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    How To Add More Vegetables To Your Diet, Even If You’re Busy

    If you’re a human being, chances are you’re trying to live a healthy lifestyle that minimises the chance you become ill, so you can live a full, healthy life. But adding kids, work and all the life admin into the mix makes things that much more complicated. And while it’s a truth universally acknowledged that you need to add more vegetables to your diet (it offsets inflammation in the body and keeps everything working in tip-top condition), saying and doing are two very different things.

    Having said that, we’ve come up with a few ways to add more vegetables to your diet while keeping in mind how busy everything else is.

    Meet the experts: Carla Chait is a dietician specialising in macrobiotic eating and Gabi Meltzer is a registered dietician.

    Buy pre-cut veggies

    This is arguably your best friend when trying to eat healthy on a time-crunch. Grocery stores offer loads in terms of pre-cut and frozen veg that won’t wilt after a few days. Maximise on this, says Chait. “You can buy mixed, sliced vegetables for stir-fries, peeled and chopped butternut and pumpkin, broccoli and cauliflower florets, and mixed chopped salads,” says Chait.

    “This saves time and effort but is a bit more costly, so weigh up the pros and cons for you and your lifestyle,” advises Meltzer.

    Choose fast-cooking veg

    If you’re short on time but long on nutritional needs, try whipping up meals with veg that don’t take long to cook. “Not all vegetables take long to cook. Broccoli and cauliflower pieces steam quickly. Use an electric or stove-top steamer, or simply fill a pot with a small amount of water, place the vegetables inside, cover, and boil for a few minutes until the water has evaporated,” suggests Chait. Brilliant!

    Not a fan of steaming? Blanch your veg. “Blanching takes a short amount of time. Blanch kale, spinach and bok choy pieces in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes until bright green. Make quick stir-fries with sliced green and red cabbage, carrots, peas and string beans,” says Chait.

    READ MORE: I Tried 3 Viral Recipes And Here’s How It Panned Out

    Think ahead of time

    Planning will save you loads of time. It’ll stop you from reaching out to a delivery app for a saturated-fat meal and will save you in the long run. “Thinking about this ahead of time makes it easier to plan for more balanced, nutritious meals instead of just throwing something together last minute,” says Meltzer.

    Batch cook your meals

    There is no need to cook every single day if you’re busy. Preparing large curries, veggie bakes and stews ahead of time will save you when you’re starving and in need of a boost. “Cooked foods will last safely in the fridge for 3-4 days in an airtight container. Or, freeze extra batches into single servings for other meals and defrost the night before in the fridge before using them again. Or if you make a salad as a side for dinner, make enough to add to lunch the next day too,” advises Meltzer.

    READ MORE: 19 Complex Carbs You Should Def Incorporate Into Your Diet

    Turn to veggies for snacks

    Efforts to stay healthy quickly wane when you open the snack cupboard or run into the petrol station for a packet of chips. Keep it healthy by prepping fast veg to snack on. “Dip chopped carrots, celery and cucumber into hummus, avocado or other dips for a snack. Other delicious vegetable crudites include string beans, snap peas and baby corn,” says Chait.

    Think about adding colour

    Each colour in vegetables presents its own set of vitamins and minerals. We know carrots help with eyesight and inflammation but adding pops of red, green or purple can boost your immunity too. “This doesn’t have to be perfect, but taking this into consideration each time you eat is really helpful in adding more opportunities for colourful foods over the day/week,” says Meltzer. For example, if you’re making a sandwich with ham and cheese, try adding tomato, peppers and cucumbers to punch up the nutritional value, says Meltzer.

    READ MORE: 9 Of The Best Post-Workout Snacks That Actually Taste Amazing Too

    Try veggie juice

    These don’t replace your meals but can be a quick and easy way to add more nutrients to your diet when you’re pressed for time. “Although juices are highly concentrated and contain less fibre than whole foods, they are an alternate way to get vitamins and minerals from vegetables on occasion,” says Chait.

    Bulk up carby meals

    Feeling for a fast and cheesy pasta? Don’t skimp on adding peas, carrots or spinach to the dish. “Adding more colour not only enhances nutritional value but also increases satisfaction,” says Meltzer. “For example, stirring some fresh baby tomatoes/rocket/baby spinach to a simple pesto pasta, or cooking a pasta/rice bake with some chopped veggies added to it, or trying out a one-tray bake with a protein and ready chopped mixed roast veggies, or trying out a stirfry which has loads of different colours!”

