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The ultimate nutritionist survival guide to festival fun

The ultimate nutritionist survival guide to festival fun

The ultimate nutritionist survival guide to festival fun

Download free PDF here The ultimate nutritionist survival guide to festival fun

 

Whilst I may now be a well-respected nutritionist, it would be hypocritical to deny that I haven’t done my fair share of partying.  Having lived my teenage years with complete abandon through the 1990’s and drunk my own body weight in cosmopolitans at the Met bar during the early noughties, I will honestly confess to three day benders, raves in open fields and muddy festivals that were just part of the course during this era.  Unlike your ‘clean eating’ millennial’s, I feel fully qualified to impart my forty years of knowledge on the best way to survive the festival season unscathed!

Forget trying to keep up with the young ‘uns!

My first word of advice for anyone over the age of 25 is to forget trying to keep up with the teens. Those lucky buggers can do three days with a rucksack full of booze and get up fresh as a daisy after 2 hours’ sleep, but let me tell you, this just doesn’t work for the rest of us!

So, how do you survive Glastonbury and still look great in a pair of denim hot pants and Hunter wellies?

Preparation is the key

For those ‘clean eating’ disciples, this a time to let yourself go and live in the moment as your search for a green juice and kale salad is likely to fall on deaf ears! The modern health hedonist thrives on burning the candle at both ends whilst still retaining their well-being with dignity and coolness.

Save some space in your luggage for key essentials and that means packing a few food items and supplements to give you the energy to wake up on day two and three, ready for the party ahead! It’s rock and roll after all!

 

Essential festival survival kit

 

 

Best choice of drink

Well this is a difficult one and from experience I can only say that you should stick to one type of drink. I know it’s tough in the throes of the moment but mixing drinks is a sure-fire way to end up with your head down a portaloo or confessing your darkest secrets to some unsuspecting stranger (we have all been there!).

Don’t frontload your fun!  Try watering down the booze as the coolest partygoer stands the test of time and still looks like sparkly into the early hours of the morning.  Add fizzy water to wine or serve your spirits with extra mixers.  If you want to avoid the king of hangovers than my advice is to steer clear of red wine or brown spirits that are high in congeners, which are substances known to intensify the effects of a hangover.

Breakfast

It’s important to eat regularly during the day to soak up the booze and there’s no better way to start than a good breakfast.  Whilst lunch and supper might involve less than healthy food (you may even skip these meals), breakfast is likely to be the only meal you’re going to get to cook or prepare for yourself and is the easiest thing to pack.

Try and avoid the temptation of a greasy bacon and egg sandwich.  Far be it from me to tell you what to eat but whilst this may offer instant gratification you’re more than likely to be left feeling bloated and possibly suffering from a dodgy tummy for a few hours afterwards as your delicate stomach battles with the digestion of excess fats.

If you have access to boiling water then pack plenty of quick cook porridge sachets.  You can boost their nutritional impact by topping with dried fruits that will help to balance blood sugar levels after a heavy night of drinking and dancing.  Adding nuts and seeds will help to boost the prolonged energy supply by adding healthy fats and fibre.

You can also pack hard boiled eggs!  I know this is a bit of effort but they will last a while once cooked.  Eggs contain the amino acid, cysteine that helps the liver to breakdown alcohol.  If you pack rye bread and avocado then teamed with sliced boiled eggs you have the breakfast of champions that will keep you going until lunch.  Eggs and avocado also supply the body with B vitamins that are required to help the body breakdown alcohol and convert food into energy.  This combo also looks pretty sophisticated as a hangover breakfast!

Healthy snacks

It’s not a bad idea to chuck a few healthy snacks into your backpack before you leave the house. The easiest things are dried fruit and nut bars. You can make your own energy balls if you’re feeling particularly prepared. They’re easy to take with you as you venture out into the crowd and can provide a valuable energy source and pick-me-up during your favourite band sets.  Bananas offer a brilliant source of potassium, which is an electrolyte required for fluid balance and nuts are rich in another essential electrolyte, magnesium.

Nuts, seeds and fruit are also easy to pack and can be a great option to fill the gap between meals.

After party munchies

Depending on the weather and your ability to store food, cold meats and cheese teamed with pitta bread and crackers such as Ryvita (www.ryvita.co.uk) offer a good nutritious meal when you get back to your tent.  You can also pack dips such as hummus or even nut butters and dare I say Nutella (tastes amazing with sliced bananas after a few drinks!).  Canned tuna and pulses can also be used to rustle up a quick nutritious meal after the party if you can navigate the can opener! Pack a few fresh herbs, lemons, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to complete the meal.

