6 WAYS TO MANAGE YOUR SUGAR CRAVINGS

 

Eath produces the food your body needs! (1)

The last post I did on why sugar is not good for your body  elicited a lot of interest and questions from people on whether there are ways to manage sugar cravings in a healthy manner.

Before I explore ways of how to manage sugar cravings I thought I should mention a hard and cold truth about sugar .

Sugar has no nutritional value whatsoever,yes it does sweeten some foods and drinks  the craving for sugar is derived from the pleasure it triggers through the release of dopamine into our brain.

Sugar has no proteins,vitamins or minerals that the human being would need in order to  be healthy .

The danger with the added sugar we take in  is that it plays havoc with our metabolism and it also contributes to a lot of the lifestyle diseases we see on the rise.Everything from obesity,heart disease,tooth decay are related to consuming more sugar than our body needs.

Sugar gives you nothing but empty calories and consuming foods high in sugar and fats leads to nutritional deficiencies  as well as it affects the consumption of other healthy foods.This deficiency on certain nutrients then leads to deficiencies that compromise our health and leave our immunity exposed.

The way to stave your sugar craving is to look for healthy alternatives to sugar that give you more than the sugar high and are high in nutritional value.

1.Take a fruit and leave out the sugar in your hot beverages.

Instead of having your tea with sugar,leave it out and instead have a fruit with your breakfast.Not a fruit smoothie because fruits have sugar in them in the form of fructose and over consumption of sugar in the form of fructose is unhealthy as all excess fructose will get turned by your body into fat.

2.Make your snack choices healthy ones.

To stave off the hunger pangs when you are feeling low on sugar at 3 pm Monday afternoon,take a fruit instead of the afternoon mug of tea.

Note:Intake of fruits should be limited to about 2-3 in a day.

Nuts and seeds also make very healthy snack choices nuts  provide essential vitamins from the B group,Vitamin E and minerals like potassium,calcium and magnesium and they will leave you fuller for longer as they slowly get broken down and sugar gets released into your body in amounts your body can use.

3.Take note of your calories

Take your calories from whole grains,starchy root vegetables like sweet potatoes,grains,cereals and not from baked foods .When you make healthier choices about where you will get your calories from,these sources of carbohydrates as highlighted are also sources of other micro nutrients  that your body needs.

As you grow older your body needs less calories and what your body needed when you were 20 will change as you head towards your 30’s and 40’s when you become less active and your body’s metabolism slows down.

4.Take water

Sometimes the hunger pangs we think we have that force us to reach out for something sweet may actually be a sign from our body  that we a dehydrated.Pick up that glass of water instead of a doughnut ,a cookie or a fruit drink.

5.Make your  food choices healthy choices.

Instead of eating three large meals during the day,stagger your meals through out the day in small portions and make sure they are made up of foods from all  the major food groups,cereals/grains,milk and dairy,fruits and vegetables,nuts and seeds.By taking your foods from the natural sources you are ensuring your body is able to metabolize the food in such a manner that stabilizes your blood sugars through out the day rather than experiencing the highs and the dramatic falls that come with consumption of processed foods which are high in sugar and fat.

6.Get to exercise

If you are struggling with your sugar craving,getting physically active will help you mange those cravings as it forces you make more healthier food choices,take in more water and you will definitely have to take in more than sugar for  your muscles to get working and to be physically fit.

Exercising will force you to be more conscious of your food choices and it will lead you to healthier ones.

 

Managing your sugar cravings is not easy but it can be done if you know how sugar affects your body and brain you will make healthier food choices.To find out how your body and brain are affected you may want to read the previous post.

If you find this information useful or you would like me to address something you are interested in knowing more of,please let us know in the comments section.

 

 

 

HOW TO PREPARE HEALTHY SNACKS FOR YOUR CHILDREN

Snacking for children

A woman wields the  greatest  power over her household as she determines what gets eaten in her house ,she determines how healthy her family will be and most of us forget the power we have.You solely can  set the course over what kind of eating habits your children will carry with them through out their lives and well into adulthood.

As a woman many times I have found myself  asking this very simple question- ” why am I  here?” .

I don’t know if many others struggle with the same question ?This   feeling  that even though I may be doing very well in my career,business,relationships….I am not yet quite there.

