Articles

What Are the Most Popular Diets?

It’s no wonder that two-thirds of Brits report being on a diet “most of the time”.[1] When we go shopping, there’s an overwhelming choice of calorie-dense, nutrient-light junk foods which tempt our taste buds but spell disaster for our health and waistlines. In this era of high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats, the old saying ‘a minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips’ has never been more true!

The NHS urges us to check our BMI regularly and consider going on a weight loss diet if we find we are in the ‘overweight’ category or higher.[2] They also stress that any regime we follow should promote safe and sustainable weight loss, encourage healthier food choices, include realistic exercise plans and teach skills to prevent weight regain.[3]

So with so many different diets out there, let’s take a look at some of the most popular ones….

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How to Become a Vegan

Veganism is about more than food – it’s a way of life based upon freedom from involvement in animal exploitation. As well as food, this involves clothing such as fur and leather; animal products like beeswax, shellac and tallow, and products tested on animals such as household cleaners. Whatever your main reason for going vegan – reducing your carbon footprint, losing weight, improving your general health or all of the above – here are some very handy tips which are bound to help.

The first thing to bear in mind is that this can be a hugely emotive subject. Humans have used animals for food and clothes for hundreds of thousands of years, and these things are tied in to ideas of culture, community, family and comfort for many people. The simple act of becoming vegan may cause some people to feel their whole way of life is under threat. The plain truth is that it is under threat, but the reason for this is that it’s totally unsustainable. Global meat consumption was forecast in a 2011 United Nations report to increase by 73% by the year 2050.[1] By this time, global emissions from food production are forecast to have risen a whopping 60% from their 2010 figure.[2] There is simply not enough land surface to continue current environmentally catastrophic methods of livestock production.

So let’s look at some pointers and tips for making this change to your life….

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How Much Protein Do I Need in My Diet?

We hear a lot about the health benefits of protein, and how we should all ensure we get enough in our diets – but what is protein, and how can we be sure we’re eating enough?

Protein is a macronutrient made up of long chains of amino acids bonded with other molecules. When we digest food that contains protein, we free these amino acids up so they can be used for nutrition by our bodies. We’re able to synthesise all the amino acids we need ourselves, apart from nine – phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine and histidine. These are known as ‘essential amino acids’, and we must source them from the food we eat.

So let’s delve deeper into the wonderful world of protein, and learn why we should be paying more attention to this powerful nutrient….

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How Can I Start Eating More Healthy Snacks?

We’ve all been tempted by the snack section at the supermarket – shelf after shelf of crisps, biscuits and chocolate – stuffed with saturated fat, low on nutrition and completely catastrophic for our waistlines! So what’s the alternative?

In 2019, the UK’s savoury snack sector was valued at £3.2 billion, and crisps were responsible for about a third of this figure.[1] The NHS advises us to avoid fried snacks and opt instead for fruit and vegetable-based ones instead – they even have a page of snack ideas, based mainly around whole foods.[2]

But doesn’t eating between meals mean we’ll put on weight? Well, probably not, because it means we won’t be as hungry at our next meal, and this will lead to reduced calorie intake – and the authors of a report published in the British Journal of Nutrition discovered that the same amount of energy divided over three meals compared with two meals increased feelings of fullness over 24 hours.[3] So let’s take a deeper look at the ins and outs of good snacking….

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Should Seeds Be a Part Of My Diet?

Seeds are a wonderfully diverse and exciting group of ingredients. They provide lovely tastes and textures, and are equally at home in sweet or savoury dishes – but should we be eating more of them?

We’ve all probably had Sesame Seeds on the top of burger buns, and eaten bread full of Flax or Poppy Seeds, but seeds can be the main event too – for example the Middle Eastern sweet treat Halva, which is made mostly of sesame seeds, as is Tahini.

Vegan chefs are well aware of the magical properties of Flax and Chia seeds, which are both used to replace eggs in cakes and bakes. Seeds are also used to provide valuable levels of flavour to many dishes, including curries, where seeds such as Nigella (also called Black Onion or Kalonji), Fennel Seeds, Fenugreek Seeds and Mustard Seeds are used to lend nuance and depth to dishes across large parts of the planet.