    READ MORE: Why Drinking Diet Coke Won’t Help You Lose Weight

    Try pickles

    Eating for good gut health doesn’t have to be limited to veggies. Pickled and fermented food goes a long way. “Eat sauerkraut and other pickled vegetables. Although high in sodium, fermented foods contain probiotics which are good for your digestive system,” says Chait. More

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    5 Heart Disease Risk Factors Every Woman Needs To Know About

    September is Heart Awareness Month. Heart disease and strokes are the second highest cause of death in South Africa (only HIV can beat this killer!), so this is definitely something we can’t brush off. A healthy heart literally is a matter of life and death. While we’re all aware that to have a healthy heart, we need to eat well, exercise and avoid a few things, things can get a bit more complicated than that. Here, the heart disease risk factors you need to be aware of and what you should be doing to prevent it…

    Meet The Expert: Dr Annarie van Rensburg is a Specialist Cardiologist at Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital in Sunningdale, Blouberg

    Heart health remains a priority for healthcare providers and an epidemic in South Africa. According to the SA Heart and Stroke Foundation, 30% of the population has some form of cardiovascular disease (CVD). And while we often think of heart disease as something that affects only the elderly, that’s no longer the case. Per the SA Heart and Stroke Foundation, more than half of deaths among people under the age of 65 are attributed to heart disease. A third of people are hypertensive, too.

    READ MORE: 4 Simple And Easy Ways To Keep Your Heart Healthy

    “The heart disease risk factors for women are similar to those of men,” Van Rensburg begins. But when it comes to prevention, she can’t underline enough the importance of looking after your body and your health. Here’s what you need to know…

    Risk Factor 1: Smoking

    Smoking is a BIG risk factor when it comes to heart health. We already know this, but here’s a reminder that you are jeopardising your own life every time you light up. “Women who smoke 20 cigarettes a day have six times increased risk of having a heart attack, while with men the risk is three times higher.” So it’s even riskier for us girls. Our advice: quit now, while you’re ahead.

    The why: every time you light up, the chemicals inside cigarettes clog the blood and arteries inside your heart. Think vaping is A-OK? Think again. A 2020 review found that vaping stiffens the arteries and creates higher blood pressure, which puts undue stress on the heart. Toss that vape.

    READ MORE: Why You Should Check For High Blood Pressure, Even If You Think You’re Fine

    Risk Factor 2: Diabetes

    If you suffer from diabetes, there’s a chance that your heart may be at risk. If it’s your lifestyle choices that have led to diabetes, such as a sedentary lifestyle, then here’s the wake-up call: it’s time to get active! “Having diabetes is also associated with a greater risk of developing heart disease in women than in men,” says Van Rensburg.

    The why? Per the Centers for Disease Control, “high blood sugar can damage blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart.” Scary stuff.

    READ MORE: 10 Best Low-Sugar Fruits That Won’t Mess With Your Blood Sugar

    Risk Factor 3: High Cholesterol

    High cholesterol can be genetic, but it’s typically associated with obesity. Again, a sedentary lifestyle can be your biggest enemy. A healthy diet and keeping active are not only necessary for you to look your best, they’re also the doctor’s recommended remedy for preventing heart disease.

    The why? When there’s too much cholesterol in the blood, they form plaque deposits on the artery walls of your heart. This could cause an artery to become blocked or the plaque could even rupture.

    READ MORE: 9 Foods That Can Actually Lower Cholesterol Naturally

    Risk Factor 4: Hypertension

    High blood pressure is known as a silent killer because there are often no symptoms. Regular blood pressure check-ups are advisable and, again, a healthy diet is key. Read: fresh fruit and veg, and cut back on processed food high in salt, sugar and oil.

    The why? Having hypertension causes your heart to work harder to fulfil its tasks, pumping blood throughout your body to keep you going. And leaving your high blood pressure unchecked means you’re creating a situation where your heart could cop out, leading to heart disease.

    Risk Factor 5: Advancing Age

    “The risk of developing heart disease increases dramatically once a woman is post-menopausal,” says Rensburg. “If there is a family history of premature coronary artery disease in family members below the age of 55 (men) or (65) women, or a family history of high cholesterol, the risk is also significantly increased.”

    The why? Over time, our hearts become stiffer with age, leading to high blood pressure, which puts stress on the heart.

    While we can’t reverse the ageing process, we can take steps to age healthily, which includes every doctor’s order: eating well and exercising regularly.

    What Should All Women Do To Lower The Risk Of Heart Disease?

    “Lead a healthy lifestyle,” Van Rensburg stresses again. This includes getting in a sweat session at least five times a week. “Maintain a healthy body weight,” she continues, “a BMI between 19 and 25.” Smoking is a big no-no. Just don’t do it – it’s not worth risking your heart. “Have your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar checked regularly,” Van Rensburg concludes. The intervals at which this should be checked increase as you age, but it is necessary for everyone. “Everyone should have it checked, then discuss with their doctor what the recommended treatment is or when the next visit should be scheduled.” More

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    Seriously Though, How Many Kilojoules Are In An Apple?

    When it comes to the best fruits for you, apples seem to be the gold standard. I mean you’ve heard it before—an apple a day…yeah yeah, you know the rest. But how many kilojoules, exactly, are in an apple—and is that staple your mom packed in your school lunch really that great for you?

