Our third guest blogger is Claire Hunt from Worthing. Claire is at Breathing Spaces Garden Therapy which is a Community Interest Company in Worthing. Here Claire shares healthy eating that works for her.
Healthy Eating – 10 Things That Work for Me by Claire Hunt
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1. Start the day with a home-made probiotic smoothie
Pictured – kefir
My digestion and health has improved massively since I started eating milk kefir for breakfast. It’s quick and easy to make your own from a starter culture of probiotic bacteria and yeast. Just add whole milk, leave for 24 hours, strain and top up again with fresh milk. I add seasonal or frozen fruit, green leaves, ground seeds like hemp, linseed or chia, bee pollen, coconut oil and almond butter. A great start to the day for your gut. I have been known to take it with me when I am away, but you can rest it in the fridge for a couple of weeks. You pass on some kefir grains to other people as they multiply. (People with a lactose intolerance would need to take advice.)
2. Reduce sugar intake
Pictured – plate of fruit
I had to do this because of recurrent candida but it is increasingly accepted that sugar is bad for your health, addictive and makes us put on weight. It’s added to so many foodstuffs, even savoury ones. Refined sugar is worse, but all sugar, even naturally occurring ones, have the same effect on your brain and body, so go easy on all forms. I eat mainly low-sugar fruits, like berries and apples, and over time your sweet tooth loosens its grip. I occasionally relax the rule for something special or an occasion but I don’t enjoy really sweet things now.
3. Take a break from wheat and gluten
Pictured – My ‘superfood bread’
The debate about gluten intolerance rumbles on, but I found that when I stopped eating wheat and gluten grains I felt better, my digestion improved, I had more energy, and I stopped having arthritis-like pain in my hands. I love bread, pizza and pasta, so it has been hard. I sometimes eat home-baked spelt bread and quality sourdough but mainly make a substitute ‘Superfood Bread’ from ground almonds, brown rice flour and seeds (‘Deliciously Ella’). Brown rice pasta is not too bad, but on the whole I prefer to eat something else rather than feel disappointed. Beware gluten-free ready-made products, they can contain a lot of sugar, and starch that quickly turns to sugar. For reference, read ‘Wheat Belly’ and ‘Gut’.
4. Do more cooking
Pictured – tray baked code with vegetables and pizzas going into a cob oven
If you want to avoid sugar, wheat and gluten it becomes inevitable that you have to do more cooking and baking so you can control what you eat. You have to find ingredients and some recipes that you love, get into a mindset that enjoys and makes time for cooking as a priority, rather than feel it is a chore. There are some great books available – Deliciously Ella, Eat Nourish Glow, Medicinal Chef. By Ella Woodward, Dale Pinnock and Amelia Freer
5. Find some go-to treats
Pictured – energy balls
You need some things up your sleeve for when you need a treat. Mine are home-made muffins (Wheat Belly), fruity flapjack (Medicinal Cook)., raw cacao energy bombs and homemade almond butter (Deliciously Ella).
6. Grow and eat a rainbow
Pictured – homegrown vegetables and apples
I am not vegetarian but I eat a lot of veg, when it is in its season, and trying to get as much of the rainbow into each meal as possible to cover all the different nutrients that those colours represent. I use a local veg box scheme and I try to grow some of my own. Growing, cooking and eating well go satisfyingly together and each complements the other. Mental Health Awareness Week, Offington Park Church, has a Gardening and Health theme on Monday 10th October and a Food and Mood theme on Wednesday 12th October.
7. Embrace different grains
Pictured – quinoa
Quinoa is tasty once you learn to cook and flavour it well and it is full of protein not gluten. Use cold water, twice as much water as grain, and cook until all the water has gone (about 10 mins). I mix in tahini, lemon and olive oil when it has cooled and you can add herbs, spices etc to taste. I make a batch that will last three days so it is ready cooked when I need it. Buckwheat flour makes great pancakes, and you can toast the grains and then cook like rice.
8. Eat more mindfully
Instead of eating on the move, watching TV, reading a book or chatting, try eating at least one meal a day when you are fully present and doing nothing else than experiencing eating. Really notice what is happening, the smell, taste, texture. Also notice what effect different foods might have on your body and mood. Read ‘The De-Stress Effect’, Charlotte Watts.
9. Explore fermented food
Pictured – Making sauerkraut
Kefir and sourdough are fermented food but there are lots of others to try and the health benefits are well documented. I am currently making and drinking beetroot kvass by fermenting beetroots in salt water for 6 days. I have started brewing kombucha, a delicious fizzy drink made from tea. Sauerkraut and kimchi are easy to make, probiotic and tasty alternatives to pickles and chutney. Apple cider vinegar is a great way to use windfall apples and retains the goodness of the fermentation process, the ‘mother’.
10. Enjoy food
I mostly don’t feel it’s a sacrifice or that I am denying myself to avoid food that isn’t good for me. I enjoy food and drink made from good quality ingredients with time, care and passion. For more ideas about gardening therapy, food and wellness, come and see Breathing Spaces We Are Food Pioneers and other foodies and growers at Green Dreams, October 2nd, Field Place.
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