Is it time Governments introduce a tax on junk food?

Statistics issued in May 2018 reveal that Malta has the highest rate of child obesity in Europe, the highest rate of type II diabetes and the lowest level of activity (1).

Similarly, UK stats for 2017 show that 617 thousand admissions in NHS hospitals were obesity-related. And in 2016, 26 per cent of British adults were considered obese (2).

 

 

How does it compare to 50 years ago?

In the 60s only one per cent of men and two per cent of women were considered obese in the UK (3).

The major differences are attributed to a more sedentary lifestyle and a higher consumption of processed foods.  Despite the fact that in the 60s gyms were hardly heard of, people were significantly more active. They walked more and spent less time in front of TVs and computers. Children played active games as opposed to hours spent on a tablet and ready-made foods were hard to come by.  The majority of households cooked their meals from scratch, using fresh products. People’s diets were not full of preservatives and dining out was an occasional treat.

Another factor that contributed towards weight gain is food portions. The average dinner plate in the 60s had a diameter of 7-9 inches (17.78-22.86 centimetres). Nowadays, plates have a diameter of 11-12 inches (27.94-30.48 centimetres) in Europe and 13 inches (33.02 centimetres) in America (4).

Public Health vs Votes?

Do you think it’s time Governments take serious action?  In the same way taxes were imposed and regulations enforced on cigarettes and alcohol,  it may be high time something’s done about the amount of junk food consumed.

If there is more awareness about the consequences of fat, sugar and salt in junk food and ready-made meals and if fresh food is more affordable, maybe people will be in a better position to make healthier choices.

Why are fast food chains allowed to be become richer and the average tax payer has to foot the bill of obesity-related diseases?  Why doesn’t junk food packaging come with sickening images, similar to the ones found on cigarette packets? Should junk food companies be allowed to brainwash children and youngsters thanks to their strong marketing position?

In the UK, Jamie Oliver is campaigning to control the advertising of junk food, especially for children (5). You would think it’s in the interest of Governments to promote the health of its citizens by making fresh food more affordable.

No; I’m not kidding myself into thinking that if junk food is more expensive than healthy food, people will make an overnight change – they won’t.  Besides, as we’ve seen above, there are various factors that lead to obesity.  Junk food is just one of them.  However, in a similar way awareness and levies brought down smoking rates (6), serious campaigns, taxes on junk food (including ready-made foods) and subsidies of good fresh food, may lead to health improvement.

What do you think?

 

My thanks go to:

(1) Bay.com.mt

(2) NHS Digital

(3) The Telegraph

(4) Quora

(5) Jamie Oliver – #AdEnough

(6) Economicshelp.org

Infographic thanks to Gastrosurgeon.com

Balanced Diet vs Healthy Diet

Is your diet balanced? Is it healthy? Or maybe it’s both?

What is a Healthy Diet?

Easy! A healthy diet is made up of fruit, veg, some meat and / or fish, low in fat with limited amounts of alcohol. Sounds good?  Actually, it’s not too bad.

What is the difference between a healthy and a balanced diet?

A balanced diet is healthy, with extras thrown in for good measure.

What makes a Healthy Diet “Balanced”?

  • A balanced diet provides the body with sufficient nutrients (macro – i.e. carbohydrates, fat, protein and micro – vitamins and minerals);
  • A balanced diet provides the body with the right amount of energy (calories) – an imbalanced diet leads to weight gain or weight loss;
  • A balanced diet includes sufficient fluids (mainly water) to keep the body well-hydrated;
  • A balanced diet limits counter-productive foods such as sugar and salt.
  • A balanced diet forms part of a healthy lifestyle which includes regular exercise.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) makes five recommendations:

  • Consume the amount of calories your body requires to function;
  • Limit your fats;
  • Eat more fruit and veg;
  • Limit your sugars;
  • Limit your salts.

Why is a Balanced Diet good for you?

A balanced diet keeps you feeling good about yourself.  You can enjoy good quality life, preventing diseases such as obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and some forms of cancer.

A balanced diet also provides you with high levels of energy.  It gives you shiny hair and strong nails.  Your skin looks plump and clear.  Your waist line remains in check, without too much effort.  Who’s complaining?

How do you “Balance” your Diet?

Most countries have their recommended dietary guidelines. These guidelines are set keeping culture in mind. So for example, the Eatwell Plate – the dietary guidelines for the UK – includes foods such as baked beans, crisps and porridge.  The Mediterranean diet includes olive oil and wine in moderation. The Chinese dietary guidelines recommend a diet based on whole grains, fruit and vegetables with tiny portions of protein, dairy and fats. Both the Mediterranean and the Chinese guidelines recommend plenty of water as well as exercise.

