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Why Do A Gluten-Free Challenge?

 

Commencing Monday 6th November, I am hosting a FREE 14-Day Gluten-Free Challenge on Facebook in a closed group. For more information and to join the group, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/14dayglutenfreechallenge/ and click on Join.

 

The following is a very short, sharp and hopefully simple explanation of what gluten is, and why it could be a problem, to help you decide whether you may like to undertake the challenge, or explore gluten further.

 

What is Gluten?

 

Gluten is an umbrella term for a number of proteins (gliadins and glutenins) found in grains such as wheat, rye, barley and triticale. We think of gluten as the ‘glue’ that holds breads, pasta, pastry etc together.

 

There is a common misconception that coeliac disease, wheat allergy, and gluten sensitivity is the same thing, but this is not the case.

 

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition triggered by gluten in people with genetic susceptibility. Only a medical professional is qualified to give a diagnosis, based on blood testing and/or biopsy. Unfortunately, standard GP blood testing can be inadequate. The tests used by our medical profession only measure reactions to one protein found in gluten (there are many), meaning that a positive diagnosis can be missed.

 

Wheat allergy is a true allergic reaction to wheat. Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity is a separate entity. Gluten can cause symptoms in people in the absence of a true allergy or coeliac disease.

 

Why is gluten a problem?

 

Gluten is poorly digested, and therefore in susceptible people, it can be a trigger for a wide range of symptoms, some related to digestion and some not related to digestion.

 

Based on considerable work by researchers including, Dr Alessio Fasano, gluten is now known to be a trigger of a process commonly known as ‘leaky gut’, or to give it the correct term, intestinal hyper-permeability. Our gut wall is designed to allow digested food and certain substances into our bodies in a controlled way. However, for some people, in certain conditions, the gut wall becomes compromised, and gluten is a key player.

 

In simple terms, gluten can negatively affect the lining of the intestines through various mechanisms, including immune and inflammatory responses, and the production of a protein called zonulin, which can exacerbate a ‘leaky gut’. If your gut lining isn’t functioning optimally, this could mean that your ability to digest and absorb your food is compromised, and, toxins from the gut can pass into the blood stream. This can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, unpleasant symptoms, and potentially autoimmune conditions in genetically susceptible people.

 

What are some of the common signs and symptoms of Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity?

 

  1. a) If you have an auto-immune disease such as Hashimoto’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Ulcerative Colitis, Cohn’s Disease, Lupus, Psoriasis etc. Gluten contributes to leaky gut, and leaky gut is a common underlying trigger of autoimmune conditions. Removing gluten and other food sensitivities can be one key to the puzzle of putting autoimmune conditions into remission.
  2. b) Digestive issues – including constipation/diarrhoea, IBS symptoms, bloating, discomfort.
  3. c) Fatigue and non-specific malaise including chronic fatigue syndrome/ME/fibromyalgia.
  4. d) Mood disorders such as depression, brain fog
  5. e) Muscular an joint pain
  6. e) Gluten has also been implicated in conditions such as autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, behavioural disorders.
  7. f) Resistant weight or difficulty in losing weight.

 

The benefits of a short elimination challenge

 

Based on clinical practice, a 2-week strict elimination and challenge experiment can generally be a sufficient amount of time to learn whether your symptoms improve, or disappear. If you can do it for longer (say 3 or 4 weeks) you may get a more conclusive result. The key to this is ‘strict’. For a sensitive person, even a small amount of gluten can keep symptoms going, or cause flares in someone who is usually gluten free.

 

By carrying out a challenge, and then adding gluten back into the diet at the end of this period, you can assess any change to your symptoms, and on the basis of this simple self-experimentation, decide whether you want to continue avoiding gluten, reduce it, or just continue eating it again.

 

You may experience reduced bloating, more regular bowels, more energy, less aches and pains, brighter mood and clearer thinking. You may also lose weight. It could be worth a go!

 

What if I don’t notice any change?

 

Sometimes, a short challenge isn’t conclusive. Everyone is different, and there may be another reason, or multiple reasons for your symptoms. You could continue to eliminate gluten for a longer period, or investigate further.

 

If bloating is your key symptom, I have created a free eBook called ‘The Root Causes of Bloating & 10 Simple Gut Friendly Recipes’, which can be downloaded here http://eepurl.com/c9ykz5. This may give you some further help.