Hydrate

It goes without saying that the most important thing after a heavy night is to re-hydrate.  Try packing as much water as possible if you can’t get it at the festival.  Watery fruits are also great for the morning after.  Melons are particularly cool as they have a high-water content and are rich in fruit sugars to balance out blood glucose levels.  Sometimes after drinking, still water just doesn’t hit the mark so try packing fruit and herbal teas, as these can be a little easier to face as can a good old cup of builder’s brew!

For the more refined partygoer, packing fresh herbs and spices can make for an ace hangover cure.  Fresh mint with lemon and a little honey works well.  Mint helps to alleviate bloating and gas.  Another brilliant combination is pouring boiling water over freshly squeezed lemons, ground turmeric, ground ginger and honey.  This spicy combination works well to perk you up and the ginger can help settle delicate tummies.

Try this soothing tea recipe.

Supplements

We’re all aware of the mantra that food should come first but in some cases a supplement can work wonders when you know you’re going to be drinking a lot of booze.  Either an artichoke extract or milk thistle supplement taken before, during and after the festival can help your liver to cope with the excesses of partying.  A good effervescent vitamin C tablet such as Healthspan Ruby Breakfast (£11.95 for 4×20 tablets) can help to replace this vitamin that is also required for the breakdown of alcohol.  A good B vitamin complex may also help as this group is rapidly depleted in the presence of excess alcohol.

My ultimate hangover cure is Dioralyte (https://www.dioralyte.co.uk) as it helps to replace the electrolytes lost through excess sweating and unfortunate instances of overdoing it on the booze! In emergencies take before bead and when you wake up!

My hidden party animal urges you to make having fun top of your list at festivals but there’s no need to suffer the next day.  Make space for a few key foods and supplements that can help to keep you going and ease the pain the next day. Also, importantly, make sure you try to drink wisely and keep in close contact with your fellow partygoers to ensure you stay safe.

 

Food and supplement checklist

 

 

Porridge sachets

Bananas

Avocados

Herbal teas

Honey

Lemons

Ryvita

Nut butter

Extra virgin olive oil

Canned tuna

Canned pulses

Spices (turmeric, ginger)

Effervescent vitamin C tablets (supp)

Milk thistle (supp)

Artichoke extract (supp)

Diorolyte (supp)

Fresh mint

Melons

Dried fruit

Nuts

Seeds

Boiled eggs

Dried fruit and nut bars

 

Download free PDF here The ultimate nutritionist survival guide to festival fun

 

When is the best time to eat?

When is the best time to eat?

Mindful eating

I was recently asked by the Daily Mail Online about my favourite go-to breakfast?

This had me thinking a little bit about how my view of breakfast and eating in general has changed over the years.  There was a time when I conformed to the view that breakfast was the most important meal of the day and that you should eat as soon as you get up.  However, as i’ve gotten a little older (heaven forbid I am nearly 40!! – cringe) my food taste and lifestyle has changed.  I’m no longer dashing to the gym at the crack of dawn as stressful deadlines and lack of organization skills have me up early, frantically typing to meet overdue deadlines and for some reason the last thing I feel like doing when I’m stressed or distracted is eating.  Coffee is the only thing that’s going to hit the spot at 6am.

Forget the old adage of eating breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and supper like a pauper.  Who even came up with this anyway! I now firmly believe that eating should be more intuitive.  Not that you should throw regular meal times out of the window but I do think that we need to learn to listen to our body and eat when we genuinely feel hungry.

Understanding your own hunger and fullness is probably the best thing you can do to help maintain a healthy weight and work in sync with your body.  This doesn’t mean starving yourself because you’re too rushed in the morning to make breakfast or cant be bothered to cook, but satisfying the need for food when your body asks for it.

There’s a whole raft of information out there dictating when, how and what we should be eating, but understanding and listening to your own body is always going to be the best option.  There was a time when we had to hunt for our food and mealtimes were dictated by what you managed to forage or catch.  Although you cant draw comparisons as we have come a long way since then, eating for the sake of eating or at a set times during the day just doesn’t seem to make sense.

It’s really flippant to think this is an easy way to eat as there are wider issues around food that influence how and what people eat but learning to adopt basic mindfulness and intuitive eating skills can help.  Don’t be put off by the sound of these concepts as they really are just common sense.

Whilst a healthy balanced diet is key to good health, the idea of what this is has become very blurred as we have so much access to nutrition advice and media attention on the latest superfood or wonder diet.  Just getting back to basics about healthy eating and focusing your attention more on how you eat and not what you eat will help you to tune into your basic cycle of hunger and satiety.

