January 2019 is set to be the most popular Veganuary yet, with over 14,000 people pledging to stick to a vegan diet and lifestyle for the next month.
Whatever your reasons are for cutting out meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey, and all other animal derived products, the sudden swap to a vegan diet can have a significant impact on your body, especially if you’re used to eating animal produce every day. Digestion and energy levels are frequently affected: let’s explore why…
Digestion: a sudden increase in fibre and indigestible starch from vegan staples like pulses, beans, nuts and seeds can cause bloating and wind. Our gut bacteria are influenced by what we eat, and it can take time for them to adapt to a different way of eating. They thrive on fibre, fermenting it in our gut, which is why one of the side effects of a vegan diet can be uncomfortable wind and bloating!
Bowel movements may also change: some people experience constipation whilst others find stools become loose and more frequent. Again, this is down to the change in fibre intake.
- If you’re suffering with wind and bloating try using a plant-based digestive enzyme formula to support the breakdown of tough plant fibres and starches. Look for one containing alpha-galactosidase, an enzyme proven to reduce gas and bloating.
- Soaking pulses before cooking and using fermented soya products like miso and tempeh can aid digestion.
- Sprouting beans in a seed sprouter can make them easier to digest.
- Soak nuts overnight then allow to dry before eating; this can aid digestability.
- Be mindful of your fluid intake, especially if constipated. Fibre soaks up fluid in the gut, so remember to drink more water throughout the day, and opt for hydrating foods like soups and stews that combine fibre-rich beans and pulses with fluids.
Energy levels: switching from being carnivore to vegan means your body has to adapt to different nutrient sources. This can affect energy levels, particularly if you’re a pre-menopausal woman with regular periods as you are now reliant on plant-based or non-haem iron sources.
The main nutrients to consider are;
Iron: non-haem iron absorption is helped along by vitamin C so aim to combine these nutrients where possible:
Zinc: red meat, poultry, and seafood are packed with easily absorbed zinc, so your body has to adapt to deriving it from plant foods on a vegan diet. Nuts and seeds – especially pumpkin seeds – are good sources, but they also contain phytic acid which can impair zinc absorption. Soaking the nuts and seeds before eating helps to breakdown phytic acid and improve zinc bioavailability.
Vitamin B12: most plant forms of B12 are not readily used by humans with the exception of purple & green nori, fortified yeast (and other fortified foods), and shiitake mushrooms. You may have enough B12 stores in your system to manage Veganuary, but if veganism is a long-term plan, consider using a B12 supplement or B-Complex containing B12.
Protein: protein is present in varying amounts in foods, which is where the term protein quality comes from. Eggs are an example of high quality or perfect protein as they contain the right ratio of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) to match our human needs. On a vegan diet it is important to combine different protein sources at each meal so that over the course of the day you get all the amino acids you need.
Vegan protein sources include:
– Nuts (whole or as nut butters)
– Pseudo-grains like quinoa and amaranth
– Legumes and pulses
Omega-3 fats: the omega-3 oils found in oily fish are DHA (docosahexanoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). We can use these straight away with no need for conversion: they help regulate inflammation and support heart health and mental wellbeing.
Plant foods contain ALA (alpha linolenic acid) which is the ‘parent’ of DHA and EPA. It goes through several conversion pathways in the body to become EPA and DHA and we lose some of it along the way. Because of these conversion losses, it’s important for vegans to include ALA sources everyday.
The richest concentrated source of ALA is flaxseed oil; this can be drizzled over cooked vegetables, salads, granola, coconut or soya yoghurt, included in smoothies – the ideas are endless! I know a lady who adds it to her gravy! It can be added to hot foods but don’t cook with it as high temperatures affect the oil structure.
Other sources of ALA include walnuts, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil, hemp oil, and chia seeds.
Plant-based diets can be as varied and nutritious as meaty-fishy ones, but they do require thoughtful planning, especially at the outset. Browse these recipe blogs for meal inspiration and remember to join the Facebook group and follow me on Twitter where I share a #MeatfreeMonday recipe each week.
Pickles & Honey
Happy Healthy Life
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
What springs to mind when you think about self care?
Eating a delicious meal? A relaxing yoga session? Enjoying a massage or spa treatment?