    Well, it turns out apples really do live up to the hype. Can you hear your mom saying, “I told you so?” When it comes to healthy snacks, it doesn’t get much better than apples. They’re loaded with vitamins, have a pretty long shelf life compared to other produce and are super easy to pop into your bag on the go.

    “Apples are the second most consumed fruit, behind bananas, for a reason,” says Alex Caspero, registered dietitian and author at Delish Knowledge. “They are generally inexpensive, portable, healthy and delicious.”

    Plus, since apples come in a ton of different varieties—way beyond the Red Delicious and Granny Smith kinds you ate as a kid—you’ll probably find something your taste buds will totally love. The flavour profiles of apples range from tart and crisp, to sweet with a little crunch, to tangy and then some.

    READ MORE: 19 Complex Carbs You Should Def Incorporate Into Your Diet

    Whichever you’re preference, though, it’s typically healthiest to eat your apples in their purest form—as a fruit, says registered dietitian Erin Palinski-Wade. “Eating raw apples is a great way to take advantage of their full nutrient benefits and fibre. Although eating apples in dessert form, such as apple pie, can still provide nutritional value, it also incorporates a large amount of added sugar which can be damaging to health.” That doesn’t mean you can’t have those apple turnovers you love, but it’s best to have them in moderation.

    So before you set your next apple-picking date (at the farm or supermarket), here’s what you should know about the treasured fruit.

    How Many Kilojoules In An Apple?

    As far as kilojoules go, you’ll find 397 (that’s 95 calories) in a medium apple, according to the USDA. But the fruit has a lot of other things going on for you nutritionally, too. Here’s how a medium apple stacks up with the skin on:

    Kilojoules: 397Fat: 0gCarbohydrates: 25gSugars: 19gFibre: 4gProtein: 0g

    If that sugar count makes you do a double take, consider this: The sugar you’d get in an apple is not the same as, say, the 21 grams of sugar you’d get in a Kit Kat bar, says Caspero.

    “Fibre is nature’s way of controlling blood sugar levels, which is why it’s found in fruits and vegetables,” says Caspero. “Fibre helps to slow down digestion, which prevents blood sugar spikes like you would get from an equal amount of the sugar in candy.”

    To regulate those blood sugar spikes even more, Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, offers a sneaky—and delicious—strategy: “Provide what I call ‘competition for digestion’ by pairing your apple with a fat or protein. A perfect example is an apple with no-added-sugar peanut butter.” This clever pairing helps your body process the sugar slower to give you sustained energy and fuel. Bonus: The vitamin C in apples helps you better absorb the iron in nut butters, helping you get the most out of your snack.

    READ MORE: 4 Natural Sweeteners That Are Better Than Sugar, According To A Dietician

    Apple Nutrition

    Eating just one medium apple will earn you 14 percent of your daily value of vitamin A and 11 percent of your daily value of vitamin C (not shabby). Antioxidants (like vitamins C and A) in apples help prevent excessive free radical damage, says Caspero. Staving off these free radicals (a.k.a. unstable atoms in your body) can help reduce ageing and the risk of illness.

    Apples come in a range of stunning hues and if you tend to gravitate toward the darker ones, you’re in for an antioxidant-rich treat, according to Kirkpatrick. Deep-pigmented peels on fruits like apples contain anthocyanins, a form of antioxidants that slow down oxidative stress and ward against disease. Keep in mind that you’ll only reap the majority of these benefits if you keep the skin on, so avoid peeling your mid-afternoon snack.

    What’s more, the high fibre content in apples means they serve up a healthy dose of prebiotics (undigestible fibre that the “good” bacteria in your gut eat). “Prebiotics may improve gastrointestinal health as well as potentially enhance calcium absorption,” says Caspero.

    READ MORE: This Crispy Apple Chicken Casserole Is Ultimate Comfort Food

    What are the health benefits of eating apples?

    Help manage weight

    Because apples are full of fibre that can help you feel fuller for longer, they’re a great fruit to help keep your weight steady. A study from the Journal of Functional Foods found that regular apple consumption has been linked to lower lipid levels and a reduced risk of obesity. Caspero explains that “Eating high-fibre snacks [like apples] has been shown to aid in satiation and therefore can decrease overall calorie consumption during the day.” Both of these factors mean that they can help contribute to weight management.

    They keep your heart healthy

    According to Palinski-Wade, “apples are rich in the compound quercetin, which has been shown to reduce inflammation while fighting against heart disease and hypertension.”

    They do keep the doctor away

    It turns out there’s some truth to the old adage. In a large study from JAMA Internal Medicine, participants who ate at least one small apple per day required fewer doctor visits, hospital stays and prescription medications than those who didn’t eat apples.