Tips for mindful eating

Eat slowly

Eating is not a race.  Taking your time to eat and enjoy your food will help you to recognize when you’re full.  Chew your food slowly as this will help with digestion and give your body time to recognize that you are full.  Eating too quickly also leads to indigestion and bloating.  Many fast eaters have adopted these habits from childhood and they often come from large families so trying to educate your children on the idea of eating slowly may go some way in helping to prevent this habit from being passed on.

Switch off! 

Try and make food and eating the main attraction at the dinner table.  Turn the TV off and make dinner time an electronic-free zone.  This doesn’t mean forgoing the Saturday night take-away and movie but just making all other evening meal times about the food without distraction.

Savour the flavour

Eating slowly and savoring every mouthful of food allows you to appreciate the flavours and textures of food, which adds to the enjoyment of eating.  If you wolf down you meal in five minutes then it’s likely you won’t even notice what you’re eating and this can lead to a lack of appreciation making food and eating a mechanical process of eating to live rather than living to eat.

So after all that, what was my favorite breakfast?  Well it was chopped egg and avocado on toast that I actually ate at 11am when I finally felt hungry after a morning of deadlines and coffee.

 

Chopped egg and avocado on toast 

Serves 1

300 calories per serving 

 

Ingredients 

1 egg

1 small avocado

1/2 yellow pepper, deseeded and finely diced

1 spring onions, finely sliced

2 chives, finely chopped

1 small handful of coriander, finely chopped

1/2 lemon, juiced

Sea salt

Black pepper

1 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

1 slice of granary bread, toasted

 

Method

  1. Place the egg in a small pan of water set over a high heat and bring to the boil.  Simmer for 8 minutes then take the pan off the heat and place under cold tuning water to cool.
  2. Once cooled (about 2 minutes), peel the shell from the egg.  Quarter the egg.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients (except the granary toast) to a medium-sized bowl and combine well.
  4. Serve the egg on a plate with the avocado mixture and granary toast.

 

Download recipe here Chopped egg and avocado on toast 

 

 

 

Wheat-free hot cross buns and the benefits of rye flour

Wheat-free hot cross buns and the benefits of rye flour

So, after a lot of disasters, which included many batches of hot cross rocks! I finally managed to produce a batch of edible buns!  These were created for a PR agency who are trying to promote the use of rye flour.

I’m not afraid of carbohydrates in the diet and spend quite a lot of time sticking up for the health benefits of including this food group in the diet.  I don’t mean promoting the consumption of sugary drinks and mars bars,  but the inclusion of small amounts of good quality wholegrain foods that add valuable fibre, B vitamins, magnesium and iron to the diet.

We don’t need a huge amount of carbohydrate in the diet and what you need can be manipulated based on your health goals.  If you’re a healthy weight and very active, training hard, then they’re a valuable source of immediate energy in the form of glucose (the body’s preferred source of energy), that helps to prevent fatigue by storing glycogen in the muscles and liver.  However, overloading the body with carbohydrate foods as well as leading an inactive lifestyle, will lead to weight gain and if you’re trying to lose weight then cutting back is a useful tactic given the fat storage effect of insulin.  Limiting carbohydrates in the diet to no more that 50g per day, which equates to 2 slices of bread or 200g of cooked wholegrain pasta, rice or quinoa, can force the body into utilising fat stores as an energy source (a process called ketosis).   You don’t want to remain in this state indefinitely, but studies show ketogenic diets are an effective way to reduce body fat and ultimately overall body weight.

Foods made using rye flour such as pumpernickel are a good choice of carbohydrate given their high fibre content.  Most people don’t eat enough fibre and this nutrient has been shown to protect against heart disease and bowel cancer as well as helping to control blood sugar levels and maintain fullness between meals.  Rye is also a good source of magnesium, iron , zinc, manganese and copper as well as B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin and B6, which are all essential for the conversion of food into energy used by cells as well as maintaining healthy skin and nervous system.

Rye is also wheat-free, although not suitable for coeliacs or those with gluten sensitivity as it still contains gluten.  Whilst there are a significant number of people who experience bloating and digestive upset when they eat too much wheat, a diagnosed allergy is very rare.  The most dangerous form of wheat allergy occurs in people after exercising within a few hours of eating these foods.  Exercise-induced changes in the body either trigger an allergic reaction or worsen the immune response to a wheat protein.  This condition normally results in life-threatening anaphylaxis.

These hot cross buns are made using rye and gluten-free flours.  They’re not as fluffy and light as your usual hot cross buns and fail to rise in the same way but still taste great.  I also like the homemade look of these hot cross buns! You can play around with the ingredients and experiment with different flavours such as cranberry and orange or ginger and apple.  I have switched the caster sugar in this recipe for honey (still a sugar but with more depth of flavour) and used less of it so they contain about half the sugar of traditional shop-bought buns.