Do you even think about self-care at all?
Finding time to look after ourselves can be hard, especially when other people depend upon our time and attention. Yet we all have at least three opportunities for self-kindness and care every day: breakfast, lunch, and evening meal.
Maybe you’ve fallen into the habit of skipping meals or eating hurriedly between meetings and appointments. Perhaps you don’t even care what you eat, so long as you refuel and can make it through the day.
Such unkind eating habits do more than deplete your body of nutrients and are worth exploring to detect any underlying causes.
Being too tired to cook for example, is often a reason for missing meals, but this will of course perpetuate the situation and worsen fatigue. Feeling overwhelmed and out of time is another possible reason. Depending on who organises your schedule, dealing with this may mean having an honest conversation with your boss, or creating space in your own diary to eat meals each day.
Skipping meals forces your body to produce more stress hormones to support the levels of glucose in your blood that keep your muscles and brain working. A short burst of stress hormones is easily dealt with, but ongoing stimulation can contribute to some nasty health issues including high blood pressure and gaining fat around your middle.
Eating on the run and eating too quickly can trigger all kinds of digestive problems: from indigestion and bloating, to pain, cramps, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms.
Allowing yourself a few moments to pause, sit, and eat can make a huge difference! Learning (or re-learning) to chew food thoroughly can alleviate a lot of digestive discomfort, and even help with maintaining health weight balance.
To start a new simple habit of self-nourishment, kindness and care, try one or more of these 5 steps this week;
- Create time to sit and enjoy breakfast. This can be a small meal: a smoothie perhaps, or poached egg on sourdough toast. Whatever it is, be sure to sit down and take ten minutes to chew thoroughly and enjoy your food.
- Prepare a large pan of soup and freeze in individual portions so you have ready-made lunches for the week ahead.
- Make a mug of your favourite herbal tea, sit somewhere peaceful for twenty minutes and savour the flavour.
- Buy a vegetable you’ve never cooked before and find a new recipe for it.
- Let the rainbow in by including 6 different colour fruits & vegetables each day. Choose 1 from each of these groups: red, orange, yellow, green, blue/purple, and white.
Feeling inspired? Do share your thoughts in the comments below, or over in the Facebook group – we’d love to hear from you!
And you might also like to read;
Depression & Anxiety – What to Eat to Feel Good
Does Food Affect Your Mood? Find out with this FREE Food, Mood and Movement Tracker #1SmallStep
Get Organised with this FREE 7-Day Meal Planner! #1SmallStep
7 Energy Boosting Breakfasts – #1SmallStep
Depression and anxiety can hit any of us at any time. When it does, taking time to prepare food and eat well can be incredibly difficult.
You can feel overwhelmed by life, paralysed by anxiety, and have little interest in cooking and eating.
The irony is that certain foods and nutrients can support mental wellbeing. Feeding your brain with mood-balancing nutrients is an important step on the path to recovery. The key to making these changes is to keep them practical and manageable.
Take small sustainable steps, one at a time.
Let’s look at some of the important nutrients that support mental wellbeing, and easy ways to incorporate them into your daily routine.
Go with your gut
As always, we need to start with digestion. If you’re not breaking down your food properly and absorbing the nutrients it doesn’t matter how many fancy foods and supplements you take – none of them will work.
The trillions of bacteria living in our digestive system – also known as our microbiome – are the subject of ongoing research. Our gut and brain are communicating constantly via nerve pathways and chemical messengers, many of which are produced or influenced by friendly gut flora (probiotics).
Many of the research studies looking at probiotics and mood balance are small scale but the results are promising and it is now known that certain species, including Bifidobacteria which thrive in the colon, can positively affect mood.
Small Steps to Big Changes
– Nourish your microbiome by including fermented foods 3-4 times a week. Try sauerkraut, kefir (dairy or coconut water), natural plain yoghurt, or kimchi. Do not use if you have histamine problems as fermented foods are rich in histamine.
– Swap raw foods for warm, cooked foods that are easy to digest; for example swap your lunchtime salad box for a vegetable soup or reheated leftovers.
– If you have ongoing digestive problems seek help! Food sensitivities, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Coeliac Disease can all contribute to depression and anxiety, so find a BANT Registered nutrition practitioner in your area for personalised support.
