Famous Vegans and Vegetarians – Who Made the V List?

vegansandvegetarians

It seems as though celebrities are always taking on new and somewhat bizarre ways to get healthy (like when Jennifer Aniston went on the ‘baby food diet’).

Celebrity vegans however are a bit harder to spot. An article by Medical News Today listed about a dozen famous vegans and vegetarians and I must admit we were curious to see who made the V LIST!

While top of their list is Alicia Silverstone, who some will remember from her role in Clueless. At 21, she turned vegan and has since released a vegan cookbook and speaks at seminars about the diet. She claims she sleeps like a baby and her energy levels have increased dramatically since giving up animal products.

Most notable to us though were the big world “game changers” like Mahatma Gandhi and Albert Einstein.  Where would we be with out their influence and wisdom?

Another maybe less well known vegan is Jim Morris, an 80 year old bodybuilder from the U.S. He credits his health to his excellent diet, and well, let’s just say he looks a little less than 80…

Also on the list are famous musicians and singers like Paul McCartney and Sinead O’Connor.  Perhaps: Nothing compares to…  a plant based diet when it comes to your health!

Read the article at Medical News Today

Saturated Fat and Cardiovascular Disease – Is There a Link?

satfat

We recently read a meta-analysis of 21 cohort studies related to the relationship between cardiovascular disease (CVD), heart disease and stroke. Before reading, the assumption for most people is that there will be a positive link between them, given that that is what we have been told up to now. However, the conclusion from all 21 studies is that dietary saturated fat does not increase the risk of CVD, heart disease or stroke1. We then got to reading a few other studies and found that the scientific research on this is quite inconclusive. What we do know however is that there are a range of lifestyle factors that contribute to these conditions such as smoking and a lack of physical activity. It might also be the total amount of fat in the diet that is just as important as the type of fat.

Saturated fat comes mainly from animal products including meat, milk, butter and cheese, however it is also found in high concentrations in coconuts. At Healthy Meals to Your Door we cook a lot of our meals in coconut oil as we believe it to be a more natural, plant-based fat option.

It must be said though, we do not believe that all saturated fats, or fats and oils in general for that matter, are created equal and perhaps that may explain why its difficult for these studies to come to one specific conclusion.

It appears saturated fat may not be the villain it was first suspected to be, when it comes to heart disease though we still believe that quality and quantity and the source of a fat will influence its affect on your health.

We also know that fats are typically a “companion food” eaten with other things or naturally present in different foods, and it would be interesting to know the extend of the effect of the other components and compounds consumed alongside the fats in these foods.  For example there is saturated fat in meat like lamb, and saturated fat in fruit like coconuts and saturated fat in milk like cream, which is present in cheese or yoghurt or separated into pure saturated fat like butter, all of which are whole foods and arguably healthy in moderation.  But what happens when the fats are highly processed or homogenised or are part of a complicated, highly processed ingredient list, like in bottled milk, biscuits, confectionery, hamburgers, donuts, pies and sausages?  Perhaps a topic for another blog post…

1. Siri-Tarino, P., Sun, Q., Hu, F., & Krauss, R. (2010). Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Retrieved from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2010/01/13/ajcn.2009.27725.abstract

 

Can You Train Yourself To Like Healthy Food?

greenjuiceIf only spinach tasted like biscuits…well what if you could make this happen simply by training your brain to like the taste of healthy foods?

That is what new research from Nutrition & Diabetes has said after they looked at overweight individuals that were placed in a diet program. This program included an increased intake of high-fibre, low-GI foods and a lesser intake of unhealthy food like sweets.

Those that were placed in the program responded more positively to images of healthy food (think grilled salmon with vegetables) than images of unhealthy food (1). These findings further help us to understand how our love for sweets and junk food builds up over time in response to us continuing to eat what is available in our toxic food environment.

Similarly, another study has suggested that portion control can play a large part in changing eating habits. Instead of eating a whole plate of unhealthy food the researchers advise lowering the portion of unhealthy food on the plate while simultaneously increasing the amount of healthy food (2). By combining nutritious and not-so-nutritious foods you are able to still fulfill your taste goals while also training yourself to get used to the tastes of healthy food.

The good news is, there is an abundance of research out there that consistently shows that, if all else fails: “repeated exposure works”.  The extent to which a food is familiar, particularly with children will often determine whether it is acceptable and likeable … or eaten.

That means, undoubtedly the answer is yes… you can train yourself to like healthy food!