All good, but how does this work for you?

  • Establish your recommended calorie intake according to your lifestyle. If you have a sedentary job and you do not exercise regularly, your body needs less calories than a person who exercises seven days a week. A person who does not have a sedentary job also requires more energy to keep them going.
  • Get your energy (calories) in the right amounts:
    • 50-55% from carbohydrates
    • 33-35% from fat
    • 10-15% from protein.
  • Drink plenty of water – recommended guidelines 1ml water / 1kcal of food you consume.
  • Exercise regularly.

You are probably wondering how you can lose weight or maintain good weight when 50% of your energy intake comes from carbs.

Carbs are not only found in starchy foods such as potatoes, rice and pasta. You can get your carbs from fruit and veg. One important fact to bear in mind is that your brain requires carbohydrates. Carbs, in the form of glucose, are the only food the brain uses to function properly.

Balance out your healthy diet by eating a variety of foods in the right amounts. With the right food intake, water and exercise you’re on your way to healthy lifestyle.

Watch this space for more on the subject.

 

May thanks go to:

 

 

 

Why is obesity such a serious problem?

Our waistlines started increasing after World War II (WWII).  The end of the war marked an end to manual exertion and an increase in technological development.  The car started replacing the bicycle and the corner store or the farmers’ market were seriously challenged by the Co-Op chains which started sprouting all over the place.

Change of lifestyle post WWII

In 1954 television started entering households and physical activity started on a downward spiral.  By the eighties TV was transmitting round the clock and leisure activities plummeted even further. The birth of the microwave in the early 1980s brought plenty of ready-made, frozen foods available at very cheap prices.

Consequently,

  • a high supply of convenience food
  • the advent of fast food chains
  • lack of physical activity and
  • an increase in a sedentary lifestyle (brought about with the birth of the computer at work and at home)

resulted in a surplus of energy intake and lack of its expenditure.

 

How do you gain weight on healthy food?

This is not the whole picture.  A recent study, undertaken by an American insurance company in March 2018, shows that it is not just our lifestyle which is contributing to our expanding waistlines. Our lack of knowledge and awareness of nutritional values is another contributing factor.

The study worked with a sample of 1000 Americans from various walks of life.  They were asked to guess the nutritional values of a number of foods – healthy foods as well as ‘junk’ food.  Results show that, in the majority of cases, the respondents got their facts wrong. Why?

We tend to think that, as long as we eat healthy food – raw almonds, avocados and such like – we can eat as much as we want.  This is not the case.  Weight gain is a result of greater energy (calories) intake than expenditure.  You can get your calories (energy) from healthy food – nuts, fruit, fish, grains, olive oil … the list is endless – however, if you take in more energy than your body is using for your lifestyle, you still gain weight.

Roger Highfield of The Telegraph quotes Jane Wardle, Professor of Clinical Psychology, University College London as saying; “… most obese people don’t overeat by a lot, but an energy excess of only 70kcals a day – no more than a ginger biscuit – adds up to 70lbs (31.75kgs) of extra weight in 10 years; enough to turn a slim 25 year old into an obese 35 year old.”

What is portion distortion?

This brings me to the famous “portion distortion”. You can gain weight on a very healthy diet and you can lose weight on a very unhealthy diet.  Weight loss is all about calorie deficit: energy in < energy out = weight loss.  Similarly, if energy in > energy out it results in weight gain, irrespective of where the energy comes from.

Example:  100g of walnuts contain 654cals whereas 100g of pizza margherita contains 275cals.

Am I suggesting you eat pizza instead of walnuts to lose weight?  No.  I’m just highlighting the importance of moderation and an awareness of the nutritional value of the foods we eat.  Nowadays, food labels are obligatory.  Benefit from them.  Take the time to read what they say.  True, your pizza delivery does not come with its nutritional value on the box, but there are ways to check it out.

Alternatively, go back to roots and base your diet on foods which come from the soil.  Like the pizza, they do not come with a label either, but they guarantee you a smaller waistline.

My thanks go to:

Insurance Quotes and their sources

The Telegraph (online)

ReNewBariatrics.com

The State of Obesity.org

Image:  credit to Insurance Quote who were the inspiration behind this article

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cooking classes for weight loss

Learn how to cook simple and easy, every day food which helps you lose weight. Join our eight-week programme which looks into the dos and don’ts of eating for weight loss and for long-term weight management.

This programme helps you make the right food choices, motivates and inspires you to prepare food which is good for you and your family.

