For many of us, there will be an abundance of food around the house this Christmas and it’s not difficult to get carried away. One of the key elements to try and avoid this festive season are the man made fats known as trans fats.
Trans fats are produced during hydrogenation: a chemical process that manufacturers use to convert vegetable oils into semi-solid fats. This helps to extend the shelf life of the food and tends to give food a creamier taste. Cutting out these trans fats could reduce UK deaths from from heart disease by up to 20 percent! Take a look at the Healthy Hideout’s top tips for keeping the trans fats at bay this Christmas:
- When choosing margarine for baking or sandwiches, try to keep away from hard block recipes, looking out for brands that have low trans fat content. If you can’t see this information, look out for hydrogenated fat or oil levels.
- When light frying in the pan, use a good quality olive oil rather than sunflower or vegetable. It’s that much better for you!
- When preparing side salads for Boxing Day lunch why not try Sunflower seeds or chopped pumpkin seeds instead of bacon bits – Bacon bits are soaked in trans fat!
- If you feel a craving for something savoury whilst watching your favourite Christmas movie, try substituting potato chips and crisps for something a little more imaginative. Peanut butter smeared on celery sticks is a great option!
- Try spending a little more time in the fresh food aisles of the supermarket – Research has shown that foods with high trans fat content are kept in the centre of the supermarket.
- Substitute the goose fat soaked roast potatoes for jacket potatoes this Christmas. Jacket potatoes are naturally low in fat and high in carbohydrate.
- If you need to stock up on processed foods such as biscuits, cereals or desserts try to stick to lower-fat versions of them. It may seem a little tedious, but it really is worth it!
- Make your own – Here at the Healthy Hideout, we can’t encourage making your own baked goods enough! Try your cakes, muffins and biscuits and pack them with contents that you enjoy whilst keeping the trans fats to a minimum!
We don’t want to start scaring you into thinking Christmas is just one big opportunity to gain weight, because it isn’t. It’s a time to be enjoyed and remembered! Just try to keep long term health in perspective – Your heart will thank you for it!
Nutritionists have told us for many years that the best way to eat is to eat a little, often. The problem with this philosophy is that we have become a snacking nation. It also seems that we ignore the part that says a “little” and only focus on the part that says to eat often! Furthermore, it seems that we are snacking on junk foods like crisps, chocolate, biscuits and other foods high in calories instead of healthy foods like fruit!
Snacking - Should I keep eating those Cheez It Crackers?
Professor Stephen Atkin, head of diabetes and metabolism at Hull York Medical School says “For many, snacking is a major cause of weight gain”. Professor Naveed Sattar from metabolic medicine at Glasgow university says, “Snacking gives us extra calories and the fact is, extra calories make us fat”. Apart from the extra calories we are eating it also seems that eating throughout the day counteracts our bodies ability to burn off fat. Professor Atkin adds, “In my view, the ideal would be not to snack at all. It’s normal to feel hungry before a meal”.
The science says that when we eat our body releases insulin to help carry sugar into the cells to burn as energy. The energy from this sugar will keep our body going for about 3 hours at which point it will have to use our fat stores. Professor Atkin explains that if we can last 4-5 hours between meals then our body will have used all the energy from the carbohydrates we have eaten. At this point the body can then start the metabolisation of the fat stores to get more energy. Snacking through the day also means a consistently higher level of blood sugars and fat which can put more stress on organs such as your liver and pancreas.
It also seems that snacking may be bad for our teeth! When we eat fruit or something sugary the pH in our mouths become more acidic and remains in this acidic state for about 20 minutes. This is the time when decay and erosion occurs. Snacking will cause this cycle to happen more often!
If you must snack then try following these helpful ideas:
- PLAN – Take a healthy snack to work with you so you don’t buy something unhealthy from a vending machine.
- CHANGE – Slowly change your snacking habits to include healthy options instead of biscuits, chocolates and cakes.
- NO DISTRACTIONS – Eating snacks while doing something else can mean you unknowingly eat more calories.
- REDUCE SNACKING – Try and go for 4-5 hours without snacking between two of your main meals.
Tell us about your snacking habits.
New research released today suggests that cutting your meat intake to 3 meals a week could save the NHS £1.2 billion pounds each year while reducing early deaths by as many as 45,000.
The research conducted by Oxford University looked at different dietary options and concluded that diets with less meat could cut deaths from heart disease by around 31,000, cancer by 9,000 and strokes by 5,000 each year.
