As a nation we are not as healthy as we were a few decades ago – I can remember the first real TV dinner Boil in the Bag fish with parsley sauce! What a treat that was when my mum got it for us, now processed food like that and far worse is the norm for the average meal and with that comes obesity, heart disease, cancer and so much more. Any processed food even a seemingly harmless boil in the bag fish – does that even exist now? Is loaded with salt, sugar or oil and certainly preservatives which all contribute vastly to declining health. Plus food is produced with a vast array of toxins from weed killers to growth hormones – we are slowly poisoning ourselves so it is important to take steps to alter that path. Unfortunately, we are generally reactive to nutrition rather than pro-active, we address issues only because we put on weight or suffer with high blood pressure or get sick when really we need to plan for the future. And often people are not reactive to nutrition but prefer to pop a pill rather than address the root cause which would actually be so much more effective. And once you have one pill, it is a short leap to needing more to control other symptoms when we actually have the capacity within ourselves and our environment to improve our health.
I endorse a wholefood plantbased diet but I do appreciate that is not everyone’s goal but even then you can still do much to improve they way you eat. Choose unprocessed food, choose good quality produce that has not been intensively farmed, not subject to GMO production and certainly not sprayed with pesticides. If for you this means animal products then choose those that are organic and free range and especially choose grass over grain fed. CIWF is a great place to start for more information.
So what should we be eating – well an easy way to remember is GBOMBS
Greens – What do you think of when I mention green veg? Yellow cabbage, floppy brussels sprouts, stringy spinach? Most of the issues with green veg and people’s lack of eating it seems to be an inherent dislike due to their experiences of how it is cooked. Most of it is boiled to buggery (to quote my friend) and consequently unappetising and hardly surprising people are not eating enough greens.
Why should you eat Greens? The dark-leafy vegetables are the healthiest on the plant, they actually offer the most bang for your buck that is the most nutrition per calorie. Eating greens every day could be one of the most powerful things you do for your health, they provide the strongest protection against chronic disease and up to a 20% decrease in heart attacks and strokes for every serving. Green veg to eat includes greens, kale, salad leaves, spinach and chard, rocket, cauliflower,brussels sprouts, cabbage and watercress with the last 5 falling into the cruciferous veg category which contain powerful antioxidants that can prevent cancer, boost liver detox, protect your brain, eyesight and help control type 2 diabetes.
Quick but important note – if on warfarin and going to increase your intake of greens make sure you inform your doctor as it can interfere with the effectiveness of the drug as greens impart vitamin K whereas warfarin impedes the enzyme that recycles it, so your warfarin dose will need titrating.
So all well and good but how to eat it, well quite simply if it needs cooking and you can eat it all raw then just steam it for a few mins til a knife goes in easily, and colour remains, flavour is locked in along with nutrients. Easy. For spinach I simply put in a sieve and pour over boiling water – done! Also add raw to a smoothie is a great way to eat it. About 3 portions a day which is 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked.
Beans – such as black, butter, cannellini, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils etc – the humble bean is loaded with protein, iron and zinc, fibre, folate and potassium and low in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol free. You should be aiming for 3 servings a day for optimum benefit – a serving is roughly half a cup with hummus being ¼ cup portion – that isn’t actually that much to consume. The pic shows 2 portions of beans – just half a can how easy is that! Eating 3 portions of legumes a day is associated with weight-loss and lower blood pressure not to mention improving the regulation of blood sugar, insulin levels and cholesterol. How good is that!
Now I know beans get a bad rap for their side effects! But by changing how you prepare them you will change how they affect you. The beans like chickpeas, butter etc need soaking before cooking (assuming you buy dried – personally I find most canned beans also produce the unwarranted side effects although not baked beans interestingly – no idea why, just be careful with canned and the sodium content as that can be high), soak for 48 hours changing water every 12 hours and then cook in your chosen dish – I always use a slow cooker and cook for apx 8-12 hours, it makes life very easy. There are so many dishes you can make with beans, the humble lentil are super easy to use but I also love black beans and they make a great meat replacement and of course the humble chickpeas in hummus! I’ve got some great recipes to add to this site with beans so do check back.
Part 2 to follow in a few days