I love nothing better than healthy eating and feeling refreshed, energised and revitalised. Indulgent foods are always seen as a way to reward yourself or celebrate a happy occasion. Take a birthday for example, it’s always about an abundance of alcohol flowing, and there’s always an overload of the variety pack of crisps out, and a show stopper cake that most of us are usually in awe of but have a voice in the back of our heads saying, “oh no, do I really need that?” More often than not, it’s usually a case of, I’ll just have a little slice, which then turns into the carry-on picking scenario (there’s a famous strapline for a crisp brand ‘once you pop you can’t stop)!
By no means is my life boring when it comes to eating and thankfully my life revolves around food, not only as my career, but my passion too. At times this can be challenging as I can be thinking about it 24/7. Although one of my main objectives is to make sure whatever recipes I create they have a healthy slant in mind.
The majority off my mealtimes during my none working hours also have a mindful thought process behind them. How do I want to feel after I have finished eating? Is it going to be a minute on my lips and lifetime on my hips…? As I mentioned, by no means are my mealtimes boring. I always try to change up my mealtime choices each day to ensure first of all that I don’t get bored. This is also a great way to add a variety of nutrients to your diet. I understand from a cost point of view it’s easier for some to eat the same options day in and day out. Although ensuring you get vital nutrients to your diet you need to elaborate or broaden your choices by adding in different options.
There’s different approaches to cooking methods today, I am a big fan of baked vs fried food. One of my all-time favourites is Fish ‘n’ Chips and I thought to myself, surely, I can produce the same taste without feeling queasy, bloated and suffering from acid reflux. So, I decided to coat my cod filets in crushed cornflakes and seasoning my potatoes in paprika, sea salt to replicate my favourite chips, I also made a delicious homemade ketchup and a tartar sauce and had a lovely meal thoroughly enjoyed by all.
Another reason why I like to focus on ensuring that I feel great after eating is that, post eating comes digesting and that’s one of the most fundamental journeys that your food choices go through ‘the gut system’. What you eat isn’t just nutrition for you, it also feeds the trillions of bacteria that live in your gut. Everyone’s digestive system is different, but if you want to improve your digestion, lose weight or look after your general health, there are some broad principles that apply to all. It all starts in your gut, the system in your body responsible for digestion. Proper digestion is essential to your health and probiotics are essential to your gut. When bacteria are out of balance, it can cause problems such as: excessive gas, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation and abdominal pains and cramping.
Here’s some easy tips for gut health to get you started.
- Eat a wide range of plant-based foods. A healthy gut has a diverse community of microbes, each of which prefer different foods.
- Avoid highly processed foods. They often contain ingredients that either suppress ‘good’ bacteria or increase ‘bad’ bacteria.
- Probiotic foods, such as live yoghurt, might encourage more microbes to grow. Eat them if you enjoy them.
- Antibiotics kill ‘good’ bacteria as well as ‘bad’. If you need antibiotics, make sure you eat lots of foods that boost your microbes afterwards.
- If your diet is low in fibre, a sudden increase can cause wind and bloating. This is less likely if you make gradual changes and ensure you’re drinking sufficient amounts of water throughout the day. Fluids are key for maintaining regular movement through the digestive tract and preventing constipation.
- Reduce the amount of refined sugars in your recipes, switch to agave nectar, maple syrup, honey or yacon syrup.
- Incorporate fermented foods into your diet, I am big fan of miso paste, whether it be in a dressing, soup or marinated in fish recipe. A few key ingredients to add to your shopping list are sauerkraut, kimchi, tamari sauce, tempeh and fermented tofu these are some of the best fermented foods for promoting gut health.
- Make sure that exercise plays an important part in your day to day activities, especially during the summer evenings, go for a walk in your neighbourhood knock on a friend’s door and see if they would like you to take their dog for a walk, in no time you can walk for 30/40 mins without realizing it. And if that’s not an option there’s so many exercises you can do at home, plenty of apps to download today.
- The gut reacts to stress, and this can often be very detrimental to your health. Stress can be known as the route to all evil, so find time to do some meditation, it’s an amazing feeling when you allow yourself to take time out, breathe and shut off from the world. You can either lie on your bedroom floor and you will often find me on a yoga mat in the garden.
- Aspartame leads to dramatic changes in the micro biome that have been correlated with significant increased risk for developing diabetes — even more so when compared to sugar-sweetened foods.
One last tip I would suggest is keeping a food journal. It can be extremely helpful when it comes to understanding more thoroughly what works and doesn’t work for your digestive system. Keeping track of not only what you eat, but how it makes you feel can help you to realize what foods may or may not be working for you.