It seems everyday there’s a new health fad. From kale to coconut oil, eating right can often seem like a minefield of potential nutritional disasters!
Here to help us navigate the health arena is holistic nutritionist Liza Rowan, as she walks us through warding off sugar cravings and filling up on the right foods.
So Lisa, what would you say are the most common mistakes people make when trying to eat healthily?
Thinking that eating less, or cutting calories, means eating better. By prioritising nutrient dense, wholesome foods, the ‘bad’ stuff is crowded out, leaving only good, healthy food. Changing your diet to have these foods more often means that ‘bad’ food becomes only an occasional treat.
So, if we are trying to shed some pounds quickly, what’s the quickest and safest way to do it?
It’s really all about loading up on healthy foods so that energy levels are maintained; this also enables an exercise routine, which of course burns off fat. Starving the body is not good physically or mentally – it leads to binge eating, and a yo-yo dieting cycle.
What I use, although it may not suit everyone’s tastes, is my ‘S-O-S’ plan, whereby I have morning soup or oatmeal (congee), and later salads and stir-fries. The latter are loaded with greens and vegetables, with some healthy fat and protein added.
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These days it seems everyone is saying sugar is the big bad wolf – is this true?
Yes, unfortunately sugar is what we often refer to as ‘white-poison’. Sugar is implicated in Type II diabetes, obesity, heart disease and other illnesses including cancers. Sugar makes us feel good as it has additive properties, but after the ‘high’ we crave more. It is a cycle that many people have difficulty breaking.
Moving onto the good food, everywhere we go, we hear the benefits of protein. Why is it so essential to our diet?
Protein is essential for growth, strength and repair; it is part of our enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters (messages to and from the brain, and it makes up part of lipo-proteins, which transports cholesterol around our body.
Protein is an essential part of every diet, of every meal, however it is the quality of protein that matters.
Singapore is a foodies paradise. If we are trying to stay healthy, what foods should we try and avoid?
Added sugars, refined oils, processed foods as they contain many additives and preservatives. Any food can be made healthier – as the paying customer we can ask (with a smile) for small changes, and the waiter will usually oblige – for example dressing/sauce on the side, grilled rather than fried.
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What local dishes offer the healthiest alternatives?
Go for broth based soup (Won Ton, Pho, Fish Soup) rather than cream based. That said, if you adore Laksa or a gravy based curries, enjoy but leave most of the sauce.
Steamed or roasted dishes are obviously better than deep or stir-fried (Thunder Tea Rice, steamed fish dishes). If you love Chicken Rice, remove the skin, eat less of the rice (cooked in fat) and sauces, and perhaps order steamed greens on the side.
What local fruit and vegetables can offer the most nutrition?
All fruits and vegetables are nutritious – it’s how they are prepared and what’s added, that can make them unhealthy.
The key is to eat a wide variety and choose different colours, as phytonutrients are locked in the pigment of produce. So choose from fresh water chestnuts, Asian greens, gourds, purple aubergine, pumpkin, asparagus. We are spoiled here with a wealth of amazing nutritious fruits – guava, mangosteen, pomegranate, lychee, dragon fruit, and kumquat. Enjoy them all!
Liza runs courses and talks to educate and motivate, along with private consultations, writing articles and her popular blog on www.facebook.com/VitalityfromNutrition. For further details see her website www.lizarowan.com
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