Tag Archives: healthy eating

Christmas Healthy Holidays

Healthy Holidays – Enjoying a healthy Christmas

Healthy Holiday Eating – A Healthy Christmas

For many of us, the Christmas holidays are a time of indulgence. Festive eating means mince pies, mulled wine, Christmas pudding and brandy butter. Unfortunately, over-indulgence can also make us feel lethargic, impair our immune system and can leave us facing the New Year feeling tired, bloated and run down.

Fortunately there are ways to incorporate some healthy habits through the festive period while still enjoying traditional Christmas treats. Simply adding protein, fibre and superfoods to your usual meals and snacks over the holiday can help to keep your energy levels more stable, reduce your sugar intake and ensure that your meals are nutritionally dense.

Festive Fibre Boost

Adding fibre to your food reduces the glycemic effect of the meal, meaning a lower insulin response and less inflammation. You will also feel fuller for longer, and so less likely to gain weight over the holiday period.

Fibre-rich chia seeds are also a rich source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 and a good source of calcium and antioxidants. Try adding them to cranberry sauce and stuffing. They can also be added to eggnog to make a fibre-rich festive pudding – simply stir a quarter cup of chia seeds into a cup of eggnog and place in the fridge for 15 minutes until the mixture transforms into a thick pudding.

Seasonal Snacking

It can be hard to resist evening snacking during the long winter nights, and bowls of sweets, salted nuts, chocolates and crisps are often at hand while waiting for Christmas dinner.

Nuts are actually a perfect snack as they won’t upset blood sugar levels and are nutritionally dense – packed with essential fatty acids and antioxidants. Raw, unsalted nuts are the healthiest choice, with almonds being the best choice for anyone watching their weight as these have been linked with weight loss. Mix them with some dried fruit and a little dark chocolate or a few cacao nibs for an antioxidant boost.

A nutritious alternative to crisps is roasted chickpeas. Try draining a tin of chickpeas and then soaking them in apple cider vinegar or liquid aminos and then roasting in the oven for a crunchy savoury snack. Those who prefer a sweeter option should try nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger during roasting for a Christmas spice flavour. Simply toss the spice blend through the chickpeas and then roast in the oven.

Boost your Breakfast

Oatmeal is the perfect warming breakfast for cold winter mornings. Beta-glucans in oats support the immune system and stabilise blood sugar levels. Add a further nutritional boost by stirring in some antioxidant rich cacao nibs and acai berries, or some energy boosting maca powder. Another good boost for your oatmeal is to stir in a tablespoon or two of protein powder, which will help stave off sugar cravings throughout the morning. Rather than sweetening with sugar, try stevia or a sprinkle of nutmeg and cinnamon.

Superfood Sides

Brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips and potatoes are a key part of the Christmas meal and are a super healthy option. Unfortunately they are usually roasted in plenty of salt and fat.

Coconut oil can be a good alternative for anyone who has problems digesting fat – coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTS) which are easier for the body to digest, and also help to fight infection. Roast your seasonal vegetables in coconut oil by simply adding the solid oil to your vegetables and tossing through, or by melting the oil for a few seconds first.

Try adding some pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds to your roasted vegetables for a boost of omega-3, zinc and calcium. Instead of salt, try stirring in a handful of goji berries for a delicious sweet-tart taste and an extra boost of phytonutrients.

Nutritious meals over the holidays shouldn’t mean forgoing all of your favourite Christmas foods. Adding a few healthy tweaks to the usual Christmas menu should mean that you can enjoy the holidays without feeling deprived, and celebrate a happy and healthy New Year.

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Successful Weight Loss after Menopause: Four Key Strategies

Statistics surrounding weight loss often make for depressing reading. Losing weight, especially if done rapidly, causes changes in appetite-regulating hormones and brain chemistry, which can make long-term weight loss difficult. In fact, after a weight loss diet, up to 50% of lost weight is typically regained within one year, and around 90% is typically regained within 5 years (1).

However, a new study from the University of Pittsburgh suggests that a few simple strategies can make a big difference (2). Researchers followed 508 overweight and obese post-menopausal women over a period of four years to evaluate the most consistently successful weight-loss strategies.

Menopausal women have a particularly difficult time losing weight. Changes that take place in menopause, such as altered oestrogen levels, result in an accumulation of abdominal fat and an increase glucose and insulin levels (3). Coupled with a natural decline in energy expenditure, these menopausal changes appear to be the perfect recipe for weight gain.

