Over to Angela…
Often diet and nutrition advice focusses on deprivation, on what NOT to eat. This means that diets often feel restrictive and come with a sense of guilt if we “break” them, which makes them hard to stick to and ultimately not helpful for our emotional health.
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In this column, I want to change the way you think about food, diets and nutrition for good.
Your diet is so much more that a tool to help you lose weight. What you eat can help support your brain, it can help you to feel less anxious, more focussed, more resilient. It can help us redefine ageing, it can help support our immune systems. It can help us to be the best version of ourselves.
I have a saying:
“Give someone a diet, you feed them for a week, teach someone how their body works, you nourish them for life”
The mid-afternoon dip is a common complaint people have. Sometime in the middle of the afternoon, when your energy starts to flag, you find yourself unable to focus and unable to concentrate. Does that sound familiar? And more often than not, it is closely followed by reaching for a cake, biscuit or something else full of sugar.
The main fuel our brain relies on is glucose, found in sugar. So, when your brain is feeling tired, it is pre-programmed to tell you it needs sugar, and sugar is the fastest way to fuel a tired brain. The problem is, it isn’t very sustainable.
When we eat sugar our body releases insulin, the job of insulin is to “escort” the sugar out of your bloodstream which carries it around the body, and into the cells where it gets used to make energy or turned in storage. All of which is the perfectly normal and healthy function. The problem arises when we have too much sugar which leads to too much insulin.
Have you noticed that if you splurge out on sugary food, you quite quickly feel like you want more? In part that’s because of the dopamine response sugar can give us. There is also a surge of insulin released when we eat a lot of sugar and that insulin can “overact” leading to low blood sugar levels, and your brain crying out for more.
Longer-term, our body can become unresponsive to the insulin. Did you know there is a type of Alzheimer’s disease known as Type 3 Diabetes? In some cases, Alzheimer’s develops because the brain cells are unable to get the sugar they need because they have become unresponsive, or resistant to insulin.
Now we have a bit more understanding about what’s going on when we make those food choices, let me give you some simple tips!
Introducing my Build a Plate idea
Imagine your plate of food. Your goal is to make 50% of it as vegetables or whole fruits (erring more towards the veggies), 25% of it as protein (fish, chicken, beans, pulses, egg, meat, nuts and seeds) and the remaining 25% is the carbohydrate bit (bread, potato, rice, pasta and so on). Where is the fat some of you might be asking? That will either be used to cook with e.g. olive oil, or it will be part of the protein (oily fish or egg) or it will be the dressing or sauce on top.
What I love about the Build a Plate idea is that it meets you wherever you are. You can take your current meals and adapt them based on this concept, which is much easier than starting from scratch.
Why is this going to work?
The proteins, fats and fibre make sure that the sugar in the carbohydrate part of the plate is released much more slowly into your bloodstream. This means less insulin is released and your body and brain have enough fuel for their needs, without the insulin spikes (which can lead to longer-term problems) and without the sugar cravings.
How you can find out more about Angela:
Visit Angela on Instagram @feedyourselfsmarter
Sign up for Angela’s FREE masterclass on 22nd March here