Tag Archives: vegetables

3 reasons why Veganuary maybe isn’t everything you’d hoped for

If you’ve been following a vegan diet for the past few weeks, but feel worse than ever, here are 3 common signs that Veganuary maybe isn’t working for you, and what you can do about it to feel a little better:

1. Feeling more bloated than usual

This is a common reaction to suddenly increasing the quantity of vegetables and legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas etc) in your diet. The fibre and carbohydrates in these foods feed the bacteria in your gut. Normally, this is just fine, but if you’ve got undergrowths of bacteria or overgrowths of pathogenic bacteria, or perhaps overgrowths of parasites (e.g. dysbiosis), or even the right types of bacteria but in the wrong part of your intestines (e.g. small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) then increasing their food source may increase their activity, resulting in bloating, gas, and discomfort.

So what can you do about it?

Well, you have two choices:

  • Reduce the number of high FODMAP foods in your diet to restrict the amount of food available to your gut bacteria microbiome. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. Gut bacteria degrade undigested carbohydrates to produce gases including hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide. The higher the FODMAP level of a food, the more water is drawn into the gut to support fermentation (breaking down the food by bacteria). This is what produces the excess gas in your gut, and may be why you’re in so much discomfort.
    • Experiencing bloating from high FODMAP foods is not a food intolerance and may not show up in a food intolerance test as this is not you having a reaction, but your gut microbiome.
    • Please note that avoiding of high FODMAP foods isn’t a long term option, as there are more high FODMAP fruits/veggies than there are low FODMAP options, which means you will find yourself eating the same “safe” vegan options everyday… or find yourself eating high FODMAP options and suffering the consequences.
  • For long term benefits, identifying and addressing the reason why you are reacting to high FODMAP foods is essential. Stool testing for bacterial overgrowths/parasites/yeasts in the large intestine, and breath testing for bacterial overgrowths in the small intestine are both good places to start. Organic acid tests may also be useful for helping to identify imbalances in the body. Tests like these can be discussed during an appointment with myself at our London clinic –> Click here if you’re ready to book your appointment with me.

2. Feeling more tired than usual

OK, it’s Janaury. It’s dark, it’s cold, everyone seems to be catching viruses (even I had the flu this year!) and it’s almost “normal” to feel rundown.

But… what if you’re feeling more tired than usual?

Well, there’s a common reason for that:

Vegan foods contain little B12. Sure, some vegan foods (the processed ones) may be fortified with a few vitamins, including B12, but it may not be enough and the formulation of B12 in those products varies so you may find yourself needing to be a label reading expert just to know what you’re taking in.

Insufficient B12 in the diet can lead to B12 deficiency anaemia which has symptoms including fatigue, parasthesia (pins and needles in hands/feet), dyspnoea (breathlessness), dizziness or feeling faint, palpitations….

If you ticked more than one symptom in that list, here are your options:

  • Get your B12 levels checked and then take a daily B12 supplement. Your GP should be able to test your B12 for you, and all clients in our London clinic who have a suspected B12 deficiency will take home a letter referring them for routine blood testing, including B12, with their GP (if they haven’t already been tested).
    • If you’re getting your B12 tested, it’s probably worth getting iron, folate, and vitamin D done at the same time…
    • A normal B12 result in a blood test doesn’t necessarily mean optimal , so make sure you get the results interpreted by a registered nutritional therapist (such as myself!) before deciding to add in any supplements. I offer a telephone review of test results for just £40, which includes interpretation and explanation of the results and a 30 day plan regarding diet, lifestyle and supplements.
  • This is controversial, and will go against much of what Veganuary and veganism in general is about, but you may need to consider adding in some animal products, particularly if you’re really not keen on taking a tablet everyday while eating a vegan diet. Foods such as eggs, dairy, meat, or fish all contain B12 and eating them on a daily basis may support your body’s B12 levels.

3. Feeling generally sluggish with slow “congested” digestive system

There are lots of companies jumping on the Veganuary wagon this year, with vegan steak-bakes, vegan sausage rolls, fake-bacon and so on all widely available. But what are these foods really made of? If you read the labels, you’ll find that some are made of a mix of vegetables and legumes (I’m happy with these kinds!) while others are a blend of soya, pea protein, flavourings, texturisers, sugars and so on (these are the kinds I’m not so happy about!). Sure, the latter type of foods are vegan, and they provide a level of protein, but… the types of ingredients used may not be supportive of a healthy gut microbiome (bacteria levels).

