Why being flexible in the holiday season matters

With only 10 days to go until Christmas (and counting), the festive season can be challenging when it comes to making healthy food choices. Every year at this time, recipes and tips for eating nutritiously over Christmas pop up all over the web. While I admire the efforts of many of these authors, often I can’t help but think that:

a) Many of these recipes really don’t look particularly appetising. Enjoyment of food and feasting is important to all cultures, and we all need a “free pass” every now and again.

b) What you eat on one day of the year (1/365th of what you eat overall) doesn’t really make any difference to your overall nutrition. It’s what you eat on the remaining 364 days that counts.

 

Image courtesy of nuchylee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nuchylee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Orthorexia is a word that has entered popular vernacular in the past few years. The ‘condition’ is about as legit as other nebulous food-related terms, such as being ‘hangry’ (hungry-angry, something I am certainly prone to!), or following a ‘detox diet’ (your liver and kidneys do this for you on a daily basis, don’t waste your money).

The Dietitians’ Association of Australia defines orthorexia as encompassing

“…strict and inflexible eating behaviours, where a person has rules about how much food should be eaten and the timing of meals or avoidant-based eating practices due to misguided beliefs on what they perceive as healthy.

Orthorexia starts out as a true intention to eat healthy foods but it is taken to the extreme.” Source

 

Courtesy of stock images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Courtesy of stock images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Orthorexia is particularly visible at the festive time of year. Rather than succumbing to food anxiety, strive to find a way of eating that is full of plant foods, that you enjoy. And then give yourself free passes every now and again. Just go back to your regular nourishing way of eating on the next day. Guilt-free.

Rather than labelling foods ‘good’ and ‘bad’, view them as ‘everyday’ and ‘sometimes’ foods. That way, you’ll avoid the guilt trap, and the ensuing ‘well, if I’ve slipped up, I might as well go all-out’. You’re more likely to end up binging on a large quantity of comfort food this way.

 

Courtesy of Apolonia at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Courtesy of Apolonia at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Making plans in advance, such as which day/s will be your “free days” and how you will use any confectionery you are given as a gift, will also make it much easier to continue eating nutritiously over the festive season.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Happy feasting!

 

What’s your thoughts about eating nutritiously over Christmas? Do you give yourself a ‘free pass’, or do you adjust recipes to make them healthier?

Legumes: The overlooked food group

I love legumes. Sometimes referred to as “dried beans”, legumes includes everything from green peas to chickpeas, lentils to kidney beans and soy, and even peanuts are technically a legume! The thing I like about them the most is how filling they are. Give me a big serve of kidney bean pasta sauce, and I’ll be satisfied for several hours.

The other great thing about legumes is that not only are they  nutrition powerhouses, they’re also generally incredibly cheap.

 

A snapshot of some of the different kinds of legumes out there. Clockwise: Chickpeas, red lentils and green lentils.

A snapshot of some of the different kinds of legumes out there.
Clockwise: Chickpeas, red lentils and green lentils.

 

Here’s a snapshot of some of the nutritional benefits of legumes:

  • Protein
  • Fibre
  • Iron, zinc, and B-group vitamins (including folate)
  • (Most of them are) Low GI. In other words, they give you long-lasting energy. This is important for people with diabetes, as it helps to stabilise your blood sugar levels. There’s also evidence to indicate that it appears to help clear up acne.
  • They’re very filling, which helps you avoid overeating (because of their protein and fibre content, and because they’re low GI)

Nutritionally, legumes fall in both the “meat/eggs” and the “vegetables” food groups. So you’re getting the benefits of both groups, from one food!

 

Other benefits:

People who eat lots of legumes on a regular basis have:

  • A reduced risk of bowel (colon) cancer
  • A reduced risk of  heart disease or stroke

Legumes are also a good choice for people with cholesterol issues.

Substituting meat for legumes where possible, and limiting meat/poultry/fish to 2-3 times per week (or less), is also great for one’s health. The longest lived populations in the world all have mostly plant-based diets, although not necessarily vegetarian. There is plenty of high-quality research to demonstrate the benefits of eating lots of plant foods, and minimal animal foods (although that’s for another post!)