Cut down on Cheap Burgers
In particular, the research found that processed meats, such as cheap sausages and burgers were more unhealthy due to the high levels of salt and fat. Staggeringly, the research, commissioned by Friends of the Earth found that a supermarket chicken now contain 2.7 times more fat than it did in 1970 and 30 percent less protein!
Friends of the Earth’s Director of Policy and Campaigns, Craig Bennett said: “Eating less and better meat is a win win but we need the Government to act too – at the moment it promotes unhealthy high-meat diets and funds damaging factory farms”. He adds, “We don’t need to go vegetarian to look after ourselves and our planet – but we do need to cut down on meat.”
Other reported benefits include the curbing of deforestation and helping control climate change.
The research really does make you think about the quality of the meat we buy from the supermarket and its effect on our body. How much meat do you eat each week?
With winter quickly on the approach and evenings getting darker, some of us will begin to feel the winter blues. Officially branded as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), it seems none of us enjoy waking up in the dark for a day in the office or heading home whilst driving in the pitch black.
Here are the Healthy Hideout’s top 5 ways to beat the affects of SAD:
- Sleeping patterns – It’s important to try and get your body into a consistent sleeping pattern throughout the week including the weekends. Although it’s nice to have a lie in, repeatedly hitting the “snooze” button on Saturday morning may leave you feeling lethargic and more tired when the next working week arrives.
- Light therapy – Reduced exposure to natural light has been known to cause a chemical imbalance inside the brain which can leave us in a depressed mood along with a sense of fatigue and irratability. One unique suggestion is to invest in a “seasonal light box” for the side of your bed, which mimics the suns rise a little earlier, in the comfort of your own bed. There are many sizes and options available so you’re bound to find one that will suit your needs best.
- Food – The summer leaves many of us encouraged by the flurry of fresh fruit and veg available at that time of year. Try and keep your intake of fruit and veg up throughout the winter period, and maintain a healthy intake of complex carbs such as wholegrain rice, pasta and bread. The added sustenance will keep your energy levels high throughout the day.
- Exercise – Regular exercise produces endorphins – we all know this. Many of us will start to sway away from our regular exercise routines as the temperature begins to drop, but try to maintain them and your body will thank you for it. Many studies have shown how physical workouts can help improve sleep and muscle tension. If it helps, try moving your workout so that it takes place during the few daylight hours that we have – It’ll help lift your mood!
- Laugh it up! – Socialising is easily one of the best ways to help beat SAD. Meet up with friends on a regular basis, and don’t sit at home being a couch potato under a blanket. Laughter has been known to produce many psychological benefits, boosting your immune system and lowering the effects of stress. Coupled quite perfectly from the phrase “a happy worker is a productive worker,” you may find yourself quickly changing your attitude to winter.
Let’s end with a favourite to get us all smiling:
This is a Stick up!
For more information on SAD, here’s a great book to get your hands on:
As October begins to step into full swing, many of us will begin to notice an increase of pumpkins available on our supermarket shelves. What many of us fail to realise is that a pumpkin is not just for hollowing out and creating an award winning design! Pumpkins really are incredibly good for you, and offer more health benefits than many of us may realise. They’re also a fruit and not a vegetable, but you already knew that right?
- Pumpkins – The real super food
So why are they so orange? Well first and foremost, pumpkins are loaded with the invaluable anti oxidant beta-carotene, also found in carrots and sweet potato. This has been known to reduce the risk of many diseases including cancer, whilst helping to protect us against long term illnesses such as heart disease. Pumpkins are also a great source of fibre, potassium, and magnesium which all help to keep our bodies running like a well oiled machine.
The seeds found inside pumpkins have been used since colonial times to assist with digestive problems, and even as an addition to medicine. The oil found inside the pumpkin seeds has a high level of both magnesium and zinc which has been proven to offer various health benefits from extra bone protection to anti inflammatory benefits for those suffering from arthritis. A study of approximately 400 men ranging from 45-92 years of age published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed a clear correlation between low dietary intake of zinc and osteoporosis at the hip and spine.
Incorporate Pumpkin into your diet today!
There’s plenty of ways you can incorporate pumpkin into your diet starting today! The seeds are widely available and make an excellent accompaniment to any breakfast cereal, but the fruit itself is at the height of season in October so grab them fresh whilst you can! If you’re lucky enough to get a pumpkin with the flowers still intact, be sure to not throw them away – They taste delicious!
Remember, pumpkins are not just for decoration! For more information on healthy vegetables you never knew existed (or did but just choose to ignore), check out this book from Michael Pollen.