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  • Taisie Grant

D for all things diet related and more

We'll be talking Diets, Diabetics, Dates & Dahl

Diets

First up - Diets. This word that haunts a lot of us, especially when it comes round to January 1st.

High protein, low calories, low-carb, low-fat, balanced, meal replacement...the list goes on. There are a million different diets out there - all claiming to work miracles for your body. However, there are also many diets out there - which may potentially be harmful to your body.

There is no one diet or weight-loss plan that is suitable for everyone. Dieting is very personal. However if you think you want to diet, the most important thing to think about is whether or not it is sustainable. As in, will you be able to do it for the long term? or is it so hard you feel like you are punishing yourself when being on it.


Let's face it, any diet that isn't sustainable, is not going to last. And as soon as we've reached our desired goal, we're likely to go back immediately to how we were eating before and yup, you've guessed it all of those lost pounds will come piling straight back on taking you straight back to the starting gates.


If you want to know where to start, the best advice you will often be given, is to eat a balanced, healthy, sustainable diet. That way there shouldn't be a need to extreme diet.


Below are five key things to remember if you must choose a 'diet' programme:


- What have you tried before?

If you've tried a diet before and it worked brilliant, it might be a good starting point. But also think about the diets you tried and gave up on because they were too extreme, too hard, had unsustainable results.

Think also about how you felt on previous diets both physically and mentally. There's no point in being on a diet which makes you have mood swings which could impact your relationships even if you look a million dollars at the end.

So when thinking about previous diets - what you liked about them and what you didn't like about them.


- Do you need a support group to help you continue to lose weight?

Are you able to diet alone or do you need a support group or community to cheer you on each week towards your goals? If it's the latter, find a diet programme which has a support network attached to it. Things like Noom, WW (previously Weight Watchers) are examples of diet programmes with group support. It's also been shown that people on diets with group support are likely to lose more weight than those having 1-2-1 sessions.

If you need support, you could always look to diet alongside a friend or family member to help keep each other motivated along the way.


- Sustainable diets are more likely to result in sustained weight-loss.

When considering a diet for weight-loss, it's important to think about the longer term impact and whether you can make the diet in to a lifestyle change rather than just an extreme diet to get results very quickly as often these extreme diets can involve unhealthy efforts in both diet and exercise which are unlikely to be maintained as a permanent solution.

A guidance of weight loss should be around 1-2 pounds per week for healthy sustainable results. It might not seem much, but is likely to help you keep weight off for the long term.


- Do you have a health condition or other considerations?

If you have a health condition like diabetes, intolerances, or food group preferences, certain diets might not be suitable for you. So it is always important to consider these considerations before you begin.


- Does the diet fit your budget?

Some diets require you to purchase expensive supplements or additional products, or attend clinics which might not be suitable for your budget. Therefore doing research is important when it comes to finding the right diet solution that will not only work for your body but also for your budget.


The important thing to remember when it comes to diets is that, ultimately, they way you lose weight is to burn more calories than you put in. And the most sustainable way to do this is to also add exercise in when it comes to foods.

Not only will exercise help with weight loss, but it will also have a positive impact on your body in terms of mental and physical benefits such as reduction in stress and anxiety, reducing aches and pains, keeping you mobile, improving cardiovascular strength etc so you're getting more benefits than just weight loss in the process!


When it comes to weight loss - those who aren't trying to push fad diets, will tell you that the best way to lose weight is to follow a healthy lifestyle overall. Another key point is to also just be aware of how many hidden calories you might be consuming during a day when it comes to eating. Looking at this can be a useful exercise. E.g. how many calories in a glass of wine, a glass of orange juice or fizzy can of pop etc.

A few top tips from My Fitness Pal are:


- Don't go too long without eating

- Cut back on added sugar

- Eat colourful, fibre-rich foods

- Limit alcohol

- Add more wholefoods to your diet

- Practice mindful eating

- Exercise in a way that feels good

- Make room for social time


Diabetics

A serious condition where your blood glucose levels are too high. This happens as a result of your body not producing enough insulin, the insulin which it does produce is not effective, or when your body simply can't produce any insulin at all.


