What to eat for lunch? It’s complex (carbs!).

April 22nd, 2013

a-sandwich-1377346__180

“A Man may be a pessimistic determinist before lunch and an optimistic believer in the will’s freedom after it.’ Aldous Huxley

By lunchtime, after eating only fruit for breakfast (see my previous post Fruit First Thing), you’ll be right in the mood for a good carb fix. But, there’s a proviso. If you want to lose weight your carbohydrate lunch needs to comprise complex carbs – not simple carbs. Healthy complex carbohydrates are those found in whole grains, beans and vegetables. Because these ‘good’ complex carbs contain a higher percentage of fibre, they break down slowly in your body, reducing sugar spikes and the cravings that follow.

‘Bad’ simple carbs (white bread, white rice, all products made from white flour including pasta, crackers, biscuits, etc) are low in nutritional value, which is why they are often referred to as ‘empty calories’. When you consume simple carbs, they are rapidly broken down into glucose, which floods into your bloodstream. In response, your body produces insulin to allow glucose to enter your cells for energy. If there’s more glucose than your body requires to meet energy needs, the excess is stored as fat. And we don’t want that do we!

This is why the Slim Rule regarding lunch is to eat a COMPLEX carbohydrate base and to eat it with a smart-choice accompaniment. Examples of smart choice accompaniments are: a wholegrain sandwich with salad and avocado; whole-meal pasta with a tomato-based sauce rather than with a thick cream-based sauce; brown rice with a vegetable stirfry; lentil and vegetable curry (without coconut milk), and so on. Yes, you can have meat with your midday meal if you want to, but for optimal health it’s not ideal, as carbs are better digested when eaten with salad or vegetables. But, if all you can lay your hands on is a slab of protein and two pieces of bread (ie a ham sandwich) by all means have the ham, but please make sure to use wholegrain bread rather than white, and do toss in a bit of salad!

In moderation, complex carbs by themselves are not fattening – it’s the things you put with them that are the real problem. It’s the butter you slather on your bread, the cream-based sauce on your pasta, the coconut milk in your curry – these are the things that are SIMPLY NOT WORTH IT. These things must be reduced and ideally replaced in your diet immediately.

Now for some good news, if you’re one of those unfortunate people who struggle with a lack of energy and/or mental clarity after lunch (ie almost everyone who works in an office), eliminating all simple carbs (sugars, white flour products, etc) from your lunch can make a dramatic difference in your energy and focus in the afternoon.

Because complex carbs also fill you up faster and more completely than any other food group you probably won’t feel hungry again till dinnertime ­– you may even unconsciously decrease your caloric intake over the day. Small changes over time create lasting results – which is what the Slim Rules are all about – making mastery over your weight easy to achieve, and easy to understand.

More facts about carbohydrates

• In a healthy diet ‘good’ complex carbs should make up around 55 percent of the calories in your daily diet. In an average 1,800-calorie (7,536 kilojoule) daily diet for women, that’s about 250 grams of complex carbohydrates – nearly 1,000 calories (4,186 kilojoules) per day.

• Complex carbs provide only 4 calories (16.7 kilojoules) per gram, while fat provides nine calories (37.7 kilojoules) per gram. Without the toppings, or with only moderate amounts of topping, complex carbohydrate foods can be less fattening than animal-protein foods.

• The best carbs are the ones with the highest fibre content. Stay away from the usual evils of cookies and cakes made out of refined flour and instead increase the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat.

Summary

• Make lunch your main carbohydrate meal of the day.

• Select complex carbs over simple carbs for this meal.

• Always select a low-fat accompaniment.

Actions

• Make sure you fully understand the difference between simple carbs and complex carbs – make a list of all the carbs you are currently eating and then split everything on this list into one of the two categories – if most items on your list are simple carbs change what you’re eating immediately.

• Go to a good health food shop and stock up on wholemeal pasta, brown rice and other whole grains and beans. Use them in preference to simple carbs in all your home-cooked meals.

• Remember that vegetables are also complex carbs – so a big bowl of pumpkin soup (without cream of course) with a piece of wholemeal bread (no butter) and a side salad is a great example of a premium complex carb lunch.

 

 

 

 

Sugar sucks!

