WORLD DIABETES DAY – could almonds make a difference?

Published on the 14th Nov, 2017 by Azmina

My eight years as Chief Dietitian to Diabetes UK has always given me a soft spot for supporting World Diabetes Day. There are an estimated 4.5 million people with diabetes in the UK, and research suggests that lifestyle changes, including being more physically active, managing your weight and eating a varied healthy diet, are crucial to help manage type 2 diabetes (T2D), and can even significantly reduce the risk of developing T2D.

People with diabetes are more prone to heart disease, and yesterday, I moderated a professional RDUK twitter chat on #CholesterolTips and heart disease, supported by the Almond Board of California (I like to call them ABC!). You can check out the archive here – lots of engaging conversations about coconut oil, eggs, almonds, and the latest research on diet and cardiovascular disease.

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South Asians and Diabetes Risk

People of South Asian origin are genetically more predisposed to non-communicable diseases like T2D and heart disease. (more…)

Should junk food have plain packaging?

Published on the 7th Mar, 2017 by Azmina

I’ve just been on BBC Asian Network (goto 2.14 hr) to give my opinion on whether plain packaging on confectionery and unhealthy snack items might be a way of combating our obesity crisis. This stems from a proposal by neuroscientist Wolfram Schultz, from Cambridge University, who suggests that the way sugar-rich and fatty foods are marketed can make them irresistible to some people.

http://lisakate.typepad.com/blog/inspiration/

http://lisakate.typepad.com/blog/inspiration/

I absolutely agree that one of the most important ways to help us to improve our eating habits is to make a change to our environment. If you make unhealthy food less accessible, for example, then it’s just more difficult to grab and go. Initiatives such as removing sweets at the checkout in supermarkets have been introduced by the BDA in an attempt to reduce the purchase of such foods. (more…)

Could almonds be lower in calories than the Nutrition Label says?

Published on the 21st Dec, 2016 by Azmina

New data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests that almonds provide fewer calories than we previously thought, and this depends on whether the almonds are whole, chopped or roasted.

almonds.com

almonds.com

David Baer, PhD, and his team from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) conducted a controlled human clinical trial (Gebauer et al) using a new method to measure the calories absorbed from almonds, taking bioavailability into account. The new method allowed the researchers to determine the number of calories actually digested and absorbed from almonds.

In a nutshell:

  1. Compared to the number of calories listed on nutrition labels, participants in the study actually absorbed 25% fewer calories from whole unroasted almonds.
  2. If they ate whole roasted almonds, they absorbed 19% fewer calories.
  3. Chopped roasted almonds provided 17% fewer calories, though the difference between the calories absorbed from chopped and whole roasted almonds was not statistically different.

(more…)

Snack Attack!

Published on the 15th Jul, 2016 by Azmina

Paul: “I used to be starving just before mealtimes and so ended up overeating a lot. Since I started having snacks between meals even when I wasn’t hungry, I no longer feel ravenous at meal-times.”

Wise, planned snacks can be part of a balanced eating plan, whether you’re slimming or not. With GiP eating, low glycaemic snacks can be your best friends, as they help you to keep blood sugar steady in between meals.

gi planWhat’s more, they can positively help you watch that waistline, since a feeling of fullness means you’re less likely to raid the fridge as soon as you drop your briefcase in the hallway. Good snacking means having a healthy relationship with all foods.

The Gi Plan actually forces you to have snacks. The book has a whole chapter devoted to snacks, but here are some examples of low-GiP alternative snacks.

Eat this Instead of Save
2 Oatcakes 2 Rice cakes 3.5 GiPs
Walnut halves (half a dozen) Pretzels 3 GiPs
2 Cream crackers 2 Water biscuits 4.5 GiPs
Roasted peanuts 25g (half-pack) Crisps (small packet 25g) 3.5 GiPs
Chocolate chip Muffin, American style Ring Doughnut 2.5 GiPs
Fun size Snickers bar (19g) Milk chocolate (4 square pieces) 4 GiPs
1 Pitta bread 1 Baguette (individual) 4 GiPs

 

The Gi Plan is about enjoyment of food, and being mindful of what you’re eating. So, at a glance you can see from the above that 2 cream crackers “cost” you more GiPs than 2 oatcakes, so this might nudge you in the right direction – the oatcakes will be more slowly digested. What you also need to be aware of, however, is that certain foods may be lower in GiPs (take the muffin for example) but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily a healthy food! Incidentally, the chocolate in this muffin helps to lower the GI, and the jam in the doughnut raises it; hence the swap idea.

The Comfort Cushion

cushionFood only fills a physical hole, not an emotional need. If you become more aware of the underlying feeling that causes you to overeat, you are more able to make some changes by doing something different. You can regain control and experiment with new and healthier ways to meet this same need.

You may wish to keep a daily Food and Mood Diary (sample in the book) that will highlight the emotional need that causes you to reach for certain snacks, for example, boredom, stress, comfort, security or any other challenging feelings that you are striving to manage.

Remind yourself. ‘What would have to happen, that is within my control, for this need to be met in a healthy and functional way?’ Before you reach for solace in that ‘naughty but nice food’, remind yourself if choosing this is taking you nearer to the ‘new’ you and if it isn’t, choose again!

