Eat, Drink, and be Healthy!

Finally time for another blog! I haven’t written anything in around 5 months. I wrote my last blog shortly before the birth of my first child. Having a baby has brought on many new challenges in my life. For example, breastfeeding has been much more challenging and time consuming than I had anticipated. This new chapter, of being a working mom, has redefined what I thought busy meant.  While this blog isn’t about babies, I must say that I have a whole new appreciation for moms!

Eat, Drink and be Healthy (Harvard Medical School)

This blog is about a nutrition book called “Eat, Drink, and be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating.” I rarely recommend nutrition books because I feel the author often has an ulterior motive. The research and facts can be distorted to gear the reader towards what the author wants them to believe (or to purchase!). For example, poorly done research can be presented as promising evidence to promote a new fad. However, I find this book to be a very refreshing take on healthy diet. It isn’t trying to sell you on any type of diet trend. The advice is practical and based on current research. It dives into detailed information on a range of topics including macro / micro nutrients, glycemic load / glycemic index, grass fed vs. grain fed beef and bottled vs. tap water. I will hopefully write about some of these in future blog posts. It also does a great job in explaining why we hear so much conflicting research in the field of nutrition. While I may not agree 100% with everything in this book, I would still recommend it for those interested in detailed nutrition information. I would also recommend visiting the Harvard School of Public Health’s website (https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/).

Healthy Eating Plate (Harvard Medical School)

Becoming more informed about nutrition information can help with avoiding fad diets and other dietary pitfalls. The most important thing to remember is that a diet must work for you. There are genetic, environmental, and psychological or social factors that affect us all differently. Choose a diet that has plenty of food choices (diets should not have huge restrictions), is sustainable, healthy for your body, and doesn’t include many expensive foods and supplements. One resounding theme for a healthy diet is to balance healthy proteins with fruits, vegetables (in abundance!), whole grains and healthy fats while reducing sugar and processed foods. I’ve posted a few photos of what I enjoy eating for lunch here in Shanghai (lotus root, amaranth, soy beans etc.), Hopefully,  they can show it’s possible to eat well in Shanghai or elsewhere!

Until the next time! – Jess W.

Lotus root
Amaranth, daikon radish and soybean
Tofu & veggie salad
Bean salad

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)