We do get clients asking if our meals are tasty as well as healthy, in fact, I had an email the other day asking if our meals were “nutritious and delicious”.  The meals that we provide at Healthy Meals to Your Door have been carefully created by a nutritionist and chef to ensure that they are both.  We intend that there is an equal amount of nutrition and pleasure of taste provided on every plate!  We hope that you will find the same!

[1] Deckersbach, T., et al. (2014). Pilot randomized trial demonstrating reversal of obesity-related abnormalities in reward system responsivity to food cues with a behavioural intervention. Nutrition & Diabetes, 4(9). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4183968/

[2] Vanderbilt University. (2014). Size matters when convincing your brain to eat healthier foods.

[3] Cooke, L. (2007). The Importance of Exposure for Healthy Eating in Childhood: A Review. Journal of Human Nutrition & Dietetics. Vol: 20. Issue 4.

Does watching TV negatively impact our perceptions of food?

tvandfoodperceptions

An article by Science Daily has summarized the findings of a study by Appetite that looked at television programs and adverts showing the consumption of fast food.

Research from the study found that people who watched TV more thought that fast food had more positive effects than negative ones. They perceived the health risks to be lower than what they actually are, and their relationship with fast food was biased and not based on reality. The study consisted of 1000 adolescents, with ‘heavy TV watchers’ being ones who watched hours of TV per day.

This study further highlights just how damaging these activities could be for not only the health of teenagers but also their perceptions and attitudes toward fast food. As other research has demonstrated, childhood and adolescent-hood is an important time to learn and establish certain behaviours and views, especially when it comes to food. This further shows the importance of eating together as a family and demonstrating mindful eating in front of children.

Check out a few of our other blog posts on these topics including:

1. Healthy Eating Tips for Parents – The Antidote to “Destroying Your Kids Lives”

2. Tips and Ideas for Fussy Eaters

Read the article by Science Daily at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151019124029.htm

Read the study by Appetite at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666315002561

Addicted To Cheese? There May Be A Reason Why…

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Sometimes I ask my clients which food they would find hardest to give up. Ironically it is often a food they are highly sensitive too, but don’t realise it, and this will give me clues as to what those foods might be. Interestingly cheese and chocolate feature a lot… and it may be something to do with casein and how it acts a little bit like an opiate in the brain.

The University of Michigan recently completed a study using about 500 participants that focused on which items/products serve as the ‘drugs’ of the food world. From their findings they produced a list of foods that were most addictive and foods that were least addictive. You may or may not be surprised that unprocessed items like salmon and brown rice were not associated with addictive eating behaviours, while highly processed foods were. These included chips and cakes, but topping the list was: pizza.

As we know, most processed foods have one thing in common: a tantalizing fat and sugar combo. And pizza… has fatty oozy gooey… you guessed it, cheese! Of course, there are also the added sugars in the tomato sauce and the refined carbs in the dough that turn on the dopamine receptors in our brain (the chemicals that are highly linked to addiction), but cheese seems to have a certain ingredient that is responsible for getting us hooked: casein. Casein is the protein found in all milk products but exists in cheese in higher concentrations (it takes 10 pounds of milk to produce 1 pound of cheese).

But how is casein related to addiction? Well when casein breaks down it releases a compound called casomorphins. These casomorphins then interact with our dopamine receptors, which, as we know, play a huge role in controlling pain, reward and addictive behaviours in the brain. So yes, there is an addictive potential of cheese and other processed foods …

Another thing milk products have in them is trytophan (an amino acid), and when coupled with a sugary delivery system, like found in chocolate, or dairy products which do naturally contain sugars like lactose, but often processed food contain additional sugars as well. Serotonin is our happy or calming neurotransmitter in the brain. People report seemingly calming and sedating – drug like effects of eating chocolate or cheese. Tryptophan is the key amino acid in the formation of serotonin… our calming happy hormone.

It is no wonder people feel like they can’t live without cheese … and chocolate.

The next step would be to know how to get un-addicted to them, or perhaps even more attractive for some is to know how to get the high without the negative consequence… but that may be for another post…

Read the study here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4334652/

European Countries Put A Stop To GMO’s

gmo

An article by Ecowatch has recently informed us of the results from the European anti-GMO wave. Nineteen European countries have decided to say a big no to GMO’s, representing 65% of the European population and 66% of its farmable land. This means that genetically modified crops will not be allowed to be grown in the countries that have chosen to opt out. A few of these countries include Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, France, Poland and Hungary.

