Mishaps with Ministry of Health Guidelines

“The New Zealand Food and Nutrition Guidelines include guideline statements for healthy adults.

  1. Maintain a healthy body weight by eating well and by daily physical activity.*
  2. Eat well by including a variety of nutritious foods from each of the four major food groups each day.

·         Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits.

·         Eat plenty of breads and cereals, preferably wholegrain.

·         Have milk and milk products in your diet, preferably reduced or low-fat options.

·         Include lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or alternatives.

  1. Prepare foods or choose pre-prepared foods, drinks and snacks:

·         with minimal added fat, especially saturated fat

·         that are low in salt; if using salt, choose iodised salt

·         with little added sugar; limit your intake of high-sugar foods.

  1. Drink plenty of liquids each day, especially water.
  2. If choosing to drink alcohol, limit your intake.
  3. Purchase, prepare, cook and store food to ensure food safety.”
‘Eat plenty of breads and cereals’ this is an issue today as more and more products are commercially over processed and still contain heavy amounts of sugars, salt and additives that are NOT nutritionally beneficial to our body.
By eating healthier unrefined carbohydrates like kumara, pumpkin, squash, beetroot, legumes (lentils, beans), and keeping off processed grains means you are more likely to be successful in losing or maintaining a healthy body weight and having good energy levels. 

'Reduced fat dairy' products like yoghurts are flavoured and still contain sugar or they are so low fat that you end up hungry an hour later looking for the next snack. Even trim milk is processed and has a higher carbohydrate intake than full milk.

The reason saturated fat is promoted to be kept to minimal is that most people eat too many processed carbohydrates with these protein rich meals such as deep fried chips, pasta, white rice, bread or burger buns etc. These processed carbohydrates cause inflammation to the body and oxidise normal healthy LDL cholesterol which in turn causes it to become small, stiff and increase chance of sticking to the artery or vein walls thus promoting atherosclerosis. There is no evidence to prove that eating saturated fat increases heart disease unless a highly processed carbohydrate diet is evident. Furthermore, by eating a low carbohydrate diet means that you utilise fat more efficiently as you are not consistently using carbs as a fuel source so are less likely to store the saturated fat you do eat. So another reason for keeping your carbohydrate levels low from ‘grains and cereals’ especially while enjoying a protein meal is to maintain healthy cholesterol and utilise fat efficiently. 

The average kiwi DOES NOT meet recommended guidelines of having 3 handfuls of vegetables per day and 2 piece of fruit (infact the guidelines are going up to 7 plus per day). Most people tend to get enough fruit however fail considerably on the vegetable intake as many people do tend to substitute vegetables for fruit and can end up eating 4-6 pieces of fruit per day instead of adding a few extra veges like carrot or cucumber sticks. Aim to swap them around due the fact too much fruit can also increase sugar and insulin levels. We do get wonderful amounts of vitamin C, beta carotene, antioxidants etc from vegetables too!

Pointers to take home:

·         Eat foods that have had as less human interference as possible. Think about your pantry and fridge and how much packaged food there is in there. The less packaged and convenience foods there are at home, the easier it is to eat fresh and unprocessed. De-clutter your pantry and fill your fridge with COLOUR!
Tip: Keep your fruit and veges in the shelves not the vege bin so they are constantly in eyes view and they don’t get squashed.

·         Minimalizing packaged and processed foods such as breads and bread-type products, cereals, wraps, muesli & snack bars, pasta, crackers, biscuits, muffins, pre made sauces etc. can reduce your sugar, salt, additives and carbohydrate intake. Tip: Keeping it simple can keep your grocery bill down.

·         Keeping your carbohydrates low can really help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and reduce weight around the stomach. Many people think they are 'eating healthy’ just because they don't indulge in highly refined sugars like chocolate or eat unhealthy takeaways, however by having carbohydrates all through your day, means that you raise your insulin levels all day and this hormone is responsible for storing energy and stored energy turns into fat cells, especially around the abdominal section. An example of what a typical day may look like for many clients is having porridge for breakfast, two pieces of bread with soup for lunch, scone or muesli bar for afternoon tea and rice/pasta or potato for dinner. Even if you aren't going over your calorie intake, having raised insulin levels may still increase your chance of gaining weight and increased diabetes risk so take home message is avoid adding them to every meal.

o   Plus the more carbohydrates you eat, the more your body will rely on them as a fuel source rather than using body fat as a fuel source which is its natural first fuel source. If you are craving the carbs by the afternoon, it's probably because your body is in carb-burning mode and once these stores are depleted, it's going to tell you it wants more. Tip: Best to drop your serves of starchy carbohydrates to one to two serves per day. For example if you like your porridge for breakfast then have your soup with no bread for lunch or you can try an omelette for breakfast and have a piece of toast with your soup. If you love your roast potatoes or pumpkin for dinner then swap the muesli bar for nuts during the day. Fill yourself with heaps of low starch vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, green beans, carrots, etc and a few bits of fruit. 

·         Increase your good fat intake. The more fat in your diet, the more efficiently your body will burn fat. By including healthy fats like salmon, olive oil, seeds, nuts, avocado will increase your good HDL cholesterol levels too. Swap those extra starchy carbs for 1-2Tb of some good fats. For example swap the pasta salad for half an avocado in a green salad, or instead of rice with your stirfry sprinkle over some chopped nuts or cashews or try a cheese omelette (with some tomatoes and maybe spinach) for breakfast instead of cereal or take nuts instead of scone for a snack or swap low fat fruit yoghurt to a Greek style unsweetened yoghurt, by doing this you will be keeping your carb intake low. Tip:  Actually by adding olive oil or butter to vegetables can make the fat soluble vitamins more absorbable to the body.
Your brain can function very well on a low carbohydrate level. When there is a lack of carbohydrates your body produces ketones and your brain can utilise these as a fuel source to function. In fact increasing your levels of good fats can improve cognitive performance.

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