BUSTING THE BREAKFAST MYTHS

Starting the day with a healthy breakfast is the opening act for a healthy lifestyle, and lays the foundation of our future health over the longer term. Yet, if there’s a meal to be skipped, it is most likely to be breakfast.

This year, National Nutrition Week from 9 – 15 October and National Obesity Week (NNOW) from 15 – 19 October 2018 have united a coalition of health partners, including the National and Provincial Departments of Health, the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA), The Nutrition Society of South Africa (NSSA) and The Heart and Stroke Foundation SA (HSFSA) amongst others to promote a shared and very important message that breakfast is the best way to start the day.

“There are a number of key reasons why people skip breakfast,” says ADSA spokesperson and Registered Dietitian, Abby Courtenay. ”This is why it is so important to bust the myths around breakfast and give South Africans from all walks of life the information and help they need to make a healthy breakfast a happy, lifetime habit.”

Myth #1 I am skipping breakfast to lose weight

There is a host of studies that show that people who have a healthy breakfast habit have better weight outcomes than those that skip. Not eating breakfast puts you at risk of grabbing convenience foods with low nutritional value to help you make it through to lunchtime. Feeling starving by lunchtime also causes you to blow out proportions and overeat. “It’s a common belief that if you want to lose weight you should skip breakfast,” points out Kim Rutgers, also a Registered Dietitian and ADSA spokesperson. “This is far from the truth. Skipping any meal will mean important nutrients like vitamins and minerals will be missed.” Effective, and sustainable weight loss and management is instead achieved through healthy food choices, which includes breakfast.

Myth #2 I don’t have time in the morning for breakfast

Healthy avocado, egg open sandwiches on a plate with cherry tomaIt is true, that for most of us, the morning is far more time-stressed in comparison to supper. However, planning, preparation and smart food choices will result in being able to either sit down and eat breakfast with your family or eat your breakfast over the two to three hours after waking.  Abby advises: “From a time perspective, drinking is often quicker than sitting down to a full meal and so my suggestion is a nutritious smoothie. I encourage my patients to blend together a small banana, oats, sugar-free peanut butter and low fat milk. Baby spinach is an optional extra. Not only is this the quickest meal, but it contains balanced portions of fruit, vegetables, minimally processed grains and healthy plant fats. What a way to start your day!” With some planning, preparations for breakfast can be made the night before. Beat the clock by soaking your oats, cutting fruit and boiling eggs during your supper preparation so that it is as easy as possible to make breakfast a quick, enjoyable family meal.

Myth #3 I can’t eat breakfast, I don’t wake up hungry

Many people question the advice to eat when they don’t yet feel hungry, but breakfast doesn’t have to be immediate or done all in one go. It can take place during the two or three hours after waking. Abby says: “Swap your smaller mid-morning snack and breakfast around. For example, eat a fruit when you are getting ready for work or school and then enjoy a bigger, more complete meal at around 10h00. This way you are getting in all the food and nutrients you need whilst still honouring your body’s natural hunger cues.”

Myth #4 I can’t eat breakfast, I don’t like cereals or eggs

A healthy breakfast doesn’t have to be traditional or contemporary breakfast foods. If you don’t like them, don’t eat them; other healthy food choices make a great breakfast. It’s also important to keep in mind that many processed foods marketed as breakfast foods can be laden with sugar and are nutrient poor, and are not the healthy options. “Use up your leftovers for breakfast,” says Abby. “Breakfast food doesn’t always have to be cereal and eggs. Why not have leftover mince on toast with fresh tomato slices or use your leftover pumpkin to make pumpkin fritters?”

When it comes to what a healthy breakfast should consist of, Kim agrees: “The 3 main nutrient groups are carbohydrates, proteins and fats. When all three of these macronutrients, in the right proportions are included in one meal, then you are getting in a balanced, nutritious meal.”

