What we eat, can not only have a massive impact on our long-term health and how well we age, but it can really effect how we perform at work, our energy levels and our mood.
Through our nutrition for wellbeing programme we want to provide you with the knowledge of, how what you eat can improve both your physical and mental wellbeing.
Why are we offering it?
The results from our first ever national police wellbeing survey in 2019, told us very clearly that fatigue is a big issue within policing.
Eating more nutritious foods can help rebalance your energy, helping you get off that rollercoaster of sugar spikes and dives. Foods that provide a more gradual release of energy, keep you fuller for longer, and help reduce the desire to snack and graze will boost your energy and improve your performance.
This programme will help you to learn the importance of good nutrition and teach you how to improve the food choices you make to further promote physical and mental wellbeing.
Introduction to Anna Earl
We are delighted to be working with Anna Earl to bring this nutrition for wellbeing programme to policing.
Anna, a former police officer herself, has her own nutritional therapy business, Nutrivival, which specialises in nutrition to support shift workers. The programme focuses on two of the findings from our last national police wellbeing survey, combating fatigue and boosting emotional energy.
Watch this video to hear directly from Anna on why nutrition is so important, what this brand new programme will include and how to get involved.
Over the next few months, I’m going to be inviting you to join me on a Nutrition for Wellbeing programme, which will be launched and accessible on your National Police Wellbeing Service website, www.OscarKilo.org.uk. But what’s the benefit to you spending your valuable time learning about nutrition and how is it relevant to your work in the police service?
Well, I want to convince you that it is so relevant, not only to your performance at work, but to your long-term health, to ageing well. That might seem a long way off for some of you, but it creeps up!
I chose this area to specialise because of my personal experiences as a police officer, regarding diet and health, both my own and that of my colleagues. Rotating earlies, lates and nights, eating on the go whilst flying from job to job, and feeling forced to make poor food choices with frequent reliance on ultra-processed and takeaway food due to the lack of both time and healthy options available during the night.
And even on those times when you had taken something into work, perhaps you find yourself spending your shift away from your regular station, you’re doing scene preservation or in custody for hours on end, and so the vending machine with its fizzy drinks, chocolate and endless rounds of coffee has to suffice. You’re lovingly prepared vegetable chilli left sitting in the fridge.
As I studied nutrition science, I learnt that not only what you eat but when you eat has a very different impact on your body and on your health. We’ll be going into a little more depth with this throughout this programme, but in a nutshell, our digestive function slows right down during the night, so eating foods that are harder to digest whilst on a night shift can account for some uncomfortable gut symptoms that are common with shift workers. Certain foods can trigger blood sugar spikes but then dives, causing a rollercoaster ride of energy peaks and troughs. These foods can also contribute to weight issues, as the energy your body makes from food eaten during the night is more likely to be stored as fat. Your metabolism works very differently late into the evening and night, to when you eat during the day, when your digestive hormones and juices that break down food are fully operational.
And years of eating against the rhythm of your natural body clock takes its toll. If you are new to shift work, you may not be aware of that.
Statistics from health studies show that as a shift worker you are at greater risk of chronic health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.
But, armed with some understanding of what different foods do once inside your body, a toolkit with resources to support you, and some practical tips on how to make healthy changes, this programme aims to help you reduce that risk.
Those chronic health conditions are absolutely not a given. You can do so much to help yourself if you invest in good food choices.
Consider it this way, you wouldn’t put a low-grade product that vaguely resembles petrol into your car and expect it to give you top performance.
The same is true of us.
What we put into our bodies has a direct impact on how we think and feel.
(Quote from Patrick Holford, Nutrition Expert & Author)
I am here to help promote your long-term health through food. The Nutrition for Wellbeing programme focuses on two of the key results from the 2022 National Police Wellbeing Survey that you fed back, and that is; helping you combat fatigue and boosting your emotional energy. We’ll do that by suggesting nutritious foods that support energy balance, helping you get off that rollercoaster of energy peaks and slumps, instead looking at foods that provide a more gradual release of energy, keep you fuller for longer, and help reduce the desire to snack and graze on less healthy choices. And we aim to boost your emotional energy with food for mood. This is an area called Nutritional Psychiatry and it can be hugely beneficial.
Provide optimum grade fuel for your body, combine this with other positive lifestyle practices, such as sleep, exercise, stress management and emotional wellbeing and observe the benefit on your health. Invest in your self-care.
So, my next engagement with you will be the first session of Nutrivival’s programme Feed Your Body Clock. This is a series of 4 live webinars that will take place approximately monthly, and in between those will be some bitesize videos with some practical healthy eating suggestions. Each of the webinars will be advertised on the ‘Events and training’ section of the Oscar Kilo website, where you will find full details be able to register.
Finally, is your force already doing some great healthy eating initiative, that is having a positive impact on officers and staff? Please contact me so that we share what’s working more widely to benefit your colleagues across the policing family. Contact details are shown at the end of this video.
I really hope you will engage with this programme, talk about it with your colleagues, and my biggest hope is that it helps you make some sustainable changes to promote your long-term wellbeing.
So, the takeaway message from today is, that what we put into our bodies has a direct impact on how we think and feel.
Thank you. I’ll see you again soon.
Five day shift worker meal planning solution
In this five day meal planning solution Anna will address the common challenges you face and help you develop a meal plan tailored to your unique needs as shift workers.
Five day sugar solution challenge
In this five day sugar solution challenge Anna will show you how easy reducing reliance on sugar can be and how healthier swaps can improve energy and wellbeing.
There is increasing science to suggest it is not just what you eat that impacts your health, but when you eat can play a vital role. This is why learning how to feed your body clock, especially if you work shifts, can be an incredibly effective health tool.
In this series of four webinars Anna will take you through the small changes you can make to improve your nutritional wellbeing.
Webinar 1: Food for energy
In this webinar Anna discusses how we use food for energy, considering:
- The importance of regulating blood sugar through food choices to release fuel around the clock. To promote more consistent energy and reduce the peaks and slumps.
- Understanding the roles of glucose and insulin in energy metabolism, and their health implications.
- How to reduce the risk of insulin resistance, the precursor to type 2 diabetes.
So this, as I said, is the first in a series of webinars with Anna, who herself is a former police officer, so she does speak with experience of policing as well as nutrition. I'll let Anna introduce herself but just before I do that I just need to tell you that that is being recorded, so it will be available on the website for everybody to view at a later date, it will be accessible to anybody with the Oscar Kilo login. So I'll stop there and, Anna, I will hand over to you.
Anna: Thank you, Yvonne. Good morning everyone and welcome to part one of this four-part webinar series called 'Feed Your Body Clock.' Thank you so much for joining us, whether it's live this morning or whether you're watching the recording. So this is Nutravival's signature nutrition programme and it's part of the nutrition for wellbeing Oscar Kilo programme. And my programme is tailored specifically for the National Police Wellbeing Service where it prioritises two key areas that you highlighted in the latest national police wellbeing survey run by Oscar Kilo, and that is addressing fatigue and emotional energy.
So I've also collected some feedback from officers more recently and lack of time and energy to prepare nutritious food every day is also a really common challenge, particularly in your job. So this is the first webinar of our nutrition for wellbeing programme designed to support the physical and mental wellbeing of police officers and staff with nutrition and lifestyle coaching. And so many people are living with a range of health symptoms, issues and conditions and optimising nutrition can be an effective way of addressing some of the imbalances that trigger sub-optimal health and can lead to sickness.
So I'm just going to share my screen and introduce the four topic areas of this programme. OK, so these are the four topic areas that we're going to be covering in the monthly webinars over the next four months and I really hope you're going to find them interesting and relevant and that you're able to take away some of the practical tips to support you.
Today's focus is on energy balance and after a brief intro as to who I am and why I'm here, I'll explain why we should, and how we can, balance our fuel intake to better support our energy and how that could impact our health. And there will be two opportunities to ask questions, so do feel free to type them into the chat box as we go along and we'll have a pause after slide six and then again at the end to address any of those questions.
