We’re flying through 2017 – can you believe it’s already June? But we’re using this month as a time for internal reflection and assessment as to how we’re faring this year.
For this week’s blog, we’re looking at our nutrition to see where we might be holding ourselves back.
Fruit & Vegetable Test
We have previously been told that we need 5 (vegetables) and 2 (fruits) a day to help prevent various diseases and remain healthy, but new research has come out showing that 10 portions a day may give us longer lives. The study by Imperial College London calculated that such eating habits could prevent 7.8 million premature deaths each year.
One of the researchers, Dr Dagfinn Aune said: “Fruit and vegetables have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and to boost the health of our blood vessels and immune system.” Compared with eating no fruits or vegetables a day, the research showed:
~ 200g cut the risk of cardiovascular disease by 13% while 800g cut the risk by 28%
~ 200g cut the risk of cancer by 4%, while 800g cut the risk by 13%
~ 200g cut the risk of a premature death by 15%, while 800g cut the risk by 31%
So the basic message is the more the better.
Now what does that mean for you? It means that we need to jam pack every single meal with vegetables, as the ‘meat and three vege’ for dinner is no longer going to cut it. But how do you do it?
1. Breakfast: integrate vegetables (spinach, avocado, tomatoes, kale) into your breakfast through a vege-packed omelette or a super-boost smoothie. When you mix the vegetables with either the egg mixture or some fruit in your blender, you won’t even taste the goodness that you’re getting.
2. Lunch: have a salad-based lunch packed with mixed vegetables that can be integrated with your lean protein (animal or plant based). Or for those colder months, bring leftovers of slow cooked stir-frys and soups.
3. Dinner: form the foundation of your dinners on vegetables rather than carbohydrates. For example, use grated cauliflower instead of rice or spiralled zucchini instead of pasta. Using vegetables to replace carbohydrates not only ups your vegetable servings, it also cuts down on the sugar hit you may be getting from the carbohydrates at dinner.
4. Snacks: fruit is one of the best snacks to have, but don’t forget that chopped up vegetables dipped in hummus is also a killer snack. Combine that with some nuts and you’ve got a wholesome snack.
If there’s ONE element that we could all do with cutting down on, it’s sugar. Even if you’re not one to add sugar to your morning tea/coffee (but particularly if you are!), there are hidden sugars in most of the packaged foods that we’re eating.
Health research tells us that we should be limiting our sugar intake to 3-5 teaspoons a day, or in other words 5-15grams of sugar. Factoring this into your day is made more difficult by the fact that ‘serving sizes’ are often misleading calculations of the amount of a certain food we are going to eat.
To really take stock of your daily sugar count, track your intake of all foods over a standard 7 day period and see the breakdown. Our favourite tracker is MyFitnessPal.
Here at EBM we don’t believe in calorie counting. Our bodies don’t seem to enjoy being told that we need to restrict our food, and they certainly don’t want to feel like they’re missing out.
However, we do need to be mindful of how much we are consuming throughout the day compared to our energy expenditure. More often than not, it is our snacking in between meals that lets us down in the calorie consumption department.
Our body isn’t made to be constantly digesting foods, as there are loads more primary functions that it needs to be completing. Think of eating like emails on your computer. You want to be focusing on your core work – the projects that drive the output you do each day. But emails continue to trickle in throughout the day, distracting you away from your core task.
Snacking is the same principle for our body. Instead of our body being able to focus on detoxifying, replacing new cells, and recharging (the core task), it has to keep coming back to digesting foods (the emails).
Take stock of how often you are eating throughout the day. The fitness industry has unfortunately advocated for these six small meals throughout the day to allegedly ‘keep our metabolism firing’. But the research just doesn’t stack up. Findings from intermittent fasting shows us that allowing the body considerable breaks between meals (anywhere from 4 to 18 hours overnight) does wonders for our body’s longevity. If you are eating more than 2-3 times per day, see whether you can limit that down by 1 meal in the first month.
Cravings seem to now be a regular part of life – that 3pm slump sends millions of Australian’s to the proverbial cookie jar to get their afternoon hit. In coaching, we talk about the 8 main causes of cravings and being able to identify the cause for the craving helps to eliminate or reduce it. This week, just identify the timing and the source of your cravings. Next week we’ll go through what those cravings mean and how best to overcome them.
So it’s easy to see how our eating and energy habits can slowly start to sabotage us. Taking stock every 3-6 months can help lead us back to the path we set off on at the beginning of each year. Remember, we don’t fall off the bandwagon, we drift; to get back on we need to assess where we are.
Photo Credit: @smoothie._