Tips from Alison Cullen, A Vogel’s Nutrition Therapist and Education Manager, and Rob Hobson, a registered nutritionist from Healthspan
It’s really easy to fall into a food trap when it comes to your diet as we reach for the same foods time and again. This can leave many people feeling uninspired about their diet which may, in turn, lead to unhealthy food choices made out of boredom, but there are some simple tips and tricks to get you excited about mealtimes once again.
Alison Cullen, A Vogel’s Nutrition Therapist and Education Manager offer advice and tips below with the help of Rob Hobson, a registered nutritionist from Healthspan and author of ‘The Detox Kitchen Bible’ on how to add some vavavoom back into your cooking.
Many people have found that their stomach is not as good a friend as it used to be during this lockdown, complaining loudly (and possibly painfully) if you assault it with cheesy chips or a late dinner.
Some foods may now seem to lie like a stone on your stomach when in previous days they would dance down your digestive tract like a delightful Darcy Bussell. You may find that you are feeling hungry when you know you’ve eaten plenty, or that you have strange cravings.
All of these can occur when your stomach’s production of digestive juices slacks off a little. This can be due to stress, antacid medication, and gradual thinning of the stomach lining – or an unpleasant combination of all of these!
Alison Cullen’s Tips
- Rectifying the problem involves re-harnessing your digestive reflexes by sitting down to eat, relaxing, chewing your food really thoroughly, and avoiding drinking (anything) for about half an hour either side of food. This promotes better digestion and absorption of nutrients; your body receives the essential materials it requires, and you are therefore less likely to feel hungry or crave. Add Molkosan Fruit (200ml, £7.50) to a glass of water first thing in the morning to give your digestion an extra helping hand.
- In addition, getting a wide range of foods regularly featured in your diet will help ensure a broad spectrum of nutrients to nourish you most effectively. This has not been particularly possible for many of us during Lockdown; and wear and tear on the nervous system may have reduced our capacity for trying out exciting new recipes and careful cookery stunts. Luckily, very simple strategies can be used to boost the profile of our menus.
- Tackle blood pressure – switch to herb seasoning salt for cooking and seasoning, to reduce your sodium intake. A.Vogel’s Herbamare® Low salt (125g, £31.15 www.avogel.co.uk) contains heaps of organic herbs and veggies, to enhance the flavour whilst reducing the sodium content.
- Another quick fix for blood pressure that’s heading the wrong way is to check your water intake. Water, just plain, still, and preferably room temperature water, raises energy levels, supports your skin, and counters a tendency to higher blood pressure. Just don’t drink gallons alongside your meals – wait half an hour. If you find water boring, flirt with some herbal additions, adding a sprig of fresh peppermint or sage to a jug of water (peppermint and cucumber make a perfect, if unlikely-sounding partnership), or slicing in some lemon or lime.
- Blood pressure and energy both benefit from a beetroot blast, as the colourful beet is brilliant at providing you with iron and magnesium, as well as vitamin C. Try this Vegetarian Russian Borscht Soup – recipe below as an easy way to colour your lunch proudly purple.
- Nibbling on dried fruit instead of biscuits and cakes is a simple switch that pays dividends. Go for jumbo raisins, un-sulphured apricots, Medjool dates, and juicy dried figs. Sweet and tasty, they contain heaps of glorious nutrients and don’t mess with your blood sugar or make you crave more sugar. (And they haven’t disappeared from the supermarket shelves, so stocking up is easy!)
- Add frozen veg to ready-made sauces and soups to bump up the nutritional hits with just a kettle and a few minutes of saucepan-wielding.
- Blitz pumpkin seeds with a sprinkling of nutritional yeast and a touch of Herbamare salt to make a truly tasty topping for pasta and salads, full of zinc and essential fatty acids. Nutritional yeast can be found with additional B12 for extra buzz.
- Stir a little tahini into sauces to add thickness and support the calcium, vitamin E, iron and magnesium content.
Rob Hobson’s tips:
- Try shaking things up by adding tropical fruits to your food like pineapple which is especially good as it contains bromelain which helps break down protein to help aid digestion after eating and can be used in a range of dishes e.g. sticky pineapple chicken or used in a salsa salad.
- Eating seasonally to get the very best of British foods and means your foods are rich in vital nutrients. I am loving this time of year with the fresh cherries rich in flavonoids which act as an antioxidant in the body. Fabulous for breakfast or for something different use the salsa with beef. Visit https://www.lovefreshberries.co.uk/berry-facts/cherries
- Try adding smoked paprika or chilli powder to plain tomato cook in sauces or turmeric into scrambled egg.
- Try to reinvigorate your diet to also protect your health by introducing more high fibre foods. Nuts and seeds are a great option as they add flavour and crunch to make dishes such as salads more interesting. Keep them in small jars on your worktop so you don’t forget they are there to add to your dishes.
- Try and snack differently rather than reaching for a pack of biscuits when you do your weekly shop decant a mixture of all those lovely nuts like almonds, walnuts, roast hazelnuts into one big jar and use this as an everyday snack instead as they pack a mineral punch.
- Try something new for breakfast like a refreshing smoothie. Breakfast smoothies are really nutritious when made using milk, oats, fruits and sweet spices such as cinnamon.
- Explore a new cuisine – pick a country and look at some exciting dishes that are easy to prepare such as Mexican tortillas/tacos or Israeli Shakshuka.
- Try a totally new food ingredient once a week and base a recipe around this e.g. swapping your normal tomato pasta dish with a dash of rose harissa completely changes the dish or buy something like seaweed, ras el hanout to give a dish a twist from the norm.
- The key thing is to plan ahead, bulk cook and if cooking has become a huge chore try and make it enjoyable by getting others involved but if this isn’t possible under the current circumstances then try putting on a podcast or listening to an audiobook.
For more information on A Vogel go to https://www.avogel.co.uk/
For more on Healthspan visit https://www.healthspan.co.uk/