So I'm Anna Earl and I run a nutritional therapy business, Nutravival, specialising in nutrition to support shift workers. And I'm providing nutrition consultancy for Oscar Kilo, largely because I am a former police officer. So I worked on the response shift, neighbourhood policing team, had a secondment to CID before joining the major Investigation team at Essex Police. And so I've experienced the challenges of routinely switching between early's, late's and nights and how that really can take its toll on your body, as well as managing overtime at short notice, cancelled rest days and so on, all which go with the nature of policing.
And then whilst studying nutrition science I came across some concerning statistics about the higher risk to shift workers of chronic poor health conditions. And so I decided to delve deeper wondering why is that, and discovered this relationship between the timing of our food intake and our 24-hour body clock, known as our circadian rhythm, and that's a term that I will refer to a lot throughout this programme. And how those two elements, so the food timing and our body clock, affect our metabolism, so all the chemical processes that occur within you to maintain your life.
And we know that sleep is influenced by light and darkness but actually many other processes are too, including digestion and appetite. And this is an area called chrono-nutrition, chrono meaning time and nutrition to do with food. So although this programme is not exclusively for shift workers by any means, lots of the recommendations that I give are relevant to everybody. But having an understanding of the concept of chrono-nutrition can help particularly support the health of shift workers in balancing your unusual wake/sleep cycles, so what to eat when to keep well and better energised.
Digestion works much better during daylight hours so in our second webinar, I think it's the 9th of January, we'll be looking specifically at what you might choose to eat on a late or a night shift to better support your long-term health.
The other area that can be particularly effective is nutritional psychiatry, known more widely as food for mood, and that's an area that we will look at more closely in part four of this series.
And so why is all this important? Well, I tested the power of food during the three years of my nutrition studies, really gradually making some small changes to my diet, combining those habitual go-to choices with the addition on my plate of more nutritious foods, rather than depriving myself of the things that I loved, so it certainly did not feel like a difficult diet.
And my clinical approach to nutrition is rarely about counting calories. It's about ensuring you have the right proportions of fuel and nutrients to support your body and your lifestyle. And slowly the new, nutritious food choices became more normal, more habitual. For example, adding extra portions of vegetables to every meal, switching from milk chocolate with a very low cocoa percentage and high sugar and processing to a dark chocolate with a much more beneficial content from the cocoa plant. Reducing daily intake of bread and adding in a range of whole grains.
And over that period of three years, I observed the outcomes, so it was a very, very mini-trial and it felt like a much more manageable and successful way to become a more healthy eater. And the changes have had a really beneficial effect on my health. So yes, you might argue that I had stopped working shifts at this time and health improvements may be contributable to that, but I was still experiencing afternoon energy slumps, monthly mood swings and uncomfortable gut symptoms that are particularly common with shift workers, as well as when eating under stress and on the go.
And by the time I graduated all my symptoms had gone. I was also able to stop taking steroid inhalers for asthma, which I'd been relying on for 30 years. And I got to a place where I really didn't fancy those foods that were in fact making me feel unwell. But everyone reacts very differently to all foods, so one diet does not fit all and each of you has a very different role to play within the police service, demanding different amounts of fuel at different times of the day and night.
And so the nutrition advice in this programme is general. Personalised nutrition can be extremely effective in addressing individual cases but for this, I don't know any of your health histories or what medication some of you may be on, your dietary, cultural and ethical food choices and so on. So all the advice given will be with the caution that if you ensure whether something we suggest is right for you, please seek further advice from a nutrition or a medical practitioner first.
OK, so today we are looking at balancing energy, one of the greatest challenges reported in the police wellbeing survey, and this can have an impact not only on your work performance but your health and your life in general. For those of you within the organisation who do work shifts, this information is absolutely not to scare you, but to raise awareness of the scientific evidence that, as a shift worker you are at greater risk of chronic health conditions than non-shift workers.
And from an NHS health survey, it was reported that shift workers are more likely than non-shift workers to have a limiting longstanding illness. Also more likely to have more than one longstanding illness and that can be read as a chronic health condition, something that goes on for a long period of time such as long-term gastrointestinal issues, cardiovascular disease, fatty liver, high blood pressure. Shift workers are more likely to be obese, to have diabetes and to eat less than the recommended daily portions of fruit and vegetables.
So most chronic health conditions are still treated with prescription drugs which people may take for decades. As I said, I took asthma inhalers for 30 years and they came with side effects. And of course, there absolutely is a place for pharmaceutical interventions but as regards some chronic health conditions we know that the majority of those treatments don't address the underlying issues, they aim to keep symptoms at bay and manageable.
But drugs can't replace poor diet, lack of sleep and inactivity, they don't generally revitalise you. They don't look at why you're feeling stressed, have irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, pre-diabetes. So many people are used to living with these conditions that it almost becomes the norm and you may not even remember what it feels like to feel really well and energised.
And so my experience in the police service, combined with my nutrition science understanding and the little mini-trial of just me, has become my drive to sharing this knowledge and to suggest some dietary practices that hopefully will benefit you.
So we are focused today on food for energy as a key component in achieving optimal you but this does need to go hand-in-hand with other lifestyle practices. And so a challenge today and a takeaway will be to go away and evaluate these five health areas in your own life and establish where your main focus and efforts could be right now. So to avoid overwhelm and for you to decide that you might have to just work on everything all at once, just break it down and make it small and achievable and just prioritise where that focus needs to be.
If you're trying to work on everything all at once it's unlikely to be successful. So if you're already eating lovely, balanced plates of colourful food but you are super stressed than addressing stress management might be your take home from today.
And I do believe that working on each of these nutrition and lifestyle practices makes sense. So if you go round from stress, exercise, nutrition, sleep, emotional balance, it makes sense. And it can take some soul searching, evaluating and re-prioritising as regards your time and your current commitments because preparing colourful and nutritious plates of food on a daily basis does take time so it's difficult to make huge shortcuts without lots of ultra-processed components getting in there.
But the upside of that is finding a good balance in each area that puts you in a better place to live, work and age well. And so my key objective in this Feed Your Body Clock series is to present you with ideas for optimising your fuel intake and help achieve that.
So the good news is you can reduce that risk of chronic poor health with dietary and lifestyle choices and a really beneficial starting place is with balancing your energy. Certain foods are digested and release energy more quickly than others and if we produce an energy peak, we need to be aware of the potential trough that follows and that is a biochemical process that happens. It's common to experience a constant rollercoaster of energy spikes and dives throughout the day in response to food choices. When your meals and your snacks are high in foods that will have and trigger this biological impact and I'm going to illustrate why that happens in a moment.
But it basically boils down to how different foods are converted into and release glucose into your blood, also known as your blood sugar, to provide you with fuel. And the amount of glucose in our blood should, at any one time, be within a very tight tolerance to remain in balance. So food choices in a simple carbohydrate category can produce a sharp rise in blood sugar, giving you that instant hit of energy and these are your white, floury goods, so your white bread, your pasta, pizza, white rice, chips and crisps, carbonated drinks, sugary foods, pastries and many of the boxed breakfast cereals. Many of these foods are very dominant in the western diet, they're very appealing, they're very convenient when you need a really quick pick me up.
Furthermore, and rather cruelly, we tend to crave these simple sugar foods, particularly when we're tired. And again that's the influence of the hormones in our circadian rhythm, that 24-hour wake/sleep cycle, and the impact and influence that that has on our hormones that regulate appetite particularly and these processed, high sugar foods actually then add to our fatigue.
When our blood glucose or our blood sugar levels rise that triggers the release of a hormone called insulin and that helps to regulate the levels back within that tolerance. So it works to shunt the excess circulating glucose from our blood into storage and if we're not burning it straightaway, that is generally stored in fat cells. So to promote energy balance and health we're looking for foods that release energy more slowly.
