Part-time vegetarianism

Interestingly, over the last year, I’ve seen lots of my friends go from looking forward to their weekly steak night to becoming red-meat free (or consuming it once a month at most) and part-time vegetarians. Myself included. When asked why, myself, like many others, will go on to explain that it is to reduce our contribution towards global warming (aka our ‘carbon footprint’).

If we all became part-time vegetarians (when one can count the number of times you’ve had meat that week using just a few fingers) this could cut global food-related emissions of green house gases by 63%. This is because the farming of animals has many steps, all that harm the environment. For a very brief snap shot:

1) Animals need land to graze – non-agricultural land has to be converted into agricultural land (…think trees being cut down. Trees that would help to absorb greenhouse gases)

2) Animals need to be fed – this means lots of water and lots of effort into growing food

3) Animals themselves will release greenhouse gases. It’s no myth that cows fart methane, additionally, the manure of animals release even more harmful products into our atmosphere.

One of the most frustrating things I’ve heard is people who are vegan/vegetarian telling those who are partaking in a diet like this, of hugely reducing their meat consumption, that it’s stupid and hypocritical. Additionally, it is just as frustrating (if not more), when you hear avid meat eaters saying that people who don’t eat meat are crazy and the whole thing is “pointless”.

Data from many different sources all agree on the same thing: eating less meat will help limit the negative effects on the environment. So all of this name calling etc. is absolutely pointless. If we all reduced the amount of meat we eat, this would have a huge, lasting impact, helping to slow down global warming by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. In the end, if someone is willing to go through their week without their usual steak night or someone is willing to try out veganism, we should celebrate this, as every little bit will help. 

If you need more convincing, meat reduction is also beneficial to your health. By having a diet filled with vegetables and less meat, you are less likely to suffer from heart disease than big meat-eaters. Also, it will leave you feeling a lot better in your body… if you don’t believe me just look at this:

meat

In conclusion… My aim of writing this blog post was to try my best to convince a few people out there to choose the veggie option in their meal deal, work lunch, Saturday brunch etc. more regularly. This is a great way to start off and the more you do it, the more you will be doing your bit. So why not try and be a part-time vegetarian next week and see how it goes?

** I know there is a lot more to veganism and vegetarianism – a lot of people will be partaking in these diets to stop cruelty to animals in the meat & dairy industry. I am not saying that this is not important! I am simply just talking about another side to vegetarianism/veganism, as along with animal rights, this is also something that desperately needs addressing 🙂 **
https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/global-warming/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_and_agriculture
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/21/eat-less-meat-vegetarianism-dangerous-global-warming
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/21/giving-up-beef-reduce-carbon-footprint-more-than-cars
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The Cake Debate

Do I have cake today? YES. ALWAYS YES. Let me explain…

A few weeks ago I went to my second Fitfluence event and it was great. Not only because I got some great food and good workouts but for another reason this time. We heard from a nutritionist who started by asking “What is a healthy diet?”. A few years ago I would have responded with “Low carb, high protein, low fat and not too much fruit”. SO WRONG.

The question made me realise how much I’d learned and how much happier and healthier I was since I really learned to LOVE food and how to use it to fuel my body in the right way. What was also so refreshing was hearing answers from the crowd like “CARBS!” and “Everything in moderation“, which of course is my main moto. I was in a room with other  young women who actually liked food and weren’t scared of it, didn’t feel guilty when they indulged, and it was great.

I think most of us, girls and boys too, are guilty of having binge sessions and then after feeling pretty crap about ourselves. One of my male friends actually once had 7 quest bars (look them up if you don’t know about them… they are amazing) in one sitting and I know he didn’t feel too great after that. For me this only stopped about a year and a half ago but for a lot of my friends I know it still continues. DON’T LET IT.

Life is too short to worry about having a meal you may not have thought was good for you. Who cares? As long as you look after yourself most the time, is it really worth worrying about that one time you really enjoyed a meal, even if it was chips and some fried fish or a lot of chocolate cake?

In the end of the day, damage isn’t done to your body or your health if you have a lot of cake one day. Fine, if you have lots of cake every day it is probably not the best for you. But every once in a while, eat the cake!

The other day someone asked me if I have cheat days. The answer to this is no. Not that I always eat perfectly, that is not true at all, but I never perceive anything as a ‘cheat meal’ or a ‘cheat day’. It is just an ordinary day when I’m having some food I love and feeling good about it. The thought of it being a cheat is what makes you feel bad about it after.