What are your alternative options for protein?

  • Stick to moderate quantities of beans, lentils, and chickpeas. Opting for tinned versions requires less time in the kitchen soaking and boiling, and they may have lower FODMAP levels too.
  • Use nuts and seeds to add a level of texture to soups, salads, and other meals. These have great levels of protein too, and some of those healthy fats nutritional therapists are always banging on about.
  • Consider adding in a vegan protein powder, particularly if you’re following a low FODMAP diet or you’re just not keen on legumes, nuts, or seeds. Look for ones with pronounceable ingredients from reputable companies, such as Motion Nutrition (one of my favourites is their peanut butter protein shake).

If you’re not sure what you should be eating or would like some advice and support, you can call me on 07951 740423 or email me kate@allergytest-london.co.uk.

If you’re ready to book in and spend an hour with me in clinic looking at potential food intolerances, optimal diet, supplements and lifestyle, then you can click here to book your appointment now for just £100 as I am taking £15 off appointments booked and attended before the 3rd February 2020 .

As featured on Yahoo Style!

Everyone knows that a night out on an empty stomach usually equals a one-way ticket to vomit town. There are the standard tricks to help ease a hangover: glass of milk before drinking alcohol, don’t follow wine with beer, toast and two pints of water before bed, blah blah blah.

There’s only one way to guarantee no hangover, and that’s not drinking alcohol at all… but what are the best foods to stave off your hangover if you do drink?

Read my thoughts from a nutrition perspective here on Yahoo Style.

Kate x

Five ways to be an unhealthy vegetarian

This post is dedicated to my parents, who reminded me this weekend of my dislike of vegetables as a teenager. I know you guys are reading this 🙂

Now, it wasn’t so much that I disliked vegetables as a teenager – it was more that I disliked the vegetables from my parent’s allotment that came with extra protein in the form of slugs, snails, caterpillars etc. I’ve had a phobia of slugs and snails since I was young, and will go to great lengths to avoid touching them – I’ve even been known to cross a road if there are too many on the pavement! And when you have a phobia like that, it can be pretty difficult to still eat that pile of broccoli and cabbage that may or may not have been nibbled before reaching your plate!

But moving on…

In my early 20’s I went through a spate of health issues and, having consulted the “health” pages in several glossy magazines, I decided I would cut out meat and fish and follow a vegetarian lifestyle. But after just six months my health issues had worsened. I felt dreadful, and my skin looked terrible. I’d gained weight and had no energy. I was “clinically infertile” according to my GP. And I had no idea why – surely being vegetarian should have made me healthier?

Years later, while training as a nutritionist (and no longer a vegetarian) I slowly realised the mistakes I’d made, and why they had caused me so many issues.

1. Too many refined carbohydrates
A typical day for me would have involved a bowl of cereal or a sachet of porridge for breakfast, a white bread sandwich for lunch, and pasta or pizza in the evening. It was all refined carbohydrates, and they were giving me blood sugar imbalances on a daily basis. I had mood swings, acne, and afternoon slumps in energy. Not only that, but the gluten found in wheat, oats, rye and barley is known to increase inflammation – did I mention I was trying to improve my health? I was really not helping myself at all. I should have stuck to complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, brown rice pasta, quinoa, rye bread, and oat cakes which would have regulated my blood sugar levels.

2. High dairy intake
Cheese. I ate so much cheese while I was playing at being a vegetarian. Brie, stilton, cheddar, parmesan… I certainly wasn’t fussy about which type of cheese. I had milk with my cereal, and got into drinking milky teas and coffees too. Somehow I ignored the nausea in the pit of my stomach, the sinus congestion and the headaches, and the weight gain.
Avoid making the same mistake I did and keep high fat dairy products such as cheese to a minimum. If you want to move away from cows milk, then choose almond or coconut milk alternatives.