Finally, a diet that doesn’t contain much meat (especially red meat) is far better for our environment.

 

After soaking dried legumes overnight, drain them in a colander and rinse with fresh water.

After soaking dried legumes overnight, drain them in a colander and rinse with fresh water.

 

Bring soaked (dried) legumes to the boil, and then reduce to simmer. The cooking time depends on the type of bean you are cooking. Kidney beans contain haemagglutinin, a toxic compound that causes vomiting and diarrhoea if ingested. Kidney beans need to be boiled (at a rapid boil) for 10 minutes to destroy this compound. Never cook kidney beans in a slow cooker, as the temperature won't get high enough to destroy the compound.

Bring soaked (dried) legumes to the boil, and then reduce to simmer. The cooking time depends on the type of bean you are cooking.
Kidney beans contain haemagglutinin, a toxic compound that causes vomiting and diarrhoea if ingested. Kidney beans need to be boiled (at a rapid boil) for 10 minutes to destroy this compound. Never cook kidney beans in a slow cooker, as the temperature won’t get high enough to destroy the compound.

 

Dried versus canned varieties?

Legumes cooked from dry are slightly higher in nutrients (protein, folate, iron, fibre) than their canned counterparts, but the main difference is the price. I calculated from prices around me in Melbourne that canned legumes are more than 3x the price of cooking them from dry.

The average price for a 400g (14oz, 240g or 8.5oz drained weight) can of chickpeas in metropolitan Australian supermarkets is around $1.00 AUD ($0.85 USD at time of print). You can buy 2kg (4.4lb) of dried chickpeas at an Indian grocer for $5.50. A quick Google search came up with a factor of 2.2 to determine the weight of cooked chickpeas from dried ones.

So, some simple arithmetic:

From a can: 240g cooked for $1.00, or 42 cents per 100g

From dry: 2kg * 2.2 = 4.4kg cooked for $5.50, or 13 cents per 100g

Of course, if you live a busy life, and aren’t quite organised enough to soak beans overnight then cook them for roughly 1.5 hours, canned legumes are still a very good alternative.

At $4.20 AUD per kilogram, canned legumes are still far cheaper than virtually all cuts of meat. (And for the average person, far better for you nutritionally- eating healthily doesn’t have to be expensive!)

If you do buy canned, just remember to drain and rinse them thoroughly in a colander, to remove as much salt as possible. Alternatively, buy no added salt versions if you can.

 

Soy products are also a member of the legume family. Nutritionally, however, these can also fit into the dairy food group (if soy milk is calcium-fortified, and if tofu is set with calcium) Clockwise: Soy beverage, firm calcium-set tofu, fried tofu puffs (also calcium-set) Tofu is often made with magnesium instead of calcium, so read the ingredients list to check.

Soy products are also a member of the legume family. Nutritionally, however, these can also fit into the dairy food group (if soy milk is calcium-fortified, and if tofu is set with calcium)
Clockwise: Soy beverage, firm calcium-set tofu, fried tofu puffs (also calcium-set)
Tofu is often made with magnesium instead of calcium, so read the ingredients list to check.

 

What’s your favourite legume? Got a great recipe tip?

Coming out of hibernation, and hello Alice Springs!

The last month or two have been pretty full on for me. We’ve moved house, gone to Alice Springs (outback central Australia) on holiday, and I’ve increased my workload. Phew! Now that we’re beginning to settle back in to a new routine, I’m finally starting to feel sane enough to re-friend my blog. I’ve been missing it!

I have a relative who lives in Alice Springs, and I’ve been feeling like it was time that I went up there and paid her a visit. At the same time as spending a lovely week together, the trip turned out to be a great opportunity to experience the incredible landscape of central Australia.

 

Alice Springs from Anzac Hill. The town is surrounded by large rock forms, which are part of the Dreaming (creation story) to local Arrernte people

 

Here’s a snap of me at Ormiston Gorge, a permanent waterhole located west of Alice Springs. Look how much water there is! If you travel west out of Alice Springs, there’s 4 gorges with permanent waterholes, all along the same highway, that you can visit. You can also swim in most of them, but silly us left our bathers back in Alice Springs.