So think of a really simple example, an apple versus a glass of apple juice. So an apple releases energy far more slowly than a glass of apple juice with much greater benefits. With the juice, you're just getting the high fructose fluid which will quickly raise your blood glucose. With the whole fruit you get the benefit of the fibre, the full range of powerful plant chemicals found in fruit and vegetables, which are called phytonutrients or polyphenols and they are really beneficial to our health.
So switching carbohydrate sources, replacing that simple sugars list as far as possible with complex carbohydrates gives us a much slower release of sugar and often a higher intake of fibre. As well as helping to sustain a more constant level of energy, this is beneficial for two other main reasons. It can help with weight management because when we aren't constantly snacking to compensate for those energy slumps, our bodies are more likely to break down our fat reserves for fuel.
More fibre in our diets can promote cardiovascular health, so can help to prevent coronary heart disease, help manage our levels of cholesterol. We are notoriously bad as a nation at getting sufficient daily fibre intake which helps keep us fuller for longer than the simple carbs and is beneficial for our gut health. And we should be aiming for about 30 grams of fibre daily, that's only just over one ounce. But here in the UK, the average adult is only getting about 18 grams so only just over half of that recommendation, and that does have an impact on our whole health.
So examples of the complex carbohydrates would be wholegrain options of your bread, pasta, rice and grains, pulses and legumes, so your lentils, your chickpeas and beans, and these are generally pretty cheap additions to a plate of food, along with vegetables and fruit. And if you've never had them before they can take a little bit of getting used to but again, once they become the norm and become part of your habitual daily diet, they can be a really easy nutritious way of increasing the nutrient density of your meals.
So filling up with complex carbohydrates releases energy more slowly. It helps reduce our need for snacking, it's better for weight management and it allows our digestive system a healthy break from constantly digesting food. It gives our digestive tract time to repair, time to rest our insulin production and that helps to keep it all functioning better.
When we constantly snack we demand a constant drip of insulin to respond to our blood sugar rising every time we eat and that can lead to a condition called insulin resistance and that is a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
OK, so this graph demonstrates the response to different foods on our blood sugar. And here we see, if I get my laser pointer, here we see this green wiggly line. So this is the tolerance of the optimal blood sugar response range, this is how high we want our blood sugar to rise in response to food and then just to drop off nicely.
The red line, however, shows the peaks and troughs of blood sugar in response to an intake of predominantly simple carbohydrates. And here a high-sugar diet doesn't just mean sugary foods, it's that whole list of the simple carbohydrates, those white refined carbohydrates, your white pasta dish which is predominantly pasta, a pastry, a thick crust pizza or a glass of orange juice even. And this results in those high levels of insulin secreted to bring the blood sugars back within that green tolerance band.
So here the blood sugar drops too quickly. This results in hunger, cravings, fatigue and irritability and it's easy to slip into this behavioural pattern with constant spikes and dips when we crave an instant pick me up and we reach for the high sugar, processed easy comfort foods. But the rollercoaster continues and as our body tries to manage this blood sugar imbalance, I'm afraid this pattern of eating increases your risk of those chronic health conditions, made worse when eaten on a night shift due to that reduced digestive function from circadian rhythm influence.
So this right-hand graph shows the difference in blood sugar response over time from the three macronutrients, so that's the simple carbohydrates, shown here with a green dotted line, protein and fat. So the key here regarding the three macronutrients is to plan your plate of food to include a source of good quality protein and some healthy fats and we'll look at examples of those in a moment. But you can see here that over a two-hour period, this is where we will spike our blood sugar just within two hours of eating.
But if we then look at the protein source, we feel fuller for so much longer over a six-hour period. And then healthy fats or fat digestion, even less of a sugar spike to our blood sugar and much fuller for longer. So focusing on these food groups is going to reduce the need for and the desire for constant snacking to keep topping up.
So we're going to look at how we can include these different food groups in every meal and that should really significantly impact your energy levels. And I'll show you towards the end an example of what a balanced plate of food could look like and direct you to the download on the Oscar Kilo website.
So before we come onto those food groups, that's the end of the little biochemistry part. Are there any questions regarding that before we move on at all? Anyone got any burning questions on the scientific bit?
Yvonne: There's nothing in the chat, Anna.
Anna: OK, lovely, we'll carry on and then look at questions towards the end.
So in addition to switching, where possible, from simple to complex carbohydrates, let's look at the other food groups that help you maintain your energy regardless of your shift pattern, to reduce the reliance on sugary snacks and caffeine to give you regular boosts. So let's start with breakfast or, for those working a night shift, this will be your first meal on waking.
So I often get asked whether it's OK to skip breakfast because some people just don't fancy eating within the first couple of hours of waking. And that can depend partly on your chronotype, remember chrono meaning time, so your own natural timing to be at your most awake and your most alert and when you generally feel tired and go to bed. And everyone's chronotype is unique to them, it can make you a lark or a night owl or anywhere in between, so I wouldn't recommend forcing you to eat breakfast if that goes against your natural body clock and your metabolism.
But if you are going to skip breakfast or that first meal after your sleep, just consider and plan your snacks and your first meal to ensure they are going to be nutritious. So breakfast skippers can be more likely to snack on less healthy food and consider particularly the size, timing and content of that last evening meal because there can be a correlation between eating the majority of your daily food intake towards the end of the day and weight issues. People who have had a substantial, nutritious breakfast are less likely to snack through the morning and tend to report better outcomes with weight management.
So we've got into a rather unhelpful habit of reaching for the British boxed cereal breakfast to start our day. It can be quite a deplete meal nutritionally. You don't have to cut them out completely, they can serve as an occasional treat, or if you would struggle to live without your Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, but perhaps consider adding in some more nutritious foods to this meal if swapping these is a bit of a deal breaker.
But be aware that most cereals are processed carbohydrates that when eaten alone are likely to spike that blood sugar. You may soon have that energy dip and feel hungry again quite quickly. And so opting for real food, particularly more savoury options for breakfast as an alternative can be beneficial though perhaps a little unorthodox initially, particularly if we start talking about having vegetables at breakfast time, for some people that is an absolutely no-no, just too weird.
But anything more than a spoonful of baked beans or a token mushroom on a side of a full English and we look at that and go, "well that's not breakfast" but that it is just habit, that is a bit of a cultural thing but, as I said, our bodies function so much better with real food, particularly when we get a balance of those three macronutrients, the complex carbohydrates, some protein and some healthy fats and they will keep us fuller for longer.
So including a good protein source at breakfast to stop those mid-morning dips and then also having a good source of protein with your evening meal, particularly before starting a night shift, to help get you through those first few hours without the need to keep reaching for less healthy snacks for topping up your energy levels, can be really beneficial.
So what is a good source of protein? Eggs are a great source, they're versatile, they can be scrambled, boiled, poached, omelettes, savoury muffins. And then adding in some beans, a source of fish, if you eat fish, or some good quality meat, if you eat meat, and reducing your processed meat intake, so your bacon and the sort of the cheaper sausages with the less quality meat in those, those packaged meats that have been reformed. And your portion size for a good source of protein would be around a palm full.
Oats are a versatile and nutritious way of getting protein at the start of the day if you think of your porridge at this time of year soaked overnight or perhaps with some homemade granola throughout spring and summer time perhaps. And these are a good alternative to all the wheat-based cereals where we can have a very wheat-based food intake if we're thinking of those wheat-based cereals for breakfast, a sandwich at lunchtime, pizza or pasta for evening, it can be extremely wheat heavy and that can have an impact on digestion.
So a lot of the oat-based breakfast ideas can be very quick and easy to make, you don't have to add sugar, you can then just add sprinkles of nuts and seeds, a very, very nutritious addition to breakfast, healthy and filling. Nut butters on some wholemeal toast perhaps, some natural, unsweetened yoghurt, great sources of protein.
And then we come on to fats. So fats have been demonised in the past and the market for low-fat substitutes boomed. But we now know that many of those foods were not actually that beneficial because they're much higher in sugar than the full-fat version to give it some flavour and they can be highly processed. Our bodies really need fat and essential fatty acids are a part of the fat group. Essential meaning our bodies don't make them so we need to have those and some of the essential fatty acids, it's beneficial to have those on a daily basis.
