The long stretch of wonderful weather has been a great way for many of us to top up our levels of vitamin D, the ‘sunshine vitamin’. But why is vitamin D so important? And how can we get it safely from the sun while still protecting our skin?
We are all about supporting your physical and mental health throughout the year. However, we know that this time of year, in the midst of exams, can be stressful for kids and parents. Read our tips on supporting your brain health now and in the longer term or watch Heather on TV3
Don’t think you have room or time to grow your own vegetables? Think again as our Cork nutritionist, Aoife, discovered (much to her own surprise!) that it is possible to grow fresh courgettes, peas, lettuce and basil on her windowsill and a small area of garden she reclaimed from her children and dog. And here is the evidence to prove it:
3 benefits of growing courgette and other vegetables in a pot:
You can move it around to small sunny areas of your garden and away from slugs that like to eat them
You get to pick them when they are small and full of flavour and you can use the yellow flowers in cooking too
Courgettes are typically used in France as a soup when weaning babies to introduce them to green vegetables and are a good source of complex carbohydrate
3 benefits of growing your own peas, basil and lettuce:
You can pick them as needed which means less waste
More nutrients such as bioflavonoids, folic acid and Vitamin C (important nutrients for fertility and general health)
No more soggy bags of unused lettuce in your fridge
Here is a nice summer recipe for courgette and pea broth (adapted from the BBC Good food recipe) which keeps the vegetables intact as no blending is required. It also adds in a nice vegetarian source of protein to balance the meal and also additional fibre and slow release carbohydrate.
Ingredients: Serves 4
Cooking time 15 minutes Prep time 10 minutes
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic
500g courgettes chopped and quartered lengthways
400g white bean drained and rinsed (cannellini or butter beans work fine here)
1 litre of good quality vegetable stock such as Marigold or Kallo
2 tbsp. basil pesto (optional)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan or pot
Cook the garlic for a few seconds and add the courgettes until they start to soften approx 3 minutes
Stir in the peas and beans
Pour in the stock and cook for another 3 minutes
Stir in the pesto or garnish with some freshly picked basil leaves
Season to taste and serve with slice of good quality bread such as rye or sourdough
It can be tempting to go for a quick-fix diet, especially at this time of year with the weather finally warming up. But research shows again and again that fad diets are not only ineffective but can be downright dangerous.
How to tell if it’s a fad diet
Does it promise a quick fix, especially an easy one with no exercise? Like with most things in life, if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is…
Does someone stand to make lots of money from it e.g. meal replacement manufacturers?
Is the approach supported by proper research? If not, be wary.
What’s the down side?
most fad diets are extremely restrictive (think cabbage soup or grapefruit diets), which means that you risk missing out on nutrients, especially in the longer term
because they are so restrictive, you often feel hungry and spend your day thinking about food, especially the food you can’t eat
with very low-calorie diets, you will lose muscle, which is what helps your body to burn calories in the first place. When you go back to eating normally, you will put on the weight lost and more. 90% of dieters who lose weight gain back more than they originally lost
can lead to disordered eating and eating disorders
The real issue is that they don’t address unhealthy eating habits in the long term, so when you get bored with the diet, you just revert to the habits that caused you to gain weight in the first place.
What does actually work?
It’s not very exciting, but making gradual change to your eating habits, with slow, sustainable weight loss of ½ – 2 pounds per week is the only way to lose weight in the long term and keep it off
Any good weight loss programme will also include exercise, to help build muscle and support metabolism
Two ways of eating that actually support healthy weight loss
Mediterranean diet – one of the most widely researched diets, with proven health benefits, this diet focuses on eating heart healthy fats in moderation (from fish, nuts and olive oil) together with pulses, vegetables, fruits and wholegrains. Like the low glycemic index diet, the Mediterranean restricts sugar and refined carbs and focuses on eating a wide variety of wholefoods. Expect gradual weight loss and be prepared to stick to this way of eating for good.
Intermittent fasting – where you reduce your calorie intake some of the time. Two popular versions include where you don’t eat for between 12 and 16 hours per day and the 5:2 diet, where you eat 500 calories for 2 days per week. Research currently shows that intermittent is effective for weight and fat loss and can also help to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, help reduce fatty liver, may protect the brain….. It is also reasonably easy to follow and helps educate about hidden calories in your regular meals. However, you need to be prepared to stay on a maintenance version of this for life. It’s also not suitable if you are very stressed (fasting puts your body under additional stress), have hormonal issues or are trying to conceive or pregnant or if you are diabetic. Find out more and get a 2 day intermittent fasting menu here.
Both need to be combined with regular exercise to succeed in the long term.
Our top tips
Rapid weight loss is not sustainable. Slow and steady wins the race
Focus on what you can eat rather than what you can’t
Chose a plan you can follow long term
Set realistic short and long-term goals
Avoid any diet plan
that promises a quick fix
that focuses on one food or food group
that you can’t maintain
that is not based on real food
that does not include exercise
So forget about fad diets. Contact us on 01 4020777 if you need help to get your food and lifestyle on track for good.
Now in it’s fourth year, Friday the 13th of April marks the day when companies and employers show their commitment to employee wellness. We know from research that investing in employee wellness improves health outcomes, happiness and feelings of fulfilment and of course, reduces absenteeism and increases productivity.