|Evolution is no longer the survival of the fittest, but the survival of the wisest.
Sally Fallon Morell
Thinking for yourself could prolong your life
The school holidays are almost upon us and there’ll be lots of time to do fun things – hopefully in the sunshine. Here are some words from the wise about the types of foods we commonly regards as treats.
Treat treats as treats
Don’t treat your mouth like an amusement park
Every time someone calls junk a treat, please correct them. We will never make progress until people see eating cr@p as anything but a treat
The Olympics are coming! Athletes know that their performance can be affected by food and drink and we expect them to be careful with nutrition. Few of us watching make our living playing sport. So when you choose what to eat for breakfast, I wonder if you think about how well you’ll do your job that morning. What about lunch? It can make or wreck your afternoon.
When you consider your performance at work, you might not credit much influence to food and drink. Actually, good concentration, stable mood, sustained energy and robust health are all linked to what goes into our mouths. It’s the same for us as for the athletes.
Most people I speak to think they have a good diet but it can usually be improved. You might stick to the current fashion of low fat with lots of fruit and veg. but still suffer weight, health, energy and concentration problems. How frustrating. I used to eat that way and I was overweight, moody, constantly tired, always hungry and often had dizzy spells.
As an international archer, I was given the conventional advice – but it didn’t work. Years of misery later, my life was dramatically changed by learning to eat well – that’s why I now devote my time to helping others.
As well as the Eat for a Better Life courses that I run for groups and individuals, I go into businesses. With a focus of breakfast and lunch, I blow some preconceptions and talk about food that will give lasting concentration and energy to help people work well. I estimate the return on investment at 10 man-days per year per person who improves what they eat, just from eliminating the afternoon slump.
Last year I did a 10-presentation tour of the country for Nuvia Ltd. They have a strong, proactive safety, health and environment culture. Eat for Better Business was part of their BeeSafe campaign series and was included in their submission to RoSPA this year. Not only have Nuvia been awarded 18 consecutive RoSPA Gold Awards, but this year they were selected for the prestigious Engineering Services Sector award and were put forward to compete for the highly respected Sir George Earle Trophy – they didn’t win but did achieve the top 3 out of 2000 companies! They also won their first Silver Award for Fleet Safety. Nuvia goes went to the RoSPA Awards in Birmingham on 13th and 14th July. Penny Oliver and Mike Lewis gave presentations on their BeeSafe campaigns, including the Eat for Better Business work that I did with them.
If you think your business would benefit from employees who feel great, get in touch.
Have you ever stopped while walking down a street to look at blossom or listen to birds singing? I wonder if you’ve sat and closed your eyes, just to relax. How long did you enjoy your moment before something inside you said, ‘That’s enough now – get going again.’ Our culture of work, speed and relentless busyness doesn’t seem to value self care and leaves us feeling guilty if we dare to pause. In my travels I speak to a lot of people who are putting their own needs last, attempting to keep up at the expense of their own health. This sort of martyrish mentality might impress your boss/family/friends in the short term but it isn’t good – for you or them. Think of the safety announcement when you go on a plane, ‘fit your own mask first’. You’re of no help to anyone if you’ve collapsed.
Stress affects your weight too. In spite of our modern veneer, biologically we’re still the same as in the stone-age. We’re programmed to survive tigers and famines. In a famine, you’ll automatically store fat, heighten your ability to recognise and desire for fattening foods and you won’t feel inclined to use up valuable energy on exercise. Faced with threats to life like tigers, you’ll automatically burn fat to become lean and quick. We haven’t evolved a specific response to email overload or financial worries. Your brain may well interpret low level, long term stress as famine. You can’t control this, the hormones made in response or the fat those hormones will make you store. Nutrition is fundamentally important to weight loss but for it not to be an uphill struggle, you need to address stress.
If you can eliminate the source, that’s best even if it’s difficult to do. If not, make stress reduction a priority; a lunchtime walk in the woods, music, gardening, counselling, sport, art, mindfulness – to help you feel calm and safe.
Top tip – Prioritise stress reduction.
Stress is like cyanide for the body – it will end you
Prof Sherif Sultan
Image by pixabay.
If you want to weigh less, you’ll notice that encouragement to go on a diet can be found everywhere – TV, magazines, banners, endless adverts for food products. Here’s a reminder of why dieting is only a good idea if you’re intent on eventually weighing more after a short-term loss.
