Categories Health, Nutrition Advise, Recipies

The Importance of Eating at Home Instead of Restaurants

The Importance of Eating at Home Instead of Restaurants

Many people nowadays struggle to prepare or cook food at home for a variety of reasons including lack of time, long working hours, social media distraction, tiredness, lack of ideas what to prepare, inability to cook, travelling and many more. Eating out or ordering food seems like the simplest choice for many people – especially in Dubai.

There’s a multitude of benefits for eating at home compared to eating at restaurants or ordering take out. Eating at home means preparing and cooking the food at home, not merely heating up convenience pre-made food bought at the store.

When you prepare and cook food at home, you are able to control exactly what you put into the food. Although many restaurants or convenience food companies claim to be healthy, with no added salt or sugar, or even preservatives, there are often many unknown ingredients added to their food to improve taste. Therefore, eating out often can have harmful effects on your health. Studies have shown that eating out more frequently is linked to higher weight, body fat and obesity. What studies have also shown is that when you consume more fast foods, often you are consuming more calories, fat, saturated fat and sugary drinks and much fewer vegetables and fruit. This can impact your risk for other chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and even digestive disorders.

A misconception about healthful food is that it is boring and tasteless. Many people eat certain foods purely because it tastes good. It is important to note that cooking and preparing food doesn’t mean a lack of flavour, decreased taste or even boring food. Making use of your favourite herbs and spices as well as healthy oils, for example, can play a big part in making the food taste delicious.

Reasons to prepare food at home instead of eating out:

  1. You can more easily decide on healthier choices

When you eat at home you can choose to use protein sources lower in fat such as skinless chicken or meat without the fat. You are also able to increase the amount of vegetables you consume. When you eat at home you can replace the refined carbohydrates (e.g. white rice, white pasta, etc.) with more complex whole grain versions such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta, quinoa, buckwheat and more.

  1. Cooking methods at home are controlled

When you prepare food at home to eat, you can decide on the best cooking method to use for your dish. For example, instead of frying, you can bake in the oven, grill or even steam. Cooking methods play a significant role in how healthy a specific food item is.

  1. You can control the amount of salt (sodium) used

Sodium has a direct impact on blood pressure and many restaurant or convenience foods contain very high levels of sodium. When you prepare foods at home you can rather use herbs and spices that do not contain sodium for flavouring.

  1. You will experience fewer temptations

Eating out allows for plenty of temptations, such as eating the bread that is served as a complimentary appetizer, ordering dessert, having an extra refill of your favourite soda and many more. At home, you will be less tempted to indulge in these types of treats.

  1. Better portion control when eating at home

Restaurant portions are often much larger than your body needs. It is very easy to overeat when you eat out compared to when you prepare your own food at home. Portion control will help with managing your weight.

  1. Higher fibre consumption when cooking at home

Individuals who prepare at home are more likely to eat more fibre-rich food sources such as fruit and vegetables, whole grains and legumes compared to typical restaurant-type foods. This will improve digestive health and also have a beneficial effect on heart health and blood sugar control.

  1. Fewer calories in home-cooked food

Studies have shown that people who are preparing and eating most of their meals at home consume fewer calories than those who eat out – even when weight loss is not the main goal.

  1. Better fat choices when cooking food at home

When you eat out or order food from outside, the type and amount of fat used in preparation are out of your control. The types of fat chosen are important for overall health, especially your heart health. At home, you are able to choose healthier oils such as olive oil or avocado oil. Restaurants also often reuse oil multiple times which changes the structure of the oil and increases the amount of trans-fats (an unhealthy type of fat).

Overall, when you prepare food at home to eat, the benefits are much greater than the convenience that you find from ordering in or eat out. Taking care of your health is essential and the food you eat plays a big role in that!

Not sure how to get started? Let our team of nutritionists and dietitians help you with customized eating plans and easy to follow recipes.

