear-paw’ blocking the corner of the camera lens!

 

 

A huge swan emerged from the pond and became aggressive; it snatched the bag of seeds from Al….and that was enough of that!

 

 

We’d just like to point out that it’s great to support your local wildlife, but please respect the advice laid out by the parks… do not feed birds white bread! This poor goose was a little worse for wear and feeding it half of loaf of bread from your local baker’s isn’t going to help matters…

Birds can be nutritionally depleted too! 😩

 

 

When the weather is more desirable (and the equipment is a little less slippery!), this outdoor ‘gym’…

Adidas allows everyone to bust a move in the park!

 

 

mini climbing wall…

To the left of this climbing wall is a large tennis court, and to the right is a custom-made volley ball court.

 

 

or basketball court…

To the left of this court is a huge, kids play area and numerous football pitches…perfect for when you’re tired of your kids turning you into a human gym-set! 🙂

 

 

…are among many of the resources that this park has to offer…which all allow people to support a healthy lifestyle with innovative ways of spicing up their fitness routines!

 

 

As we left the park we noticed that spring is just on the horizon with this budding tree…

Little pink buds are always a great sign!

 

 

…along with these little flowers that are lining the church cemetery.

We’re not sure what these flowers are; there are also many beautiful daffodils flowering around Hertfordshire at the moment too!

 

 

It’s always great to end a walk on a positive note; we would thoroughly recommend this park, rain or shine!

 

 

So we’d like to encourage everyone to get out into their local parks (or green spaces) this weekend and take their dog for a stroll, or allow their little ones the enjoyment of kicking a football across the pitch or just being able to run around (and be kids!)… and of course to allow yourself to de-stress from the week’s events.

 

So remember everyone- let’s all Eat2Health and get out and about more often!

Sweet And Sour Battered Tofu With Rice

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 4
Prep & Cooking Time: 60-70 mins
Type: Main meal
Tools: Heavy plates, chopping board, sharp knife, small bowls, baking tray, silicone mat or parchment paper, non-stick pot w/lid, frying spatula, steamer pot, food processor or blender, whisk

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamin C, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc and per serving is low in added salt, sugar and saturated fats!

A plant-based lifestyle does not all have to be about celery, steamed tofu and rice… er, but when has that ever really been the case?! This recipe is a prime example of how delicious and exciting vegan meals can be. It’s also a great alternative for those that love Chinese foods but are trying to adhere to a healthier lifestyle…and it’s coeliac friendly. 🙂

Apart from stir-fry’s, we don’t normally eat Chinese foods; a lot of authentic dishes can be high in salt, fats and/or sugar! However, I was thinking about this the other week when I initially made my battered tofu; the tofu looked a little like ‘battered chicken pieces’… and that got my creative juices going!

…I suppose my love of pineapple may have biased my choices slightly! 🙂

Happy cooking everyone! 😀

NB: We used some frozen bell peppers to help bulk out the quantity and some fresh pepper to help keep the meal visually appealing!

 

Ingredients

Battered tofu:
396g Firm tofu (*Serves 4)
See our previous recipe for instructions and a full ingredients list.

NB: Our pineapple tin contained approximately 130g of juice.

If gluten is of concern, double check your vinegar before you purchase it, e.g. in case it contains ‘extra’ ingredients, such as barley malt.

 

 

Nutritional Info (Sauce Only)

NB: 4 grams is approx. one teaspoon!

Store bought varieties can easily contain two to three times the amount of added sugars/serving, whilst ‘take-away’ versions (dependant on the serving size) can contain up to six to eight times as much.

 

 

Directions

Prepare the tofu. Open and drain the tofu. Place it between two heavy and/or weighted plates (or chopping boards) for about 20-30 mins to remove any excess water. In the meantime, prepare the batters. See our other recipe for instructions.

 

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a baking tray with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Spray it with a little low-fat cooking oil (if desired).

