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Invigorate Nutrition

Three Simple Tips to nourish your body better

Here in New Zealand it is spring, launching into summer. Elsewhere in the world you may be preparing to hunker down for winter. Any change in season gives us pause for reflection on how we look after ourselves. This blog provides you with three simple tips on how to do that, regardless of which hemisphere you are in!

Seeing daffodils and blossoms bloom and lambs leaping in lush paddocks here in New Zealand inspires reinvigoration. Wherever you are in the world, a change in season gives pause for reflection about how we are living our lives and what positive changes we might want to make. You may be motivated to change the way you eat by wanting to shed unwanted kilo’s. However, sometimes weight loss is achieved at the expense of physical and/or mental health! Why not make some positive changes to what you eat so you can feel better instead?

The real hurdle is not deciding what ‘diet’ to follow (although I love the Mediterranean diet!), but finding a style of eating that you can sustain that makes you feel good, both physically and psychologically. I also have little patience for the negativity and guilt implied in many ‘diets’ that focus on what you “can’t” or “shouldn’t” eat. I prefer to think about incorporating new nutritious foods into eating to help achieve better health (and explore new flavours too, one of the joys of eating!).

If you do want to nourish yourself better, here are three key pointers:

1.    Know your appetite

2.    Make good snack choices

3.    Make good drink choices.

 

Know your appetite:

I enjoy helping my clients understand what circumstances precede them making poor food choices. It can happen after skipping meals, or when you feel stressed. You know when you get so hungry that you will eat anything? Or when things are getting on top of you and you crave the reward or indulgence that some foods can bring – and then feel guilty about it afterwards. Don’t feel guilty, acknowledge that for what it is. Maybe you just need a good download with your family and friends – that will probably be more effective! 

If you are prone to hungry snacking on poor quality foods (often before dinner or in the evening) consider that you might not have eaten enough earlier. Perhaps you start your day with a coffee and don’t eat until around lunchtime. There are two fantastic opportunities to add some nutrient-loaded food that will improve your health AND your brain function! Add a nutritious breakfast (it’s fine if it’s small if you are not so hungry in the morning) and a nutritious mid-morning snack (like fruit, nuts, or vegetables).

If you are an emotional eater, for example eating certain foods in response to stress, think about what the circumstances are leading up to that.  Use this information to prepare with alternative stress-busting activities. It might mean getting more sleep, connecting with friends, meditating or going for walks (whatever works for you).  Choosing more nutritious foods also gives you a great sense of empowerment that you are being pro-active in looking after yourself!

 

Make good snack choices:

Choosing nutrient-dense snacks over processed nutrient-depleted snacks can have a powerful impact on the nutritional quality of your diet. And by nutrient-dense snacks I mean foods that are in their natural form with their nutritional value intact, like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.  The middle aisles of supermarkets are loaded with snack foods, many of which contain plenty of kilojoules, fat, salt and sugar, and very little fibre, vitamins and minerals. Choosing foods from the outside ring of the supermarket, the local farmers market, or your garden, can add a significant nutrient boost while at the same time displacing other nutrient-poor but energy-rich foods from your diet. You could, for example, take an opportunity to eat an apple while walking to your destination after parking the car or getting off the train. Apples take a while to chew, and have bulk, thus fill you up well. They are also power-packed with vitamins, antioxidants and fibre!

Another reason that I prefer whole foods is that nutrition is a relatively new science, and every few years we learn about new nutrients in food that are good for us – let’s call it ‘Nutrient X’. A food manufacturer cannot add ‘Nutrient X’ to their food in processing if they don’t know it exists. But it has probably always been in tomatoes, or oranges, or broccoli, or olives, or almonds, or mussels (you get the point)! 

 

Table 1: Kilojoule content of various snack options

Snack food

Approximate kilojoules per serve

Raw celery – 2 stems

20

Raw cucumber – 8 slices ½ cm thick each

25

Carrot – 1 medium

65

Kiwifruit – 1 green

135

Green olives – 6 Plain (unstuffed)

200

Orange – 1 medium

220

Gingernut biscuit x 2

310

Apple – 1 medium

315

Superwine biscuits x 2

370

Raw almonds – 15 almonds

440

NZ Greenshell Mussels x 6

440

Grapes – 1 cup

470

Nice & Natural Supergrains Muesli bar x 1

487

Plain Natural Yoghurt – 150g

490

Raw cashew nuts – 15 cashews

540

Banana – 1 medium

560

Vitawheat 9-grain crackers x3 + 3 thin cheese slices (20g)

620

Nature Valley Crunchy Muesli bar – 2x Apple Crisp

788

Sausage roll, 140g

1,900

Citrus/caramel/choc peppermint slice (160g – café serve, 12cm long x 4cm wide x 2.5m high)

2,330-3,100

 

Make good drink choices:

Making good drink choices works along the same lines as snacks, but there is a clear favourite: water! And also teas, which I wrote about recently. Again there are entire aisles of supermarkets tempting us with all kinds of beverage products, many of which provide sugar and kilojoules that we can quite simply do without! Table 2 compares the energy content of a variety of beverages for you to compare them. You will see how the kilojoules from alcohol can quickly add up, especially considering that many people may drink quite a few alcoholic drinks in one sitting. Would you ever drink 3-6 coffee’s in sequence? Worth thinking about.

It might help you drink more water if you keep a jug of cold water in the fridge with some lemon or mint in it for flavour. Being well hydrated helps our body’s cells to message each other and function properly. You can focus on drinking more water through the morning to hydrate yourself for the day. This also avoids frequent nightly trips to the toilet!

Table 2: Kilojoule content of various beverages

Beverage

Approximate kilojoules per 200 mL

Water

0 kJ

Long Black Coffee

8 kJ

Green tea, peppermint tea

11 kJ

Beer – Low alcohol Lager (2.5%)

140 kJ

Beer – Lager (4.5%)

225 kJ

Trim Cappuccino, no sugar

240 kJ

Powerade

258 kJ

Orange Juice

340 kJ

Coca Cola

360 kJ

Wine – White or Red

640 kJ

 

These three tips are really simple changes you can incorporate into your daily routine, that can leave you feeling much better about yourself, as well as leave you feeling more energetic and ready to spring into summer - Bring it on! 

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