EVERYONE SEEMS TO BE GAINING WEIGHT?

I reside in Malaysia where obesity is a big problem.

Based on the World Health Organization (WHO) classification, the prevalence of overweight and obesity among adults (18 years and above) were 30.0% and 17.7% respectively in 2015 (National Health & Morbidity Survey [NHMS] 2015).

This means that almost HALF OF ALL MALAYSIANS are overweight or obese!!
This same phenomenon is also happening in many developing countries, the USA, the UK and the list goes on and on.

In fact, when it comes to my public clients these days, almost 95% of the time, it has some connection to an underlying overweight issue.

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Sugar and YOU, to love or not to love.

When the word sugar pops out among healthies (health conscious folks) and aunties alike, the facial expression from kind and calm quickly turns into a sour rage induced version instead.

Source: Disney Gif

With the rise of diabetes, obesity and other non-communicable diseases being linked to the excessive consumption of sugar, it’s really no surprise that this ought to be the defensive mechanism we imprint into our daily lives.
But I also hear many of you out there, who love their pies, cakes and can’t really imagine a world without sweets.
And for that matter, it’s true, it’s actually not healthy for us to completely shun away sugar, so here are the deets, here’s:

5 Things you need to know about sugar and your health!

1) You need sugars for your health

When it comes to health and function, the immediate fuel source is well sugars!
AKA carbs! And all carbs eventually gets broken down into sugar, from your favourite sweet potatoes, brown rice, to that gorgeous Salted chocolate caramel tart (wipe that saliva off now).

Source: Giphy

It all breaks down into sugars.
Just because excessive sugar intake has been linked to increase risks for disease, does not mean you should eliminate all sugars, including CARBS, especially complex carbs like fruits, tuber vegetables and your whole grains!
Instead, you ought to focus more on ADDED SUGARS!

Source: Tenor GIF

These “added sugars” are normally table sugar added in to your food and beverages and are the ones mainly responsible for excessive sugar consumption and incidentally increased risk of disease.

2) Brown sugar/natural sugar is better than white sugar

This is probably the best conversation starter among aunties in a public event.
There’s this perception that brown sugar is healthier than white sugar among the masses.
Unfortunately, aside having a few points lower than each other on the glycaemic index (white sugar: 68, brown sugar: 64, apple: 38), they literally do not have any significant nutritional difference, 1g of sugar still equates to 4 calories.
After all, brown sugar is essentially white sugar + molasses + mechanical agitation (mixing), so yea….
This applies for all types of “natural sugars”, from bamboo sugar, sugar with activated charcoal, jaggeri, and the list goes on and on.

source: giphy

If you pouring it down, it’s gonna eventually lead to problems regardless!

3) While not like drugs, you can be “dependent” on sugars if not careful

Another thing, anti-suggies love to talk smack about. “It’s basically drugs and addiction”
Simply put, NO…. NO…….NOOOOOO!
While I won’t go into the neuroscience behind this, you need to understand that both sugar and drugs work your brain very differently
But there is some merit to this side of the argument.
There are similarities between the 2 in the sense that your brain rewards yourself with a surge of happiness (dopamine and other hormones) when you have sugars.
Your brain associates events with emotions, EXTENDED consumption of added sugars especially in children, can lead to a form of “happiness and reward” associated with sugar intake leading to a form of dependency when in search of those emotions.

Source: Tenor GIF

While dependency and addiction are 2 different things, it’s certainly no good for anyone, old or young to be dependent on sugars to fulfil their emotional needs.

4) Taking added sugar ALONE does not cause diabetes or weight gain

When got diabetes or when want to lose weight, what poeple say?
” NO SUGAR AT ALL!!!” Yells all the friends and families with great intentions!
But truthfully, it’s a habit we as a society need to stop doing.
The habit of either vilifying or glorifying a nutrient. Everything has its’ place and when abused in both extremes will definitely lead to bad outcomes.

Source: Tenor GIF

The same goes for sugars.
If you’re trying to lose weight, if you were a frequent sugar consumer, completely eliminating added sugar or all sugars (carbs included) may result in some weight loss indefinitely, but I fear it’s a state of weight loss that will disappear the moment you fall short and indulge.
But let’s say you don’t fall short and stay on track, would you really want to live in a world with no more sweets, candies, cakes and pies? I certainly wouldn’t…
You can have sugar (both carbs and added sugar), you just need to know how much and when it’s appropriate.

Source: Tenor GIF

5) Portion and moderation, is still King.

So, we know frequent consumption of added sugar (anything for that matter) is no good.
So how much and when should we eat it?
According to the Malaysian Nutrition Guidelines, no more than 10% of your total caloric intake per day, which translates to about this:

Population Sedentary Adults Physically Active Adults Children (2-18 years old)
Recommended added sugar intake 2 – 3 tablespoons or 6-9 teaspoons
(30-45g)
10 teaspoons
(50g)
< 2 tablespoons or
6 teaspoons
(30g)

So, what’s that in real life? 1 cup of normal Teh Tarik has about 26g of added sugars, Teh O limau and Teh Tarik Ais? 30g. That’s 1 whole day’s quota gone!!