Small amounts of saturated fat found in food like meat and dairy are in fact a good source of protein. As you saw on that graph, they release our energy really slowly so we can keep us fuller for longer and reduce our desire to keep snacking. Fat keeps us insulted, it keeps our organs protected. Healthy fats bathe our cells in their lovely oily properties, helping ourselves to stay fluid and flexible. And we need fat in our diets to make hormones for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamins A, B, E and K. They are absorbed much better if they're eaten combined with a source of fat.
And those fat-soluble vitamins have vital health properties. Many of our biological functions result from our bodies making cholesterol so we shouldn't automatically hear the word 'cholesterol' and think of it as the enemy. Most of our cholesterol is actually made within our livers and our natural levels can be very much influenced by genetics. So it's just a question of understanding the different types of dietary fats and managing our levels and portion sizes but not being afraid of fat and certainly not avoiding it altogether.
For example, our bodies can recognise and process a little bit of butter better than many of the processed margarines that were once marketed as healthier substitutes but have now been found to be pretty toxic because of the constant chemical processes that change the structure of the original ingredients and the additives that they contain. And if you look at the label on a processed pot of margarine, there are very few ingredients in that that you would actually find in your kitchen that are coming from real food.
So it's those highly processed fats that we need to be reducing or avoiding and they can be damaging to our health and draining on our energy. So ready meals, doughnuts, ice cream, crackers, packaged biscuits, they can contain high levels of processed fat and our bodies don't necessarily recognise those as food. They've been so chemically altered they can have a very negative and inflammatory effect on our bodies because they don't really resemble the original ingredients from the food source they've come from.
But the healthier fats which our bodies can't make themselves, these are essential fatty acids, are also known as polyunsaturated fats and they have a lot of very beneficial health properties. Two of the most common of these groups are called omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. And omega 3 is often championed for its healthy anti-inflammatory properties as well as its positive impact on our brain, mood, gut lining, skin, joints and hair. And lots of people because of the small range of foods that contain them, lots of people can be quite deplete in omega-3 fat sources. Ideally, we need to be eating these on a daily basis or with a really good quality supplement to ensure we get a good constant supply.
So of the two main polyunsaturated fatty acids, so omega 3 and omega 6, our western diets are generally higher in omega 6 sources from using vegetable oils and eating nuts, seeds and eggs. However, too much dietary omega 6 can be inflammatory if we don't balance it with omega 3, it likes to be in a good ratio or proportion. And we really benefit from a much more balanced ratio with the omega 3 sources, the more anti-inflammatory fats.
So this can only really be found in oily fish, walnuts and flax or linseeds. And as we saw on the protein slide, fish is a good source of protein so you're getting a really good nutrient-dense food when you opt for oily fish if you're a fish eater. So listed here in the right-hand column is the list of different types of oily fish, so known as the SMASH fish, so salmon, mackerel, anchovies, herrings and sardines. But if you don't eat fish then a good quality omega 3 supplement can help you get sufficient supply and I would generally recommend this over a cod liver oil which can contain high levels of vitamin A and that can be toxic if you have excess. But one caution with omega 3 supplementing, if you're on any kind of blood thinning medication it can be a Ð it is a natural anticoagulant.
So in terms of energy balance, recall that blood sugar graph where the fat-containing foods keep you fuller for longer, your energy much more sustained. And as long as you're mindful of the proportions of those, of the intake of those, with the rest of your food choices that you know, we don't need to be worrying about putting on loads of weight from eating sources of food containing fats, they have so many health properties as well.
So the final food group that I want to talk to you about, which is incredibly beneficial in balancing energy, are your vegetables and fruit. And as I said earlier, when talking about switching simple carbs for complex carbs, they are a healthier source of carbohydrates to the white floury goods we mentioned earlier. And as we saw in those earlier statistics shift workers are less likely to get their recommended five portions a day than non-shift workers. And actually, nutritionists believe that five a day should be your absolute minimum and we quite often coin the phrase, "eat a rainbow every day" and there's a good reason for that.
The different colours in fruit and vegetables are produced by powerful plant chemicals known as polyphenols or ito nutrients, ito meaning plant, so nutrients or food from plants. And each colour offers different anti-inflammatory and antioxidant health benefits, so eating a range of colourful fruit and vegetables every day ensures that you're getting a really great supply of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Increasing your fibre intake which we know is regularly deplete, you know, we get only just over half the recommended intake in the UK, which again helps to stop those energy spikes and the crashes of simple sugars.
These foods will support essential functions, so not only your energy production but also your immune health, your detox system, your skin and a healthy gut. You can only get many of these nutrients from plant-based foods. Many symptoms related to chronic health conditions can be addressed with the addition of vegetables and fruit if you are currently getting minimal levels, it can be that easy.
Seasonable produce meets our nutrition needs throughout the year so think now of hearty soups versus salads in the different seasons. So a little bit of lettuce and some watermelon is not going to be very nourishing at this time of year in the same way as a nice, chunky butternut squash and some leeks and some dark green leafy vegetables through the colder months.
So we can really benefit from observing seasonal variety. Vegetables are the food of choice for our population of gut bacteria, also known as prebiotics, these vegetables, and they feed our probiotics, our gut bugs and we have so much of these in our gut tract, they're almost seen as an additional organ to the body, they have such an impact on our systematic health.
And a variety of vegetables and fruit at every meal helps create and maintain the desired diversity of your gut bacteria. We don't want too many of the same species of bacteria dominating. These living microscopic creatures are known in the world of microbiology as your microbiome and a diverse, well-balanced population of these trillions of microbes is a helpful marker of a healthy gut, and there is growing evidence of the systematic effect of your microbial diversity on your health. This is particularly beneficial in nutritional psychiatry, so food for mood.
So your unique population of gut bacteria can be impacting the health of your whole body and this is something that nutritional therapy can both assess and seek to optimise through diet and it's not uncommon for people with chronic health conditions to have some imbalance in their population of gut bacteria. Ourgut bacteria population can be very much impacted by medication, by stress. Quite often you might well know that antibiotics will have a big impact on gut bacteria. And yes, and also on stress and sleep, they will also have an impact on our gut bacteria population and therefore gut health.
So consider vegetables to be your organic fertiliser inside your gut bug grow bag. So quality fertiliser supports your body and helps you thrive but if your grow bag is pretty deplete, your gut bugs do not thrive, they have no food source and this can give an opportunity for the environment inside your gut to become imbalanced. It can be overcome by more harmful organisms that take over and this will affect how you feel. It can trigger a range of symptoms.
So the fibre in vegetables and fruit also supports gut health by encouraging regular bowel movements, a sluggish bowel or constipation can build up toxins in the body when elimination is limited and we want to get rid of those toxins as quickly as we can because otherwise again there are health repercussions of having those toxins sitting around being sluggish in our gut.
And that again is impacted when we're eating through the night when our digestive function really wants to rest and go to sleep. So if we're eating huge amounts of food at night that's difficult to digest, it's going to just sit around feeling quite sluggish and there is a big impact there on how we can feel quite bloated and a bit fatigued and sluggish too.
So fruit choices can also really contribute to hydration levels. We should be aiming for around six to eight glasses of fluid per day, so about half pint glasses, and ideally not carbonated drinks, not juices, not sweetened, specialist coffees and hot chocolates that are laced with syrups. Those are the food groups that when eaten regularly, forming the main part of your daily fuel, will help to keep your energy balance.
And this may not be realistic all the time but aim for 80 percent of the time and then allow yourself some slack 20 percent of the time. One of the easiest ways to start if your meals tend to be a little thin on the veg and fruit front is to plan to add one vegetable or one piece of fruit to each meal and planning this can be the key to your success. And I will go into more depth with meal planning throughout this programme because it can be so helpful and beneficial. And there is a meal planning template on the nutrition page of the Oscar Kilo website and I'll show you the link for that on the final slide.
