Rule II: Eat more of the right vegetables

Paleo-Vegetable-Options

69% of us aren’t eating enough vegetables (WHO)

Welcome to the second instalment in a series of four simple rules for healthy eating.

Drawing on experience, the aim of the series is to strip away all of the gimmicks, niche diets and fads, and to present you with four simple rules for becoming healthy through what you eat.

By following the four rules, I’ve seen improvements in my energy levels, my mood and motivation, and in my skin health. They’re not difficult to follow, and even by partially sticking to them you’re likely to see benefits.

Rule One: Go Gluten Free

To recap, last week I introduced rule one – to go gluten free. Hopefully you saw how easy it is to switch pasta, bread and simple carb sources out of your diet in favour of more nutritious complex carbs like sweet potato, brown rice and butternut squash. I also published an insight into the science behind going gluten free, gave some recipes to try out, and suggested some GF-related blogs and youtube channels for you to check out.

Now onto rule two…

Rule Two: Eat more of the right vegetables

This is the most obvious rule, but probably the most important!

In this post, I’m going to give a brief introduction into why including enough vegetables in your diet is important, why you should try and vary the vegetables you eat, and give some tips on how to make them a core component of your diet rather than an added extra.

Why eating vegetables is important

We all know that vegetables are an important part of our diet. They’re high in the vitamins, minerals, and fibre that we need to keep our immune system functioning properly, metabolism well-oiled and overall health in check. Here’s a brief overview of what vegetables offer:

Vitamins & Minerals:

Benefit: Increase your productivity by improving the efficiency of your metabolism

Think of your cells  as lots of small engines. Within them, there are millions of chemical reactions going on every second – these are the metabolic processes that make up your metabolism. Your cells are working hard to convert the carbs, protein and lipids that you take in through your diet into the energy that sustains your life (catabolism), and into the building blocks of your cells (anabolism). Vitamins and minerals are like the cell’s employees – they’re the helpers, the brains of the outfit, and they run the show. Along with enzymes, they make sure that the process of converting fuel into energy runs as smoothly as possible.

Antioxidant properties of vitamins (and of precursors to vitamins like beta-carotene) may also help prevent chronic diseases by neutralising harmful free radicals – more on Saturday.

Fibre:

Benefit: Improves digestive health & wards off hunger pangs

The most obvious benefit I’ve personally experienced from eating fibre is that I no longer feel hungry all of the time. I used to crave sugary, high calorie foods, but am now able to get through an afternoon without enduring those hunger pangs. I put that down to my increased intake of fibre – fibrous foods take a long time to digest, so you feel full for longer.

Why vary your vegetables?

Very simply: different vegetables contain different nutrients. The Five-a-Day recommendation implies that any two portions of fruit or vegetables are nutritionally the same, but that’s not the case. To make sure your team of cell workers is diverse enough to cover all the specialist roles that vitamins and minerals play in different parts of the body, you need to increase the variety of vegetables that you eat.

On Saturday I’m going to push out a table of lots of vegetables, their vitamin/mineral content, and the benefits associated with taking in those vitamins/minerals.

Making vegetables a key part of your diet

It’s so easy to neglect vegetables as a part of your diet. I picked up quite a good 3-step system for working them into your diet from a couple of great internet sources and my friend Matt, who’s a nutritionist.

1) Have vegetables with every meal after breakfast…

This seems really simple and obvious, but just taking the time to plan my meals and make sure that I have vegetables with every meal has been a big first step to increasing the amount of vegetables I eat. It’s so easy to have, for example, a spaghetti bolognese, another pasta or a ready meal and not cook some broccoli, green beans, spinach or other vegetable to have with it. Alanna Kellogg at A Veggie Venture has a vast library of recipes, ideas and tips for including vegetables in every meal – go and check out her blog.

A good tip for implementing this is to have a stash of frozen vegetables in your freezer for those times when you run out of fresh veg.

