National Nutrition week

It was National Nutrition week from the 12th of October to the 18th of October 2020.

Because of the Coronavirus and people staying at home a lot more, nutrition and gut health is essential. During the last six months of lockdown, it is reported that many people put on weight (myself not included, but other bloggers like Thanh).

This week it is essential to focus on heart-healthy food. For lunch, on the 1st day, I had a salad with Moro Olive oil. I had a homemade steak with mushrooms and Birds eye chips. There is nothing wrong with Pub food, but if you are going to the pub all the time or having takeaway pub food, then it is an issue. Pub food all the time is not healthy for the gut. Pub food is full of bad fats, and it’s usually frozen. The food is generally cooked in cheap vegetable oil.

I have been trying to up my vegetable game, and that is good. I had a salad for a couple of days for lunch, and some multigrain rolls from Coles. It was awesome. I also had watermelon, pear, bananas, and a wide variety of fruits. Even though it is not cold, I enjoyed some oats. Oats are full of fiber and can help lower cholesterol. They are also good for the heart.

I enjoyed tacos from Dingo Ate my Taco. They do the best homemade tacos ever, and I tried the pork one with beans and loved it.

On Friday it was my flatmate’s birthday, so I enjoyed some homemade spaghetti marinara and a small piece of black forest cake from Fergusson plarre.

Overall it was a good week, and I could do this at home while in lockdown.


The case against sugar: is natural sweetener better

We talk about sweetener vs. sugar and which is better for you. Most of us in COVID isolation has put on weight, and over 50% of Americans eat way too much sugar, which is bad for you. We add it to our coffee, and it is found in cakes, biscuits, some cereals, and jam.

There are 42 varieties of sugar, some of which are artificial. White sugar is one of them.

White sugar

White sugar is the calorie-laden sugars that are normally added to everything. There are 16 calories in one teaspoon. So 2 teaspoons of that are 32 calories.

What is sweetener?

Sweetener is natural sugars which have saccharin. It has 0.4 calories in each sachet. You can find them in the health food stores, and some cafes might have them. It can be added to baking and everything else that you make at home with sugar. You can also add it to coffee instead of your sugar.

Over the years, we got so many packets of sweetener at health expos that we decided to try the Norbu ones during isolation. These are naturally healthy for you, and I normally add two sachets to oats and one to coffee.

Stevia is a type of sweetener, and there was a study done on this in the States. It has zero calories, and The Journal of Nutrition has said that stevia beverages reduced appetite in healthy people. Thus it meant that they were less hungry before lunch

Next time when you are in the supermarket, do try sweetener instead of sugar. You might find that it tastes better and it’s better for your health. They are not as sweet as white sugar. After a while, you’ll get used to the taste. At first, you might find the taste a bit weird but keep trying, and you’ll get used to it.


Things to do with mushrooms

This article was written for Mushroom Day which is on the 15th of October.

It is mushroom season and mushrooms are full of the essential vitamins and minerals that we need. Here are some ways with mushrooms.

How to prepare mushrooms?

Mushrooms are really simple to do. With the dried Asian mushrooms that you buy in the Asian stores, you probably do need to soak them for a little bit in a bowl of water

There are many different types of mushrooms from the Japanese shitake, the Australian mushroom to the Chinese mushroom that we have during Chinese New Year

Mushroom salad

This is really easy to do and you can do it with just about anything you have at home.

Udon noodles with mushroom

This recipe is from Cooking with Chef Dai

Homemade mushroom pizza

Here you can use truffle oil for this. You can buy the pizza-making kit from supermarkets and I got the recipe from Heidi Larsen

Scrambled eggs and mushrooms

Just simply sauteed them in a pan and put it with scrambled eggs for breakfast. And then you add toast with your scrambled eggs and mushrooms.


The key to Optimal health is to eat better not less

Sun Basket wrote about this issue on Healthkickny. We spend billions of dollars and months of research on finding the best ways to be healthy even though we already know-how. We want to be skinnier and lose weight so we eat less. But sometimes and for some people, less is not on option. Some people have super skinny genes that some say that they may need to put some weight on.

Some days I just want to eat more and its perfectly ok.

About $8 million is spent on research every year and its on the things that we already know.

There is an article about this by Jamanetwork which turned the research on its head and says that the quality of the food we eat is what matters the most. They did a study on 609 participants and they were instructed to maintain a low fat or low carb diet. They also had to maintain their exercise for eight weeks and they had to attend a few healthy eating sessions held by a Registered Dietician. There wasn’t a lot of weight loss due to genetics and other things but their blood pressure, insulin, and glucose were lowered and the lipids had improved.

