Nutrition has always been a passion of mine and food as medicine. I’m not sure where it started but I’ve never been one to focus on the caloric density but rather the nutritional value of what I’m eating. It may be my Italian background and passion for food in general. In this way, I feel really grateful that my love for food has never extended to addiction or impacted my life negatively. Instead, I have harnessed my strengths and focused my efforts to studying what serves my body. Understanding the importance of vitamins, minerals, free radicals, good fats and bad fats and satiating properties has always had me looking at food differently and how it can serve me.
My research has led me to simplifying my diet and incorporating more “home-cooked” meals and snacks into my regular diet as I value the impact these foods can have on my children and my health.
Firstly, let me clarify that I am in in no way trained or qualified in nutrition but instead have concluded my own nutrition path through the various journals, papers, books and yes!, YouTube clips I have watched over the years.
Apologies are in order for all the family members and friends that I have offered my well-meaning advice to. My intention has been and always will be to assist your pain or ailments through any natural means possible. It may come across heavy but I really believe in the healing power of food.
Below you will find a brief run down on how you can feel satiated and maintain or lose weight (especially for those used to a high calorie diet) and keep healthy all while stabilising hormones and boosting energy.
Let me start off with this BAD carbs…… What a load of crap……. How are we supposed to be full without eating carbs? Sure, I’ll eat a healthy breakfast, may even have a salad for lunch, some great protein for dinner but come 9pm, I’m starving and will eat an entire day’s worth of calories in one sitting. It’s just not sustainable, so don’t bother. That’s how yo-yo dieting starts. Nobody wants to work extremely hard only to have their weight pile back on in the next year or two. What a complete waste of time, not to mention the effect on your mental health and physical health. Basically, forget anything fried and stick with your carbs coming in the most natural form. Eat your potatoes, sweet potatoes and veggies. Not only will these have carbs that are keeping you fuller for longer, but they have a gazillion vitamins and minerals that your body needs to repair itself. NEVER limit your vegetable intake. In fact, triple it! Just don’t cover it in oil or deep fry it and you’ll be fine. Hold back on the salt or at least limit it and try adding some herbs for flavour. While on carbs, what about bread? Generally speaking, I like to stick to 2 pieces of bread every two days. That means, one day I’ll have toast, the next day, I’ll have oats for breakfast. There are definitely some good breads out there and some that should be kept well away. I prefer to buy something full of whole grains and LOVE sourdough. Not only does sourdough have good probiotic qualities for my gut, but I just love the taste. Sorry to say but price is generally an indicator of better ingredients when it comes to bread. I find the Cape Seed loaf at Baker’s Delight the best quality of wholegrains for my money. And it stores great in the freezer where I only take out my two pieces that I need. My kids love the Wholemeal Lebanese bread usually found at middle-eastern shops or fruit markets (and Coles but ALWAYS stale). The ingredients are literally just wholemeal flour and water.
Want to snack???? Go for it! But choose some fruit, dried fruit or wholegrain. Stop being hungry people! It makes it really difficult to make good food choices when you’re starving. Have your peanut butter but make sure it only has peanuts in the ingredient list (on that note, ALDI’s organic one is really good. Crunchy or Smooth). Try not to over indulge in any one ingredient though. Have some peanut butter and smear it across apple wedges. Not only are you getting some healthy fats from peanuts, but you’re also receiving some vitamins from fruit. While eating your fruit, make sure to leave the skin on. That’s where all the fibre is and that’s what cleans out your intestines and arteries allowing you to better absorb your nutrients from your food. Not to mention that the fibre fills you more than if you were to remove the skin, thus, making it very difficult to over eat. The fibre in our food combined with water is what creates the bulk in our stomachs allowing us to actually feel full. Cut out the fibre and it’s hard to flick that switch.
What’s for dinner? This is where I like to consider a colourful plate. As I mentioned earlier, I’m aware of the nutrient density of foods but don’t retain the specific information of what vitamin is in what vegetable, so I mix it up. Knowing that I want to get as much vitamins into my family as possible, I focus on a very colourful plate that changes daily. Different vegetables, different grains and different proteins EVERY DAY! Fill half the plate up with vegetables, either cooked or raw, making sure to stay away from oil (Any oil, yes even extra virgin olive oil, or coconut oil), one quarter of your plate a healthy grain and the last quarter a healthy protein. I recently prefer to keep my protein to beans, legumes or tofu rather than meat, but that is a transition you will need to decide on your own. After research I have found that the cholesterol and fats in meat just don’t serve me or my digestive tract and prefer to choose mostly plant-based protein and not the sort that is processed and out of a packet. I am relaxed in this stance knowing full well that on the odd occasion my mother-in-law will make an amazing traditional meal consisting of meat. So, like my entire diet, I generally prefer to choose healthy options, but don’t beat myself up when it comes time for celebrations, knowing full well, that my healthy in-grained lifestyle and diet is always my preference and my very next meal will be my colourful plate. When you feel good all the time, you want to keep feeling that way, so it’s easy to make the good food choices the very next meal.
