Food plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and its importance cannot be underestimated. Taking an interest in food and being motivated to look at what we eat is probably the most important aspect of improving our diet.
Eating healthily is relatively straightforward and is based around balancing the types of food that we eat. The information contained within this page should help develop the idea of balancing foods in our diet and give practical tips on how this works.
In certain medical conditions more specific diets are important and these should be discussed with your doctor.
Types of food
Most of the food that we eat can be largely grouped into five main categories. While nearly all of the food groups provide some positives in the form of vitamins, minerals and energy, to have too much of them can also be detrimental.
The main groups are:
- Fruit and vegetables.
- Starchy foods.
- Fish, meat, eggs and beans.
- Milk and Dairy.
- Fat and sugar.
The following links offer good simple advice on how best to balance our food intake and then maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Fruit and Vegetables
There has been lots of work done looking at the positive impact of eating fruit and vegetables, thought to be directly attributable to the vitamins and minerals that they contain.
There is evidence that by eating five portions of fruit or vegetables a day that risk of cardiovascular problems and some cancers are reduced. One portion equates to one banana or apple. In terms of vegetables it equates to three heaped tablespoons of vegetables.
In order to help plan a balanced menu containing recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables, this shopping tool may be useful.
These include bread, cereals, pasta and potatoes. Not only do these foods provide vitamins they also are the main source of fuel for our bodies to work well. Fibre is also a form of starch and this and diets high in fibre help prevent constipation.
Starchy food should make up one third of our diet and often forms a part of most meals.
Meat and Fish
Not only do meat and fish contain vitamins and minerals, but they also provide protein, which is a crucial building block to growth and repair.
It is advised to try and eat two portions of fish per week, of which one should be an oily fish.
With regard to meat, think about the cuts of meat that are being cooked. For example, try and get the leanest pieces of meat and trim off any excess fat. Also remember that the way in which meat is cooked (for example frying) can have a significant impact upon its fat content.
Milk and Dairy
Milk and dairy products contain many vitamins and also calcium, which is good for our bones. It is important to remember that some dairy products contain quite high levels of saturated fat and ways to reduce this include using semi-skimmed milk and low fat yoghurts.
Fat and Sugar
Both fat and sugar are great sources of energy, but this means that when we do not use all of this energy in the form of activity and exercise, our bodies form fat stores which in turn cause us to put on weight.
Not all fats are bad and different types of fat will have contrasting effects upon both are cholesterol levels and also our cardiovascular risk. The following link provides some further information about the types of fat that exist and which foods contain both good and bad fats.
How can Lion Health help?
The Lion Health Surgery has many health care professionals including the nursing team and health care assistants who can give you a wide range of health promotion advice.
Many of our health promotion and chronic disease clinics will discuss diet as part of our assessment.
For those who meet specific criteria, we can offer weight watchers vouchers for those motivated to lose weight by this particular method. You can contact reception to request referral to a slimming club.
There are times when the doctors may advise patients to have a low salt diet (particularly in those with high blood pressure) or a low potassium diet. These special diets should only be undertaken after consultation with your doctor.
Cholesterol Lowering and Weight Reducing Dietary Advice:
3 rules to follow at breakfast to lose weight.
Eating nothing in the morning is as bad as eating anything. A balanced breakfast that often contradicts the most common habits helps to lose weight and ensure satiety until lunch without problem.
Atlantico: A healthy and balanced breakfast is a first step to regain control of your daily diet and can help us lose weight. What advice would you give that breakfast is a first step in weight loss?
Leaking refined foods with a high glycemic index
Consume breakfasts that are vectors of vitamins, fibers and minerals like the Miam-Ô-Fruit of France Guillain or a house muesli made of barley flakes, pruned almonds, dried apricots, cinnamon, acacia honey , wheat germ and an almond or oat drink. For salty mouths, dare the egg to shell, the slice of poultry or ham (not too often for the ecological impact!), The cheese (for those who tolerate it) with slices of sourdough bread or a full bowl of rice and a rapeseed oil.
Escape the fruit juices especially that of oranges which are real aggressions for the digestive tract, more or less rich in sugar and perfectly indigestible with any type of cereals.
Teas, maté, infusions and coffees of quality are preferable in small volume (200ml max).
Your breakfast should be consumed calmly with chewing applied.
What is the influence of what we eat in the morning on our choices for subsequent meals?
Charles-Antoine Winter: The influence would be rather a consequence … Understand that in the morning, on the blows of 6 to 8h, our body knows its highest concentration of fasting hormone cortisol (in this case, nocturnal fasting ), allowing us to maintain a glucose level (glucose level in our blood) correct without food intake and especially of carbohydrate origin. In other words, your body is on an autonomous metabolism. And this means knowing how to get out of it as wisely as possible.
Here are two possibilities: one where you submerge it of sweetness with an excess of sugar and make it dependent (circuit of the reward). And the other where you empower him with nutrients that require him to work as a team and therefore an autonomy.