Fats are your brain’s best friend
Your brain contains 25% of your body’s cholesterol, and an awful lot of polyunsaturated omega-3 fats. If you’re still buying ‘fat-free’ and ‘low-fat’ foods you are doing your brain a great disservice – please stop!
This is because fats provide structure to our brain cells and help them communicate with each other. Without enough of the right sorts of fats the messages between brain cells are like a bad mobile phone signal, all crackly and broken up, and there’s a knock-on effect on mood balance.
The long-chain omega-3 fats (most commonly found in oily fish) also have anti-inflammatory actions. Increased inflammation is associated with several mental health disorders, including depression. Inflammation is known to alter the balance of mood chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, and affect areas of the brain linked to motivation and perception of threat. Not every person with depression has increased inflammation but it is a key factor for many, making anti-inflammatory foods part of a brain-health food plan.
Small Steps to Big Changes
– Include oily fish 2-3 times a week. Think SMASHT – salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herrings and trout!
– If you’re not keen on the taste of oily fish, sneak it into a fish pie or mix tinned sardines / mackerel in tomato sauce into a tomato based veggie sauce.
– Vegetarians & vegans: make sure to include pumpkin seeds and oil, flax oil, walnuts, or a blend like Udo’s Oil every day to top up your levels of Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA). This converts to EPA and DHA (the omega-3 fats found in the brain) but a lot of it is lost in the conversion process hence the daily intake.
Proteins – brain building blocks!
Mood chemicals like serotonin and dopamine are made from amino acids, the little building blocks that make up proteins. If you’re not eating enough protein you might not have enough amino acids to support the production of mood chemicals in the brain.
Small Steps to Big Changes
– Keep a Food & Mood diary for a week and see how often you eat good quality protein rich foods.
– Aim to include a palm-sized serving of protein with every meal: choose from eggs, good quality meat or fish, lentils, chickpeas, nuts and seeds.
The sunshine vitamin is a big player for mental health. There are vitamin D receptors throughout our brains, and low levels are thought to play a role in the development of SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Vitamin D levels are commonly low here in the UK thanks to the cloudy cool weather. Do get your levels tested before jumping in with a supplement though, so you can get an idea of how much to take. Ask for a test from your GP or use the simple home test kit available from www.vitamindtest.org.uk
Once you know your levels, you can decide whether to supplement or not. Optimum levels (based on cancer research studies) are between 75-100nmol/l.
Magnesium, folate & B6 – mental health teammates
During times of stress we need to eat plenty of foods packed with these nutrients to give our nervous system extra back-up. Magnesium and B-vitamins (particularly B6 and folate) are essential for mood chemical production and function, as well as supporting our energy levels.
Small Steps to Big Changes
– Go green. Dark green vegetables are rich in both folate AND magnesium. See if you can include 2 generous handfuls of green leafy veg everyday. Try adding a big handful of baby spinach to a smoothie or omelette. Serve broccoli or peas with your evening meal. If you haven’t got the motivation to prepare fresh veg, buy the ready chopped frozen stuff – at this moment in time it is more important for you to eat the veg than worry about it being fresh.
– Include at least two B6-rich foods everyday: choose from avocado, chicken, turkey, lentils, banana, carrots, brown rice, nuts, and seeds.
– Relax in an Epsom Salt bath. Epsom salts are rich in magnesium sulphate which can be absorbed through your skin. Make sure the water is comfortably warm, add a few drops of essential oil if you fancy, and soak for a good 20 mins. Remember to ban everyone else from the bathroom so you can bathe in peace!
I hope you find these tips inspiring, and feel able to try them out one at a time. Feeding yourself well is one of the kindest things you can do, and you are worth the extra ten minutes it takes to prep something tasty.
Hop over to the Facebook group too – it’s a friendly place to share conversations and challenges all about digestive health and mental wellbeing; find us at Nutrition in York
Photo by Jurica Koletić on Unsplash
Midweek lunch has to be the most neglected meal.
Squashed in between meetings, deadlines, errands, phonecalls, school runs, it’s too often relegated to Boring Sandwich, ‘Meal Deal’ or Nothing. Unless you’re in France, in which case take two hours off and dine like you mean it.