2) Try one new vegetable every week

This is a cool way to experiment with food and to discover any vegetables that you haven’t tried before or haven’t eaten for a while. The best way to approach this is to try foods that are in season – they’ll be at their cheapest and most tasty. Here’s a website that shows the seasonalities of different vegetables.

Going to farmers markets, although I can’t speak from much experience, seems like a really nice way of embracing this step. These guys do veg boxes for people localto Bristol, and also have some info about farmers markets on their website: Leigh Court Farm.

3) Make your snacks vegetable-based

When 4pm comes around its natural to crave a packet of crisps and a chocolate bar. I found that just by switching out those things for vegetable snacks, I’ve stopped having those 4pm sugar cravings. There are some good ideas and leads into other sources on this thread: Chow thread. Kale chips, the recipe for which I posted in Rule One, are perfect for this.

This Week’s Challenge:

Right, so there’s my second rule: eat more of the right vegetables. The challenge this week is to:

  • Have vegetables with every meal – buy a stash of frozen broccoli so that there are no excuses.
  • Try out a new vegetable – how about kale or leeks?
  • Try one vegetable snack this week – prepare it the night before work or uni and bring it with you the next day. Kale chips, or maybe give this a whirl.

I’ll be back on Saturday with the second in the Insight series, where I delve into the science behind the week’s rule, give some in-depth ideas on how you can easily implement the rule into your daily routine, and share the best blog, youtube channel and web resource related to the rule for you to follow.

Insight I: Going Gluten Free

Hey guys,

I hope you found the Rule One: No more bread, no more pasta, no more gluten! post interesting!

To support each rule, I thought it would be useful to write an Insight blog. In each insight, I’ll delve into the science behind the week’s rule, give some ideas on how you can easily implement the rule into your daily routine, and share the best blog, youtube channel and web resource related to the rule for you to follow.

I’ll post Insight blogs every Saturday, so that you can mull over the information and incorporate some of it into your weekly shop ahead of the following week.

 Rule One Insight: No more pasta, no more bread, no more gluten!

The rule this week is to take gluten out of your diet.

What do i mean by gluten intolerance, and why should you go gluten-free?

Image

I want to clarify what I mean by gluten intolerance. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.  Gluten intolerance includes a number of disorders that are triggered by ingestion of gluten. The two most common gluten-related disorders (I won’t address Wheat Allergies, which are very rare) are:

Coeliac Disease (CD):

  • Affects just under 1% of people
  • Autoimmune disease that is passed genetically through family lines – if you have a family member with CD then you should be especially alert to the risk of developing it as well.
  • CD can onset at any point in your life, so be aware that it could present for the first time well into your 20s and 30s.
  • Ingestion of gluten causes the destruction of villous structures in the intestines, which prevents proper absorption of nutrients.
  • People with CD produce antibodies when they ingest gluten, so diagnosis of the disease is straightforward after biopsy.
  • Symptoms may involve more than the gastrointestinal system, and are unique to each individual. They include bloating, diarrhea, anemia, dermatitis, irritability, weight loss, gas, extreme fatigue, depression and joint pain.
  • Eating as little as a breadcrumb can cause those symptoms so keeping to a gluten-free diet is vital.

Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS):

  • Poorly understood and currently being researched.
  • May affect up to 50% of the population, although most estimates are that it affects between 10 and 30%.
  • People with NCGS don’t produce antibodies like patients with Coeliac Disease, so clinical diagnosis is impossible.
  • Nevertheless, NCGS is a clinically defined disorder that can be treated by removing gluten from the diet.
  • Symptoms of NCGS vary from person to person, as does the intensity of those symptoms. If you suffer from bloating, bowel abnormalities, and/or abdominal pain then you may suffer from NCGS. More surprisingly, other systematic symptoms like “foggy mind”, headache, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, leg or arm numbness, dermatitis (eczema or skin rash), depression, and anemia can also be signs that you have a Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity.