So let’s take a closer look at whether we should be using more seeds….

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Why Should We Eat Nuts?

There’s a wonderful variety of nuts on offer these days – they’re one of the most popular snacks, and can also be used as ingredients in a huge amount of exciting recipes. But are they any good for you?

Vegans have embraced the wonderful possibilities of nuts as the base for many types of Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives, and many of us are aware of the extraordinary properties of Cashews, which can be soaked and whizzed up as an essential part of vegan cheese and sauces. It’s worth bearing in mind the difference between nuts as a botanical classification and nuts as a culturally-accepted term which also encompasses a wider range of drupes (such as Almonds), tubers (like Tiger Nuts and legumes (for example Peanuts).[1]

So let’s take a closer look at the constituents, uses and health benefits of nuts….

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How Can I Improve My Diet?

Britain has terrible eating habits. Compared to our European neighbours, we have the highest prevalence of adult obesity, the highest availability ultra-processed food, and the lowest availability of minimally or unprocessed food.[1] Someone dies of heart or circulatory disease every 3 minutes in the UK, and the majority of these deaths are diet-related, with only a third of us eating enough fruit & veg, two-thirds being overweight, and nearly a third of children having a body mass index defined as ‘obese’.[2]

It’s clear we have let big corporations dictate what we eat, rather than science. What ends up on the nation’s plates is largely the result of what will make the highest profit at the same time as hooking customers into repeat purchases by exploiting the hugely addictive power of calorie-dense, nutrient-light products. Over half of what we eat in the UK – 50.7% according to the now is ultra-processed junk.

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Slam-Dunk The Junk!

In June 2021, the UK government announced a ban on the advertising of junk food on television before 9pm, and a total ban online, to be in place by the year 2023. In July, the report they’d commissioned on the nation’s eating habits, The National Food Strategy, was published, and recommended a tax for sugar and salt sold for use in processed food. At Healthy Supplies, we welcome these moves – our children’s health is hugely important, and we need to normalise eating healthy, whole foods instead of promoting the fatty, salty, sugary foods that are leading to an increase in obesity. And with just 2.5% of total food and drink advertising spend going towards fruit and vegetables, this is something that’s long overdue.

However, the tide is against us: childhood obesity is increasing, especially in more deprived areas of the country, and the Covid pandemic has made this worse. After a 2018 visit to the UK, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty, Philip Alston, expressed great concern that “14 million people, a fifth of the population, live in poverty”. Ultra-processed food has taken over our shopping trolleys, as Dr. Chris van Tulleken discovered in the recent BBC investigation What Are We Feeding Our Kids? Eating healthily has a reputation for being more expensive than eating junk food – but is this actually true? And how can we encourage kids to ditch the junk and take an interest in healthy eating?

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Max Your Body’s Power With Protein

We’ve all heard that Protein is an essential part of our diet and that we should always ensure we get enough of it, but what is protein? How much protein should we be eating? And what does protein do for us exactly?

Proteins (often called ‘the building blocks of life’) are large molecules with complex structures made up of amino acids, and are found in many foods. When eaten, they play a pivotal role in our biological processes. They are essential for building and repairing bodily tissues, regulating the functions of our organs, protecting us from viruses and bacteria, transporting molecules around the body and helping babies and youngsters grow.

The NHS advises adults to eat 55.5g of protein daily for men and 45g for women, although we should avoid eating more than twice this amount. So what are the best ways to get protein? Let’s take a closer look….

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Spinach: Strong To The Finish!

Spinach is, quite simply, one of the very healthiest foods you can put into your body. This amazing plant is perhaps the most nutritionally dense food in common use in the UK, and can provide a massive boost to the health and wellbeing of you and your family.

Many people grew up watching Popeye cartoons on TV, and remember him gaining colossal strength after eating tinned spinach, and although the effects of this leafy green aren’t usually so immediate, there is truth in the idea that spinach goes a long way towards making your body fit, lean and ready for action.

So let’s take a closer look at the health benefits of Spinach, and why you should be eating more of this wondrous plant….

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