The different types of diabetes

There are two types of diabetes which people can get. You either have Type 1 which is where your body can't make insulin at all or you have Type 2 diabetes which is where you can't make enough insulin or it isn't effective.


What are the key differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is less common. Out of the number of people who have diabetes, 8% of those suffer with type 1. Type one as mentioned is when the body can't process insulin. They is no cure for type 1, and it can only be managed by taking insulin to control your bloody sugar levels. The medical industry are currently unsure as to what causes type 1 diabetes too.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition. And as a result it means it can't be impacted by your lifestyle, or diet or weight. It tends to be more common with people who are up to the age of 40 and a lot of children who have diabetes are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.


Type 2 diabetes however is different from type 1 and can be influenced by things such as ethnic background, family history, age and lifestyle e.g. if you're overweight.

Type 2 is more likely to be got by people aged over 40.


Can you cure diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is not curable, however type 2 despite not being curable, it can be influenced enough to be put in to remission with some people which means their blood sugar levels fall below the diabetes range which means they don't need diabetes medication.


Type 2 diabetes is often associated with those who are overweight - therefore, effective treatments can often include staying as active as you can, keeping to a healthy weight through mindful eating of a good balanced diet.


Dates

Now I'm not talking about the human variety, I'm talking about those soft, squidgy, sticky dark bullets of deliciousness which can make a super sweet treat sugar hit when you're wanting something sweet but healthier than a chocolate bar to eat for some energy.


Dates are a great store cupboard staple. They are most commonly eaten in the West as dried dates. And you can get all sorts of varieties.

However, over here, Medjool and Deglet Noor are the most commonly eaten varieties.


Dates are packed full of goodness so are great to add in to your diet. Plus they taste super too and can be sneaked in to so many dishes!


Here are the top 5 food facts about dates:

  1. Dates are very nutrient dense

Dates have a very good nutrient profile. Being dried they pack a punch when it comes to calories compared with fresh fruits however.

Most of the calories in dates come from carbohydrates. They have a very small amount of protein, but do have important vitamins and minerals along with a good amount of fibre.

They are also high in antioxidant levels too.


2. Dates are high in antioxidants

Antioxidants are important to include in your diet as they are responsible for protecting your cells from free-radicals which are molecules that can potentially cause harmful reactions in your body and even trigger disease onset.


The three important antioxidants in dates are the following:

Flavanoids - flavanoids are antioxidants that contain powerful anti-inflammatory properties which might be able to help minimise the risk for diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer's, and even some forms of cancer.


Carotenoids - these antioxidants are important for eye health and can help to reduce the risk of things such as macular degeneration but also are important for heart health too.


Phenolic Acid - known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It might help lower the risk of diseases like cancer and heart disease.


3. Dates can make a good sugar replacement

Dates make a great replacement for white sugar in recipes as they contain high levels of fructose which is a natural type of sugar found in fruit and also have a caramel-like flavour.

Because of their fibre content, nutrient value and anti-oxidant content, they are a much healthier substitute to refined white sugar too.

The best way to substitute dates for sugar is to make a date paste. Tune in below to see how to make this in the food hack section.


It's also great because it has a lower glycaemic index and lower fructose content than most other sweeteners. Despite this, it is important to mention that dates are still high in calories so should be consumed in moderation.


4. Dates can help support gut health

Dates are good for supporting gut and digestive health because of their fibre content.

Getting enough fibre in your diet is important for overall health.

Fibre promotes regular bowel movements and can stop you getting constipation which can be horribly uncomfortable as well as impact energy levels and other general feelings of wellness.

Dates might also help to reduce the risk of colon cancer through their fibre content but also their polyphenol content. Polyphenols also have good anti-microbial benefits too.


5. Dates might help to ease natural labour

Dates have been used in studies before and found to potentially help reduce the time frame of the active stage of labour of pregnant women who had consumed dates daily from the 37th week of pregnancy.

Eating dates in the last few weeks of pregnancy has also been shown to help promote and ease late-term labour and help reduce the need for an induced labour.