    This article by Colleen de Bellefonds & Marissa Miller was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com More

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    What Exactly Can You Drink While Intermittent Fasting Without Breaking Your Fast?

    Intermittent fasting (IF), an eating style that’s typically paired with high-protein or keto diets, begs a lot of questions, especially if you’re new to it. You might be curious about what type of fasting schedule you should try, what the legit health benefits are, whether you’ll experience any side effects and what kind of weight-loss results you can expect. Another common question is whether you can have beverages, like coffee and water, during your fasting periods.

    What is intermittent fasting?

    Intermittent fasting works by allowing you to eat only in specific windows of time. It’s thought that by taking on this method, there are health perks. It might be anti-ageing and elevate energy levels. Added to that, there are thought to be weight loss gains to me made.

    There are various intermittent fasting schedules, each tailored to different body types and needs.

    Can you drink while intermittent fasting?

    The short answer is: It depends on the beverage and the type of IF diet you’re following. Different types of intermittent fasting, from dry fasting to the Warrior Diet, have different guidelines. But a good rule of thumb is to avoid any drinks that have any calories while you’re fasting, says dietitian Erin Palinski-Wade, author of 2 Day Diabetes Diet.

    Consuming any carbs, proteins, or fats when you’re trying to maintain a fasted state can negate the weight-loss benefits of intermittent fasting, she says. IF diets are also thought to lead to a reduction in insulin resistance and help control blood sugar, both of which can reduce your chances of becoming diabetic. These benefits can be quickly cancelled out if you consume too many liquid calories during a period of what should be a fasted state.

    Here’s what you should know about some of the most popular drinks you might *want* to consume while doing intermittent fasting and whether or not they’ll take you out of a fasted state.

    Coffee

    You can drink it black. Black coffee is calorie-free, so it’s fine to enjoy during the fasting phase. But adding in sugar, cream, or milk is best avoided. It can add calories to the drink that can take you out of a fasted state.

    “If you do want to flavour your coffee during a fast, experiment with calorie-free flavouring from a spice like cinnamon,” says Palinski-Wade. “Save the coffee add-ons for your non-fast windows of time.”

    Additionally, avoid having more than one cup, or switch to decaf, when you’re fasting. Excessive caffeine, especially on an empty stomach, may increase those jittery feelings which can often increase appetite and the desire to snack, she says.

    Tea

    Go for it. Just like coffee, tea is naturally calorie-free and fine to have during a fast, so long as it’s simply brewed tea that comes from tea bags, leaves, or flakes. Bottled ice tea is often heavily sweetened. So if you go that route, make sure you’re opting for one that is unsweetened and not loaded with added sugar and calories, says Palinski-Wade. Caloric add-ons such as honey, milk or cream should be reserved for non-fasting times, just like with coffee.

    “Since tea is naturally lower in caffeine than coffee, you can have a bit more during fasts, however, I would still recommend opting for decaf when possible,” she says.

    Water and soda water

    Drink up. Water is naturally calorie-free so there’s no need to restrict it, says Palinski-Wade. Water in general is a good idea to sip on during fasting times. It ensures hydration but also is a way to fill your stomach and prevent hunger.

    If you enjoy flavoured water, you can add in fruit wedges or a splash of lemon or lime juice (or a splash of another juice) as long as it is a true “splash” and doesn’t add more than a trivial amount of calories, says Palinski-Wade. Carbonated water can be treated in the same way as water, as long as it is naturally flavoured and calorie-free.

    Soft drinks

    Skip it. Palinski-Wade recommends staying away from soft drinks in general. That’s even if you’re not following a diet like intermittent fasting.

    Regular soft drinks are usually loaded with sugar and calories and offer no nutritional value, she says. There also isn’t enough data and research to say whether diet soft drinks are okay to drink during IF, but research suggests that consuming too many artificial sweeteners (as diet soft drinks tend to have) can increase cravings and appetite, as well as promote weight gain and the storage of fat.

    “Your best bet is to limit all soft drinks as much as possible and satisfy carbonation cravings with carbonated water,” she says.

    Alcohol

    Pass on it. Alcohol should never be consumed when in a fasting period, as its effects can be intensified when consumed on an empty stomach, says Palinski-Wade. Alcohol is also a source of calories, so drinking it would break your fast. It will also likely stimulate your appetite and lead to increased hunger and cravings.

    What about taking supplements during a fasting period?

    This depends on the fasting schedule you’re following. You should discuss any supplements with your doctor before beginning to take them, says Palinski-Wade. You could take your supplements during the eating hours (unless otherwise instructed by your doctor or dietitian). Most supplements like a multivitamin are better absorbed when taken with food.

    If you intermittently fast that involves fasting on specific days, like the 5:2 diet, you should still take a supplement. You still need to ensure you are meeting your nutrient needs each day. Palinski-Wade recommends taking a high-quality multivitamin daily when following any IF plan.

