Nutrition Newsletters | Auckland Nutritionist, Lose Weight with Nutrition for Life

By: Nutrition For Life  05-Apr-2012

The list of 49 foods we ‘didn’t need to eat’ that was published last week sparked a lot of debate.  Do we need to be told what to eat and what not to eat?  Well, in many cases, yes we do.  But will publishing that list make any difference?  I doubt it.

While many of the foods on that list are obviously not suitable as everyday foods, some of them are fine in moderation and that’s really what needs to get through, that there are foods which should be put in the ‘occasional’ category and not consumed on an everyday basis.

I was interested to see that alcohol came top of the list and then I realised that the list was alphabetical!  Alcohol should be one of the items put back into the occasional category, whereas in far too many cases it has become an everyday item.  When alcohol becomes an everyday item, do we actually enjoy it as much, or is it just a habit?

There is so much confusion about what we should and shouldn’t eat, but if you get back to basics, we should be eating mainly real food.  That is food that will go off or rot if not consumed within a reasonable period of time.  That covers fruit, vegetables, meats, eggs, nuts and seeds; all the things we know are good for us.

We were never meant to eat out of boxes.  Our bodies were never designed to be bombarded with foods containing chemicals and foods laced with additives and preservatives to extend the life of food.  Food scientists can make food taste like the real thing and look like the real thing, but it probably bears absolutely no nutritional resemblance to the real thing.  Do we really want to consume food which has been designed in a laboratory, rather than grown naturally?

Everything that we eat ends up in our bloodstream and then passes through our liver.  How challenged will our livers be if they are constantly detoxifying additives and preservatives.

The same goes for alcohol; it goes straight into our bloodstream from our stomach and into our liver.  Your liver processes alcohol preferentially, to get it out of your system and while it is doing that very little fat burning is happening.   Your liver is your biggest fat burning organ, responsible for breaking down stored glucose for fuel, do you want it compromised by hitting it hard with alcohol on a frequent basis?  Alcohol intake can make or break your fat loss attempt.

When we were hunter gatherers, our biggest concern was having enough food to survive, now we are swamped with so much choice that in many cases our biggest concern is that we are shortening our lifespan by our choice of food and lifestyle.  Most likely if we could ask our ancestors for one word to describe what food meant to them, they would answer ‘survival’.  I doubt many of us would give that answer now.

We need to make an effort to get back to eating more real food on a more regular basis.  Eat simply – fish, chicken, meat, legumes, wholegrains, lots of fibrous veggies, moderate amounts of fruit, low fat dairy and some good fats from seeds, nuts and fish.  When the majority of your diet looks like that, you are less likely to have inflammation in your body.  Inflammation is a real health concern and can lead to heart disease, some cancers and is also implicated in the onset of type 2 diabetes and other diseases.  If you are eating poorly and over indulging in alcohol it is quite likely that you are setting yourself up for an inflamed body.  Omega-3 fats can be very helpful in dealing with inflammation and I would highly recommend that everyone take fish oil capsules daily if they aren’t eating fresh fish at least 2-3 times per week.  Note:  If you are on a blood thinning medication, check with your doctor before taking fish oils.

That leads me on to supplements. Yes, I do believe in supplements, but as an adjunct to a healthy diet, not instead of a healthy diet.  The basics would include a good quality multivitamin, omega-3 oils, vitamin C and vitamin D.  For specific health conditions there are many options to try, ask me when we catch up next.  An important point to remember is because tea and coffee may inhibit the absorption of minerals, don’t drink tea or coffee for one hour either side of taking your multivitamin or minerals.  Also, if you are taking iron pills, don’t take them with a meal containing calcium, but do take them with a meal containing vitamin C, to help with absorption of the iron.

Eating out while trying to lose weight can be a real challenge and if you are eating out more than once a week, you will have to be very careful with your choices.  For instance if you were to go to a restaurant, choose two courses and have two glasses of wine over the evening, you could be consuming around 2500 calories!  For a small woman that would be like two days food in one evening.  Your body only requires so much energy in a day, consuming more than that limit means you are filling up your fat cells.