Myth #5 Not eating breakfast saves us money

In the short term, reducing your food bill by skipping breakfast is a folly that will play out in your future and cause unforeseen health expenses. Studies have shown that people who regularly eat healthy breakfasts are at lower risk for expensive conditions such as overweight and obesity; hypertension and heart disease. The issue is rather about how to make breakfast more affordable. According to Abby, healthy eating does not have to expensive. “It may take a little extra planning but when you are in the routine of eating well, you will actually save money. Consider how much you can save with less store bought convenience foods, takeaways and eating out.”

 Top tips for affordable, healthy breakfasts include:

  • Shop around for bargains
  • Buy bulk where possible; share bulk purchases with family and friends
  • Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables; not only will you save money but you will get fresher, tastier produce and contribute to the reduction of your carbon footprint.
  • Use your leftovers
  • Draw up meal plans and budgets; proper planning reduces costs
  • Single portion items, for instance single serving tubs of fruit or yoghurt is often more expensive than buying a large tub of yoghurt. Decant the yoghurt into reusable containers if you need to travel with it.
  • Ready-to-eat cereals cost more than double the price of maize meal, oats and mabele porridge. Save money by making your own muesli instead of store-bought options.

For more information on how breakfast is the best way to start your day, visit the National Nutrition & Obesity Week 2018 website for more tips and recipes: http://www.nutritionweek.co.za/

To find a dietitian in your area, visit www.adsa.org.za


It’s the year of the pulses – try this Lentil Bobotie

It’s the year of the pulses and the theme of National Nutrition Week is ‘Love your beans – eat dry beans, peas and lentils’, so this delicious Lentil Bobotie, created by chef Vanessa Marx, is the perfect family meal.

We love lentils (and you should too)! Dried lentils are a quick cooking legume, taking just 15 – 20 minutes to cook with no need to remember to soak them beforehand. The also pack a lot of punch, they are: low in fat, high in protein and high in dietary fiber.

Legumes (including lentils) provide a valuable and cost-effective source of protein and other nutrients. A 2010 review by Drenowski of different foods found that beans were among the top 5 classes of food having the highest micronutrient to price ratio, making them exceptional nutritional value for your money.

 

INGREDIENTS

(serves 4)

2 cup lentils, cooked

30ml canola oil

1 onion, peeled & chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled & finely chopped or crushed

20g grated fresh ginger

100g green beans, chopped

1/2 cup raisins

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 can chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup water

30ml mild curry spice

5ml ground cinnamon

2 bay leaves

2 free-range eggs

1/4 cup low fat yoghurt

2ml ground turmeric

salt & pepper

10g fresh coriander, chopped

2 extra bay leaves

METHOD

  1. Put a large pot on the stove on a medium heat and add the oil.
  2. Add the chopped onion, ginger & garlic and sauté lightly for about 5 minutes.
  3. Then add the carrots, red pepper, green beans and raisins and continue to sweat for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the curry spice, cinnamon and bay leaves and stir in for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and water and stir in.
  6. Cook the sauce for about 15min until slightly thickened and the vegetables have softened a little.
  7. Add the lentils and season with salt and pepper to taste and mix in.
  8. Put the lentil mixture into an oven proof dish and set aside.
  9. In a bowl, whisk together the yoghurt, eggs and turmeric.
  10. Pour the egg mixture over the lentil bobotie and place the 2 bay leaves on top.
  11. Bake the bootie in the oven at 180ºC for about 20min until the egg custard has set and is slightly golden brown on top.
  12. Remove from the oven and serve hot with chopped fresh coriander.

NUTRITION INFORMATION: per serving (recipe serves 4)

Energy: 1441 kJ Protein: 16.1 g Carbohydrate: 49.6 g Of which, total sugars: 24.1 g Fat: 11.0 g Fibre: 14.0 g Sodium: 94 mg

Visit the National Nutrition Week website for more recipes that include beans, peas and lentils!


Why dietitians want you to love your beans!

In celebration of National Nutrition Week: ‘Love your beans – eat dry beans, peas and lentils’ (9 to 15 October), we chatted to a few dietitians to find out why these foods, also known as pulses, should form an essential part of our diet.

To find out more about why beans are good for health, how to cook them, how to prepare them, snack ideas and great recipes, join the #LovePulses Twitter Talk on Wednesday, 12 October at 1pm (SA time) – follow our @ADSA_RD Twitter handle or the hashtag #LovePulses.