One day I really fancied oreos. So I had half a packet. Did I feel bad? No, I felt mildly ill from all the sugar but I felt amazing. I could now eat half a packet of oreos and feel good! That for me was more than I could have imagined a few years ago. Back then I probably would have spent the rest of the day sulking and refused to eat enough food the next day. My relationship with food was wrong and I’m so glad I had a switch go off on my brain because now I am so much happier and so much healthier.

Health isn’t about depriving yourself, its about nourishing yourself mentally and physically. Life is too short to worry, complain, and debate cake. The answer is always CAKE.

 

Why do we overeat?

A lot of people appear to hold the belief that if you eat your food of smaller plates, you will feel fuller for longer. But is this really true?

Articles are constantly being published in attempt to explain the ‘obesity epidemic’ in the Westernised world. 280,000 deaths are attributable to obesity alone in the US per annum, so it makes sense as to why everyone is trying to figure out what it is that is causing the population to eat in excess. If the government made everyone throw out their plates for smaller plates would this help? The easy answer is no.

In fact it seems that a key driving force behind overconsumption is portion size. Our portion sizes have increased over the past few decades, with higher proportions of our plates containing fat, which is less satiating. Hence, people will eat more as they don’t feel as full. Studies have found that people will actually eat 30% more food in when offered a larger portion (vs. a smaller portion, half of its size). OFullSizeRender-2n the whole, individuals also do not seem to notice that they have eaten a significantly larger amount, and do not report greater fullness. Similarly, people don’t seem to rate the differing amounts of foods (100g vs. 500g) as different in their appropriateness of size. This has been found across a multitude of studies that have taken place over the last decade.

Interestingly, those exposed to a larger portion size will also judge larger portions as more appropriate after being given one once
. So it appears there is a sort of ‘carry-on’ effect. If you were to eat more in one sitting, you may be more likely to eat more later on as you see the size as more ‘appropriate’ and ‘manageable’.

Therefore perhaps key to a good and healthy diet and weight maintenance, is ensuring that we eat an appropriate portion size. Educating people that a ‘happy meal’, although it may not seem so inappropriate, is actually nearly ones’ recommended daily calorie intake. Making people aware that what you eat in a restaurant and may buy for yourself to cook at home (e.g. pizza), may actually be an inappropriate portion size that we are so used to seeing, we cannot judge as such.

Research is still inconclusive as to why portion size has such a large effect on our energy intake. However, I hope that from this little snippet of information, you can take away that perhaps something needs to be done in order to stop overconsumption which may result from portion sizes that are ‘too large’.

 

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/76/6/1207.short

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/82/1/236S.short

New Years Resolutions

So it’s that time of year again where lots of people have already started to give up on goals and aims they have set themselves on the 31st of January which will make the new year, ‘better’ and ‘more successful’ than the previous. It is very difficult to keep the motivation you felt oh-so-strongly on that optimistic evening when you wrote them down, told your friends and family, and assured yourself that this year would be different.

Over the last year I have learnt so much more about fitness and health and general life hacks that help me keep motivation and more importantly, keep me happy. My number one tip to all of you who think you won’t be able to keep up with your resolutions is this: A slip up doesn’t mean you’ve lost.

At Uni, I always get people asking me the following questions: Where do you find the time to go to the gym? Do you always cook and eat like that? Where do you get the motivation from? The truth is my food isn’t always pretty, and some days I really don’t want to go the gym, so I don’t. The last year has taught me to do what makes me happy, and not to dwell on the things that don’t. Some days I won’t have the perfect diet, but this doesn’t mean that tomorrow I won’t, and the next day. In order to achieve your resolutions, whether it is reading more (one of mine) or trying to get healthy, you can’t take one bad day as a failure.

Looking at your goals as long-term achievements is far better for your mental wellbeing and day-to-day mentality. Because in reality, big changes won’t happen over a year. It will take  years of practice to allow me to always make sure I focus on the things that make me happy, and this last year has been a vital to me achieving this. Just because I may not always make the right decision now, doesn’t mean I won’t in the future. So even though you might feel like there is no point in you staying vegetarian/vegan, or going to the gym more, or reading more, or keeping up with politics, or walking the dog more, cooking more, cleaning more, buying fewer clothes, listening to more music, spending more time with family and friends etc, just because the last few weeks haven’t been successful, just sit down and think to yourself – What will make me happy today? And do it. Showing yourself you can stick to your goals makes you feel amazing I can guarantee you, but if one of these goals doesn’t contribute to your happiness is it really worth it?