I can hear the mum’s yelling out “but what do you feed the kids”. And my response to that is “the same”. Hahahaha. Yes there are days when my kids look at the meal, take a mouthful and say, no way, but there are mostly days when they accept there’s nothing else and eat it regardless. Hahhaha. I’m not going to lie, my children would much rather I served them Schnitzel and chips with tomato sauce every day and spaghetti Bolognese. My pre-teen practically throws a fit or tantrum like he’s a toddler at times at which point I re-enforce the benefits of healthy eating and have come to a compromise where every second meal in our house will have an option for them to choose something they like as well as serving my healthy meals. Come to your own compromise. There is some resistance but my healthy cooking and message has remained consistent for them to realise there’s no point in arguing. Oh, they still try, they just know I’m not giving in. The teenage years are unique regardless. Independence, stubbornness, hormones and hunger have emerged and me and my “whole-foods” army have come prepared. I recall being much the same as a teenager but re-aligning once year 12 was over to the healthier practices I was taught. The intention is to equip my children with all the knowledge they need to make smarter choices while allowing them freedom to make their own while they’re out of the house. I don’t say “no” but rather, how about you have ONE. Consistency is the key when it comes to children, consistently offering the same message and same food choices while setting the example in mine.
What about beverages? Simple, Water!!! Add a squeeze of lemon if you need, or bubbles, or a herbal tea to it but there is so much wrong with having your calories from beverages that I have always stayed well clear from drinking my calories. Juice is no better, only serving to spike your sugar levels with little or no health benefits. Even freshly juiced has all the fibre removed. The information is plain and simple, that your body just doesn’t recognise calories from drinks. If you think you’re eating really healthy already, eating all your vegetables, fruit, grains and good proteins and still not losing weight. The answer will always be, it’s what you’re drinking. On that note, I understand some people love their coffee. Sure, have it, but remove that baby – cow growth formula full of hormones to make calves grow and replace it with a LITTLE alternative milk. You don’t need to feed your pre-cancerous cells growth hormones, or your waist line for that matter and you know what, only two weeks after I stopped drinking milk did I notice that it tastes like COW when you try to drink it again. Give it a go for 2 weeks (the sugar in milk actually has you addicted without you knowing it) and you won’t go back. So we’ve changed the way we have our coffee but the other point to consider is the WHEN!!! You may not realise that caffeine inhibits the absorption of many of our vitamins and minerals, so when we have coffee or tea, or chocolate (only 85% or 95% dark) for that matter, within one hour of a meal, either before or after, it basically eradicates all the vitamins we’ve just eaten. Leave your caffeine an hour away from your meal if you can’t stop it all together.
So there’s a whole heap of information included in this article for you to consider. Let’s conclude with a basic, easy to follow summary. Drink plenty of water and if you need your caffeine, have it without milk and an hour away from food. Fill your plates with plenty of vegetables in all colours of the rainbow leaving a quarter for grains and the other quarter for protein. Stop the oil and minimise the salt. Remain consistent with your healthy eating and your children will grow to understand its benefits and have a healthy relationship with food. Don’t look at your food choices as a DIET but rather a way of life and give yourself some slack for one BAD food choice knowing full well that the very next meal will be Whole Food Plant Based. Your body, mood and energy levels will thank you for choices.
Enjoy a healthy long life where you are your perfect healthy weight, your arteries are un-clogged and in perfect functioning order, you are active and mobile well into your senior years and until you peacefully go to sleep one night and realise, hmmmm, I’m a bit tired of everyone’s shit, I tried this life, I wonder what’s on the other side, I might just not wake up tomorrow.
Example of 2 days daily food intake and don’t ask me about calories, because to be honest, I don’t care about calories. My clothes are getting looser on me by the day and as long as they’re not tight, I’ll keep enjoying my food. If this is not enough food, or I feel hungrier, I just eat more food. Some days I feel like I don’t stop.
Breakfast: Overnight oats with bananas, raspberries, chia seeds, hemp seeds, peanut butter, cinnamon and soy milk
Whole wheat crackers with hummus (I make this myself with chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, tahini, little salt and paprika)
Lunch: Salad with Sweet potato and a lentil bolognaise (make extra the night before with some healthy pasta so that you can have it for lunch the following day)
Dinner: Quinoa burrito bowl
Drinks: Water and Elderberry tea
Treat – Dark Chocolate piece
Breakfast: 2 pieces Toast with avocado and tomatoes and sprinkled with chia seeds, hemp seeds and sunflower seeds and chamomile tea
Carrot and celery sticks in hummus
Lunch: Vegetable pasta salad (Using red lentil spiral pasta salad from Aldi). Massive Bowl of Roasted Veg Salad!!!
Dinner: Vegan Shepherd’s pie with base of brown lentils and mushrooms, carrots, celery, onions and chopped kale. Topped with Sesame seeds
Drinks: Water, Soy Turmeric Latte, Chamomile tea
Treat – Dates stuffed with walnuts and dipped in tahini