Why pulses?

  • “Pulses are very economical in this tough economic time. Add pulses to meat dishes like mince and stews to bulk up your dish and make it go further”, says Registered Dietitian and ADSA (Association for Dietetics in South Africa) spokesperson, Monique Piderit.
  • Beans, peas and lentils add a great variety to meal preparation, are affordable and good for our earth. – Nazeeia Sayed, RD (SA)
  • Pulses are a good, inexpensive source of protein. – Kelly Schreuder, RD (SA)
  • Pulses help to keep your blood sugar steady (making them a great option for diabetics) and lower your cholesterol. – Zelda Ackerman, RD (SA)
  • Pulses are high in soluble and insoluble fibre, aiding good digestion and keeping you regular. – Mpho Tshukudu, RD (SA)
  • Beans, peas and lentils are low in sodium, and provide important minerals like potassium and calcium, which can improve blood pressure. – Jessica Byrne, RD (SA)
  • Pulses are a good source of plant-based iron and have a low glycemic index, keeping you fuller for longer. – Cath Day, RD (SA)

Cooking tips for pulses

  • Tinned chickpeas, beans and lentils are just as nutritious as the dried versions. Stock up on tinned pulses for quick emergency meals, e.g. chickpeas and tuna, mince with tinned lentils or add tinned beans to your favourite salad. – Monique Piderit, RD (SA)
  • Soak in the morning (ahead of cooking in the evening) using boiling water or use canned varieties to cut down on cooking time. – Nazeeia Sayed, RD (SA)
  • Add salt at the end of the cooking process. Adding it at the begin increases cooking time and hardens the skins. – Mpho Tshukudu, RD (SA)
  • Soaking and rinsing dry beans before cooking, as well as rinsing canned beans in water, can help to reduce hard to digest carbohydrates, which could cause flatulence in some individuals. – Jessica Byrne, RD (SA)
  • Rinse tinned legumes well before serving, as this increases your tummy’s tolerance to beans, lentils and chickpeas. – Cath Day, RD (SA)

Great, easy snack ideas for pulses

  • Drain a tin of chickpeas and place in a roasting pan drizzle with olive oil, cumin, paprika and black pepper. Roast for around 40 minutes for a quick and easy roasted chickpea snack. Store in an airtight container for a quick snack on the go. – Monique Piderit, RD (SA)
  • Pulses can be used to make tasty dips, e.g. pureed chickpea and butternut, or white bean dip (flavoured with a little vegetable oil, garlic, lemon juice, sprinkling of salt and herbs).  Dips can be enjoyed with veggie sticks or crackers. – Nazeeia Sayed, RD (SA)
  • Or keep it even simpler and just mash or blend pulses with garlic, herbs and spices for a delicious, healthy spread or dip. – Kelly Schreuder, RD (SA)
  • Lentils are quick and easy to cook together with your brown rice, pearled barley or crushed wheat. – Zelda Ackerman, RD (SA)

“Pulses should be a regular part of a family’s healthy eating plan and can be used in a wide variety of dishes. Aim to include them in your diet at least four times a week,” says ADSA spokesperson, Jessica Byrne.


Love your beans for good health

South Africa celebrates National Nutrition Week from 9 to 15 October, and aligning to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) which has declared that 2016 is the ‘International Year of Pulses’, this year’s campaign theme is ‘Love your beans – eat dry beans, peas and lentils!’ echoing the country’s food-based dietary guideline to ‘eat dry beans, split peas, lentils and soya regularly’.

“There’s a good reason to put dry beans, peas, lentils and soya into the spotlight. Unfortunately, they are largely overlooked as they are often seen as a ‘poor man’s food’ and they can take a long time to cook. We should be eating them, along with a variety of foods, at least four times a week; and yet, many of us hardly include them in our diets. There’s just not enough awareness of how they contribute to healthy lifestyles, or how to use them well to make delicious meals,” says Ms Lynn Moeng-Mahlangu, Cluster Manager of Health Promotion, Nutrition and Oral Health at the National Department of Health. “However, this National Nutrition Week, we hope to share tips and recipes to inspire South Africans to eat more beans, peas, lentils and soya. For information on these tips, access the National Nutrition Week website”.

