How to eat, drink and be merry this Christmas without damaging your health

How to eat, drink and be merry this Christmas without damaging your health

Christmas means different things to different people, and debates over “the true meaning of Christmas” are trawled out every year and will run and run. But there are some things that everyone can agree on, from those who are purely celebrating the religious aspects of the festive season to others for whom it is all about Black Friday and Santa Claus. These precepts are that this is a time for celebration, to get together with friends, forget about day to day worries for a little while and to have a good time. There is also a general consensus among all that this is a season in which food and drink can and should flow freely, and we are all at liberty to indulge in those festive favourites. The holiday season is a time when emotions run high and are amplified. For positive emotions like love and happiness, that is wonderful but the same applies to stress, loneliness or financial worry. The net result is that celebrating or stressed, happy or sad, we can all end up over doing the food and drink at Christmas. Research carried out in the USA showed that Americans gain an average 0.5 KG by the end of December. The good news is there are some simple strategies you can adopt to avoid becoming just another statistic, but without dampening down the magic of Christmas. The fundamental things apply A good breakfast sets you up for the day and reduces the temptation to snack on unhealthy treats – this rule applies all year round, and is doubly important to remember at Christmas. A good-sized bowl...
Winter is coming – are you getting your oats?

Winter is coming – are you getting your oats?

The evenings are drawing in, the paths and roads are full of fallen leaves and the supermarkets are throwing us all into confusion as they reorganise the aisles to make way for the festive range. There’s no avoiding the fact: winter is coming. With it come various changes in our daily routine. Coats and heavier shoes are being pressed back into action, the central heating is back in daily use and that yoghurt and fruit that seemed like the perfect breakfast just a month or so ago is no longer quite so tempting. A steaming bowl of porridge is just the thing to set you up for the day. Those of a certain age will remember the TV ad campaign showing the glowing boy heading off to school with the tagline that described a certain well known brand as “central heating for kids.” Pure advertising spiel? Not exactly. In fact, the slow releasing energy that oats deliver do indeed act as an internal heating system and are precisely what we all need. What’s so great about oats? Oats are rich in beta-glucans, a soluble form of fibre that slows the absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream. This delayed digestive process damps down the spikes in insulin levels and blood sugar that we so often see with other energy-giving foods. On top of that, oats are a great source of magnesium. This is also important for giving energy, and is key to enzyme function. Magnesium has been proven to reduce the likelihood of strokes and heart attacks, as it relaxes the blood vessels, aids the heart muscle and regulates blood...
How To Go Vegan

How To Go Vegan

Record numbers are choosing to go vegan. Thinking of joining them? When multiple Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton announced last year that he was going vegan, there was widespread consternation amongst the sporting media. This is a man who competes in one of the most physically gruelling sports on the planet. Drivers can lose as much as 3KG in body weight during a two-hour race in which they are exposed to 3G forces every few seconds. Some feared a vegan diet would not provide Hamilton with the fuel he needed to make it to the end of the race. They said that without meat, he would have insufficient protein, Vitamin D and iron. A year on, and the doubters have been proved wrong. Hamilton typically leaps from the car post-race, looking as fresh as when he began. Two months after announcing going vegan, he won yet another world title, his fourth, and he is now well on his way to a fifth. According to Hamilton, his vegan diet has given him an edge. At the end of last season, he told reporters in Abu Dhabi: “I feel amazing. It’s the best I’ve ever felt in my life.” Reducing greenhouse gases Hamilton is one of a record 3.5 million vegans in the UK – that’s about seven percent of the population and so there is more choice of plant-based foods and snacks than ever to serve this growing sector. People choose to go vegan for a whole host of reasons, but environmental concerns come close to the top of the list. From farm to fork, food is responsible for...
Maintaining protein levels for everyday health and wellness

Maintaining protein levels for everyday health and wellness

Mention protein and you think of energy. There is no shortage of discussion among athletes and sports stars about the importance of maintaining protein levels to optimise performance. Yet the role of protein in the human body is a fundamental one that goes beyond performance on the football field or shaving another one hundredth of a second off that 100-metre time. Macro and micro nutrients The human body needs a variety of nutrients in order to stay healthy, These are divided into macronutrients, of which we need relatively large amounts, and micronutrients. The micronutrients are vitamins and minerals, while the macronutrients are carbohydrates, fat and protein. When it comes to carbohydrates and fat, the body has clever ways of taking reserve supplies on board and holding them in storage. With protein, it is different, however – the body can only take it through what it eats, and when it is gone, it is gone. The importance of maintaining protein levels Protein is a component of each and every cell in the body. It is a building block of blood, skin, bone and muscle and the body uses it to carry out basic functions and to create body chemicals, enzymes and hormones. There are a number of symptoms that might manifest if you are not getting enough protein. The following list contains five of the more common, but is by no means exhaustive. Fatigue – that mid-afternoon energy slump is a common sign that protein levels are getting low. A top up with a nutritious snack or shake that is protein rich can be just the pick-me-up you need. Brain...

What are the implications to your health?

How much does it cost to eat healthily? It’s no secret that in today’s society the majority of us feel strapped for time and money, challenges which can lead to poor diet choices. The convenience of processed, ready prepared food can at the end of the day seem all too tempting, opposed to cooking from scratch. Whilst it may be true that healthier food can cost more than junk food, what are the implications to your health? Last year a report into the widening gap in costs between fresh foods and processed found that healthy foods could cost up to three times as much as unhealthy alternatives. This may be so but at what cost is this to your health? The long term implications that we should eat cheaper, quicker processed food to save a bit of money and time, completely ignores the effect this can have on your health and wellbeing. There are simple steps to take to reduce the cost and to also eat a healthy and balanced diet. Not only is it really satisfying to make a meal from scratch but you’ll be reaping in the rewards on the health side of things! I made my own pasta the other day, whilst not something I plan on doing every week, I could really taste the difference by cooking fresh. Staple foods like tinned beans and pulses are super cheap and can really help pad a meal out. Try using different types such as chickpeas, butterbeans, and black eyed peas and add to stews, soups and pasta or curry dishes. These are a great source of protein...