Category Archives: Nutrition

Navigating Food Labels

Let’s talk about food labels.

Have you ever picked up a product, looked at the food label and was left more confused?

What’s with all the rows and columns of numbers? Serving sizes? Per 100g? And what’s with the long list of ingredients?!

You’re not alone. I’ve been there, and I know how you feel! In order for us to make smart choices about our food and to know what we’re feeding our bodies with, we need to be savvy about nutrition.

Here are some tools to help you navigate and decode food labels and nutrition information.


Ingredients list

The FIRST thing that I look at is the ingredients list. I am not a “calories in calories out” person. And we know that QUALITY matters more than just QUANTITY. You can read more about that here. A low calorie product may very well be filled with junk, and you certainly do not want to feed your body with that!

Quick scan: This will only take 10 seconds of your time.

  • Length of ingredients list

Ideally, the shorter the ingredients list, the better! A long list with codes and numbers usually means that the food is filled with artificial flavourings and colourings, sugars, and highly processed fats and oils.

  • Top 3 ingredients

The first 3 ingredients are important as the list is in order of its quantity, from the highest to the lowest. If the first ingredient is SUGAR, it means that most of that product is just sugar.

  • Mumbo jumbo words

If you cannot pronounce most of the words on the product, put it back!


Nutrition Information Panel

  • Servings per package

This tells you how many servings you can get from the product.

The product in the picture says 2 servings. So, if you drink the whole bottle, you will have to multiply the nutrition information section under “per serve” by 2.

It is important to know the servings per package because the nutrition information panel provides information PER SERVE and not the WHOLE product (unless the serving size is 1).

When it comes to beverages, you are more likely to assume that the whole bottle is 1 serve.

*Also note that serving sizes are determined by MANUFACTURERS. They are not regulated and not based on the standard serving sizes found in dietary guidelines etc*

  • per 100g or 100ml

Use this if you want to compare between products. According to labelling guidelines, ideally you should look out for:

  • < 15g of Sugar per 100g
  • > 3g of Fibre per 100g
  • < 400mg (good) per 100g of Sodium or < 120mg (best) per 100g

Health claims and product description

The food industry LOVES using buzz words like “organic”, “superfood”, “gluten free”, “all natural”, “no added sugars”, “wholegrains”, “low fat”, “good source of X” and the list goes on.

Here are some examples and what they mean:

  • Reduced fat

This claim means that the product has less fat than the original product of the SAME BRAND (at least 25% less fat to make this claim). One brand’s reduced fat does not mean that it is lower in fat than another brand’s regular fat product.

  • Low fat

The food (any brand) does not contain more than 3g of fat per 100g.

  • All natural

A product claiming to be “all natural” is very misleading as there are no regulations for making this claim. Funny how natural products do not need to mention that their product is “all natural”.

This gives you a lot of hints as to why marketers feel the need to use this claim to help sell their products. READ the ingredients list and the nutrition information.

  • No added sugar/Natural sugars/Sugar free/Less sugar

All sugar claims have been addressed and explained here.

  • Light/lite

It is easy to associate light/lite with health. BUT this claim can mean that the product is low fat, low calorie or it may just mean that the product is light in TASTE, COLOUR or TEXTURE!

For example, light rye just means that the colour is lighter than dark rye.

  • Baked not fried

Baked goods definitely sound healthier than FRIED but may very well contain highly processed vegetable oils and fats.

  •  Gluten free

Products with the word “free” tend to sound more appealing/healthier. This applies to gluten free products as well. MORE and MORE products are claiming that they are gluten free.

Are they healthier?

Unless you have coeliac disease or are intolerant, the simple answer is NO. You can read more about it here.


Knowledge about food and food products is POWER! This helps you to make INFORMED choices.

I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions!

xx

Fruits and Vegetables: Fresh or Frozen?

Let’s talk about FRUITS and VEGETABLES. You either love em or hate em! Don’t worry, I am not going to tell you to “EAT YO FRUITS AND VEGGIES!” (although you should)

Due to my busy schedule (I shop once a week), budget and just out of convenience, I opt for frozen veggies and fruits (berries). I get asked a lot if frozen is good for you. So today we’re going to talk about that!

Fresh or Frozen?

We’ve always been told to eat fresh foods instead of frozen. That is true, but when it comes to fruits and vegetables, it can be a bit tricky.

Fresh may not always be best.

Research has shown that in many cases, frozen produce are just as nutritious as fresh produce and sometimes, they contain more nutrients! This is because nutrient levels gradually decrease over time (during transit from farm to supermarkets). This is the part where if left for too long, become brown/black, soft and rot!

Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at their peak, when they have the highest amount of nutrients. The process of freezing slows the ripening process, retains these nutrients and prevents them from breaking down (slows enzymatic reactions).

