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THE MONTHLY NUTRITION BITE – MAR’22

MONTHLY NUTRITION BITE - MAR22

What’s in this one?

About – How well have you stuck to your new year’s diet resolutions????

 Comparison  Potato versus Sweet Potato

Nutrition Tip – Look after your mental health: The link between diet and mental health

Recipes – Vegetarian Quiche & Chocolate chia pudding

ABOUT

How well have you stuck to your new year’s diet resolutions????

Did you make your New Year’s resolutions this year? The new year is generally the time we start thinking about resolutions and what we want to get better at in the year. But many people have become sinister about making resolutions because it can feel counterproductive – most of them are broken by the end of the month! Do you feel like it has become a waste of time? The key to resolutions is to make ones that give you direction.

The most popular New Year’s diet resolution of course is to lose weight. But where has that gotten you in the past? The problem is not the willpower. The problem lies in the fact that losing weight is too vague or unrealistic a goal. You need to make a realistic plan of action to achieve your resolutions.

Here are some strategies for how to make nutrition resolutions that can work for you:

1.Set a different goal

Instead of focusing on the number, focus on the diet changes that will help you achieve health (and of course thereby the best body for you). An example is swapping one of your teas/coffees/juices/cool drinks with a glass of water.

Also identifying a deeper purpose or the reason behind the goal is another way to keep motivated. Goals of people who change their eating habits permanently (and therefore lose weight and keep it off) include:

Being more healthy (short term e.g. colds and flu’s, long term e.g. cancer, heart disease, etc.) or even just feeling more healthy (when you feel better you often think you’ve lost weight – what throws you off the wagon is weighing yourself!) or manage an existing medical disorder
Stabilizing blood sugar levels, increasing energy levels
Appetite and craving control
Stopping the diet and binge cycle

  1. No restriction

Instead of focusing on what you should take away from your diet, look instead at the habits you can add to improve your nutrition. A good goal would be to always keep a snack with you when you go out so that you have something available if you do get hungry.

  1. Be mindful

Your relationship with food is so important to focus on. Learn to listen to your body so that you can know what is best for you. Your goal could be to check in with your body when you want to eat so that you can learn whether it is real or mouth hunger you are feeding.

Remember that when we are trying to change habits, we have to take our time with it. It can take up to 8½ months for a habit to change, so this is not an overnight fix, even if as humans we crave instant gratification. We need to learn to gain satisfaction and fulfillment from things other than weight loss, otherwise the good lifestyle habits will never stick long term.

Examples of some diet resolutions that can bring you success:

  1. Increase your fruit and vegetable intake. For example, have fruit as a snack in between meals; add some tomato or cucumber to your lunch sandwich; have an extra serving of veg at dinner.
  2. Cut down on fast food and junk food. For example, limit fast food to once a week; have treats out rather than at home; eat treats slowly and mindfully to fully savour them.
  3. Eat an early breakfast every day.
  4. Prep well. For example, plan the lunch and dinner meals for the week; do a weekly shop; have snacks available at the office so that you don’t have to skip meals or have a junk option when you get hungry.
  5. Control dinner portions. For example, have half a plate of veggies at dinner; keep the protein portion to a palm size; aim to have dinner earlier.

 

One of the most important things to remember is that consistency will get you to your goals long-term. It’s generally easy to be consistent with your goals for a couple of hours, days, weeks… but at some point life happens and it all falls (maybe just a little bit) apart. Remember that if you do fall off the resolution wagon you can get back on at any time! Of course, sooner rather than later will be best. Don’t use an all or nothing approach. You want to aim for progress and not perfection. Perfection is unattainable. Occasional slip ups from time to time are normal and should not set you back.

Think about it this way, when you fall off the wagon you have 2 choices to make:

1 – you can either give up and say that you’re just not able to do it and can never get there,

OR

2 – you can look to see what went wrong, (e.g., I wasn’t well prepared enough), come up with a strategy for this situation, and then try again and keep going

Life happens, don’t let it get in the way of your goals. Learn how to handle difficult situations and you’ll never have to go on a diet again.

Regular Potato versus Sweet Potato

Regular Potato versus Sweet Potato

Conclusion: Sweet potatoes and regular potatoes are both good sources of fibre, carbs, and vitamin B6 and C! Both types of potatoes bring amazing nutrition to the plate and both should be part of a healthy diet.

Look after your mental health

The link between diet and mental health

There is a complex relationship between diet and mental health, but on a very simple level good nutritious food can help your mental health. There is a growing amount of evidence that supports the positive effect that an improvement in diet has on mental health. Poor dietary habits can also manifest as chronic diseases of lifestyle such as diabetes and obesity later in life, which in and of itself has also been associated with poorer mental health.

It cannot however be forgotten that low mood itself, as well as psychiatric medications may also affect appetite and dietary choices. Low mood has been shown to increase the desire for comfort foods that are high in sugar, fat, and/or salt and reduces the likelihood of healthy habits such as meal prepping and grocery shopping.

Keeping the above in mind, we are just going to focus on how dietary patterns affect mood and mental wellbeing.

The Mediterranean diet is an anti-inflammatory diet and has been shown to positively affect mental health.

