February is Healthy Lifestyles Awareness Month and with high rates of obesity and the so-called ‘lifestyle’ diseases, such as diabetes, it’s quite clear that South Africans need to develop more awareness about making healthy eating choices. We asked four of our dietitians what South Africans should know about nutrition:
- Let’s head for the kitchen and start cooking, invites Cath Day, RD:
“My top tip to my clients is to start cooking your own healthy meals from scratch as often as possible, using the freshest and healthiest ingredients. It’s the best way to control not only everything that goes into your meal, but also portion sizes. If you cook often at home, you have full awareness of making healthy eating choices most of the time. Cooking with fresh, healthy ingredients, making delicious meals and snacks can easily be fun rather than a chore. You can cultivate a family culture of great enjoyment at healthy eating by involving your partner, your kids, the whole family, and even, friends in preparing and sharing healthy food.”
- Let’s limit the sugar, advises Catherine Pereira, RD:
“ADSA supports the recommendations by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that added sugar intake should be limited to no more than 5 % of total energy intake. The South African Food Based Dietary Guidelines states that ‘sugar, and foods and drinks high in sugar should be consumed sparingly’. These foods include all types of confectionery (biscuits, cakes, etc.) as well as sugar-sweetened drinks. The key to getting this right is to become far more aware of ‘hidden’ sugars. We all know that when choose to eat a packet of sweets, we’re eating too much sugar; but we’re perhaps less aware that when we order an iced tea or a glass of wine at a restaurant, these also spike our daily sugar intake beyond sensible levels. When it comes to avoiding empty calories, what we drink counts every bit as much as what we eat; and we need a far higher level of awareness of our actual daily sugar intake in order to make sure we are keeping to the guidelines.”
- Let’s get over obsessing over restrictive or fad diets, says Kezia Kent, RD:
“Following your friends’ latest diet or the newest fad promoted on social media is not necessarily going to work for you as it may be working for others. Eating healthily should be tailored specifically for you and it should happen every day, not just over a time when you are trying to lose weight. There is always going to be a ‘latest’ diet; and chopping and changing according to fads can prevent you from developing sensible and sustainable healthy eating habits that truly suit your lifestyle and your body. Especially, avoid diets that promise you’ll lose weight quickly. Slow, steady weight loss lasts longer than quick, dramatic weight loss. If you lose weight quickly, you may lose muscle and water which increases your chances of regaining the weight. If you need to change to healthier eating or need to lose weight, get professional advice to develop a sustainable plan for you.”
- Let’s be careful about making carbs an enemy, warns Monique dos Santos, RD:
“There’s an immense amount of attention on low carb-high fat diets right now. We’ve got to keep the perspective that there are good reasons to include carbohydrates in our diets. Obviously, you want to limit sugar and refined starches, but there are carbohydrates in many, many foods that are good for us. Our bodies rely on a combination of carbohydrates and fat for energy to fuel daily activities. Carbohydrates are the brain’s number one energy source so cutting out carbs will zap your energy levels and leave you feeling fatigued. When carbs are limited excessively, you get really, really cranky. We also need carbohydrates to build muscle (in combination with sufficient protein in the diet and training). Fibre-rich carbohydrates such as fruits, some vegetables, legumes and wholegrain starches like oats, wild rice, and whole-wheat pasta are important for gut health. Let’s not forget that many carbs are also rich in other nutrients. If you restrict fruits, vegetables, and wholegrains then you are also limiting your intake of nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. B-vitamins, vitamin C, beta-carotene, magnesium and other essential micro-nutrients are all found in carbohydrate-rich foods.”
Our ‘Fishcakes with Barley Salad and Lemon Drizzle’ recipe ticks all the boxes – high in fibre, packed with omega 3 fatty acids, heart healthy mono-unsaturated fatty acids, an array of vitamins and minerals and contains a great balance of protein, carbohydrate and fat; and besides that its good for the earth and tastes yummy!
1 x can (400 g) of mackerel (middle cut)
1/4 cup oat bran
1/2 cup grated carrot
1 free-range egg
Zest of 1 lemon
10 g chopped fresh herbs (chives, dill, parsley)
Salt & pepper
2 tablespoons avocado oil
How to make it
– drain the mackerel of any liquid, and put it into a large mixing bowl.
– using a fork, shred the fish up until it’s fine and there are no large chunks.
– add the oat bran, carrot, egg, lemon zest, and chopped herbs, and mix well. Leave the mixture to stand for a bout 30min in the fridge, so the oat bran soaks up excess liquid in the mixture.
– separate the mixture into 8 equal sized balls, and shape them into patties.
– season the fishcakes with salt & pepper.
– put a large non-stick frying pan onto a medium heat and drizzle the oil into the pan.
– once the pan is hot, add the fishcakes and fry on the first side for around 2 minutes, until golden brown. Turn them over and repeat on the other side.
1 cup cooked pearl barley, cold
40 g watercress
1/2 medium cucumber
50 g almonds, raw & chopped
50 g mixed bean sprouts
100 g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
50 g sliced red onion
10 g basil
10 g fennel
100 g feta
Salt & pepper
How to make it
– wash the cucumber, tomatoes, and herbs.
– using a peeler, shave the cucumber into ribbons.
– cut the avo in half, remove the skin & pip and cut the avo into chunks.
– in a large bowl, mix together the barley, cucumber ribbons, almonds, bean sprouts, tomatoes, onion, tear the fennel & basil up and add to the salad.
– assemble the salad on a platter. Spread the barley salad mixture on the bottom of the platter. Add the chunks of avo, and crumble the feta over the top of the salad. Sprinkle the watercress on top of the salad.
zest & juice of 1 lemon
1teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped chives
Salt & pepper
How to make it
– whisk together the lemon juice, zest & mustard.
– drizzle the olive oil into the lemon mixture whilst whisking.
– mix int he chopped chives, and season with salt & pepper.
To find a dietitian in your area who can assist you with a healthy eating lifestyle plan, visit www.adsa.org.za