    “Generally, the small amount of calories found in a chewable/gummy/liquid vitamin would not offset a fast day,” she says. “But do discuss this with your doctor or dietitian first to make sure you can take your supplement on an empty stomach.”

    The bottom line: At the end of the day, you want to consume close to zero calories during fasting periods. By avoiding sweetened drinks and bottled iced tea, as well as caloric add-ons in your hot beverages, you can ensure you follow your IF plan correctly and successfully.

    This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com More

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    What Is The Macrobiotic Diet – And Can It Help You Lose Weight?

    Rooted in Japanese culture, the macrobiotic diet espouses the Asian yin-yang philosophy and is all about bringing balance to your plate, and by extension, your body. It’s also endorsed by celebs like Ariana Grande, Gwyneth Paltrow and Sting. If you like whole grains and soup or are looking to try something new, this is the diet for you.

    Meet The Expert: Carla Chait is dietician and expert in macrobiotic eating

    The history of the macrobiotic diet

    The macrobiotic diet started in the 19th century. “Sagen Ishizuka, a Japanese army doctor trained in Western medicine during this time, became disillusioned with his craft when he was unable to cure himself of his own ailments using the allopathic approach to healing,” says Chait. He started experimenting with diet and postulated that the balance between potassium and sodium in the body is the foundation of health. He called for a rejection of the foundations of the Western diet (meat, sugar and dairy) and wanted a return to the traditional Japanese diet that prizes miso soup, brown rice, pickles and seaweed. “Ishizuka healed many patients with his approach to diet and health and became famous throughout Tokyo as the ‘Anti-Doctor Doctor’,” says Chait.

    So… what is the macrobiotic diet?

    You don’t need to buy the entire Japanese grocery store to get the benefits. The diet focuses on whole grains, legumes, vegetables and yes, seaweed as the principal foods, says Chait. Added to that are white-meat fish, nuts and fruits.

    What can you expect on the macrobiotic diet?

    While you’d be mistaken for thinking the diet, while being whole foods focused, is just a dolled-up vegetarian diet, you’d be wrong. Key differences include its ideological and energetic bases. The idea is that by eating the right foods, you can powerfully affect your health and well-being. Prized is food that is locally grown, less processed and options low in saturated fats.

    “People eating a Macrobiotic diet can expect increased physical stamina and mental clarity,” says Chait. “Eating whole foods gives one a ‘whole’ or expansive view of the world. Eating Macrobiotically not only changes one’s health then but also changes one’s life.”

    Will it help you lose weight?

    Since the diet prizes fibre and downplays fat content, you could very well shed kilos. “A high-fibre diet ensures that the digestive system is toned and functioning properly, while also stabilizing blood sugar,” says Chait. “The fat sources in the diet are largely mono- and polyunsaturated, which is good for heart health. Eating Macrobiotically will improve one’s overall health and ensure that energy is flowing smoothly through the body so that excess weight is discharged.”

    Who does it work best for?

    Well, since most dietary recommendations prize the upping of fruits and vegetables and whole grains, it comes as no surprise that this diet will work well for pretty much anybody. “The diet is especially helpful for those who have had a lifetime of poor food choices, leading to stagnation and disease,” says Chait. “For those, the diet is truly miraculous in restoring health and well-being.” Research backs this up. One study showed that macrobiotic diet can lower cholesterol and blood pressure, leading authors to think that it might be a great diet for people dealing with cardiovascular problems. Another study posited that it’s a diet associated with decreased cancer rates. In cancer patients, macrobiotic diet has been known anecdotally to yield results and is associated with decreased cancer risk. However, more research is needed to confirm the benefits of this diet on cancer.

    And it works for women, too. “Women consuming macrobiotic diets have modestly lower circulating oestrogen levels, suggesting a lower risk of breast cancer. This may be due in part to the high phytoestrogen content of the macrobiotic diet,” one study’s authors noted.

    Any supplementation required?

    Per one study, there’s a decrease in vitamin B12, vitamin D and calcium with people on the diet. But compared to National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, this diet outperformed in terms of being anti-inflammatory and health-giving.

    Try these two recipes from dietician Carla Chait to get in on macrobiotic eating.

    Miso soup with daikon and shiitake

    Prep Time 15 minutes minsCook Time 15 minutes mins

    Course Appetizer, Main Course, SoupCuisine Japanese

    4 dried shiitake mushrooms1 tsp dried wakame leavesWater for the soup1.5 cups halved and sliced daikon radish1 tbsp barley misohandful chopped spring onion for garnish
    Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in a bowl of water for 10 minutes to soften, remove the stems, and slice thinly.Soak the dried wakame leaves in a little water for 5 minutes to reconstitute and slice the leaves into small pieces.Place the sliced mushroom, wakame pieces, and the sliced daikon radish into a pot and add 3 cups of water.Bring to a boil and cook, covered, for 5 minutes.Purée the miso paste in a bowl with a little of the soup broth and then return the miso purée to the soup, stirring gently.Simmer, uncovered, for a further 3 minutes.Garnish each bowl of soup with chopped spring onion.