April 4th, 2013

“If God hadn’t meant for us to eat sugar, he wouldn’t have invented dentists.’ Ralph Nader

There is a dangerous drug that’s extracted from a plant and then highly refined. Millions of people are addicted to it and it causes intense cravings and physical suffering. Sounds like heroin doesn’t it? Actually it’s white sugar (C12H22O), a harsh chemical that is toxic to our bodies and very addictive.

Sugar is also extremely fattening. I’ve talked before about the difference between good ‘complex’ carbs and bad ‘simple’ carbs, and how bad carbs are basically carbs that convert rapidly into simple sugars and that don’t contain the healthy fibre and minerals found in good carbs. Well, sugar is not only a bad carb, it’s the biggest, baddest carb of them all because it doesn’t contain any useful nutrients. It is pure calories. So stop pretending to yourself that you’re eating when you eat foods that contain a lot of sugar – you’re not – you’re just pumpin’ in those calories and getting fat!

Cocaine (another dangerous, addictive drug) was mixed with sugar to create the original recipe for Coca–Cola back in 1885. The amount of cocaine in Coca–Cola quickly diminished due to bad press, but the amount of sugar steadily increased. A can of Coke today contains 39 grams of sugar (a can of Pepsi has 41 grams). That equals about seven teaspoons or 9.75 teaspoons of sugar per can. That’s approximately 155 calories – the equivalent of eating two thick slices of bread or eight rice cakes. And you don’t need me to tell you which option is better for your health and for your hips.

The other insidious thing about sugar is that manufacturers add a lot of sugar to processed and packaged foods to make them taste good – even those that don’t seem to be sweet when you taste them. They do this because they know that most people really like the taste of sugar. Back when humans still lived in caves, the sweet flavour was very rare, and if our ancestors were lucky enough to come across something sweet (such as a bear’s honey stash) they would consider it an exotic treat and eat in preference to all other foods. The result is that today, even though there’s a dangerous excess of refined sugar in our diets, we still tend to choose sweet foods over more nutritious ones like vegetables.

Another more complicated reason why we’re addicted to sugar is because of the artificially high salt content in our diets. Many thousands of years ago the Chinese developed the concept – yin and yang – a philosophy in which the principle of opposites is used to explain all phenomena. Examples of yin and yang opposites are: hot (yang) and cold (yin), male (yang) and female (yin), light (yang) and dark (yin), and so on.

In the culinary realm, salt and sugar are the extreme opposites of each other. Salt is the most yang substance you can eat and sugar is the most yin. Because yang attracts yin (and yin attracts yang) for most of us it goes like this: the more salt we eat, the more sugar we crave (this explains the dessert phenomenon – a salty ‘yang’ dinner often makes us want something sweet ‘yin’ afterwards). Likewise, the more sugar we eat, the more salt we crave. For example, when we have a few drinks (alcohol is very yin being both sweet ‘yin’ and wet ‘yin’) we automatically feel like munching on salty ‘yang’ peanuts, chips or a hamburger.

Anyway, for the purposes of this book, all you really need to know is that a really smart to reduce your sugar intake is to avoid overly salty food. Most added salt in our diets comes from processed and packaged foods, so once you’re following of my other Slim Rules, which is to avoid anything that comes in a box, or a tin, or a packet then your salt intake will automatically reduce. As your salt intake reduces so will your desire for sugar. As you eat less sugar your desire for salt will decrease, and so on.

More facts about sugar:

• Sugar can cause the pancreas to secrete abnormally large quantities of insulin, which can contribute to the possible onset of diabetes.

• Excessive sugar consumption can lower ‘good’ HDL cholesterol levels and raise the ‘bad’ blood fats called triglycerides – a combination that can lead to heart disease.

• When sugar is heated with protein and fats (as in most commercially produced baked products) it produces harmful compounds called AGEs, which can contribute to blood-vessel damage.

• Refined sugar also contains industrial contaminants, which can trigger unpleasant immune responses.• Sugar is by far the leading cause of teeth cavities, bleeding gums and loss of teeth.

• Sugar is the main cause of hyper-glycemia and hypo-glycemia.

• Sugar can trigger binge eating in those with bulimia.

• Sugar can increase PMS symptoms.

• Sugar increases hyperactivity in about 50 percent of children.

