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    What is a vegan diet and who is it for?

    Vegan Diet

    What does vegan mean?

    A person who does not eat or use animal products is a vegan. A vegan diet is a plant based diet. It includes grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and legumes. Vegans avoid all animal products including:

    • Meat
    • Poultry
    • Seafood
    • Fish
    • Dairy
    • Eggs
    • Honey
    • Gelatine and other animal-based food additives

    What are the health benefits of a vegan diet?

    A vegan diet offers an array of different health benefits. Apart from weight loss, a well balanced vegan diet has also been linked to a reduced risk of:

    • Heart disease
    • Diabetes
    • Certain types of cancer
    • Hypertension
    • Obesity
    • Stroke

    How can I get enough calcium if I’m not consuming dairy?

    Calcium is actually abundant in many whole foods, as it is a mineral found in soil that is absorbed into the roots of plants. Calcium can be found in soybeans, tofu, broccoli, bok choy and many other plant foods, as well as nuts and seeds. Getting enough vitamin D from sun exposure is also key for calcium absorption. Many people believe they need to drink milk to get adequate calcium for bone health. In reality the process of bone formation relies on hormones and requires an adequate and constant supply of numerous nutrients including protein, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin D, potassium and calcium. Many of these minerals are readily available in plant based foods. For example whole grains, spinach, nuts, whole grains, beans and chocolate are rich in magnesium. Seeds, nuts, wholegrains, beans are also rich in phosphorous. Bananas, spinach, potatoes and mushrooms are rich in potassium.

    Will I need to take any supplements?

    It is always important to get advice from your health professional, as supplement recommendations are very individualised. It is best to supplement according to your personal needs, not everyone will need the same supplements.However, a vitamin B12 supplement is usually recommended for vegans.

    Vitamin B12 plays an important role in nerve cells and DNA.   B12 is naturally found in animal products including meat, fish poultry. B12 is usually made from bacteria, in nature.  Soil contains B12, so unwashed mushrooms may provide a small amount of B12. While our own gut bacteria make B12, it is hard for us to absorb this B12 made by our own gut because, because we need intrinsic factor (in the stomach) to help us absorb it in the small intestine.  Because vegans don't eat animal products vegans and even vegetarians may need to supplement B12.

    As well as B12, an omega 3 supplement may also be recommended sometimes as well as vitamin D, depending on the intake of these in the diet.  Omega 3 is present in flax seed oil but not in the most useful form for the body, and we do get vitamin D from the sun, but your absorption will depend on exposure to sunlight and other factors.  Sometimes it is also recommended vegans take iron or other mineral supplements like calcium and magnesium. 

    A simple blood test by your GP will determine your need to supplement or not.

    vegan ingredients

    Quick facts:

    • Vegans avoid honey because it is produced by bees. Vegans use other sweeteners instead: such as maple syrup or agave nectar or sugar.
    • In 2018, ‘vegan’ was the most googled dietary term in Australia.
    • Adopting a vegan diet could cut your carbon footprint in half.
    • People choose a vegan diet typically for environmental, health or political reasons or a combination of these.

    Wholesomeness does a vegan range of meals and meal plans delivered (or pick up by arrangement).

    Low FODMAP diet- what is it and who is it for?

    What are FODMAPs?

    FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols, which are essentially a "family" of carbohydrates.

    They are found in a variety of different foods in differing amounts.  Foods high in FODMAPs include garlic, onions, kidney beans, mange tout, peas, apples, apricot, peaches, raisins, plums, avocado, wheat containing bread, cereal and pasta, barley, rye, spelt, cashews, pistachio, cow milk, goat milk, sheep milk, soy milk, yoghurt, cream cheese.  (This is not an exclusive list).

    Not all experts quote the same Low FODMAP lists so it can be confusing for some.  We typically refer to the Monash university as a resource for our list of low and high FODMAP ingredients. 

    Why do some people avoid them?

