I really thought I was on the right track with my diet until I decided to catch up with nutritionist in Perth for a bit of a chat and a real look at my food intake. I reckoned I had been eating a reasonable amount of the right foods including plenty of vegies, but my blood pressure was a bit high and I have to confess I carried a little too much weight around my middle.
“And so, what time do you have breakfast?” asked Jane.
Well, perhaps like many of us, I usually like to eat quite late, so after showering and some exercise I’ll think about eating when I feel hungry, maybe around 11 or so. And anyway, aren’t we told these days that fasting is good for you?
“Hmm,” said Jane.
Turns out I was on the wrong track. The reason is that your digestive system needs to get going asap in the mornings in order for the body to work properly and the way to do that is to eat breakfast on time! Having some warm water with lemon or apple cider vinegar first up can get things moving along beautifully and what’s more following a good routine with your diet can have the added benefit, for a lot of people, of stabilising blood pressure.
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If you skip meals, it means your body has to get its energy from somewhere else in the system. When this happens, your body will draw down glucose for energy, but in the process it also releases cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Having excess cortisol not only increases the likelihood of abdominal fat, but may also result in higher blood pressure and how many of us are aware of these two unwelcome signs of ageing?
You might think that you are coping well enough with just a cuppa and a piece of toast for breakfast, but in fact, on that kind of diet, your body is not getting anywhere near enough nutrients to stabilise all its functions and perform at its best for you.
“Nutrient needs remain the same as we age, even though your calorie requirements might drop. It’s actually the nutrients that help make your body function properly. Nutrient density is important and it is worthwhile investigating whether you have particular nutrient needs,” says Jane.
“Fasting overnight is good for you and consuming a small number of regular meals during the day works well for most people, especially women. Many would also benefit from taking a multi vitamin with zinc as they get older, as well as eating foods rich in zinc.”
“Good quality protein is also important; not processed meats like salamis, hams, chorizo or too many barbecued or fatty meats. Instead go for lean meats and fish, nuts, seeds like quinoa, eggs, pulses, cottage cheese and good yoghurt. These kinds of foods, and there are many others, will have the effect of slowing the release of glucose in the body, helping to stabilise blood sugar and reducing the prospect of insulin resistance and fatty deposits around the tummy.”
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Jane also says you don’t need to avoid carbs either. “Vegies are largely carbohydrate, but we just need to make sure that we have more of the colourful vegies on the plate than we do the potatoes, the bread or the pasta. Too much starch isn’t good, but a little bit is fine. It’s when you sacrifice your intake of vegies for the starchy foods that things can start to get out of kilter. Achy joints can be improved with Omega 3s in the diet which will also help stabilise blood pressure and mood. ”
And, go on, we might as well say it, stay away from the sugar as much as you can too…It’s amazing how good you can feel and how much extra energy you can tap into with a few simple changes to your usual routines.
Remember, if all else fails, eat sardines on toast!
Tell us, what do you eat for breakfast? What time do you eat it?