Curing those lousy eating habits
New Zealand’s favourite wellbeing expert, Dr Libby answers readers’ questions about living a healthier life.
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.