So, gluten intolerance, particularly Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity is still poorly understood, but there’s a strong enough chance that you’re productivity isn’t what it could be because you’re ingesting gluten for you to give a gluten-free diet a chance – you can always bring gluten back in if you don’t see any improvements. At the very least, removing gluten for a short period will introduce you to other, nutritious carbohydrate sources including butternut squash and sweet potato that you can use in rotation with gluten-containing foods like pasta and bread.

Ok, so there’s some background on gluten-related disorders and why a gluten-free diet could be of benefit to you. Now I’ll give you some tips on implementing a gluten free diet day-to-day.

Implementing a gluten-free diet

Below are some great gluten-free recipes taken from various online blogs and resources. I’ve tried most of them, and have included others that I’m looking forward to trying this week!

Breakfast:

Banana Pancakes

Ben Coomber’s Smoothie (Link isn’t working properly so copy this url into your browser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZF4ToQGwhv4)

Eggs, Bacon & Kale (Plus Others!)

For when you’re in a rush: Mesa Sunrise Cereal with Lactose Free Milk

Have these with Green Tea and some water

Snacks

Spinach, Kale and Pear Smoothie

Cinnamon Spiced Apple Chips

Hummus, Avocado and Tomato Bites

Post Workout Shake

Lunch/Dinner

Stuffed Mushrooms with Veggies and Bacon

Sesame Chicken Stir Fry

Avocado-Salmon Wraps

Salmon, Butternut Squash Chips – avoid the mustard and syrup sauce, it doesn’t need it.

Have these Kale Chips with the salmon and squash

Hot Tip

I’d recommend getting a Tupperware box. It’s so easy to find yourself at work, university of school without a gluten-free option for lunch. Plan ahead, cook more than you need for the night before work, and take the excess with you for lunch the following day. Doing this isn’t just healthy, it saves you spending 20 minutes in the queue at Itsu or Sainsbury’s, and saves you money on those expensive high street lunch options.

So there are some good recipes and a tip that can help you go gluten-free. I’ve tried to give a broad range of resources so that you can delve deeper into blogs that you like. The challenge that I set on Thursday was to have a minimum of three gluten-free evening meals this week, hopefully there’s enough there for you to be able to make that happen.

There are loads of quality bloggers and experts who know a hell of a lot about why you should go gluten-free, and how you can live a gluten-free life. Here are my favourite blogger, vlogger and website that I’d suggest checking out if you’re interested.

Gluten-Free: Best in Class

Blogger

Alison at A Girl Defloured

Yes, I read a blog called A Girl Defloured. Great info, Alison really knows her stuff and its one of the easiest gluten-free blogs to navigate around and find what you want.

Youtube Channel

It’s a tie between EZGlutenFree and Glutenology

If you want to learn more about the science behind going gluten-free, then check out Glutenology. If you want loads of easy-to-follow recipes then EZGlutenFree will soon be your best friend.

Website

I’m going high-end with this one. A lot of people doubt the science behind NCGS, so here’s a scientific paper with some evidence for its existence. Its also got some more details on the symptoms that a gluten-free diet can clear.

Ok, there’s my first Insight blog post. I’ll be back next Thursday with Rule Two – another simple rule that could help you become more healthy by changing your diet. The second Insight post will follow on Saturday!

Rule I: No more bread, no more pasta, no more gluten!

Hi guys,

Hope you’re well.

Introduction

So, to introduce my blog! Over the next few months I’m going to tackle one of the main reasons why people choose not to eat healthily, even though they know that doing so would be beneficial for them.

That main reason is they don’t know where to start. With so much information out there, and so many experts dishing out (pun unintended) conflicting theories, it’s difficult to know who to listen to and how to start becoming a healthy eater.

I’m not a qualified expert in nutrition, but I want to change the pace at which we’re given information on what to eat. To do so I’m going to strip back healthy eating to it’s bare bones and break down how I became healthy through what I eat into a series of clear, simple, bite-size rules. Every week I’ll post one thing that I’ve introduced to my diet that has made a big difference to the way I feel, my energy levels, my skin health and to my mental state. I’ll then make a simple recommendation that will be really easy to follow through on, which you can play around with to see what suits you best.

