Good Nutrition Advice

For a healthy body and mind

Month: November 2015 (Page 1 of 2)

This Simple solution beats heart disease

Carbohydrates Accelerate Growth of Human Brains

It has become common for carbohydrates to be viewed in a very dim light, with most of the popular fad diets being carb-free.

The paleo diet, in particular, shuns carbohydrates in order to recreate the eating habits of our early ancestors. However, a recent study published in The Quarterly Review of Biology reveals that carbohydrates have been essential to human evolution — particularly the development of the brain.

The study investigated genetic, anatomical and physiological data to understand how carbohydrates have contributed to the development of the human brain. Dr Karen Hardy, from the University of Chicago, is the lead scientist behind the research believes carbohydrates accelerate growth of human brains.

She believes that both cooking and an increase in the amount of enzymes to break down carbohydrates made them much more digestible and available for the brain to use as fuel. This more readily available fuel from carbohydrates contributed to the rapid growth of the brain.

Wholegrains or unrefined carbohydrates have an important role to play in your diet. Not only do they provide fibre to support your digestive system, they will also give you a nice, steady supply of fuel to power your brain. Don’t cut them out…

Cauliflower and Chicken Curry with Sweet Potato Noodles

Cauliflower and Chicken Curry with Sweet Potato Noodles

By Sara Borg
This is a yummy winter warmer served with sweet potato noodles for a healthier alternative to rice. Curries are one of my favourite dishes to cook and eat (of course)… It is also very easy to make and inexpensive too so don’t be taken aback by the word curry, once you’ve got your spices in hand the rest is simple. Sit back, get cosy and enjoy!
Cauliflower and Chicken Curry with Sweet Potato Noodles

(serves 4-5)

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts, diced 
  • 1/2 a cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 6 chestnut mushrooms, cut into chunks
  • 2 tbsp, coconut oil
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  • 1/2 can coconut cream
  • 5 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • Salt & pepper and fresh coriander to garnish

Spices:

  • 1 bayleaf
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 inch minced ginger 
  • 2 black cardamon pods
  • For the sweet potato noodles:
  • 3 medium sized sweet potatoes, spiralized 

Method:

  1. Heat a large deep pan with 2 tbsp of coconut oil.
  2. In another small non-stick pan heat and add the whole spices (cardamon, cumin seeds & bay leaf) and toast slightly to help release the fragrance and oils. Then grind in a pestle & mortar.
  3. Add these spices to the heated coconut oil together with the rest of your ground spices and minced ginger. Then add the onions and garlic and sauté until golden brown.
  4. Add the cauliflower, mushrooms and tomatoes and allow to simmer into a sauce.
  5. Next add the chopped chicken and leave to cook on a low heat.
  6. At this stage, bring a large pot of water to boil as if you were cooking pasta and then add your spiralized sweet potato noodles and cook until al dente.
  7. Once the chicken is nearly cooked, add the coconut milk and cream, stirring in well and leave to simmer until the chicken is done.
  8. Place a portion of sweet potato noodles into separate bowls, then add a generous amount of the curry and garnish with chopped fresh coriander.
  9. Serve immediately and enjoy!

 

About Sara

Sara Borg

I was born into a family of healthy eaters and from that my passion for healthy eating and all things good for you grew. I am very conscious about giving my body all the goodness that it deserves, especially in today’s fast-paced lifestyle where pre-packed ready meals and sugar loaded snacks are so easily available.

Read more about me here…

 

 

 

6 Ways to Stop Stress Eating

6 Ways to Stop Stress Eating

In a previous article, we looked at why we turn to food for emotional reasons.

If you really want to be free of this self-destructive habit for good, you’ll want to increase awareness of your eating— this means tuning into your thoughts and feelings on a regular basis, and making needed adjustments to prevent you from reaching for the chocolate chip cookies whenever you’re having a rough moment…

When we fight with ourselves about tucking into the cookie jar, the two parts of our mind at work are the emotional and the rational. The “emotional mind” drives us when we do things without thinking them through first — these actions are based on how we happen to be feeling at that particular moment. For example, “Feel sad—must eat cookies.” The ‘rational mind’ is at work when we take the time to think things through before acting: For example, “I know I want to eat cookies right now, but it won’t solve my mood and I’ll feel bad about myself afterwards.”