Let’s change this. Let’s spark things up. Let’s make lunch something you can’t wait to eat, and gets others drooling with envy…
First things first: preparation. As with all good meals, the magic is in the prep. Create a list of foods to purchase every week so you always have the necessary bits to hand to make lunches. If you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it! Think about vegetables, salad leaves, fruit, tinned fish, fresh meat (see below), and grains like rice, quinoa and buckwheat for salads.
Once you’ve stocked up, take a few minutes to think about the week ahead: how many lunches do you need to prepare? Where will you be eating? Does it need to be cold food, or are reheatable items an option?
These lunch ingredients can be made in advance and will keep in the fridge for days, giving you plenty of mix-and-match options;
– Slow cooked meat: at the weekend I like to slow cook a chicken. I use a slow-cooker so it’s merrily cooking away while I get out and about. We eat some for Sunday dinner, and the rest is left for pack-ups. Slow-cooked ham works well too, just shred it with forks and you have pulled-pork filling for pittas or salad.
– Roasted vegetables: chop peppers, aubergine, courgettes, and fennel into chunks and roast in coconut oil for 30-40mins.
– Hard boiled eggs
– Pesto: this works well with cashews instead of pine nuts.
– Brown rice or quinoa: remember to cool rice quickly and store in the fridge until eating.
All prepped? Now to spend 10mins each morning creating that knockout lunch*….
(*or dinner as it’s known here in Yorkshire. Breakfast, dinner, and tea.)
Salad Box: rice or quinoa topped with a protein (shredded ham / hardboiled egg / houmous / fish) and a mixture of roasted vegetables and handful of salad leaves. Dress with a drizzle of olive or flax oil, squeeze of lemon, and black pepper.
Sandwiches: not the boring ones. Swap dull bread for good quality sourdough or for gluten-free options think creatively and use nori wraps, corn tortillas, or large butterhead lettuce leaves to hold the fillings.
Soups: my all time favourite lunch. Enjoy with oatcakes and houmous or small chunk of good quality cheese.
Pasta Box: leftover pasta (regular or gluten-free) with pesto, roasted vegetables and cherry tomatoes.
This can be tricky when you have specific dietary needs like gluten or dairy free, but it is getting easier. I was deliriously happy to discover a ‘Leon’ outlet at the motorway services recently and enjoyed a delicious wheat and dairy-free chicken and brown rice meal!
If you know your options are limited when eating out, carry some basics with you like trail mix and a piece of fruit so you can top up if there’s not much available.
Most city centres have a Pret and an M&S: Pret have a good selection of soups, salad boxes, chopped fruit, and snacky things like nuts and hardboiled eggs with spinach. Marks & Spencer offer mixed grain salads, picnic sized cheeses, chopped fruit, nuts, and houmous pots.
Stuck at a tiny cafe in the middle of nowhere? How about a baked potato, omelette, or soup.
Whatever your day holds, a nourishing lunch is essential to sustain your energy and wellbeing. Symptoms of fatigue, irritability, anxiety, poor concentration and depression are all influenced by the foods we eat, so give your body it’s best shot at working well by feeding it with love and care.
Try these ideas and see what a difference they make to your life – do let me know via email or over in the Facebook group!
You might also like;
PHOTO CREDITS: UNSPLASH
Last month I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Gemma Boak (scientist, psoriasis patient expert, and anti-inflammatory lifestyle blogger) for her series the Psoriasis Podcast.
Gemma and I had fantastic discussion about the influence of nutrition on psoriasis, immune health, and inflammatory skin conditions; covering everything from fasting and juice diets to bodycare products and food diaries!
You can listen to the interview over at Podbean…
And catch up with all of Gemma’s other interviews too.
If you’re dealing with psoriasis or any other inflammatory auto-immune condition you might also like;
A lovely list of tips to help you pack more nutrients and anti-inflammatory antioxidants into your diet
Gemma and I discuss using a tracker to help pinpoint any food triggers for symptoms
Are you one of the 45% of UK adults with a food sensitivity?
Enjoy the Psoriasis Podcast, and if you have any questions or queries feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or join in the Facebook group.
Stay up to date on psoriasis news with Gemma via Twitter – @gemma_boak
Kim Broderick has her milk-making process down to a fine art. While listening to Ken Bruce on Radio 2 she produces 200 bottles in just 4 hours – that’s a whole lot of almond-milking!
