Healthy Food - The Energy Coach

Why The Government Does Not Have Our Best Interests At Heart

Why The Government Does Not Have Our Best Interests At Heart

This week the government announced that it was delaying bringing in restrictions of buy one get one free offers on highly processed food as well as free soft drink refills for 12 months.

The reason for this…. “allows us to understand its impact on consumers in light of an unprecedented global economic situation”

They’re concerned that the cost of living has risen so high that now is not the best time to restrict offers on cheap goods (it shouldn’t be called food).

This is utterly irresponsible of the government and will be terribly damaging to children and adults’ health and even those yet to be born. The NHS (already in massive crisis) will see an exponential increase in obesity-related illnesses and diseases because of this delay.

It’s like taking a mortgage holiday, like some of us took during the lockdown. It came in very handy, but while we were not making mortgage payments, we were still racking up interest on our remaining mortgage balance. When the payment holiday ends, our outstanding mortgage balance and mortgage payments will be higher than they were before the holiday.

The same could apply to global warming, delay any action for 12 months and the problem becomes x times worse to deal with.

The government are booting public health down the road to deal with later. And it’s not right.

I get it, we’re all feeling the pinch of the current crisis and for many in the UK sadly it’s a choice between heating and eating. But here’s what I would do if I were Prime Minister for the day to address both issues.

  • Bring in heavy taxes on all goods containing more than a set limit of sugar, saturated fat, salt or artificial sweetener. For example, any product with more than 5 grams of sugar per 100g is heavily taxed.
  • Have a yearly review of these limits and look to reduce the limits further.
  • Use the taxes raised to heavily subsidise all fresh food and produce, making this food very affordable for all of us.
  • Incentivise retailers to stock fresh food and produce. For example, 50% of their stock must be whole, unprocessed food otherwise they’re heavily taxed or fined.
  • Enforce better labelling on fresh produce; for example, the packaging on tins of pulses or packets of wholemeal pasta to display an easy and quick recipe with which to use the product.
  • Increase farming subsidies, particularly organic.
  • Think tank to find a solution to reducing fresh food waste.

We’re a nation ADDICTED to sugar, and we need to wean ourselves off. If we continue the way we’re heading, I cannot begin to imagine how bad public health will be in five- or ten years time, it’s worrying.

I am a firm believer that sugar and highly processed foods are one of the top causes of our disease and obesity epidemic and it’s high time we quit them.

Matt Jordan – the Energy Coach

How Much Fruit and Veg Should I be Eating?

How Much Fruit and Veg Should I be Eating?

I believe we need to be eating 20 different kinds of fruit, veg and undenatured whole plant-based food every day.

The current government guidelines recommend that we eat 5 different portions a day which is based on World Health Organisation’s advice that we eat a minimum of 400g of fruit and veg a day to lower the risk of diseases and live a healthy life as possible. As far as I’m concerned, this target is too low and is far from providing us with a satisfactory diet for optimal health and disease avoidance. I believe WHO has set the bar low for it to be a realistic and achievable goal for the average person in the west who eats a diet made mostly of refined grains and highly processed foods with little or no nutritional value for us and I can’t be recommending 5 a day to my clients as it just doesn’t provide us with what we need for optimal health.

As we all know oranges are a good source of vitamin C but they don’t contain calcium whereas soybeans contain calcium but not much vitamin C. To get a complete array of the essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other micronutrients such as the natural pigments that give veg and fruit their colour, we need to be eating a spectrum of food every single day and we just can’t get all we need from a selection of only 5 whole foods.

Twenty seems a lot, right? But I’m not suggesting eating large portions, simply one or two cherry tomatoes, half a carrot, some mixed salad leaves (attributes to more than one of your 20), a handful of oats, two or three brazil nuts etc is enough to provide us with the goodness these things contain. When you come to think of it, 20 a day is not that hard to achieve. A chicken salad sandwich would probably have lettuce, tomato, and cucumber contributing to three and you can find a chicken sandwich in pretty much any convenience store (whether it tastes nice is a different matter).

When having breakfast think about how you can add in as many different whole foods as possible. I have porridge and I add; 2/3 walnuts, 1 brail nut, chia seeds, flax seeds, chopped apple, blueberries, and vegan protein powder. That gives me 8 in breakfast alone.

When making a family meal for the evening think about what you can add to boost the numbers. For example, your spag bol sauce could include garlic, onion, celery, carrot, oregano, tomatoes, and some turmeric perhaps. You could end up with 7 or 8 in a simple evening meal.

Here is a list of food groups that count towards your 20 a day:

  • Fruit
  • Fresh and dried herbs
  • Fresh and dried spices
  • Garlic, onions and all other vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans and pulses
  • Whole un-altered grains like oats, barley, brown rice

When coaching my personal training clients we always set small very achievable goals every week and look to build progressively with the goals over time and I suggest doing the same here.

Start by committing to eating at least 10 varieties every day for the first week. Keep a daily tally on your phone notes app. After 7 days look back to see if you did it. If you did, move the bar a little higher for the next 7 days. And if you didn’t, look back and find out where you could have improved and set out a plan to improve in that area to hit at least 10 the next week. Work at completing little achievable steps before moving on.

Matt Jordan – the Energy Coach

Is Red Wine Good for You?

Red Wine

Is Red Wine Good for You?

In the noughties, the word was that red wine was very good for heart health and for its antioxidant properties. Whilst that is true to some extent, it’s not as good as we once believed.

Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant found in the skin of red grapes. It has been shown to greatly extend the life of lab-tested organisms (more likely to add life to years in humans), helps fight against Covid-19, reduce the risk of heart disease, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, reduces DNA methylation rates (cellular ageing) and reduce blood pressure to name a few effects. But you’d have to drink a vast amount, I’m talking hundreds of bottles of red wine to get a recommended dose of resveratrol and as you can imagine, the negative effects of drinking that much would far outweigh the benefits. And we’re all too aware, that too much alcohol is not good for our physical and mental health and the government now recommends we drink less than 10 small glasses a week. That’s certainly not enough to see any real benefit from resveratrol. 

However, about 125ml a day (a small glass) has been shown in some studies to have more health benefits than other alcoholic drinks and can increase good cholesterol, reduce oxidative damage and reduce the risk of some cancers. There is a fine balance however so staying within a glass a day might be wise to see the good benefits and not the bad ones.

There is good reason to choose organic if you can afford to when buying food and drink and the same goes for wine. Organic grapes have not been sprayed with pesticides and fertilizers which can be found in a regular bottle of wine. Regular wine can also contain nasty additives including added sugar and sulphuric acids. The hangovers tend to be less severe in organic wine due to there being fewer sulphites (but you’re not going to be drinking to excess, right?).

Based on years of research in the health and fitness industry I strongly believe that happiness and laughter have huge benefits to our health. Not just to our mood but also have positive consequences on our physical health via reduced stress hormones and increased feel-good hormones which affect how the body functions and processes nutrients; eating a sandwich standing up, rushed and stressed compared to sitting down eating slowly whilst in good company would change how the body processes the food for better or worse. In blue zones (areas in the world where people live the longest) they do drink alcohol in moderation but do so in relaxed, enjoyable, social occasions with meals. So how we drink red wine is as important as how much.

My recommendation, as a health and fitness expert, would be to enjoy a social glass of organic red wine now and then knowing that in moderation when combined with a relaxed, positive environment red wine is probably doing you no harm and some good.

Matt Jordan – the Energy Coach