So when these food groups come together to make a healthy plate of food, what does that look like portion wise? So here we have the proportions of food groups on a balanced plate. So we've got our polysacharides in the top right up here and polysaccharides, that's another term for the sort of complex carbohydrate foods that we've talked about, and this is taking up about a quarter of our plate. So there's different wholegrains that we're substituting all our different white food groups for, the white pastas and white rices and white bread. Our wholegrains there are taking up now a quarter of our plate.
And then we have a quarter of our plate filled with some protein and we have half the plate with vegetables and fruit and probably two-thirds of that is vegetables, so we're not getting too high a sugar spike from excessive fruit. And then here in the middle, we've got our healthy fats as well. So this is an example of a good balanced healthy plate of food and there's the website address there which again is on the Oscar Kilo nutrition pages.
How can this look in practical, healthy eating terms? So consider some of these swaps, just once or twice a week initially, if it all feels a little bit overwhelming and very different to your current food choices. And just see and observe how the swaps or additions make you feel. So if we're thinking of mince-based dishes, if you're a meat eater, so your bologneses, your chilli, your shepherd's pie, your meatball and your pasties. Mix up your meat, so mixing up some days with beef, some days with turkey or pork mince so you've got your white meat, white protein sources in there.
Because if your diet is heavy in red meat, then it can be quite difficult to digest and there are implications of that on heart health, so plan to alternate with white meat, with fish and veggie meals to get a good spectrum of your key nutrients over a week's meals. And in addition, look to add in extra portions of vegetables so diced vegetables in your bolognese as well as your usual onions, garlic, celery and chopped carrots, you can consider adding in a can of beans, some peppers, some leeks, some mushrooms, grated courgettes, some chopped up butternut squash or a portion of lentils.
And if people at home are initially going to turn their noses up at this, you can start off by pureeing cooked vegetables with a handheld blender before adding it in with your tinned tomatoes. Frozen, diced vegetables here can be ideal to add really quickly to a mince-based dish that will increase its nutritional content easily and frozen vegetables are a great way of adding in easy veg without a huge amount of preparation.
Adding in herbs and spices are really beneficial, they have some really great health properties. So if you're serving up a spaghetti bolognese, then maybe pad it out with a portion of broccoli on the side or some green beans or some peas as well, just adding in veg wherever you can or a substantial salad. Where beforehand it might have just been your meat sauce and your pasta.
Because as we talked about earlier the white carbohydrate-based dishes can be switched with a bit of thinking and planning, to the wholegrain versions. So for breakfast consider those oat-based dishes, adding in nuts and seeds, natural yoghurt and chopped fruit or frozen fruit, frozen fruit is a great way of getting vegetables out of season, quite economically into different dishes.
If you opt for eggs, have them with some wholegrain toast, add some cherry tomatoes or a handful of mixed leaves, some rocket or a couple of mushrooms on the side. Bread and pizza, go thin or medium sliced rather than thick crust and pad out your plate to get your extra fuel from protein sources, healthy fats and portions of vegetables. So think about switching to wholegrain or seedy wraps as an alternative to sandwiches and think about your fillings.
So rather than just ham and cheese or coleslaw or egg mayo, think about substituting sometimes with some tuna or pre-packed packets of mackerel, where if you just add a bit of natural yoghurt, you can make a lovely mackerel pate. Slices of egg with some cucumber, all the different flavours now you can get now of hummus, adding in there some peppers and a load of green leaves is a colourful and alternative sandwich to just your cheese and ham sandwich.
And then maybe at this time of year, consider some soup alternatives for lunch. This time last year I invested in a soup maker and it has been quite a game changer. Is it convenient now to add that to your Christmas list, they're generally priced between around 45 and £70 and can make enough for probably about four portions and you just, depending on the brand and the type that you get, you can just add in raw vegetables, pour in some stock, maybe whatever flavouring you like, a few herbs and spices, press go, walk away, 20 minutes.
Go for a walk if you have that luxury, come back and you just pour your soup straight into a bowl, it's ready to go, all blitzed up, cooked, ready, so easy. And then maybe you can pop it in a flask to take into work if you know that you're going to be on the go and busy and not be able to prepare anything at work. So you know, there's endless recipes and varieties of soups that you can make, it means that, you know, it's not it's a really good contender to alternating to sandwiches.
So with pasta and rice, look at wholegrain versions, remember your portion size on the plate, so only about a quarter of your total plate. And then we think about snacking, so biscuits and crisps as snacks, how about we think about substituting them sometimes with oatcakes or with different nut butters, chopped vegetable sticks and all the different colours and flavours of hummus. A boiled egg even as a snack. Fruit with some granola or fruit and a handful of mixed, unsalted nuts.
And if you've got time, you could make a healthy, quite quick and easy healthy alternative to flapjacks using oats, dates, coconut oil and some dark chocolate and a small square of this can be really filling to just give you a little lift through to the next meal if you're really in need of a snack. And into the New Year, I will add a recipe section to the resources on the website and I've got a really lovely tasty version of a healthy flapjack, it's really quick and easy, you can make a huge batch of it and it lasts for ages and, yeah, a little square of that is super filling.
And then finally drinks, so restoring energy needs good hydration which can be really challenging if you're out and about in a response or a traffic car, so get into the habit of carrying a water bottle with you, ideally not hidden in the depths of your bag in the boot and then top it up whenever you have the opportunity. Smoothies are a really great alternative as well to help curb less healthy snacking, a really healthy and a bit more filling alternative to juices, especially if you get some protein in there.
So some protein powder, some almond butter or different types of milk, dairy or non-dairy milk and some yoghurt, some ground-up seeds in there and it's a lot cheaper to buy packets of seeds and grind them yourself than buying them pre-ground as they can be really expensive buying ground packets of seeds so just get a big bag of mixed seeds or something and you can get a grinder to grind it, like a coffee grinder and grind those as well.
And this can be a really healthy snack or some people like to start their day with that as a meal, with a lovely nutritious smoothie, I've got a recipe to share with you at the end. So fizzy drinks cause a spike in your blood sugar plus the impact on dental health. With caffeine, yes it helps keep you alert at the start of your shift but then try not to rely on it to keep you awake throughout your shift, particularly towards the second half of your shift, if you're wanting to sleep soon after you get home there can be that impact of having had a lot of caffeine whilst you're at work.
So maybe think about opting for herbal tea and if you think, "Oh herbal teas," then just experiment, there are so many out there and a lot of the herbal ones rather than the sort of sweeter, fruit teas can be really beneficial on your gut and your energy. So if these foods sound a little bit alien to you, focus on that 80/20 shift looking to substitute healthier options 80 percent of the time and adding nutritious ingredients to existing choices can feel more manageable rather than just cutting out everything you enjoy in one fell swoop.
If you're getting takeaway food most outlets now have healthier meal choices, so look at ingredients, look at the balance of nutrients. Look at the impact and the choice of some less high-sugar foods and processed foods. But if you're going to have a takeaway or a treat, enjoy it, food is sociable and it is to be enjoyed. It's not all about punishing or restricting yourself to be healthy.
So we're coming towards the end now and one of the trickiest parts of healthy eating is making sustainable changes. Even with the best of intentions and even knowing the potential benefits, it can be hard to know where to get started and how to stick to new habits, especially if that requires learning new skills, maybe investing in some new equipment or getting used to new flavours.
So as we start to think about adopting some new habits and maybe changing longstanding behaviours, I will leave you with two tips here. If you regularly snack, that chocolate bar, that cake, those crisps between meals, are they just part and parcel of your daily life now? Maybe try stopping to think why you're snacking because you're bored, is it a habit? Are you looking for some comfort or a reward or are you actually hungry? And if you are actually hungry maybe consider reassessing your meals for that nutritious sustenance and the balance of those nutrients on your plate.
