Being a wellness coach brings with it lots of questions .. and I love this part of the job as I treat each person individually and work according to their values and beliefs.
Regardless the amount of knowledge each ‘welly’ (I call my clients ‘welly’s, short for wellness because ‘client’s sounds very clinical) has about nutrition and fitness there seems to be a constant with questions that are asked. Perhaps it’s due to mainstream media harping about certain topics, I’m not sure, but there sure is fear and confusion surrounding food choices.
I come from a non-diet perspective and prefer to look at food choices and habits, rather than focussing on short term diets which in the end teach you nothing about your behaviours and how to correct them. This is done through sustainable changes and strategies. For this reason, it’s important to note that if you have cleaned up your diet to the point that you are worrying about certain healthy foods, that is ok, but there usually are a few other areas to focus on creating change before you get to this point.
Put it this way, there is no point cutting out fruit in your diet if you are going to go and gorge yourself on an ice-cream for dessert .. nothing achieved and nutritionally it is a poor choice over natural sugars.
To help clear up some issues here are two of my most asked questions .. answered in the most simple terms!
1/ Is it ok to eat bananas? Aren’t bananas fattening?
Personally we eat a lot of bananas in our household. They are great portable snacks for growing, active kids and perfect for active people. The key is timing though. Bananas are very carb dense – about 30g of carbohydrates, 3g of fibre, 2g of protein and 0.5g of fat (about 5 tsp of sugar, 2 of them being fructose).
Eating carbohydrates raises our insulin levels which in turn makes it hard for the body to burn fat while your blood sugar levels are amped. If you’re goal is to lose weight you need to factor this into your daily equation, especially if you’re not that active.
Personally, my husband enjoys a half a banana in his morning superfood smoothie while I will choose berries due to their lower fructose and carbohydrate content. In saying that, if I have had a superhard sweaty huff n puff session, half a banana will go in, to help my recovery and replenish potassium levels. Other times I will eat bananas is on race day as a pre and post race snack, just because it is one of those foods that has always agreed with my stomach so I stick to it (Plus I burn silly amounts of energy in endurance events).
If you would like to have a banana on the run, throw in some nuts (fats) or have it in a smoothie with milk (protein) to help slow down the insulin response and the speed it is digested.
Bananas should not be seen as villains and have a lot of merit and powerful benefits when compared to other unhealthy and empty calorie snacks. They pros really do outweigh the cons.
2/ Is rice healthy? Should I be eating rice?
To answer this I say look at other cultures around the world where it is their staple and has been for many years (before westernisation entered the picture). Women in particular can sometimes feel negative effects from consuming a diet too low in carbohydrates and sense a shift in their hormones. Rice is a gluten-free product and a great way for people searching for safe grain option or source of carbohydrates.
There has been some talk about the arsenic levels in rice and other factors that highlight that white may in fact be healthier than its brown counterpart. Yes, brown rice has more fibre (which can sometimes be harmful to the gut) and nutrients but white rice is more easily digested (faster absorption rate and tolerable).
Our family love to eat rice and sushi and I vary it between white and brown rice. We make and drink our own rice milk also.
Rice is on the better half of the continuum when it comes to eating starches with high carbohydrate wheat on the other end. Rice is a minimally processed food that is a great option for athletes searching for energy replenishment.
If losing weight is your goal, then again rice, needs to be taken into consideration if insulin resistance has taken effect. Damaged metabolisms heal better without overloads of simple sugars and carbohydrates so if this is the case rice, (and other forms of grains) could possibly be off the menu for a while.
Put it this way if you’re going to sit down to a plate of fried potato chips then you would be better off substituting with a form of rice. It’s just about putting the confusing details into perspective.