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Health advocates chew the fat, The Courier Mail, 6th of April 2012

WE ALL know fat is bad. We all know eating too much will make us fat. And we all know if we don’t exercise we won’t lose weight.

By Madeline Healy

Why then, are there so many overweight people in Queensland?

Australia’s Kathleen Alleaume delves in to the psychology of eating and the battle women have with their bodies in her new book What’s Eating You?

She believes the mind plays a significant role in eating and lifestyle choices and understanding this is the key to losing weigh.

Kim Morrison and Fleur Whelligan in their book Like Chocolate for Women say we should live by the 80/20 rule – 80 per cent of the time eat nature foods – foods as close to their natural source as possible. The other 20 per cent of the time you can relax, without feeling guilty.

The 4 Week Energy Diet by Julie Maree Wood discusses lifting your energy levels by eating energy-boosting foods such as carbohydrates and high-fibre food and taking energy-boosting supplements such as multivitamins and psyllium (a seed that helps with digestion and bowel movements).

In his new book Big Fat Lies (Penguin, $29.95), David Gillespie says taking vitamins is a waste of time, sugar is poison and eating polyunsaturated oils is to be avoided.

“The rates of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and cancer have never been higher,” he says. “So what are we doing wrong?”

And he claims polyunsaturated fats and sugar are the ones causing heart disease and type 2 diabetes, cancers and obesity.

In their book Trupps’ Wholefood Kitchen (Victory Books, $34.99), Walter and Dorota Trupp say making the right food choices is imperative – you just need to avoid some types of food and replace them with others.

“The damage builds up day by day but the good news is you can stop it in its tracks and repair damage to your body,” Dorota Trupp says.

The one message that all of these writers agree on is the need to eat food that our grandparents would recognise – food as close to the natural source as possible. These are whole, unprocessed foods in their natural state that are high in fibre and essential nutrients. They are foods that are not changed before they are put on the shelves.

Here we take a look at some of the most debated topics in the health industry.

* * * * * *

TOP 10 TOPICS DEBATED BY HEALTHY FOOD ADVOCATES

1. FRUIT

Eating two pieces of fruit a day has been the long-held story from the health industry. But many dietitians are now warning that we should limit our intake of fruit, especially when taken as fruit juices. “Many people are unaware that fruit juice has just as much, or in many cases, more sugar than soft drink,” David Gillespie says. “And whether sugar comes from sugar cane, as found in soft drinks, or fruit, as in fruit juice, it’s still sugar. If water doesn’t sound like an appealing option, you are not thirsty,” Gillespie says.

Dorota Trupp says people should be buying fruit and vegetables from local markets and farmers, but doesn’t go as far to say we shouldn’t be drinking juice. “If you make your own juice,” she says, “it’s still OK because there’s fruit in it. But produced fruit juice has chemicals. I would steer clear away from juice that is packaged and sold in the supermarkets.”

2. CHOOSE YOUR BREAKFAST CEREAL WISELY

Enjoying a big bowl of breakfast cereal is a rite of passage for many, and the majority of those believe it’s a healthy way to start the day. But the reality is many cereals have between 25 and 30 per cent sugar, making them an unhealthy option. The best ones to choose are Weet-Bix and homemade muesli, untoasted and made with rolled oats.

“Make your own breakfast cereals from whole grains,” Trupp says. “We have a two-year-old who loves it and eats it. You can do it with the kids if you don’t introduce anything else in to their diets and if you have already, just do it gradually.” Trupp says she has been eating home-made cereal for years using the recipes featured in her book. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” she says. “I was having problems with digestion but this has given me a new start.”

3. CONDIMENTS

Just about every child has a passion for tomato sauce – but it comes at a price. Many condiments, including mayonnaise, barbecue sauce and tomato sauce are packed with sugar and fat. “Low fat sauces and mayonnaise are not necessarily good choices,” Gillespie says, “because they do have half the fat, but contain more sugar and salt for flavour.” Trupp says a good option is to buy these condiments from health food shops if you don’t have time to make them yourself.