It feels like we are in some kind of waiting room,you know like the one at the docotrs where you have to wait out your turn?

Hospital waiting rooms and waiting rooms of any kind are interesting places to get to see what people do when they have nothing to do but wait their turn.

Some are busy on their phones,reading newspapers ,magazine or a book or just people watching.

When you have children and have to take your children to the paedetrician,it is a great time to meet other mother,fathers as well though they are pretty rare.As a nutritionist it is also a time to see the kind of snacks children carry with them.Snacks are a great way to keep children  busy,their  very short attentions spans (15 minutes with my kids)means that they get bored pretty fast.They have very creative ways of keeping you busy as a parent with their trips to the dispenser pouring out cup after cup of water or making repeated trips to the bathroom to wash their hands.

Snack time is an opportunity parents can use to teach children to pick the healthy option rather than the one that looks tempting.Whether it is a hospital visit or packing snacks for school ,whatever snacks we put into their hands should more often than not be a choice that feeds their bodies and their taste buds as well.

Snack time is an opportunity to meet our nutritional requirements and growing children require more micro nutrients which are the vitamins and minerals than adults do.Giving them  a choice of fruits,nuts as well as vegetables is a healthy way of meeting their nutritional needs.

The trick to getting children eat more vegetables and fruits is to present it in a very attractive manner.

After the last post on the building blocks of your child’s nutrition some readers asked if I could give some ideas on healthy snacks they could give to their children .

Just before I share the suggestions I have  prepared I thought I should say some things to every woman who is doing her best to raise her children to eat better and have healthier habits.

A woman yields the  greatest  power over her household as she determine what get eaten and most do not  know it.You are the one that sets the course over what kind of eating habits your children will carry with them through out their lives.

A woman has the power to determine the kind of lifestyle her children,grand children and future great grand children will live.

A woman determines what ends up on the plates of her children,by the choice of the kind of foods she chooses to wean her child on, she is developing her child’s taste buds for healthy food .

The reason why we are told to wean children on a variety of natural foods is to develop their taste for nature’s goodness and not food from little  jars or boxes that is filled with a lot of sugar,salt and other additives and preservatives.

As much as possible try and develop healthy eating habits in your children as early as you can.

And even when you may have missed the opportunity earlier on,as long as they live under your roof you still have the power to change the course of their eating habits.

Children who develop healthy eating habits from an early age have fewer incidences of disease and hospital visits.They are more likely to perform better in school as well as socially.

You may want to read a post I did on why you should be reading food labels as well.

The foods that are great and healthy alternatives are foods you can pick from your local kiosk or grocery shop and when it comes to fruits,the best choices are the fruits in season,these offer you a fresh as well as cheaper alternative than those that are out of season.

1.Fruits

Fruits are best eaten  whole not blended.

Blending a few fruits for juice may seem healthy on the surface but fruits contain fructose a sugar and drinking too much fruit juice means  children while enjoying nature’s goodness in a glass of juice are also taking in too much sugar.

2-3 fruits daily are enough to meet a child’s dietary requirements .

Instead of blending 2-3 fruits to make fruit juice have your children eat the fruit whole,if it is an orange,slice it and let them have the orange.If an apple let them crunch their teeth  through the skin of the apple or let them peel the banana .Peeling bananas is a good way to develop your child’s fine motor skills as well.

As we live in the tropics,Kenya is never out of fruits,we enjoy a wide variety of fruits all year round,be sure to have your child eat at least 2 in a day by packing them as a snack for school and having another as an after school snack.

3.Salads

Salads are a great way for getting your children to meet their dietary requirements for  vitamins and minerals .

Making salads is a fun and easy way to get children to eat more of their vegetables.

Better still is if you use your own dressing,forget the one you buy from the supermarket that is loaded with preservatives,sugar and salt.Home made salad dressing are easy and tasty.

Try making them with some olive oil,freshly squeezed lemon juice ,black pepper,pinch of salt ,honey and use that dressing to toss your grated cabbage and carrot,or lettuce tomatoes and carrots.

Salads can be served for dinner or over the weekend and are a great way to get kids involved in preparing healthy meals ,lessons that they will definitely carry with them through adult hood and when they bring up their own children as well.

4.Nuts and seeds

Before you start giving your children nuts and seeds,ensure they do not have any nut allergies.

