In part one of this article I gave you a run down on the basic causes for an unhealthy life through bad nutrition, and the need to turn that lifestyle and thinking around.
You don’t have to turn vegetarian or vegan to eat nutritiously, though it can help and with the plethora of products and the amount of recipes now devoted to these areas of food it is certainly a more pleasant diet now than it was in the 70’s and 80’s with its slabs of eggplant and grilled vegetables slavered in some sort of boring tomato-based sauce. I have to confess to only being a “partial” vegetarian as I love poultry and bacon way too much to totally forgo them. However, my partner and I found we slipped into a predominantly vegetarian diet without really intending to. We have always eaten a lot of salads, and by taking out a lot of the red meat and substituting it wih cheeses, grains, legumes and pulses…yes, and tofu which isn’t nearly as bad as everyone likes to make out…we found we had nutritious, filling meals that more than satisfied us. Portion control is an important part of a good diet. Many of us have spent most of our lives eating a lot more food than we really need to. No wonder we are getting so fat as a nation. The fact that it is a dinner plate doesn’t mean it has to be filled to the edges! To stop doing this, use smaller plates, or move to deep bowls.
When you shop, as much as possible avoid the areas of temptation in the supermarket…oh how they love to trap you! Steer your trolley quickly through the cake, biscuit, prepared sauces, and lolly sections. Try filling it with fresh fruit and vegetables, lean cuts of meat and poultry, oil-free dressings (there is a huge range now), Weight Watchers products (buy their cookbooks from the newsagents. They are very creative and easy to prepare meals that you would be proud to entertain with), nuts and dried fruits, cereals that aren’t full of sugar, wholemeal flours, sugar substitutes (though Demerara and raw sugars are okay), whole grain breads, low-fat yoghurts, canned lentils, chickpeas and white beans (rinse well before using), tinned tomatoes, low-salt stocks and table sauces…all this will give you a good start. Make your own desserts and cakes using basic recipes and substituting bran oil or grape seed oil for butter, and using natural yoghurt instead of milk, apple purée or honey as a sweetener. There are heaps of recipes around if you don’t want to experiment yourself. Oh, and shout yourself some good quality tea, and dark chocolate as both are full of antioxidants. Doesn’t mean you can eat a whole block in one sitting…but be generous with yourself. Also, contrary to popular belief (but something I have always believed) current research encourages us to eat more dairy in our daily diet, and shows that it actually aids in weight loss. As a cheese lover, I am eternally thankful (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/6413146/Eating-more-cheese-can-help-fat-people-lose-weight-study-claims.html). Eat fresh fruit or process it in smoothies in preference to drinking fruit juices. They are full of sugar, and because they are separated from the flesh you miss the benefits of the natural fibre.
Now, to the question of supplements. Dietitians recommend that fish or krill oil capsules, along with a multivitamin capsule be taken every day. The fish oil is great for Omega-3, coronary and brain health, along with aiding the reduction of cholesterol, and is important for joint health if you have a rigorous exercise program. A blood test at your doctors will indicate if you are deficient in any vitamins or minerals. It is useless taking these supplements if you don’t need them, as you will just piss them away.
You DON’T have to drink 8 glasses of water a day. There is absolutely no research to back this up, and in fact it seems that someone somewhere (possibly a bottled water salesman) decuded thatbthisvsounded likeva great thing to tell people to do, and presto, that is what everyone believes? The amount of liquids you need depends on what you are doing, and you need to look at what liquid you get from tea, coffee, milk, fruit and vegetables etc. it is as bad for you to imbibe too much water as to drink too little. The best way to judge it…if you are thirsty, drink!
It is best to eat meals after exercise and not before, but it depends on what time you do it. If early in the day, eat some carbs and protein (like a bacon and egg sandwich on wholegrain) when you have finished to stop you hitting the wall.
Don’t overload yourself with carbs at night; if eating potatoes, rice or pasta keep the portions small. Use kumera (sweet potato) as a potato and pumpkin substitute as it has less carbs. And remember not to eat more calories than you burn.
Don’t like eating fruit? Process it with some honey and top up with skim milk or organic apple juice to make a smoothie. Add a banana and you have lunch.
Sprinkle LSA (Ground Lindseed, Sunflower, and Almonds, available health food section of supermarket for about $3.00 for 250g) on your cereal, or add to smoothies or baked goods.
Eat berries including chia and goji. They are some of natures super foods; other foods that fall into the Superfood category are pomegranate juice (expensive and just sublime), Brazil nuts, walnuts, broccoli, oysters, eggs, salmon, red capsicum, soy and linseed bread, oats to name a few.
