Be a Healthier You

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Check these out:

English: Oriental meatballs.

A great read if you’re struggling to understand why you eat the wrong things, or eat when you’re not hungry.

Life training with Crystal (formerly personal training with Crystal)

eat it upYou are what you eat.  Most of us have heard this reiterated since childhood.  We’ve probably put it to use ourselves, in an attempt to discourage “unhealthy” eating habits.

Why we eat, is just as important as what we eat. 

You are on your way home from work, which happens to be a 90 minute commute.  Today traffic is being rerouted, bypassing your exit.  Your little one should have been picked up 15 minutes ago, and the sitter wants to know “how much longer?”   Your eldest son has football practice, and is now contending with the sitter for you to pick up his call.  Your husband is also waiting to be heard, but his call gets dropped.  You finally make it off the expressway.  Your husband called back, and is on his way to the sitter.  Your son phones again–but this time it’s to tell you football practice is Thursday; today is Tuesday.  You…

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So, we’ve all come across ‘food myths’ at least once in our lives. Old wives’ tales our grannies, aunts, mums or dads told us as we were growing up that go back generations. Little sayings we are sure are unlikely to be true, but that we just can’t seem to let go of.

Well, I’m here to burst your bubble… Or am I?

Over the coming months I will be taking apart some of the most highly-touted food myths I have been subjected to throughout my life. Myths that I confronted head-on in my studies as a budding Public Health Nutritionist, and a couple of others that didn’t quite fit the curriculum!

Surely everyone is familiar with the old ‘carrots help you see in the dark’ speech from your parents as you were pushing veggies around your plate at five years old. What about ‘if you eat your spinach you’ll have muscles like Popeye’? Mum, who do you think you are kidding? But wait, I have seen him down a can of the green stuff and then BAM he looks like a balding Hulk Hogan! And as for ‘bread crusts make your hair curly’ – who said I even want curly hair? (okay maybe I do, I just don’t want to eat the crusts, okay?). You get the picture.

So, without further ado onto today’s myth…

Carrots on display at local greengrocer

Carrots on display at local greengrocer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Myth: Carrots help you see in the dark.

Fact or Fiction: Almost FACT.

There is some scientific basis to this statement, read on..

History of the myth: The myth is believed to have originated in WWII when RAF pilots were fed large quantities of carrots. There was an excess harvest of carrots in Britain at that time, and in a bid to promote carrots to the British public the government attributed the RAF’s flying skills to the high beta-carotene content of carrots.

The science: The β-carotene (beta-carotene) compound found in carrots is turned into Vitamin A within the body. Vitamin A has three main functions for health: 1) immunity; 2) vision; and 3) healthy skin linings.

So, let’s address point 2 a little more. The retina of the eye works with a protein called opsin to produce rhodopsin, a light-absorbing molecule required for dim/low-light vision, and colour vision. Vitamin A contains retinal, an essential component of rhodopsin forming-process. Thus, we can see that carrots do indeed contribute to vision in dimly lit areas though it would be a stretch to claim that they provide humans with night-vision!

 

Try my super healthy coleslaw recipe to get more vitamin A into your diet!

Or try juicing some with oranges and apples for a delicious breakfast drink!

A little more on Vitamin A…

This wonderful vitamin can also be found in liver, sweet potato, cod liver oil, and Cheddar cheese, as well as many fruits and vegetables.

It is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that if you eat more than your body needs it can be stored away for later. So don’t panic, there’s no need to go out and buy a kilo of carrots every day!!

Caution: Whilst rare, excessive intakes of Vitamin A have been recorded in individuals who regularly consume liver or liver pâté (more than once a week) and do not achieve Vitamin D requirements. Excess Vitamin A can lead to weak and easily fractured bones in later life. To top up your Vitamin D stores try to expose your face and arms to the sun for 20 minutes per day in the summer months (be sure to use sunscreen). Children, the elderly, and individuals with darker skin are the groups least likely to meet Vitamin D requirements and should include eggs, fish, and fortified cereals and spreads/ margarines in their diet where possible.  

See your doctor if you have any concerns about your Vitamin A intake.

Have any food follies you would like me to investigate? Comment below and you may be featured!!!

NEXT TIME: Spinach makes you big and strong – FACT or FICTION?

drink-150x150

Do you take sugar in your tea or coffee?? You could be consuming anywhere up to 500 kcal extra EVERY DAY!!

2 teaspoons of sugar is equivalent to 47kcal, and so if you are drinking five coffees a day you’re looking at an indulgence of 250kcals. The equivalent of a bowl of cereal with milk, or 1 banana, 2 apples, and 2 oranges!!!

Additionally, if you take milk ensure you are buying semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, and not whole. Whole milk is only recommended for toddlers who need a higher fat diet. All the calcium found in milk is contained within the water part and so removing the cream will not affect the calcium levels!

And if you only drink soft drinks don’t think you’re off the hook…

While diet sodas may contain a low or no sugar content, research has shown that the sweeteners used to replace sugar only serve to retain your sweet tooth. Try to reduce your intake slowly, rather than going cold turkey. As with many addictive substances trying to quit overnight can lead to serious withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and sugar cravings.

What about fruit juice, though? That’s healthy, isn’t it?

Many of the cartons of juice you buy in your local supermarket contain hidden sugars. Always read the packaging, if it says ‘juice drink’ then expect to see added sugars in the ingredients list.

Well, I only drink flavoured water…

And rather than spending money buying flavoured water, which also contain sweeteners (and often added sugar), why not try adding a few slices of lemon or some berries to your water bottle.

I know alcohol’s bad, but everything in moderation, right?

Did you know that alcohol contains almost as many calories per gram as fat, and almost twice the calories of carbohydrates and protein.

Two bottles of beer contain as many calories as a sirloin steak…

And one pint of cider is equivalent to eating a sugary doughnut!

A glass of red wine definitely has some health benefits, but so does 1 piece of dark chocolate, and you wouldn’t eat a whole sharing size block, would you? Yet many of us are happy to guzzle down up to 3 bottles over the weekend. One large glass of red wine contains 175kcal, equivalent to two low-fat yogurts or a small bar of chocolate. WOW!

Any eye-openers in there??

There are definitely ways to reach your 6-8 glasses of water per day, without having to drink it in its purest form. So have some fun experimenting with ways to make water tastier without adding excessive levels of sugar or sweeteners!

Try to make the healthiest choices, particularly when you know you will be drinking larger quantities than usual. Replace sugar-laden cider or beer with white spirits. and replace soda with fruit juice.

There are lots of small ways you can make big differences to what you drink, and they don’t have to be expensive or boring!

Have fun experimenting, and feel free to share this article with friends and family.

 

Coming soon: Food myths debunked

Super quick, super easy, and super tasty.

Uses only two ingredients:
2 eggs (separated)
1 cup (80ml) agave nectar or honey

Add ground ginger for a gingerbread souffle!

Add cinnamon for a spicier flavour!

For a savoury soufflé use things like spring onions, ham, hard cheese, mustard.


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