 

 

Is Going Gluten-Free a Fad?

 

Gluten-free living has certainly become a bit ‘trendy’, but the issues with gluten are now more fully understood and more mainstream, and there is a increased prevalence of gluten related disorders.

 

Certainly, there are elements of concern when people unnecessarily cut out food groups, in terms of causing potential nutrient deficiencies, but I am unaware of any benefits of eating gluten. Swaps to non-gluten containing grains that are equally as beneficial in terms of fibre and nutrient content, is a simple move to make, and a balanced diet can be achieved without gluten containing foods.

 

I also think that if you personally feel better for not including gluten in your diet, and you have a balanced diet and lifestyle, why would you not continue to do yourselves this favour!

 

I hope this article has been helpful and I would love to see you over on my Gluten-Free Challenge.

 

With best wishes

 

Alexis

 

 

Root causes of IBS

Posted on 13th September, 2017



Last Saturday I posted that I had attended a Gut Health Conference in London, and that I’d be sharing top tips. So here’s some food for thought for starters.

 

The first speaker was a favourite digestive health expert of mine, Benjamin Brown, ND. I knew it was going to be a great talk as soon as the first slide went up. It simply said “Does Irritable Bowel Syndrome Exist?”

 

For millions of people diagnosed with IBS, the response may be a very loud YES! But if we dig down into the diagnosis and the treatment – the question we might want to ask is – has it helped you to be diagnosed with IBS.? What does it actually mean? Is it just a term to describe symptoms, without looking at the underlying issues? In my humble opinion, I think this is definitely the case.

 

Current standard treatment tends to be aimed at suppressing the unpleasant symptoms such as diarrhoea, constipation, wind and pain. However, does that address the root causes? What are the possible root causes? If you’re a sufferer of IBS, do you know where to start looking? Have you been told that you just have to live with it and that there’s no ‘cure’? Lots of questions!

 

In my clinic, I follow the functional medicine approach, which considers the underlying factors that lead to digestive symptoms, such as those contributing to IBS. What I want to share today, is that there are many possible underlying causes of IBS, and every person is unique.

 

Here are some of the factors that may need to be considered and tackled. It is likely that not all of these need to be considered for all people. Certainly, in my clinics, I have seen symptoms resolve by making some of the simplest changes, such as identifying non-coeliac gluten sensitivity as a key factor, and removing gluten from the diet. However, for many of us, we need to dig deeper, sometimes much deeper, and may need to make several changes to our diet and lifestyle.

 

So here’s an overview of some of the potential underlying factors of IBS

 

Nutrition Related Factors

  • Food sensitivities
  • Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity
  • Carbohydrate intolerance – eg to high FODMAP foods, which are foods that contain carbohydrates that are more fermentable by our gut bacteria and can lead to gas and bloating.
  • Vitamin D deficiency

 

Diet & Lifestyle Related Factors

  • Stress
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Circadian rhythm disruption, especially issues with your sleep/wake cycle

 

Functional Imbalances

  • Dysbiosis – an imbalance in our gut bacteria
  • Intestinal hyper-permeability – also commonly known as leaky gut
  • SIBO – small intestinal bacterial overgrowth – where our normal bacteria overgrow where they shouldn’t
  • Poor digestive function such as reduced pancreatic enzymes, low stomach acid, and bile acid issues. These all help us break down and absorb our food
  • Long term constipation
  • Infection with parasites or problematic bacteria

 

 

It’s quite a list, and not completely comprehensive. If you are a sufferer of IBS, there may be some factors on here that resonate, and that you can start to act on. For example, if you are suffering with stress, and you think this may make your symptoms worse, try introducing relaxation such as a daily 10-minute meditation into your routine. If you are constipated, despite a healthy diet, but you’re sedentary, maybe start to introduce exercise such as yoga. There’s some great moves to massage the gut.

 

And if you have suffered for many years and made no headway, I would recommend working with a registered professional who follows the functional medicine approach, to help you address some of the other complex factors.

 

Finally, I would love to hear your experiences of IBS – how it affects you, what works, what makes things worse. Listening to others’ experiences can often really help other sufferers.

