What is the most unhealthy food you eat? That was a question I asked at a recent Home Coaching Healthy Food At Work Workshop.
For me the answer would be a Mars bar. However, one standard Mars bar contains around 280 kcalories, 43g of sugar and 6.4g of saturated fat. Does that matter? Well if I only occasionally have one as a treat, then not at all, I am a great advocate of the fact that there is no such thing as an unhealthy food, but unhealthy diets. It is not an occassional treat that matters but our more regular dietary habbits.
Maybe for me one of the reasons a Mars bar is my treat, is because when I was ill as a child, my grandmother would wrap me up in her comfy chair, let me watch TV and give me a drink and a pate with a mars bar cut up into slices. I enjoyed the slices during the day, and perhaps there is great wisdom in cutting up a treat to make it last.
It is not that we want to see some foods as “bad” or not be enjoyed occasionally, after all, as soon as we tell ourselves we can never eat something, we usually start craving it! Increasingly though, it is sugar that we are seeing as being a real health issue, and it is recommended that we should have no more than 30g of sugar ( 7 cubes) a day.(World health Organisation) Sugar can harm us even if we don’t put on weight – lowering of beneficial gut bacteria– fluctuating blood sugar levels wreaks hormone production, contributing to excess fat around our middle, inflammation, heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, auto immune conditions, the list goes on…
Sugar fulfils four of the five criteria for an addictive substance, so my advice is to go easy and wean your self off sugar. I have found this really works, and now find some of the sweet things I once enjoyed, just too sweet now!
And i’t not just what we eat, drinks can contain a really high level of sugar. Just one 500 ml bottle of Coca Cola contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar, which is more than an adult woman’s maximum recommended intake of added sugar for the whole day. So have a check on the label of drinks and remember we should have no more than 30g of sugar a day.
Public Health England has released a new phone app which can count the amount of sugar in a product.The app comes as Public Health England has warned that many British children are consuming their own body weight in sugar each year. The Sugar Smart app can be downloaded in the App Store or Google Play and ITV News has put together a guide on how to use this app.
One way I find to combat both the urge for sweetness and the grabbing of food on the go, is to plan ahead. If I have my breakfast smoothie, (banana, oats, nut butter & milk) I have both quick release and slower release carbs to give me energy, with protein which will slow down that blood sugar rush even more. I can blend it and go even if I’ve no time to stop, and will be less likely to be thinking of cake mid-morning.
Taking nutritious food to have at work, or when out and about saves us time and stress as well as money (what home coaching is all about in fact). We have it with us when neaded and we know we won’t be tempted in shops by the less healthy options.
Here are some of my favourite /easy to prepare at work recipes, which I shared at the recent Home Coaching Healthy Food At Work Workshop at A Tarmac cement works, health week.
Tuna Pasta Salad
440g leftover cooked pasta (about 200g dried)
100g can tuna in oil
400g can cannellini beans, (borlotti or butterbeans are also good)
1⁄2 red onion, or bunch spring onions, finely chopped
zest and juice 1 lemon
large handful parsley
Tip into a bowl. Mix through the remaining ingredients (the warm pasta will really soak up the flavours). If using chilled leftover pasta, simply mix everything together – it will still taste great. You can also add some mayonnaise. Can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days.On the day, add chopped cucumber, tomatoes, tinned sweetcorn etc.
200g/7oz canned chickpeas
2 tbsp lemon juice or more
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
100ml/3½fl oz tahini (sesame seed paste) optional
4 tbsp water
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp paprika
Drain the chickpeas and rinse. Reserve a few whole chick peas for serving.
Combine the chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, tahini, and water in a food processor, or with stick blender, and blend to a creamy purée.
Add more lemon juice, garlic, cumin or salt to taste. Turn out into a dinner plate, and make smooth with the back of a spoon. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and scatter with the reserved chickpeas.
Sprinkle with paprika and serve with pita bread, bread sticks, vegetable sticks, in a wrap with salad.
Porridge in the microwave
For each person use ½ cup rolled oats, 1 cup water, and ½ cup low-fat milk.
Mix rolled oats, water, and milk in a bowl (use a large bowl to prevent spilling over when cooking).
Cook uncovered in the microwave on high power for 1 ½ minutes. Stir.
Cook for another minute. Repeat if necessary until it boils and thickens, and becomes smooth and creamy.
Tip:Add your favourite toppings such as sliced banana, sultanas, canned or fresh fruit, chopped dates, or yoghurt.
Sweet Potato Curry
1 onion chopped
1″ piece of ginger, peeled & finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
2 crushed or chopped cloves of garlic
1 teasp garam masala
1 teasp ground turmeric
1 teasp ground cumin
1 teasp ground coriander seeds
1 or 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
chopped vegetables of choice eg. Cauliflower, green beans, red pepper
1 banana (optional)
Dry fry onion, ginger, chillies & garlic.
Add spices and some water with seasoning or stock
Add chopped vegetables and cook for 10 minutes
Add chopped banana
Serve with yoghurt mixed with cucumber and mint.
900ml chicken or vegetable stock (or Miso soup mix)
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, about 175g/6oz (or any cooked chicken)
1 tsp chopped fresh root ginger
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
50g rice or wheat noodles
Bag of stir fry vegetables
2 tsp soy sauce, plus extra for serving
mint or basil leaves and a little shredded chilli (optional), to serve
Gently fry the vegetables(and cut up raw chicken if using raw chicken) in some oil (toasted sesame seed oil or coconut oil)
Add stock and noodles. Season with soy sauce and herbs, to taste.
Egg in a Nest
Potato (approx. 150g)
1 rasher bacon
half a red pepper
1 spoon red kidney beans
pinch of chilli powder (optional)
half teasp. paprika
peel & dice potato, microwave cook with a little water for 2 minutes on full power
heat a little oil in a pan and fry chopped bacon and onion, add paprika and chilliesadd potato, pepper and beans, mix well
spoon mixture into a bowl, leaving a hollow in the centre
At this point you can cover the owl and take it to work sith you to add the egg and cook for 2 minutes!
break egg into the hollow, pierce skin of yolk with a cocktail stick/folk
cover dish with a plate and microwave cook for approx. 2 minutes until egg white has set
sprinkle with extra paprika
I had a great day at this work place, with groups of workers choosing which recipes they wanted to have a go at, and then trying the different foods. If you would like me to come to your workplace (if in Yorkshire or Derbyshire, UK) please contact me. I would love to hear what healthy food you take to or make at work, and also your experiences of cutting down on sugar. Please comment below.