 

Ormiston Gorge

Ormiston Gorge

 

We were surprised to see the amount of plant and animal life around the small city, given that it’s smack bang in the middle of thousands of square kilometres of desert. We were expecting to see nothing but red sand, but in actual fact, Alice Springs is full of trees, and there are several permanent waterholes to the east and west of the city. Apparently there is a lot of underground water, which is replenished when it rains. To be fair, most of the land we saw out of our plane’s window seemed to be empty red sand, so our expectation wasn’t entirely baseless… The river that runs through Alice Springs is a dry riverbed for most of the year, and only flows when it rains.

 

Plant life at Alice Springs Desert Park. Far greener than we were expecting!

Plant life at Alice Springs Desert Park. Far greener than we were expecting!

 

For anyone considering a visit to Alice Springs, I would thoroughly recommend driving out of town to visit some of the gorges, as well as a visit to the Alice Springs Desert Park (an open-air wildlife park, although the plants there are equally interesting). The gorges are especially lovely in the heat- it was noticeably cooler when we were down by the water, compared to when we were walking back to the car. Even in mid-October (spring in southern Australia), the maximum temperature for the week we were there was 38 degrees Celsius (100 Fahrenheit) on most days! We had to chuckle each time a local told us “it’s a good thing you didn’t come in summer!”. In my book, 38 degrees is well and truly summer, no matter what the calendar says!

 

Thorny Devil at Alice Springs Desert Park. According to our guide, they live off ants.

Thorny Devil at Alice Springs Desert Park. According to our guide, they live off ants.

 

One thing that struck me throughout our trip was how much knowledge the first people from this region must have accumulated over the generations, to have been able to live a reasonably comfortable life in the harsh Australian desert for so many thousands of years. This comes off the back of reading two deeply thought-provoking books on pre-European Australian history recently, Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe (Goodreads) and First Footprints by Scott Cane (Goodreads).

Unfortunately, the history we are taught at school only briefly touches on the first 70 000+ years of this land’s history, but then we spend years learning about the last couple of centuries. We are so fortunate, in Australia, to have the world’s oldest living culture here among us. I suppose that learning to turn to ancient accumulated knowledge, while still moving forward into a modern, global future, is a struggle that humanity as a whole is grappling with at the moment.

If you’re interested in a more holistic version of Australian history, I can’t recommend the two books above highly enough. Suffice to say, there is compelling evidence that the first Australians were far more technologically ‘advanced’, pre-European contact, than we are led to believe today.

 

Glen Helen Gorge, thick with rushes

Glen Helen Gorge, thick with rushes

 

I’ll be back in the next few days to post about my favourite food group. Any guesses? Stay tuned!

 

 

– Sonia

 

Nosh Magazine: Bringing some of Australia’s leading Dietitians to your computer

I often find my Facebook newsfeed and email inbox filling up with discussions around quacks who peddle misinformation and confusion around healthy eating. I’m not a fan of demonising an individual food or nutrient, and I’m certainly not a fan of the amount of money that such an overly-simplistic approach can make. But I’m also not keen on ‘bashing’ individuals for promoting these kind of approaches to eating. Personal attacks easily step into the realm of maliciousness, and I have never seen them to be very effective- they just get people’s backs up.

Adopting a more constructive approach and taking small steps to help others realign their approach to food, however… Now, that’s the way forward.

That’s why I was excited to come across Nosh a month or two ago, on another Dietitian’s blog, Cheering for Nutrition. Nosh is a new online magazine that is published by Australian Dietitians. All of its content comes from Accredited Practising Dietitians (APD’s) and other qualified health professionals, so you know you can trust what you read.

 

Cover of Nosh Issue 2.

Cover of Nosh Issue 2.

 

Some of the things I like about Nosh is that it:

  • Is full of photos and graphics, and light on text
  • Contains information you know you can trust
  • Is a good length- not long enough to make you regret clicking on it, but also long enough to cover a wide range of nutritional topics
  • Contains nutritious recipes that the average person would want to eat (as opposed to recipes that contain unusual and expensive super foods that only a certain niche demographic would eat)

My only gripe with it so far is that the website seems to be quite slow, although I suspect that this is more to do with the online publishing software than anything else. I know I’ve had similar issues with other similar online magazines.