The people who say, “Eat less, exercise more” will tell you diets must work because of the law of thermodynamics. Energy in equals energy out. As a scientist I know the law is true and very useful for engines in a stable state. As a nutrition coach I know that it’s not useful as an approach to weight loss. Your body is not an engine in a stable state, it’s wonderfully responsive and designed to keep you alive in times of food shortage. It will hang onto all the fat it can, but break down lean tissue and shut down your metabolism to eke out the little food it’s getting. Have you ever heard that a pound of fat contains about 3500kCal, so you can lose a pound of fat a week by reducing your calorie intake by 500 kCal a day? No. When you restrict your energy intake you end up with less energy. That doesn’t feel good.
Way back in 1917, an experiment showed that calorie controlled diets have this weight loss / weight gain effect. It isn’t your fault – the diet does it. Later experiments confirmed the result and the diet industry has been cashing in on the cycle ever since. Deprivation will almost always (98%) lead to you weighing more in the long term. Jon Gabriel was on the dieting roller coaster gaining more each time until he reached almost 30st and realised he had try something different. He decided to concentrate on nourishing his body and lost nearly 16st without dieting. You can read his story here. Now he’s one of the world’s nutrition heros. Check out this delicious ‘pizza’.
My next Eat for a Better Life course will start on 22nd June in Cockermouth. If you’ve done with yo-yo dieting, come and join us.
Top tip: Don’t deprive your body, nourish it.
If you want to read more about the way diets affect your metabolism, here’s a piece by Dr Jason Fung.
There is more to life than increasing its speed.
I was delighted to see the sugar tax announced in the budget. Official acknowledgement of the problem is a welcome step in the right direction. Manufacturers love sugar; every one of the 10 thousand taste buds in your tongue and palate, has special receptors for sweetness so it’s very ‘moreish’ (addictive). They won‘t want to lose their huge profits so they’ll do everything they can to convince us to keep buying. Hopefully a higher price will push people towards water instead.
What happens when we consume sugar? Sucrose is a 2 part molecule made of glucose and fructose. 80% of the glucose part will be distributed round your body to be used for energy. If your body isn’t using energy, insulin mops up the glucose to store it as fat. The other 20% goes to your liver to be safely stored as glycogen. 100% of the fructose goes to your liver, the only organ that can process it, where it will mostly be turned into fat. When you eat whole fruit, the fibre changes the way the fructose is metabolised. So glucose without exercise is a problem but fructose without fibre is worse.
That’s why I’m disappointed that fruit juice drinks are exempt from the tax. Bought juice doesn’t contain as much goodness as you’d hope but has loads of fructose (one glass might = four fruits).
Eating a couple of pieces of whole fruit a day is fine.
Might we see increased use of artificial sweeteners? People mistakenly believe that low-cal drinks help weight loss but they don’t. When we eat sugar, our brain recognises the sweet taste and our body gets ready to store fat. When we eat artificial sweeteners, our body expects sugar and gets ready to store fat. When the sugar doesn’t arrive, our brain is confused and we get cravings to eat something. So we take in more food and we mess up the delicate signalling system our body uses to tell us when to stop eating.
For more on the science and the history of how we ended up consuming so much sweet stuff, watch Robert Lustig’s ‘Sugar, The Bitter Truth‘ on YouTube.
Top tip: Drink water instead of sweet drinks.
Everyone, it seems, wants or needs more energy. Look around a restaurant at lunchtime – a few wine glasses but plenty of double espressos.
Watch the lambs running and jumping in the spring sunshine. They eat their natural diet and are full of beans!
By Jacquie Wingate from Recovery, usa – Flickr, CC BY-SA 1.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3474660
Spring is nearly here and doesn’t it lift your spirits to see flowers appear? Some of you will be making preparations to grow this year’s vegetables. It’s wonderful to eat them fresh the same day you picked them when all the vitamins and enzymes are at their maximum. Not everyone has a garden or allotment but something we can all do is sprout seeds and beans on the kitchen worktop.
You’ll need some sprouting trays with slots in (buy from a health food shop or on line), then choose what to grow. Mung beans and green lentils are readily available in most supermarkets, very easy to sprout and only take 3 days to grow. Alfalfa seeds are my favourite but few shops stock them so I buy them on line. Then there are radish seeds which have a real flavour kick, chickpeas, broccoli seeds which are high in sulforaphane (being studied for potential cancer protective effects) and lots more.
Soak your seeds/beans in a glass of water for 4-8h depending on their size. Rinse and put into your trays in an even layer about one seed/bean thick. Each morning and evening, rinse the sprouts thoroughly under running water, then tip the trays to drain away any excess so that the sprouts are not sitting in water. When they’re ready, harvest them with a fork; they’ll keep in the fridge in a container for a few days. Give your trays a thorough clean with a brush and they’re ready to start growing the next batch. (Step-by-step sprouting video under my superfood series.)
Eat sprouts raw so that you keep the goodness. They’re good on salad or with breakfast or as a snack.
Top tip: Grow your own health booster.