Latest News - February 2017

Posted on 14th February, 2017

It has been a busy start to 2017 at Alexis Prior Nutrition. As well as continuing consultations with my Cheshire clients via Skype and Facetime, I have started seeing new clients in Bath at The Bath Practice and continue to take on new clients here.

 

I also wanted to reach a wider audience of clients who are not able to come into Bath city centre, and so I'm pleased to announce that I will be starting a new clinic at Equilibrium, natural health centre in Corsham from the 8th March and am now taking bookings.

 

 

 

 

On The Move ... to Bath

Posted on 14th November, 2016

Some of you may already be aware, but for new clients visiting my website, Alexis Prior Nutrition has recently left gorgeous leafy Cheshire for the beautiful city of Bath.

 

Having lived in the North West since 2001, it was time to return to my southern roots for a new adventure. I am busy searching for the perfect new clinic and will be reporting back soon and updating my website accordingly. 

 

In the meantime, if you are searching for a nutritional therapist in Cheshire, I would recommend looking at www.bant.org.uk to find a BANT registered nutritional therapist at a location suitable for you. 

 

I wish you all the best in your quest for optimum health

 

Very best wishes

 

Alexis

 

 

Shocking Weight Statistics

Posted on 15th January, 2015

Just before Christmas, Public Health England, published data showing the amount of overweight and obese people in each local authority.  In our local areas, Chester and Cheshire West, 68.5 % of people are overweight or obese with a BMI of over 25. In Manchester, the figures are 62.7%.

 

I’m not easily shocked, but this is bad and sad news. Being overweight and obese puts you in higher risk categories for a plethora of chronic and life threatening diseases which are generally avoidable. Yet with the right tools you can achieve a healthy weight by eating the right foods, not by starving yourself, but by eating simple, healthy foods that are easy to prepare, satisfying and full of goodness.

 

In my practices in Cheshire, I work with clients who both want to lose weight and generally improve their health, as well as people with chronic illness. My clients like to work in different ways. Some have their mind on the long game and want to make small simple changes that bring their bodies back into balance. However, some want quicker results and want a more directive eating plan which tells them what to eat and how much. 

 

This is one of the reasons I became a coach for the world-renowned Metabolic Balance ® programme.  Based on a blood test that measures 36 blood components, a unique programme is created for each client, taking their weight goals into consideration. The plan addresses underlying hormonal and health imbalances, which may be factors in weight issues.  So the plan supports general health as well as helping people achieve their weight goals, whether that’s weight loss or even weight gain. It also includes coaching sessions at regular intervals to help with challenges and offer support where needed.

 

There are no complicated recipes and no supplements, just real food. Meals can be as straightforward as meat and 2 veg if that’s your style, but for foodies there’s plenty of scope for creating something tasty with spices and herbs.

 

We know that every person is unique from a biochemical perspective, so a personalized plan, rather than a one-size-fits all diet approach could offer a solution, particularly to those people who have tried and failed at many different diet types.

 

So, if a simple, straightforward plan that will help you achieve your ideal weight in a way that is tailor-made for you sounds appealing, call me for a quick chat on 07909 732017, or for more details see my dedicated website page for Metabolic Balance http://www.alexispriornutrition.com/metabolic_balance.html, or visit the Metabolic Balance website www.metabolic-balance.co.uk

One Small Step …. Stewed Apples

Posted on 20th May, 2014

 

… plus a few big steps for Alexis Prior Nutrition

 

The One Small Step …. blog has been quiet (read dormant) for a while, so after a period of a few interesting developments, I thought it high time to get back to it! 

 

The exciting news is that Alexis Prior Nutrition has now opened in Chester and I’m working from the gorgeous Chester Wellness Centre on Wrexham Road next to the Business Park alongside a group of amazing multi-disciplinary therapists.

 

http://www.chesterwellnesscentre.co.uk/about-us/

 

 

 

Also, I have recently become a Metabolic Balance coach and details will shortly be uploaded on to my website. Metabolic Balance is an all food/no supplement long-term weight loss programme. It works by addressing underlying metabolic and hormonal imbalances and promoting fat burning. The results are optimal weight, energy, vitality and improved long term health prospects. Check out their website for more information in the meantime www.metabolic-balance.com.