• Sugar can increase symptoms of anxiety and irritability and bring on panic attacks.

Summary

• Sugar is a dangerous and addictive chemical.

• Sugar is empty calories containing no useful nutrients.

• Most processed and packaged foods contain huge amounts of added sugar and should be avoided at all costs.

Cutting carbs at dinner

March 15th, 2013

Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.

Good advice, but does anyone really want to eat dinner like a pauper? Cutting carbs at night might sound really hard, but actually it’s perhaps  the easiest and most effective of the Slim Rules because all that’s required is that you don’t eat any simple carbs (like rice, bread or pasta) at night. You can dine like a King (or a Queen) for dinner – but you can’t eat simple carbs!

An ideal evening meal would be a quality protein such as fish, chicken, steak, lentils or tofu served with vegetables or salad. Alas vegetables do contain carbohydrates, so it’s best to avoid starchy vegetables like potatoes and pumpkin because they turn into sugars faster than less starchy vegetables like broccoli and green beans.

If you’re following all the Slim Rules and having a big, healthy complex carb-based lunch, you’ll probably be in the mood for a lighter dinner anyway. This is the meal where you can lash out and have a high-quality meal you really like and look forward to – like a fresh grilled tuna steak, or a premium medallion of beef with roast carrots and green beans, or chicken breast in a light white wine sauce with broccoli and a side salad.

Cutting carbs at night isn’t about denial – it’s about treating yourself to delicious food at night rather then plain, everyday staples, such as bread. If you love bread more than anything else then make sure you indulge in it at lunch. As long as it’s wholegrain (not wholemeal, wholegrain) it’ll fall safely within the Slim Rules’ complex carbs-for-lunch guidelines.

Good news is that you can eat quite a lot of something light like a tuna salad, or a tofu and vegetable stir-fry for dinner – as long as you don’t have carbs with them. In my book it’s better to eat a whole plate of vegetable stir-fry than half a plate of stir-fry with rice.

Cutting carbs at dinner might take at little practice, but after a week or two your body will adjust and you won’t even miss that pasta dinner and you certainly wouldn’t dream of having bread with your meal when you go to a restaurant. You’ll be converted because you’ll feel better, you’ll sleep better and best of all you’ll wake up feeling and being slimmer. It’s like a dream come true. Such a simple rule – yet when it’s applied with understanding and commitment the results are incredible.

Summary

• Carbohydrates are best eaten earlier in the day when the body has ample time to fully digest them.

• Therefore, if you want to have mastery over your weight, avoid carbohydrates at night.

• Your evening meal should be a quality protein accompanied by non-starchy vegetables and/or salad.

Actions

Sit down and make a list of 10 evening meals you can cook right now that are a combination of protein and salad and/or non-starchy vegetables. Use this list over the coming week to ‘set’ your new habit.

• Experiment by eating some of your usual dinners without the carbohydrate component – you can always eat more of what’s left if you’re still hungry.

• Learn to love salads – buy a salad recipe book if necessary – eat as much of them as you like. As long as you always use a high-quality cold-pressed olive oil dressing rather than mayo you’ll be staying within ‘the Slim Rules’ and feeling great too.

Fruit first thing

February 25th, 2013

“Some things you have to do every day. Eating seven apples on Saturday night instead of one a day just isn’t going to get the job done.” Jim Rohn

You can think of fruit as ‘the ripened reproductive body of a seed plant’, or as a delicious purpose-built snack for humans. However you like to think about fruit, one thing you can be sure of is that eating it in the morning instead of your usual breakfast is one of the quickest and easiest ways to reduce your overall daily calorie intake and lose weight.

Because raw fruit contains a high proportion of water and fibre it’s much easier to digest than other foods. It’s also full of enzymes that further assist in the digestion process. As soon as you cook, or process any food (including fruit), these enzymes are destroyed. Eating high-enzyme raw fruit in the morning gives your body something that can be quickly transferred into energy with less danger of being stored as fat.

There’s another benefit. The more time you leave between when you eat your dinner and when you eat complex carbs (ie bread/cereal/pasta, etc) again the better. For example, let’s say if you ate your dinner at 7pm, had only had fruit for breakfast, and then ate lunch at around noon that would be a massive 17 hours that you’ve rested your digestion and enabled your liver to get around to the all important task of… metabolising fat! Plus it would be 17 hours in your 24-hour day that you’re not eating things you shouldn’t. My theory is that these 17 hours of the night and day are the easiest time to cut calories.  And, eating fruit in the morning instead of your regular breakfast is one really easy way to cut calories during these hours.

