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What the dietitian said about nutrition and healthy eating

There’s so much dietary information around, it can be hard to know what to listen to, especially with so many fad diets around. However, we know that what we eat has almost magical powers when it comes to contributing to our mental and physical health. From drinking cider vinegar to fasting and juice cleanses, what should we be doing to stay happy and healthy? We spoke to one dietician for a few tips and a little nutrition inspiration for the new year.

nutrition

What’s the most common mistake people make with their nutrition?

There are a lot of mistakes people make, but in my opinion, skipping meals is the most common and serious mistake.  Skipping essential meals daily, besides being unhealthy, can in fact, increase weight.

What are the worst things to do nutritionally?

After skipping meals, which is the worst, common nutrition habits include the low intake of fluids (e.g. water, herbal teas, natural fruit juices, and vegetable shakes), and the high intake of foods (more calories than needed per day), which can be a pseudo-comfort due to high sugars, salt, and fat intake. If you combine it with the absence of physical activity, you have the perfect scenario for weight gain and health implications.

What one thing do you always recommend people do to improve their nutrition?

Learn how to eat. It requires an understanding of how our digestive system (digestion, absorption, transport and excretion of nutrients) works - and be active.

Can supplements be useful and why?

Nutritional supplements can be helpful in maintaining health, alongside a reduced caloric intake, low-glycemic index and anti-inflammatory diet. They can also decrease the inflammatory process, which is common in people who are overweight.

What basic rules should people follow for healthy nutrition this year?

Reduce unhealthy fat intake  

Eliminate the oils high in omega-6, as well as margarine, deep-fried foods and any foods that contain trans fats. Reduce your intake of foods high in saturated fat as well.

Increase your intake of monounsaturated oils

Include more extra-virgin olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, fish oil, walnuts and walnut oil, flax and flaxseed oil, and hemp seed and hemp seed oil.

Reduce unhealthy carbohydrates

Substitute refined flours, sugars and other foods that are high on the glycemic index for low glycemic foods.

Increase your intake of fruit and vegetables

In particular, blueberries, strawberries, and dark leafy greens are excellent sources of antioxidants.

Eat more anti-inflammatory herbs and spices

Add onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and cayenne pepper to your favourite soups, salads, and stews.

Reduce your caffeine intake

Instead opt for more herbal, naturally non caffeinated teas.

Eliminate foods that cause sensitivities

Limit the foods you are intolerant to, or that cause you allergies. If you are not sure which foods are causing you problems, a Food Intolerance Test is an easy way to find out.

Manage your stress levels

Anti-inflammatory foods can help to balance moods swings and irritability, give you energy and improve your resilience to stress.

Add exercise that fits into your day

If you haven’t done already, introduce exercise into your day by seeing where it fits into your regular routine. For example, try to add in 30-minutes of walking - whether it’s strolling at lunchtime or using the stairs instead of the lift at work.

Where can people make big changes in the New Year?

The first step should begin in our minds.  We should realise that what we do today has a huge impact on our health and this is essential to improve or even to maintain our quality of life. Combine healthy eating habits with daily workout sessions and stress management techniques.  Good food habits, exercise, and stress management are the tools to develop a way towards longevity, because health is more than absence of disease.

Nutritious meals and drinks to try this week 

Healthy shakes (with water)

  • Beet, orange, lemon juice and ginger
  • Apple, grapes, celery and radish
  • Carrot, orange, red plum and mint leave
  • Carrot, orange and coriander
  • Apple, pineapple, ginger and golden rocket
  • Pineapple, melon and coriander
  • Kiwi, carrot, red plum and mint leave

Note: always add a vegetable or aromatic herb to prevent rapid absorption of sugar from fruit.

Salad and soups

Chicken salad with avocado

Chicken breast, coriander, radishes green leafy vegetables, cherry tomatoes, avocado, red onion, quinoa, olive oil, marine salt and aromatic herbs.

Detox Soup

200g of carrots, 200g of onions, 100g of green leafy vegetables, 50g celery, three garlic cloves, parsley or cilantro, olive oil, marine salt and water. Cook and reduce to puree.

Zucchini Soup

1 kg of the zucchini, 1/2 leek, one onion, one carrot, two cloves of garlic, one bunch of coriander, basil leaf, olive oil, marine salt and water. Cook and reduce to puree.

Beetroot Soup

One Beetroot, two courgettes, 1/2 leek, one onion, two cloves of garlic, one small cauliflower, one bunch of coriander, olive oil, marine salt and water. Cook and reduce to puree.

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