You don’t have to stop eating desserts or cakes. Make them yourself using low-fat recipes.
The best cheeses for healthy eating are Parmesan, Fetta, Goat’s cheese, Haloumi, Paneer, light ricotta, cream cheese, Quark and Pecorino.
Change to skim milk, light yoghurt, butter and cream, and use buttermilk in baking; Use Demerara, raw or muscovado sugar instead of white; Use wholemeal flour, brown rice, cous cous, pearl barley, polenta, faro, freekeh and quinoa.
Eat wholegrain, seeded or rye breads and rolls. “Burgen” bread is at the dearer end of the scale, but the breads are both delicious and healthy. Even my mother-in-law liked it. Also, check out artisan bakeries in your area for really great breads.
Change how you snack. Instead of chips, cakes, biscuits and sweets have fresh fruit, dried fruit and nuts, low fat/sugar health bars, low-fat yoghurts etc. If junk food is not to hand then you can’t reach for it when you want to snack. By stocking up on healthier options you will eat them instead. If you are already vegetarian, you should eat some nuts and seeds daily.
If you want to count calories (and if you are overweight it is a good idea to) you can download both iPhone and iPad apps to help you. CalorieKing is an Aussie app that means the foods are relevant to here, including fast-foods. It will connect you to their web site where you can join Calorie King for free, and by entering up a few details they will work out daily food plans for you. The only problem I have with sites like this is that it is time consuming to enter up your daily food intake and exercise (though if you do enter it all it will track whether you are under or over with your calorie intake). On the upside, you can save regularly eaten foods as favourites which makes the entry process faster.
Ensure you get 20-30 minutes of sun every day to promote the production of vitamin D in the body. Because sunlight is free, nobody who makes money from vitamin and sunscreen sales is going to promote exposure. It is an important vitamin to help prevent osteoporosis, depression, prostate cancer and breast cancer. To read more go to http://www.naturalnews.com/003069.html. This amount of exposure every day without sunscreen is not going to harm you.
I am always banging on about Weight Watchers recipe books, and for good reason…they are fantastic. WW learnt long ago that if you want people to eat healthy food, it needs to be creative, tasty and easy to make. Their cookbooks fulfil all these criteria, and are a good way to learn portion control. They are heavily vegetable orientated, but in a good way. If there are two or three vegetables in a main dish, the accompaniment to the meal will always add another two or three. Some of their recipes are now amongst my favourites, including their Cheesey Cauliflower with Pancetta; Ricotta Gnocci with Fresh Tomato Sauce; Sweet and Sour Chicken; Lemongrass Prawns with Lime & Chilli Salt; Roasted Tomato Soup etc. get the message! They bring out new books regularly and are available from Newsagents. We use them to eat healthy low-fat, low-sugar portion controlled meals every day. My partner has shed kilo’s since adopting them. Use their Points System if you like, but it is not essential.
Some information on vegetarian diets. If you are considering becoming a vegetarian don’t be nervous about taking meat out of your diet. The vitamins and protein available from meat can also be obtained from dairy and vegetables (depending on whether you are a ovo-lacto vegetarian (no eggs or dairy), a vegan or a straight out vegetarian). It is no longer the 70’s and 80’s with totally uninspired vegetarian fare. Today, vegetarian recipes are creative, inspired and totally enjoyable. You’d be surprised what you can serve up to friends with no inkling, and no questions asked. Like all lifestyle changes, ensure that you read up about it or ask your doctor, nutritionist or dietician. The social stigma around vegetarianism has all but died, with more and more people opting for this healthy way to eat than ever before. The following links will provide you with some basic information that will help you realise that becoming vegetarian is not the hard work you think it is. http://www.fitwatch.com/nutrition/how-to-make-a-vegetarian-diet-well-balanced-and-healthy-125.html and http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/vegetarian_eating. There are a lot of recipe books out now for vegetarians, standard recipe book often contain vegetarian sections, and cafes and restaurants offer vegetarian options in their menu’s. My partner and I have not totally committed to the lifestyle but are probably about 80% vegetarian. We still enjoy the occasional hamburger, egg and bacon roll, and we still eat cold- cuts, fish and some poultry. How far you go with it is entirely up to you.
Remember, to be fit and healthy you need…healthy eating and exercise. It isn’t rocket science, it’s common sense. The keywords to kick start your new life are EXERCISE, LOW-FAT/LOW-SUGAR and PORTION CONTROL…and NO SMOKING.