 

What I love about this plan, is that it is personalised to each individual by taking a comprehensive blood test, vital statistics and health goals into consideration, so each plan is completely unique and you know you’re eating the type of foods that will support you. Also, there are no difficult recipes – you can go as simple or as complicated as your skills and lifestyle challenges allow.

 

I have spent the last weeks doing the Metabolic Balance plan myself. The results have been impressive. It was quite a challenge for the first week and a half, but I’m now really enjoying this way of eating and feel great! One Small Step I have taken which I wanted to share is that every day you have to eat 1 apple. I have been having mine in the form of Stewed Apple with Cinammon which is just delicious.

 

Adding this one small step to your regular diet can actually have significant health benefits and here's why:

 

1.  Apples contain substances called polyphenols which have immuno-modulatory effects. In other words they help the immune system work as it should do, potentially reducing the symptoms of seasonal allergies, asthma etc (1)(2)

 

2.  The polyphenols have anti-oxidant effects that can protect intestinal tissue from inflammatory damage (3)(4)(5)

 

3.  The skins additionally contain fibre and minerals which can support regular bowel movements and blood sugar control.

 

4.  This soluble fibre supports healthy gut bacteria and may increase lactobacillus and bifidobacteria species, which are known to be the most prevalent healthy bacteria in our digestive systems (6)(7)(8)

 

 

 

The Recipe

 

6 apples (Bramleys or more tart eating apples such as Granny Smiths, organic if possible)

½ cup of water

½ cup of raisins or sultanas (for fibre and sweetness – Personally, I would cut these out if you are trying to reduce sugars)

2 tsps of ground cinnamon (organic if possible)

 

Place all the ingredients ideally in a heavy bottomed pan and cook on a medium/low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly until the apple starts to break down. The mixture will be a light brown colour due to the cinnamon.

 

To further boost the nutritional content, you could add a couple of dessertspoons of natural unsweetened probiotic yoghurt, a small palmful of blueberries, 7 almonds or walnuts, or a couple of dessertspoons of sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

 

 

References

 

(1) Rosenlund H, Kull I, Pershagen G, Wolk A, Wickman M, Bergström A. Fruit and vegetable consumption in relation to allergy: Disease-related modification of consumption? J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011 Jan 6.

 

(2) Kahle K, Kempf M, Schreier P, Scheppach W, Schrenk D, Kautenburger T, Hecker D, Huemmer W, Ackermann M, Richling E. Intestinal transit and systemic metabolism of apple polyphenols. Eur J Nutr. 2010 Dec 24.

 

(3) Briviba K, Stracke BA, Rüfer CE, Watzl B, Weibel FP, Bub A. Effect of consumption of organically and conventionally produced apples on antioxidant activity and DNA damage in humans. J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Sep 19;55(19):7716-21. Epub 2007 Aug 16.

 

(4) Jung M, Triebel S, Anke T, Richling E, Erkel G. Influence of apple polyphenols on inflammatory gene expression. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2009 Oct;53(10):1263-80

 

(5) Chun OK, Chung SJ, Claycombe KJ, Song WO. Serum C-reactive protein concentrations are inversely associated with dietary flavonoid intake in U.S. adults. J Nutr. 2008 Apr;138(4):753-60

 

(6) Rastmanesh R. High polyphenol, low probiotic diet for weight loss because of intestinal microbiota interaction. Chem Biol Interact. 2011 Jan 15;189(1-

2):1-8. Epub 2010 Oct 15. Review.

 

(7) Chow J, Mazmanian SK. A pathobiont of the microbiota balances host colonization and intestinal inflammation. Cell Host Microbe. 2010 Apr 22;7(4):265-76.

 

(8) Shinohara K, Ohashi Y, Kawasumi K, Terada A, Fujisawa T. Effect of apple intake on fecal microbiota and metabolites in humans. Anaerobe. 2010 Oct;16(5):510-5. Epub 2010 Mar 19.

One Small Step…. Avocado

Posted on 23rd January, 2014

Having spent Xmas and New Year in my favourite place on earth, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and eaten vast amounts of mouthwatering, freshly-made guacamole, I’m dedicating this post to the avocado, and resisting the temptation to talk about January detoxes and diets. I'm also resisting the temptation to talk about Puerto Vallarta too, but will just say that as of this year First Choice Holidays have started up their direct flights to this wonderful destination again! Andale!