They say that dietary modifications are needed to lose weight. It takes 12 months just to lose the weight and keep it off for good. Healthy habits take time to develop. Not one diet suits everyone. We should be eating low-fat foods and more vegetables according to the USDA.

Yep like we say you should eat better for optimal health not less. And don’t worry about that weight loss. It’s just a number on the scale. Your health is what matters to you.


Support our farmers

Our farmers are doing it tough at the moment. First, there were the bushfires and the drought and now the Coronavirus pandemic. They need all the support they can get. They are trying to get back on track

During this time and as Australia gets back on its feet we should support our local farmers by shopping locally and not going to the supermarket. All the produce that you get at the supermarket is usually from overseas and they have been in cold storage for a few days. The fruits and vegetables that you buy at the local greengrocer or farmers market are usually fresh.

If you buy from the supermarkets usually it’s the supermarkets that get most of the profit.

The National Farmers Federation has launched a campaign to back our farmers as they assist with the COVID recovery. Throughout the pandemic, the farmers worked really hard to produce the food that we need. They struggled every bit of the way.

I encourage you to shop locally and visit your local farmers’ markets. You can also visit Queen Victoria Market as well as the Prahran market if it’s allowed.  In Victoria, you can go to those within 5km. I also encourage you to get online and Click for Vic. There you can buy your favorite produce online and get it delivered.


Tofu Burgers

I love vegetarian food and I enjoy eating tofu burgers. Pre Covid19 I went out for Tofu burgers a lot. But you can make your own at home.

A tofu burger has no meat in there so it is perfect for Meatless Monday

Image courtesy of Vegan Crunk

You do everything the same as a normal burger except you grill the tofu. You use extra firm tofu and you grill this. According to Threemanycooks, “Wrap tofu in paper toweling or a clean tea towel and place on a plate. Place a second plate on top and weight to drain additional liquid, about 10 minutes”

Instead of tomato sauce you can use sweet chilli sauce. I like the ones from the Asian grocery shops as they are authentic.

All the vegetables and the bun is the same as a normal one.


Australian Organic Awareness Month

Australian Organic Awareness Month happens every September. Here this a good chance to promote healthy organic foods to the Australian consumer and our way of eating. I know we can’t be there in person but we can do our best online.

Pre COVID I loved going to Realfoods and Realfoods would make the best curry and they would do the best vegetarian pies.

Why choose organic?

Organic food is free of pesticides and other added ingredients. According to Bud Organic club, they say that organic food is free-range and not tested on animals. For them to be really organic they do have to carry the certified organic labels.

They are more nutritionally dense than other foods. At Realfoods and TOWFD I was always full afterward and very happy.

Certified organic food protects our environment from harmful chemicals and gases. These gases are used to produce normal food.

What we did

This month we went to a few organic places on our runs. The Organic Wherehouse is one of them and another one is the Ladybird Organics. Here they had all sorts of healthy snacks that I enjoyed post-run. When we buy chicken we buy the Macro range which is healthier and tastier.

Post-COVID when we are all allowed back into the city, I’d go to TOWFD and Realfoods if they are still open. I’d also visit Lentils as Anything. I’d also visit the Cruelty-free shop in Fitzroy.


Brain and gut microbiota

Many of us are right now experiencing mental health due to the changes in our life. Our lifestyles and what we eat and do matter for our gut health. Too many of us lead sedentary lifestyles and thus we are stressed and it leads to unhealthy gut microbiome.

The brain and the gut are connected via the nervous system. The gut-brain axis is the communication system between the brain and the gut. According to Healthline, your gut contains 500 million neurons that are connected to your brain via the nervous system. The Vargus nerve is the single connection between the gut and the brain and it sends signals both ways, just like a road.

What you eat matters

Diet plays an important role in our brain and gut health. What you eat matters as food is mood. The brain and the gut are also connected via neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals made in the brain that control your thoughts and emotions. You need to change your diet and keep it long term. The Western diet is made up of processed foods and refined grains. If we eat those foods all the time, we become depressed, anxious and very unhappy. You need lots of fiber. We need about 31 grams of fiber per day and about 1 in 2 Australians meet the requirement. We should be aiming for 2 serves of fruit and 5 of vegetables per day. But not many people meet that requirement.

Serotonin is the happy chemical that is produced in the gut. It tells the brain when you are happy.