National Nutrition Week is a joint initiative by the Department of Health, the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA), the Nutrition Society of South Africa (NSSA), the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA), the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA) and the Consumer Education Project of Milk SA (CEP). “We are delighted that this year’s theme highlights these affordable, versatile and tasty foods that make such a vital contribution to our health when they are a regular part of the family’s healthy eating regime,” says ADSA President, Maryke Gallagher.

So much nutrition advice is centred on what we need to eat less of, but when it comes to pulses – your dry beans, peas and lentils – the message is about eating more!

Carol Browne from the NSSA highlights some benefits of pulses. “Beans, peas and lentils also provide exceptional nutritional value for money, having a high micronutrient to price ratio. What’s more, they improve soil fertility, are water efficient and have a smaller carbon footprint, promoting environmental sustainability.”

The top nutritional benefits of eating dry beans, peas, lentils and soya are that:

  • They are low in fat, high in fibre and have a low glycaemic index
  • They are naturally cholesterol-free
  • They are naturally gluten-free
  • They are a good source of plant protein, providing twice as much protein as wheat
  • They are good sources of vitamins such as folate and minerals such as potassium and calcium

According to Professor Pamela Naidoo, CEO of the HSFSA, “Including dry beans, peas, lentils and soya regularly in your diet, along with other health promoting behaviours, contributes to better health, helping to improve blood pressure and the maintenance of a healthy weight, reducing the risk for conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and strokes.”

When it comes to cooking, pulses are wonderfully versatile and can be incorporated into the diet in many ways. “Pulses are excellent when used as the main ingredient in a vegetarian meal,” Linda Drummond from the CGCSA points out, “Or they can be used as an affordable way to extend meat in something like a meat stew or a bolognaise sauce. Cook up a large batch, portion and freeze to use to make a quick meal like soup or a bean salad.” As part of National Nutrition Week activities, a host of recipes celebrating beans, peas and lentils in tasty dishes are available on the National Nutrition Week website.

“Some people experience bloating and gas as a result of eating beans, but we would like to highlight steps that can be taken to prevent this from being a reason why many don’t include these nutritious foods in their eating plans”, says Maretha Vermaak from the CEP of Milk SA. Vermaak advises people to start with small amounts to build up one’s tolerance over time and to soak dry beans before cooking.

On Wednesday, the 12th of October, ADSA (@ADSA_RD) will be hosting a Twitter Talk from 13h00 to 14h00 where dietitians and National Nutrition Week partners will be answering questions such as: Why are beans, peas and lentils good for health? How do we avoid getting bloated and windy after eating beans? What is the best way to prepare dry beans for cooking? How do I introduce more dry beans, lentils and peas into my children’s diet? What are some ways we can use beans, peas and lentils in meals and snacks? Join the conversation live on Twitter, follow the @ADSA_RD handle or track the hashtag #LovePulses to get great ideas and tips that will help you and your family to love dry beans, peas and lentils. The Department of Health in the various provinces will also celebrate National Nutrition Week during the month of October.

For more information on National Nutrition Week 2016, please visit the website: http://www.nutritionweek.co.za/


LET’S TALK ABOUT ‘HEALTHY EATING IN THE WORKPLACE’

What we eat at our place of work has a huge impact on our overall diet and influences our productivity. The prevalence of overweight and obesity combined is now 65% for females and 31% for males (2012 South African Health and Nutrition Examination Survey – SANHANES) and unhealthy workplace eating behaviour is believed to be playing a role in South Africa’s growing obesity problem.

The Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA) has partnered with National Nutrition Week since the late 1990s to highlight important nutrition messages to South Africans. “In line with our continued efforts to support South Africans in living healthier lifestyles and to promote dietitians as the go-to experts for nutrition advice, the issues around healthy eating in the workplace are close to our hearts and something our dietitians deal with on a daily basis”, says ADSA President, Maryke Gallagher.