 

Personally, I like to feed myself nourishing foods and plenty of them at this time of year. Avocados fit this bill as not only are they nutrient and phytonutrient dense, but they also have a high healthy fat content, which keeps you fuller and satisfied for longer. Adding this super-fruit really is one small step to optimizing your health.

 

 

Why are they so good?

 

1.  An excellent source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids (second only to olives) including oleic and linoleic acid, which may help lower total cholesterol levels and raise good HDL cholesterol.

 

2.  A good source of potassium (up to 3 times the potassium content of bananas which supports healthy blood pressure levels), B vitamins (important for optimum energy production and mood) and vitamin E (a natural antioxidant supporting heart health, healthy skin and healthy ageing)

 

3.  Also a source of magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, vitamin K1, lutein, zeaxanthin and phytosterols.

 

4.  A good source of fibre (supports optimum digestive function and healthy cholesterol levels).

 

5.  Low in natural sugars.

 

Wow! this explains why they have “superfood” status!

 

How to use them?

 

Notoriously difficult to spot when they’re ripe, but as a general rule, if they give a bit when you press them, they should be fine. If they’re hard when you get them, place them in a fruit bowl next to the bananas or place in a paper bag.  Once they’re ripe they can be kept in the fridge to extend their shelf-life. I love buying baby avocadoes and as they ripen at different times, I’ve always got a couple of ripe ones ready at any one time.

 

1.  Just chop them up and put them into salads or even as a garnish for a soup.

 

2.  Make a guacamole: some finely chopped red onion, chopped tomatoes, fresh coriander, lime juice and seasoning plus avocado. Just mush it up together until you get the quantity and taste you love.

 

3.  Dessert – make a super-healthy mousse-like dessert – Simply blend 1 ripe banana, 1 small ripe avocado and 2 dessertspoons of organic raw cacao powder or organic cocoa powder. If it’s not sweet enough add a small drizzle of maple syrup or a couple of dates.  Makes 2 small or 1 large serving.

 

4.  In sandwiches – instead of a BLT, try an ALT with avocado replacing the bacon.

 

5.  Use as a topping for toast. Just spread on and sprinkle a bit of pepper or paprika for a spicy hit.

 

6.  Use as a base for a creamy salad dressing or pasta sauce. Mash the avocado, add some raw garlic, salt (Himalayan pink rock salt is wonderful), pepper, lime juice and add some warm water if needed to make into the right kind of consistency.  Swirl into your pasta and enjoy!

 

7.  Excellent to put into a breakfast smoothie for a creamy texture.

 

8.  Just eat with a spoon for a nutrient dense snack at any time.

 

Sources:

 

Dreher ML, Davenport AJ (2013) Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition: . 53 (7): 738–750. [Online] Pubmedcentral  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles. Accessed 23rd January 2014.

 

Murray M, Pizzorno J (2010) The Encyclopaedia of Healing Foods. Piatkus, London.

One Small Step …. Mindful Eating

Posted on 16th December, 2013

It is very tempting at this time of year to put up a Top 10 list of ways to control one’s eating and drinking over the Xmas and New Year periods, but I wonder how many of us listen to this well-meaning and mostly reasonable advice. One newspaper article today advocated wearing tight clothes to put you off over-eating, which sounds like a cunning plan at the start of the evening, but I’d be worried about looking like an over-stuffed chipolata by the end of the evening when things start to hang out a bit more.

 

The rationale behind my "One Small Step ...." blog is to give one small piece of advice per posting and to make it something simple, so I’m just going to say one thing – just really appreciate and enjoy your food this Xmas.

 

There is science and experience behind this. Mindful eating, as part of the mindfulness movement, has been a bit of a buzzword this year, although it has been a common piece of advice given by nutritional therapists for years, and actually has roots in ancient Bhuddist teachings. In essence, this involves switching from auto-pilot when we eat to really focusing on, and appreciating, our food. 

 

So Why Is It Good?

 

  • It can help with weight loss.  By focusing on the sensations of eating a meal, we become more conscious of when we’re full.
  • It can aid digestion.  By sitting down and relaxing around food, our digestive system operates more efficiently. It is worth trying this if you suffer with indigestion, especially if you have a tendency to eat quickly.
  • It is relaxing and helps to reduce stress levels – may be helpful at this time of year.
  • We fully appreciate our food. How many times have you finished a meal and felt you didn’t really taste it? To me this always feels like a bit of a waste and not very satisfying.

