Cur­ing those lousy eat­ing habits

New Zealand’s favourite well­be­ing ex­pert, Dr Libby an­swers read­ers’ ques­tions about liv­ing a health­ier life.

Matamata Chronicle - - Health - Email your ques­tions for Dr Libby to ask.dr­ Please note, only a se­lec­tion of ques­tions can be an­swered.

Ques­tion: I know I eat a pretty bad diet. I never cook and don’t want to. Is there some­thing that I can take that will over­ride my lousy eat­ing habits? Thanks, Sean.

Hi Sean, sadly here is no magic pill that can undo less-than-ideal eat­ing habits. Eat­ing a diet rich in whole foods will dra­mat­i­cally de­crease your risk of non­com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases such as can­cer, heart dis­ease, os­teo­poro­sis and Alzheimer’s dis­ease, ex­tend­ing the qual­ity and length of your life.

Cook­ing or cre­at­ing nour­ish­ing meals doesn’t have to be hard, time con­sum­ing, or ex­pen­sive. Win­ter is the per­fect time to make soups and slow cooked meals.

To make this as easy as pos­si­ble you can use a slow cooker. Be­fore leav­ing the house in the morn­ing it is very sim­ple to put in­ex­pen­sive cuts of meat, veg­eta­bles, lentils, and herbs and spices in the slow cooker and let it cook through­out the day. At the end of the day you will come home to a won­der­ful hot meal that has taken lit­tle ef­fort to pre­pare.

The good thing about a slow cooker is that it usu­ally makes 4-6 por­tions so you can save or freeze the left overs and re­heat for a lunch or din­ner later in the week.

A few other easy meals in­clude:

Frit­tata filled with left over roast veg­eta­bles and fresh greens.

Omelettes filled with mush­rooms, cap­sicum, spinach and av­o­cado Poached eggs on wilted greens Soup Baked ku­mara with mush­rooms, greens and nuts and seeds sprin­kled on top.

While there is no magic pill, a good qual­ity mul­ti­vi­ta­min can help you to gain some im­por­tant vi­ta­mins and min­er­als that you may not be get­ting from your diet alone. Talk to a health pro­fes­sional to find out what might be right for you. Ques­tion: There is a history of mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion in my fam­ily. I have read that what I eat can play a role in the de­vel­op­ment of mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion. What would this in­volve? Thanks, Annabel.

Hi Annabel, while mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion can be ge­netic, the ma­jor cause is age­ing,which is ac­tu­ally ox­i­da­tion, in­flam­ma­tion and gly­ca­tion – so good nutri­tion can play an im­por­tant role in how fast we age.

A whole food diet rich in plants with a va­ri­ety of colours on the plate, plus plenty of whole food fats, is key to great eye health as we age, how­ever there are a few nu­tri­ents that are of par­tic­u­lar im­por­tance to eye health.

An­tiox­i­dants are im­por­tant as they work to ‘‘ mop- up’’ free rad­i­cals, which are the mol­e­cules re­spon­si­ble for the dam­age to eye tis­sue. An­tiox­i­dant nu­tri­ents in­clude beta-carotene, vi­ta­mins C and E, lutein and zeax­an­thin.

Beta-carotene is the yel­low or or­ange pig­ment found in fruit and veg­eta­bles. It is con­verted into vi­ta­min A by the body, and is con­sid­ered highly pro­tec­tive for eye health.

Vi­ta­min C is another po­tent an­tiox­i­dant needed for all round health, and sup­ports eye health by pro­tect­ing against dam­age caused by ul­tra­vi­o­let light. Vi­ta­min E is a fat-sol­u­ble vi­ta­min and an­tiox­i­dant found in al­monds, sun­flower seeds and hazel­nuts. It helps pre­vent mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion by re­duc­ing ox­ida­tive dam­age.

Lutein and zeax­an­thin are two red coloured pig­ments, which may also help to pre­vent mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion. They help pro­tect the retina from light dam­age and help with cell re­ju­ve­na­tion. Egg yolks and green leafy veg­eta­bles con­tain these an­tiox­i­dants.

Avoid foods that con­tain pro­cessed, po­ten­tially dam­aged (ox­i­dised) fats such as pack­aged cakes, bis­cuits, muesli bars, deep­fried foods and mar­garines.



Mov­ing from bad eat­ing habits to good needn’t be that chal­leng­ing.

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