Nosh joins the ranks of a growing range of magazines that deliver nutrition information in a reader-friendly format. Other similar publications include the Healthy Food Guide and eDietitians. So far, it appears that two issues of Nosh have been published (see Issue 1 and Issue 2).

Do you have any other trustworthy nutrition magazines that you enjoy reading? I always love to hear about such publications.

 

Disclaimer: I have no personal interest, financial or otherwise, in Nosh magazine. The views held are my own.

Exploring Fats. Part Three: Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Fish Oils.

Canned fish is a convenient way to get your Omega-3 fatty acids.
Tuna and mackerel (pictured above) are two good sources of Omega-3.

This post has been a long time coming, but it’s also been one of the topics I’ve been most looking forward to exploring on this blog. I try to put a reasonable amount of effort into researching each post that’s … Continue reading

New article at eDietitians.com: Healthy Bones

Breakfast is a great opportunity to enjoy dairy foods as part of your daily routine. Milk yoghurt and cheese are some of the best food sources of calcium, a vital bone nutrient. Image courtesy of Joephotostudio / Free Digital Photos.net

Breakfast is a great opportunity to enjoy dairy foods as part of your daily routine. Milk, yoghurt and cheese are some of the best food sources of calcium, a vital bone nutrient.
Image courtesy of Joephotostudio / Free Digital Photos.net

 

Sorry for being so quiet over the last month. But at the same time, you’ll be pleased to hear that I had a great time interstate with my parents. At the moment, I’m working on the final article in the three-part series on fats, this time on Omega-3. It’s a fascinating area of research to be exploring, and I really look forward to publishing the verdict here in the next few days.

In the meantime, my second article has been published over at eDietitians.com. This time, it’s on ‘Healthy Bones’ and how nutrition can help you maintain healthy bones for longer. With osteoporosis being such a major issue in post-menopausal women and men over 65, it’s a very topical subject.

As always, I’d love to hear what you think of the article. And keep checking back for the Omega-3 article to be posted in the next few days!

 
– Sonia

Nutrition-Related Articles from Around the Web

Right now, I’m in one of those busy phases that we all get into from time to time. Next week, I’m venturing interstate for one week, which caps off what has been a frantic couple of weeks.

So rather than writing a new post, for now I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you all a few nutrition-related blog posts or articles that are really worth reading.

 

Young woman reads cookbook

Source: Witthaya Phonsawat, Free Digital Photos.net

 

Superfoods: more like a super myth (from Associate Professor Tim Crowe’s blog, Thinking Nutrition)

Why are we chasing our tails?  (Alex, Accredited Practising Dietitian at The Dietitian’s Pantry, questions why we are always chasing the latest diet, rather than returning back to a simple and balanced way of eating that we know works)

The ‘Dietitians are spoon fed by the food industry’ rebuttal (from Accredited Practising Dietitian Larina Robinson’s website, The Body Dietetics)

Health Check: What’s the best diet for weight loss? (from The Conversation, article by Professor Clare Collins)

Tips for eating well: Eating away from home (from the Australian Government’s Eat For Health website)

 

Come across any other blog posts or articles related to nutrition that you liked? What do you think of the posts and articles I’ve shared here? I’d love to hear from you.

 

– Sonia

Exploring Fats. Part 2: Omega-6 Fatty Acids and Seed Oils

A couple of posts ago, I started off this series of three posts on Exploring Fats, in response to several requests from different readers. My first post in this series was on the different types of fat: Saturated, Unsaturated and Trans. If you missed that post, I would strongly encourage you to revisit it before reading ahead, as this is one aspect of nutrition science that can get tricky quickly!

Last time, after much explanation of the specifics of the different types of fats, I boiled down the post to the very simple: less animal fats, more plant oils.