Source: Tenor GIF

So what to do?
Basically, on a day to day basis, choosing minimal added sugar options are the way to go.
For example your matcha latte with reduced sugar, Teh C kurang manis instead of Teh Tarik, Iced Latte (syrup self-added/avoided) instead of that ice-blended unicorn Frappuccino.
We’re talking about reducing a normal sugar content from 30g to possible only 5g per drink!!

Source: Tenor GIF

And I already hear some of you, what if I go kosong?
Well, more power to you, if you find that taste to be palatable and sustainable, go for it!
The recommendations say you can have 10%, but if can avoid it, go ahead, since added sugars are empty calories anyways.
As for those cakes and desserts, reserve them for those celebrations once in a blue moon, and always SHARE that slice of cake with your loved ones. After all, sharing is caring! 🙂

By the way, this “quota” refreshes everyday and you shouldn’t accumulate and “spend” it all in a single go!


In essence, do you.
If you need that sugar in your life, don’t throw it all away but know your boundaries (2-3 tablespoon/day).
If you can avoid all added sugar and you’re fine with that, go ahead (I do that most times too).
But don’t forgo your enjoyments just because you wanna be “healthy”.
Life shouldn’t just be about doing what’s required, but it should consist of those little enjoyments in moderation!

Stay healthy and love life!
LTD

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Basic nutrition 101: Fruits & Vegetables

5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FRUITS & VEGGIES

Source: TENOR Gif

1) They’re packed full with vitamins and minerals.

So the immediate hoo haa about fruits and veggies is the focus to micronutrients.

When it comes to nutrients, there are essentially 2 types, macro and micro.

Macro nutrients covers the big stuff like carbohydrates, proteins and fats while micronutrients, as the name implies covers the smaller detailed story of nutrition within the worlds of vitamins and minerals.

So while you may be eating your basic macro’s, if you don’t eat your veggies or fruits, you can be deficient of certain vitamins or minerals that can lead to certain health problems later on. Yes, not immediately, later on, nutrition deficient seldom manifests immediately, but tend to show only after a period of time.

2) They provide you with fibre.

Ask any dietitian about how much fibre you should take, and the golden range is gonna 25-30g a day, now if you are well aware of our (malaysian/singapore) current eating pattern, you’d know that the general population are reaching no where near the recommended amounts.

1 possible reason?

we’re not eating enough fruits and veggies! Especially veggies!

When we talk about fruits and veggies, aside from the micronutrients it provides, it also provides sufficient fibre (both soluble and insoluble) that is needed to hit our recommended daily intake for good health!

Fibre doesn’t only help with bowel movement, it also helps with heart health, diabetic management as well as weight loss management too!

Source: TENOR Gif

3) Some veggies are carbs, so you will need to compensate with your normal carbs.

Source: GIPHY

Oooo I eat a lot of potatoes, that mean’s I’m being health conscious rightttt?
Sure, when you compare it to refined carbs, potatoes certainly are better, but there’s a lot of semantics.

How much exactly are you eating plays a huge roll!

But more importantly, root veggies like p

otato, carrots, turnips, beets are all starch! In other words, carbs.

So be aware, when you’re eating those veggies, your general carb intake in that meal should be reduced as well!
It doesn’t matter if it’s “healthier”, if you’re eating too much carbs, it’s still not good!

4) Fruits are good, but they still are sugar containing foods.

Source: GIPHY

The same goes to fruits. You’d hear people on the street saying that fruit sugar is much better than normal sugar.

Well, sugar is still sugar, 1g still provides 4 Kcal.

When it comes to the topic of fruits, more don’t equate to “healthier”. The same analogy with root veggies, the amount is very important.

Fruits are carbs, their sugar still spike our blood sugar level and can have the same effects as regular old sucrose.

It’s just that, fruits contains sugar and a whole bunch of micronutrients which are crucial to our health, so can you imagine, if you’re drinking fruit juice, the fibre stripped off, you’re essentially drinking sugar water, not so good huh?

5) Eat half a plate of veggies if possible, along with 1 fruit with each meals.

So how much do we exactly need?
As a good reminder, always have half a plate of veggies and 1 fruits at the side.
Any veggies is good, as long as there are not starchy based vegetables.

Source: Tenor GIF

As for fruits, look at your palm, the volume of fruits you can put into your palm is more or less 1 serving, and you should stick to 1 serving a meal.

What to do if you wanna eat starchy veggies and more fruits? Just compensate with eating less of your normal carbs like your rice.

Remember, it’s all about balance!
LTD 🙂

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Why I love Tofu: 5 Things to love about TOFU!

5 Things to love about TOFU!

The japanese have made numerous innovations with the simple product known as soy. From eating in on it’s own (Edamame) to fermenting it (Miso), there’s so much to love about them, at least culinarily speaking of course. But another product soy produces is none other than TOFU!
Not only is it used in Japanese culture, but in almost most asian cultures!
Aside their culinary heritage and delectable flavor and texture, this humble blob of goodness comes with a huge smack dab of nutrition and other benefits as well!

Here’s 5 things to love about TOFU!