Categories Ramadan, Recipies

Healthy Eating During Ramadan

 

As the holy month of Ramadan started, there are some important nutrition points that we would like to share. Ramadan is a time where Muslims around the world fast during daylight periods. During the fast, no foods or fluids are consumed.

Fasting affects the body in many ways. During the fasting period, our bodies use much of its carbohydrate and fat stores to provide us with energy from the food that was eaten during the non-fasting period. Many people struggle with mild dehydration during Ramadan due to lack of water intake throughout the day. Ramadan falls in the beginning of the hot summer months here in Dubai which means it is easier for dehydration to occur and increases the importance of drinking enough fluid after breaking the fast.

In the evening, after sunset, the fast is broken with the Iftar meal. Iftar is usually a special time spent with family and friends in celebration. After fasting the whole day, most people are extremely hungry and are likely to overeat. It is best not to go overboard at this meal, your body requires time to adjust to rehydrating and digesting food after a full day of fasting. Many people gain excess body weight due to the large portions as well as the deep fried, creamy and sweet foods that are eaten. Portion control often is neglected during Iftar meals which can also lead to additional weight gain.

Suhoor is the meal that is eaten before the day of fasting begins. This meal should be wholesome and provide you with the energy you need throughout the day. Eat a variety of food from a variety of food groups: lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fats, fruit, vegetables etc. Eat a white range of complex carbohydrates such as fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, oats etc.) at this meal. Include some healthy fats at this meal too to help keep you fuller for a longer time. These fats include nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, oils etc. Be sure to drink enough water at Suhoor too!

Top 10 Nutrition Tips for Ramadan:

  1. Drink enough water during the non-fasting period. Try to include at least 8-10 glasses of water before the fast starts again.
  2. Eat slowly when you break the fast. Your body needs to rehydrate and regain energy from the food and drinks.
  3. Include fluid-rich foods such as fruit, vegetables, soups and stews.
  4. Avoid salty foods. Salt will stimulate thirst.
  5. Be sure to eat your veggies! Have at least 2-3 cups of non-starchy vegetables each day.
  6. Avoid high fat foods such as deep-fried foods, rich creamy sauces, biscuits, cakes, chocolates etc. These foods add unnecessary calories and fat which can lead to weight gain.
  7. Divide your meals into 3 meals – iftar, a light snack and suhoor
  8. Exercise! Be sure to include exercise during the Ramadan month. Add a workout right before iftar or even go for a jog a while after your iftar meal.
  9. Include protein at each of your Ramadan meals. Choose leaner proteins such as fish and chicken or plant-based proteins such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu etc. Protein is important for your muscles and also will help with satiety to keep you fuller for longer.
  10. Keep meals similar to what you would have on regular days. Try avoid or limit buffets or appetizers and desserts.

 

Looking for help to stay healthy during Ramadan? Meet our qualified nutritionists & dietitians in Dubai and Abu Dhabi today! Call now!

Categories Health, Nutrition Advise, Recipies

How To Avoid Iron Deficiency & Stay Healthy!

 

IRON DEFICIENCY is a common problem all around the world. Iron plays a very important role in the body as it helps transport oxygen through our blood. Iron is also used to make hemoglobin which is a part of the red blood cells. When there is a deficiency in iron, it means that your body will be making less and smaller red blood cells.

In the United Arab Emirates there are many different cultures and nationalities and therefore iron deficiency is also a common problem that we see. Iron deficiency affects both men and women however women have been shown to be at an increased risk. Women of child-bearing age have an increased risk due to heavy menstrual periods and bleeding that they may experience. Women are also more likely than men to follow very restrictive or low calorie diets which can increase the risk for iron deficiency as they are often not consuming adequate iron rich food sources. When women are pregnant or breastfeeding this further increases their risk for iron deficiency because there is a much increased blood volume which in effect requires that more iron is used for oxygen transport to the baby, leading to possible iron deficiency.

