Food For Life

July 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

Wow, did everyone watch the Masterchef final last night?! Talk about pressure cooking, and here I was worried about coordinating my dumplings with the fried rice!

Ok, it’s Monday and  I’m feeling back on track, three days until holiday time. Now let’s be honest, even if I was as good as gold for the next three days I’m not going to achieve a Jennifer Hawkins’ body in that time (I’m BLUSHING with flashbacks from the weekend binge!)

BUT! What’s important is that Blushing Strawberries is now setting the dietary foundations that will have us hot to trot by the time spring rolls in.

A morning walk to Bronte and a fresh vegetable juice. Bliss.

I still have an issue with the word ‘detox’ and I don’t want to use it here. Detoxification suggests participation in an extreme diet for a set period of time to quickly shed some kilos and ‘rest’ your digestive system. A few thoughts.

  • Firstly, while you will lose fat you will also lose muscle that you have worked hard to develop. Once back to normal eating patterns the fat will return but you” be back to square one with your workout.
  • Secondly, by ‘resting’ your digestive system, (juice or lemon water detox) for days at a time, the body goes into starvation mode and will then store extra carbohydrates and fats when your diet returns to normal in fear that the supply will again run out.
  • Finally, you can expect to be constipates and suffer an enormous dip in energy – how are you going to hit those stairs and weights with no fuel in the tank?!

Our bodies need a combination of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats and LOTS of vegetables to function and be nutritionally sound, and the amount of each will depend on your goals and your body type. If weight loss is the aim then you will need to be more restrictive for a time, but once you lose the weight and if you can continue a healthy lifestyle then don’t feel bad about the odd treat, like a glass of wine a couple of nights a week or a square of chocolate after dinner. If fat-loss isn’t the issue and you’re just looking to maintain weight but boost your health and nutrition then you don’t need to go hardcore on elimination.

You know I love my food but nearly everything I cook is from scratch and is bursting with the goods. And sure, I then like to head out to dinner on the weekends and enjoy a more decadent dinner or brunch. This aint bootcamp, it’s real life, and I’m going to show you how to make it healthy, fulfilling and most importantly – delicious.

So to detox I say pfft! This is Blushing Strawberries eating Food for Life.

Coconut porridge at Bronte Lounge

Let’s start with the basics, I’m not working on elimination but restriction. Portion size will be the key for many people wishing to achieve weight loss (Michelle Bridges agrees) – even if you are a super healthy eater, three serves of dinner is going to add up.

  • Limit caffeine to weekends
  • Swap sugar for naturally sweet alternatives where possible – such as cinnamon instead of brown sugar on porridge, or organic cacao instead of milk chocolate.
  • Eliminate artificial sweeteners all together –  diet drinks are simply chemicals, enjoy a small amount of the real thing if you need any at all
  • Limited – zero processed foods
  • Limit dairy and enjoy the wonders of coconut milk. I’m still not wholly sold on soy milk as most brands have a lot more additives and chemicals than regular milk (besides, I love cow’s milk so it’s here to stay.)
  • Enjoy a range of lean meat during the week – chicken, lean pork, lots of fish and seafood, small quantities of red meat (kangaroo is the healthiest choice) and have meat free nights.
  • Limit desserts to a couple of nights a week – or just the weekend
  • Drink LOTS of water 2-3 litres per day

Portion control

The guidelines:

  • Your plate should be 3/4 vegetables 1/4 lean protein. Of the vegetables make 1/2 the plate ‘light’ i.e. greens, tomatoes, squash, carrots etc (go wild with these vegetables, the calorie content is so tiny) and 1/4 plate ‘heavy’ such as your starchy potatoes, pumpkin, corn…- or substitute the starchy veg for complex carbohydrates (brown rice, quinoa, wholemeal pasta etc).
  • DON’T snack while cooking,
  • Ask yourself if you really need seconds before going back
  • DON’T eat your leftovers (keep them for the next days lunch and save money)
  • DON’T make your kids finish their meals when they’re full – it’s teaching bad habits.
  • Always eat sitting down – enjoy your food!

You only get out what you put in.

