Some nutritional hints and tips
Find a recipe to suit your life
Much has changed in the last few decades. We've become busy, and finding the time to cook a fresh meal or make some exercise has become more challenging. Alongside that, we've got GM foods, soil depletion, and a general increase in the use of chemicals. All of this may be contributing to the increase in allergies/cognitive issues and digestive problems.
We are all genetically unique, and have greater or lesser requirements for specific nutrients to support a healthy lifestyle. So we are entering an era of personalised medicine.
Here are a few different things we can all try to help us obtain that unique blend for us. You don't have to do everything at once, but making small regular steps will ensure longer lasting change.
Food is nourishment and fuel for our bodies. Rather than restricting yourself from eating certain foods, try to gradually add in healthy foods. When we eat good quality food that is high in nutrients and low in toxins, we don't need to worry about calories or portion sizes. By trying new things, you can make your diet more exciting and interesting, making changes easier to follow.
First of all, try to eat foods as close to their natural state as possible:
Many of the foods that we now find in supermarkets come from overseas, often picked unripe and stored in cool conditions for many days or even weeks, before we consume them. Many nutrients are only available for a limited period after picking, hence that orange you may think is high in vitamin C, may in fact contain none. It is important to explore local suppliers and try to eat foods that are only available during a particular season. Non-organic or mass produced goods are also high in pesticides, herbicides etc, which have been shown to interfere with our hormones, nervous system as well as causing DNA mutations.
- Whole vegetables, prepared at home rather than pre-chopped, canned or pre-packed.
- Good quality animal fats such as butter, olive oil, coconut oil rather than spreads, margarines and vegetable oils.
- Whole grains rather than bleached and nutrient depleted pastas or flours that have no nutritional value.
- Good quality, organic and grass fed meat and wild fish rather than cured, pre-formed and ready-prepared.
- Buy local, in season and organic.
Here are a few options for you to explore:
- Read about seasonal eating at: www.eattheseasons.co.uk
- There are several organic fruit and veg box schemes that can save you both money and time:
- Explore your local farmer's market. The produce found there is not always organic, but if grown on a smaller scale it is much more likely to be sprayed less or even not at all. Organic certification is expensive for small farmers so they may not choose to do it, despite naturally following similar principles. What's great about farmer's markets is that you can always speak to the farmer yourself to ask those questions.
- Talton Mill Farm located in Newbold on Stour is a beautiful family-run farm supplying home grown vegetables and meat. http://www.taltonmill.co.uk/
Groceries and Low Allergen Foods
Health shops and supermarkets have a huge range of health foods. Although many are indeed healthy and a good alternative if you are embarking on a ‘free from' diet, be vigilant and read the labels to avoid additional ingredients such as sweeteners etc. It's best to stick to real foods that have been around for centuries such as: meat, fish, vegetables, nuts and seeds and so on.
- Revital – www.revital.co.uk A well-established health food store, located in Stratford. They offer a wide range of whole-foods as well as supplements, herbs and superfoods.
- www.goodnessdirect.co.uk – an online supplier of a wide range of whole-foods, ‘free from' foods, also available in bulk. They also have a variety of frozen organic fruit and veg which are sometimes hard to get.
- Planet Organic – www.planetorganic.co.uk They have a few shops in London but also offer online shopping.
Healthy cooking methods
Steaming is one of the best cooking methods for maximising taste and colour while retaining the most nutrients in vegetables and fish. Steaming for a minimal amount of time so that your vegetables emerge ‘al dente' – crisp inside and tender outside, is an ideal way to maximise their nutritional value. Steaming works by boiling water continuously, causing it to vaporize into steam. The steam then carries heat to the food perched above the boiling water in a bamboo or metal steamer. The steamer needs a lid placed on top during cooking to allow the steam to cook the food.
Blanching – it really brings out the colour, freshness and crispness of vegetables and retains their nutritional value. The process involves submerging vegetables in boiling water for just a few minutes, then removing and quickly cooling them to stop further cooking. You can use ice baths or cold running water. Blanching is ideal for vegetables such as : carrots, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus.
Sautéing - Put 2 tablespoons of stock into a very hot pan, this will create a steam. Place your blanched vegetables into the pan. Once the vegetables are heated through remove them from the pan, dress them in toasted nuts and seeds (if required) and serve.
Stir frying is a quick and healthy way to include a lot of vegetables and spices into you and your family's diet. For stir frying use an oil that can be heated at a high heat without damaging it. This includes coconut oil, ghee or other animal fats. Use small amounts of water throughout cooking to create a bit of steam and speed up the cooking.
Healthy cookware – Try to use glass, ceramic and cast iron cookware as much as possible because Teflon, non stick and aluminium pans can leach hormone-disrupting chemicals and toxins into the food. TK MAX have a good, affordable selection and so do LAKELAND. You can also look on Amazon.
Unfortunately not only our food, but also our water is contaminated. UK tap water can contain unwanted impurities such as lead, aluminium, pesticides, nitrates and herbicides. In addition some counties also add fluoride to the water with the intention of improving dental health. Scientific studies now show that fluoridation provides little benefit to our teeth but can play havoc with our metabolism.
The jug water filters remove some nasties but they don't remove fluoride or hormones. To have completely fresh water on tap you can opt for an under the sink unit, which involves a higher expense initially but saves you money on buying bottled water in the long run.
The Fresh Water Company –http://www.freshwaterfilter.com/