The story began when Kim received an unusual gift for Mothering Sunday last year: a bottle of homemade almond milk.
Her daughter-in-law was missing the rich nutty taste of New York almond milk, so decided to make her own – and Kim was more than impressed with the result.
Fast forward a few months to September 2017 and ‘Nutty Health’ launched themselves at the York Food & Drink Festival. “I was full of doubts when we arrived at the Festival” says Kim, “but we sold out within hours.”
I met Kim at Nutty Health HQ: her immaculate kitchen workshop in the beautiful South Yorkshire countryside. As we chat, Kim dons her rubber gloves and gives me a demo of how the milks are made.
Unlike any of the standard supermarket milks which only contain 2% almonds, Nutty Health is made with 14% high quality Californian almonds – a difference which is immediately noticeable in the rich creamy taste.
The nuts are soaked in spring water for 11-20 hours, before being rinsed, blended, strained twice through a cheesecloth bag, then pressed through a custom made fruit press. The only additive is a tiny amount of sunflower oil (1ml per 250ml bottle of milk) which acts as a natural preservative, giving the product an 8 day shelf life.
No artificial sweeteners, sugars or thickeners are added. The milk is beautifully simple and pure, brimming with vitamin E antioxidant goodness.
And the almond pulp doesn’t go to waste – Kim uses this to make energy balls to sell at Festivals and shows alongside the milks.
The plain almond milk is accompanied by 3 flavoured varieties: cacao made with organic raw cacao; vanilla, and organic green matcha – a flavour which is surprisingly popular with male customers and cyclists!
Since launching last year, Nutty Health has blossomed and expanded into health stores and farm shops across our region (you can find a list of stockists here). Kim offers a delivery service in Leeds and York, allowing customers to buy direct if the products aren’t available locally.
To find out more about the Nutty Health range, contact Kim at https://www.nuttyhealth.co.uk/
Do you have top tips for making dairy-free milks?
Share your thoughts in the comments below or come and join the conversation in the Facebook group
It’s easy to get to the end of the day and realise you haven’t drunk enough water.
The familiar sensations of a mid-afternoon energy slump, headache, muscle aches and cramps are all signs that your body needs a drink (of water!).
The debate continues about whether tap, filtered, or mineral is best for our health, and there are pros and cons on both sides.
Unless you’re lucky enough to live near a natural spring, good quality mineral water usually (with a few exceptions) comes in single-use plastic bottles. As a result, the environmental consequences and exposure to plastic chemicals far outweighs the beneficial mineral content of the drink.
Filtered water has lower levels of chemical residues, but again, filter jugs are usually plastic. Glass ones are becoming more widely available though, and it’s worth investing in one if you can.
There’s no easy solution to the conundrum of plastic bottles and I don’t have clear answers! But, I do know we all need to hydrate regularly over the day, especially when managing low energy or digestive problems like constipation.
Aim to sip regularly rather than gulping down a large glass in one go, and limit drinks at mealtimes to avoid diluting your digestive juices.
Drinking more water is a simple and easy first step to take on the road to wellbeing.
If you find plain water a bit dull try these natural alternatives to wake it up!
Use a large glass Mason jar, or glass bottle and leave to infuse for 3-4 hours or overnight for full flavour. Pop them in the fridge, or if like me you don’t like cold water, leave the bottle at room temperature, out of direct sunlight.
- Fresh lemon & lemon balm zingy and calming at the same time. Lemon balm is traditionally used to soothe nerves and calm anxiety.
- Fresh lemon and mint perfect pick-me-up for when you’re tired and flagging, or as an after dinner digestive aid.
- Fresh squeezed pomegranate juice and mint squeeze the fruit and scoop out the seeds to add to a salad. Mix the juice with water and mint leaves. Pomegranate is packed with antioxidants to help us process toxins.
- Cucumber, mint, and lime another cooling, uplifting drink.
- Raspberries and strawberries chop larger fruits in half, add to water and mix vigorously for a naturally sweet, antioxidant-rich drink.
- Pineapple & orange sweet and tropical – even in Yorkshire!
Keep taking 1 Small Step at a time and you’ll get to where you want to be!