 

 

In the meantime, prepare the vegetables for the sauce. Place the frozen bell peppers into a microwavable bowl; defrost in the microwave. Drain. Wash, peel and dice the garlic. Wash, remove the stem and chop the chilli. Wash, trim the ends and slice most of the onion; set the rest aside (to use as a garnish later). Remove the stem de-seed and chop the red bell pepper into cubes. Open the pineapple; separate the fruit from its juice into two separate containers.

 

 

Drain, chop and slice the tofu into small pieces (about œcm thick rectangles). Place them onto the baking tray.

 

 

Batter the tofu; refer to our other recipe. Once all of the tofu has been coated in batter, place the baking tray into the oven. Bake for about 20-30mins or until lightly golden. Turn once during cooking. Remove.

NB: This tofu has not been baked.

Baked. 🙂

 

 

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Heat a non-stick saucepan over a medium-low heat. Spray it with some low-fat cooking oil.

 

 

Add the garlic, chilli and onion. Gently fry for 1-2 minutes or until softened.

 

 

Transfer into a small dish. Allow to cool slightly.

 

 

In the meantime, cook the rice according to the packet instructions. Remove from the heat. Steam any side vegetables in a steamer pot. Drain.

NB: Frozen green beans and broccoli normally cooks faster than cauliflower!

 

 

Add the bell peppers to the saucepan. Gently fry for 2-3 mins.

 

 

Transfer into a small dish. Allow to cool slightly.

 

 

Place the garlic, chilli and onion into a food processor. Add the pineapple juice, water, sugar and vinegar. Season it with some salt and black pepper to taste.

 

 

Pulse until combined and the chilli and onion have ‘broken down’ slightly.

 

 

Transfer the mixture into the non-stick saucepan. Add extra dried chilli flakes (if desired). Add the potato starch and bell peppers. Whisk together.

 

 

Chop all or half of the pineapple slices into cubes.

NB: Save some for serving or chop all of it and add it into the sauce.

 

 

Add the chopped pineapple. Stir to combine.

 

 

Place the saucepan over a medium-low heat. Whisk until the sauce has thickened; approx 1-2 mins. Add a little water if a thinner consistency is desired.Remove from the heat. Cover with a lid to keep warm.

 

 

Meanwhile, shred or chop the remaining onion (if applicable) .

 

 

Serve warm. Spoon the rice onto a large serving plate (or into a small bowl); garnish with the onion. Transfer the tofu next to the rice and ladle over the sauce. Serve with the accompanying vegetables and a piece of the remaining pineapple (if applicable). Season it with some black pepper to taste (if desired).

NB: This shows one portion of tofu, rice and sauce. Add a dash of low-sodium soya sauce to the rice (if desired).

Leftovers!

 

Enjoy!

Refrigerate any leftovers in a resealable container; reheat and consume within 3-5 days.

NB: This container shows all of the sauce. I made my sauce in advance and reheated what we needed later on.

NB:

  • When reheating the sauce, do so in a non-stick saucepan over a medium-low heat. The sauce can be a bit gelatinous after being refrigerated; add a little water to loosen the sauce (if desired).
  • The tofu can be gently reheated in the microwave; approx. 1-2 minutes on a high heat setting.
  • Store the tofu and sauce in two separate resealable containers.

 

 

If preferred…

  • Use standard baked tofu or temph, or some cooked white beans instead of my battered tofu.
  • Serve with rice, millet or quinoa.
  • Use dried chillies instead of fresh; feel free to use more or less than instructed!

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 blasĂ© 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 cruditĂ©s  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 Âœ 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

Vegan Chilli (GF, SF, Low-Fat!)

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 6
Prep & Cooking time: 70 minutes

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-vitamins, Vitamin C, protein, fibre, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, no added sugars and is low in fats! 

Chilli is so versatile and it’ s something that the whole family can enjoy. Its a one-pot wonder containing so many wholesome flavours, nutrients and textures; ours is packed full of vegetables, legumes, pulses and a grain! It can be served with rice, a jacket potato or even a delicious multi-grain bread roll.