Employees consume at least half of their meals and snacks during work hours, making this an important place to promote healthy eating. Registered Dietitian, Alex Royal, says that healthy eating at work can be a challenge as there are often too many temptations: the vending machine, the sweets trolley, colleagues who have bad habits that influence others. “During a busy day we don’t have time (or forget) to prepare healthy meals or even forget to eat. So blood glucose levels drop, resulting in an energy dip and potentially cravings, especially for highly processed and sugary foods. This fuels the cycle of unhealthy eating at work”, Royal concludes.

The question is what can employers do to create a healthier food environment at work? Suggestions include changing meal options available at work to be in line with the guidelines for healthy eating, offering a variety of foods, controlling portion sizes, overhauling vending machines and kiosks to include healthy snack options, offering drinks that are not sugar-laden and changing the menu of food provided during meetings. Cath Day, Registered Dietitian and ADSA spokesperson, also offers some tips for employees:

  • Before grabbing a snack, first ask yourself if you are really hungry or if you rather need to take a break from what you are doing. Going for a short walk or getting some fresh air – may be all you need.
  • Don’t skip meals or healthy snacking between meals. Skipping meals and snacks results in dips in blood glucose (sugar) levels and thus you will be more likely to crave unhealthy foods.

We often talk about school lunchboxes, but what about work lunchboxes? These go a long way in giving employees more control over what they eat during the day. According to Registered Dietitian Kelly Schreuder the goals of a healthy work lunchbox include: Variety and balance of foods, providing a variety of nutrients, including protein, carbohydrates, fat and micronutrients. Real food, as opposed to processed snacks and those that are high in added sugar, excess salt and poor quality fat, and portion control.

And what about fluids – what should we be drinking while we are at work? “The simple answer is that water should be the main beverage we are drinking while working but there are many other healthy options to choose from as well. People often forget that beverages can contain a large amount of energy (and many beverages contain too much sugar such as sugar sweetened beverages and fruit juice) so we need to be more mindful about what we are drinking”, say ADSA spokesperson Catherine Pereira.

Being active in the workplace is also important and employees should try to be as physically active as possible. Durban-based dietitian, Hlanzeka Mpanza says that it is not impossible to include some physical exercise in the workday. Use the steps instead of the lift; form an exercise club with colleagues and try to fit in a 15 minute walk during the lunch hour; wear a pedometer during the day to keep track of activity levels and as a motivator; and stretch your legs by walking over to your colleagues’ desk instead of sending them an email.

What we eat affects our mood, how alert we are and our overall productivity. We asked dietitian Maryke Bronkhorst why food influences us in this way. “Some foods contain nutrients that are used to manufacture certain brain chemicals that may enhance mental tasks like memory, concentration, and reaction time.   Protein foods enhance the brain’s production of dopamine, a natural brain chemical that helps one to feel alert. Large quantities of carbohydrates, on the other hand, result in the production of serotonin, a natural brain chemical that can cause drowsiness, but glucose in the bloodstream is the brain’s main source of energy. So it’s important that you eat at regular intervals and choose low glycaemic index options to prevent your blood sugar levels from dropping too low”, says Bronkhorst. Lean biltong, a small handful nuts, a piece of fresh fruit e.g. blueberries, vegetable crudités with a dip like hummus and plain yoghurt flavoured with handful of berries are great ‘go-to’ snacks.

On Tuesday, 13th October ADSA (@ADSA_RD) is hosting a #WorkplaceNutrition twitter talk from 1pm to 2pm. The talk will focus on healthy eating and healthy living in the workplace providing employees with tips, ideas and advice about achieving a better nutrition balance during work hours. Dietitians and National Nutrition Week partners will be answering questions such as:

  • What are challenges employees face with healthy eating at work?
  • What can employees or workplace do to improve healthy eating during the workday?
  • What should be included in a work lunchbox?
  • What should we be drinking while we are working?
  • How do we stay active while working?
  • What are the go-to snacks that give energy needed to work well?

Join the conversation live on Twitter, follow the @ADSA_RD handle or track the hashtag #WorkplaceNutrition to get some great ideas and tips on how to eat healthily at work.