You might also enjoy;
Does Food Affect Your Mood? Find out with this FREE Food, Mood and Movement Tracker #1SmallStep
Get Organised with this FREE 7-Day Meal Planner! #1SmallStep
7 Energy Boosting Breakfasts – #1SmallStep
Share your progress in the friendly Nutrition in York Facebook group, we’d love to know how you get on!
Are you curious about the connections between what you eat and how you feel?
Do some foods cause energy slumps, bloating, crazy bowel habits or skin breakouts, but you can’t pinpoint the culprits?
Keeping track of how your body responds to foods and drinks for a week or even a month can reveal these connections, and help you discover hidden patterns between eating habits, moods, and uncomfortable symptoms.
It’s easy to blame low energy and erratic digestion on work stresses, or the kids driving you crazy (and these may be perfectly good reasons!) but how much is linked to poor hydration, grazing on snacks, or only eating two servings of vegetables each day?
Writing down what you eat, when you move, how you relax, and how you feel provides a powerful insight into the way you are choosing to nourish yourself.
To help you discover these connections I’ve created a Food, Mood & Movement Tracker. Simply download the document, read through the example provided, and print out as many copies of the tracker chart as you need. Complete it each day, then look back and see if any patterns are emerging between foods and symptoms.
Once you’ve highlighted the areas that need working on (more movement, more relaxation, more green vegetables…) you can decide how to do this, and what support you need – whether that’s nutrition guidance, food intolerance investigations, an exercise plan, or help with relaxation and mindfulness.
It’s a simple tool, and is #1 Small Step on your journey to better health!
Download your free Food, Mood & Movement Tracker – no sign up required – and start discovering what your body is telling you today!
According to Allergy UK an estimated 45% of the UK adult population have food intolerances and a further 2% suffer an allergy.
Symptoms of food intolerance can vary from mild bloating and wind to severe migraines, low mood, fatigue, diarrhoea, constipation, and skin rashes, with the effects often not being visible until 2 or 3 days after a problem food has been eaten.
Diagnosis of food intolerance can be tricky especially if a reaction to the food doesn’t occur immediately. Keeping a ‘Food, Mood & Movement Tracker’ for a month can help as it may be possible to notice links between what has been eaten and any symptoms that later occur. Observing lifestyle factors such as stress and sleep patterns is also important. For women, symptoms may be influenced by the menstrual cycle.
Food intolerances can be caused by different factors, including;
– Inadequate digestion: for example low levels of lactase, the enzyme that digests the milk sugar lactose, can cause lactose intolerance.
– Excess histamine: we all have histamine in our bodies as it’s a vital chemical messenger and neurotransmitter BUT chronic stress and poor digestion can impair histamine breakdown causing levels to build up. Eating foods high in histamine can then cause problems.
– Reactions to pesticides in foods: your liver has a hard time dealing with pesticide residues and their pervasive effects can contribute to all kinds of health issues. Organic foods may not be widely available (or affordable) but do choose them if you can.
The Environmental Working Group produce a fantastic ‘Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen’ list detailing which foods are best bought organic due to high pesticide load, and which are okay to eat as non-organic. You can access the guide here.
– Reactions to naturally occuring compounds like alkaloids in the Deadly Nightshade family.
– An imbalanced response by your immune system. Our immune system is a complex team of cells and chemical messengers that can overreact to certain proteins in foods, causing either a strong immediate life-threatening reaction (an allergic response) or a more low-grade chronic response: a food sensitivity or intolerance.
It is thought that Ig-G antibodies are involved in some kinds of sensitivity reactions. Measuring levels of Ig-G can give clues as to which foods may be over-stimulating the immune system.
In Clinic I use a simple pin-prick ELISA blood test to help identify whether your immune system is producing too many Ig-G antibodies to certain foods, which may then be aggravating your symptoms. There are a range of tests available from the basic Food Detective Test that looks at reactions to the top 59 reactive foods and gives results within an hour, to the more in-depth FoodPrint tests which are laboratory analysed.
To find out more information on food intolerances or ELISA testing, call or email me today on;
T: 07910 705272
When clients come for Follow On sessions, they tell me how planning and organisation have been the keys to making successful changes in their diet and lifestyle.
