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eating healthily

How to eat healthily and stay hydrated

The McDonald’s years were not kind. Nor, for that matter were the take-away years or the red wine decade. Healthy eating … yeah, right.

I lacked energy, looked dreadful, and felt even worse.

A large part of this was my poor food choices. I shouldn't have been making these choices, after all my wife is a talented cook.

At the time when this started we were running a catering business and had already had one significant reminder to be better behaved which I'd chosen to ignore.

Eventually I realised that if I had any hope of turning my life around and starting to do the things that I dreamt of doing rather than wallowing in self-pity, obsessing over which box set to watch next, and being underwhelmed by life, I needed to start addressing the basics.

For me, the basics are:

  • Exercise 
  • Eating healthily and drinking properly
  • Mindfulness - to get and keep the correct attitude
  • And sleeping at least 7 hours 

Eating Healthily

First things first. The one thing I know is that I am incredibly fortunate to have a wife who cooks like an angel. 

Eating a balanced diet is simple with a little thought and preparation. Cooking extra and freezing it for another day gives an easy option for a healthy meal with little effort. 

Likewise, a slow-cooker is a godsend if time is against you.

Put all the ingredients for a casserole or Bolognese into the slow cooker with stock or a sauce. Turn it on and forget about it.

When you arrive home, hours later, you will be greeted by the smell of a perfectly cooked dinner that’s ready to eat.

The Sciencey Bit

Fat - Bad And Good  

Trans fat is a by-product of a process called partial hydrogenation.

Healthy oils are turned into solids to prevent them from becoming rancid.

The trans fats raise the level of LDL cholesterol - bad cholesterol and reduce the amount of HDL cholesterol - good cholesterol.

Trans fat also causes inflammation which is linked to cardio-vascular events (heart disease, stroke), also diabetes and insulin resistance which increases the chance of developing type 2 diabetes. 

Polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat and Omega-3 fatty acids are all considered to be healthy fats that can lower LDL cholesterol.

They decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes and in the case of Omega-3 fatty acids are especially beneficial to your heart.

Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fat are liquids at room temperature.

Polyunsaturated fat is a source of vitamin E and is found in vegetable oils (sunflower oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil, soybean oil), walnuts, sunflower seeds, tofu and soybeans. 

Monounsaturated fats are found in avocado’s, almonds, cashew nuts, peanuts as well as olive oil, sesame oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil.

A good source of Omega-3 fatty acids are fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, trout, scallops and mussels. Other good sources include walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds.

Carbohydrates

They are a  significant source of energy

There are in two main forms - healthy carbohydrates and unhealthy ones.

Examples of healthy carbohydrates are: 

  • unprocessed or minimally processed whole grains
  • vegetables, fruits and beans—promote good health by delivering vitamins, minerals, fibre, and important phytonutrients. (e.g. brown rice, baked potato)

Unhealthy ones Include:

  • white bread, cakes and biscuits, fizzy drinks, and other highly processed or refined foods.  
  • Easily digested, high in sugar
  • Can cause weight gain, diabetes, heart disease

Protein

Protein is essential for growth and repair of the body

Animal sources contain the full range of amino acids required

Good sources of protein

  • Meat (chicken, pork, beef, lamb)
  • Fish and seafood (e.g. Salmon, tuna, mackerel, cod, prawns, mussels)
  • Eggs
  • Dairy (cheese, milk, yoghurt)
  • Beans and Pulses (lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans)
  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts)

Excellent for weight management as it will leave you feeling fuller for longer than carbohydrates.

Dietary Fibre

Dietary fibre cannot be broken down by human digestive enzymes.

It's found in cereals (bread, beans, lentils,) and fruit and vegetables.

Good for digestive health:

  • Recommended minimum intake is 18g/day.
  • Helps us to feel ‘full’.

And lots and lots of vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B (lots of B’s), C, D, E, K, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Potassium, Sodium Chloride as well as trace elements Boron, Chromium, Cobalt, Copper, Fluoride, Iodine, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Selenium, Silicon, Sulphur, Zinc.

Water

The average adult is 55 - 60% water. 

Without water our bodies cannot function correctly. Two-thirds of our bodies water is intracellular (inside cells) the remaining one-third is extracellular (outside of cells). 

Around 20% of our bodies water is in blood plasma.

Water is the primary building block of cells, acts as an insulator regulating our internal body temperature, metabolises proteins and carbohydrates in food and is the main component of saliva which aids swallowing foods and digesting carbohydrates. 

It acts as a shock absorber by insulating the brain, spinal cord and other organs and flushes toxins and waste out of our bodies in urine.

To put the importance of water into perspective...

An average adult can survive without food for between six and eight weeks, though Thomas McElwee survived 73 days with just a little water during the hunger strike by IRA prisoners in 1981. 

Survival without air for the average adult is approximately 3 minutes.

However, survival without water in ideal conditions — not too hot or cold — would be between 3 and 5 days. Water is impossible to live without for even short periods of time.

Water is vital to our survival and without it we will die... 

The Food Standards Agency recommends that we drink 1.5 - 2.0 litres of water/day.

We lose water everyday. On average we lose 1400 ml through urination,  200 ml in our faeces , 400 ml when breathing  and 500 ml via the skin.

That totals 2500 ml or 2.5 litres. This has to be replaced to avoid dehydration. 

Being well hydrated helps you lose weight!

A study in 2010 by Virginia Tech found that people who drank two 8 0z glasses of water before eating consumed around 75 calories less per meal. Over 12 weeks this amounted to an additional 5 pounds of weight loss.

Ice water will also increase metabolism because your body has to burn calories to warm the water up. 

There are other consequences to dehydration

If you are dehydrated fine lines and wrinkles in your skin are deeper and more noticeable.

It leaves you feeling tired and drained and bowels motions are drier and more difficult to pass.

Did you know constipation and can encourage the formation of kidney stones as the salts and minerals are in a more concentrated form?

Drinking adequate water every day is vital and will keep you healthy, productivity and looking great!

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