Cashew nuts,macadamia nuts are   favorites with most children , we also have peanuts(some children have peanut allergies)  we also have almonds,hazel nuts that are not produced locally and cost more but are also healthy choices and are stocked in a variety of stores.

Before packing nuts and seeds as a snack for children ensure they are past the age of 4 years and can comfortably eat them in your presence as they are a choking hazard for younger children.

There are also nut butters available and these nut butters can be used on bread,on sandwiches as well and are healthier than margarine as well as most commercially produced fruit jams.

5.Dried fruits

Dried fruits like sultanas,dates  and raisins are also good but not too much though as sugar is used as a preservative to lengthen their shelf life.These you can mix in with your favourite nuts to create some variety or added to breads you make at home and to cakes as well.

Salads can be jazzed up with some nuts,dried fruits and seeds like sesame seeds as well.

6.Sandwiches

Everybody loves bread(at least I thought so until we started thinking gluten was evil)

You may want to read :WHY YOU MAY NOT REALLY BE ALLERGIC TO GLUTEN.

You can make sandwiches from left over chicken and add tomatoes and with a simple simple dressing of olive oil and lemon you will have  a really delicious sandwich.You can add some crunch to it by first grilling the bread,rubbing some garlic clove on it and what you will end up with your children will keep asking for every time you have left over chicken.

One of my favorites as well as my kids is placing a slice of bread on a plate and layering it with thinly sliced avocado pieces  ,slices of  tomatoes  and topping it with a slice of bread then slicing the bread  diagonally into 4 cute triangular pieces.

You can come up with as many sandwich varieties as you like depending on what your family likes and as long as it is a healthy.Make your sandwiches  irresistible  by cutting them into fancy shapes using cookie cutters,your children will love them.

The secret to  getting it right with  sandwiches is to buy sandwich bread which is denser in order to hold the filling(s )and pick a healthy filling as well.

Fillings for sandwiches can be anything from fruits like avocado,tomato  to salads like guacamole or left over roast beef,chicken,turkey or tuna.

6.Making your own fruit yoghurts

A lot of the fruit yoghurts available in the market have a lot of sugar in them,a great idea is to buy  plain yoghurt and it with a fruit of your choice and pack it for your child  which they can have  as a mid morning or after school snack when they come back home.

Fruits that will give you a really great flavor when blended with yoghurt are strawberries,bananas,avocado,blueberries and just  one fruit per serving of yoghurt at a time .

A few years back I bought a popsicle maker and would often make popsicles with fruit yoghurt. The kids loved it especially when the weather was hot.

You may want to read :BENEFITS OF YOGHURT

A great way to ensure you do not have to push your children to choose healthy snack options is to always have a fruit bowl in the house,make sure its filled with fruits like bananas,oranges,apples ,grapes and by keeping a jar of nuts and seeds as well so that when the hunger pangs strike then they know where they can refill from.

If this post helpful,we would love to hear from you.It is readers like Wambui and everyone else who sends in their questions that keep us writing.

We may not always get it right all the time but when we can get it right 75% of the time when we pick a fruit over a packet of crisps then we are doing the right thing.

See you in the comments section and thank you Wambui!

DO YOU KNOW YOUR GAP?IT’S WHERE EVERYTHING HAPPENS

Life is lived .IN THE GAP (1)

What do you do when you have tried every diet on the planet,even your friends diets and still have not lost weight?

What do you do when the diet and lifestyle you started in January does not work in February?

What do you do when going to the gym becomes a drag and you have stopped trying?

What do you do when you are stuck in the gap between where you are and where you want to be ?

You move forward.

Because life is lived in the gap,where the  challenges and battles to eat healthier every day is a battle between what you feel you want and what your body really needs.

It is lived in the gap where being faithful to your daily exercises is a battle.

You may want to read:WHY YOU ARE NOT LOSING WEIGHT

But let’s go back to the beginning shall we and allow me to tell you about myself.

In order to keep writing,even when I do not post a daily bog post I have to write,in my journal or on a slip of paper or somewhere.Whenever I have kept off writing I have seen my creativity take a slump and it becomes harder each day to write the more I keep off it.