If you’re out to lose weight then the simple ratio of energy consumed versus energy expended is the best way to go. If you’re looking to maintain weight or gain weight, consider the same philosophy and make it work for you. Basically there are 4.2 kilojoules in one calorie, but if you get confused check out this site for a little more explanation!

Protein – a vital part to the health of our hormone and immune system as well as for the repair and growth of every tissue in your body. Complete sources of protein are animal based – meats, eggs, fish and dairy foods, which means they have all the essential amino acids your body needs, and incomplete sources of protein are vegetable based – legumes, nuts, seeds and wholegrains. If you are a vegetarian then be sure to include a wide range of protein sources to avoid amino acid deficiency. Protein rich foods are also filling and great for a satisfying meal after a workout. I don’t think it’s necessary to completely cut out carbs at dinner but choose extra protein, fewer carbs and of course – lot’s of vegetables.

Most people need 1-2 grams per day for each kilogram of their weight*

Pesto and fetta scrambled eggs on quinoa and soy bread

Carbohydrates – The Hollywood actress’s enemy, but needlessly so. Carbohydrates (found as starch in grains, legumes, vegetables, and as sugars in fruit and milk) are an important source of fibre, phytochemicals, minerals, vitamins and of course energy. Carbs break down as glucose, the body’s preferred fuel, so when we use this fuel we have to refill the tank. You might notice when your carbohydrate stores are low that you feel lethargic, tired and find it hard to focus. So to keep your energy levels up you need to keep eating the RIGHT MIX of carbohydrates throughout the day- wholegrains and cereals; starchy vegetables; fruit and legumes; milk and yoghurt. Avoid processed carbs like white bread, white rice, cakes etc.

Intake will depend on your level of activity: A person who participates in light-moderate exercise will need about 150-250grams of carbohydrate per day. Very active people may need in excess of 350-400 grams per day.

Fats – Obviously if you predominantly choose foods high in fat then you will gain weight – fat provides double the energy of either carbohydrate or protein. But completely eliminating fat from your diet will have an equally adverse effect on your health. It is recommended that roughly 30% of your total energy intake comes from fat*, which is between 50-60 grams for a less active person to 80-100 grams for more active people. What’s most important is the type of fat that you eat.

Good fats:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids (essential fatty acids) – found in oily fish, linseeds, walnuts and pecans.
  • Also some Omega 6 fatty acids, which are found in nuts and seeds and oils (olive/sesame/macadamia/rice bran/avocado…)

Bad fats:

  • Saturated fatty acids – fat on meat and poultry, full cream milk and yoghurt, cream, cheese and butter, and in commercial cakes, biscuits and pastries
  • Trans fatty acids – found naturally in the fat of dairy products but most dangerously included in the diet through processed foods.

Saying that, personal trainer and certified metabolic typing adviser, Liz Codrington**, has recently written an article that shows how the palaeolithic diet (our hunter-gatherer ancestors), which incorporates moderate amounts of saturated fats (from animal sources, not processed), is beneficial in reducing ailments such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and autoimmune diseases. While Codrington still strongly warns against the consumption of trans fatty acids and commercially processed foods (they create an ‘insulin spike’ before the inevitable plummet), she says that the healthy fats found in coconut oil, nuts, meat, eggs and cream actually help your body produce a hormone in the stomach and small intestine that signals that you’ve eaten enough.

The catch? These saturated fats must come from certifiably organic produce and grass-fed meat that are free of chemicals and pesticides. And of course not everyone can ingest the same amount.

Finally, YOUR diet and that of your partner/friend/flatmate/gym instructor are not meant to be identical. Metabolic typing has shown that each persons metabolism is unique and requires different diets and different quantities of fats/carbs/protein etc. Just because Jennifer Aniston cuts the carbs doesn’t mean you should too, consider seeing a nutritionist or a qualified metabolic typing adviser if you change your diet for the better but continue to feel lethargic and emotional and find the weight is hard to shift. Eating well should make us look great and, more importantly, it should make us feel great – emotionally, physically and mentally.

Welcome aboard the journey.

*Figures come from Purely Golden Door, Murdoch Books, 2005

**Liz Codrington can be contacted at liz4betterhealth@gmail.com

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