    Keyword miso soup, soup

    Fried rice with tofu and vegetables

    Prep Time 20 minutes minsCook Time 10 minutes mins

    Course Main CourseCuisine Chinese, Healthy, Japanese

    1 tbsp sesame oil½ cup diced onion½ cup sliced celery½ cup quartered and sliced carrots1 cup crumbled tofu2 cups cooked brown rice1 tbsp water1 tbsp soya saucechopped parsley for garnish
    Heat the oil in a frying pan.Add the onion, celery, and carrot and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in the crumbled tofu.Layer the rice over the vegetable and tofu mixture and pour the water down the side of the pan.Cover and cook on low heat for 5 minutes.Stir in the soy sauce and cook for a further 2 minutes.Garnish each serving of fried rice with chopped parsley.

    Keyword fried rice, healthy fried rice More

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    Um, Can You Drink Black Coffee While Intermittently Fasting Or No?

    There are a few agreed-upon pleasures in life: Food is definitely one of them, coffee’s a close second, followed by photos of Ryan Gosling doing literally anything. Intermittent fasting—while, yeah, can help with weight loss—takes away one of those pleasures for hours on end (if you’re doing the 16:8 diet, for example, you go 16 hours each day without food).

    So here’s my question: You can look at all the Ryan Gosling photos you want in that 16-hour fasting time frame…but that won’t satiate you (no offence, Ryan). So can you at least have coffee, or does the world continue to be a cruel and unusual place?

    What is intermittent fasting?

    Intermittent fasting is a type of eating that only allows eating in certain periods of time. The window in which you’d eat varies largely, depending on what’s best for your body and the kind of approach you’d like. This could mean having your first meal at 12pm, with your last meal at 8pm, or vice versa. There’s no evidence that intermittent fasting yields better results than any other diet, but hey, different strokes for different folks.

    Can you have coffee while fasting?

    Good news: You can have coffee in the morning—as long as your coffee doesn’t have calories, says Abbey Sharp, dietitian and blogger at Abbey’s Kitchen. That means you need to drink it black. “You cannot add sugar or dairy because that would add calories, fat, sugar, and therefore stop the fast,” she says. (FYI: Liquid calories count during fasting, too).

    If you can’t stomach black coffee (and tbh, not everyone can), no-calorie sweeteners like Stevia can help you out. They’re still allowed while fasting because they don’t impact insulin or blood-sugar levels, says Sharp.

    The caveat

    However, if you’re at risk for diabetes, steer clear of sweeteners, per the WHO, which advises against using them. That’s because there might be a mildly increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

    So, coffee lovers can officially breathe a sigh of relief. But there is something you should keep in mind: Coffee on an empty stomach can irritate your gut. It can also worsen symptoms of heartburn or irritable bowel syndrome, says Sharp. Even more: “Having coffee on an empty stomach may also amplify any feeling of jitteriness and anxiety because it’s absorbed much faster,” she says. But that’s only a possibility since coffee affects everyone differently.

    And even if you’re not a coffee drinker, you don’t have to solely stick to water while intermittent fasting. Any calorie-free drinks—like sparkling water, black tea, and even sparkling flavoured water is totally fair game, says Sharp.

    So it looks like you can resume your daily routine of checking Ryan Gosling’s social media accounts over coffee. Wait…is that just me?

    This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com  More

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    Why Drinking Diet Coke Won’t Help You Lose Weight

    Picture the scene: lunch has come and gone and, in offices across the land, Tupperware once home to prepped-ahead sweet potato, chickpeas and spinach lie empty. The sweet craving-fuelled temptation to attack a brownie is oh-so-real. But rather than blow a few hundred calories on a handful, women nationwide reach instead for so-called ‘guilt-free’ cans of chemically sweetened diet Coke.

    Are they ill-advised self-saboteurs for following healthy, totally ‘grammable meals with a diet fizzy drink? Perhaps – which makes it all the more tricky to admit I am one of them. A health editor who knows her nutrition – and should know better – but can’t get enough of the stuff.

    Another is Georgia Scarr. Glance at her Instagram and you’ll see all the healthy-girl hallmarks.

    Bird’s-eye view of eggs atop kale and roasted vegetables? Check. One lithe, toned body contorted into impressive yoga positions? Check again. But one lifestyle ritual that doesn’t make the edit is her diet cola habit.

    ‘I have a sweet tooth, but I don’t make a habit of eating junk food or sugary snacks,’ she says. ‘I monitor my calories, and I want them to be filled with something more nutritious than sugar. So if I can get that sweet taste via a calorie-free fizzy drink, that is kind of a win/win.’

