Tag Archives: plant based

Nutrition Tips for a Plant based Diet

Eating a more plant based diet or switching to a vegan diet is definitely on trend right now and whilst normally I’d not be recommending you jump onto the lastest fad in terms of nutrition, this is one I do agree with. I spoke about this at Womens Health Live so thought it was time I blogged on it too.

We all need to be doing our bit to help our planet. Eating more plants, preferably those grown locally and not wrapped in lots of plastic, is one step in the right direction towards a more sustainable diet.

But are there any nutrition concerns with eating a vegan, vegetarian or plant based diet? Whilst it is well known there are health benefits there are also some health risks if you are not consciously eating certain nutrients.

CALCIUM

If you are reducing your dairy intake then you are also reducing your calcium. To help with this check that the milk you use is fortified and focus on non-dairy calcium rich foods being in your diet. The higher calcium content foods are chia seeds, fortified plant based milks, yoghurts and tofu.

An adult needs 700mg calcium per day, the requirements are higher if you are breastfeeding.

Non dairy calcium foodsCalcium mg
30g chia seeds178
1/2 pint Calcium enrich plant milk (rice, oat, soya)330-370
100g tofu350
1 pot Soya yoghurt150
1 tbsp tahini130
150g baked beans
80
2 slices wholemeal bread75
23 almonds75
1 large orange70
2 tbsp cooked greens70
30g cashews28
3 dried apricots20
3 tbsp cooked lentils25
1 tbsp kidney beans25
1 tbsp hummus12

IODINE

The body needs iodine to make thyroid hormones which play a key role in metabolism. Iodine is also needed in pregnancy for proper bone and brain development. There is an rise in iodine deficiency in the UK so it’s a nutrient to be mindful of.

Iodine deficiency is a potential concern if you do not eat meat, fish or dairy, so it’s important to be aware of other sources of iodine. Symptoms of iodine deficiency can include a swelling in the neck where the thyroid hormones are struggling to be made so the thyroid gland is on overdrive, fatigue and weakness, inability to concentrate/recall information, hair loss and dry flaky skin.

All is not lost, you can get your iodine in. Firstly, check your plant based milk as some are now fortified with iodine. Iodised salt is a good option (but not too much salt of course 6g max a day), seaweed limited to once a week and dried prunes are other options.

See this great food fact sheet on Iodine.

IRON

A nutrient that comes up a lot in terms of vegan and vegetarian diets. Can you meet all your iron needs on a plant based diet? Yes, totally but you need to plan things and be on the ball.

The iron you get in plant based foods is less readily absorbed by the body so you need more of it (1.8x). If you focus on eating iron rich foods daily and utilise some top tips you should be fine.

Iron Rich FoodsIron/mg
Baked beans1.4
Butter beans1.5
Chickpeas2
Kidney beans2
Tofu1.2
Dried Figs3.9
Dried Apricots3.4
Almonds3
Brazil Nuts2.5
Smooth peanut butter2.1
Hazelnuts3.2
Sesame seeds10.4
Sunflower seeds6.4
Broccoli1
Spinach1.6

Including vitamin C with a meal helps with absorption. So having a glass of fruit juice or a smoothie with an iron rich meal will help. Keep your tea and coffee away from meal times as these contain phytates which prevent the iron absorption. Cooking, soaking and sprouting your nuts, seeds and beans can help with absorption too.

For more on iron check out the British Dietetic Association Factsheet.

VITAMIN B12

Mainly found in animal products with a few exceptions of fortified foods (fortified milks, nutritional yeast and breakfast cereals) this is one that you are going to need to take a supplement of if you stop eating animal products.

B12 is needed for nerves, for DNA production and for brain function as well as healthy red blood cell production. A pretty key nutrient. If you aren’t eating many fortified foods then you likely need a supplement which you can buy as part of a multivitamin and mineral over the counter. Chat to your medical team if you have any further concerns as there are also B12 injections.

So can you meet your nutritional requirements on a plant based diet? Yes with some careful planning and a couple of supplements. Remember you do not have to go fully vegan, eating a few days a week in this way has benefits.

Improve your Diet for 2019

 
Whilst diets are flying everywhere and detoxes around every corner here is how to make long-term change your diet that will give you lasting health benefits for life.
 
How are you eat impacts your gut health and your long-term risk of diseases. So here are my top 5 food goals, which I’m taking onboard for myself too.
 
 
Increase your fruit and vegetable consumption by one portion.
It may not seem like much but if you manage to do this every day then it’s going to make a long-term change over the year.
 
Plan your meals.
Plan out what you’re going to eat incorporating a variety of foods across the week. Different colour vegetables for the different antioxidants and phytochemicals. Different grains, different protein sources (e.g chicken one day, red meat another, fish and lentils other times.
 
Eat more gut friendly foods.
This can be simply more fibre from whole grains and fruit/veggies and more probiotics from live yoghurt, sourdough bread, pickles or kefir.
 
Go plantbased where possible
Note this this does not mean you need to go vegan. Incorporating plantbased proteins is going to be an ever increasing trend. It’s definitely one to follow. Plant based meals are better in terms of sustainability and environmental impact plus they deliver a range of nutrients you may not get through a meat meal. More on this to come in my next blog posts.
 
Cook from scratch more.
This doesn’t have to mean every day but go for it if you can! Everyone is busy so try planning in times when you can bulk cook and stocking up the freezer. Cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be complicated or take that much time. I will be posting regular recipes on my social media to show what we eat. Trust me, I don’t have hours to cook.
 
However you start your new year try and keep your goals simple, achievable and remember that food is to be enjoyed! 
 
 
 
 

Should we all be Vegetarian?

Meat. A lot of us eat it. A lot of us like it. Really we should be eating less of it though. Why you ask? Are you serious? Sorry but Yes.

Although meat itself is not bad, eating too much of it is not good. It contain saturated fat which can contribute to heart disease. In fact people eating a plant based diet have a 20% lower incidence of heart disease and a lower risk of diabetes.

However the other big issue for me is the environment. We are going to run out of land to graze animals on and there is not enough meat to go around if we continue to eat it at our current rate. Eating less meat will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Currently in the UK we eat TOO MUCH meat, fat and sugar and TOO LITTLE fruit, vegetables and wholegrains.

Now I’m not advocating that we should all go vegetarian, but I am suggested we all try to reduce the amount of meat we eat in a week. Try more meat free days. There are plenty of yummy vegetarian recipes to try out, let’s help the environment, help our health and broaden our horizons.

Plant based proteins include beans, pulses and legumes (chickpeas, lentils and any form of bean – kidney, cannelini, black eyed, mung and even baked beans), soya, quorn, cheese and tofu, nuts and seeds.

How to eat more plants:

Aim for 2/3 of your plate to be veggies and wholegrains, with just 1/3 being meat.

Make some plant food swaps in your usual dishes, so try quorn mince instead of beef or tofu in a stirfry.

Halve the amount of meat you use in dishes and add pulses instead, this works well with casseroles for example.

Try vegetable rissotos, vegetable and bean bakes, veggie pastas and vegetable lasagne. The possibilities are endless.

So I challenge you to have 2-3 meat free days a week. I’ll be putting up some pictures of our meat free meals, I’d love you to share your pictures and journey with me too, comment below or tweet me.