Of course, this does not apply to all frozen foods but it does give you more options when you don’t have time to buy fresh produce!

Keep in mind that the method of cooking also affects the nutrient levels in food. For example, water soluble vitamin Bs can be loss in the cooking water. Other vitamins such as vitamin C are heat sensitive.

Another handy tip when buying fruits and vegetables is to buy whatever is in season! That way, you get to eat a wide variety each time and of course, cost efficient!

Personally, I find it stressful if I buy a heap of veggies that would not even last the week in my fridge! I end up throwing them away, which is such a waste. So for me, I mix fresh and frozen!

Let me know if you have any questions!

 

2 Weight Loss Myths

Hi guys!

It’s just me, trying to save the world from misinformation.a52879e2a5587c67f910bac41a19f327

And today, I will be smashing these 2 common weight loss myths.


Myth 1: Eating small frequent meals will boost your metabolism

We are often encouraged to eat 6 small meals a day (instead of 3 big meals) to boost our metabolism and keep it firing.

But there are 3 possible problems with this claim.

food-timing-meals

Problem 1:

When we eat, our metabolism does increase as we need to process the food. But there is no evidence that this is of any significance when it comes to weight loss [1].

Problem 2:

By constantly eating around the clock, we are potentially preventing our bodies from burning fat. When we eat, the body releases insulin. In short, this can prevent the breakdown and release of glucose and fats.

Problem 3:

Snacking can potentially be a window to overeat. Eating just a little bit could leave you feeling unsatisfied and wanting MORE!

This study found that a decrease in eating frequency could help manage appetite [2].

Then again, some people find that they can manage their hunger better by eating frequently. That is, if they make the right snack choices.

The bottom line is that there is no one-size-fits-alls method. Choose what works BEST for YOU!

Just keep in mind that there are no metabolic advantages with eating more frequently.


Myth 2: Detox and juice cleanses help to remove toxins and promote weight loss

Juice and detox cleases, ranging from 3 to 7 days (or X days), are pretty popular especially among celebs and influencers.juice-cleanse-bottles

Do they work?

You’ll probably lose some weight but it’s most likely just water. You’ll immediately gain it back when you start eating again. Plus, you might end up feeling HANGRY from all the food that you’re depriving your body of (and potentially eating a whole lot more!).

The thing is that we have our very own super powerful and effective detox systemliver and kidneys. There is no evidence that going on a juice cleanse will make it work any better. Reports of people feeling “better” just after 3 days is probably because they’ve stopped eating all the processed food.JuiceCleanse2

Essentially, it is nothing more than a marketing gimmick for juice companies to sell their juice.

The bottom line is that there are no quick fixes when it comes to weight loss and health. If there were, everyone would be looking fit and healthy.

If you do plan on going on juice cleanses as a way to kickstart new lifestyle habits, just keep in mind that it does not help with weight loss or removing toxins from your body.


Want to lose weight?

Cultivate good LIFELONG habits! Gradual, small and sustainable changes are the key to long term results.

  • A little MORE fresh nutrient rich foods
  • A little LESS ultra processed foods
  • A little MORE movement

#simple

Let me know if you have any questions!

Creamy Raw Blueberry Bars

I was craving for some cheesecake the other day. So, I went on a hunt for some raw cheesecake recipes! The first few that popped up were all vegan – meaning they did not have CHEESE. 

The raw vegan “cheesecake” recipes sounded interesting and I’ve always been curious about the taste! I looked at a few and they all had pretty similar ingredients. From all the different recipes, I picked out the ingredients and changed the amounts needed. Basically, I picked the ingredients that I had at home or was convenient to get at the store.

Thankfully, they turned out pretty well! I definitely wouldn’t call it a “cheesecake”! But it was still good! It was a refreshing snack and I had it for breakfast every day (dessert for breakfast? YES PLEASE!).

As promised, here is the recipe!

Creamy Raw Blueberry Bars

Ingredients:

The base:

  • 1.5 cups of rolled oats
  • 1.5 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1.5 tbsp Manuka honey (or sweetener of choice)

Creamy filling:

  • 1 cup of cashew nuts
  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup of Manuka honey (or sweetener of choice)
  • 1 cup of blueberries
  • 1 tsp of vanilla essence
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Process:

  1. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees. Mix the ingredients for the base and spread it out on a baking tin.
  2. Bake for 15 mins.
  3. For the creamy filling, blitz the cashew nuts in a mixer/food processor. Slowly add in the coconut oil and Manuka honey.
  4. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix until it becomes smooth and CREAMY!
  5. Pour the creamy filling over the COOLED base (make sure you let the base cool for about 10 mins before you pour the filling.
  6. Freeze for 2-3 hours and ENJOY!

Enjoy!

Let me know if you made this and if you liked the taste!

