Trying to be…..Sugar Free

I recently made a presentation at FIAT Chrysler in Shanghai on how to balance blood sugar for more energy.  The presentation was part of a United Family Healthcare corporate wellness health initiative.  Feedback from the attendees was great and it was a privilege to be part of FIAT Chrysler’s corporate health program.  Being mindful of blood sugar levels is a good practice for all of us who are seeking to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

There always seems to be a new fad diet, supplement or super food on the market that is “guaranteed” to increase energy levels.  We are constantly bombarded with the latest discovery – this week it’s “red berry juice from a newly discovered ancient rainforest, guaranteed to melt fat even while you jam hot dogs into your mouth!” 😉  All we can do is ignore these insidious adverts and instead strive to keep to a healthy, plant based diet, low in glucose spiking sugars and stimulants.  It really is a guaranteed long term solution for better health and energy levels throughout the day.

There is a direct link between the food we eat and the energy production processes in our bodies.  For example, dietary carbohydrates provide glucose that can be used by our cells for energy, stored by the liver and muscles as glycogen, or converted into fat if the intake exceeds the need.  All the cells in our bodies depend on glucose; those of the central nervous system are particularly dependent.

High glycemic foods will cause our body to release energy more quickly, feel hungry sooner, and eat more.  Low glycemic foods will release energy more slowly, make us feel fuller for longer and help us to eat less.  Lowering the glycemic index of our diet can help prevent insulin resistance, improve blood lipids and reduce the risk of heart disease. Examples of high glycemic foods are white bread, corn flakes, cola and baked potato.  Examples of low glycemic foods are beans, berries (strawberries, blueberries and raspberries), sweet potatoes, olives and nuts.

We may reduce our glycemic index by balancing high carb meals with fiber and fats.  They help to slow down the digestion and adsorption of carbs so that glucose enters the blood more gradually.  The glycemic index isn’t a perfect system, but is a useful tool.  Some knowledge of nutrition is needed when following it.  For example, ice cream has a lower GI than watermelon, but ice cream is not the better dietary choice!

Oh Sugar!

Refined carbohydrates are rapidly absorbed into the blood stream and should be avoided when possible. Sugar should be limited to no more than 6 to 9 teaspoons of added sugar a day (roughly equivalent to one can of coke).  However, the average adult consumes around 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day! [American Heart Association]  This is equivalent to around 350 calories; which is almost 20 % of our daily calorie requirements.  These empty calories; as well as piling on the pounds, may cause us to miss out on important vitamins and minerals.

Being somewhat of a sugar addict myself, I am taking part in the week-long ‘Sugarfree’ challenge by Better Bentos (see links below).  I am adding to the challenge by adding alcohol to the mix of ‘forbidden’ items!  I am also testing out a new vegan menu and will let you know how it goes in my next blog.

Until the next time – Eat Well Shanghai! 🙂

Jessica W.

Better Bentos

Sugarfree x Better Bentos (July ’17)

 

Eat Well With Shanghai Meal Plans

Is a meal plan delivery service the answer to your nutrition problems when time is limited?  If a full time ‘Ayi’ isn’t in your budget, or if your idea of cooking is tossing a potato in the microwave, consider looking up one of the several meal plan delivery services here in Shanghai.

I have always loved to cook, but, due to new work commitments, I am struggling to find the times in the evenings to prepare tomorrow’s work lunch.  The area where I work has a limited number of healthy restaurants and they are relatively expensive.  With the limited choice, it also easy to get jaded with the selection on offer.  My solution to my lunch time eating woes was to purchase a meal plan delivery service; something I’ve said I never would do, but now I’m “eating my words.”  Several companies offer this service in Shanghai, allowing you to pre-purchase a set number of lunch times meals (usually 5 minimum) that will be delivered to your home or place of work.  Costs vary; expect to pay around 225 RMB per week, plus delivery charges.

Some of the service advantages are that they are simple, can be delivered to areas with few healthy food options and they can help you stick to a good diet (at least for the duration of the service!).  With one WeChat transfer, it is possible to order all of your lunches for the coming week or month in a matter of moments.  I won’t be so tempted to grab unhealthy foods at the bakery because I know I’ll be receiving plant based nutrient dense meals right to my office.

And the disadvantages?  They are more expensive than your local Chinese food options.  As with all food delivery services, overuse can lead to growing tired of them.  And of course, you are handing control of the quality of your ingredients and of your portion sizes to someone else.  I guess the solution is to consider adding meal plan delivery services to your ‘armoury’ of food options.  Consider alternating from this service one week to home preparation and to local restaurants on other weeks.  Mix and match to suit your tastes and your schedule.  I’ve never heard of someone being on a delivery service their whole life.  Other options include getting a best friend with cooking skills or getting a good chef on Tinder! 😉

Delicious vegan salad from Sucici

What meal plan delivery service did I choose?  I tested out the vegan salad plan from Sucici and have found them to be extremely filling, delicious and nutrient dense.  They also have a wide variety of options.  I have been adding the brown rice option because a salad on its own is never enough to get me through ‘til 7 pm.  I’ve also been extremely impressed by Better Bentos (by Sprout Lifestyle).