And if one of the former reasons, consider this 4D method. So if you want to have a snack maybe just rather than going, "well I have biscuits at 10 o'clock because that's when I have my coffee and I have biscuits with my coffee" maybe delay the biscuit bit. Have your coffee and maybe just think, "Do I need those biscuits? Do I need more than one? What if I delay it and can I just get through until my lunchtime or my next meal?"
And put some distance between you and the less healthy snacking options out of sight, out of mind perhaps, out of reach or physically move away if there's a huge box of doughnuts in the office and you're trying really hard to resist, can you move away from them? Can they just be out of sight for a while? And can you find some kind of distraction to stop the thought of, "well this is my normal time for having these different snacks." Can you phone a friend? Can you, if you're desk-based, can you maybe put some music on if you're working from home or something? Is there some kind of distraction that you can consider?
And then consciously decide that that is what you want to do but make it a conscious decision and enjoy your snacks but just try to avoid that subconscious grazing through a whole packet of biscuits because they just sit on the side of your desk or that family-sized bag of crisps or popcorn or chocolate that might be on your lap whilst you're watching TV on your rest days or in your free time.
So just make it much more conscious, be aware and be mindful of the choices you're making and just make them consciously and enjoy them. So consider these healthy eating practices in conjunction with those four other health areas, so my Optimal You illustration back at the beginning, managing stress, regular exercise, quality sleep and emotional balance. I know it's not easy as work and life demands happen around the best-laid plans, but give yourself a positive place to start, a good foundation on which to build your health and wellbeing.
So here are some resources to share. If you would like to take a screenshot or jot these down before we finish. This is a web link to a site that gives lots of healthy ideas and alternatives for breakfast and can also be adapted very well to lunch ideas and snacks. And then this app I use quite often, the Whisk app, gives some ideas as to different meals to produce during the week and you can pop them in to different days of the week to help with your meal planning and you can put the ingredients for each meal into a shopping list within the app as well, which might be helpful.
And it can be so beneficial to ensure you're getting that variety of health food across the week rather than Monday is chilli con carne, Tuesday is macaroni cheese, Wednesday, blah, blah. It can be much more economical meal planning because you might not be tempted with takeaways or ready meals at the last minute if you've already planned what you're going to have that night and you've already got those ingredients.
And if you're interested in learning more about the power of food, as this is going out live in December, there are three great books which might be useful for Christmas lists. And they are Food for Life by Tim Spector, Dr Robert Lustig talks all about Metabolics and that tells you, that's a little bit more the biology around digestion, if you want some further understanding about that. And then some lovely recipe ideas from Dr Rupy Aujla who is known as Doctor's Kitchen, he's written a number of excellent cookery books with some easy and some slightly more ambitious dishes. But to give you some great ideas, he does lots and lots of things with herbs and spices as well to add flavour to meals.
And then my website is Nutravival.co.uk and under my articles tab you can find a recipe for homemade granola and that encourages you to make a whole kilo of it in one go in a big grill pan in the oven. And often I would make that whilst I've got other things going on in the oven, so I've got the oven on already, just put in a greased grill tray with some paper and just put a kilo of oats in there to make some granola which will last maybe a couple of weeks.
So a lot of these resources will become available on the Oscar Kilo website over the coming months and I'm going to leave you on the right-hand side here with a healthy smoothie recipe from the Healthy Shift Worker who is based in Australia. If you fancy giving this a try it's healthy, filling, it's delicious and it's a great pick-me-up if you're having an energy slump or as a breakfast.
So there we're going to finish with the link to the Oscar Kilo nutrition web pages and a reminder of the date for the next webinar. So we are just approaching midday but I hope we might have the opportunity for a couple of quick questions if anybody has anything they would like to ask.
Yvonne: We've got a few in the chat bar Anna so I'll just try and whizz through them. What type of fats do you suggest for a vegetarian especially when they don't eat fish?
Anna: Yeah, really good question. So we'd be looking at things like getting a really good extra virgin olive oil into your diet as often as you can. Again that sometimes can take a little while to adjust to the taste of that but so you can add different things like you can make a nice dressing with that with some balsamic vinegar and a little bit of sugar initially, but trying to liberally put a lovely good quality extra virgin olive oil onto leaves is a great source of healthy fats. Along with olives, avocado, walnuts and well, all nuts really, so nut butters, almond butter, cashew butter and seeds as well, handfuls of seeds onto breakfast porridge or granola in the morning is a great way of getting some fats. And they tend to also be really good sources of protein, those same food groups.
Yvonne: Fab, thank you. We've also got a mackerel fan here in Adrian who is asking if mackerel every day is a bad idea.
Anna: I don't it's not a bad idea but the same food every day just restricts that variety a little bit as I was talking about with the kind of, with the gut diversity that the gut bugs love, they love variety and diversity. So it's not bad, you sometimes have to be careful with oily fish of the potential toxins from minerals, things like mercury tend to be in the slightly bigger fish, so mackerel being a smaller fish is less of a risk. Yeah, the normal recommendation is to have oily fish a minimum of twice a week, so possibly not necessarily required every day.
Yvonne: Fab. Helen is asking for herbs to have nutritional value, do they have to be fresh?
Anna: Absolutely not, no. So having them in powder form in jars or having them frozen just to add in little bits in a day, equally nutritious. The same with like ginger, if you don't have whole-root ginger, you can always substitute that with ground ginger and very similar nutrient values in both.
Yvonne: Ruth is asking are tinned soups highly processed?
Anna: They can be unfortunately, yeah, unfortunately. Because they've got such a long shelf life, they've got to have stuff added to them, so better to go for the fresher soup versions if you can, I know there's a cost implication there, so tinned soup is probably better than no soup. So yeah, but just be careful with things like tomato soup, they can have a lot of added sugar, so read the label.
Yvonne: Yeah. Donna is asking if there's lots of recipe ideas on the website. There are some pointers on the website and you've kindly given us some other areas to have a look at as well, so some of the other links there.
Anna: Exactly. And we will build that recipe section into the New Year, there will be some more recipes coming, there will be a special recipe section which we're working on.
Yvonne: Another one from Ruth, are sugar-free fizzy drinks best avoided too?
Anna: No, they're better, sugar free versions are better if you really feel that you it's really difficult to switch away from fizzy drinks altogether. There is very mixed evidence about the health impact of the sugar substitutes. There's still lots of different trials taking place, so we're not completely sure. It's better for dental health than having a can of full-fat sugar. So yeah, it's just slightly, it is a slightly healthier switch but ideally trying to reduce that as much as possible is better.
Yvonne: Any health benefits to adding nutritional yeast to meals?
Anna: Definitely, yeah, particularly if you're vegetarian or vegan, a really great source of vitamin B12 which vegans and vegetarians can be quite deplete in. So absolutely, I quite often use that instead of a vegetable stock, if I'm making a vegetable soup I will quite liberally sprinkle some nutritional yeast in instead. It's got a lovely flavour, quite a lovely nutty flavour. It can be, for some people it can be a bit of an OK alternative to cheese if you're vegan then nutritional yeast can give that kind of slightly more cheesy flavour, yeah.
Yvonne: Great, thank you. Conscious I'm whizzing through these but just trying to squeeze a few in at the last minute. Any view on using artificial sweeteners?
Anna: Yes, that goes back to the sugar-free drinks really. They're better for your dental health, they don't generally spike your blood sugar in quite the same way as actual sugar. They can still encourage you to sort of crave sweeter, sugary foods, so switching them and maybe seeing that as a temporary switch can be beneficial. And again we're not completely sure of the longer-term impact of sweeteners, there may be some impact on gut health and on your gut bacteria but trials are a little bit inconclusive still at the moment, so yeah, better to try to reduce if possible.
Yvonne: And what about honey to sweeten things?
Anna: Honey is a good one and particularly if you're going for a lovely natural organic honey which unfortunately is a bit more expensive than the more processed honeys but they do have some good health implications. And again just having just a small amount to sweeten something can be a good alternative, yeah, to sugar.
Yvonne: Fab. And the very last one, what about carbonated water?
