Our nib Newcastle Knights Sports Nutritionist and Dietitian Rachel Svenson shares with you some nutritional advice and tips.
TIP #5: EASING THE STRESS WITH GOOD NUTRITION
These unprecedented times may be creating more stress than you have previously experienced in your life. Sometimes this stress might not be seen outwardly, and we may be containing in within ourselves. Don’t under-estimate the value of good nutrition in stressful times.
Try to avoid seeking out high sugar and high fat foods to offer you comfort. Our pleasure from eating these foods is only short-lived. These foods may lead to an increase in our stress hormones causing us to eat more of these foods, and the cycle continues. Poor quality food choices from high processed and high sugar foods can have a significant negative impact on our immune system.
Top foods to include daily to help during stressful times:
- Blueberries: are packed with antioxidants
- Fatty fish (salmon, ocean trout and tuna): are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids which not only sharpen our brain but improve our mood
- Broccoli: a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory linked with better brain function
- Pumpkin seeds: contain nutrients such as copper, iron, zinc and magnesium needed for a healthy brain
- Nuts: contain brain boosting nutrients. Walnuts even look like a brain so must be good for us
- Oranges and lemons: are a good source of Vitamin C to help protect against damage from free radicals
- Eggs: are a rich source of B-vitamins and these have been linked to better mood
- Green tea: supports a healthy mind.
- And we know that when we have made better food choices we feel much happier with our decisions which adds another smile to our day.
TIP #4: TOO MUCH BAKING IN YOUR HOUSE?
Google has reported a phenomenal increase in searches for baking recipes since COVID-19 has put people in their homes. Social media is swamped with posts of our baking creations however it has left us in this dilemma of eating more of these foods than we would normally. Getting in the kitchen is never a bad thing. Kitchen skills are important for life but how can you change around this home cooking pandemic?
The best recommendation is to swap out the baking for cooking. Rather than googling the best and easiest banana bread recipe (it is essentially cake!) try your hand at a new dinner meal from a country that you haven’t tried before. If you have younger ones in your house who have a new interest in the kitchen (cooking, not eating) then with a bit of planning and research you can help steer them towards cooking one night a week and leaving the cake, biscuits and slices as a weekend activity.
To help plan dinner meals that use the ingredients you have at hand you can now simply go to Google, enter the ingredients you have and you will be surprised at the meals and new foods you can create. There are even websites that can help you with this.
If you do find yourself in a place where the cake tins are over-flowing, then start stashing some of this away in the freezer. It could make for handy lunch-box fillers, a workplace shout, or a Saturday night movie-night treat.
TIP #3: BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM THIS WINTER WITH GOOD NUTRITION
This winter will be an interesting time for our communities. With social distancing and self-isolation still in play we wait to see if this changes how other winter viruses appear over the colder months. As we transition from our homes and back to workplaces, gyms, schools, restaurants and bars etc. we are going to expose ourselves to more bacteria and common viruses. Now may be the time to start considering how we can support the system in our body that fights these infections: our immune system.
How can we better support a healthy immune system?
The good news is there is no ‘superfood’ out there that is going to be essential for your health and well-being this winter. Keep in mind that diets that are in highly processed foods and are high in sugars should be avoided. There are however a few nutrients found in foods that will help you build a healthy body that will support a healthy immune system. Try adding some more of these foods into your daily food plan:
- Vitamin A: Oily fish, egg yolks, green leafy vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables and fruits
- B-vitamins: Grains and wholegrains including breads and cereals, nuts and seeds, legumes and green leafy vegetables
- Vitamin C: Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, mandarins), berries, kiwifruit, broccoli, tomatoes and capsicum
- Vitamin D: Mainly from sunlight. Seek 15 minutes of sun exposure every day; food sources include eggs, fish, and some fortified milks
- Vitamin E: Nuts, green leafy vegetables and vegetable oils
- Iron: Red meat, chicken and fish. Smaller amounts are found in legumes and whole-grains
- Zinc: Oysters and other seafoods, meat, chicken, nuts and dried beans
- Selenium: Brazil nuts, meat, mushrooms
NOTE: supplements should not be taken unless on the advice of your doctor or dietitian
TIP #2: BEST FOODS TO STOCK IN YOUR PANTRY
As we change the way we grocery shop we are having to change the way we prepare and cook meals at home. Our usual ‘pop-in’ to the supermarket trips are now being carefully considered. Our fresh foods are likely to be re-stocked less frequently meaning our pantries, fridges and freezers are likely to be stocked more than they have in the past. But have you ever wondered about what you should be stocking in your pantry? Here is some basic pantry (or fridge/freezer) items that may help with your grocery list planning for your next shopping visit:
Sometimes these can be a hidden source of sugars and/or salt, but they do provide us with some quality options when fresh foods aren’t available.
- Canned tomatoes: can be added to a slow cooker meal or your homemade Italian pasta sauce recipe
- Canned fish is great on grain crackers for an afternoon snack
- Canned legumes (lentils, chickpeas and dried beans) can be added to the slow cooker or casseroles.
- Canned baked beans. An easy breakfast, lunch or light dinner meal
Add to your freezer:
- A few bags of different frozen vegetable varieties: frozen corn can be useful for making corn fritters; frozen spinach can be added to slow cooker meals or a curry creation; a frozen vegetable stir-fry mix can bulk out some of your fresh vegetable stir-fry options
- A bag of frozen berries: can be used in smoothies; added to porridge on a cold morning; added to a fruit crumble for dessert
- A frozen meal or two is handy in the freezer as a back-up plan if getting to the grocery store is difficult to manage.
- Dried quick-cook oats: are simple for your winter porridge or can be used for your favourite over-night oats recipe
- Grainy crackers or wholegrain Corn Thins: use these to replace sweet biscuits in your cupboard
- Rice cups: can be handy when we don’t want to cook a whole lot of rice
- A bag of plain air-popped popcorn: a nice alternative to potato chips
TIP #1: NUTRITION TIPS FOR WORKING FROM HOME
By now many of you who are new to the WFH (Working/Work from Home) scenario have probably worked out that it takes a bit of discipline to schedule breaks for morning and afternoon tea, and a usual lunch break.
Working from home and managing your food intake takes a bit of thinking and planning to get it right. And it’s not always easy. Here are a few tips that just might help your daily routine work better for you:
Pack your foods for the day:
Before you sit down at your desk to start your day’s work pack the foods that you are going to eat for the day. Just as you might pack your lunchbox or bag for work, do the same but for home. Have this on a shelf in the fridge. This will mean you are less likely to make other food choices from the pantry and it can help keep your portion sizes in check.
Keep hydrated in the morning:
We often get hungrier in the afternoon because we are thirsty, but our brains think its hunger. Afternoon is often the time when cravings kick-in and we double check the top cupboard for the chocolate. By keeping well hydrated during the morning we can be less hungry in the afternoon.
Choose a fluid. Choose a fruit or vegetable:
If you have found yourself grazing throughout the day, then set yourself a routine of choosing a fluid first before you choose a food. Sometimes we are actually thirsty and not hungry at all, but our brain thinks its hungry. Instead of a fluid which would help with our hydration we often go for an unnecessary food choice. If you are heading to the kitchen make it a habit that you find a low-sugar fluid first, then choose a fruit or vegetable snack. This might be enough to tide you over until the next meal.
The 20-minute rule:
If you find yourself moving towards the kitchen and know it’s not really time to be eating set a timer on your phone for 20-minutes. Often after 20-minutes a craving can pass. Alternatively use the fluid and fruit or vegetable idea above and then wait 20-minutes before you decide if you are still hungry.