Source: Tenor GIF



1) It’s full of protein!

Just like how muscle heads and gym bunnies chow down on eggs, chicken boobeh’s and all that whey protein powder for the protein content, soy or TOFU is also a high protein food!
A quarter block of tofu (will vary depending on type of tofu) will have 9g of protein! that’s the same 1/4 of a chicken breast!
Now, even though the biological value of protein in tofu is slightly lower (not really significant) compared to chicken, it’s still a good alternative to get your daily protein fixed!

Source: Tenor GIF

2) It also contains a good amount of fibre!

Case point 1 for tofu over meat, it also has fibre!
1 serving (about 1/2 a block) can easily contain at least 1g or more fibre! Whereas 1 serving of chicken has umm….NONE!
Now given that most people these days are not taking their recommended daily intake of fibre (25-30g/day), I’d say having tofu as your protein source for a few meals during the weeks sounds like a great idea!

Source: Legend

3) Dan lain-lain lagi…(and many other stuff)

Still on the case of tofu vs meat, tofu also contains a heck loads of vitamins and mineral (perhaps not much vit. B6 and B12 as compared to meats). Moreover, it contains a magica compound also known as phytoestrogens!
This magical compound has been shown in studies over and over and over again (in correct consumption) to in fact lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) levels! Inadvertently lowering one’s risk of cardiovascular diseases!
The studies showed that eating 25g of  soy product per day (about 1/2 block of tofu) will produce a 12.9% decrease in LDL cholesterol (Among high risk populations).
If that ain’t magical, I don’t know what is!!! :O

Source: TENOR Gif

4) It’s environmentally better!

Now, I’m not an advocate for the netflix series “What The Health” as it’s overly skewed to support veganism to the point it’s just horrendously bias and condescending in it’s manner of information provision. However, 1 thing that is correct about that “documentary” is probably the environmental effects of meat production.
In conventional production, a kilogram of raw beans generates about 150 grams to 300 grams of carbon-dioxide equivalents, as opposed to 2,500 grams for the equivalent quantity of edible chicken meat.
Now, this doesn’t put into account of possibly land deforestation for massive soy bean production, but you can certainly choose other legumes to get your similar soy protein in!

5) It’s cheap!

As a millenial with student debts, loans etc. I try my very best to save wherever I can without skimming out on quality as much as possible. And tofu helps a little in that sense, because I can easily save 1/3 of protein spending when I opt for tofu instead of meat!
I tend to have tofu at least 3 times a week, and that amounts up to RM 10/week sometimes, meaning RM40-50 /month which I can spend elsewhere!
Not a huge amount I know, but accumulate that in your savings for a year and you’ll be genuinely surprised and what you save up! 😉


Safe to say, tofu isn’t the one way solution to the environment or anything for that matter.
However, it certainly is a good start to be more environmentally conscious, healthy and also in my case, frugal!
Heck it’s delicious!
Stay healthy! LTD 🙂

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Understanding Disease & Nutrition: Obesity & Weight Loss

5 things you need to know about Obesity & Weight Loss.


 

1) Obesity is a disease, although it can be derived from poor lifestyle choices.

So when it comes to the topic of being overweight or obese, you may have heard of people saying that it’s merely a choice, not a disease!

That inferring that obesity was the accumulated result of bad decisions and just poor self management.
As a dietitian or any health care professional for that matter, we are always taught to be judgement free and always practice caution when dealing with people’s lives.
In the case of obesity and overweight, the same applies, while there is some truth in the sense that for many, it is derived from poor dietary lifestyle habits, there are another huge group who actually, well have no choice.
An example, for people with hypothyroidism or certain hormonal disorders where their bodies just naturally causes themselves to gain weight much more effective than any others.
There’s also people who have certain biological inheritance like the Hawaiians who are more prone to storing more energy in their bodies!

To really understand obesity and how it can be derived, just take a look at the “obesity system influence diagram”, it’s not as simple as “you’re eating too god damn much!”

Obesity system influence diagram

2) It doesn’t end with just an extra size shirt.

Anyways, why is it that all us healthcare professionals are so hell bent on curbing obesity? After all, it’s just more fluffy people with nicer hugs right?

The problem arises when obesity further progresses to other disease.
Being overweight/obese currently is one of the major risk factor to developing type 2 diabetes.

Not to mention, increased risks to certain type of cancers as well.

Heart diseases, liver cirrhosis, kidney failures, and many more can be traced to this disease resulting mostly from poor dietary lifestyle habits.

To make things worse, child obesity is also on the climb along with type 2 diabetes among children.
If you’ve seen Jamie Oliver’s “Food revolution” in Huntington Virginia, it does cover a bit of these problems.
If you view it from a bigger fractal, these are incurring billions of dollars to healthcare, which is why people like me are trying to prevent issues like this by means of education and practical habits which are so doable!

Source: GIPHY

3) Reminding people that they are overweight doesn’t help.

Yes, sometimes we all have good intentions, but unfortunately, intentions don’t matter but the consequences of the actions do.
Pointing out that obese people are obese, is really not helping. So is discriminating them.
While I’m not a fan of using body image positivity as an excuse to accept obesity, I’m am one for accepting people for who they are along with their problems in life, especially in health.

