NEW YEAR OLD ME!
Carolyn Heaton, the founder of Arabian Silver is also a nutritionist, food writer and past lecturer in London, at The Institute of Optimum Nutrition and The Association of Natural Medicine in East Anglia, she thinks about getting back to basics and analyses the nutritional content of some foods.
OK, OK, not that new year new me bullxxxx. As a self confessed lover of all things bad, I need to recap on a few nutrition facts from my lecture/writing notes. I’m the worst, you can count on me to love chips (that’s French fries to some), crisps (that’s chips to some), chocolate, preferably Cadbury’s, anything with alcohol in it, and not to forget creamy sauce on all meals.
“As a food lover and nutrient content analyser, I will let you in on a secret... No I'm not perfect when it comes to menu choices. People always ask me this question about myself in relation to food. I would say I try to operate generally in the 80/20 arena of nutrition. What's that, you may ask? Well, most nutritionists realise that it's not easy to be perfect so if you're following 80% healthy eating campaign, that's good enough. Chances are if you think this way, you'll probably challenge yourself to do better and live closer to 90/10.
But what are my main concerns overall? There's definitely too much junk food around. Loaded with huge quantities of empty calories, sugar, salt, dangerous fats, additives, colour and more. What's this stuff doing to us? It's causing problems with our brain, digestive system, heart, lungs, kidneys, bones and other systems in our body. Who doesn't know someone with alzheimers, irritable bowel syndrome, colon cancer, asthma, allergies, skin problems, gout, aching bones and stiff joints. Perhaps pain and inflammation, or niggling conditions that just won't go away. This is just the tip of my iceberg list, too many more are buried underneath waiting to explode.
You can change the way you think about food if you feel you are gaining weight more easily, particularly as you age. A good tip I have is to keep pushing the bad food choices to the end of the day. When you get to the end of the day, you realise that you have done well to avoid bad food options and could possibly save them to the next day. See what happens the next day, can you avoid damaging food choices again? Keep going.
Here are a few small tips to get you started moving towards a cleaner you.
Do you need sugar in tea and coffee?
Could you substitute lemon juice, pepper, a dash of celery seed, herbs/spices or garlic for salt.
Perhaps a few nuts on standby for "food craving moments". Almonds are packed with calcium.
A nice fresh rocket salad drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and tangy lime juice.
Fresh juice from a juice bar instead of a cola.
Always a bottle of mineral water on standby.
There is inspiration all around us if we just take time to look and explore. A famous footballer in the UK once shared his moto with me “even if you are knocked out, you just have to get up the next day and do it again, you don’t have a choice, just do it”. He has that sort of “black and white approach” to things and just doesn't give up.
Write Things Down: There’s a lot to do every day, and it may seem like an obvious thing to write things down and have a daily action plan, rather than think “overwhelming”. I got bored a few months ago of writing things down, everything spiraled out of control, I even forgot to pick up my daughter as her school schedule changed. Beatrice wasn’t happy!
What type of physical fitness: Whatever you enjoy doing, do it. My exercise programme seems to change every few years. I went through a phase of the gym, and that was great and sociable. Then it was bike-riding through large open roads of Eastern Europe where I lived for a while. In Suffolk it seems to be muddy fields is now for me before picking the kids up. I read somewhere that there are serious positive benefits from inhaling earthy smells, while out walking or gardening. Whatever you do it will definitely help release endorphins and noradrenaline and give you that “wow factor”. Singing and laughing out loud will give a positive feeling too. Careful where you do it though!
Speed up what you do during the day. Don’t hang onto problems and let them fester in your brain. As the phrase goes “move on”! Lots of my clients say that they have the problem of “over-analysing”. I went to a meeting and it was so funny, I was rushing in the morning, and seemed to act like a “multi-tasking gadget master”. It seemed to work, but my poor hair got the hot setting of the blow dryer and I was out the door before I could say “cappuccino”. Turned up at the meeting feeling quite hot in the face, sat down, and got a lot of lovely comments from my gorgeous friends. They said I looked great, “what have you done”? I said that I had just rushed out and took a deep breath. I got comments like “you should eh... rush more often”!
Throw down, what’s she talking about? Speed up, slow down............ Yes as well as speeding around the place, you also need to unwind and slow down. No point in killing yourself running towards burnout. Sleep clinics have some interesting stuff documented about how much sleep we actually need. We are not all the same, but there is suggestion that you should go to bed and get up at the same time. Messing about with your sleep routine only leads to problems with insomnia and other sleep patterns. On the other hand power napping from about 20 to 40 minutes once during the day, usually in the middle of the day, can sharpen brain function and give you a clearer run into the evening. You don’t even need to lie down, just sitting with your head supported in a comfortable position should do the job.
Connect, share and be aware of what’s around you : Well-being experts suggest to us not to lose sight of the people important to us, whether friends, family or colleagues. Having time to “stand and stare” and reflect on our life for short periods of time also too has a positive effect on mood and ability to cope with situations thrown at us.
Get back to basics: My new year’s resolution is going to be to get back to basics on the food front.
I’m going to make it simple for myself and divide what I need into some type of food group system outlined below. This sort of encourages me to avoid the junky stuff which so easily can sneak back in to my space!
Carbs: Oat and Muesli Cereals, Potatoes, Pasta, Rice, Couscous, Flour, Bread, Bread sticks.
Protein: A variety of dried peas, beans and lentils, canned tuna and anchovies, milk, eggs, cheese, yoghurt, chicken, beef, lamb, fish and seafood. Fat: Oils such as flax, rapeseed, linseed and olive. Unsalted butter. Dried nuts and seeds .
Fresh Fruit/Vegetables : Anything seasonal is good. This time of year I am going to focus on carrots, parsnips, leeks, beetroot and cabbage, and my all time favourite; onions , garlic and fresh chilli.
Herbs and Spices: I love experimenting with these. I think my favourite at this time of the year is rosemary and thyme.
Condiments and jars: Try and keep to a minimum and see how you get on. But I need pureed tomato as a quick fix for meal prep.
Water: Always have a plentiful supply of either mineral or filtered at hand.
Juices: Always choose juice, rather than juice drinks. Of course fruit is better consumed than juice as it has lots of fibre.
The Low-down on bread.
I feel sorry for humble bread recently as it has got such bad press. Lots of diets have been telling us to avoid “carbs”. Bread can benefit towards keeping our Glycaemic Index (GI) in proper control. Different carbs have different effects on blood sugar. For example white bread has a high GI, whereas the more fibre filled darker varieties have a lower GI. However that’s not to say avoid white bread. Combined with protein, it can have a positive effect on our blood sugar, and keeps us feeling fuller for longer than if eaten alone without protein. A great snack is beans or egg on toast. Bread also has other nutrients like protein, calcium, a selection of B vitamins; essential for proper brain function and bread can be fortified with the mineral iron; essential for transferring oxygen around our bodies.
Carolyn Heaton BSc
Independent Nutrition Consultant and Writer
Co-founder Arabian Silver
UK and Saudi Arabia