    The enduring appeal of calorie-free fizzy pop might jar with the current ‘it’s a lifestyle, not a diet’ healthy eating zeitgeist. But Jane Ogden, professor of health psychology at the University of Surrey and author of The Psychology of Eating, isn’t surprised.

    ‘So-called “diet” drinks still appeal because, though people may package it as “eating well” or “looking after yourself”, many of us are essentially still dieting.’ And while our goals are more rippling abs than thigh gap, she is right in that the majority of us want to keep our body fat low.

    The problem with diet drinks

    ‘The word “diet” carries powerful connotations of being lean, healthy and in control,‘ Professor Ogden adds. ‘So while we continue to aspire to those things, “diet” labelling will draw us in – even if we’d rather not admit it.’ Put in those terms our fondness for diet drinks doesn’t seem so outdated.

    But are diet drinks actually helpful when you’re trying to get – and stay – lean? Bosses at Slimming World appear to think so.

    The organisation (offering weight loss help) classifies diet colas as a ‘free’ food – along with water and green vegetables – meaning that its members don’t have to track the amount they consume.

    But when you take a look at the evidence, this permissive attitude to drinks sweetened with chemicals such as sucralose and aspartame could be unhelpful.

    In one study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists found that participants who drank one litre of a diet fizzy drink daily gained 1.5kg after six months. The group who drank full-sugar soft drinks gained 10kg, so the diet option had less of an effect. But, if researchers were adding zero calories and zero sugar into their daily diets, why did the participants gain any?

    As it stands, there is no evidence-based answer. But Robert Lustig, professor of endocrinology at the University of California and leading anti-sugar campaigner, has a possible explanation. Essentially, that consuming artificial sweeteners can significantly alter your biochemistry and predispose you to gain fat.

    Insulin and weight gain: the link

    ‘The diet soft drink group gained weight not because they were increasing their calories, but because they increased their levels of insulin,’ he says. Made in the pancreas, insulin is a hormone that allows your body to use sugar (or glucose) from carbohydrates in the food you eat for energy – or store it for future use. ‘The more insulin you have in your blood, the more calories you will store as fat,’ adds Professor Lustig. ‘So anything that makes your insulin go up will make you gain weight.’

    Because they don’t contain any actual sugar, artificially sweetened drinks shouldn’t spike insulin. But in one study in the journal Diabetes Care, researchers split their study participants in two groups and supplied half with a diet soft drink. They then tested their glucose and insulin levels afterwards. They found 20% more insulin in the blood of those who had drunk the fake sugary drinks.

    Why? It’s all down to the fact that the body is primed to detect sweetness. So, when something sweet hits your tongue, specific receptors send messages throughout your system.

    ‘First, they send a message to the brain to say that sugar is coming. Then the brain sends a message to the pancreas telling it to expect the sugar, so it prepares to release insulin,’ explains Professor Lustig.

    But when you drink an artificially sweetened drink? The sugar never comes and the pancreas sends out the message that you need to seek out more glucose.

    Sugar vs sweeteners: What does the science say?

    Yasmin, 25, drinks several cans of diet cola weekly to help her stick to a ‘no-sugar lifestyle’.

    ‘I eat healthy fats through things like almonds and avocado – and I don’t count calories. I love having a can of diet cola because it means I can have the sweet taste without consuming any actual sugar.’

    Yasmin is confident that she will be keeping to her method. She’s down 12kg, wearing jeans for the first time in years. And she’s hitting the gym for strength and cardio sessions four times a week. ‘If these drinks help me stick to a plan that is definitely working for me, I don’t see it as a problem with it.’

    And yet, Professor Lustig warns that Yasmin may be making life hard for herself.

    ‘Drinking artificially sweetened drinks when you’re not eating actual sugar is self-defeating,’ he says. ‘The point of a “no-sugar lifestyle” is to de-sensitise yourself to sweet foods. But if you are regularly consuming sugar-free fizzy drinks then you are re-sensitising yourself daily.’

    Indeed, researchers at the University of Sydney found that adding artificial sweeteners to the diets of rats and flies resulted in an ‘imbalance in sweetness and energy’.

    After the brain realised it had the sweet taste without the dense calorie load it was expecting, it sent signals encouraging the animals to eat more – so it could reap the energy it had anticipated.

    ’What’s more, consuming the sweetener regularly actually increased the intensity of the natural sugary taste,’ says study author Dr Greg Neely. ‘So this increased the overall motivation of the animals to eat more.’ But, as before, more research – in humans – is needed.

    Beyond weight loss, are diet fizzy drinks healthy?

    There is still much we don’t know about how artificial sweeteners are linked to disease risk, too.

    While a recent study did show that people who drank diet drinks had an increased chance of developing cancer or strokes, lead author Dr Matthew Pase cautions that this is early observational research – so it is impossible to tease apart cause and effect.