Same thing applies to keeping and staying faithful to the decision to eat healthier as well as exercise,it is hard and it is a choice you have to make every day.

And everyday you wake up to that gap that exists between where you are and where you want to be.That GAP is not an easy thing to wake up to everyday but it is a reminder that there exists within it the opportunity to grow as well as challenge yourself.

Even if you have  tried everything under the sun and you feel  you are  not there yet,do not give up.

That gap you see is a friend,an ally and a  source of  the  energy as well as the motivation to keep going at it,towards your goal.

Now,you may be asking,since you know what your goal is,how do you start towards making this goal a reality,a reality you are aware of everyday and one that keeps you motivated enough to stay the course ?

1.Knowing how you got there.

Real change is achieved when we know where we are and how we got there.

When we understand where we are then we are better prepared to start the journey towards creating the kind of future we would like for ourselves.

Maybe we started having pizza for lunch as well as dinner once too often or it could be that we started  neglecting a regular exercise regime or gave up on the second week of going to the gym when we thought we would die from the muscle aches(muscle aches are actually  a good sign that your muscles  are working as they should).

2.Know what is on your plate every day.

Keeping a food diary for a week of what you eat is a good way of tracking your eating habits.

A food diary will help you see what you are eating more or less off and what you should cut out altogether.You may just find that it is the 4 cups of coffee or tea with sugar that are contributing to all the extra calories your body is storing up as fat.

Maybe it is the extra glasses of wine every weekend that are making it hard to lose the weight .

A food diary is a good way of tracking whatever it is you eat and will give you an idea of how much you are consuming versus what your body really needs.

You will be surprised by what you see after keeping it for at least 2 weeks.

Sharing the details of your food diary with a nutritionist or dietitian will help them create a meal plan that will cater to the kind of lifestyle you are living.Each and every person is different and what diet  works for one person may give very different results to someone else.

By having a diet personalized for you,then you are more likely to stick to it as it incorporates food you can actually eat and not gag over.

Any weight loss program will only be sustainable when you eat food that you enjoy.

3.Knowing what your body needs

In school children are taught the basics of good nutrition ,most people actually know how a good meal should look like. It just seems easier to ignore all the good advice that we know and just eat the food we feel like eating at that particular time.

Every individual is different and a construction worker will not require the same kind of food as someone sitting in the office the whole day.

A woman needs her  food intake  to meet some dietary requirements that a mans body does not require.

The body’s nutritional needs are determined by age, gender,genes,occupation and any medical conditions we may be having.

This is where I would like to challenge anyone reading this to know how your body works and  what your body needs.

When you  know how your body works,what it needs you will know what to give it as fuel in the form of the food you eat.

In case of any medical conditions you may be having with,please see a qualified medical doctor.

4.Know who to seek advice from

The nutrition sector in the country is pretty much unregulated and one should be careful about whom they take advice about weight loss,a change in diet and living healthy from.

Mot public and private hospitals do have resident nutritionists and there are nutritionists like myself who give counselling services to individuals.It is prudent to do some research as well as background checks of people who claim to give out advice on what you should and should not be eating.

And read up as much as you can before you make a visit to your nutritionist or any medical provider.

5.Remember the gap

This gap,this seemingly huge gap that we seem to see before us, that is between where we are and where we want to be is all a matter of perspective.

Always remember that.

That gap can either be the source of a lot of frustration or the starting point towards real change.

Be easy on yourself and celebrate each milestone,even those that seem little,like eating an extra serving of vegetables or fruit or spending an extra half an hour at the gym.

 

When you are grateful for how far you have come ,you are giving yourself the energy and push to keep on running towards the goal of where you want to be.

Was this helpful?

We would love to hear your comments and any questions you may have as well.

LIVING WITH A CHILD WITH FOOD ALLERGY

Image from foodallergyfun.com

Red,puffy watery eyes, incessant itching that is accompanied by lots of sneezingand coughing.

That is what my son gets when he comes in direct contact with raw eggs.

…and that is s why we always have an anti histamine in the house

Allergic reactions to foods among children are  increasingly becoming more common.

A food allergy is defined as a toxic clinical reaction to foods or food additives that involves the immune system.

Your immune system then develops a reactive response to protect the body from this “invader”.

