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Oct 03

Fresh is Best!

Variety is the spice of life and where better to begin than in the kitchen?  Make friends with your inner chef and explore the many fresh produce available to us, seriously don’t limit yourself.  It’s ok not to like something, but don’t write it off infinitely as you will find your taste does change on your weight loss journey, so don’t be afraid to revisit food. 

I have always loved cooking and spending time in the kitchen, however many of us are not always in a position to cook meals from scratch three times a day.  My recipes are easy, quick to prepare and even those who hate time in the kitchen will cope.  On the other hand, if you are fortunate enough to have time on your hands, by all mean use it to cook, you won’t regret it.  Say good bye to process foods, cravings, feeling tired, emotional mood swings and a flabby tummy, and hello to higher energy levels, better coping skills and feeling great, strong and healthy. 

Fresh is always best, and I honestly think this is the one golden rule that should be executed in every meal, be it cooked or raw.  Ensuring you eat a wide variety of food means you will be getting in all the vitamins, minerals, protein and other ingredients you need to be healthy.  Your daily diet should consist of fresh vegetables and fruit; wholegrain breads, pasta, rice and breakfast cereals; low fat milk or dairy products; lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and legumes. 

Go Green ….  

Fresh vegetables, eaten raw or steamed, should really make up most of your daily diet; it is after all, what Mother Nature intended for us to eat.  The list is endless why they are good for you; they protect your heart and can even ward off some cancers, so include them in all aspects of your diet.  Vegetables should always make up three-quarters of your plate rather than having them as a side portion.  The greener the vegetable the better too!  

Wholegrain breads, pasta, rice and breakfast cereals …

Although a lot of people have success with low-carb diets, they aren’t the real enemy and you should be eating at least six of these servings a day.  Carbs are the building blocks for our brain and they keep our digestive system in good working order, as well as satisfying our appetites.  One serving would be a slice of wholegrain bread, half a cup of unsweetened muesli, half a cup of oats, or a cup of cooked pasta or rice, just bare in mind that fresh vegetables are carbs too, so you can get quiet a lot in.   

Low fat milk or dairy products …

Adults should choose low fat varieties but these are not suitable for babies or young children.  Two servings a day will ensure a good source of calcium and protein.  One serving is a cup of milk, a pot of plain yoghurt, two slice of low fat cheese.  

Lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and legumes …

 Contrary to your South African belief, we don’t need to eat as much meat as we do.  In fact less than 100g per meal is more than sufficient.  A good way to estimate a portion of protein is to compare it to the palm of your hand or use a food scale.  I recommend fish especially, as it is low in fat and good for your heart.  Beans and legumes are another good source of protein and fiber and again are low in fat.  When choosing your meat, it’s essential to choose extra lean cuts.  Animal fat is saturated (the bad kind), and will clog your arteries and make you fatter.  When cooking meat with skin (chicken or pork products) remove the skin after cooking and fight the urge to snack on it.  Animal skin is where most of the fat lies and ultimately by ingesting it, you allow toxins into your system. 

 If I can give you a small piece of kitchen advice it would be to make friends with vegetables and avoid preparing signature dishes that traditionally incorporates the word “and” in its title i.e. no bangers “and” mash, no fish “and” chips, no curry “and” rice, no macaroni “and” cheese.  I don’t pretend to be perfect, but living by a few simple rules has really worked for me.