The goal of eating with increased awareness (EWIA) is to have these two parts work together harmoniously. Ideally, we want to increase our awareness of what is going on for us emotionally, while at the same time, use our rational minds to solve the problem at hand. This is where EWIA can help us make good food choices that leave us feeling healthy, peaceful and in control. Of course, like any new skill, EWIA takes time and practice in order for us to be successful. Even though it may feel awkward and difficult at first, over time, it can become as second nature as brushing our teeth.

6 ways to stop stress eatingEWIA is not so much about being aware of what foods are on our plates but, rather, awareness of what and how much we’re eating and why we’re eating it. If you’ve ever practiced meditation, you’ll be familiar with how your mind tends to wander, and can appreciate the discipline required to keep bringing it back to the present moment. The same thing happens when we eat without conscious intention and awareness.

Here are two major, relatable roadblocks to EWIA. For each one, I will give you tools you can use to bring more awareness to food and the eating experience. Here are 6 ways to stop stress eating.

6 Ways to Stop Stress Eating. EWIA Roadblock #1: Distracted Eating

Who among us doesn’t multitask on a daily basis, especially while we are eating? In today’s fast-paced world, the preparation and consumption of food seems to be little more than an inconvenience in our stressed-out, busy lives.
Do you eat while also:

  • Watching television?
  • Working?
  • Being totally stressed out?

To help you let go of distracted eating, try the following:

  • Only eat while sitting, and focus solely on the act of eating your meal.
  • Eat away from your work area: in a lunchroom, restaurant or outside.
  • Take a few deep breaths before you eat to calm and center yourself.

6 Ways to Stop Stress Eating. EWIA Roadblock #2: Eating Without Enjoyment

A 2006 survey showed that Americans are eating more but enjoying it less. Just 39% of adults said they enjoyed eating “a great deal,” down from the 48% who said the same in a 1989 survey.
To help you eat with more enjoyment, try the following:

1.    Take a minute before each meal and ask yourself what food you’d really enjoy eating at that moment, and try having that particular food if you can get it.
2.    When eating something you really love and enjoy, eat it very slowly and enjoy the senses that go along with it like taste, texture, temperature, etc. Try to really be in the moment while enjoying the food.
3.    Choose a small portion of your favorite foods to experiment with and notice how satisfying less can be when you slow down the eating experience and really enjoy it.

If this sounds like you and you need some help with weight loss due to emotional eating, join my next programme starting Monday… nutrition advice

Pan-Seared Duck with Pomegranate Sauce

Pan-Seared Duck with Pomegranate Sauce

Duck breasts may seem too fancy for the average weeknight, but they cook beautifully. With its luscious ruby-coloured sauce, this is definitely one that will impress your guests at Christmas!

Pan-Seared Duck with Pomegranate Sauce

Ingredients:

2 Duck breasts
1 pomegranate, de-seeded
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 pomegranate syrup
2 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS rice wine
2 tsp arrowroot powder
1 clove garlic, minced

1. Score skin of the duck breasts. Transfer to a dish (skin-side down).

2. Mix soy sauce, rice wine, and minced garlic. Pour all over the duck breasts. Flip duck breasts, and let them marinade in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

3. In a sauce pan, heat chicken broth and pomegranate syrup. Bring mixture to a boil. Add in arrowroot powder, and lower the heat. Keep stirring until arrowroot powder has dissolved. Stir in pomegranate seeds. Set aside.

4. On a cold frying pan, place duck breasts skin-side down. Let them cook for 15 minutes. Flip. Continue cooking for about 2 – 5 minutes, or until preferred doneness.

5. Slice the duck beasts, and serve with pomegranate sauce.

Vitamin D Supplementation

Vitamin D Supplementation Reduces Falls in the elderly

Vitamin D is still retaining the attention of researchers, and deservedly so.

A recent study has linked vitamin D supplementation with a reduction in falls among the elderly living at home.  The study, published in the American Journal of Geriatrics Society, was a small one that involved 68 elderly people.