Regardless of whether you are vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, a meat eater, etc., the most important thing about a healthy meal plan is that it is plant based; the star of the show should always be the vegetables, and sweet potato fries don’t count!

Until the next time, eat well, be well, live well! – Jessica W.

Links:

Sucici:   WeChat: sucicidelivery

Better Bentos:   WeChat: BetterBentos

 

The Jiashan Saturday Market

With Daniel & Michael of Sparrow Organic

It’s springtime in Shanghai and that means warm weather and around 100 events to choose from every weekend!  It’s easy to get overwhelmed and end up going event crazy so choose carefully.  There are many healthy weekend activities and events such as cooking classes at Sprout Lifestyle, exercise related events and my personal favorite – the food markets.

This weekend I went to the Jiashan Saturday Market and loved it.  There is a great variety of stands at the market, offering all sorts of locally prepared artisan foods and drinks.  Many of the stands feature healthy foods that can meet a variety of dietary needs. Personally, I am a snacker and need healthy but cravable snacks lying around the house.  Markets like the Jiashan Market are the perfect place to get new and tasty items.  I purchased some fabulous pesto sauce, pickled vegetables, hummus, eggplant dip and olives. Why buy some of these tasty snacks?

  • Olives have monounsaturated fat which has long been part of the Mediterranean diet, linked to lower rates of heart disease, cancer, and obesity. Olives also have polyphenols. These are phytochemicals known to help reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Green olives, which are picked before they ripen, tend to be higher in polyphenols. Olives are also a good source of iron, copper, and vitamin E.
  • The chickpeas (garbanzo beans) in the hummus are a great source of many nutrients, especially if you are vegan. Chickpeas have iron, calcium and protein. One cup of chickpeas meets 22 % of our daily need for iron. Adding vitamin C containing foods such as red peppers or lemon juice can increase iron absorption in plant based foods. It is also a very versatile food that can be used in a number of tasty recipes.
Modern Food & Co. at the Jiashan Market

The Jiashan Saturday Market is held every 2 weeks. The next market will be on April 22nd, then May 06th; hope to see you there!

 

Until the next time – Eat Well, Live Well, Be Well – Jessica W. 😉

New Year with the Roosters

A farmer at work in the fields

How many of us have gone on holiday and come back feeling drained, requiring a vacation from our vacation?  Or have felt less healthy than before we left?  If you can often say yes, then maybe it’s time to go on a healthy retreat.

This Chinese New Year, I went on vacation with a tour group called M2adventure Shanghai.  I was looking for a chance to get away from the bright lights, the pollution and the concrete jungle for a few days.  I figured a technology detox, and a WeChat detox, was also in order.  My CNY adventure to a tiny (and I mean tiny) mountain village near Taizhou city in Zhejiang province was just what I needed.

View of a Chinese mountain village

My group of intrepid explorers (!) arrived at the base of a mountain where we disembarked from our comfortable bus.  We then had to climb 2-3 hours to make it to the village as it is not accessible by car.  There was no-one selling anything along the trail and during our ascent we saw no-one but the people in our group.  The mountain air was clean and fresh; I saw more stars than I had ever seen in my whole life.  We spent our days hiking and exploring nature.  We relaxed at night by talking, singing (and dancing!) around a bonfire.

I must of course tell you about the food!  It was fresh, organic and harvested straight from the mountain.  The farm technology consisted of little more than an ox.  Everything tasted better than the food I have had anywhere in China (except for Chongming Island).  The food was light with minimal spices and oils but still big on flavor.  Some of the meals featured a little too much salt for my tastes but otherwise it was very healthy.  We were served around 12 different types of veggies alone at every evening meal!  I attended a dumpling and tofu making class and even watched an 80 year old lady collect root vegetables from the top of a waterfall!  Our Chinese hosts seemed driven to feed all of us constantly, as if we would never eat again.  We stuffed our faces at every meal but the hiking meant that we needed these extra calories.  Our hosts had their own beehives, providing a fresh source of beautiful honey.  The village also had loads of cows, pigs, and tons of chickens.  It was great spending the Chinese New Year of the Rooster surrounded by roosters!

Fresh vegetables in the countryside

All in all it was a great chance to really see China and return to Shanghai refreshed and happy to be back to civilization.  Do you think a trip like this isn’t for you because of kids or because of fitness levels?  Not true! M2adventure, and other Shanghai based tour groups, have trips suitable for bringing the kids along.  They can also cater to different fitness levels.  The trips are also very good value.  They range from around 800 to 1500 RMB for the budget savvy.  Please be warned that luxury accommodations are not part of the package for the tours.  Just to give you an idea, our group had to poop sitting on a log in a “bathroom” with no door, next to a cow!  You are sure to make lots of memories and come home with some interesting stories.

Until the next time, Eat Well Shanghai!  😉  – Jessica W.