Veganuary – the nutrition tips you need to avoid bloating & fatigue

Veganuary – the nutrition tips you need to avoid bloating & fatigue

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!Lady's hands on her tummy, digestion

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:

Table of iron foods and vitamin C foods

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: plant forms of B12 are not readily used by us humans.  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)

 – Seeds

 – 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.

Minimalist Baker

Pickles & Honey

Happy Healthy Life

 

Lunches On The Go – #1 Small Step

Lunches On The Go – #1 Small Step

Prepared vegetables for lunch

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?

Use the free  7-Day Meal Planner to capture ideas!

Lady eating lunch

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.

 – Houmous: there’s a classic houmous recipe from my friend Gina, or try these varieties from Deliciously Ella.

 – 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.

 –Homemade soups

 – 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.

Eating Out

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!

People eating lunch in a cafe

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;

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

 

PHOTO CREDITS: UNSPLASH

Discover the benefits of a Seasonal Cleanse

Spring and autumn are nature’s seasons of change and transformation.  We can tap into these natural rhythms and enjoy a cleansing programme of our own to boost circulation, digestion, energy and vitality.

An effective cleanse is more than just drinking plenty of water and taking a few supplements, it involves supporting all the detoxification pathways in your body from the cellular level right through to actual wastes being eliminated via stools, urine and sweat.

So, what are the benefits of a seasonal cleanse?

 – Simplifying your diet by removing refined sugar, wheat, dairy and processed foods gives your hardworking digestive system a well earned break.  At the end of the cleanse, if you start to reintroduce these foods you may be able to pinpoint any that cause particular problems or intolerances for you.

 – Boosting lymphatic circulation with dry skin brushing and regular movement can improve skin appearance and texture giving you a wonderful fresh glow!

 – Your liver works tirelessly to process and detox hormones, nutrients, medications and alcohol.  By avoiding alcohol for the duration of the cleanse and enjoying luxury levels of vitamins, minerals and amino acids needed for liver function you are supporting these vital detox pathways.

 – Caring for your immune system: around 80% of your immune system is located in your gut!  Healthy digestion and beneficial gut bacteria = a strong, robust immune system: helpful when faced with spring allergies like hayfever or the onset of the cold & flu season in winter!

More energy! Think of your body as a complex machine.  Any machine that is serviced and well oiled will run effectively and the same goes for your amazing body: give it plenty of vital nutrients, regularly remove the wastes and tend to any weak spots.  Energy is produced in each cell of your body and requires a constant supply of magnesium, B-vitamins, co-enzyme Q10, vitamin C and zinc – to name but a few of the nutrients involved.

Are you ready to enjoy a seasonal cleanse?

Drop me a line at sallyduffin@nutritioninyork.co.uk or on 07910 705272 and lets get you started!