They were all part of a Meals-on-Wheels programme in North Carolina and this was how the vitamin D supplementation was delivered to those taking part. More than half of the elderly people had insufficient vitamin D levels.

The elderly were split into two groups: one group received a monthly amount of 100,000 IU of vitamin D with their meals-on-wheels while the other group just received a placebo. The vitamin D group reported half the falls of the placebo group.

This was a pilot study so there will be larger studies to follow, but this is an encouraging result. A simple home finger-prick test will help you to understand if your vitamin D levels are sufficient and whether you need to top up with a supplement.

Break Free from Emotional Eating

Break Free from Emotional Eating

Sometimes we turn to food not because we are physically hungry, but because something is “eating us” emotionally.

Many of us were taught that food can “soothe a mood,” and that by eating something when we’re upset, we will find comfort. Can you remember being a child when you fell down and scraped your knee and your mom gave you a cookie to make you feel better?

Even into adulthood, we continue to use food to soothe our moods, only now with negative consequences: We realize that we still haven’t dealt with what was bothering us in the first place after we’ve consumed an entire tub of ice cream, plus we’ve eaten way more calories than our body needs. And we usually end up getting mad at ourselves for overeating.

This sets us up for a vicious cycle of stuffing feelings with food (and thus not dealing with them), possible weight gain or excessive exercise and self-recrimination … until the cycle starts all over again. How frustrating!

How to Break Free from Emotional Eating

Three emotional states in particular often lead to bouts of emotional eating: sadness, anxiety and anger.

Discomfort-Food-Avoiding-Emotional-EatingSad Eating 

Let’s face it—when heartbreak hits, eating a tub of ice cream seems like a good idea. A bit of sweeteness to drown out your sorrow. But before you know it, you’re caught in a self-perpetuating negative cycle and it can be very difficult to get out of it once it’s started. You eat because you’re sad, then you feel even more blue because you’ve even so much; this can lead to a “what-the-heck” attitude, increasing the likelihood of overeating when the next bout of the blues hits.

Healthy alternatives: 

1. Talk it out. If you’re feeling blue, it probably has something to do with an upsetting incident that has happened and you may feel a whole lot better to get it off your chest by calling up a friend and sharing what you’re feeling.

2. Exercise. Research has shown over and over again that one of the best ways of battling the blues is by moving your body and getting your heart pumping. Even doing 30 minutes of moderate exercise boosts the “feel-good” chemicals in the brain.

3. Boo Hoo it out. This is the non-technical term for having a “pity party for one.” Really indulge yourself here: Take a hot bath and light candles, listen to sad music, and cry until you run out of tears. You’ll feel a whole lot better after.

emotional-eating 2Anxious Eating 

Many of us eat in an attempt to lower anxiety and a way of self-medicating ourselves. In fact, research has shown that carbohydrate-rich foods actually boost serotonin levels, a chemical that makes you feel calm. This explains why we often reach for carbohydrate-rich comfort foods when we’re stressed.

Healthy alternatives: 

1. Take a nap or go to bed early. Research has shown that people who are well-rested are less susceptible to anxiety and stress, and are better at resisting the urge to overeat. Strive to get at least 8 ½ hours of sleep each night to reduce the urge to overeat in your waking hours.

2. Do something relaxing and calming. We all have different ways of relaxing. The next time you feel stressed and anxious and instinctively turn to food, resist the urge to run to the cupboard or fridge and, instead, practice one of the relaxing activities you enjoy the most.

Angry Eating 

Often we will eat instead of focusing on what is “eating us.” We stuff our anger down with food to cope but, unfortunately, this doesn’t get rid of our anger. It simply buries it and if we don’t deal with it, it will keep popping up until we do. To make matter worse, we hurt our bodies by overeating and then add the feelings of guilt and shame to the anger we started with.