We sincerely encourage everyone to try and make their own; tinned and processed versions are really not that nice and can be high in sugar, salts and/or fats! Ours has a ‘mild’ chilli taste, but feel free to make it as hot as you like! It can be fairly inexpensive to make if you stick to a few basic ingredients and spices; some of these ingredients can be purchased in ethnic food stores for less than mainstream prices.

You will notice that this recipe also contains cinnamon! This spice is awesome and it really helps make this dish! If your unsure, add a little at first and see how you go!

 

Quick facts:

Do you love cinnamon? We do! Trying experimenting and adding it to different recipes. Various studies have shown that cinnamon can have a modest effect on stabilising our blood glucose levels and others that suggest that it can help lower our blood lipids too; although the specifics are not 100% conclusive. None the less, it can add a whole other dimension to your meal/recipe! 

One serving contains approximately all of your 5-A-Day needs! …But this doesn’t mean that you can’t eat even more throughout the day! 10-A-Day anyone?!

 

Fresh and vibrant!

 

 

Ingredients:

 NB: We used dried black beans (*soaked overnight for 12 hours and then boiled/simmered for 1.5 hours) before adding them to this recipe. 

 

 

Nutritional info for chilli:

NB: One serving contains approximately 195% of your RDA for Vitamin C!

 

 

Directions:

Peel and dice the onion and the garlic. Wash, remove the stem, de-seed and roughly shop the bell pepper. Wash, trim the ends, peel and dice the carrot. Wash, trim the ends and dice the celery. Wash, dry and slice the mushrooms. Break the green beans into halves.

 

 

Meanwhile, place a large, non-stick saucepan over a medium-low heat. Spray it with some low-fat cooking oil.

NB: We used ‘4 sprays’.

 

 

 

Add the onion and garlic. Stir and gently fry for 1-2 minutes, or until softened.

 

 

Add the bell pepper, carrot, celery and mushrooms. Stir together. Gently fry for 3-5 minutes or until softened.

NB: We used an additional ‘2 sprays’ of low-fat cooking oil.

 

 

 

Add the tomatoes, chilli powder, cinnamon, cumin, dried coriander, cumin seeds, onion powder and tomato purée. Season it with some salt and pepper to taste. Stir together. Cover and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook for approximately 6 minutes, or until the tomatoes have  broken down slightly.

 

 

 Add the stock, quinoa and lentils. Bring back to the boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the quinoa and lentils are cooked/tender.

At about 12 minutes in it really smelt delicious! 😀

 

 

 

Add the green beans, sweet corn, kidney and black beans. Stir together. Simmer for a further 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

So many lovely veggies!

 

 

 

In the meantime, prepare a slurry. Place the corn flour into a small dish. Add equals parts water. Whisk together until dissolved.

NB: Give the mixture a quick whisk again before adding it into the chilli.

 

 

 Chop the coriander (leaves and stems).

This  coriander came straight out of our freezer stash!

 

 

 Add the coriander to the chilli.

 

 

Whilst continuously stirring, pour in the slurry. Stir until thickened; approximately 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.

 

 

Serve warm. Ladle into a serving bowl…..

 

 

 Serve with rice, a small baked potato or bread roll if desired….

NB: Just be mindful of portion sizes! We served ours with some brown basmati rice.

 

 

Top with soya yoghurt, avocado, radishes, spring onion, herbs or anything else (if desired).

This is one we made last year! 🙂

 

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Refrigerate any leftovers in a resealable container; consume within 3-5 days. Alternatively, place in a resealable container(s), freeze and consume within 1-2 months; defrost before use.

This is perfect for another 2 meals!

 

 

 

If preferred…

  • Use any variation of veggies! Try kale, spinach, aubergine, squash, sweet potato or courgettes!
  • Experiment with the spice blend! Add as little or as much as desired; try using fresh chillies, or turmeric, or maybe even some basic curry powder.
  • Vary your beans! Try haricot(navy), pinto or soya beans, or maybe some black-eyed peas or chickpeas!
  • Reduce the legumes and use some rehydrated soya mince instead; non-vegans can try using some Quorn, turkey breast mince or an extra lean beef mince.

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

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)