How to ‘eat clean’

‘Clean Eating’ is trending in the world of nutrition.  It is not a fad diet; it’s a chosen lifestyle and celebrities like Katy Perry and Gwyneth Paltrow are two of the many fans supporting this trend. So, what is ‘clean eating’ and how is it good for you?

Definition of ‘clean eating’?

Put in simple terms, ‘clean eating’ is the consumption of unprocessed food.  ‘Clean eating’ consists of whole food – real food – from its origin to your plate.

clean-eating-pyramid
Clean-eating Pyramid

It does not mean eating only raw food.  Some whole foods benefit from cooking because it removes toxins and kills bacteria.  However, with the exception of food like white meat (which needs to be cooked through), it is best not to over-cook your food cause you lose out on nutrients.

What are the benefits of ‘eating clean’?

Plant-based diets are good for you.  And ‘clean eating’ is mainly made up of fruit and veg.

A diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables

  • helps in reducing / preventing high blood pressure
  • prevents type 2 diabetes
  • prevents cardiovascular disease
  • helps you maintain healthy weight
  • gives you glowing skin and healthy hair

Is that a good enough reason to ‘eat clean’?

How do you ‘eat clean’?

If you would like to ‘eat clean’, avoid processed foods. ‘Eating clean’ begins at the supermarket.

Processed foods are stripped of all nutrients and they

  • contain salt or sugar or both
  • may contain fat
  • may contain flavouring
  • contain preservatives (those words difficult to pronounce or those E numbers)
  • contain added vitamins

Carlos Monteiro, professor at the Department of Nutrition at the School of Public Health, University of Sao Paolo says, processed foods claiming they contain “less fat”, “less sodium” or “vitamin enriched” are bad for you.  This is the manufacturer’s cunning plan to make highly-processed food look ‘healthy’.

“The key is to avoid foods that are ‘ultra-processed,'” says Jessica Fanzo, Assistant Professor of Nutrition at the Columbia University. ” … basically, anything food-product-like or ready-to-heat.”

Foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are also a big NO NO! GMOs are linked to cancer and infertility.

Just in case you’re not put off by processed foods yet, bear in mind that additives in highly-processed food make you crave junk food.

What is considered to be ‘clean’ food?

‘Clean’ food is unprocessed food such as fresh fruit and veg, dried legumes, nuts and farm-fresh eggs.

In addition to the four groups of unprocessed food above, you can add the following food which is slightly processed

  • unrefined grains – as in wholewheat bread, pasta, oatmeal, quinoa and brown rice
  • frozen fruit and vegetables
  • unprocessed meat
  • hormone-free dairy
  • oils

Organic food can be costly.  But when possible choose organic to avoid pesticides, hormones and chemicals in your food.

Wild and sustainably-caught fish have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Whilst grass-fed livestock is also rich in omega-3 fats.

If you are unsure of the origin of your food, ask where it’s coming from.

How do you cook ‘clean’?

Cooking ‘clean’ is easy.  The secret is – keep things simple and avoid fats.

Dos and don’ts

  • avoid sauces and gravies; go for simple olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice
  • do not deep fry
  • do not stew using animal or vegetable fat
  • do not over-cook your vegetables to a pulp
  • stir-fry or steam your food

You  will soon learn how to appreciate the good taste of ‘clean’ food.  Sauces and gravies musk the taste of your food and increase your waist line.

Food portions play an important part in your ‘clean eating’ lifestyle.  Do not over-eat; aim to have three fifths of your plate full of veg, one fifth of protein and one fifth starchy carb.

And you wondered how celebs look good?  Now you know how … enjoy!

My thanks go to

 

 

 

 

 

Understanding food labels

How many times were you tricked into buying a ‘healthy’ product?  You get to cash point and reach out for that cereal bar?  It contains oats, fruits and nuts; must be good for you.  Or that muesli packet with sugar and salt reduced? Surely, that’s OK?

Are food labels credible? Should you believe what they say?

Yes; if you read between the lines, you will find that what they say is correct.  You just have to understand what they say and the way they say it.

Manufacturers are smart.  They use words which grab your attention to make you believe the product is good for you.  They do not lie, because that would get them into trouble with the law.  They simply use generic terms and take advantage of any loophole in the law.

For example, if a packet of muesli says “no sugar added” that’s just what it means – no extra sugar was added.  That is not to say the product is not high in sugar.

If a product says “vitamin enriched” does that make it healthy? Not necessarily.  Have a look at the rest of the ingredients and check things like fat (especially saturated), salt and sugar.

What information should you find on a food label?

By law a food label should give you the following information.

  • contact details of the manufacturer
  • country of origin of the product
  • list of ingredients in descending order
  • allergens
  • processing
  • dates

You have a right to know where a product is coming from, especially if it contains produce such as meat or fish.  You should also find details of the manufacturer, should you need to contact them.

Look at the list of ingredients.  You will notice it is in descending order.  This gives you a clear indication of what are the main ingredients and their quantities. In the image below you will notice that the main ingredient in this quinoa porridge is not quinoa flour.