Fruit of course has many other wonderful properties. Because it’s easy to digest it has a cleansing and cooling effect on the body. This means it functions as an antidote to rich food and heavy meat-protein meals (like last night’s dinner). The alkaline property of fruit combined with its acids also stimulates the digestion and has a natural laxative effect. Yes! What this means is that you will almost certainly move your bowls soon after eating your fruit-only breakfast, if not before. And this is a very good thing if you want to lose weight and be healthy.

My recommendation to keep it yummy is to cut up at least 3-4 different fruits to make a healthy, appetising fruit salad. No muesli, no yoghurt, just fruit. Yum!

Word of warning: not all fruits are equal. Some fruits (like bananas and grapes) are full of sugars in the form of fructose. Whenever you buy and eat fruit make sure to select those from the less sweet, ‘low-carb’ end of the spectrum. Here’s a list of best choices to worst for you to print out and stick on your fridge.

Low carb (good)

Blackberries, raspberries, cranberries

Medium carb (okay)

Strawberries, melon, papaya, blueberries, watermelon, nectarines, apples, peaches, grapefruit, apricots, plums, pears, pineapple, kiwi fruit

High carb (avoid at all costs)

Bananas, cherries, grapes, oranges, mangos, figs + all dried fruit

Actions

• Make sure to shop for fruit regularly so your fruit bowl is always full in the morning.

• Always select fruit that’s fresh and in season.

• Buy fruit you don’t normally eat – munch on nectarine, pick up a pear, mosey up to a melon – the more you experiment with fruit the more you’ll grow to love it.

Want to lose weight? Don’t eat late!

February 3rd, 2013

 

“My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four unless there are three other people.” Orson Wells

THE TIME of day you eat really does matter. After 7pm your body doesn’t digest food nearly as fast as during the day when you’re being active. Worse still, calories eaten in the evening are much more likely to end up as extra fat.

That’s why, if you want to be slim, it’s imperative you eat your dinner early, ideally before 7pm and never after 8pm. The longer you can leave between when you eat your last meal of the day and when you go to bed the more efficiently you will metabolise whatever you eat. This is because most of the body’s metabolic functions take place at night while you’re resting.

Think about it. If you eat dinner at 7pm and go to bed at 11pm, that’s a four-hour gap between dinner and bedtime. If you then sleep for eight hours until 7am that’s a total of 12 hours since dinner. That’s half a day. Half a day that you’re not stuffing your face (I mean not eating!). Such a simple, yet powerful concept isn’t it? Trust me, it’s much easier not to eat during this 12 hour period than the other 12 hours of ‘prime eating time’, so my recommendation is tackle what’s easier first. Once you’ve developed enough discipline to not eat after 7pm, it’ll be far easier to move on to the other more challenging ‘Slim Rules’.

By the way, if you simply must eat after 7pm, my suggest is have an apple!

How to avoid eating after 8pm

  1. Always eat before you go out in the evening.
  2. Cook at home as much as possible.
  3. Tell your friends that you have hypoglycemia and that you simply have to eat by 7pm every night!
  4. Make it a rule that if you haven’t eaten by 8pm you have to skip dinner that night (great for weight loss).
  5. Skip dinner occasionally anyway (great for weight loss).
  6. Follow animals in the wild’s way and always eat before dark.
  7. Pack an evening meal to take to work on nights you have to work late, or when you’re going out straight from the office.
  8. Make a list of nearby restaurants, which serve healthy food, and that you can go to straight from work.
  9. Make a ritual out of dinner – come home, shower, rest and/or meditate and then eat.

10. Don’t ever eat your dinner in front of the tv because, as everyone knows, watching tv while you’re eating makes you fat!

In summary:

• The earlier you eat your last meal of the day the better your body will metabolise what you eat.

• Therefore for maximum weight loss always eat your evening meal by 7pm and never later than 8pm.

• The longer you leave between your evening meal and eating again the next day the faster you will lose weight and improve your digestive health.