Oh my gosh! Uni, exams and a trip to Fiji have meant this blog has been severely neglected. But I was sent an interesting article today by a reader that spurred me to add some of my own tips.
The article is here and outlines how to navigate the supermarket, some common food myths, what to, and what not to eat, and simple ways to get around this.
I like it because it is what I live by, and is also correct. So many articles and advice provided by nutritionists advocates things like margarine – which I wrote about and explained here, and also advise the use of low fat dairy which is basically sugar.
One of the main discussions lately has been about the detrimental effects of sugar – and that if we had had a low sugar craze rather than low fat the world would be a much better place. A great video that will explain it is Sugar: The Bitter Truth. It is not short but outlines the way sugar is digested, and how easily is turns to fat, and discusses how fructose is metabolised like alcohol and causes issues with the liver. Just the name triglycerides gives away the fact that most stomach fat is sugar – glyceride from glucose. Another great resource if you are looking at giving the No sugar diet a try is Sarah Wilsons, I Quit Sugar – she has multiple books and recipes available, and has a great Facebook page with lots of info. If you do need to buy products with added sugar, be aware that glucose is much better than fructose/sucralose/aspartame etc, and remember that 5gm equals one teaspoon of sugar. If something has 20gm sugar in it, would you be happy eating 4tsp of sugar??
Now getting back to the article, my lovely reader asked if I had any extra tips – and the one I sent back was the 80:20 rule – which I’m sure I’ve spoken about before. Aim to be good at least 80% of the time, and the other 20 will keep you sane, is how I see it. Don’t become so pedantic about what you eat that the stress of it is causing more issues by releasing too much cortisol! (which will lower your immunity and put you in an oxidative state).
We buy and make all of our food from scratch (apart from some basics of course), and a lot of people are baffled at how we do that. Once you start you will see how easy and often cost effective it can be.
Some other easy supermarket tips to help avoid sugar and processed foods include:
Cooking your own simple pasta sauce. I don’t mean slaving away in the kitchen for hours, nor making a bolognese. I mean cooking a tomato based sauce in a few minutes like the ones you would buy in a jar with an essay worth of ingredients.
Just grab some tinned tomatoes or pureed tomato passata, put it in a pan with some sauteed onion and garlic, add some chilli if you like spice, and some basil – viola! Its probably cheaper than a ready made sauce! And to that I would normally add some veg like zucchini, mushroom, kale etc. You could add ricotta and spinach, oregano, parsley, bacon (part of the 20% sorry), mince of course, or chicken. A dash of cream if you like it a bit richer and you have a meal in under 30 minutes.
Ready made stir-fry sauces in foil made by Maggi etc are another thing I refuse to buy – of course some of the basics are already processed like soy, oyster, fish sauce, and hoisin, but find one that is the least offensive/organic, or just use chilli, garlic, ginger, and five spice like I do. Simple, cheap, fresh and delicious. If you store ginger in the freezer it is really easy to grate and adds such a great flavour.
Another one that frustrates me is pancake mix. It is so so simple to make pancakes from scratch and has 1/10th the ingredients. One egg. One cup of flour. One cup of milk. That is it. If you want to feed more people, double/triple it. Will make about 6-8 depending on how big you like them. Just mix it all up, let it rest a few minutes and ladle into the pan. If you like them fluffy rather than thin, use self raising.
That goes for cake/muffin/cupcake mixes too – they drive me crazy and taste so artificial. Recipes with butter, eggs, flour and milk are everywhere, and we have most of these things in our cupboards. I am not vegetarian as you can see, but these can be substituted for olive oil, flax ‘eggs’, spelt flour, and soy/rice/almond milk etc.
One question my reader found hard to comprehend in the article was how bad breakfast cereals are. They are so processed that the grain portion, whether it is wheat or corn or rice, breaks down in the body so quickly and converts to sugar as there is no fibre or protein left to sustain it. And when eaten with low fat milk that has had the fat removed (but would slows the absorption of sugar/carbs and lowers the GI) it is going to make you hungry by 10am. I always have protein for breakfast, after a nights ‘fasting’ you need to eat it or your body will start taking it from muscles. And the heart is a muscle so this is important. I have eggs, or sardines on toast, or quinoa porridge. I try and make sure I get my 20gm of protein at breakfast time. Milk and yoghurt provide some, but not normally enough. If you like oats have then with milk and nuts.
To be honest I’m finding it hard to write this post as this is just what I do, and have done for many years, so to think about what people buy processed and don’t know how to make from scratch is tough! I would love you to add comments and ask questions so I can add more tips and recipes!
I will expand on these topics in upcoming posts as well :)