3. Inappropriate protein choices
I can’t digest eggs, which are one the of the better protein sources for vegetarians, so I didn’t eat them at all whilst vegetarian. I also didn’t eat many legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, or beans. Instead, I ate soya products – tofu, tempeh, soya mince, soya cheese and so on, on a daily basis. Soya products are often cited as the cause of hormonal imbalances, and while I can’t prove it, I suspect this was the source of my fertility issues.
I also discovered quinoa – we all know that is marketed as a high protein vegetarian food right? I didn’t like the taste but believed the hype surrounding it and ate it daily – what I didn’t realise is that quinoa is actually not that rich in protein. Yes, it’s true – look here!  Quinoa is really just a carbohydrate with a little bit of protein (21g carbs and 4g protein, per 100g quinoa!) and my high intake wasn’t doing me any favours.
Better protein choices would have been nuts, seeds, eggs, protein powders (I personally like Pulsin Hemp protein powder), lentils and other legumes. And don’t believe the quinoa propaganda.

4. Too many raw vegetables
Whilst vegetarian, I ate a disturbingly low number of cooked vegetables. Plenty of fruit and salad leaves, maybe a few raw peppers, but very few cooked vegetables. In those six months, I probably cooked and ate one courgette, one head of broccoli, a few carrots, and my entire body weight in jacket potatoes!! Aside from the mental “extra protein” scarring from those allotment vegetables, my main issue was that I just didn’t know how to cook many vegetables so I stuck to salad leaves as they were easy (open bag, rinse, place on plate). Salad leaves, and raw vegetables in general are of course incredibly good for us, but research shows that cooking vegetables releases nutrients locked away in the cell walls, such as lycopene from tomatoes – known for it’s anti-cancer properties. And there I was missing out on these for the majority of my meals.
These days, a three tier vegetable steamer saucepan is my most used kitchen gadget. It’s an absolute essential as you can steam just about any vegetable and retain most of it’s nutrients in just a few minutes (and with minimal cooking skills!)

5. No omega 3
You’ve probably heard of omega 3 supplements, and you may know it’s found in oily fish – I think that is well drummed into our heads these days. Nuts and seeds are another source of omega 3, particularly walnuts, linseeds/flaxseeds, and chia seeds. I don’t recall whether chia seeds existed in the UK 15 years ago, but I was terrified of eating nuts and seeds in case they made me gain weight, so I probably wouldn’t have eaten them anyway. And I definitely wasn’t eating fish, so omega 3 was not something I was getting through my diet.
Omega 3 is vital to our health – it reduces inflammation, reduces the risk of chronic inflammation related diseases, and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. If you want to supplement with a non-fish oil based supplement, you could try Viridian Organic Golden Flax Seed Oil (1 teaspoon per day) – try adding it to smoothies or drizzled over salad.

Kate x

How I got my kids to eat (and love) their vegetables

They may be the offspring of a nutritionist, but my kids are still kids. Just like every other kid (and most grown-ups too) they don’t think twice about eating sugary foods if offered to them, especially chocolates and sweets, and a bowl of chips wouldn’t last 5 minutes in front of my youngest.

But at mealtimes, they eat their vegetables, and they eat them well. There’s no fussing or refusing. I don’t dye them strange colours or cover them in cheese. And I certainly don’t have to force or bribe them to eat their vegetables. I let them choose from the fridge which vegetables I cook to go with a meal, but once they’re cooked and on the plate, there are no more choices. They either eat them or they go hungry (and they know better than to risk that!)

I make sure that the kids see me eating vegetables as often as possible. Breakfast (green smoothie, or leftovers), lunch (salad or steamed veg with fish), evening meal (always with two side portions of vegetables). Even when we go to restaurants, I’ll order a side salad or portion of vegetables to go with my meal, if I’m not already ordering a salad as my meal. But that isn’t enough – they need to see me embracing and enjoying vegetables (and I do!) – lot’s of “mmm… broccoli” and “these green beans are yummy” and so on.

If my kids eat something they’re not sure about, they will look at me with doubt in their eyes, and I make sure to take some of the same food and tell them how delicious it tastes to me. Their tastebuds are so young, almost a blank canvas, and as a parent I feel it is my responsibility to teach them to appreciate healthy food.

Think about behaviour and language – kids will always copy what they see or hear, especially if it’s negative. So let them see positivity and pleasure around healthy foods, and they’ll want to copy you. If I made a face and said “broccoli tastes of sweaty socks”, or “green beans are too squishy” then there’s no way they’d eat them, and why should I expect them to?

And that’s my secret to getting kids to eat their vegetables.

If you have any other ways that you’ve found that help with kids eating their vegetables, then please comment and share them with us – we’d love to hear them!

Kate x