Flavouring does not mean the product contains that ingredient. A strawberry-flavoured yogurt will not contain strawberries; you will only find strawberry flavouring listed.

Check the ingredients in bold font.  These are the ingredients which you may be allergic to or cause you some form of intolerance.

The label should indicate any process the food has gone through.  Is the product dehydrated, smoked?

You will also find dates on a food label.  Very often you will have two dates – the manufacturing date and the “best before” or “use by” date.  These dates are meant to indicate whether the food is good for human consumption.  The “best before” date means just that – a product is best before the date indicated.  The “use by” date is used for perishables; food which will not be good to eat past the date shown.

What should you look out for in the nutritional information?

After checking the list of ingredients for allergens, go to the nutritional information and check the salt, sugar and fat content in the product.

Aim at keeping your sugar levels to no more that 5% of your total energy intake and salt at a maximum level of 6g per day.

Another ingredient to avoid is saturated fat.  These fats are harmful to the body and can cause heart disease.

Serving Size

More often than not serving sizes are misleading and far from realistic. You look at the front of a packet and think a bowl of cereal gives you 130 calories.  Take a closer look – it says “per 30g serving”.  Weigh 30g of muesli and let me know if you think it’s a realistic serving.

Very often, the serving size shown on the front of packet is misleading.  Follow the nutritional information per 100g of product for accurate data.

Know your terms

‘Low fat’ – < 3g of fat / 100g of product

‘Fat free’ – < 0.15g of fat / 100g of product

‘Salt reduced’ – < 0.5g of sodium / 100g product

‘Organic’ – a minimum of 95% organic product

‘Alcohol free’ – product can contain up to 0.05% alcohol

Are food labels a legal requirement?

Yes; food labels are mandatory by law.  As of 13th December 2016, new legislation has come into force in Europe to ensure that the information on food labels is clear and not misleading in any way.

My thanks go to:

The British Nutrition Foundation

The British Heart Foundation

European Commission

 

 

 

 

How fast can you lose excess weight?

Ideally you lose weight at a rate of 0.45 to 0.90 kilos per week.  You got it – just under a kilo per week.  If you lose weight at a faster rate, you risk losing fat as well as muscle and your energy levels suffer.  As a result you cannot increase your activity level or your exercise intensity.

healthy-weight-loss-pic-un-blog-sept-3-13

When you lose weight fast, you will gain it back even faster.  Find out why …

What happens when you lose weight fast?

On a diet of less than 1050-2000 calories per day

  • your body will burn fat as well as muscle
  • your metabolism slows down
  • your energy levels drop
  • you  feel deprived from a number of foods
  • your diet is not sustainable.

 

Eliminating certain foods may fast-track your weight loss, for a while.  But can you live without these foods for the rest of your life?  Or will you live your life on a yo-yo diet?

You will not manage to keep up a low-calorie diet for a long time.  And when you go back to your regular calorie intake, you will gain even more weight because your body gets used to functioning on a slow metabolic rate.

Low-calorie diets, crash diets and similar diets are counter-productive.

How can you lose weight and keep it off?

The only way you can lose weight and keep it off is by making small changes towards a healthy lifestyle.  A healthy lifestyle remains with you – you do not “come off” it, as you would a diet – it grows on you and becomes a part of who you are.

Go for it – small changes are achievable and they result in big changes which you will be able to keep up.

10 small changes that will improve your lifestyle

  • avoid crash diets
  • do not skip breakfast
  • drink plenty of water
  • snack on fresh fruit and nuts
  • too many low-fat or low-calorie foods add up
  • grill or steam your food – do not fry it
  • do not sip your calories
  • avoid fast foods
  • set yourself realistic goals
  • increase your activity level / exercise.

How long has it taken for you to pile on your excess weight?  I promise it will take you less to lose it, but do not expect it to disappear in a month.

My thanks go to WebMD.com and Google images

 

 

I wish you a Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thanks for your support and follow over the past months.

I wish you and your loved ones all the best for the festive season.  May you have peace, health and happiness throughout the holiday season and into the New Year.

joyous-christmas
Joyous Christmas

Cheers – enjoy and keep safe

With best wishes from Colette’s Food Blog

Christmas spirit: enjoy and keep safe

Christmas is in the air and the spirit is certainly flowing.  Like everything else, alcohol is OK in moderation.  But what is moderation?  What are acceptable levels of alcohol consumpution?

In 2016 the Department of Health in the UK revised it’s guidelines to advise that both men and women should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week.  It is further suggested that the 14 units are consumed over a spread of at least three days.

Is alcohol important?

No; the essential nutrients are:  proteins, fats, carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins, minerals and water.  Alcohol is not essential for a healthy lifestyle. However, if you have to consume alcohol, do so in moderation so that your health does not suffer serious consequences.

