Sunday, 24 March 2013

Don't Ditch the Carbs!

This morning as it was the weekend we all had breakfast together and enjoyed a bowl of porridge each. I combined it with blueberries, cinnamon and maple syrup and it was delicious. 

Recently I read an article in the Guardian about Gwyneth Paltrow where she was talking about feeding her children. She said that she avoided giving them pasta, bread and rice because they are not good for them. She also admitted that this is the same sort of diet she follows when she has been overindulging and wants to lose weight. According to the UK Food Standard Agency carbohydrates should make up a third of our diet. It is a shame that many people are choosing to exclude this from their diet especially if they are trying to lose weight. Carbohydrates are important energy foods. They also provide fibre, calcium, iron and B Vitamins. They fuel the body and children especially need a lot of energy dense foods since they are active and growing. Restricting carbohydrates can lead to low energy levels, fatigue, poor concentration and in severe cases ketosis. Instead of excluding them from your diet here are a few suggestions to incorporate them into your daily diet to maintain a healthy weight or aid weight loss. 

1) Think whole grains. Brown rice or pasta, wholemeal bread or wholegrain cereals. These are unprocessed grains. This means that they take longer for your body to digest them and energy is released more slowly into your bloodstream. This leaves you feeling fuller for longer. We should all be eating less refined carbohydrates such as cakes, biscuits and white pasta, white rice or white bread. They release energy more quickly into our body and can cause a sharp rise in blood sugar and then a slump. This can leave us unsatisfied and craving more foods. Switch white bread for wholemeal, biscuits for oatcakes, cornflakes for porridge and white pasta and rice for brown. Not only will you find your self more satisfied but you will also be increasing your intake of fibre.

2) Watch portion sizes. I like to weigh my portions of pasta or rice when cooking. It is hard to estimate how much you are putting into a saucepan and how much they expand when cooked. I find a good portion size is generally 75g of rice and 50-75 grams of pasta and couscous when served with meat/fish and vegetables. It should make up a quarter of your plate. The protein part of your meal (meat, fish or vegetarian alternatives such as tofu, pulses or eggs) should also make up a quarter, The veg should make up the other half. If you are trying to lose weight then you may want to have slightly less rice or pasta and more veg. However do not exclude them altogether as you will find you have less energy and may end up reaching for the unhealthy snacks because you are hungry. This could lead to you gaining more weight in the long run.

3) Pair carbohydrates with protein. Including protein with every meal has been shown to aid weight loss because it increases satiety levels. So for breakfast instead of just toast choose porridge with semi skimmed milk and a few flaked almonds. As a snack have a banana and a few walnuts or oatcakes with reduced cream cheese. For lunch choose a baked potato with tinned fish such as sardines or tuna or baked beans. 

4) Slim down the sauces. Often people think starchy foods are fattening. However gram for gram they contain fewer than half the calories of fat. Added fats during cooking increase the calorie content. Cheese sauce with pasta, butter and cheese on baked potato are not so healthy. Instead switch to more healthy options. Choose to serve pasta with a home made tomato sauce. If you pack it with lots of veg such as mushrooms, peppers, courgettes and/or aubergines you will find it a filling and healthy meal. When having a baked potato leave out the butter and instead of cheese choose baked beans or prawns with low fat mayo.   

Just because Gwyneth Paltrow looks great skinny people can be unhealthy too.  Its over the long term that our food choices add up and make sense or can cause us problems.  I much prefer to put the Five Star Fuel in my body.

Porridge Recipe
Serves 2

1 cup or 100g porridge oats. I like to use 75g rolled and 25g of jumbo oats
1 cup or 200ml semi skimmed milk
1 cup or 200ml of boiling water
1tbsp blueberries
1 tsp of cinnamon
2 teaspoons of maple syrup plus extra to serve

Put all the ingredients in a medium saucepan
Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes until thickened
Serve with an extra drizzle of maple syrup and maybe a few flaked almonds

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