It’s that time of year again. I know I say this every year, but the last year has really flown...As we catch up with friends and family, we think about what’s happened over the past year. Has it been a good one or not for our family, our work and just as importantly our health?
I’m finding that everyone around me seems to be focusing more on their health than ever before.
Is it that we are becoming more health conscious generally or is it that we are all getting older and our bodies are not what they used to be?
Some of my friends who are party goers are saying that they can’t drink alcohol as much as they used to. It takes longer to recover the next day. They don’t get any sympathy from me, because I don’t think they should be drinking so much in the first place!
What a year it's been!
I have loved the last year from a nutrition point of view, because for the first time in many years I feel there has been a groundswell of interest in nutrition and healthy eating.
We've seen the rise of the Paleo style of eating and a back-to-the-future with the re-emergence of the low carb phenomena that we had back in the days of the Dr Atkins era. I don’t agree with either of those regimes because I still believe in balanced eating and not restricting or eliminating whole food groups when you don't need to. I think it creates food anxiety and reduces the enjoyment and pleasure of eating.
Gluten free is now mainstream and we have an epidemic of wheat and dairy avoiders. Consequently we can now access so many fabulous ancient grains and seeds like amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, chia seed and also almond and other nut milks so that people who really need to, can have more choice .
It's wonderful to see green leafy vegetables become popularised, like kale green smoothies now almost a daily ritual for some, and of course we have seen the coconut craze. The scientific jury is still out on whether coconut is good or bad for us. From a taste perspective it's delicious but it does concern me when I see so many people using so much coconut oil, cream, milk and even coconut yoghurt. It's still is high in fat and overall kilojoules so should be enjoyed only in moderation, not dousing everything in coconut oil. I wouldn't even recommend that we pour olive oil over everything, even though olive oil has more antioxidant power than coconuts!
A new year is a great time to make a fresh start with healthy lifestyle goals. And getting started is the key. We can all fall into a rut and put off the things that we know really should be making a priority in our life, like watching our weight or improving our fitness.
The magic of success comes when you allow yourself time to adjust to change, take things gradually and trick your body and mind into accepting the “new” as the “everyday”.
When you think about body maintenance, realise it’s like having a haircut or your nails done: you don’t just do it once and assume you’ll look good for the rest of the year. You need to monitor and regularly take action.
Here are my top five tips to help you be a bit healthier in 2015:
- I’ve often been asked ‘What's the one tip you wish everyone knew about losing or maintaining weight?’ The best exercise for losing and maintaining weight is to push yourself away from the table!!
- Listen to your body signals and aim to eat when you truly feel hunger. Stop eating when you’re close to feeling satisfied and let digestion have time to send ‘I’m full’ messages to your brain. And don’t be worried about leaving leftovers on your plate.
- Even a dietitian can admit that the majority of people, especially women, are too focussed on the restriction or eating side of the weight loss balance. And not on the power of exercise to burn up kilojoules and fat stores and increase your metabolism. Even if you decide to eat exactly the same foods, but simply increase your daily exercise, you would tip the energy balance towards weight loss.
- BBQs – so popular at this time of year - aren’t just about the meat or seafood. Vegetables on the BBQ – sweet potatoes in foil, corn on the cob, capsicums, mushrooms - also add to the nutrition quota for the meal. Add a sploosh of olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.
Serve plenty of salads including some supergrains. And enjoy some summer stone fruits like apricots, nectarine and peaches along with tropical fruits like pineapple and mangoes. The fruits that really give you great nutritional value per kilojoule are the berries and they are magnificent at this time of year and so affordable for most.
- It’s important to remember that eating for health is definitely not about skipping meals and going hungry. Blood sugar levels drop, headaches start to happen, tempers fray and fatigue sets in. If for some reason a meal is delayed make sure you have access to healthy, portable snacks like seasonal fresh fruit, probiotic yoghurt, vegie sticks with yummy dips, raw or dry roasted nuts and seeds to tame those hunger hormones.
We need to make every mouthful count – whatever you eat most of the time should give you some ‘nutritional high’ whether it be energy, vitality, brain power, positive mood or super health.
I hope you all enjoy a happy festive season and a healthy 2015! And here’s my favourite seasonal recipe you too might enjoy:
A delicious dessert made from luscious summer berries Serves 6
3 cups mixed berries (eg. raspberries, strawberries, loganberries, blueberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries)
Add a little sugar but not too much. The berries are very sweet at this time of year.
8 slices bread, crusts removed or pannetone. I prefer a pannetone (Italian Christmas bread)
- Remove stalks from the fruit and slice the strawberries. Wash fruit and put it with a little sugar in a pan.
- Cover and cook gently for 5-10 minutes or until fruit is tender. Drain off the juice, reserving 6 tablespoons.
- Line a 1 litre pudding basin with some of the bread slices, cutting them to fit the basin exactly.
- Spoon in the fruit, packing it in well. Pour in the reserved juice. Place the remaining bread on top of the fruit.
- Cover with a plate, small enough to rest on the pudding itself, and place a heavy can or other weight on the plate.
- Leave the pudding overnight in the refrigerator.
- Turn out and serve with Jalna Low Fat Vanilla Yoghurt or Jalna Sweet and Creamy Yoghurt