Taken from the best-selling Gi Plan by Azmina Govindji & Nina Puddefoot

Sweet potato crisps

Published on the 22nd Dec, 2015 by Azmina

 

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Sweet potatoes are under-rated, in my opinion. Yet they are so versatile, easy to cook, and offer you a source of beta-carotene which is converted into vitamin A in your body. Although they are starchy and a great replacement for regular potatoes, unlike potatoes, the humble sweet potato counts towards your fruit and veg intake.  (more…)

10 Speedy low GI snacks

Published on the 29th Nov, 2015 by Azmina

stuffed mushroom

1. Stuffed flat mushrooms

Pan-fry sliced courgettes, peppers, tomatoes and spring onions in a dash of olive oil. Flavour with garlic granules and cracked black pepper. Meanwhile, warm the inside of a flat mushroom in a pan drizzled with a little olive oil. Turn the mushroom over to lightly brown the outside, stuff with the sauteed veg, and serve piping hot.  (more…)

Chilli & lemon popcorn

Published on the 31st Dec, 2012 by Azmina

Simply heat a saucepan with a lid (ideally a glass lid) and drizzle a few drops of oil into the pan.  Throw in 2 tablespoons of popping corn, cover and allow to pop over a medium heat. It takes about three minutes for the popping to stop. Add red chilli powder and a dash of lemon juice. All you need now is that Friday night DVD…

 

Having a snack attack? Make sure you enjoy it…

Published on the 19th Jun, 2012 by Azmina


How many people do you know who at some point in their lives have been ‘on a diet’? And how many have kept the weight off? The dieting industry in the UK is estimated to be worth over a billion pounds each year, and most of us are likely to have contributed to this in one way or another, through buying meal replacements, books, diet plans and so on.

When you start to deny yourself of your favourite foods, they become even more desirable. So the trick is to allow yourself small amounts of those foods, but to enjoy every mouthful and to be very conscious of your habits.

(more…)

Is it ok to snack?

Published on the 16th Mar, 2012 by Azmina

Snacking gets a lot of bad publicity – linked to weight gain and unhealthy habits. And it’s true that if you choose lots of unhealthy options, they won’t do your waistline any good. But I am someone who doesn’t like to deny people foods they enjoy. Eating well isn’t a life sentence; it’s about allowing yourself your favourite foods whilst being conscious of your choices.

So, are you a snacker? If so, examine what you’re reaching for. Here are my three top tips:

  1. Have healthy snacks accessible and get rid of those that don’t help you reach you healthy lifestyle goals.
  2. Stock up on lower calorie, lower fat versions of your favourite treats. Choose crisps that aren’t fried (e.g. popped crisps), popcorn (make your own so you can control the amount of salt or sugar), nuts that aren’t honey coated (e.g. mixed nuts and raisins), bites that fill you up (e.g. soya nuts), fridge goodies (e.g. olives, gherkins, cherry tomatoes).
  3. If you are hooked on choc chip cookies or the like, allow yourself to buy them but store them creatively. Put a couple in a separate container and allow yourself no more than two at one sitting (ideally not every day). That will help reduce the temptation to finish off the whole pack at once!

And think about eating more consciously. Engaging your brain means you’ll be more aware of what you’re snacking on, and how much you’re munching through. It also helps you to be aware of the fullness signals from your stomach, which in turn help you to stop overdoing it!

So, enjoy every mouthful and get rid of the guilt by making choices that nourish you but still taste yummy!

How to Survive the Buffet Table

Published on the 22nd Dec, 2011 by Azmina

Party temptations can be the downfall of the best intentions at Christmas; such delicious little morsels that are so hard to resist. But just how much harm will canapés and party snacks do to your waistline – and your health? To make it easier for yourself when you are confronted by a table full of calorie-laden choices, plan ahead by eating something before you go out, like a banana. It will take the edge off hunger pangs and make it easier to resist temptation.

(more…)

Ten Craving Curbers

Published on the 31st Jul, 2011 by Azmina

1. Make a refreshing drink with crushed ice, sugar-free cordial and sparkling water.

2. Munch on some fresh dates. They’re much lower in calories than dried dates and the extra chewing means extra mouth-feel and satisfaction. (more…)

Fitness Food

Published on the 2nd Jun, 2011 by Azmina

So, you’ve made the commitment to get fit and religiously go to the gym no matter what. Sometimes we forget the other part of the equation – the fuel that’s going to get you through the exercise.

split bananas

Your body’s preferred source of energy is starchy carbohydrates like bread, potatoes, pasta, rice and cereals. Even if you can’t stop for a proper meal there are quick and easy foods you could fill up on: a buttered granary roll, bean and couscous salad, packet of nuts and dried fruit, a banana or some ready-to-eat cereal with milk. If you need to graze throughout the day, pasta or rice salads, fruit breads or cereal bars are great choices to snack on. If you’re planning to go to the gym after work, you need to eat something starchy a couple of hours before you go for the best possible workout.

And after the gym, a glass of milk or some chocolate milkshake gives you a good combo of protein, carbs and fluid to refuel and rehydrate.