Being child obese, it was extremely shameful when all the boys had to change our shirts in the open for PT classes and it was even more disturbing that every single kid at school, at any tuition centre or any birthday party would call me “fatty” or a “ball”. And no, to all the aunties and uncles, calling a fat kid so bouncy and round does not help.

My childhood days were filled with poor self esteem and the only football position I ever got was the goal keeper, cause quite literally, I’d “fit” right in, if you get me.

Coming home, being told by your relatives and friends, slantishly that you’re fat and need to lose weight, otherwise no one will like you, it was real real tough.

Source: Tenor GIF

So be kind to these people, very often the best thing you can do to a diseased individual, is to just lend an open ear and create an open and comfortable environment for them to share their struggles and frustrations.

Most times, people don’t need the obvious advice. People need a helpful ear.

Source: Tenor GIF

4) Sustainability is key to promising results.

So what’s the deal? There’s so many weight loss programmes and methods out there, which one works?!

Well, all of them and none of them.

The nuance to weight loss is to create a deficit in caloric intake that will lead to usage of fat stores as energy.

However, the issues is which one lasts.

Many of these get slim fast programmes, do deliver results (although some maybe dangerous), but the question is always what happens to those participants after 6, 12, 18 months?

The biggest loser was a prime example of how losing weight fast does not guarantee sustainable and permanent weight loss, 80% of their participants gained back their weight and many even put on more compared to when they first started!

So the real secret? Slow and steady, Daiata, the original greek work for diet, means the way you live, it’s about embracing a wholesome package not just for today but for your life.

Source; Tenor GIF

5) Consult and seek out an expert to guide your weight loss journey.

Now, while I’d like to generalize and say, ohh just cut out 500-800 kcal from your normal intake plus exercise.

The truth is, everyone is different, everyone has a different lifestyle and dietary preferences which makes every individual different from one to another.

So the thing is this, if you really wanna lose weight, if you really want sustainable result, if you really wanna be healthy, stop wasting time trying out different products or packages from MARKETERS and perhaps you might wanna make an appointment with a proper profession, sayyyyyy a DIETITIAN???

With proper guidance and mentoring, anyone can achieve their health and fitness goals!

Source: Tenor GIF

Stay Healthy & Lovely
LTD

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STAYING HEALTHY DURING RAMADAN

5 THINGS YOU NEED TO DO TO STAY HEALTHY DURING RAMADAN

It’s the time of the year again where the Muslims all over the world begin to fast for 1 month.
During this time, Food Bazaars reign free and along with it, excessive amount of good foods and of course, inevitably great excessive calories and weight gain.
While many studies report significant weight reduction during Ramadan, the weight that was lost is typically regained within one month [1-3]. So how shall we go about this year if we truly want to stay healthy and keep the weight off once and for all?
Here’s 5 things you need to know 😉

1)You are essentially performing intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting or the process of only eating at certain hours is basically what people are doing during this season.
There are numerous benefits associated with people who have been successful at achieving this sort of diet consistentyly & sustainably. However, most people (at least in my country who fast during Ramadan) don’t do it for life but only for the season. Which means for most people, what happens is that, they experience either weight loss during the season, and afterward when they revert back to their normal diet, their weight yoyo’s back up and  in most cases with extra weight.
Why is this so?
Well, during the fasting, the caloric intake decreases beyond what they usually take which then results in 2 things. A decrease in energy input which then leads to weight loss, but also a decrease in metabolism (not for all cases). When they go back to their original diets and original energy input, the numbers go up again.
But then, that’s not always the case, for some, they don’t lose weight during the season, in fact they gain throughout the season.
The reason being that during the meals, although it’s lesser meals, the foods are high in carbs and in fat. This means that calories rack up really easily and thus cause a surplus of energy!

2) Controlling your hydration 

So one of the most important things to focus on, is actually your liquid intake.
So when you can, make sure to drink plenty of water, and avoid all caffeinated beverages as those will cause you to get dehydrated faster.
So things like coffee, tea and the sort, you gotta say bye bye for this period of time, unfortunately.
Small point to remember, but yeah, stay hydrated guys!

3) Increase your satiety

So back to my statement on energy dense meals. Think about it, what do people it during Ramadan? Oiled rice; Bread dipped in fat laden sauces, deep fried snacks, large cuts of meats, sugary desserts and the list goes on. The one thing that tends to be missing, well that’s fibre.
To stay full during the fast and to stay healthy, the principle of having vegetables and fruits is something still cannot run away.
Most people depend on the high fatty foods to stay healthy, but most of those fats are generally saturated (bad fats) and also increase your cholesterol in the process. What you should focus instead are foods that are high in fibre like whole grains, vegetables, fruits and lean protein.
Yes, LEAN PROTEIN. Muscle heads rejoice!
Protein also has a similar effect of fat where it makes you feel fuller longer.