Some common food that cause allergic reactions include :eggs,cow milk,wheat and gluten,cheese,nuts and fish especially egg fish though you could develop an allergic reaction to almost any food .

Children with food allergies need to be informed of them early enough so they know what they can and cannot eat.

We let my son know early enough that he cannot have eggs ,he also cannot have peanuts or peanut butter either.

By letting our children know early enough we can empower them to be aware of their food choices.

It is also a good idea to let the school your child attends know just incase they may need some special dietary considerations.

Always have anti allergy medicine close by or take your child to hospital for treatment.

Doctorstv.com lists the symptoms to watch out for :

  1. Skin rash or hives
  2. Trouble breathing
  3. Wheezing
  4. Trouble swallowing
  5. Swelling on the lips,throat or any part of the body
  6. Diarrhoea
  7. Vomiting
  8. Coughing
  9. Red watery eyes
  10. Dizziness
  11. Fainting

Let your child know the importance of hand washing before mealtimes or snack time to prevent cross contamination.

Teach your child to say no to foods offered to them that they are allergic to,as that the only way to avoid food allergy.

A child or any person with food allergies also needs to avoid processed foods as much as possible as the preservatives and additives used may contribute to allergic reactions.

Some allergies may go away with time but some especially nut allergies you live with them for life.

Incase you suspect your child has a food allergy please visit a food allergy specialist.

 

 

UGALI WITH OOMPH!

It is strange that my spell check does not recognize ugali…a Kenyan delicacy like that needs to be put in the Oxford dictionary.

In my younger days i hated ugali because the wooden stick used to stir it frequently found a home on my derriere when i was extra naughty.

The more glorified form of ugali that plays is in the  league of gourmet food is the Italian polenta.

Instead of boiling water and mixing in with your usual maize flour try the following tips to add some oomph to kawaida /regular  ugali:

1.Add desiccated coconut to your ugali,fresh i s best but if you cannot get fresh the store bought variety works fine too.The flakes add crunch to your ugali and an absolutely out of this world  nutty  aroma will fill your kitchen as you cook.A tablespoon or two for each cup of water should do.

Coconut milk or cream will also give you great results ,bye bye bland ugali.

2.Add fresh cream to your ugali halfway during the cooking time ,adding  it too early causes the ugali to burn before it is ready.

3.Grate some cheese into the ugali ,stir it into the ugali  then serve.

4.Add sour cream,use it in the same way you use the cream.

5.Mix in millet flour with your regular stir  ugali flour,this should be thoroughly mixed before you start making the ugali or else you get lumps.Cook ugali made from millet flour on medium high heat it burns very  quickly.

6.If you have left over ugali,don’t throw it away,cut it into cubes make an egg/milk and chopped coriander  mix,then fry or bake and have them for breakfast

What other unusual ways do your cook ugali….please share.

AVOCADO CREAM SANDWICHES

Kenyans love their margarine and their bread,so much so some bread companies include a free    sachet of margarine when they package  their loaves.

But you do not have to have your bread with margarine,try butter or avocados for a really nutritious start  to your morning.

Ingredients

4 slices whole wheat bread

1/2 of a ripe avocado 

salt and pepper to taste

2 ripe tomatoes,sliced thinly into  rings

toasted sesame seeds(optional)

Tomato and avocado cream  sandwich
Tomato and avocado cream sandwich

Method

1.Using a teaspoon,scoop out the  the flesh of the avocado into a small bowl,add a pinch of salt ,  dash of ground black pepper and mash with a fork.

2.Take 4 slices of whole wheat  bread and reserving 2,spread the avocado

cream on two of the bread slices ,.

3.Arrange the tomato rings on top of the avocado cream and sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on top,then top with the 2

remaining bread slices. You will end up with 2 sandwiches.

4.Trim the crusts from the sandwiches and then cut diagonally.

Serve with preferred cold/hot beverage.

MY FARMING PROJECT

This year i took on a new challenge,i decided i would grow my own vegetables.

I have a little garden where i grow  kales,spinach,spring onions,even tried strawberries but they aren’t doing so well.

On another part of my little farm i have corn/maize and beans ,green peas,zucchini,potatoes ,coriander,butternut and pumpkin.

That does sound a lot but it isn’t.

A few days ago i waded into the stalks of corn and went to work plucking beans and peas to store in my freezer.