This time, I’ll attempt to boil down a slightly more tricky topic, Omega-6 fatty acids, and whether it’s true to say that seed oils (that are high in Omega-6 fatty acids) are ‘toxic’ for you.

 

 

Background

As we established last time, animal fats are usually high in saturated fatty acids; plant oils are usually high in unsaturated fatty acids. Unsaturated fatty acids can either be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids can be further broken down into either Omega-3 or Omega-6 fatty acids. So Omega-6, which we’re talking about today, is one of the two types of polyunsaturated fatty acids.

See below for a diagram of how all of this is related:

Fats diagram

Omega-6 is found in seeds, oils, nuts, and in general is something we easily get plenty of in the average Western diet.

The other type of polyunsaturated fatty acid, Omega-3, is found in oily fish (herring/kippers, mackerel, salmon, sardines, tuna etc), fortified eggs, walnuts, canola oil/margarine and linseeds/flaxseeds (and flaxseed oil). Omega-3 is much harder to get enough of, and generally in a modern Western context, we have to go out of our way to get enough. I’ll go into Omega-3 fatty acids in more detail in my next post.

Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids are also called essential fatty acids. They are called essential because, unlike other types of fatty acids, humans cannot synthesise them from other fatty acids inside our bodies. So we need to get them in our diet.

 

Canned fish is a convenient way to get your omega-3 fatty acids. Tuna and mackerel (pictured above) are two good sources of omega-3.

Canned fish is a convenient way to get your omega-3 fatty acids.
Tuna and mackerel (pictured above) are two good sources of omega-3.

 

What’s the big deal with Omega-6?

There’s been a lot of talk over the years that we have too much Omega-6 in our diet. Supporters argue that eating too many foods high in Omega-6 fatty acids increases the risk of disease, because it is broken down in our bodies to a number of compounds that promote inflammation. A growing body of research indicates that chronic (long-term) inflammation increases the risk of a number of diseases.

 

Interesting theory, but does it play out?

Actually, no, at least as far as the latest evidence is concerned. A Science Advisory from the American Heart Association, published in the prestigious journal Circulation in 2009, gives an excellent review of the evidence. They note that while Omega-6 acts as a precursor to compounds that promote inflammation in the body, it actually also acts as a precursor to compounds that are either anti-inflammatory, or help our arteries in other ways. They note that, while the theory of Omega-6 being pro-inflammatory has been around for a while, there is no solid evidence to support it.

They also state that:

“On the basis of the intakes of omega-6 [polyunsaturated fatty acids] used in the randomized trials, metabolic studies, and nonhuman primate studies discussed below, reductions in [coronary heart disease] risk might be expected with omega-6 [polyunsaturated fatty acid] intakes of 10% to 21% of energy compared with lower intakes, with no clinical evidence for adverse events.”

* Brackets inserted where the original source gave an acronym.

 

There is strong evidence to support replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats, including omega-6, for heart health. This is from a meta-analysis, (a review of data from several research trials combined) as well as a number of observational studies. In this meta-analysis, the risk of a heart attack was reduced by 19% for subjects who replaced saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat, compared to their controls who made no changes. That’s a huge amount.

In terms of the role of Omega-6 in other health conditions, Bill Shrapnel from Sceptical Nutritionist does an excellent summing up the evidence here. He found that Omega-6 has no effect on the risk of cancer or macular degeneration, and it appears that polyunsaturated fat (including Omega-6) may in fact reduce the risk of Parkinson’s Disease. Check out his post for more details.

 

Pumpkin seeds (a.k.a. pepitas), a good source of omega-6 fatty acids. Source: Ponsulak. 10079040. FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Pumpkin seeds (a.k.a. pepitas), a good source of omega-6 fatty acids. Source: Ponsulak. 10079040. FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Confounders: The red herrings of science

It’s also important to be mindful of what we call ‘confounders’ when reviewing a lot of this evidence. A confounder is a red herring in health studies, that puts you off the scent of what is actually responsible for a health benefit/harm.

For example, the following would not be an accurate conclusion from the research: “Omega-6 levels have increased in recent years. At the same time, rates of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, obesity, autoimmune conditions and diabetes have also increased. This indicates that Omega-6 causes these conditions.”