So all in all – Let’s make 2016 the happiest year yet.

Dairy-Free Ice Cream?

The other day my friends insisted that we all went to get some ice cream from a delicious, but very expensive, ice cream shop near where we live. I went along thinking I would only be able to stare at what they ordered and feel sorry for myself. So when I asked “Do you have any dairy-free ice cream?” and the answer wasn’t a straight out “No” I was extremely excited. I tried all of the ‘dairy-free’ options that they had to offer me and in the end settled for a delicious dark chocolate sorbet and some pistachio ice cream.

IMG_1569

Literally too good to be true

I raved about it so much, my dad went out to buy some pistachio ice cream for my mum and I the very next day. And that is when I realised I wasn’t feeling that well, and that I hadn’t been feeling that great since I had this suspiciously delicious ice cream. I put it down to the few cocktails I had that evening but I’m not one to feel too bad after a few drinks so I thought something was up. My mum then started to feel ill too after she mooed over the tasty flavour.

After calling up the different branches of the ice cream shop, it came to light that this was not in fact dairy free. It took my stomach around 3-4 days to really get over being given dairy for the first time in months and my mum and I were not happy at all!

It really is awful that this could happen, it may seem silly to someone who doesn’t know how it feels but imagine if someone was dangerously allergic and they had been told it was okay for them to eat it?!

The worst part about all this is that we actually went back into the store and they still claimed it was dairy-free. This is despite the fact we had already been told it wasn’t and that they make all of their ‘dairy-free’ ice creams in the same containers as their normal ones.

This is why I think that all restaurants should disclose their allergens to you on the menu. Or at least have the allergen menu available for anyone to observe, or even properly educate their staff. Some of my favourite dining experiences recently is when I’ve told people I can’t have dairy and instead of trying to recall from memory (which is notoriously unreliable.. psychology degree coming in here) they have just provided me with an allergen menu so I can eat without any worry.

People may read this and think, ‘Surely this wouldn’t normally happen?’ – you would surprised. The amount of times people have responded to ‘I can’t have any dairy’ with ‘Okay so no eggs? No cheese? Wait – no – you can have cheese?’ or something along those lines is shocking.

So I do apologise for this slight rant, but to sum up I think that allergens should be made clear on all menus, everywhere, for safety and everyone’s health!

An Introduction

Going to university and leaving home for the first time really taught me a lot about how hard it is to try and stay healthy as a student. This blog aims to help others, particularly students like myself, by providing healthier alternatives to some of our favourite recipes while giving some tips on the best (and cheapest) ways to stay fit and healthy.

My relationship with food has always been complicated. Until I was 8 I was allergic to nearly all animal protein. Having grown out of this, nearly three years ago, when I was 17, problems started to surface again. My favourite breakfast cereal started to make my face swell, other food I once ate nearly everyday started making me feel ill and problems progressed from there when I went to university. The change in diet with higher fatty foods, more alcohol and a generally less healthy lifestyle greatly affected me. Soon after my arrival I was diagnosed with irritable bowl syndrome (IBS). It occurs in 1 in 5 individuals and affects twice as many women as men. Different people are triggered by different foods and after a few months it became clear to me that all dairy products did not agree with my body. So, I decided to give up dairy.

IMG_2174Shortly after this decision I found my symptoms hugely cleared up. Although it did take me a full year to properly say goodbye to cheese, I have finally given up all dairy for good and I feel so much better. My friends still can’t quite believe I haven’t had a Pizza in 7 months.

This experience is what has lead me to create this website. All content is created with my mum who actually suffers from lactose intolerance. As a result we have really enjoyed experimenting with different ways to make dairy-free cakes and recipes together (and you honestly can’t tell the difference). We also are both very conscious about trying to stay healthy and active but find it hard to give up treats every now and again, so our recipes help us to keep some healthy treats in our diet.

Hopefully our blog and website will help you to maintain a healthy lifestyle while still enabling you to keep eating foods you love.

I hope you enjoy our website and in the coming months look forward to some exciting new developments!

Hayley