Safe drinking levels

The Department of Health in the UK advises a limit of 14 units of alcohol spread over a week.  But what is 14 units in terms of your favourite drink?

one-unit-of-alcohol
1 unit of alcohol

A unit of alcohol is 10ml or 8mg of pure alcohol.  The number of units in a drink is based on the size of the drink as well as the strength of its alcohol content.

Example – a unit of alcohol could be:

  • half a can of beer, lager or cider (220ml)
  • a small shot of spirit (25ml) or
  • half a glass of wine (75ml).

What are the impacts of drinking alcohol?

Alcohol impacts both your health and your waist-line.

Health implications from misuse of alcohol include:

  • cancer (incl breast cancer and cancer of the oesophagus)
  • strokes
  • liver disease
  • hypertension
  • coronary heart disease
  • reduced bone density
  • fertility problems
  • retarded foetal development
  • stomach ulcers
  • dementia
  • mental health problems.

What is the impact of alcohol on your weight?

Every gram of pure alcohol contains 7 kcal.  Only a percentage of your drink is pure alcohol and this percentage ranges from 3% for a light beer to 40% for spirits.  This percentage of pure alcohol is called alcohol by volume (ABV).

The stronger the ABV the more units and calories your drink contains.

Example:

  • a 250 ml glass of wine which has a typical volume of 13% ABV contains 3.3 units of alcohol.  Each unit contains 8g of pure alcohol and each gram of alcohol contains 7 kcal.  Therefore, a 250 ml glass of wine contains 185 kcal (rounded off to the nearest decimal).

3.3 units x 8g x 7kcal = 184.8 kcal

Two large glasses or wine could easily give you more calories than a slice of cake!

Safety first

Finally, it being Christmas-time, I cannot help but touch on safety.  Unfortunately, in Malta, drinking and driving is very much common practice.

Alcohol affects your mind and body immediately it is consumed.

It takes one hour for a unit of alcohol to be cleared through your system.

Knowing the above, let’s presume you have two large glasses of wine (6.6 units) and start drinking at 20.30 hours.  It will take your body just over six and a half hours to clear the alcohol from your system – i.e. approximately by 03.00 hours the following morning.

I am not suggesting you do not enjoy a drink over Christmas.  I’m just trying to raise awareness.

A Merry Christmas to you all! Enjoy and keep safe – drinking and driving do not go together.

My thanks go to

Future Fit Training School of Nutrition Notes; and
Google Images

Have yourself a salmon little Christmas

Are you cooking the typical turkey dinner this Christmas?  Most people do.  But for those of us who eat fish, I would like to share a simple recipe I came across years ago.  It’s so quick and easy to make and … it never fails! It certainly is a crowd pleaser!

 Holiday Side of Salmon

This recipe is taken from a Christmas cookbook supplement which came as a freebie with Essentials magazine many moons ago.  I remember picking up this magazine from the newsagent’s at Heathrow airport thinking it would make a good read.

holiday-side-of-salmon
Holiday side of salmon

Doesn’t it look spectacular? But it really couldn’t be simpler to cook.

Ingredients

* one whole side of salmon (approx. 1.6kg – 2kg)
* juice and zest of 2 limes, plus extra to serve
* 100ml dark rum
* 50g dark brown sugar
* 2tbsp honey
* 2tbsp soy sauce
* 1tsp ginger, peeled and grated
* 2 cloves garlic, crushed
* 1tsp allspice

Serves 8-10

 

How to prepare your salmon

  1. Put all the ingredients (except salmon) in food container large enough to take your fish.  Mix well.  Put in the salmon and coat all over.  Close the container and leave in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours.
  2. Heat oven to gas mark 7 / 220 degrees Celsius.  Remove the salmon from the marinade and put in a lined roasting dish.  Bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Boil the marinade in a pan for 5 minutes until thickened.  Drizzle over the salmon and bake for a further 5 minutes.

Rest the fish in a warm place for a couple of minutes before serving.

Ideas for sides

My favourite side dishes to go with salmon are spinach and lentils.  I think they go so well together.

This is my latest warm spinach salad

* rinse spinach leaves and put in pot with a tight fitting lid
* steam gently for a few minutes until the leaves are just beginning to wilt – drain any excess water
* warm one tablespoon of olive oil and saute two cloves of crushed garlic and two spring onions, finely chopped
* remove from the heat and pour over spinach – top with toasted flaked almonds.

 

My puy lentil salad is just as quick and easy to make.  Rinse the lentils and boil in vegetable stock for 15-20 minutes (do not overcook) – drain.  In the meantime finely chop an onion, courgette, two celery sticks and one large carrot.  Saute in a tablespoon of olive oil for ten minutes.  Remove from the heat – add boiled lentils, chopped parsley and 75g of dried cranberries.

Make dressing by putting two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, one tablespoon balsamic vinegar, one crushed garlic clove, salt and pepper in a screw top jar, mix well and drizzle over lentils.

And for the final touch, you can add some potato wedges.

Try it … I guarantee your guests will be impressed.

My thanks go to Essential Magazine https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=essentialsmagazine for this lovely salmon recipe.