    Some people find it difficult to digest these types of carbohydrates, and eating foods containing these may lead them to experience symptoms like bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea or essentially a group of symptoms often referred to as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). 

    People who suffer with IBS often find relief in avoiding some foods containing FODMAPs.

    How does it work?

    Usually people can tolerate low amounts of FODMAPs or can tolerate certain foods better than others.  It is usually not necessary to exclude all FODMAPs which is why it is called a Low FODMAP diet.

    For example, while beans are generally not tolerated, small to moderate amounts of canned, rinsed chickpeas are generally tolerated because the galacto oligosaccharides usually are leached into the water so the remaining chickpeas once rinsed are usually fairly low in them.

    Garlic infused olive oil is well tolerated but whole garlic is not.  The flavour and the oil is low in the FODMAPs as the carbohydrate is in the garlic itself.

    Wholesomeness is proud to be one of the first and only providers of Low FODMAP meals cooked, packaged and delivered to your door.

    Click Here to Start Your Meal Selection

    low fodmap sesame chicken with carrots and asian greens







    10 Ways To Improve Your Relationship With Food

    We all have a relationship with food, even though we often don’t think about it like that, sometimes it’s a guilty affair, sometimes it’s abusive and sometimes it’s healthy and loving relationship that’s nourishing and rewarding.

    For many people who struggle with their body image and weight, food serves other roles in their life than just nourishment. They use it to soothe, comfort or distract themselves. There are times when this can then feed into a guilt cycle, where people eat because they are unhappy but unhappy because they eat (the wrong things or overeat). These choices can sometimes cause unpleasant emotions to take over.

    Usually, the problem is not really about the food, but the way we use food in our lives.

    Food is so woven into our identity, our upbringing, and how we live life.

    When we eat it is important to know why we are eating, view food in a positive way (rather than negative, food is life sustaining… it’s good to eat to nourish). Be aware of any emotional attachments you may have to food and reassess the purpose of the food we are eating.

    Here are 10 simple ways to improve your relationship with food:

    1. Know WHEN to eat.  Eat when you're hungry,  honour your body.
    2. Know WHAT you’re eating.  Eat food to nourish, honour your body.
    3. Know when to STOP eating
    4. Always make time for breakfast – never deprive yourself of a meal
    5. Don’t compare your plate, your food choices or your body to others
    6. Know the difference between real hunger and emotional hunger
    7. Eat for energy and health, not to suppress emotions
    8. Stop putting junk food on a pedestal and over emphasizing it’s value in your life
    9. Be present! Avoid eating with distractions, chew slowly and enjoy the flavour
    10. Get back in touch with the pleasure of eating food, whether it's a peach, a bowl of oats, a salad, a steak or an ice cream.  Eating to nourish your body can (and ideally should) be a really pleasurable and nurturing experience.

    Meal Planning Tips

    Meal Planning Tips:

    It doesn’t have to be complicated but here are some easy meal planning tips:

    1. Start your day with some sort of fruit (e.g. blueberries, apples, grapefruit, kiwi fruit) and add some yoghurt (for good probiotics e.g. Greek Yoghurt, Goat’s Yoghurt or Coconut Yoghurt), add some healthy nuts or seeds like (pistachios, slivered almonds or flaxseeds).
    2. Have a soup or a salad for lunch and add some protein to it e.g. Chicken Salad, Salmon Salad, Chicken and Sweet potato and Leek soup or a hearty Lentil Broth or Minestrone Soup. If you want to have some bread with it opt for a sourdough option, and rotate the grains, if you have rye today have oat tomorrow, and spelt the next day etc.
    3. For dinner full half your plate with veggies or salads and make them colourful, something green, something orange or yellow or red or purple, at least two colours is a great start. Add some healthy protein like fish or chicken or legumes or beans and some healthy carbs like brown rice.
    4. Snack on fresh fruit and nuts or veggie sticks and humus.
    5. Once you have eaten to nourish for 80% of your eating, it’s ok to treat yourself but be mindful of treating yourself with treats that won’t compromise your digestive tract.

