Nutrition & Wellbeing

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LittleBee Kitchen helps demystify some of the biggest topics surrounding food and drink…..

Good Fat v Bad Fat

Half the problem with the subject of fat in food is that a lot of us were brought up under the impression that eating fat makes you fat. This theory is increasingly being debunked, and the science is now leaning towards advocating certain fats in our diet. This relates to naturally-produced, healthy “good fats”; for example, unprocessed organic full-fat dairy (cheese, butter, milk etc.), avocado, oily fish and nuts. These should be featuring high on our shopping list, however, is also important to bear in mind that fat is dense in calories, and although these can be beneficial calories we shouldn’t go mad eating a whole bag of nuts because it’s “good for us”, the rule is everything in moderation.

The Carbohydrate Conundrum

We’ve all seen the Hollywood starlets who maintain their svelte physiques by carb-dodging. But is it the answer? The problem with carbs is that we both need them, yet need them under control. Those who are extremely active / exercise a great deal need some carbs to fuel them and we ALL need them to an extent to support our mental health and to aid vital metabolic processes that take place within our body. The trick lies in the TYPE of carb you consume. There is a popular, scientifically evidenced theory that avoiding starchy, white carbs – so white pasta, rice & bread – is the best place to start, these varieties of refined carbohydrates contain more sugars and little nutrition value. Instead try a combination of quinoa, freekeh, spelt, wild/brown rice or buckwheat, in place of the white options, and where you can reduce your intake of gluten, it is understood that a high proportion of us have an intolerance to this protein present in varying amounts within most grains, and its consumption is best to be kept minimal.

The Best Sources of Protein

Protein should be a substantial component in our diets – and even more so for those with a demanding exercise regime or trying to lose weight (in this case protein helps to keep us feeling full, thereby reducing temptation for snacking on unhealthy foods). Of course we know that protein is in animal produce and – so long as we use healthier cooking methods – this is a perfect way to get your protein. But there are plenty of other sources too; tofu, tempeh, lentils, chickpeas, beans and pulses are full of protein, as are some seeds and grains such as quinoa and amaranth, and don’t forget the veg – peas, mushrooms, kale and corn – amongst many others – are also valuable sources of protein.

How Can I Get My five (or 10!) A Day?

Recent recommendations suggest that we need to up our fruit & veg intake to 10 portions a day, not the five we’ve been told we should be consuming. Is this achievable, or will we all be walking round like human compost heaps? It’s actually incredibly easy to do. As with all the advice we offer at LittleBee Kitchen, we prefer to focus on veg intake over fruit (while fruit is natural sugar, it is still sugar, and some of the higher sugar fruits should only be enjoyed in moderation). Juices and smoothies – aim for a higher ratio of veg to fruit – are a great way to get a large percentage into your system, and we always recommend that people eat something green with breakfast – veg can even be hidden in your morning bowl of porridge! A couple of portions of vegetables with each main meal, and crudité or a piece of fruit as a snack means you’re well on your way without really trying too hard. We always advise keeping some veg in the freezer, so there’s always something on-hand when the fridge is bare!

Meat-Free Mondays & Plant-Based Living

There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that we all eat too much animal produce and that it is not optimal for our digestion to operate efficiently, nor is it sustainable for the planet. The Meat Free Monday movement has done a great deal to help encourage people to think about skipping meat and fish entirely one day a week – and let people see how easy it is to do. Vegetarianism cuts out fish, fowl and flesh but includes eggs and dairy products, veganism goes one step further and ALL animal produce is out. The vegan lifestyle has gained a huge amount of followers in recent years, with some of the newest names in healthy eating advocating it, and some of our more established chefs shifting over to that style of cooking for their own wellbeing.

Nowadays there is a wide range of food available to help create interesting meals if you choose to eat this way, but they are also easy to make yourself so try not to rely on the shop bought pre-packaged items as your main eating option, and remember to keep an eye out on LittleBee’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds for some inspiration!

What is Eating Clean, and is it the answer?

Clean-Eating is a catch-all phrase that the media has gone wild for in the past few years and its definition is a bit of a grey area, some followers suggest cutting additives and preservatives, others advocate only having a few ingredients per dish, eliminating sugar and alcohol etc. But of course, as with everything we always recommend balance. So much evidence shows that denial of what we want results in overeating on those foods that are far away from the suggested ‘Clean’ regime, we also dislike the insinuation that something which isn’t ‘Clean’ is therefore ‘Dirty’ and that is a very bad message to be sending out or feeling.

The Effect of Alcohol…..

As with everything, it’s all about moderation and there are well-known health benefits to enjoying a small glass of red wine – we said a glass!!! There are also certain drinks which are healthier than others – so a vodka and soda with fresh lime juice, or a gin and Fever Tree low sugar tonic are a more suitable option for those watching their waistline; another one we like is a small 125ml glass of white wine in a pint of soda water, it lasts longer and has lesser calories than a usual white wine spritzer.

The issue with alcohol is that it is high in calories (often referred to as wasted calories as they provide virtually no nutritional benefit), its sugar content converts to fat in our bodies, heightens cravings for carbohydrates and can leave us feeling tired the following day (alcohol can impact negatively on our quality of sleep) craving high carbohydrate foods. But equally it is important to enjoy life and keep stress levels at a minimum, if that means the odd glass of wine to aid relaxation, or a drink socialising with friends and family then that’s exactly what you should happily do.

The main thing to remember though is that we are all unique and respond to food and liquids in different ways, it isn’t a one rule fits all existence we should be living, it is about working out what is right for you in both body and mind.

We hope this helps answer some of the questions you may have – and please contact us at littlebeekitchen@outlook.com if we can help further.

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