Genetically modified crops are crops that have had their DNA modified to add some sort of commercial benefit that the natural plant does not naturally possess. It could be for the purpose of pest and disease resistance or to change the nutrient profile of the plant.

GMO’s have long been under discussion by environmental groups and governments on whether they are safe for human consumption, given that they usually produce certain chemical toxins and compounds that could be harmful for human consumption.

Fortunately, the only GM crops that Australia grows are canola and cotton which we can consume in the form of oil. Unfortunately, Australia imports a lot of food from the US and most of these are genetically modified. Reading labels and buying mostly organic produce can help if you want to avoid GM foods.

Read the article by Ecowatch at: http://ecowatch.com/2015/10/05/european-union-ban-gmos/

Mummy’s Touch

Family Dinners | www.healthymealstoyourdoor.com.au

There’s nothing quite like mum’s cooking, and children often get used to what they know.  (And even if your child is a fussy eater and you are convinced they eat nothing you make you may be surprised by how attached to your cooking or feeding style they are.)

If you are trying something new, or want to give our family dinners a try but are worried your kids won’t eat it, I just wanted to put a few words of encouragement out there for you, the parents (mums and dads- or whoever is slaving away in the kitchen).  Firstly our family plans are popular and are designed to be family and child friendly… but here are some extra tips and tricks to help the transition.

  1. Repeated exposure works: research shows we have a preference for the familiar when it comes to our eating.  So if they don’t like it the first time, it doesn’t mean they will never like it, it just means it might be a new experience.
  2. Put your signature on it:  if your kids love your cooking, they may discourage a solution that excludes it, so one solution for a no fuss win-win is to add “a bit of you to the mix”.  This might be in the way you plate up food, or it might be in a side dish you create: turn veggies into “mum’s mashed veggies” or mushy peas, or make some of your famous guacamole or salsa to accompany the meal.  Or you might add one of their favorite foods to the mix to “sweeten the deal”, for example if they love pasta, serve some as a side with the casserole, or give them some extra corn on the cob or some baked beans on the side.  More of what they love, less of what’s new… and then gradually shift the balance.
  3. Lead by example: eat with them and enjoy the luxury!
  4. Eat to nourish! Tick. That’s one less thing to worry about. We’ve taken care of the planning and cooking for you. Bon Appetit!
  5. Give it a fabulous name:  I have a four year old and she loves it when I give food interesting or fun names or I arrange food into shapes on her plate.  “Lovely heart shaped Prawn Risotto with Green Pearls tonight! Dinner fit for a mermaid!”
  6. Add your own seasoning.  We deliberately don’t add salt to our cooking or artificial flavors and colours etc.  Feel free to “jooj” up the meals to your taste: add extra chili, add a sprinkle of Himilayan or sea salt, drizzle some olive oil on the greens, chop some fresh herbs into the salads and vegan dishes.
  7. Get them involved.  Get them heating, or serving or involved somehow so it feels like: “Wow! Now even I can make dinner!”

We love hearing from our families.  We love that you care about their health and we love your input into creating new favorite meals… please keep it coming!

 

*Photo of my daughter Brooke taken by friend Myrna Widlend

What happens if you don’t eat a healthy balanced diet? What are the risks?

www.healthymealstoyourdoor.com.au | healthy meal planWe all know that eating healthy is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and our bodies. But do we all really know the risks we are taking if we don’t eat a balanced nutritious diet? Probably not, seeing as though the list of potential risks and dangers could go on forever. Eating a diet that is high in junk food is quite unnecessary; in fact, the dictionary meaning of junk food portrays it as something useless and not needed. This type of diet will not provide your body with the right amount of nutrients, nor will it benefit energy levels, risk of diseases or weight control. In fact, as well as not doing any of these things it will also cause a wide range of consequences. We have listed some of these below.

 

Nutrient Deficiencies

If you consume foods that don’t provide enough nutrient value, your nutrient levels will start to decline. There are many, many dangers of a nutrient deficiency, including digestion problems, defected bone growth, anaemia and skin problems. Children are at a high risk of nutrient deficiencies so it is important to make sure that they are being completely nourished with the right foods.

Diabetes

Because junk food is high in refined carbohydrates, it causes rapid spikes in blood sugar. This causes an influx of insulin to be released into the blood stream. When this starts to happen often, it can causes a lot of stress on one’s metabolism, which then affects the body’s ability to manage insulin levels. If this continues to happen over a period of time, a person can easily get type 2 diabetes.  When diabetes is not managed well with a healthy balanced diet, the consequences are not nice to say the least! Kidney failure, blindness and lower limb amputation are just a few of those.