Fresh fruit can help with long term weight loss.
Fresh fruit can help with long term weight loss.

The study divided the women into two groups. The first group of women attended Lifestyle Change classes run by nutritionists and psychologists. They were given detailed dietary advice and a goal-oriented exercise programme. The second group attended classes on general women’s health. The researchers then assessed the eating behaviours and weights of the women at the 6-month mark, and again after four years.

The researchers discovered that while strategies such as reducing restaurant visits and reducing fried foods were helpful in the short-term, they were not linked to weight-loss after four years.

Study leader Dr Barone Gibbs concluded that some weight loss strategies are simply not sustainable in the long-term, after initial motivation begins to decline “Maybe you can say no French fries for six months,” she said, “but not forever.”

So which strategies were helpful in the long-term? At the four-year mark, there were just four factors linked to successful weight loss:

  • Reduced consumption of meat and cheese;
  • Fewer sugar-sweetened drinks;
  • Fewer desserts;
  • An increase in fruit and vegetables.

Overall the winning dietary strategy for weight loss in the long term was found to be replacing meat and cheeses with fruits and vegetables. A simple and manageable change such as this would not only lower levels of saturated and trans fats, but it would increase levels of phytonutrients and soluble fibre, boosting digestion and even helping to curb troublesome menopausal symptoms in older women.

The simple message to take from these findings is that restrictive diets are destined to fail in the long-term, but committing to small, healthful changes can make a big difference. Weight loss needs to be viewed as a permanent healthful change in diet and lifestyle. This is especially true for menopausal women who can find weight management particularly challenging.

Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC.

References

1. Wadden TA, Sarwer DB. Behavioral intervention of obesity: new approaches to an old disorder. In: Goldstein D, editor. The management of eating disorders. Totowa (NJ): Humana Press; 1996. pp. 173–199.
2. Barone Gibbs (2012) Short- and long-term eating habit modification predicts weight change in overweight, postmenopausal women: results from the WOMAN study. J Acad Nutri Dietetics112(9):1347-1355.e2.
3. Carr MC (2004) The emergence of the metabolic syndrome with menopause. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 88(6):2404-11.
4. Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane.

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Food Revolution Day

May 19th marked the first ever Food Revolution Day. The aim of this global event, headed by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, is to promote healthy eating and nutrition education, to inspire change in people’s eating habits and to curb the rise in obesity that is sweeping the western world.

The event has been spreading awareness through local activities at schools, restaurants, businesses, dinner parties, street parties and farmers’ markets. Anybody can get involved where we saw people create & attend local food events or hosting dinner parties.

Food Revolution Day
Food Revolution Day is to promote healthy eating and nutrition education, to inspire change in people’s eating habits and to curb the rise in obesity that is sweeping the western world.

The heart of Food Revolution Day is encouraging people to cook from scratch at home. Eating fresh, healthy meals helps protect from diet-related diseases. Cooking together at home brings the family together. It helps to learn about healthy eating, and teaches them valuable cooking skills which they can then to pass down to their own family later on.

To support families in making these healthful changes, the Jamie Oliver Foundation has created a Family Toolkit, filled with ideas to get started. Follow these ideas to create your own Food Revolution at home:

Make a grocery list and stick to it
Plan ahead and prepare a list of what you would like to cook for the week. You’re less likely to resort to ready meals or tempting junk food in the supermarket isles.

Get children involved in the shopping
Bringing your children along on the weekly food shop gets them involved, so they are more likely to eat the foods you prepare. It’s also a great opportunity for them to learn about different fresh foods, and to teach them how to read food labels.

Grown Your Own
You don’t need a huge garden to grow your own food. Reconnect with real food by keeping some pots of herbs on the kitchen window sill, or growing a tomato plant. It helps children to understand where food comes from and teaches them the basics about natural ingredients and flavours.

Learn to cook and get the whole family in the kitchen
There are hundreds of books to help you to learn to cook from scratch. And there are plenty of easy and fun ways to get your kids involved too. Kids love making their own fruit smoothies. You could also make your own probiotic fruit yoghurt for the whole family. It’s also cheap and easy to sprout your own seeds, and children love watching them grow.

and finally….Persevere!

Changing our eating habits isn’t always easy. Habits can be hard to break and familiar food is comforting. Research shows that it might take as many as 8-10 attempts before a child will like a new food. Start with small changes, and begin with small portions and tasters. The Food Revolution starts with small steps. Celebrate small victories and don’t give up!
For more information on the Food Revolution, visit their website.

Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC

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