Gluten free eating has been bang on trend recently. Why? There is a thought that gluten affects weight, causes bloating and is commonly poorly digested. However, often it is not actually gluten that is the issue. There can be several other explanations, for example: large portions of carbohydrate foods can cause bloating, just because of the amount of food in one sitting. In those suffering from IBS, the issue is unlikely to be gluten, but that of FODMAPS, which include wheat, lactose, beans, pulses, plus certain fruits and vegetables. Another key reason can be the overall diet. Eating a diet that is high in packaged, processed foods can cause symptoms that then disappear when you remove gluten. Why? Because why gluten is removed, your whole diet changes. It is not gluten that is always the culprit, take a look at this clip from Food Truth or Scare for more.
Gluten free foods can be: 👉 lower in fibre. 👉 higher in fat. 👉higher in sugars 👉higher in calories. 👉lower in B vitamins. 👉lower in iron 👉often they are not wholegrain.
Therefore gluten free foods are not healthier! Of course if you are gluten free for medical reasons you may need to have these foods but you can also use grains such as buckwheat and quinoa to provide your wholegrains. So it also doesn’t mean you can’t have a great healthy diet and be gluten free, it just require more planning and thought. Top advice: only go gluten-free if you absolutely need to.
I’m so rock and roll that at the end of January I sat on my laptop and attended a Fbre Symptosium. Yes really. You can see why I don’t have many friends 😉
One thing that struck me was how tricky it can be to achieve the fibre recommendations unless you eat uber healthily and know how to cook.
The current UK fibre recommendations are for us to eat 18g/dauy NSP, these were set in 1991. That’s light years ago in the world of science. Interestingly studies show that in the UK we didn’t ever meet these and averaged 14g/d. Whoops.
These fibre recommendations are now being looked at. The 2014 draft SACN recommendations are we aim for 30g/d AOAC fibre. So that is measured in a different way but either way it is an increase.
Why? Diets rich in fibre such as cereal and whole grains as associated with a reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease., type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer. Benefits are also seen for gastrointestinal health. Sounds like a no-brainer doesn’t it.
So how much is 30g/day?
5 portions of fruit and vegetables
3 servings of wholegrain starchy foods (breakfast cereal, wholemeal bread and wholemeal pasta for example)
2 high fibre snacks
It is achievable if you eat a very healthy, cooked from scratch, unprocessed style of diet. Potentially needing large changes for lots of people in the UK as I meet many who do not know how to cook. Potentially able to save lives and make big improvements to health. It’s a challenge.
Carbohydrates are often seen as the baddies of the nutrition world. There are so many low carb diets out there and lots of claims about carbohydrates being the reason people can’t lose weight.
Carbohydrates are actually the bodies favoured energy source. Given a choice of protein, fat and carbohydrate the body will always choose to use the carbohydrate first. Why? Because carbohydrate foods easily break down to simple sugars that are the fuel the body needs. Proteins and fats needs to be converted to sugars in order to be used, a time consuming process that uses energy up. However you will put on weight if you OVEREAT carbohydrates or eat too much of the wrong kinds.
So where do these anti-carbohydrate claims come from?
After we eat carbohydrates, blood sugar levels increase and insulin is released. Insulin moves the sugar in the blood into the bodies cells and it will be used as fuel or stored as glycogen to be used later on. Eating too much carbohydrate in one go or more white, processed carbohydrates cause a larger, rapid peak in blood sugar levels. In response lots of insulin is released, which can cause a problem. After the insulin has done it’s job it takes a while to drop back down to normal levels, so you have insulin in the blood stream asking the body for more sugar. It’s this lag phase that can lead to you craving sugary food or wanting to eat a short while after a meal. If you eat like this you are likely to put on weight. Those hunger cravings will get the better of you and you’ll eat more than you need.
What happens if you avoid Carbs:
If carbs are the bodies preferred energy source then it makes sense that avoiding them can lead to you feeling tired, grumpy, lethargic, perhaps dizzy and shaky. Ever had that energy slump after skipping a meal?
How to eat Carbohydrates without gaining weight:
- Eat carbohydrates at every meal. Just watch your portion size. If you are trying to lose weight keep those carbs to 1/3 of your plate, steer clear of adding creamy sauces, butter and oils to them.
- Go Wholegrain. Wholegrains have been shown to protect against cancer, obesity, diabetes and obesity. Choose wholemeal, granary or multi-grain bread, whole oats, weetabix, shredded wheat, bran flakes, rye bread, oatcakes,brown rice and pasta, bulgar wheat, quinoa, pearl barley and anything with the word whole/wholegrain in from of it!
- Lower the glycaemic index of meals. Adding lower GI foods (many of which are wholegrains too) will help stabilise your blood sugars, preventing the peaks and dips that can cause those sugar cravings. Also try adding beans and pulses to your main meals.
This post was written for Slimsticks and can be seen on their website here.
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.
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.