If you know where you will be eating out ahead of time, see if their menu is online and study it carefully.  High calorie options include risotto, anything crispy or deep fried, anything with a creamy sauce or satay sauce; vegetable mashes are often loaded with cream or butter, scrambled eggs are normally scrambled with cream, anything pan fried may be pan fried in butter or a load of oil, or both… the list goes on.  You only have to watch one of the many cooking shows on TV to see just how much fat goes into a special meal.

Remember, that gram for gram, fat contains almost twice the energy (calories) as protein or carbohydrate, so anything containing fat or cooked in fat, is likely to be higher in energy.  If you are choosing a salad, always ask for dressing on the side to avoid a load of high calorie dressing swamping your healthy salad. Also ask for any sauces to be on the side.  If you don’t want the crispy noodles included with your meal, ask for ‘no noodles’ please, etc.

If you’ve put exercise in the ‘too hard to find time’ basket, then how about this, lace your walking shoes up and step outside your door.  Walk for 15 minutes and then turn around and walk home.  How easy was that?  Or do it from work at lunchtime, grab a workmate, put your shoes on and off you go.  Psychologically, if you think “I’ve just got to walk down the road for 15 minutes and then turn around”, it doesn’t seem too difficult.  Regular exercise helps protect you against developing type 2 diabetes, but it has to be regular exercise, not a hit and miss affair.  Prioritise exercise and it will happen.

Something to ponder:  If you have 1 can or bottle of beer, or 1 x 150mls glass of wine per day, every day, over a year that comes to 54,750 calories.  SEVEN KILOS of fat contain 56,000 calories, so just by having one drink a day and not cutting back on something else or exercising off the equivalent of 150 calories a day, it sets you up to gain seven kilos of fat over a year.

Client Special Deals for the month of March

  • Pay for 3 x 30 minute follow up appointments ($135.00) and receive the 4th one free!
  • Pay for 5 x 15 minute accountability weekly appointments ($150.00) and receive the 6th one free.

The deal is: pay upfront, no refunds or extensions for appointments cancelled with less than 24 hours notice and appointments must be used within 10 weeks of purchase.

Recipes for March

Smoked Fish Hotpot – serves 2

  • 200g smoked white fish, skin and bones removed
  • 1 cup trim milk
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Cracked black pepper
  • ½ cup green peas
  • ¼ cup corn kernels
  • 3 tbs milk extra
  • 3-4 tsp corn flour
  • 300g potato chopped
  • 2 tsp grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt if required

Smoked Fish Hotpot

Into a large microwave proof jug and add milk, onion, bay leaves, fish and pepper.  Cook on high until the mixture boils – watch it doesn’t boil over.  Stir and simmer on low for about 5 minutes.  Remove from microwave and add frozen peas and corn, stir and leave for about 10 minutes or longer if you wish.

Strain mixture through a sieve, removing bay leaves and reserving the milk.  Put the milk back into the jug and reheat.  Mix the cornflour and additional milk together and add to hot jug of milk.  Carefully bring to the boil and stir until thickened, then cook 2 minutes on a low heat, taking care that it doesn’t boil over. Taste and season if required.  Add fish mixture to thickened sauce, mix well and tip into two large ramekins.

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, add potato and cook until tender.  Mash with about 2 Tbs milk and then beat with a spoon until smooth and of a spreadable consistency. Use more milk if required.  Spread over fish mixture in ramekins and sprinkle cheese on top.

Put under a hot grill until the cheese is golden.  Let stand a few minutes as the mixture will be very hot.

Because this has mashed potato on top, it is a higher calorie meal than if you weren’t having complex carbohydrates for dinner.

You could make extra servings and have leftovers for a hot lunch.

With autumn officially here now, it’s time to take stock of where you are, body composition-wise, before the colder months hit.  Once the cold, dark days are here we tend to eat more and move less, a sure fire recipe for weight gain.  Make sure you go into winter at or below your goal weight.  It’s way easier to deal with a two kilo fat gain over winter, than adding another two kilos to that Christmas/New Year roll of fat that you haven’t quite got around to losing yet.  Take advantage of my March Special Deals above to get in great shape NOW.

That’s it for now, take care and I’ll look forward to catching up with you again soon.


The information in this article was current at 27 Mar 2012