Being a Nutrition and Health Coach brings with it lots of questions. I love this part of the job as I treat each person individually and work according to their values and beliefs and never viewed ANY question as being what some may think as ‘silly’.
Regardless of the amount of knowledge each individual has regarding nutrition and fitness, there are questions that are asked more often than not. Mainstream media no doubt has influence and when harping about certain topics, fear and confusion surrounding food choices are common.
I come from a non-diet perspective and prefer to focus on food choices and habits, rather than prescribing diets (which ultimately teach nothing about behaviours and how to correct them). This work 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 worried about certain healthy foods, that is ok, but they’re 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 omitting fruit from your diet if you are gorging on ice-cream. Nutritionally it is a poor choice over natural sugars that contain vitamins, minerals and fibre.
To help clear up some issues here are two of my most asked questions .. answered in the most simple terms!
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 a portable snack. 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 difficult for the body to burn fat while blood sugar levels are amped. If you’re goal is to lose weight we need to factor this into the daily equation, especially if you’re not overly active.
Personally, my husband enjoys 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, have it alongside some nuts (fats) or have it in a smoothie with milk (protein) to help slow down the insulin response and the slow 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. The pros really do outweigh the cons.
Is rice healthy? Should I be eating rice?
To answer this question, 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). My family loves 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 carbohydrate-containing starches and is minimally processed and 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 ‘white’ pasta, bread etc) 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 about putting the confusing details into perspective and instead of relying on banishing the good foods in our day – using these foods to crowd out potentially unhealthy choices that come from deprivation.