Weight Gain

It is no secret that an unhealthy diet causes weight gain. By unhealthy diet we mean a diet high in processed foods and low in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, pulses and good fats.

Poor Concentration & Behavioural Problems in Children

It’s amazing how much food can really affect us. In both adolescents and children, consuming an unhealthy diet has been linked to poor concentration, social problems and hyperactivity. There is quite a lot of research out there to support this, but a book by Schauss, A. (1980) uses case histories and literature to present a solid argument on just how detrimental an unhealthy diet can be for children’s behaviour. Food allergies, food additives, nutrient deficiencies, intake of junk food and physical inactivity are all highlighted as potential contributors to criminal behaviour. In addition, an unhealthy diet has also been linked to mental health problems, such as depression, in children and adolescents (O’Neil, A et. al). Starting to consume a healthy balanced diet has even been proven to benefit children with mental health problems.

A nutritious balanced diet is essential for health and well-being, not only for us but for our children as well. Healthy Meals To Your Door prides itself on providing delicious healthy meals, with each meal giving you a balanced serve of nutrients and vitamins. Why not order today at www.healthymealstoyourdoor.com.au

 

References:

Schauss, A. (1980). Diet, Crime and Delinquency. Parker House, United States of America.

O’Neil, A. (2014). Relationship Between Diet and Mental Health in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review. Am J Public Health, 104(10): 31-42. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4167107/

Holiday Date Balls

holiday date balls | http://www.healthymealstoyourdoor.com.au

The goodies:

1 cup (250ml) pitted dates

½ cup (125ml) walnuts

½ cup (125ml) desiccated coconut

4tbsp (60ml) sunflower seeds

A pinch of Himalayan salt

2tbsp honey or 30ml agave nectar

¼ cup (60ml) sesame seeds toasted, or desiccated coconut (optional)

The fun:

Place all the ingredients, except agave nectar and sesame seeds in a food processor and pulse until well-chopped but not pulverised.

Add agave nectar and process for 30 seconds.

Take teaspoonfuls of the mixture and roll into balls.

Roll in toasted sesame seeds or desiccated coconut (optional)

Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Bet you think you eat healthier than most! What if you are wrong?

do you eat healthier than most|www.healthymealstoyourdoor.com.au

Most people in today’s general population would answer yes if you asked them whether our population’s eating habits are on average, unhealthy. But would we be so quick to judge our own eating habits? According to a study published this year, it seems not. Sixty participants were sat down in front of a 72-food buffet and asked to plate one meal for themselves and one for their peer. Now, you would think that these two plates of food would be nearly identical, correct? Well according to the study, people actually chose foods that were higher in calories for their peers (1). The participant’s actions in this study indicate that people tend to assume that their peers would choose foods that are more unhealthy and higher in calories than they do, feeding the perception of “I eat healthier than you”. This perception of one’s self can be concerning, given that it goes against western population data indicating that most people eat a diet that is way too energy-dense, high in fat and low in whole fruits and vegetables.  It also means that if someone else is dishing up your food, they may be feeding you a more unhealthy diet than you might choose for yourself.  (Note, that the participants serving the food did not necessarily make healthy choices they just made more unhealthy choices for their peers, assuming their peers choices would have been worse than theirs.)

In a similar vein, a study conducted right here in Australia by the Cancer Council and Heart Foundation found that people think it is now ‘normal’ to skip breakfast, overeat and snack on treats frequently. Half of the study population believed that their diet was ‘healthy’ when in fact only 7% were eating the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables per day (2).

There is clearly a major disconnect between what one perceives to be a healthy diet and what is actually a healthy diet. Due to the strong connection between an unhealthy diet and illness/disease, it is concerning that our views and perceptions are not more accurate. It means that instead of actively seeking out help or trying to modify their behaviour, people are more likely to do nothing because they believe their diet is ‘healthy’, or at least “healthier than others” when in reality, it may not be.

How do you perceive your diet? Do you view it as unhealthy or healthy, and why do you see it that way?

References:

[1] Sproesser, G., Kohlbrenner, V., Schupp, H., & Renner, B. (2015). I eat healthier than you: differences in healthy and unhealthy food choices for oneself and for others. Nutrients, 7: 4638-4660.

[2] Cancer Council Australia. (2015). The Shape of Victoria Study. Retrieved from www.cancervic.org.au