Short-chain fatty acids

“Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are fatty acids with fewer than six carbon atoms. Derived from intestinal microbial fermentation of indigestible foods, SCFAs are the main energy source of colonocytes, making them crucial to gastrointestinal health” (Wikipedia, 2020)

Some ways in which you can help the gut microbiota be healthy

  • Eat slowly and don’t scoff of shove food into your mouth at dinnertime. Learn to eat mindfully. Often we tend to eat really fast when we are in a rush. Hence we get indigestion and other digestive problems
  • Include vegetables and whole grains with your meal. We should have about 48g of grains per day. Now for most people that is six serves. It can include oats, brown rice, wholegrain bread, wholegrain pasta, brown pasta etc.
  • Make sure that you get plenty of time outside each day. We should get about 1-2 hours of sunshine most days for Vitamin D
  • Do have a good night’s sleep as that helps to protect the brain. We should get about 7-8 hours of sleep a night.

Deep nutrition book

I got this book a little while ago and I thought to read it during iso. I got it online at Amazon.com but you can find it in all major book stores. Here they talk about different aspects of nutrition and they say you are what you eat. If you eat a healthy diet full of proteins, good fats, and carbs then your skin will look healthy and you will feel beautiful. The book is philosophical.

In the COVID world, we’d pick healthier foods because we are home more often. They talk about sugar being the enemy. As in the added sugars being the enemy. The added sugar in soft drinks is the worst nightmare. I got a soft drink from Poyntons thinking that it would be sugar-free but it’s not. They talk about having kombucha instead of soda as kombucha helps with gut health. They tell us to drink 64 ounces of water (roughly eight to ten glasses) but most people don’t drink that much.

The book is about being young and drink the bone broth as collagen. In the first part of the book, they talked about what their ancestors ate. They mention that what we eat matters. They have a lot of sensible ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and talk about including protein and fats. The book says don’t snack but I disagree. You can find lots of healthy snacks in fruits, milk and vegetables. 60-85% of your calories should be some good fats like olive oil and nuts.

The book focuses on being healthy and in a COVID world, this is what we all need to do to survive the pandemic. Our immune system will thank us for this and in today’s world immunity is key. Therefore we need to eat enough fruits and vegetables and drink lots of water. We need to transition to a wholesome way of living and that includes eating more wholefoods. The big hurdle for most people is getting rid of that sweet tooth. Thus this is why we have Sugar free September.

We should be having more fermented foods in our diet and now that we are home a lot why not make your own such as making your own kimchi and consuming kefir.


6 reasons as to why you are experiencing food cravings

Nutrition Stripped wrote about this topic and I wanted to talk about it too now that we are in the Coronavirus pandemic and people are putting on weight.

assorted sliced fruits in white ceramic bowl
Photo by Trang Doan on Pexels.com

Dehydration

One mistake is that people are confusing being hungry with being thirsty. We should be drinking about 3-4L of water each day but not many people do this. Our bodies are made up of 60% of water and we cannot function properly without water.

Lack of nutrients

During isolation, many people are turning to bake, so they may not be getting enough nutrients they need. WHilst home baking is good we need to have other nutrients such as vegetables and fruits.

Too many food rules

In today’s society there are too many food rules and these are promoted on Instagram. As such after that period of restricted eating people go aon a binge

Stress and Anxiety

During Isolation we are forced to stay at home. Therefore there is more stress and anxiety in the household and that can force us to comfort eat. When we are stressed we turn to junk food and emotionally eat

Lack of sleep

The lack of sleep can casue you to have food cravings, however minor they are. The more hours you sleep the better your food cravings will be. During the pandemic a lot of you may not have slept really well

Old Habits

When you were growing up what did you eat? Did your parents give you ready made meals for dinner? Or did they give you good food. Some of these habits can be why we have cravings now for them

And how to get rid of these cravings

  • Sleep well. We need about 7- 8 hours of sleep per night . If you sleep well, you feel much better the next day
  • Stress less. We do a lot of meditation and yoga during the week as well stress busting exercise.
  • Don’t restrict yourself. Do have some cheat days where you can enjoy some treats. Also do make sure that you get enough nutrients from the five food groups. We should be having fruit and vegetables, dairy, grains, pulses, legumes and other proteins.
  • Get rid of old habits. Now is a good time to reevaluate yourself and reinvent the wheel with food.
  • Keep a journal about how you are feeling around food. This will help you understand why you crave certain things.