Focus on these foods during your break fast, and you’ll be good to go, in a good shape 😉

4) Control and time your physical activity

During the day, it’s not a great idea to have a lot of physical activity, namely cause you’re running short on fuel and hydration. It’s not good to fall into dehydration and fatigue episodes or worse hypoglycaemia.
But that also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise during this season, and to my surprise, many of my healthy Muslim friends actually do exercise during Ramadan.
But how? Their secret? Timing.
They space their break fast. They have a small meal first and go for their prayers. After which, they have a light snack and proceed with exercise which they then follow up with a main meal (as your normal lunch and dinner).
If you’ve noticed, that means they’ve just shifted their breakfast to the end of the day.

Break fast —-> Breakfast ——-> Taraweh Prayer ——–> Snack ——–> Main meal 1 ——–> sleep ——–> Main meal 2

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So, it’s really all about good and smart planning this season to stay healthy!

5)It’s still healthy eating and lifestyle principles

Unfortunately, it’s still about choosing the right foods. No secrets, no gimmicks.
Choose grill over deep fat fried.
Choose high fibre over processed and refined.
Plan your exercise.
Sounds very similar well cause it is.
Staying healthy doesn’t really have a season, and in my humble opinion and experience with helping people become healthy.
It’s apparent to me, that it’s really all about making the decision to stay healthy and adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Trust me, it’s worth it.

Source: Tenor GIF

Happy Ramadan and Hari Raya
Stay Healthy, LTD 🙂


References:
1) Poh BK, Zawiah H, Ismail MN, Henry C. Changes in body weight, dietary intake and activity pattern of adolescents during Ramadan. Malays J Nutr. 1996;2:1–10.
2)  Khaled BM, Belbraouet S. Effect of Ramadan fasting on anthropometric parameters and food consumption in 276 type 2 diabetic obese women. Int J Diabetes Dev Ctries. 2009;29:62–8. doi: 10.4103/0973-3930.53122. 
3) Hajek P, Myers K, Dhanji AR, West O, McRobbie H. Weight change during and after Ramadan fasting. J Public Health (Oxf) 2012;34:377–81. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdr087. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
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Basic Nutrition 101: Fats

5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FATS

When it comes to the term “fat”, many cover in fear or in embarrassment of  what our bodies are simply storing for survival’s sake. But when it comes to dietary fat, what is it really and what do you need to know to make sure you don’t become the fitting description for the word “FAT”.
Here’s 5 things about fats you should know!

1) All fats are high in energy.

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The immediate reason why people say don’t eat too much fat.

Aside from feeling “greasy”, the important matter at hand is calories, 9Kcal to be exact for every 1g of fat you chow down.

That’s more than twice the amount energy provided from 1g of carbs or protein.

So let’s put things into perspective, when you take say around 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise or vinaigrette, let’s average things out to around 2 teaspoon of fat, that’s 10g, 90 kcal for 1 spoon, and everyone knows you don’t only take 1 tablespoon of mayo when you’re dipping fries (which has more fat) or God knows what into it, now do we?
So in essence, fat = energy dense, when eaten too much, converts to spare tyres around the belly!

2) There’s more than 1 type of fats, some good, some “not so good” and some just down right bad.

So, what kind of fats are there?
Mainly, there’s 3, saturated, unsaturated and trans fat.

Let’s start with saturated fats.

Saturated fats are dense solid fats in room temperature. The word “saturated” is used to describe the chemical structure of these fats where all of the carbon atoms are “saturated” with hydrogen atoms with no double bonds. (not important).

These types of fats are general animal fats, so things like lard, tallow and schmaltz are all fine animal sources of saturated fats. There is also vegetable fats that are also saturated and that is coconut oil & Palm oil.

Now these fats have once been demonized to be unhealthy due to its relations to increasing your risk for heart disease. While new evidence shows that saturated fats aren’t the necessarily the only naughty little kink towards our health, we’d still recommend to keep this food to a minimal . So here’s where choosing lean cuts, or being smart in cooking comes in.

Trans fat on the other hand, is a type of fat synthetically created by a process called hydrogenation and was created in effort to replace saturated fats (back when Sat. fats was demonized), however, studies showed it not only did not work, it made things work with multiple correlation to increase in heart diseases and even certain cancers and abnormalities.

In this rare instance, is where we tell you, stay AWAY from trans fat and never touch it, things like margarine and shortening. The best is to read the ingredient lists on food labels and look out for “hydrogenated” or “trans” fat.

Unsaturated fats, AKA the healthy fats are the ones we need to primarily used for our daily fat intake. Unsaturated fats can be branched into a few more categories but that’s another story. Essentially, use vegetable based oils (this doesn’t mean to use a gallon every time you cook, try to limit to 1-2 teaspoon per pax per meal), and take your fish! 3 times a week at least please!

3) Choosing your sources of fats matters to your health.

So as mentioned in point number 2, and if you’re too lazy to read the whole dang point. Here’s the take away for your pantry oil staples.

Stick with vegetable oils and have a variety, safflower/canola/sunflower all good, but also have corn and olive. They’re both unsaturated, but have their own differences which are required by our health. So have them in small quantities (if you don’t cook too often, otherwise they oxidize) and change it up throughout the week.