Planning and organising are the foundations to your new way of eating. You will repeatedly thank yourself during a hectic week when you get home late and take a batch-cooked homemade soup out the freezer rather than a sad, beige, ready meal.
There are two main areas to focus on when it comes to planning ahead;
How you organise your kitchen
Meal planning and shopping
Before we look at the finer details of kitchen organisation, grab a pen and download the free meal planner;
To inspire your shopping the Planner includes;
‘Eat a Rainbow’ food suggestions
Which foods have the highest pesticide residues and which are okay to buy non-organic
Now, lets look at your kitchen…
In the world of the Internet, everyone has a kitchen like this
In reality, it’s probably more like this;
You may live alone, in which case great – all the cupboard space is yours! However if you’re in a family of 6, there’s going to be several different food tastes and requirements that need catering for so space may be at a premium.
Firstly, go through your fridge, freezer and cupboards and get rid of anything past its ‘Use By’ date (‘Best Before’ is a lot more flexible and can be safely eaten for a good while after the date has past – use your own judgment on this), and anything that no longer fits with your new eating plan.
If your cupboards are full of junk snacks it’s going to be harder to hold your nerve and resist them.
Give anything still usable to friends and family or donate to your local food bank or shelter.
Next, place on your worktops the utensils you need to make your new healthful meals and snacks.
Cutting out caffeine? Put the teabags and coffeemaker at the back of a cupboard and bring out the water filter, herbal teas and juicer.
Snacking on homemade protein smoothies? Place your blender jug next to the plug socket, ready to use.
Batch cooking meals? Sharpen knives, make space for the chopping board and have pans and cooking trays within easy reach of the oven.
Taking new supplements? Place the packets of supplements next to the kettle or sink (unless they need to be stored in the fridge) so you see them when you get a drink.
Organise your storage containers. Many of us (me included) know only too well the sinking feeling that comes when you open the Tupperware cupboard and find mismatched lids and cracked boxes. Invest in glassware containers for fridge and freezer storage; IKEA do a reasonably priced range and I use old glass jars for freezing soups and sauces. Over the years I’ve gathered several 1970’s style brown ceramic bowls with lids from charity shops: perfect for storing leftovers in the fridge.
The Zero Waste Chef has a great blog post all about freezing goods in non-plastic containers, see HERE for the details. Admittedly, plastic tubs are lighter and easier for packed lunches, and you can easily find BPA-free ranges.
Now that your kitchen is clear and organised, it’s time to plan those meals!
Before you do the shopping, whether its online or a proper trip to the store, take 30 mins to sketch out your meals and snacks for the week ahead.
If one of your aims is to include more variety in your meals, browse a few recipe sites or cookbooks, pick 1 new meal to try, and add the ingredients to your list.
With online shopping you can save time by storing your ‘favourites’ or previous shopping lists in the software so you don’t have to type it all in again the following week.
Veg box schemes provide organic, or locally grown (or both) vegetables and fruits, and often inspire new meal ideas – after all, once a new veggie has arrived on your doorstep you’ll need to find a way to use it!
Consider stocking up on some ‘emergency’ ingredients – things that can be quickly thrown together to make a meal – for those occasions when (and it is when, not if!) your best laid plans go awry.
Baking potatoes: they keep for weeks in a cold dark place and can easily accompany a leftover chilli, ratatouille, frozen fish and vegetables…
Frozen vegetables: peas, sweetcorn and cauliflower florets have a pretty much permanent home in my freezer.
For tips on which vegetables freeze well and which are best left fresh, see here
Frozen white fish (sustainably caught): this cooks from frozen in 25mins and is delicious smothered in a tomato & vegetable sauce served with that baking potato you bought earlier or sweet potato wedges and broccoli…
Tinned tomatoes, red lentils and vegetable stock: here you have the base of a vegetable and lentil broth. Add chicken or a selection of leftover vegetables and you have a nourishing, warming meal.
Vegetarians and vegans: buy extra tofu to drain and freeze, so you have a versatile protein source to hand when needed. Not frozen tofu before? Follow the steps here.
What are your top tips for getting organised in the kitchen?
If you’d like to know more about how we can work together to tailor your nutrition needs check out the consultation options or email or call today – 07910 705272 – and let’s get started!