 

How To Do It?

 

I have been reading “A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook” by Bob Stahl and Elisha Goldstein (2010. New Harbinger Publications, Inc, CA, USA), and carried out the following activity called “Mindfully Eating A Raisin”.  The process only takes 5 minutes and whilst it may sound a bit odd, give it a go and see what you think. I was pleasantly surprised at how much enjoyment I got out of my raisin!

 

 

The following is copied from their pages. It's best to read it first and then do each stage, step by step.

 

“As you do this practice, put aside all distractions, turn off the phone and focus direct, clear awareness on each aspect and each moment of the experience.

 

Place a few raisins in your hand. If you don’t have raisins, any food will do. Imagine that you have just come to Earth from a distant planet without such food.

 

Now, with this food in hand, you can begin to explore it with all of your senses.

 

Focus on one of the objects as if you’ve never seen anything like it before. Focus on seeing this object. Scan it, exploring every part of it, as if you’ve never seen such a thing before. Turn it around with your fingers and notice what colour it is.

 

Notice the folds and where the surface reflects light or becomes darker.

 

Next, explore the texture, feeling any softness, hardness, coarseness, or smoothness.

 

While you’re doing this, if thoughts arise such as “Why am I doing this weird exercise?” “How will this ever help me” or “I hate these objects” then just see if you can acknowledge these thoughts, let them be, and then bring your awareness back to the object.

 

Take the object beneath your nose and carefully notice the smell of it.

 

Bring the object to one ear, squeeze it, roll it around, and hear if there is any sound coming from it.

 

Begin to slowly take the object to your mouth, noticing how the arm knows exactly where to go and perhaps becoming aware of your mouth watering.

 

Gently place the object in your mouth, on your tongue, without biting it. Simply explore the sensation of this object in your mouth.

 

When you’re ready, intentionally bite down on the object, maybe noticing how it automatically goes to one side of the mouth versus the other. Also notice the tastes it releases.

 

Slowly chew this object.  Be aware of the saliva in your mouth and how the object changes in consistency as you chew.

 

When you feel ready to swallow, consciously notice the intention to swallow, then see if you can notice the sensations of swallowing the raisin, sensing it moving down to your throat and into your oesophagus on its way to your stomach.”

 

Then if you’ve really enjoyed doing this, you could write down your experiences noting things about the sight, touch, sound, smell and taste. Was anything suprising or did it promote any memories or thoughts as you were doing it.

 

Whilst it would be a bit time consuming to carry out this whole exercise for each meal and mouthful, we can probably easily adopt part of this exercise and become much more appreciative and conscious about our food and where it has come from.

 

Have a wonderfully mindful Xmas and New Year and enjoy every mouthful!

 

Alexis

x

 

 

One Small Step .... Variety

Posted on 25th November, 2013

 

It’s a funny thing - each time I come to write about a particular item of food, I always want to precede it with the words “the humble …”, as in, the humble chia seed or the humble beetroot.  I’m always amazed by the benefits of certain individual small foods.  However, it’s not using one particular food that is the key to optimum health, it is consuming a variety of humble healthy foods that combined together can really make a positive difference.

 

Think about breakfast for example.  In clinic I often receive client food diaries that include the same breakfast day in day out, for example, cornflakes or porridge every single day.  It’s easy to get in a rut when you’re rushing to get out of the house, sometimes we’re doing well if we get breakfast in at all.

 

Whilst these foods may have great health benefits, this kind of repetitive eating limits the opportunities to maximize our intake of key nutrients. These include not just carbohydrates, protein and fats, or even vitamins and minerals, but also some of the complex antioxidant phytonutrients that fruit and vegetables provide.

 

In my last post, I spoke about eating a rainbow, putting as many different coloured fruits and vegetables on your plate as possible.  Here’s a great link which shows the benefits of different colours. Whilst this concept is nothing new, we often don’t fully appreciate its power and how it applies to all the food we eat.

 

http://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/articles/eat-the-rainbow

 

 

Today’s post is about how to introduce variety in all the foods and meals we eat so here’s a couple of very simple tips.