 

So what causes iron deficiency? There are various causes of iron deficiency among individuals. One of the causes is a lack of intake of iron rich food sources. Another cause of iron deficiency is blood loss. An inability to absorb iron is another cause of iron deficiency – iron absorption takes place in the small intestine and when there is damage in the small intestine, lack of iron absorption can lead to a deficiency. This often occurs in individuals that have celiac disease because they experience damage to their intestinal lining.

How do we know that we have a deficiency in iron? Well, the symptoms are many. If you experience tiredness and fatigue, or have pale skin, increased heart rate, weakness, dizziness, hair loss or headaches it could intake a possible iron deficiency. If you suspect you may have iron deficiency it is a good idea to speak to your doctor regarding your medical history and symptoms. A blood test is also advised to see what your red blood cell levels are as well as an iron test that will determine how much iron is in the blood.

From a nutrition perspective, there are many ways that we can combat iron deficiency. Eating a diet rich in iron will boost blood iron levels. These foods include meat, fish, tofu, iron-fortified cereals, eggs, pulses, beans, dried fruit (e.g. apricots and prunes), and dark green leafy vegetables. It is also important to increase your iron absorption by including vitamin C rich foods at the same meal as your iron rich meals. Vitamin C is found in tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, peas and green leafy vegetables to name a few. Some factors have been shown to decrease absorption of iron. These include calcium found in dairy products as well as polyphenols found in teas and coffee. It is best not to have these at the same time as iron-rich meals.


Fe ingredients and product containing iron and dietary fiber natural sources of ferrum healthy lifestyle food and nutrition

 

Iron Recipes

Plant Based:

Herbed Lentils with Spinach and Tomatoes

Ingredients:

1 cup French lentils

2 cups water

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons diced shallots

3 cups baby spinach leaves

1 cup halved grape tomatoes

¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves

¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley

¼ cup fresh mint leaves

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

  • Place the lentils in a pot with the water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes, until the lentils are tender but still retain their shape. Drain any excess water from the lentils and set them aside.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over a medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until they are softened, about 3 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, lentils, basil, parsley, and mint to the pan and stir to combine. Cook until warmed through, about 1 minute. Stir in the lemon juice, salt and pepper and serve.

 

Warm Lentils with Quinoa and Spinach

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large shallot, chopped

1 cup carrots, peeled and chopped

2 cups mushrooms, chopped

1-3 garlic cloves, minced

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon dried rosemary

2 bay leaves

1 cup lentils

2 cups vegetable broth

2 ½ cups water

½ cup quinoa, uncooked

4-5 cups fresh baby spinach

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Heat the oil over medium heat in a large cast iron pot. Add shallots and carrots and cook until the carrots have started to soften, about 3 – 4 minutes. Add mushrooms and continue to cook until mushrooms are tender, another 5 minutes.
  • Add garlic, red pepper flakes and herbs. Stir the mixture until it becomes fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Pour in lentils, broth and 2 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover and reduce to simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Remove lid and add quinoa and remaining water. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture back to a boil, recover and reduce to simmer for another 15 minutes.
  • Remove the pot from the heat, uncover and add spinach, stirring gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Non Plant-Based

Chicken Soup with Kale and Cannellini Beans

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 gloves garlic, peeled and minced

2 sprigs fresh thyme (or ½ teaspoon dried)

1 stick celery, sliced

2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

½ cup good quality chicken broth

½ cup water

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

400g cooked cannellini beans

2 skinless cooked chicken breasts, shredded

2 cups kale, chopped

Small bunch of fresh parsley, chopped

Instructions:

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook for 10 minutes on a low-medium heat, stirring occasionally until softened.
  • Add the garlic and thyme and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the celery, carrots and sweet potatoes, stir, then add in the chicken broth and water, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Add in the drained cannellini beans and cook for a further 5 minutes
  • Add the shredded chicken and heat through for 2-3 minutes, then add the kale. Stir and simmer for 1-2 minutes until the kale has wilted. Season with more salt and pepper if needed.
  • Divide between four bowls, topped with fresh parsley and a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme.

 

Want to know more? Make an Appointment with one of our Nutritionists or Dietitians!

WhatsApp chat