Anna: Yeah, so carbonated water is, yeah, there's very little data about that as that being a negative choice, so if you prefer that to having regular water then that can be a good switch, particularly if you're looking to reduce the sugary sort of fizzy drinks and so on then that can be a good way of doing that. Providing you don't some people it does trigger some gut symptoms, providing you don't feel that there's any correlation there, then that's fine. And again, just look at the label to make sure that there's no added sweetened flavours in those generally.
Yvonne: Lovely, great, well that's it for questions in the chat bar, so thank you Anna, lots of things for us to think about, lots of things for us to go away and have a look at. Thanks everyone for joining us today. Anna did mention the other webinars that will be coming up in the New Year, so do visit the website, do register for those and hopefully we'll see some of you back online again for the next instalment. Anything else you want to finish with Anna before we go?
Anna: No, I hope it hasn't thrown too much at people. I know that people come from such a range of nutritional understanding and from different places, so I hope it hasn't been too much or too little and I hope that, yeah, just slowly and gradually digest what you've heard today and by all means share any questions and really hope that you'll come back January the 9th to learn a bit more.
Yvonne: Fabulous, thank you. There's just a question in the chat bar in terms of the recording. Yes, the recording will be uploaded on to the Oscar Kilo website so it will be available at a later date. So thank you everyone for joining us, enjoy the rest of your day.
Anna: Thank you, bye, bye.
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In this short video Anna looks at how you can increase the nutritional value of some of your meals and drinks. She gives some practical health swaps and recipes to help regulate your blood sugars and maintain a balanced diet.
[00:00:19 - 00:00:27 - Music]
Anna: If you've seen the first webinar in our series, Feed Your Body Clock, we focused a lot on talking about blood sugar, and this is really important for balancing your energy. So we can make some really easy, healthy swaps that can really impact your energy, but will also affect your gut health, your cardiovascular health, and so protecting your heart, and your immune function. And a great place there to start with balancing blood sugar is about reducing our intake of simple carbohydrates, so that is your white floury goods, your white pasta, your white rice, your fizzy drinks, confectionary like sweets and chocolate and cakes, and just thinking about how to tweak those to make those slightly healthier and reduce those peaks and troughs of our energy.
One food group that has a lot of simple carbohydrates and are very sugar heavy are boxed cereals. So I'm going to show you how to make some very simple homemade granola. So here in this grill tray I have got one kilo of whole rolled oats, so they haven't been processed at all; they've got all the fibres still left on them. And this one kilo bag will keep me going for a good couple of weeks. The full recipe is on my website, nutrivital.co.uk, but will also be uploaded to the Oscar Kilo recipe toolkit.
So on here I have just cooked these for 20 minutes with some coconut oil, and whilst this is cooking in the oven, I'm also going to chop all of these vegetables and pop them in a roasting dish to provide some roasted vegetables that I can keep in the fridge for the whole week, and I'll speak to you later about what we can do with them. So once those oats have roasted in the oven and been coated with all that lovely coconut oil, I'm just going to add these very simple ingredients. So we have got a variety of seeds, some nuts which I will just chop roughly to add, some coconut flakes to add a little bit of natural sweetness, some flaked almonds, and some spices, some ginger and cinnamon. And rather than adding any kind of sugar or syrup to the recipe, I'm just going to sprinkle some sultanas over it once it's cooled.
And any recipes that have cup sizes, which is a US measurement, a little tip is that you can get this little handy stack of cups, and so if the recipe says two or three cups you can just use scoops for that, for flour, for oats, whatever it is as well, so that's a handy little tip there. So I have now raised my breakfast nutritional value from a bowl of simple carbohydrates, from a boxed cereal with very little fibre, probably no protein, and I have really raised it to have a really balanced nutritious meal to start my day. So I have mixed all of those ingredients into – popped them in the oven for a final five minutes just to brown off the coconut and the almonds, and then we'll have a look at how that turns out at the end.
In terms of drinks with simple carbohydrates, if you have a very high intake of fizzy drinks then maybe that would be a really great area to look to reduce. And also with fruit juices too, because they can also really impact your blood sugar and have a negative impact then on your energy.
So looking at alternatives to fizzy drinks could be a drink called kombucha, which is a mildly fizzy fermented tea drink, but actually it comes in some lovely fruity flavours and can be a really healthy swap for regular fizzy drinks. But also just getting used to not having that sweet taste all the time, or relying on the fizzy drinks for energy because of your more nutritious meals and snacks will be really beneficial. And so reducing fruit juices and perhaps replacing those with some smoothies that combine some protein and some healthy fat in those as well is also going to positively impact your energy levels.
So let's think about protein sources and some healthy protein swaps. So these are the really simple ingredients for making your own hummus, and to this you can then add various different vegetables and different flavourings which is going to even add greater nutritional value to that very simple dish. So to make your own hummus you just need a food processor, and the main ingredient here is tahini. And if this is new to you, this is a sesame paste a little bit like the sesame seed equivalent of a peanut butter or an almond butter, and it's really high in protein and in healthy fats as well.
So we've got a simple tin of chickpeas which we're going to drain off and we're going to just blend this up with some tahini, some garlic, some lemon juice, some lovely olive oil, and some paprika flavouring too. And did you know that if you drain off the juice from the chickpeas and keep it to one side, if you whizz that up with some sugar you can make your own vegan meringues. So let's turn this into some hummus. So I have just blitzed up those simple ingredients in the food processor, and here I have some delicious, filling, nutritious homemade hummus. And we'll look in a moment, looking back at those roast vegetables, as to how we can create lots of different yummy flavours with those as well.
So this now is a really versatile little dish, you can have it as a snack mid-morning or mid-afternoon if you need a little pick me up, but also just as a really healthy lunch option. If you're looking to swap maybe a really chunky white bread sandwich, perhaps a pre-packed or pre-bought sandwich, then perhaps sometimes consider swapping for these little sachets of all different kinds of grains. There are different brands usually on special offer, and they're really versatile; you can have them hot or cold.
So just tipping a few, like half a packet of those, into a bowl with a nice generous dollop of your hummus. I always keep a jar of pitted green olives in the fridge, so I'll do a nice big tablespoon of those with a bunch of green leaves, maybe some slices of avocado if you want to pad it out a little bit further. But that's a really simple and very nutritious meal packed full of protein, of healthy fats, of lots of different types of plant-based foods that can just be a healthy alternative a couple of days in the week to your plain old cheese sandwich.
So some more healthy swaps in terms of protein sources, particularly if your diet is very meat heavy, would be to introduce some plant-based proteins as well. And we can combine dishes with a combination of meat-based and plant-based proteins if you’re a meat eater. So we can look at different kinds of beans and lentils and chickpeas, all of these can be added to your typical minced dishes, so your Bolognese, your lasagnes, your chillis. They can be an economical choice because it'll stretch your dish that much further, and it means that perhaps you reduce your meat intake to just a couple of times a week for red meat which – and that tends to be the most expensive element on a plate of food can be the quality of meat. So you can go for a good quality meat but then pad that out with any of these different pulses and lentil foods.
And if you're going to opt for plant-based protein, you get the added benefit of the extra fibre from these foods as well as the polyphenols, those plant chemicals, from your diverse varied fruit and vegetables that are so beneficial to our health. And now we come on to looking at healthy fat swaps, so again we're looking to perhaps reduce the intake of a lot of saturated fat that we can get in a lot of the red and white meats. I'm thinking about oily fish. Oily fish has a lot of great health properties in there, but some people just don't know what to do with it.
So here's a really economical way of using some oily fish; these are pre-cooked fills of mackerel, and a really, really simple pate is to just add these into a bowl with a few tablespoons of some lovely natural yogurt, squeeze of lemon, some salt and pepper. We just whisk that all up, and there we have a really, really easy mackerel pate. Again that can be to have within a sandwich, we're looking to obviously substitute the white bread with a lovely wholegrain, or a lovely seedy bread, or perhaps some sourdough. Or we can have that to replace the hummus and have that as the protein and the healthy fat element to a meal. Really simple; keep that in the fridge for a few days, and it's a great little experiment with some oily fish.