There is nothing like eating food you have grown it tastes so good…!!!

You do not have to  have  a big piece of  land to grow  things lie coriander or carrots a pot a large one at that would do.

Here is a picture of the beans and peas that i got 3 hours later…

My loot of beans and peas...
My loot of beans and peas…

HEALTHY SNACKING

You meet a lot of great people  on social networks and i have met a couple of amazing people blogging,one of them is the author of Mummytales.

Maryanne is as beautiful as her name sounds,she  is a great writer and i have been lucky enough to be a guest writer on her blog.

She recently  asked me to write about  healthy snacks we can pack for school kids.

I am often to be found along supermarket aisles  reading the labels of packets of potato crisps before i buy them.

Some brands have more artificial flavorings than others,so you may want to watch on that.

But how many of you have tried snacking on nuts?

Macadamia nuts are especially nutritious ,here is their nutritional code cracked.

Out of Africa has a wide array of  nuts and here is a pack of honey coated mixed nuts i devoured on a cold Easter Sunday as i read the paper.

Scrumptious pack of nuts i devoured....
Scrumptious pack of nuts i devoured….

Things to remember when buying any snack from the supermarket shelf  are…

1.You want the ingredients to be as natural as possible,none of the artificial flavorings and food coloring that seem to be the ingredients of choice for most junk food manufacturers.

2.Always always read the labels,know what you are putting into your body.

3.As much as possible make your own snacks at home,most of them are fairly easy to make from home.

4.Always check the expiration date .

5.Children under 3 years of age should not snack on nuts unsupervised .

And while you are preparing healthy snacks for your family as a mum or dad or caregiver,do not forget that you need to take care of yourself as well,loved this post by health writer Helen Sanders on  10 Light and Healthy  afternoon snacks that you can have on the go .

What I loved about this post was that all of them are packed full of nutrients that are good for your body ,they are readily available and can be easily packed and carried along.

Share with us some of your favourite snacks in the comments section,we would love to hear from you.

CREAMY COLESLAW

Coleslaw is a quintessential American salad that i love to bits.

Made from shredded cabbage,carrots and onions it is very easy to make and will have you loving cabbage all over again.

I have added my own twist to regular coleslaw by adding a dash of color with the inclusion of red cabbage,a German twist to an all American classic

Red cabbage has more Vitamin A than regular cabbage and has more anti- inflammatory agents  and  anti oxidants than its counter part the regular green cabbage. 

Red and white cabbages

Ingredients

1 small cabbage shredded finely

2 medium-sized carrots 

1/4 red cabbage shredded

2 sprigs of spring onion

1/2 cup sour cream

 salad seasoning for taste

2 sprigs of spring onion for garnishing,chopped finely(optional)

Method

1.Pour the sour cream into the   salad bowl.

2.Starting with the shredded cabbage add all the vegetables to the bowl except the spring onions.

3.Add salad seasoning just enough for taste and toss,add more seasoning if need be.

4.Add the shredded spring onion,toss again and if not serving immediately cover salad bowl with cling film and refrigerate.

5.Serve,it goes well with almost all kinds of food.

NB:If you do not like the taste of onions then add some chopped nuts for extra crunch.

“VERY COOL”PINEAPPLE AVOCADO BEETROOT SALAD

If this does not make you go rushing to get some beetroot I do not know what else will.

Especially on those days when it is so hot and the thing topmost on your mind is a bottle of soda,please banish the thought of ever having soft drinks again if you make this at home.

Scoop of vanilla ice cream from fotosearch.com

Ingredients

1 scoops vanilla ice cream(that is what makes it so cool)

1 cup diced pineapple

1/2-1 cup diced avocado

Juice from a small lime

2 tablespoon roasted cashew nuts

3 tablespoons grated beetroot plus extra for garnishing

Method

1.Ina small salad bowl put in pineapple,diced avocado and sprinkle the  freshly squeezed lime juice .

2.Add the toasted nuts and toss.

3.Sprinkle the grated beetroot .

4.Add the scoop of vanilla ice cream,smack in the middle of the bowl.

5.Garnish with the remaining grated beetroot for stunning effect.

Bon appettito!

 If you missed  the post i did on the benefits of beetroot ,here is the beetiful beetroot ina ll its glory.