We meet for two hours, once a week, to find out:

Sessions consist of theory, question and answer, cooking.  The programme includes four practical units which are made up of a short intro followed by a hands-on cooking session. (Cost of ingredients for cooking class included in your booking fee).

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Our round table discussion and cooking class is available for a maximum of six places only.

For further information and to book your place call now on 9985 2647 and benefit from a free one-to-one consultation.

Colette’s Kitchen

Have you stumbled upon Colette’s Kitchen on Facebook? I chose to go for a closed group  to build a community of like-minded people.  If you’re not interested in home cooking and good food, you’re free to opt out. But if you’re interested, I share no fuss recipes which are easy to follow through step-by-step photos.  I also make it a point to vary my recipes to give you ideas what you can cook at home.

When I go out for a meal, I share my choices to give you options you may wish to consider yourself.

Eating “healthy” does not mean living on a permanent diet.  If you’re a food lover, like I am, feeling deprived from various foods would be very depressing.  I love dining out.  The secret or challenge (depends which way you look at it) is to make the right choices.  It is true to say, it will be difficult to manage your weight if you eat out every day.  However, if you balance things out, you will manage to enjoy good food and a trim waisteline.

Here are some of the food ideas I prepared and shared on Colette’s Kitchen, over the past days.

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In reply to requests received on FB, I shared the recipes for the Vegetable Curry and the Overnight Oats.

If you would like any of these recipes, drop me a line and I’d be happy to share.

How to make the best of your Broccoli

Do you benefit from cooking seasonal vegetables?  Going for fruit and veg when in season is kind to your health and to your pocket.

From October through to April, broccoli are at their best. They’re not expensive to buy and you can use them in a variety of ways. Once harvested, the shelf-life of the broccoli is rather short and a yellowish hue is the first indication that the broccoli head is not fresh.  When shopping, choose broccoli heads which are tight and heavy in weight.

If you buy your veg from a farmers market or similar, ask for broccoli heads with leaves intact. Ideally, you get organic vegetables but if it’s not possible, wash your broccoli head and leaves well, under running water to remove all traces of pesticide.

Why are Broccoli good for you?

Broccoli are a member of the cabbage family.  Together with a number of other vegetables such as kale, collard greens, bok choy, brussels sprouts and a number of others, they’re known as cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables are loaded with vitamins and promote weight loss.

Broccoli are often referred to as a superfood.  The florets are a great source of vitamins K and C.  They also provide folic acid, potassium and fiber. The leaves are also high in fibre and they are an very good source of vitamin A, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, selenium, vitamin C, riboflavin, folate, and potassium.

Baking your broccoli is one way of enjoying this super nutritious vegetable.

Quinoa with Roasted Broccoli and Almonds

Broccoli leaves are tender and nutritious.  For maximum benefit, eat your broccoli florets and chopped leaves raw, by adding them to your salad. Broccoli leaves can also be sautéed or baked in the oven.

Quinoa with Roasted Broccoli and Almonds
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

This warm salad provides you with protein from the quinoa, healthy fat from the almonds and plenty of vitamins from the broccoli head and its leaves.  A cup of broccoli also provides you with 11 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams of protein.

Course: Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: Plant-based
Servings: 2 people
Author: Colette Cumbo
Ingredients
  • 2 Fresh onions (you can use leeks)
  • 1 Medium-sized broccoli head (leaves intact)
  • 10 Baby plum tomatoes (halved)
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 50 grms Roasted almonds (chopped)
  • 1 cup Quinoa (I used white, red and black quinoa)
  • 1 3/4 cups Vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 2 tbsp Apple cider vinegar (raw)
  • 2 tbsp Lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
Instructions
  1. Peel onions and rinse vegetables under running water

  2. Break broccoli head into florets and tear leaves into pieces (do not tear them into tiny pieces). 

  3. Line a roasting dish with heavy duty foil, place the broccoli florets, onions and tomatoes.  Add 2 tbsp olive oil.

  4. Roast at 200C for 10 minutes. Bring dish out of the oven and add the broccoli leaves. Turn with a spatula so that the leaves get a light covering of oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for a further 10 minute.

  5. In the meantime, rinse the quinoa under running water and bring the vegetable stock to the boil. Tip in quinoa and stir well. Cover with tight fitting lid, bring back to the boil and lower heat to a simmer.  Simmer for 12-13 minutes until stock is completely absorbed.

  6. When stock is absorbed, turn off the heat and leave the quinoa to stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

  7. In a screw top jar mix the extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and maple syrup.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Shake well.

  8. Mix quinoa with roasted vegetables and plate.  Serve with roasted almonds on top and 2 tbsp dressing.

My thanks go to:

Dr Axe and

Plant Smart Living