    It's a good idea to map out your week if you can, as this helps you to shop and be ready.  I find a rhyme helps my family (particularly because food rotation is important, we shouldn't be eating the same thing day after day after day).

    If you struggle for ideas why not create a "What's for dinner" rhyme:

    Macaroni on Monday (some sort of gluten free pasta and sauce and salad)

    Chicken on Tuesday (e.g. Grilled or Roast with salad or veg)

    Wagyu on Wednesday (some sort of beef, preferably organic but it doesn't start with W!)

    Thai on Thursday (stir fry or curry)

    Fish on Friday (grilled fish with sweet potato wedges or baby potatoes is our fav)

    Something on Saturday (this could be treat day or take away)

    Soup on Sunday.

    Keep your compensations just ahead of your indulgences! Why I count nutrients and not calories!

    My daughter knows the drill, "treats are treats" and "healthy food is food that is good for you". 

    She gets both, yip, I give my daughter sugar sometimes.  I've been a nutritionist long enough to know that if I deprive her of something that everyone has she is going to develop FOMO (fear of missing out) so bad, that junk food will be elevated to this inevitable pedestal that only makes it more desirable. Ever restrict yourself from certain foods, ever eat more than ever- when you inevitably cave?    Most of us have been there, deprivation and overly restrictive diets are usually a one way ticket to a binge.

    So the way we do it in our family is focusing on getting the healthy food in.  Most of our eating is focused on "eating to nourish".  A little bit like "the crowd out" approach.  We keep our tummies full, our nutrient levels up and most of the time this keeps cravings at bay.  And, we make sure that we eat great tasting food, so healthy eating never feels like punishment or a chore, it's one of our greatest joys.  Then when we do feel like a treat, that we're eating for pure pleasure and indulgence, it's O.K. because if we tally up our nutrient intake for the day, we've done alright.

    Some of our food rules include "eating a nourishing breakfast".  We all eat breakfast before leaving the house.   We all have to have some green veges on our plate every night (my daughter gets to pick from what's available but she has to have something).  I pack a healthy lunch box of food she enjoys eating, and there's always something a little bit "treaty" in there, and that's the smallest part, again I do this to keep the "FOMO" monster at bay.  Maybe it's 4 mini dark chocolate coated rice crackers, maybe it's a bag of savoury rice crackers, maybe it's an apple juice popper, maybe it's a fruit flavoured yoghurt, maybe it's a home made cup cake.

    When she finishes school in the afternoon she's usually hungry and always asks for a treat.  Most of us identify with a 3pm energy slump, or wanting a food "pick me up", many kids are the same. 

    So I try to have fruit or crackers or a healthy snack like nuts available for pick up and a little treat planned for after that.  Maybe it's soy crisps, sometimes it's chocolate coated nuts and sometimes she asks for ice cream.  This is the time she most wants her treat, and this is the time when she can eat it without affecting her appetite for dinner, and without spiking her sugar so that she is too wired to sleep. 

    Eating sugary treats after dinner is not a great idea for a number of reasons, so we try to plan the time of day when the treat has the least impact on our nutrition.  Sometimes it's mid morning and sometimes it's mid afternoon.  And then we do the treat, with full commitment.  If it's ice cream, we sit outside together and enjoy our ice cream and each others company, if it's a piece of cake we make tea and stop and eat cake.  If it's chips, we eat and share and savour each mouthful. We generally avoid desserts other than for special occasions.

    Research shows having treats earlier in the day is better than having them later in the day because you are more likely to over indulge later in the day.  Research also shows if you start the day with a healthy breakfast you are less likely to eat as much junk food through the day. 

    Counting calories doesn't cut it in terms of a nutritional milestone, it's easy to have a low nutrient high calorie eating pattern and it's easy to have a low calorie low nutrient diet. 

    So instead of focusing on "what not to eat" try focusing on "what to eat" during your day, everyday to ensure you are achieving your maximum nutrition potential, and then throw in an indulgence when you need to.