Before I do, I want to stress that I was once the guy who trawled the internet looking for the miracle article that was going to tell me how to make those big differences. I want you to switch your mindset when you read this: imagine you’ve never been given any nutritional advice, and that you’re learning about healthy eating for the first time. Going back to basics, and forgetting all I’d read – paleo, 5/2, fasting, etc – really helped me to understand what I needed to do FIRST to become a healthier person.

Ok, so now you’re mind is clear, here’s the first rule that helped me become healthier and more productive through what I eat.

Rule One: No more Bread, no more Pasta, no more gluten!

NB. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and other related grains – people with gluten sensitivity react to the gluten protein in those grains.

I gradually took gluten out of my diet, and now don’t eat it at all.

Gluten intolerance is one of the scourges of the modern world. There’s a 25% chance that you’re gluten intolerant. If you don’t think you are, remember gluten intolerance, including Coeliac disease, can onset as you get older. The risk of developing gluten sensitivity is genetically inherited, so you should be especially alert to the possibility of having a gluten sensitivity if you have a family member who has Coeliac disease. I found that just by removing gluten from my diet, my skin became much clearer, my energy levels improved, and my mood was  more consistent.

Taking gluten out of your diet completely all at once is tough – bread, pasta, cakes, soups, beer, flour-based sauces etc normally form the main part of our diet.  If you think you can manage to totally cut them out, go for it, if not then start by just trying and not eat foods that contain gluten after 5pm or not before 10am.

Removing  gluten from your diet can make a huge difference to your health , but you still need a source of carbohydrates. As a replacement, try using brown rice, butternut squash and sweet potatos in rotation. These complex carbs are nutritionally rich compared to bread and pasta, and the latter two are naturally richer in sugars than normal potatoes so they’re tasty.

This week’s challenge:

Don’t make any drastic adjustments to your diet this week, but just replace the pasta, pizza or other gluten-containing carbohydrate source in your evening meal on a minimum of three evenings.

Here are three recipes to try out:

Butternut squash chips (Recipe: http://www.healthhomehappy.com/2013/07/baked-butternut-squash-fries.html)

Have them with pan-fried salmon (takes 4 mins, cheap if you buy a good quality freezer pack), or baked chicken breasts. You can switch in sweet potato instead of butternut squash if you like. They’re seriously tasty and much better for you than a bowl of pasta. Yes they take 45 minutes to cook, but the prep time is really short and as long as you think ahead that’s not a problem – the same goes for brown rice.

Sweet Potato Mash (http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/20233/mustard+glazed+lamb+with+sweet+potato+spinach+mash)

One of my favourite evening meal recipes.

Brown Rice

(http://www.marthastewart.com/312550/salmon-and-citrus-rice-bowl?center=0&gallery=923541&slide=312550)

Brown rice is the cheapest of the three. Try the recipe above to make it taste less bland.

So there you have it. Rule number one. I didn’t make things too complicated by changing my diet all at once, and would highly recommend changing one thing at a time. You can then work out exactly which foods make you feel better, which make no real difference, and find those foods that you should definitely avoid.

This week is gluten-free week!

Me, my blog, and my relationship with food.

I’m George Rendall and this is my first blog!

My passion is health and wellbeing. I’m a fitness enthusiast, am training for the Al Andalus ultramarathon in July, 230km over five days – pretty scared – and want to help people become more productive by changing the way they think about food.

A project on wheat genetics that I did at University showed me that the processed foods and sugary supermarket products that we eat day-to-day are so detrimental to our productivity! Two weeks ago I switched to a no Lactose, no Gluten, and low Sugar diet and ever since I’ve felt more energetic and less fatigued. I used to get headaches, feel too tired to get out of bed in the morning and would put off going to the gym. I now wake up at 6.30am every day and make the most of every day – its been a real eye-opener into how eating the right foods can change your life.

I’m still at the beginning of a journey that will help me understand which foods I can eat and which foods I should avoid. Through this blog I want to share what I’ve learnt so that its a little bit easier for you and others to start your own journey,