Having practised as a Nutritional Therapist since qualifying from Raworth College in 2006, I’ve worked with individual clients, schools and businesses and their employees across the South East to help them achieve optimum health and nutrition. Nutrition and fitness go hand-in-hand, so I’m delighted to be writing this post for clients of The Pilates Suite.
So, the children are back at school and it’s time to focus on my health again. Where do I start?
We understand it’s difficult to stick to routines and focus on ‘you’ during the holidays. Meal plans tend to go out of the window, as you never really know what the next meal will involve.
First and foremost, don’t take the enjoyment out of eating food. Try to eat seasonally to ensure you are getting optimum nutritional value from locally sourced fruit and vegetables. Aim to buy meat from your local farm shop or butcher and ask if the animals are grass fed – if they are, they’ll provide an important source of essential fatty acids.
Meal planning is the best way and although it may take a few minutes at the beginning of the week, doing so will ensure you shop sensibly, eat well, and minimise waste.
Breakfast time is such a rush. How can I ensure we all have the best start to the day?
We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Get it wrong and our blood sugar levels and metabolism are out of kilter for the day. Get it right and we feel energised and shouldn’t need to snack mid-morning.
Always include some protein or healthy fat at breakfast. Carbohydrate alone (a bowl of cereal) is quickly converted to glucose, resulting in fat storage and hunger by mid-morning. At this time of year, our bodies are craving warmer, more filling foods so make porridge, homemade muesli (shop bought muesli and granola can be too high in dried fruit/sugar), eggs on wholemeal toast, grapefruit and cottage cheese, or a homemade smoothie with added oats.
If you do opt for a full English breakfast, keep the bread dark and dense (wholemeal, rye, spelt), the bacon lean, the tomatoes and mushrooms grilled, and enjoy a cup of good quality coffee or tea.
Snacking. Is it ever a good idea?
If we are eating three balanced meals a day, we shouldn’t need to snack. But life isn’t always like that. Breakfast might have been really early, you might be hungry after a workout and the children need a snack at pick-up time.
It can also be helpful to have a healthy snack to hand if you are moving away from a high sugar, carbohydrate-based diet in order to prevent cravings. Always combine carbohydrates with protein (have cheese with your apple) and try and avoid processed snacks. Some good examples of snacks are big bags of nuts and seeds and have a handful if you feel hungry, an oatcake with some cheese or nut butter (beware of the high calorie content!), and Miso soup will all fill a gap. Make time to bake banana bread (low sugar) that you can all enjoy and will keep everyone going until the next mealtime.
And remember; if you feel hungry have a glass of water. We often mistake hunger for thirst.
If I exercise frequently, should I eat more?
There’s no general rule here. Listen to your body. It largely depends on the frequency and type of exercise you are doing. Also consider the rationale for exercise – there are different diets for losing weight and muscle building.
To increase your energy intake and fuel your training sessions, eat more carbohydrate-rich foods such as bread, cereals, rice, pasta and potatoes. Only eat wholegrain varieties and keep the skins on the potatoes. Include sources of essential fats from oily fish, nuts and seeds. You will also need protein-rich foods to help repair and build your muscle. Drink lots of water to keep hydrated, especially after a workout, or make a delicious vegetable or fruit-based smoothie to keep energy levels up.
I see patients at clinics in Haslemere, Surrey and in London, so if you’d like further information or for an informal chat, then you can contact us here.