Adding in dried fruit and walnuts helps to boost the nutritional content of the buns although they should still be seen as a sweet treat.  The best way to enjoy them is toasted with a little butter.  I have no problem with using butter as it’s a much more natural food (and tastier) than chemically produced margarines that are high in omega 6.  Although butter is high in saturated fat, we are now beginning to question the effect on health (especially heart health) of foods naturally high in this type of fat, although it’s still high in calories so you need to go easy!

 

Apple, walnut and cinnamon hot cross buns

Makes 12

250 calories

10.3g fat, 3g sat fat, 35.2g carb, 9g sugar, 7.4g protein, 2.7g fibre

Source of magnesium, selenium, B6, B12 and folate

 

Ingredients

Buns

250g wholemeal rye flour

200g gluten-free white flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground mixed spice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

85g butter

2 x 7g sachets of easy-blend dried yeast

325ml almond milk, slightly warmed

4 medium eggs, beaten

3 tbsp honey

2 small apples, peeled and chopped

85g sultanas

30g walnuts, crushed

 

Cross glaze

100g gluten-free white flour

2 tbsp water

 

Method

  1. Grease two large baking sheets and lightly dust with rye flour.
  2. Add the flours, salt and spices to a large bowl and combine.
  3. Add the butter and rub into the flour mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  4. Stir in the yeast the add the milk, eggs and honey then beat with a wooden spoon until the batter is smooth.
  5. Stir in the apples, sultanas and walnuts until evenly dispersed.
  6. Use a tablespoon and drop the mixture onto the baking sheets making sure each one is widely spaced. Use a knife dipped in water to shape each one into a round shape.
  7. Cover each of the baking sheets with greased cling film and leave somewhere warm to rise for 40 minutes until doubled in size and small holes appear on the surface. Remove the cling film.
  8. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  9. In a small bowl combine 100g gluten-free flour with 2 tbsp of water to form a thick paste. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe crosses on the buns.
  10. Place the baking sheets in the centre of the oven and cook for 30 minutes. They will not rise like a usual hot cross bun as they have been made using rye and gluten-free flours.
  11. Once cooked transfer to a wire rack. In a small bowl, combine a little honey and water then brush lightly over each bun whilst still hot to create a glaze.

 

Rye pancakes with blueberry and ginger compote

Rye pancakes with blueberry and ginger compote

Antioxidant-rich breakfast (download as a PDF rye-flour-pancakes-with-blueberries)

These delicious pancakes make a great breakfast or brunch.  Rye four is a good alternative for people who are trying to eat  less wheat.  The blueberries are rich in plant compounds called flavonoids that act as antioxidants in the body and have been shown to help protect against disease.

 

Serves 4  (makes 12 pancakes)

260 calories per serving

 

Ingredients

Pancakes

100g wholemeal rye flour

Pinch of salt

2 eggs

150ml almond milk

1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil

 

Compote

300g blueberries

1/2 tsp ginger, peeled and grated

1/4 lime, juiced

2 tsp honey

 

120g zero fat, thick Greek yoghurt

 

Method

  1. Place the flour and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Separate the eggs and add the yolk to the bowl with the flour.  Pour in the almond milk and beat with a wooden spoon.
  3. Place the egg white in a medium-sized bowl and whisk until soft peaks start to form.
  4. Fold 1 tbsp of the egg white into the pancakes batter then add the remaining egg white and fold very gently to retain the air.
  5. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan.  Add 1 tbsp of the mixture at a time to the pan (you will be able to fit 4-6 pancakes per batch).  Once air bubbles start to form on the top of the pancakes (after about 1-2 minutes), flip them over and cook for a further 1-2 minutes until lightly browned.  Transfer the pancakes to a plate and repeat until all the pancakes are cooked (keep them warm by covering the plate with foil.
  6. To make the compote, place the blueberries, ginger, lime juice and honey in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring gently.  Once boiling, turn down the heat and cook gently for about 5 minutes until some of the blueberries start to burst.  Once done, remove the pan from the heat.
  7. To serve, place 3 pancakes per person on a small plate, spoon over the compote and top with 1 tbsp of yoghurt.

 

Download as a PDF (rye-flour-pancakes-with-blueberries)

 

 

 

 

 

Shakshuka

Shakshuka

A heart healthy breakfast

Heart disease is the leading cause of premature death in the UK.  Diet and lifestyle factors have a huge influence on the likelihood of developing heart disease and most of us are well aware of what these are, however, it is the the willingness to change behaviour that poses one the biggest barriers to improving health.  Living a sedentary lifestyle and smoking are risk factors for the condition as is being overweight, which comes with its own set of risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, all of which are directly associated to the food choices we make.