The facts on fats

Source: American Heart Association

Minimise fatty meats and stick with lean as much as possible, and stay AWAY from trans fats like margarine or shortening or anything with “hydrogenated” or “trans fats’ in their ingredient list.

4) Low fat is the way to go, but not replaced with sugars.

Back to the low fat diet story, so years ago, when the low fat diet was introduced, everyone had the idea that it was the perfect diet but after years passed, incidences of heart diseases, diabetes and obesity were still on the rise. So what gives?

Now, aside from the decrease in fat intake, we need to see the situation as a whole, what happened to those missing calories? What was compensated in return? The answer: Carbs. Simple carbs.

So here’s the deal, the idea of a low fat diet is good, lower cholesterol intake, lower caloric intake, but replacing them with carbs (excessively< >60% of daily caloric intake), simple carbs (sugary foods) for that matter ain’t a good idea.
If you take a close look at the industry at that time, low fat foods were in the market, but to compensate for mixing texture and flavor, industrialist were immediately led to sugar as a substitute. Look at the caloric intake, the carbohydrates intake, and you’ll find something interesting missing dots.
Don’t go crazy on fats, go low (you’ll get enough), but don’t replace them with sugary snacks.
Always read food labels, especially if an item is low in fat, make sure the sugar/carbs are not excessive as well (15-30g per serving for a snack is fine, without any add ons).

5) 2-3 teaspoons of added visible good fat per meal per person.

Now how do we go low fat?
My suggestion?
Now after years of self learning to cook in the culinary arts, and working in restaurants. It is very counter intuitive to do this.
But start off with good cooking ware, a good non-stick skillet or a well seasoned cast iron or carbon steel pan is the way to go.
Always minimise addition of oil when starting to cook, I always limit by using teaspoons and only use tablespoons when I’m cooking for more than 4 people, I tend to use 1-2 teaspoon for a simple cook up, and I will add on later when serving as a flavor enhancer.
For example, stir fried vegetables, 1 teaspoon of oil goes in too the hot pan, everything is fried then i add 1 teaspoon of sesame oil at the end and coat.

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It’s not overly difficult once you start understanding the concept.

Staying healthy & keep cooking!
LTD 🙂

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Coffee & Acrylamide; Is it SAFE?

SHOULD YOU BE WORRIED ABOUT ACRYLAMIDE IN YOUR COFFEE?

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By the end of March, a California judge’s ruling that would require coffee to be branded with cancer warning labels.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check this out here!

Although this mattered happen overseas, that doesn’t stop it from being spread over to our shores and subsequently pose the question, is coffee safe?
Simplified for your pleasure, here’s what you need to know! 😊

1) Why the cancer label?

In California, there is a list of chemicals that is considered to be cancer or reproductive harm causing and acrylamide has been included since 1990.
The state’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, also known as Proposition 65 requires businesses to provide warning labels when exposing consumers to any of the hundreds of chemicals listed.
Since acrylamide is produced during the roasting process in coffee making, the logic here is that, coffee provided by vendors in California then would have to be labelled with a warning of cancer causing.

2) So, Coffee does cause cancer!?

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Hold your horses cowboys (and cowgirls too!), when we say cancer causing, we first and foremost have to understand 1 thing. “HOW MUCH OF IT WOULD THEN CAUSE CANCER?!”
So, here’s what the science says about acrylamide and cancer.
Acrylamide according to the International Agency For Research On Cancer (IARC) is classified as a “group 2A – probably carcinogen”.
A carcinogen essentially refers to any compound or chemical that may increase one’s risk of cancer.
Even though the scientific evidence on human studies on the matter are highly limited, there is enough evidence from animal studies
(Dosage 1000 – 100,000 times larger than current dietary human exposure)
to deem acrylamide “probably carcinogenic”.
Now I can already hear some of you screaming, “nahhhh there, see probably weyyyyyy”. And I get it, you’re right, but you should take note a few things.
Firstly, animal studies and human studies are 2 separate studies, while you may extrapolate 1 to the other, they don’t always coincide.
Secondly, from that reasoning, you should also stop eating these foods as acrylamide compounds are also produced:

  • Bread (Heavily toasted and yes, your special artisan bread also contains it)
  • Potatoes (French Fries & Chips)
  • Toasted grains
  • Toasted wheat cereals
  • Cookies
  • Cocoa (yes, your beloved chocolate has it too!)

3) Put amount into context

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So, yeah, should you then stop eating all those foods too just because they contain acrylamide?
In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established a Reference Dose for the oral intake of acrylamide.
This is a measurement of how much acrylamide can be taken over a lifetime that can be predicted to produce no noticeable health effects.
In other words, as long as the intake is not beyond the reference dose of 0.002 mg of acrylamide per Kg body weight/day. YOU GONNA BE FINE.
A cup of coffee can have an average of 0.45micro grams (roasted coffee) of acrylamide, if you’re an average joe of 65Kg, you can take around 130 micrograms/day. See the math now? Hmmmmm???
Subsequently, a cigarette contains 0.6793 micrograms per cigarette, assuming the average smoker takes 10 cigarettes a day, that would 6.793 micrograms per cigarette, so should we really then continue selling cigarettes? Hmmm….