The Keto Diet – Everything You Need to Know

There’s been a lot of hype about the keto diet.  More and more people are going keto to manage their weight and overall health.

If you’re curious or wondering if this diet is for you, read on! I’m here to give you a quick low down on the KETO DIET!


 

Keto2-1-1200x616

What is it?

The ketogenic diet or keto diet, is a strict low carb high fat diet. The idea is to put the body into a state of ketosis.

Ketosis is a metabolic process where the body uses fat for fuel instead of glucose. This occurs when the body has drained all of its carbohydrate stores – during times of fasting, starvation or when carbohydrate intake is limited. The process involves the breakdown of fats in the liver to produce ketones.

Ketones are an alternative fuel,  which can continue to fuel the brain (the brain can only run on glucose or ketones) and the body.

Essentially, you become an efficient fat burning machine.


The benefits

The keto diet promotes FAT loss.  As mentioned, carbs are so limited that the body is forced to tap into its fat stores for fuel, leading to weight loss. Studies have found that it trumps the low fat diet [1]. Fat increases satiety and you are less likely to feel hungry in between meals.

Also, the low carb intake reduces the production of insulin. When you eat carbs, insulin is constantly being produced. Insulin prevents the breakdown of fats and encourages the conversion of glucose to fat. How-Weight-Loss-Works-02

The nature of this diet is also benefitial for people with Type 2 diabetes, prediabetes or insulin resistance [2]. This is because fat does not impact insulin the same way as carbs and proteins [3]. Low carb intake helps with managing blood sugar levels. Also, weight loss can improve insulin sensitivity.

Less carbs = Reduced blood sugar and insulin levels751d33ec93eeac18f86f285f892e2314

The keto diet also seems to improve markers associated with other metabolic diseases [4]. Other health related benefits include neurological (Alzheimers, epilepsy, seizures) [5, 6], cancer [7], improves blood lipid profile and reduces inflammatory markers.
In terms of the keto diet for athletic performance, there is limited research. This diet is thought to be suitable for endurance based sports at submaximal effort (such as the marathon or ultramarathon) where high intensity sprints/bursts are not involved [8].
Then again, there are some high performing athletes that can thrive off a keto diet. It all boils down to their unique genetic make up, how well they can tolerate and adapt to the diet.

LOW carb, HIGH fat

There are different degrees of “low carb” within the keto diet.ketogenic-dietBut the standard protocol looks like the image above.

5% of carbs = 15-20g of carbohydrates a day!

1 small banana = 23g of carbs

Carbs are found in foods such as cereal, bread, pasta, rice, noodles, legumes, fruits and some starchy vegetables (beetroot, parsnips, potatoes etc).


What to eat?keto-diet-picture

Vege

  • Non starchy vege (leafy greens, brussel sprouts, broccoli, kale, spinach, rocket, bok choy etc)

Protein

  • Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring etc)
  • Red meat (grass-fed beef, pork, lamb etc)
  • Turkey, chicken (free range)
  • Omega-3 eggs

Dairy

  • Unprocessed cheeses (mozzarella, cheddar, cream cheese etc)
  • Full fat milk (limited amounts as milk contains the sugar lactose)

Fats and oils

  • Avocado
  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, flaxseeds, macadamias, walnuts etc)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Coconut milk
  • MCT oils
  • Grass-fed butter and cream
  • Grass-fed ghee

What to avoid/eliminate?

  • High sugar foods (Ice cream, cake, fruit juice, soda, sweets, some sauces and condiments, sweet breads, highly processed low-fat/diet products, foods with sugar alcohols etc)
  • Cereal/grain products (breads, pasta, rice, breakfast cereals etc)
  • Highly processed fats and oils (vegetable oil, margarine)
  • Highly processed foods (chips, biscuits, cookies etc)
  • Alcohol
  • Legumes (kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, red beans etc)
  • Fruit (Most fruits except lower sugar fruits such as berries)
  • Starchy vegetables (potatoes, parsnips, sweet potatoes, peas, carrots etc)

IMPORTANT NOTE:

This is NOT your GREEN LIGHT to load up on highly processed fatty foods and junk food.

It is about moving away from highly processed foods, vegetable oils, foods filled with trans fat and omega-6, and margarine. This practice should apply to EVERYONE, not just for people on a keto diet.


Bottom line:

  • The keto diet is scientifically sound and valid
  • It is pretty extreme and it is not for everyone
  • It is great for people wanting to lose weight or have a metabolic disease
  • Before you get into ANY diet, pls do your research + get help/advice from your doctor and dietitian
  • Thanks to our uniqueness, two people on the exact same diet can have very different results!
  • For any diet to work, you need to make it work for YOU
  • It needs to be sustainable and not get in the way of your life
  • Most importantly, you need to ENJOY eating and FOOD!
  • Find your sweet spot and happy balance!

Let me know if you have any questions!

xoxo