Below are the components of the Mediterranean diet:

  1. High in fruits & vegetables. Fruit and vegetables are an excellent source of the vitamins and minerals needed to support a healthy body and mind. Eating a variety of fruit and vegetables is key, as each provide different nutrients needed for good health. Fruit and vegetables are also a good source of fibre, which feeds the good bacteria in our gut. Research has shown that having an unhealthy gut microbiota (unhealthy gut microbes) is associated with mood disorders, anxiety and depression. Therefore, it may be possible to improve mental health by supporting the growth of these beneficial gut microbes.
  2. Whole grains. Wholegrains are minimally processed, high fibre carbohydrates. This includes brown rice, buck wheat, bulgar, barley, quinoa, wholewheat bread, wholewheat pasta and sorghum. These grains help to reduce inflammation in the body and the fibre in these grains feeds the good gut bacteria! Foods that increase inflammation in the body have been found to negatively affect mental health. This includes refined grains such as white rice, white flour, biscuits, sweets, juices, chips etc. Aim to choose wholegrains over refined grains most of the time for mental health benefits.
  3. Fish contains less saturated fat compared to other animal protein sources. Saturated fat increases inflammation in the body and can thus negatively affect gut and mental health. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, snoek, trout, fresh tuna, pilchards and sardines are an excellent source of omega 3 fats, which are important for brain health and help to reduce inflammation in the body. Other sources of omega 3 fats that you can incorporate into the diet to improve mental health include hemp seeds, chia seeds, linseeds/ flaxseeds and walnuts.
  4. Olive oil. Olive oil is a mono-unsaturated fat, which is considered a healthy dietary fat. Choose unsaturated fats such as olive oil and other plant oils, avos, olives, nuts, seeds, and soft margarine over the saturated fats that are found in butter, lard, ghee, animal proteins, coconut oil and palm oil (packaged, processed foods).
  5. Low-fat dairy. Low fat or fat free dairy has less saturated fat and is therefore better for physical and mental health. 
  6. Low in red meat and other processed meats. These meats are high in saturated fat and negatively affect our physical and mental health. When you do choose to have these meats, aim to go for the leaner cuts that have less fat marbled into them and cut away the fat before cooking the meat.
  7. Antioxidants. When you focus on whole plant foods and limit refined processed foods you naturally increase your intake of antioxidants. Antioxidants help to neutralize free radicals and prevent them from causing harm in the body. Free radicals cause damage to our cells and DNA, which can contribute to the development of mood disorders over time. Polyphenols are compounds that are also found in plant derived foods such as fruit and vegetables. The consumption of a diet rich in polyphenols may also support a healthy brain. Good sources of polyphenols include cocoa, grapes, red wine, onions, broccoli, blueberries, almonds and green tea. 

It cannot be said enough how important fruit and veggies are for good overall health!

Other important vitamins and minerals needed for healthy brain functioning are the B vitamins and Vitamin D.

Lots of foods contain the B vitamins, which makes it easy to get enough from your diet. By eating a varied diet consisting of mostly whole foods as mentioned above, you will naturally consume enough of the B vitamins. Food sources include milk, cheese, eggs, liver and kidney, meat, fish, dark green vegetables, such as spinach and kale, other vegetables, such as beetroot and potatoes, avocados, whole grains and whole grain cereals, beans, nuts and seeds, fruits, such as citrus, banana, and watermelon.

Most of our vitamin D on the other hand is produced in the body on exposure to the sun. We need to spend 5-15 minutes in the summer sun exposing our arms, legs, hands and face 2-3 times per week. This can easily be achieved in the summer months. Try eating your lunch outside in the sun or going for a walk in nature. This may be more challenging in the winter months. A vitamin D supplement may therefore be necessary to achieve adequate vitamin D status during winter. Foods that contain some vitamin D include egg yolks, tanned mushrooms (slice and leave in the midday sun for 20 minutes to increase their vitamin D content) and fatty fish.

To summarize:

Optimizing nutritional status is one way to support good mental health! Focus on a diet that includes complex carbohydrates that are high in fibre, foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fruits and vegetables and limit foods that are high in refined processed carbohydrates, added sugars and saturated fat.

Vegetarian Quiche
Chocolate chia pudding

Stuffed Strawberries

Ingredients

1 punnet fresh strawberries large
150 g cream cheese
¾ tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp icing sugar

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 220⁰C/200⁰C fan. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Lightly grease and line the base and side of a round 22cm (base measurement) cake pan with baking paper.
  2. Place the sweet potato on the prepared tray. Drizzle with 1 tbsp oil. Season. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until tender.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining tbsp oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until lightly caramelised. Add the thyme and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until aromatic. Season. Remove from heat.
  4. Steam or microwave the broccolini for 2 minutes or until just tender. Refresh under cold running water. Drain.
  5. Whisk the eggs and yoghurt together in a large bowl. Season.
  6. Reduce oven to 180⁰C/160⁰C fan. Arrange the sweet potato, broccolini and onion mixture in the prepared pan. Pour over the egg mixture. Scatter with feta. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden and puffed. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool. Turn onto a serving plate and sprinkle with basil, to serve.

Chocolate chia pudding

Ingredients

60g (about ⅓ cup) chia seeds
400ml unsweetened almond milk or low-fat milk
3 tbsp cacao powder
2 tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract
cacao nibs, mixed
frozen berries, to serve

Method

  1. Put all the ingredients in a large bowl with a generous pinch of sea salt and whisk to combine. Cover with cling film then leave to thicken in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  2. Spoon the pudding into four glasses, then top with the frozen berries and cacao nibs.

ENJOY!

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