There are many confounders in all of this, including that people are eating more food and exercising less than decades ago, which of course would lead to obesity. And we know that obesity is a risk factor for some of these conditions, like several types of cancer and type 2 diabetes. So you certainly couldn’t say that eating foods high in Omega-6 causes these conditions!!!

 

Omega 6 : Omega-3 ratio

The importance of having a balance of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids in our diet has also been discussed both in the popular media and in the scientific literature. Briefly, there is evidence to indicate that the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 in traditional hunter-gatherer diets was fairly even, estimated to be 0.79. So they had a similar intake of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids. Nowadays, estimates place the average ratio at around 16:1, or in other words, we have far more Omega-6 in our diet than Omega-3.

This is a growing area of research, and it’s too early to draw any firm conclusions from what’s currently available. But keep in mind with all of this that Omega-6 is only half the picture. A growing body of research supports the health benefits of Omega-3, and many of the trials that have looked at polyunsaturated fat don’t separate out the two forms. See my next post for more on this.

A traditional Mediterranean style of eating is rich in plant foods and fish. The ratio of Omega-6:Omega-3 is fairly even in a traditional Mediterranean (Cretan) way of eating

A traditional Mediterranean style of eating is rich in plant foods and fish, including a fairly large amount of olive oil. The ratio of Omega-6:Omega-3 is fairly even in a traditional Mediterranean (Cretan) way of eating. Source: KEKO64, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Summary

In short, there isn’t enough evidence to date to support changing our stance from the last post:

Eat less animal fats, more plant oils (and fatty fish!)

(Remember that ‘plant oils’ includes whole food sources: seeds, nuts, avocado, peanut butter, tahini, and also includes margarine)

One way of eating that reflects the evidence supporting plant oils is a traditional Mediterranean one. A traditional Mediterranean way of eating has plenty of plant oils, and level 1 (highest possible) scientific evidence supporting its health benefits. It also has an even balance of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids. See a Dietitian for practical guidance and recipes if you want to make a major change to your way of eating.

 

In my last post in this series, I’ll be looking at Omega-3 fatty acids in more detail. Which conditions does Omega-3 help with, and for which is there no point? Is fish oil supplementation a good idea, or is it overhyped? Stay tuned!

 

– Sonia

 

 

For a more detailed examination of this issue, go to Part 1 and Part 2 of a series on Bill Shrapnel’s (APD) blog, Skeptical Nutrition. Or check out this ABC interview of the author of a highly publicised book on this topic, as well as a range of medical and nutrition professionals. Both the article and the interview address a couple of fundamental flaws in the argument that Omega-6 is bad for you in more detail, including inaccurate conclusions drawn from scientific studies that are often cited in this argument.

Disclaimer: This post is designed for the general population. If you suffer from a specific medical condition, consult your GP or Dietitian (AU/UK/US) for advice.

Fat vs Sugar. Who can you trust?

I feel like I’ve had a big week this week. The weather here in Melbourne has also been a bit lousy, which is never good for one’s mood. Although, given that it’s currently winter here, it’s hardly surprising! Tuesday, with its gale-force winds and rain, was particularly unpleasant. I was grateful not to be in Canberra (Australia’s capital), though, where locals had similar winds, but a maximum of just 6 degrees Celsius.

I’m not usually one for watching long TV programs or movies. But on days like Tuesday, there’s nothing like cosying up to a hot drink and hot water bottle, and sitting down for some good TV.

 

Some of you may have heard of popular personalities promoting diets high in butter and other animal fats, and saying that sugar is ‘toxic’. Many of you have probably heard of the old ‘low-fat’ eating advice, which was recommended by health professionals a decade or more ago. This perspective saw fat as the enemy.

“Fat vs. Sugar” (links to full documentary) aired a few days ago here in Australia, and aims to answer this question once and for all. Is fat or sugar the enemy?

The BBC documentary follows two British medical doctors who are identical twins, as they set out to explore whether fat or sugar is worse for you.  One of the twins follows a high-fat diet for one month, while the other twin follows a low-fat, high ‘sugar’ (carbohydrate) diet for the same period. The show spends most of the time investigating the effects of the diets on the twins.