4. YOGHURT

If you’re planning on tucking in to a “healthy” tub of yoghurt for lunch, then think again. Yoghurt is meant to be sour and the ones which taste sweet are full of sugar. “Yoghurts are just pudding,” Gillespie says. “You might as well be eating ice cream. The sugar content does vary but it’s usually around the 15-20 per cent mark.”

Trupp says the best yoghurt to buy is organic, biodynamic yoghurt mixed with your own fruit. Colouring and flavouring in yoghurts can also be factors to look out for as they may be a factor in developing asthma and eczema. “Children can react to the ingredients in some yoghurts and food in general because kiddies are small and the number of chemicals can easily tip over the limit.”

5. HEALTHY FOOD

Just about every diet or health food book now warns of the dangers of eating food labelled as healthy, especially those that are marketed to children. Muesli bars and fruit strips can have more than 50 per cent sugar content. “We never really thought about this until we started researching,” Trupp says. “We then realised you can legally put just about anything into food and label it with anything. I think people using their common sense would know that these foods aren’t healthy.”

Trupp says to look out for bars which are comprised of nuts and honey which are a more natural choice. But if it’s packed with sugar, which many are, she says to avoid it. “If something says it’s natural you still need to look at the ingredients list. It can still have many chemicals added.”

6. FATS

Trying to decipher which fats are good and which ones are bad is a bit of a minefield. Current thinking is that we should eat polyunsaturated fats such as those in plant oils like sunflower and canola oil. But Gillespie argues that the only fats we should be eating are saturated fats such as butter, and “good” oils such as olive, coconut and avocado oils. His believes polyunsaturated fats can cause cancer and heart disease, not saturated fats. Part of his argument is based on the fact that up until about 100 years ago we all ate saturated fats, but the incidence of cancer was much lower.

Trupp says saturated fats are the healthier choice. “We shouldn’t be eating polyunsaturated fats because they are a relatively new introduction in to our diets. We had more omega three fats in the past and those are very beneficial for our health and brain.” She says consumers should have small amounts of olive oil, but it should not be heated up. “We use ghee, butter, coconut oil and palm fruit oil to cook in.”

7. EAT SOURDOUGH BREAD INSTEAD OF WHITE BREAD

Most of us know by now that white processed bread bought at the supermarket is not the healthiest choice. Health advocates say we should eat bread full of whole grains because they are low GI-foods, meaning that they are slowly broken down and digested in our stomachs, releasing glucose slowly in to the bloodstream. Many are also singing the praises of sourdough bread, which bakeries such as the Rock and Roll bakery are now using in the majority of their bread production. Trupp says the many chemicals and processes used in making white bread make it the worst choice.

“White bread includes grains that are not properly prepared. It’s always best to make your own bread but if you can’t, look for places that make bread that is as natural as possible. Always read the ingredients list for chemical additions.”

8. DAIRY PRODUCTS

Skim and low-fat milk products have gained popularity over the years and many people now would never drink full-fat milk. But many believe drinking full-fat milk and other dairy is preferable to the low-fat versions.

Trupp says milk bought in supermarkets has been homogenised to break up the fat molecules and pasteurised to kill off bacteria. She says full-fat organic or biodynamic dairy foods are the ones to buy. “It should be unprocessed or if you do buy conventional dairy products, buy fermented milk, cheese and yoghurt which are easy to digest.”

9. EAT WHOLE GRAINS

Eating whole grains, including the seeds of plants such as wheat, rye, barley and maize, beans, peas and lentils, is one health tip all of those in the industry agree on. They are rich in fibre, minerals and vitamins and most are low-GI so that the energy is released throughout the day. Eat brown rice, not white. Trupp says it is full of B-group vitamins and is good for people who want to lose weight.

10. SHOP THE PERIMETER OF THE SUPERMARKET

The final healthy eating tip is agreed on by all. Shop around the outside of the supermarket where the milk, meat, eggs and vegetables are found. “These are the products we should be buying rather than processed biscuits, sauces and breads that are in the middle of the supermarket,” Trupp says.

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