 

How To Do It

 

1.  Rotate your breakfasts – if you have the same thing every day, why not add in 2 new breakfasts and rotate every   3 days. For example

 

Day 1 – Porridge with a handful of sunflower and pumpkin seeds, 2 dessertspoons of natural yoghurt and a handful of blueberries. Even if you do eat porridge every day, you could always rotate the additional foods by adding a mix of chia seeds, hemp seeds, coconut milk, almond milk, nut butters, banana, grated apple, walnuts, almonds, cashews, kiwi slices, papaya, cinnamon, raw cacao powder – the possibilities are endless.

 

Day 2 – Wholemeal toast with unsweetened peanut/almond/cashew nut butter.

 

 

Day 3 – 2 egg omelette with wilted spinach, mushrooms and sundried tomatoes.

 

2.  Challenge yourself to pick one new vegetable or fruit each week that you’ve never tried before.  Seasonal vegetables of the moment include red cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts.  All of these are members of the brassica family which have anti-cancer, liver supportive and hormone balancing benefits.

 

3.  Cook your usual vegetables in different ways.  For example, cauliflower can be roasted, or steamed and drizzled with virgin olive oil, or pulsed in a blender to make cauliflower “couscous” (this is seriously tasty, try Google for recipes). Sweet potatoes can be mashed with olive oil and black pepper or made into potato wedges and baked.

 

4.  Another challenge – pick out a new recipe each week (or even every 2 weeks) that you’ve never tried before.

 

5.  Ditch the sandwich. I went gluten free around 2 years ago and found my repertoire for lunches increased naturally and went from a daily sandwich to soups, salads, casseroles and that variety naturally increased. Try ditching the lunchtime sandwich a couple of days or more a week, and think outside of the (lunch)box.

 

6.  If you buy the same bread each week, experiment with different grains such as spelt, rye and pumpernickel varieties.

 

I hope this helps you enjoy a wider variety of foods - I’d love to hear from you if you’ve had any revelations or started to enjoy new foods, or even old foods in a different way.

One Small Step .... Eat A Rainbow

Posted on 10th November, 2013

If Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain (a famous mnemonic for remembering the colours of the rainbow, if, like my husband, you didn’t know!) maybe he should have fortified himself and his troops with a rainbow of health boosting, antioxidant rich vegetables. It could have made all the difference!

 

I spent a fabulous day last weekend at Borough Market in London. The sights, smells and mostly the colours inspired me to write this post, as well as to ramp up the colour of the food on my own plate. Here are some of the mouth-wateringly colourful photos I took.

 

 

 

So Why Should We Eat A Rainbow

 

The natural phytochemicals that give vegetables and fruits their bright colours have profound positive effects on our health, including reducing our risk of heart disease, cancer and premature ageing as well as supporting optimum immune system function.  Simply put, the wider the range of colours we eat, the wider the range of antioxidants and other health promoting substances we consume. This week’s challenge is to try and include 3 different colours of fruits and vegetables with each meal.  

 

How To Do It

 

Breakfast 

  • To a smoothie add spinach, blueberries and strawberries.
  • To eggs add spinach, sundried tomatoes and sautéed orange peppers.
  • To porridge or muesli add blueberries, raspberries and kiwi slices.
  • Go Turkish - tomatoes, cucumber and olives as a side with a serving of goats cheese and boiled eggs

 

Lunch

  • Make a soup with kale, butternut squash and sweet potatoes
  • Mega-salad – this is easy, add green leaves, red, yellow or orange peppers, red onions, grated raw beetroot, sweetcorn, coleslaw, tomatoes, radishes, fresh herbs such as coriander, basil and oregano.
  • Sandwiches – add tomatoes, raw peppers and rocket

 

Dinner

  • Add a side dish of roasted veg roasted in coconut oil – tasty choices are red onions, butternut squash, peppers, courgettes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips and aubergines. Not necessarily all together.
  • Simple stir fry – make batons of carrots, peppers, spring onions and add a source of green such as peas, spinach, pak choy or curly kale.
  • If you’re a simple meat and 2 veg kind of person, add another veg and just gently steam some broccoli, carrots and instead of having regular potato, swap to sweet potatoes or a vegetable mash of carrots, parsnips and celeriac.

 

Job Done!