4) Coffee has a lot of other benefits!

Not to glorify coffee now, but hey let’s put this into consideration as well, coffee has also been associated with an overall reduced risk of total cancer! Not to mention reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, Alzheimers and many others.
Most important, it keeps me up and running to work in the morning, and god knows what kind of apocalypse the world would look like if people stopped taking coffee completely!

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In summary,

Don’t stop taking coffee because it contains a compound that may cause cancer,
similarly,
Don’t start taking coffee because it may reduce risk for certain diseases.
In other words, moderation is still key, and as long as you’re living a healthy lifestyle containing a healthy diet with lots of fruits and veggies, matched with regular exercise, your daily cup of coffee is more likely to just add and make you better in the long run.
Now if you don’t mind, I have an espresso with my name on it!
Till next time, stay healthy everyone!

Cheers,
LTD

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Whole grain cereal

Basic nutrition 101: Carbohydrates

5 things you need to know about carbohydrates.

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1) Carbohydrates are a macronutrient!

Aside from fat and protein, carbohydrates are 1 of the 3 essential macronutrients.

It is a compound made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms and hence “carbohydrates”.

As plants create carbohydrates in the form of starch for their daily energy needs, we consume carbohydrates for our daily energy needs too!

Of our entire daily caloric intake, 50-60% should come from carbs!

2) Rice and noodles aren’t the only carbohydrates in your diet!

When I mention the word carb to most people, the first images that comes to mind, at the very least, in the Asian context, is rice and noodles.

And with the stream of food demonizing trends going all over the world, many have come to conclude that carbs are indeed bad, and as such, have started preaching the gospel of “Thou shalt not eat rice/noodles”.

Be it for weight loss, health scepticism or whatever reasons, that simply isn’t sound science.

Demonizing carbs to be bad and to completely avoid it, that simply isn’t sound science

But before I go into that, let’s really investigate the sources of carbohydrates.

Let’s start easy, anything starchy is generally carbs.

Grains, Legumes, Wheat are all fine examples

But so are, pumpkins, potatoes and parsnips. Yes, those are vegetables, but not all vegetables are equal.

To add on, so are fruits, anything sweet generally is carb. Sugar, honey, agave nectar, syrup, and the list go on and on.

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So, starchy foods and vegetables, grains, and fruits are carbs. Got that?

3) Not all carbs are the same!

“You know ah boy, you don’t eat the white rice, the white rice will cause diabetes, you eat the brown rice, very good one!”

There are essentially 2 types of carbohydrates, simple and complex.

Generally simple carbohydrates are carbohydrates that are easily broken down into our bodies and release sugar for our bodies to absorb.

On the other hand, complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, have the hull still intact, and due to the extra breaking down necessary, it releases its sugar slower than its pristine counterpart, white rice.

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So, which is better?
Well, I’m glad you asked!

If we compare things from a package a view point

Using white vs brown rice again,
White rice has 3-4x less fibre compared to its tanned counterpart (Give or take depending on the type of rice), and in regard to its vitamins, brown rice also has more B vitamins and a few other minerals.

The other good examples are comparing table sugar vs fruits.

Both contains sugars, but the fruits have added fibre, vitamins and minerals while sugar, well, is just sugar.

So, yes, eating complex carbohydrates are better than eating refine or simple carbohydrates.

How to identify complex carbohydrates?
well, look for labels like whole wheat or unrefined, but more importantly, compare the fibre content on the nutritional label to its refined counterpart, the higher the fibre, generally the better the package.

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FYI, Starchy vegetables like root veggies, beans and legumes also fall into the category of complex carbohydrates!!

4) Carbs aren’t bad, mis portion is bad!

Now back to the statement,

“You know ah boy, you don’t eat the white rice, the white rice will cause diabetes, you eat the brown rice, very good one!”

White rice doesn’t cause diabetes, remember, correlation doesn’t necessary mean causation, it was just shown that people who had diabetes were eating white rice.

When it comes to health, it’s a whole package, lifestyle and stress factors included.

But let’s come back to carbs, so the truth is it’s not bad, we need carbs, people who don’t eat or cut off too much carbohydrates can be at risk of experiencing hypoglycaemia (fancy way of saying low blood sugar), and even worse case, if prolonged, can lead to death!

When it comes to obesity, overweight, diabetes and what not, it’s always the portion that’s the issue, not the food itself!

Yes, white rice has a higher glycemic index (rate of blood sugar spike) compared to brown rice but 45g worth of sugar in both white or brown rice is the same.

You can be eating brown rice all day every day and still get diabetes.

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The question always is, how much?

5) Your palm tells you everything.

Now I don’t believe in fortune telling or palm reading.

But I do believe in palm portioning

Assume your palm is about the size or 1/4 of a standard plate.

Your carbs should volumetrically fit into the size of your palm.

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This goes for fruits as well, a whole apple or whatever fits into your palm size. (twice a day)

The same goes for breakfast and your snacks, although for snacks or tea, you might wanna just limit it to 2 thirds of your palm size.