Healthy alternatives: 

A way to get out of the “angry-eating trap” is to delay eating (even 10 minutes will do). Sit down, take a deep breath, and tune into what you’re really feeling and what you need to do to let go of your anger. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What happened today that may have made me angry?
  • Why did that event stir up angry feelings?
  • What do I need to do in order to let go of this anger and feel peaceful?
Healthy Flapjacks

Healthy Flapjacks

These healthy flapjacks use oats, dates and coconut oil. This is a quick and easy recipe with ingredients that you will probably have at home right now! So, definitely a must try

Healthy Flapjacks

INGREDIENTS:

– 250g oats
– 2 very ripe bananas
– 2 tbsp peanut butter
– 2 tbsp coconut oil
– 2 tbsp coconut sugar
– 4 chopped dried dates (optional – could use chocolate chips instead…or both)!
– 2 tbsp protein powder (I used Purple Balance vanilla protein powder but you can omit completely if you don’t have any)

1. Melt the peanut butter and oil in a saucepan over a low heat.

2. Mash the bananas thoroughly before adding in the peanut butter + oil mixture.

3. Combine all dry ingredients (oats, protein powder and coconut sugar – I forgot to add it at this stage which is why i had to mix it in at the end)!

4. Add in the banana mixture and mix thoroughly before stirring in the chopped dates and the vegan chocolate chips if you’re adding them 😉

5. Spread into a lined baking tray and bake in a preheated oven at 180 C | 350 F for 20-25 minutes until golden and crispy.

6. To top, melt 1 tbsp of peanut butter – drizzle half over the flapjacks, stir in 1/4 tsp cacao powder and drizzle over the rest! Leave to cool, cut into squares and enjoy your healthy flapjacks!

watercress can help lower blood pressure

Watercress Can Help Lower Blood Pressure

Watercress, a member of the brassica family (like cabbage), has been valued for its nutritional benefits for centuries.

This green, leafy vegetable is rich in nutrients like vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, calcium, manganese and magnesium.

Watercress can help lower blood pressure and has been shown to have a protective affect against certain cancers. It is also high in carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin that can help maintain vision and cardiovascular health.

In terms of liver support, watercress should be considered a key superfood as it can amplify the effects of the detoxification enzymes.

Raw watercress is very peppery, so ease yourself in gently if you are adding it to a green smoothie. It makes a delicious soup when blended with softened onions, a little sweet potato and vegetable stock.

You can eat it in a salad with avocado, segments of blood orange or pink grapefruit with black olives and a light dressing of olive oil. Or try this recipe for Salmon and Watercress.

 

nutrition advice

nutrition advice

how to stay at a healthy weight

How to Stay at a Healthy Weight

Have you gradually gained weight over the years? Or have you lost a significant amount of weight then gained it back quickly?

Do you think you’ll never learn how to stay at a healthy weight?

So, should you even bother to try and lose weight at all?

The answer is yes, if you are already having weight-related health problems or if you are putting on extra weight every year and are likely to have health problems in the future. You can learn how to stay at a healthy weight.

On the other hand, studies that have examined how much weight people are able to lose and how much they are able to keep off long term are fairly dismal. Most people gain weight back. It can be hard to stay at a healthy weight. Here is a pretty predictable formula for gaining weight in the long term:

  • You lose weight quickly…
  • You go back to your old way of eating when you lose weight…
  • You continue to eat and exercise exactly as you have been as you get older…
  • You eat the same way “everyone else” is…
  • You make excuses for why it’s OK to eat when you shouldn’t…

Let me explain each of these scenarios and how to stay at a healthy weight:

  1. Losing weight quickly:
    One of the best ways to gain weight quickly is to drastically cut your calories. Research shows that the faster people lose weight, the faster they tend to regain it.
  2. Going back to your old way of eating when you lose weight:
    It’s plain biology. If you lose weight on 1200 calories a day, for example, and then your weight plateaus, you will start to gain weight back once you go up to 1300 calories a day. That’s the equivalent of one good sized apple or four crackers. And if you return to eating 2,000 or 3,000 calories, as perhaps you did before, of course your weight will increase.
  3. Continue to eat and exercise exactly as you have been as you get older:
    It seems unfair, but it’s true. Metabolism tends to decrease with age. If you don’t start eating less and/or exercising more, you’ll gain weight. Now it’s reasonable to gain a little weight, especially if you’re eating in a healthy way, but those pounds can really add up as the decades go by.
  4. Eat in the same way you assume everyone else is:
    It’s possible that you know the rare person who can consume a great number of calories a day and not gain weight. But it’s more likely that the people you know (especially if they’re over 40), are either restricting their eating in some way or are themselves gaining weight each year. In any case, it’s irrelevant. If you don’t want to gain weight, you’ll need to figure out what’s right for you to eat — which isn’t necessarily right for another person.
  5. Make excuses for why it’s okay to eat when you shouldn’t:
    Your body processes calories in exactly the same way, regardless of circumstances. It doesn’t care if you’re stressed, tired, or celebrating; if it’s a special occasion; if no one is watching you eat; or if the food is free. It may be reasonable to plan in advance to eat a little more in some circumstances but understand that if you don’t compensate by exercising more or cutting an equivalent number of calories another time, you will gain weight.