It is believed that the compounds in dates mimic the effect of oxytocin which is the hormone involved in signalling contractions during labour.



Food Hack: How to make date paste

As mentioned above date paste is a great swap in for a substitute for refined white sugar.

To make date paste, it's incredibly simple.

Simply blend water and dates.

Approx. 8oz of dates - to 1/4 cup of water (you need just enough water to allow the dates to blend, but without making the paste too runny.


Use the paste in a recipe as a 1:1 ratio for the substitute of sugar. E.g . if a recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, use 1 cup of date paste instead.


For the full method on how to make date paste, click here.




A great thing about dates is that they can be used for an infinite number of sweet OR savoury dishes!! They can go with pork, chicken, lamb, in a tagine, with veggies, in cakes, syrups, sauces, puddings, bread, as a porridge topper...

The list is ENDLESS.


You can buy date paste in any good supermarket too if you can't be bothered to make it at home.


Quick Eats: Nut butter stuffed dates with chocolate

Exactly what they say on the tin! These are heaven!

I would use big fat sticky medjool dates if you can find them - but any date will be delicious.


So easy to make - and such a superb energy giver or even naughty sweet treat after supper or with a cup of tea.


Ingredients:

Dates (pitted - or make sure you pit them yourselves)

Nut butter

Melted chocolate (white, dark or milk - or all three!!)


Method:

Credit: https://www.happyfoodstube.com/chocolate-covered-dates/

Fill the dates with a little bit of nut butter (almond or peanut is delicious)

then fridge them or freeze them for a short time so they are cold.


Slowly melt down the chocolate of your choice - be careful not to rush this as it can cause the chocolate to split if you don't melt it over a gentle heat, slowly.


Remove the dates from the chiller.

Dip them in chocolate. (I love to do both white and dark/milk - so I'll dip them once, chill again and then dip again with the other layer of chocolate).


After coating in chocolate, put back to chill in the fridge until you are ready to eat.


Store in a storage container and eat when you need a pick me up!

YUM!!


If you want some more recipes for dates and how to include them in your cooking - head over to Olive Magazine's website here for some inspiration!



Dahl

A terribly underrated dish that is simple and incredibly nutritious!

Dahl is in short a thick South-Asian stew made from lentils and spices.

In Indian cuisine, dal are split pulses that do not require soaking before cooking. However it is often the term given to various soups made from these pulses.


Lentils are known as one of the world's oldest health foods. Because they also have a subtle flavour they are great at soaking up other flavours.


Dahls are nutritious, loaded with fibre, protein, and other essential nutrients that work well to keep you healthy. And best thing is, they are meat free so suitable for meat and non-meat eaters alike.


Because of the health profile of a well made dahl, they can help with the following:


1. Weight Management

Due to their levels of protein and fibre, they can help give you that full feeling for longer.

They are also a very low calorie way to take in protein and fibre without the high fat content.

For this reason they are great to eat if you are looking at wanting to effectively manage your weight.


2. Healthy Heart

Pulses can help to reduce lower bad cholesterol, helping your heart to stay healthy. This is due to the amount of fibre lentils contain. A single serving of lentils contains 32% of your daily fibre requirement. Fibre is also great for digestive health and keeping regular bowel movement.


3. Reduce risk of chronic disease

Eating lentils regularly, can help to reduce certain chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer and obesity. This is due to the high level plant compounds they contain called phenols. Lentils are one of the top ranked legumes phenolic content. As a result they have antioxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties and well as being protective for the heart.


Quick Eats: Simple Dahl

A warming dish for a cold afternoon. Hearty and full of nutrients.

This is a very simple, quick and nutritious dish for you to make as a lunch or supper.


Ingredients:

Oil (for frying or ghee)

Onion

Garlic

Ginger

Spices: turmeric, garam masala, ground coriander, ground cumin, paprika

Red lentils

Vegetable (or chicken) stock

coconut milk

chopped tomatoes

lime juice to taste


You can serve with rice, simple homemade naan etc. And it's lovely drizzled with some yoghurt.

Click here for the full recipe and method.


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