    As for the claims that sweeteners such as aspartame could be cancer-causing? ‘The balance of evidence is that artificial sweeteners are safe for us to eat,’ says clinical dietitian Rick Miller.

    ‘Some small experiments on mice demonstrated a link between aspartame and the growth of cancerous tumours – but it is not clear if we can directly relate these results to humans.’

    Miller’s message for us habitual drinkers: don’t freak out, but do cut down – on all colas, be they ‘diet’ or full-sugar.

    ‘Regular and diet varieties contain phosphoric acid, which research suggests can reduce bone mineral density,’ he says.

    How to quit diet coke and other fizzy drinks

    Ready to consciously uncouple with your fizzy vice? Follow these three R’s.

    1/ Recognise

    ‘Next time you’re craving a fizzy diet drink, think about the context in which you drink it. Do you really want what is in the can or, instead, do you just want some fresh air – or some time to pause?’ says Ogden.

    Nail that, and you’ll be more able to see what you need – and one step closer to getting it.

    2/ Remember

    Think of your parting ways with artificially sweetened soft drinks like that break-up with your ex who you knew wasn’t good for you.

    ‘You’ll feel like you’re missing something, but it is not because you don’t have something that you need – you were fine before,’ says Ogden. ‘You feel like this because you created a space for something and it’s not there anymore.’

    3/ Replace

    That space needs filling will something else, but don’t expect tap water to effectively plug the gap.

    ‘Brew a herbal tea, or infuse a jug of water with chopped cucumber and mint,’ suggests Miller.

    Or, you know, have a snack. Something with essential antioxidant vitamins, fill-you-up healthy fats and sustaining fibre. which if you’re getting hungry between meals, you probably need.

    And let’s be clear – a stress fracture caused by weak bones is going to have a more detrimental impact to your aesthetic and athletic goals than a few mini chocolate brownies.

    Still, I can’t promise that I will have developed a willpower of steel and won’t have had a sneaky sip of my old poison by the time you have read this.

    But if I do choose to crack open a can, it certainly won’t be done mindlessly. Because, while a part of me may still be bought into the zero-sugar, zero-calorie promise, there is a big chance that my body is not.

    This article was first published in Womenshealthmag.com/uk. More

  • in

    The Alkaline Diet: Can This Unusual Viral Method Seriously Help You Shed Kilos?

    By dietician Karen Ansel

    The Alkaline Diet, or so-called pee strip diet, is having a moment. According to the New York Post, celebs like Kate Hudson and Jennifer Aniston are fans of the plan, which requires you to monitor your pH levels by peeing on a strip of paper that tests your urine. Fun right? It’s also doing the rounds on TikTok, with advocates touting its many health benefits, from weight loss to more energy.

    The Alkaline Diet theory

    Certain foods (and not always obviously acidic ones like lemons and tomatoes) are said to produce acidic by-products when digested. These can throw off your pH balance and lead to weight gain, according to fans of the diet. There’s also the theory that these foods produce mucous in the body, which fuels disease by allowing them to thrive.

    Proponents of the diet say you should swap acid-forming eats like meat, eggs, dairy, processed foods and most grains. Instead, opt for high-alkaline fruits, vegetables, beans, tofu, nuts and seeds to correct your body’s pH and magically torch fat.

    In order to create an alkaline environment, you’d need to cut out acid-forming foods and introduce alkaline foods. In order to make sure your body is in an alkaline level, you’d need to pee on a strip to test.

    But does it work?

    While it’s a no-brainer that switching from fatty meats and processed carbs to a low-kilojoule produce-and-legume regimen will help you drop kilos, there’s zero evidence that your body’s pH has anything to do with it – or even that a certain diet can affect pH at all.

    “If our diets were able to drive the pH of our blood outside of the body’s normal range, people with lousy diets would be falling into comas and dropping dead left and right,” says nutritionist Tamara Duker Freuman, a registered dietician. Alkaline diets can be nutritionally sound but often lack many of the nutrients that vegan diets do. That’s not to say the alkaline diet hasn’t been praised by vegans on TikTok, since the diet focuses on raw foods, like cucumber noodles.

    Plus, while your pH in urine can be influenced by food, your blood should stay in a normal pH range, which is already slightly alkaline, with a pH of 7.36–7.44. Your stomach, on the other hand, should be acidic, which is key for digesting food. It could be fatal if your blood’s pH goes out of balance. This happens when you drink too much alcohol, are diabetic or during starvation.

    The Conclusion

    While the alkaline diet encourages you to focus on whole foods, leading to a healthier body overall, studies can’t guarantee specific health benefits. Any weight loss would result from cutting out whole food groups, leading to a calorie deficit. Since the science isn’t up to scratch, you’re better off focusing on whole, healthy foods, rather than trying to alkalise your body.

    This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com  More