While I will be the first to admit that their experiment is far from being strong evidence, it does provide some good entertainment. I also find that sometimes, seeing something in real-life puts a more personal spin on the nutritional advice you read about (especially if you’re not a ‘numbers person’).

 

 

The short answer is:

Neither fats nor carbohydrates (carbs; what the documentary calls ‘sugars’) are ‘toxic’, they’re essential nutrients. We need to eat sources of both. The best way to do this is to follow a simple way of eating, rich in plant foods (see my post on what food to eat). 

Dietitians don’t recommend low-fat diets, they recommend minimising animal fats. Replacing animal fats with plant oils, such as in nuts and avocado, is recommended (see related post).

‘Extras’ foods, like ice-cream, cakes, chocolate, lollies, pastry, soft drink… have no part in our everyday diet. Save them for an occasional (read: not everyday) treat.

 

My first tip would be to get your nutrition (and health) information from reputable sources. Advocating a balanced view of healthy eating isn’t exactly the way to become a millionaire overnight. So often you find people with questionable qualifications out to make a quick buck proclaiming a certain part of food as ‘toxic’, or a ‘saviour’, and a secret conspiracy by nutrition professionals to hide this saviour from you ([dramatic music] ‘The Holy Grail that nutrition experts don’t want you to know about…’).

If you’re reading mainstream magazines, watching commercial TV, or reading the websites of certain cashed-up nutrition ‘gurus’, you’re probably not doing yourself a huge favour. I also would have a headache and feel very confused if I listened to these gurus’ latest wild theories, and there seems to be a new wild theory every few months! Advertisements and health claims of packaged, processed foods also often just worsen the confusion.

 

From Whitney E and Rolfes SR. Understanding Nutrition. 11th ed. Belmont: Thomson Higher Education; 2008.

 

Tips to find reputable health information:

  • Websites ending in .gov, .gov.au, .gov.uk are Government-published websites, which have no commercial agenda. These are highly trustworthy, and give a balanced view of the facts.
  • For readers wanting it simple, simple, simple!: Go to the Mayo Clinic, or Better Health Channel websites.
  • For readers wanting more detail, but still in simple language: Go to Patient.co.uk.

 

Tips to find reputable nutrition information:

  • Consult an Accredited Practising Dietitian or a Registered Dietitian (US/UK) for personalised nutritional advice. This is often rebatable from your health fund or insurance plan, but check with your provider for details.
  • The British Dietetic Association has some great fact sheets on a range of nutrition-related subjects.
  • Scoop Nutrition and the Nutrition Blog Network both have comprehensive directories of the blogs of Registered Dietitians.
  • If you’ve got a particular question about a diet, or a nutrition topic that’s been in the media, eDietitians has a range of articles written by qualified dietitians, written in a magazine style.
  • For a particular medical condition, often the association for that condition will also have some great information. For example, the Heart Foundation (Au/UK/US), Coeliac Foundation (Au/UK/US), and Diabetes Associations (Au/UK/US) are great resources. With smaller associations, it’s often a good idea to ensure that the person writing the article is a Dietitian, Medical Doctor, or Medical Researcher in that field, to ensure you can trust the information.

 

Got another website or other source of nutrition information that you can recommend? What do you think of the Fat vs. Sugar documentary?

I look forward to coming back next week and setting the facts straight about Omega-6 and seed oils, in Part 2 of my post series on Fats and Oils.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

 

– Sonia.

Paleo Diets

 

 

 

Source: tiverylucky. 100211927. http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/grilled-salmon-steak-photo-p211927

 

Paleo Diets have received quite a bit of attention in recent times. Aimed at mimicking a traditional hunter gatherer way of eating, Paleo Diets encourage eating plenty of vegetables, fruit, meat, poultry and fish, while cutting out all grains, legumes, dairy and processed foods.

Interested in whether their touted benefits play out?

Check out my recent article over at eDietitians.com. Comments and questions are welcome!

 

Image courtesy of tiverylucky at Free Digital Photos.net.