It seems unfair. It’s so hard to lose weight and so easy to gain it back. But once you learn the thinking and cognitive behavioral skills you need, the process of losing and maintaining a weight loss (it’s the same process!) becomes much easier…

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Weight Loss works… so why not get started today by reading more here and signing up for a 6-week online programme? What have you got to lose… apart from some extra weight…?!

good nutrition advice

Fish Oil Reduces Schizophrenia

Fish oil is great for general wellbeing and it can also really benefit your mental health.

A study published in Nature Communications has shown that fish oils can reduce the risk of developing psychotic disorders. There were 81 participants (aged 13 – 25 years old) in the study, which was a randomised, double blind trial. They were split into two groups: one group took the fish oil and the other a placebo.

The groups supplemented with fish oil or the placebo for 3 months. They were then followed for 12 months after the 3-month period had ended. The scientists found that only 2 people from the fish oil group of 41 went on to have a psychotic disorder compared to 11 of the placebo group.

Seven years on, the fish oil group only had 4 people go on to develop psychotic disorders compared to 16 of the placebo group showing that fish oil reduces schizophrenia symptoms in some cases.

Despite the fact that schizophrenia only affects about 1% of the US population — roughly three times the number of people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease — the economic burden of this disease is considerable: an estimated $60 billion a year. This is in large part because it is a condition that typically manifests in adolescence or early adulthood. More than 40% of all people diagnosed with schizophrenia end up in supervised group housing, nursing homes, or hospitals. Another 6% end up in jail, and an equal proportion end up living on the streets.

Schizophrenia is characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and cognitive problems. While the majority of affected individuals experience a slow or gradual onset of clinically significant symptoms, some experience abrupt onset. In addition to having their mental health affected, individuals with schizophrenia often die more than a decade earlier than the general population from complications due in large part to cardiometabolic conditions.

Because the use of antipsychotic medications for the prevention of psychotic disorders is controversial at best, clinicians continue to search for and explore novel therapeutics. Despite early treatment strategies being linked to better outcomes, current treatments focus on controlling symptoms with pharmaceuticals, rather than avoiding their development. A recent meta analysis of 2,502 individuals who were at risk found that the cumulative rate of transition to psychosis increased over time, with 18%, 22%, 29%, and 36% developing a psychotic disorder at six months, one, two, and three years, respectively, making early intervention critically important.

Because antipsychotic medication can be used to assess the severity of psychotic phenomena, this study investigated the proportion of individuals in the study who needed to be prescribed medication. The percentages of individuals who needed antipsychotics at follow-up were 29.4% (10/34) in the omega-3 group, and 54.3% (19/35) in the placebo group.

Only 2 individuals in the omega-3 group reported continuance of fish oil capsules for longer than 1 month during the follow-up period, suggesting that early nutritional intervention, rather than continuance of treatment, is key to success of treatment. The initial 12-week intervention played a significant role in the prevention of transition to full-threshold psychotic disorder and further led to a sustained symptomatic and functional improvement.

This study, as well as previous studies of omega 3s and psychosis, demonstrates the potential of long-chain PUFAs as a safe and efficacious strategy for the prevention of psychotic states in at-risk individuals. Considering omega-3 PUFAs have no clinically significant side effects and are considered generally beneficial to health, supplementation with omega 3s should be considered as an ideal early nutritional intervention.

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