Remember, eat smart, live smart!

Cheers,
LTD

The advice provided here are for the benefits of the general public, they may or may not necessarily be tailored to your needs. To have your individual needs assessed and an intervention tailored made to you, please consult your local dietitian.
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Basic nutrition 101: Calories

5 things you need to know about calories and what it does.

1) Calories are energy.

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Humans and all other living creatures require energy for survival, but where does this energy come from?

Food.

The thing is, how do we quantify said mentioned energy? That’s where calories come in.

A calorie is a unit of measurement for energy.
1 calorie is the approximate energy required to increase the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree’s Celsius, about 4.184 Joules to be exact for all you melancholic out there.

Today we generally measure calories in the form of Kilo calories or Kcals.

If we further break this down, this form of energy come from 3 major nutrient groups or the macro nutrients, carbs, protein and fats, where 1g of carbs and protein provides approximately 4 kcal and 1g of fat providing 9 kcal.

2) Each person has different daily caloric requirements.

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From birth all the way to end of life, every single person at every different life cycle has a different daily caloric need.

Now for the general adult population, there are general rule of thumbs based on where you’re from, most country health organisations recommend somewhere within the 2,000 Kcal – 2,500 Kcal/day range, give or take 200 Kcal or so.

But the truth is, to just give a range sometimes can be very misleading and unhelpful.

Here’s why, a range is an average of caloric needs of a certain nation and may or may not necessarily be appropriate for you.

Depending on many factors like age, weight, height, physical activity level, enzyme level and many more, a person’s caloric requirement will certainly differ from 1 to another.

How is determined?

Well normally, in most hospitals or practices, dietitians tend to stick to certain Kcal/Kg guidelines depending on the condition of the patient, and some even compare them with multiple other equations and formulas derived from many many years of research on the matter.

But the true gold standard is the indirect calorimetry method where, a person’s body at rest is placed in an enclosed chamber with certain fixed environmental factors, and the gases exchange via breathing is then used to determine the person’s basal metabolic rate or essentially, the minimum amount of calories needed to keep you alive, from there we can then extrapolate it to your daily caloric needs depending on your physical activity level and what not.

Technical, huh?

So what I’m trying to get at, is the next time someone comes over and tell you, hey man, I went down to this 1,500 Kcal/day diet and I’m super fit and slim now, it may not necessarily work for you, get it?

3) Calories are the first component of proper nutrition.

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When it comes to obesity, one of the worst non-communicable diseases known to mankind, or just basic proper nutrition for that matter, calories are very very important.

Here’s why,

You may be eating the healthiest fruits on planet earth, or the best nuts from your own organic farm, but the truth is, if what you’re eating is way in excess (500-800 Kcal/day extra) from what your bodily needs are, the truth is, you’re definitely gonna put on weight if that energy ain’t used somewhere else, and in the long run, will lead to obesity.

So understanding that your total energy intake is paramount to proper nutrition is essential, with enough knowledge, you’ll then know how to compensate for an increase in fats in 1 diet by reducing carbs or whatever in your next.

4) Calorie dense or calorie light foods are not good or evil. It depends.

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Alright, so if that’s the case, I shouldn’t go for calorie dense foods right? Cause that stuff gonna make fatttttt.

Well, it depends.

I’m sorry, but when it comes to health and nutrition, you’re gonna get a lot of “it depends” answers.

What calorie dense or light simple means, is that in this serving of food, there’s a lot or very little calories.

Now for people who works supppppppeeeeeeer looooooooong hours, calorie dense foods are helpful, because they help meet up energy needs within a smaller period of time (with that said, I tend to lean towards higher fibre high caloric foods if you catch my drift).

But for people like some of my previous clients who are trying to lose weight, caloric light foods are very helpful, because they keep them full throughout the day with minimal caloric intake and also increase their metabolism for more weight loss inducing effect.

So, the question right back at you is, what’s your lifestyle like? What are you gonna benefit more from?
Get it? Food and nutrition is a package!

5) Calorie counting is useful but it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying foods.

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There are many ways to count your calories.

Normally I only suggest 2, using a phone app or by eye ball portion estimation.

There are many apps now available in the app store or on google play, one I’ve personally used, but not religiously I must say, is fitness pal, which essentially is an app based database where you key in the food you’ve just eaten and it’s respective portion, and it keeps track for you how much food you can continue eating.

The other way I normally practice and teach others to do, is to keep track of the food types you eat, carbs, proteins, fats, fruits and vegetables.

I’m a big fan of the MY healthy plate concept where, during your main meals you should have half your plate with fruits and vegetables, 1 quarter carbs and the other protein.

It’s a much simpler and approachable method of nutrition that I find works well with many of my patients.

It may not be as accurate as keeping track with a food database and a weighing scale (yes some people do this), but it gives a lot of liberty to anyone when it comes to food and nutrition and I feel that if you feel constricted while becoming healthy, something’s wrong.

Food should be enjoyable, nutritious or not.

Nutritious and healthy foods can be enjoyable, it’s always about the portions.

For more details on what you should eat for your bodily needs, consult a dietitian!

Cheers,
LTD

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