Q&A with Katie- Nutrition Advice at Home
Keeping fit and healthy while staying at home is extremely important for both physical and mental wellbeing! We asked our senior nutritionist Katie, to provide her expertise on some of our social media followers most concerning diet and nutrition questions.
We hope these answers provide some helpful guidance! #homehealthandwellness
Question 1: What do you think of intermittent fasting?
Katie's Answer: There is a lot of research on the benefits of intermittent fasting, with popular methods such as the 5:2 approach or the 16:8 diet. I agree, intermittent fasting is a good way to control and monitor calorie intake, but it's hard to give a comprehensive answer to this because everyone is different, whether it is a person's eating patterns or the number of calories an individual requires. Research is still ongoing and not fully conclusive, but there is some evidence to suggest that if you can fast for 16 hours, this may support weight maintenance, improve digestion, lower levels of inflammation and manage blood sugar.
Question 2: What are the best foods for increasing my vitamin D and C intakes when at home?
Katie's Answer: Vitamin D and vitamin C are important nutrients which support our immune system and research suggests that both vitamins may actually increase resistance to common colds and flu. With many of us currently confined to our homes with restricted access to outdoor sunlight, our vitamin D levels may be much lower than normal. For this reason, Public Health England has reissued its recommendation for vitamin D supplementation; advising that we should all consider taking a 10 microgram vitamin D supplement throughout spring and summer while lockdown measures continue (although, it's important to note that the vitamin D recommendation has no relevance to preventing coronavirus, rather, for maintaining good muscle and bone health).
Vitamin C can be found in most fruit and vegetables so it's particularly important to vary and increase the intake of these foods. Best sources include citrus fruits, peppers, berries, leafy greens, potatoes, broccoli, melon, brussel sprouts and tomatoes.
Vitamin D can be found in egg yolks, mushrooms, oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring), fortified cereals or milk.
Question 3: I need to get rid of my belly fat, how do I do that?
Katie's Answer: To lose stomach fat, it is important to ensure you are not over-consuming calories. Ideally, to lose weight, your body needs to be in a calorie deficit, which means that you should be eating fewer calories than you expend. Increasing your physical activity levels and combining more cardio exercises with weight training will also certainly help.
1. Be mindful of portion sizes.
2. Ensure you are consuming less than you burn.
3. Choose fibre-rich foods.
4.Swap white refined carbohydrates for wholegrains.
5. Increase protein intake (lean meats and plant-based proteins).
6. Reduce intake of high-fat, high-sugar foods.
7. Incorporate moderate amounts of healthy fats.
8. Limit alcohol consumption.
Question 4: What kind of foods should I be eating to boost my immune health?
Katie's Answer: Consuming a healthy diet is important in supporting our immune function with many nutrients influencing our body's ability to fight infection. I would advise following a 'clean' diet with minimal processed, high-sugar or high-fat foods. Your diet should be high in vitamins and minerals and contain foods such as the following; fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes, pulses, seeds, nuts and healthy fats. Gut health also plays an important role in immune health so it's equally important to incorporate gut-friendly fermented foods such as live yogurt or kefir.
Question 5: I have two young children who love sweetcorn and carrots. They seem to be my go-to veg. How important is it to vary the veg intake?
Katie's Answer: While sweetcorn and carrots are nutritionally-rich, it is still important to vary the type of vegetables consumed. This is because each vegetable will have a slightly different nutrient profile and so by mixing up the selection of vegetables consumed, this will ensure your kids are getting different levels of important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Besides, vegetables will always vary in their fibre and protein content too! I always say the more variety, the better!
Question 6: As a family of 5 and all at home, we seem to be grazing constantly, with fruit appealing to my kids as their healthy option. Can we be eating too much fruit? What are some healthy alternatives?
Katie's Answer: Fruit is a great snack option as it offers so many important nutrients, so I would still advise that fruit is consumed as a snack option, especially when children are looking for 'sweet treats'. The sugar in fruit is naturally occurring however, it can significantly add to calorie intake if consuming too much. Fruit is not high in protein so a good idea may be to mix up the fruit-based snacks with higher protein options, especially as this can help in managing blood sugar levels and the snacks would also be more filling for the kids. Here are a few healthy alternatives:
- Homemade low-sugar oat bars
- Hard-boiled egg
- Homemade vegetable crisps
- Low-sugar jelly pot
- Natural yogurt topped with honey
- Fruit and nut trail mix
- Hummus with raw veggies
- Dark chocolate rice cakes
- Lightly salted popcorn
- Cheese slice with oatcake
- Apple or celery with 100% nut butter
Question 7: Do you think diet can help strengthen your immune system? Which nutrients and vitamins are more important to consume at this time?
Katie's Answer: No food will ever protect you from getting Coronavirus, but having a healthy diet is certainly important in strengthening your immune system and enabling your body to fight off disease if it ever comes calling. There are many vitamins and minerals which support the immune system- Vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B12, zinc and selenium. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to have a positive impact on immune health. Therefore, it's important to eat a healthy, balanced diet to ensure you are obtaining all essential nutrients. If you are worried that you are lacking in any of these essential nutrients then you can always take a daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplement in addition to a sustainably sourced omega-3 capsule.
Question 8: With three very fussy kids, we have got into a bit of a white bread household (used to be the best of both). Is there that much of a difference?
Katie's Answer: White bread is certainly a lot less nutritious compared to wholegrain bread. Wholegrain (brown) bread provides greater levels of vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein. You could always try different breads such as seeded, sourdough or rye to make it slightly more interesting. If you can, I would certainly suggest to eat mainly wholegrain varieties and to save the white bread for an occasional treat.
Question 9: How important is 'when I eat'? What are the best times to eat within the day to maintain a healthy weight while at home?
Katie's Answer: Maintaining a healthy eating pattern is key with regards to weight management. Now that we are at home and perhaps more sedentary, it is particularly important to be mindful of the number of calories consumed throughout the day. For this reason, I would advise to be consistent in meal timings and to have three nutritionally balanced, calorie-controlled meals each day, only consuming snacks when required. There is no specific time when we should stop eating. Everyone will have different timings depending on what time they wake and what time they go to sleep. I would encourage anyone to resist the temptation to snack after your final meal of the day to give your digestive system the break it needs and importantly, enable your body to fully recover and repair while you sleep.
Question 10: My daughter is vegetarian and I'm conscious that she gets enough goodness from her meals. What should she be eating to keep her immune system strong and should she take supplements other than a daily multi-vitamin?
Katie's Answer: A balanced, varied diet is always going to be the best way to support a healthy immune system. As long as your daughter is consuming enough fruit, vegetables, healthy fats, wholegrains and in particular plant-based proteins (beans, legumes, pulses), then she should be obtaining all her essential nutrients, which will help support a healthy immune system. If she does not eat dairy, then it is a good idea to choose plant-based dairy alternatives which are fortified with nutrients. If you are in doubt, then taking a multi-vitamin and minerals will ensure she is obtaining all nutrients including vitamins such as vitamin B12, iron and vitamin D (as intake can be lower in vegetarian diets). If not, then I would advise that she supplements with an omega-3 oil; the preferred option would be from a sustainably sourced fish oil, but there are also omega-3 oils derived from vegan sources. Dietary supplements for children are safe and can be very beneficial.
If you have any further Almased, diet or nutrition-related questions, always feel free to contact Katie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. May 2020