Indeed, one of the most harmful and maintained habits in France is the breakfast rich in sugar, in empty calories. Intake of fiber-free sugar at breakfast will inevitably cause hyperglycemia, an excess of sugar circulating in your blood. And your body being in danger, will react to excess by secreting too much insulin, the latter being responsible for the use of sugar by your neurons, muscles, red blood cells (positive point) but also by the conversion of l excess sugar in fat. Worse yet, your sweet breakfast will be responsible, via insulin, morning cravings, your addiction to coffee, your oversized and / or unbalanced lunches. A day that starts and may end on the reward scheme …
How to cut in Julienne I knife skills
West Africa’s Tea Culture – a Way of Life
The term “tea ceremony” usually conjures up mental images of formal rituals in old Japan, or more modern ones in India or Malaysia where business deals are struck over a pot of tea and a handshake. In West Africa, ancient tea ceremony goes by the name “attaya,” and is anything but formal. In fact, tea culture in the continent’s western nations of Gambia, Mauritania and Senegal are the polar opposite of Japan’s ceremonies, where matcha tea is the focal point of a semi-religious event.
The attaya is more accurately described as a tea ritual or social function akin to a very informal wine-tasting session or round of toasts in Western cultures. Something like 80 percent of all West African children and adults drink tea on a daily basis, most of it being some variety of mint tea made in a way that likely originated among the ancient Moors.
French, Arabic, a little English, and local dialects are interwoven in everyday West African speech; and that makes for colorful, loud and friendly conversations during the traditional three rounds of tea in a typical attaya ceremony.
Despite its wide practice throughout West Africa, centering on Senegal, the attaya ceremony is largely unknown in the West. Here are some key facts that explain how the tea is made and served, how people interact while drinking it, and how to make a pot of West African tea that is “attaya-ready.”
The preparation of typical Senegalese mint tea, the kind used in the attaya ritual, takes quite a while, and is not as easy as preparing other kinds of tea. This is partly by design, enabling everyone to have a long conversation while the tea is being heated and mixed. Mint tea is a natural preventive for cavities and several other dental problems.
Ceremony and history
Every African attaya ceremony consists of three rounds. Tea is served in small glasses (not cups) with each round being quite different in taste. Legend has it that the first, bitter round represents the beginning of life and the difficulties of growing up. The second round is sweeter but retains the strong mint flavor. The third and final round is mostly very weak tea with plenty of sugar. The second round is said to signify the sweetness of mid-life, love, and marriage, with the final round being symbolic of old age. There are hundreds of historic stories about what each round means, but they all point to some version of “stages of life.”
Almost all the words related to African tea ceremony, including the word “attaya” itself, are Arabic in origin because the early Moors are thought to have perfected the art of preparing sweet mint tea. The Senegalese language is largely derived from Arabic. The best-known English word that comes directly from Senegalese is also food-and-drink related; “yummy.”
Tea culture in West Africa
Tea is always served to visitors in West African homes, but more commonly it is drunk during social gatherings at restaurants, on street corners, in alleyways, wherever people meet to talk and socialize.
There are dozens of ways to prepare African mint tea for attaya, but the most common one calls for a large pot of boiling water (preferably over a charcoal fire) to which is added green tea leaves, mint leaves and a generous dose of sugar. After a long boiling period, the tea is mixed by pouring it to and from the glasses several times. This distributes the sugar and mint evenly.
Good African mint tea has lots of foam on top. This is a result of the pouring process (see above) but it is usually less thick during the second and third rounds as the concoction weakens.
It is said that in many West African nations potential burglars and thieves will steer clear of homes and businesses if they smell mint tea being brewed in the evening. That’s because night watchmen and late-shift police typically drink strong mint tea to stay awake. The first round alone is enough to keep a person’s eyes wide open for several hours.
Taste and preparation
The taste of the tea depends on the preparer. Talented tea-makers in Senegal and neighboring countries usually do a careful head count before preparation. That way, they can calibrate the amount of sugar, tea leaves and mint to use, as well as how much water to prepare. Considering that each person will be drinking about 20 ounces of tea over a 2-hour period, very large pots are used when there are more than a few guests.
Because the caffeine content is so high, African-style mint tea is never served on an empty stomach, but always after meals. And contrary to almost every other nation’s tea-drinking practices, West African attaya attendees slurp and gulp their tea rather quickly. The socializing takes place between rounds of drinking rather than during. All of which means that a typical attaya 3-round ritual will include no less than 2 or three sessions of chatting that are each about 30 minutes long.
“Free speech” is the only rule
During an attaya session, guests are expected to express their opinion about the tea, saying whether they think it too strong, too weak or just right. Unlike in Western cultures, it is not considered rude to speak one’s mind about the quality of the tea at an attaya. “Wow, that’s way too strong for me,” and “Is this water or tea?” (during the third round) are routine comments from attaya participants, all of which bring either laughter or a reasoned response from the preparer, like “Well, you Brits and Americans are too weak to drink ‘real’ African tea. Hahahaha.”
Many Westerners are taken aback when they realize that West African attaya sessions are truly free-wheeling affairs, where just about any subject is fair game for discussion, and friendly argumentation is even encouraged and appreciated. (Contrast this with Japanese tea ceremony!)
It’s interesting to note the differences between the world’s most ritualized, formal matcha tea ceremonies of Japan and the much looser, socializing tone of West Africa’s attaya. In the former, virtually every word and action is prescribed by tradition. In a typical attaya, a street vendor might prepare the three rounds of mint tea with varying amounts of sugar and much chatter between host and guests.
Regardless of these obvious differences, West African attaya is one of the most colorful and interesting “tea ceremonies” on earth; and everyone should experience the camaraderie and good cheer that accompanies each glass of African mint served during attaya.