Eating a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of foods will ensure that you get all the nutrients your body needs to maintain good heart health as well as limit those that can increase your risk of heart disease.  A diet rich in plant-based foods, healthy fats (found in foods such as extra virgin olive oil and oily fish) and small amounts of meat, as illustrated by the Mediterranean diet,  is the ultimate heart-healthy way of eating and research has highlighted the benefit of certain foods included in this particular diet such as extra virgin olive oil and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.

The best way to start your day is by eating a nutritious breakfast. Not only does it set you up for the day ahead, but research shows that eating breakfast can help with weight loss as you are more likely to eat less across the day.  Opting for high protein foods is also good for weight loss and studies have shown that eggs can lead to greater satiety (feeling of fullness) than grain-based breakfasts, making you less likely to reach for snacks mid-morning.   If you do not eat eggs then try another protein-rich breakfast such as smoked salmon, scrambled tofu or yoghurt with seeds and nuts.  Choosing sensible portion sizes is also important for weight loss and eating from a small plate is a good tactic (You can find useful examples of average portion sizes of individual foods by visiting sites such as NHS choices or Weight Watchers).

Eggs still get a bad wrap when it comes to heart health as they are naturally high in cholesterol, however we now know that naturally occurring cholesterol in foods has little significant impact on harmful levels in the body.  The British Heart Foundation states that there is no limit on the amount of eggs you can safely include in your diet (although people with very high cholesterol or familial hypercholesterolaemia need to be more cautious).

This delicious shakshuka recipe may not be something to cook on a daily basis, but it makes a great healthy brunch dish for the weekend.  Red peppers, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and tomatoes are rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (found in plants) that act as antioxidants in the body and help to protect it against disease.  Try serving with slices of toasted sourdough bread or on its own if you are trying to cut down on carbohydrate foods.  This dish is also really versatile.  I have added in a few handfuls of green peas but it can also be modified into something heartier for supper by adding cannellini beans or a serving of brown rice or quinoa.

 

Shakshuka

Serves 3-4

300 calories per serving (without bread)

Ingredients

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

300g cherry tomatoes, halved

½ lemon, zested

1 tbsp smoked paprika

2 tsp ground cumin

Small pinch of saffron

500ml stock (chicken or vegetable)

3 sweet red peppers, de-seeded and sliced

1 red chilli, chopped

2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes

2 handfuls of frozen peas

1 tsp sea salt

Ground black pepper

6 large eggs

Small handful flat leaf parsley

Small handful chopped coriander

 

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof pan set on the hob over a medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and garlic then fry for 5-8 minutes until soft.
  3. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Add the lemon zest, paprika, cumin and saffron then cook for a further minute.
  5. Add the stock, peppers, chilli and chopped tomatoes. Cook for 20 minutes or until the peppers are tender. Add the peas after 15 minutes of cooking. You may need to add a little more water if the dish dries out too much. The consistency should be thick but not dry.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Make a well in the sauce using a spoon and crack in one egg. Repeat for the other five eggs.
  8. Place the pan in the oven and cook for about five minutes until the egg whites are cooked and the yolk is still runny. Cook a little longer of you do not like runny yolks.
  9. Remove the pan from the oven and garnish with the herbs.
  10. Serve the shakshuka with freshly toasted sourdough or other bread of choice.

 

 

Oat bircher muesli

Oat bircher muesli

Oat Bircher Muesli (Download as a PDF oat-bircher-muesli)

Serves 2

300 calories per serving

This muesli makes a great breakfast to start your day or even a nourishing snack (I like it after training or as a bedtime snack).

Oats are loaded with soluble fibre that aids digestion and helps keep you full whilst balancing blood sugar levels. One group of soluble fibres are the beta-glucans which have been shown to help lower cholesterol – good news for your heart!

 

Ingredients

80g rolled oats       img_0714

200ml fresh apple juice

70ml almond milk

Pinch of cinnamon

½ lime zested

1 tsp honey

1 apple, grated

1 kiwi, peeled and diced

½ pomegranate

1 tbsp toasted sliced almonds

 

Method

 

  1. Place the oats in a large bowl and cover with the apple juice, milk, cinnamon, lime zest and honey. Combine well and cover.  Place in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  2. Remove from the fridge and stir through the grated apple. Add more almond milk of a little too thick.  Top with kiwi and pomegranate.

 Download as a PDF (oat-bircher-muesli)