So there's our granola all mixed up, ready to cool and add some sultanas and another drizzle of olive oil for some extra glaze on there, and that little bit of sweetness. And then whilst I had that cooking, I had the opportunity to roast this pan of vegetables which I can then keep in the fridge for a few days. These can be great if you're just adding to all various different types of salad for lunches. I could puree it to make some soup with some vegetable stock; I could also add any of these vegetables to the hummus in the blender so I could have roasted carrot for example, or some courgette in there, or some aubergine, roasted peppers, just to give the hummus a bit of extra flavour. Beetroot as well would be delicious in there.
So really great to have this as a resource, just handy in the fridge, ready to go to increase the intake of fruit and vegetables without having to think too much about preparation because that was just done whilst the oven was already on. So there's some healthy swaps to think about, and if we're thinking of portion sizes, I'd just like to refer you back to the healthy plate where we look at portion sizes. And so we're looking to reduce that huge, big plate of the simple carbohydrates; we're looking at just a quarter of the plate of those complex carb alternatives, so the whole grain versions of those carbohydrate sources.
This is on the Oscar Kilo website, also [email protected]. And next time we're going to be looking at healthy snacks, so how we can still get that little sugary treat as of when we need it, but making that slightly more nutritious but still delicious. Hope it's been interesting, and go away and experiment in your kitchen.
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In this short video, nutritionist Anna Earl looks at the healthy snacks we can have between meals. Anna talks about the reasons we snack, and the impact both short-term and long-term on the body. She gives advice on tasty, healthy snacks that can give more sustained energy for a longer period and still feel like a treat.
Hello again, and today we're talking about healthy snacks. So once you have thought about your meal time plates and how they can be better balanced to promote and sustain your energy.
Let's think about these snacks that can be incorporated into your day and we're going to look at the different reasons as to why we snack.
So the first of those may be because you're tired are you looking for that quick energy boost that pick me up. And if so what is the quality and the content of those snack choices and we might be snacking because we're actually hungry.
If you look back to one of the webinars called mindful eating in the feed your body clock series, we looked at different types of hunger.
So not just the stomach hunger where we've got that rumbling tummy. But is it hunger because of your the eye hunger where we just see something that looks delicious and suddenly just want to eat it.
Or it could be smell hunger where something smells amazing.
Or could it be heart hunger where we're looking for something that doesn't feel necessarily our stomach but a hole elsewhere and that might come under comfort eating.
Because there are so many emotional aspects associated with comfort food, and we're not looking necessarily to eliminate all of those. We need those little treats that food for the soul.
But we're looking to maybe make those more occasional or are we snacking out of habit. Whether it's a habit at home where we just think oh it's 11 o'clock I reach for my 11 o'clock packet of biscuits to dunk in my coffee. Or is it a workplace habit where treats and snacks are handed around and you can just take those and chomp away on them quite absent-mindedly without even really realizing.
Are we snacking out of boredom for people that were working from home. Which may not relate to to your role, but for some people we're just looking for something to fill a bit of time. Particularly if they're working from home by themselves.
So just thinking about the reasons why we're snacking and whether those snacks are always necessary and so when we come on to talking about snacks in policing, I'm very aware that with the unpredictable nature of policing you don't necessarily know where your next meal is coming from.
So it makes sense to have some snacks with you and when you're out and about. But we're going to look at the nutritional content of those and the impact. Both short term and long term on your body.
So short term snacks that are very ultra-processed or are very high in sugar are really going to impact your blood sugar. And I've talked a lot about that and the increased risk that gives you of type 2 diabetes as well as creating issues with weight management and energy.
And so the longer term impact of that is also quite clear with though that risk of later chronic disease and so we're also looking at the nutritional content that can give you a more sustained energy for a longer period. It's not going to spike your blood sugar. But can still feel like a tasty little treat.
So next we're going to move on and have a look at a few examples.
So here we have some examples of what some healthier snacks might look like. I'm going to start off with these which are not celebrations sadly but they are very delicious.
Oat, date, and dark chocolate squares. And they're like they're kind of like a fake flapjack equivalent and you honestly only need quite a small square of one of those to fill you up between meals.
And they are really nutrient dense really filling and full of nutritious ingredients. The recipe for these is on the Oscar Kilo website. So I would invite you to take a look. Super easy to make.
Whilst they were in the oven last night, I also made a kilo of my homemade granola. And so that could also be eaten as a healthy snack with a dollop of yogurt and maybe with some fruit.
I will often just have some fruit out on the table so that other members of the family that are passing might choose to graze on healthier things, including this jar of nuts, rather than just going
straight for the crisp and the chocolate or the biscuit barrel which I will have as well.
I'm not trying to eliminate everything that gives us joy but we're just looking at reducing those kinds of foods and just boosting our diets with these really nutritious foods.
Ok, so that's those. Then we come on to these delicious Savoury Muffins. These are from the BBC Good Food website and if you type in Savoury Muffins, there are 12 different recipes there.
These are so easy to make they're just a combination of some chopped vegetables, anything of your choice. These have got spring onions, some peppers, some spinach, and then a few herbs.
Whisk them up with a with a little bit of egg, some olive oil a bit of milk. And they just bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.
My daughter had one of these for breakfast this morning. My son took three to school to have after rugby training and again because they've got a lot of egg in there and some milk. Lovely and filling, and super healthy snacks.
Might be worth just sometimes with a simple egg, just having some boiled eggs to hand if you need something to keep you going between meals. Full of protein and some good fats in there.
And again you can try just having a boiled egg as a snack and then if you're still hungry, maybe you do need another little treat food of some kind. But at least we're combining those with some really great food choices as well.
And then here we have some beetroot and mint hummus. I showed you how to make hummus in the last video. And again the recipe for that is on the Oscar Kilo website.
And I'll often just try and have a good jar of that to hand with some carrot sticks, or some cucumber sticks, some peppers.
And again just trying those first before you reach for the for the biscuits, or the cakes, and the pastries can be a great nutritious choice. And as well obviously they make it that makes a great lunchtime item too.
This is my work in progress. This is a version of vegan Nutella, tastes a little bit like chocolate and fondant icing at the moment.
But this is just half a tin of chickpeas, some dates, some cocoa
powder, and some chopped hazelnuts.
So I'm just looking at like reducing the sugar content of some regular everyday treats and giving that a go.
So yeah maybe give that a try and that's obviously so much lower in saturated fat and in sugar than the regular item, may not be everyone's cup of tea but it might be a nice little alternative. Particularly to go on to maybe some pancakes.
So other things I can just think of would be to have some jars of maybe olives in the fridge. A glass jar of those is so much cheaper than the ones you would get in the deli. And they're equally as nutritious and delicious and lots cheaper.
So I'll often just maybe just get out a spoonful of olives and leave those around for people who want to snack.
You could get some wholemeal wraps and you could spread those with some a bit of cream cheese, some cucumber maybe, some tuna fish. Roll them up and you could slice those into like little pinwheels and that could make a great little snack for somebody.
If you just need something just to pick you up a good source of protein there too.
And then finally I'm going to finish with talking about different nut butters.
So peanut butter - you can get nutritious peanut butter but also almond, cashew butter, and a spreading of those on some lovely wholemeal toast or some sourdough.
And again can be a great not only a breakfast start but also something perhaps to fill people between that lunchtime and evening meal break.
If you need something to pick you up and you know it's sort of like late afternoon when you really feel like grazing and snacking.
So I hope that's given you some ideas to think about why you snack. Think about the content, the nutritious content of your main meals. Whether they need perhaps a little bit of tweaking.
And then if you are going to snack think about maybe going for that nutritious option first, and then if it's not quite fulfilling enough, it's not quite touching that spot, then you know treat yourself.
But do it consciously. Do it with the control of the portion size that you're happy with, that's not going to then leave you feeling guilty and negative and everything else. Because the food that we eat so affects how we feel.
So go away and experiment.
Thanks very much.