With dairy-free and gluten-free diets becoming the latest trend to follow, it seems everyone thinks they have a food intolerance. But what is a food intolerance? And how would you know if you had one? We take a look.
What is the most common food intolerance?
The most common food intolerance is to dairy, with 65% of the world's population intolerant to digesting lactose. The second most common food sensitivity is to gluten. People with coeliac disease cannot eat gluten due to the immune system attacking itself when gluten is ingested and someone suffering from this condition can become seriously ill if they do consume a food containing gluten.
Signs you may have a food intolerance
There are several symptoms that are common throughout different food intolerances. These include but are not limited to:
- Stomach ache
Symptoms of food intolerance tend to take longer to appear than symptoms of food allergies and they may be harder to spot.
Causes of food intolerance
There are several reasons why someone might be born with or develop a food intolerance. Some people lack the digestive enzymes to break down certain foods, for example people with a dairy intolerance may lack lactase which is the enzyme that breaks down milk sugar. Nearly all foods require an enzyme for proper digestion.
Some people may have an over-sensitive immune system which rejects the food or attacks itself when the food is ingested, in the case of coeliac disease. It's possible that if you eat a certain food too much you may develop an intolerance over time. In this case, by simply cutting the food out of your diet for a period of time, you can get rid of the intolerance.
How do I know if I have a food intolerance?
It can be difficult to diagnose a food intolerance because the symptoms can be caused by any number of health issues and symptoms often overlap. If you believe you may have a food intolerance, you're advised to keep a careful and detailed food diary and note what foods you have eaten when you experience symptoms. You are then advised to cut that food out of your diet and see if the symptoms go away. If so, it's quite possible you have an intolerance to that food. If you want to be really sure, you can then purposely eat that food and see if the symptoms return. This is known as an exclusion diet.
If you want a more detailed test, a doctor can perform a skin prick test. This is when a small amount of the suspected food is placed on your arm and the skin is pricked so that it goes below the skin's surface. If you react with a raised lump, you may well have an intolerance or allergy to this food.
We look at how stress and nutrition are related, how stress can lead to over (or under) eating, the serious health issues you could develop due to prolonged stress, and how in turn your diet can potentially reduce your stress levels. Which foods help stress? How does stress affect our eating behaviour? These questions and more will be answered in this informative article on stress and nutrition.
How can stress affect eating behaviour?
Stress is widely thought to lead to overeating. While in the short term you may experience a reduction in appetite, over the long term many people are led to overeat as a direct result of stress. One of the reasons for this is that the stress hormone cortisol can lead you to crave sugar, fat, and salt. These foods trigger certain hormones which lift your mood and make you feel better, but only temporarily. This behaviour is then learned, and your body realises that by eating foods high in sugar, fat, and salt, you will start to feel better so you crave them more. However, this is clearly a vicious cycle and one that is best avoided as early as possible.
According to research, women are more likely than men to reach for food during times of stress. In fact, men are found to crave alcohol and cigarettes during times of stress more than food. However, this means that as a woman, you may end up binge eating to deal with stressful times and situations.
What does stress do to your digestive system?
When we are stressed, blood is directed away from the centre of the body and redirected to the brain and limbs to support the natural ‘fight or flight’ response. What this means is that you will have less blood in your gut to help with food absorption and you may be left with indigestion and heart burn. This decreased blood flow to the gut also decreases the metabolism as the body essentially ‘shuts down’ to preserve itself.
Prolonged stress can lead to several serious health risks such as peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and acid reflux. If you are suffering from any of these issues, it is possible that stress is a leading cause.
Which foods help stress?
Thankfully, there are some foods which can help to reduce your stress levels and improve your wellbeing. Vitamin B-rich foods like salmon and broccoli are proven to reduce stress while dark chocolate is proven to lower levels of stress hormones in the body meaning you will be not only less stressed but overall more healthy too.
There are also lots of ways you can manage stress with exercise, as working out releases feel-good hormones called endorphins which are proven to reduce stress, not to mention the fact that a tough gym workout can be a great way to relieve stress physically by doing boxing or something similar.
How to stop stress-eating
Follow these tips in order to stop stress-eating and get your diet back on track.
Coffee raises your heart rate and can lead to anxiety and insomnia. You may think that drinking a cup of coffee at a stressful time is helping you to be more alert and focused, but it is actually doing the opposite. Cut back on the caffeine as much as possible, and don’t drink coffee after lunch to prevent your sleep being affected.
Get a stress ball
Instead of reaching for the sugary snacks to get you through a stressful situation, redirect your energy elsewhere, such as a stress ball. By squeezing a soft ball or clicking a fidget gadget, you can release your nervous energy without damaging your waistline.
Get to the root of the stress
This is probably the best way to combat stress-eating: get rid of the source of the stress. If it is your work that is stressing you out, try compartmentalising your workload by writing lists and prioritising important tasks that need attention right away. If it is a certain person who is stressing you out, try talking to them or discussing the issue to get to the root of the problem. If it is someone you don’t know very well, it may be worth cutting ties if their impact on your life is damaging your health.
Photo Credit: HaaralaHamilton
Our friends the Squirrel Sisters, Gracie and Sophie Tyrrell, have a new cookbook out and gave us here at Sundried a sneak-peek of one of their delicious new healthy recipes.
Their book, Naturally Delicious Snacks & Treats: Over 100 healthy recipes by Gracie and Sophie Tyrrell, published by Pavilion Books, is available now on Amazon.
Salmon Skewers Recipe
Lovely, zesty pesto goes really well with fish so long as you leave out the usual Parmesan. Try to buy the slimmer-in-width, but thicker-in-general fillets of salmon so you can get 5-6 chunky dice out of each one. Thinner fillets won’t hold onto the skewers quite so well.
- 2 chunky salmon fillets (about 360g)
- 8-12 cherry tomatoes
- Olive oil, for frying
For the pesto:
- 40g rocket (arugula)
- 15g cup pine nuts
- Zest of 1 small lemon
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
Start by making the pesto. Put the rocket, pine nuts, lemon zest and juice, sea salt flakes and olive oil in a food processor and blend until smooth. Season with black pepper and a little more salt, if wished, to taste.
Chop the salmon into 2.5–3-cm chunks and pop them in a bowl. Add half of the pesto and stir to coat the salmon well. You can leave this to marinate in the fridge if you have time, or just cook them straight away.
Thread the salmon chunks onto short skewers, alternating with the cherry tomatoes. You should get 4–6 skewers in total.
Heat a splash of olive oil in a large non- stick frying pan (skillet). Add the skewers and cook for about 10 minutes in total, turning every couple of minutes so that each of the sides gets browned.
Serve with the remaining pesto drizzled over the top.
Protein bars are a popular way to supplement your diet. Whether you use them as a healthy snack alternative or you swear by them post-workout, they're becoming a big part of the fitness world. We answer everything you've ever wanted to know about protein bars.
Why eat protein bars?
Protein bars are often designed to be delicious, moreish, and packed with healthy ingredients. They are expertly crafted to deliver the correct nutrients and a powerful punch of protein while still tasting great. Most protein bars will contain between 10g-20g of protein but can also contain a lot of sugar and calories.
A protein bar is designed to be eaten post-workout, when your body is low on glucose and is in need of a protein hit to aid recovery. In addition, they are meant to be used as a healthy snack alternative when on-the-go, instead of eating conventional chocolate bars or snacks.
A protein bar can be a great way of increasing your daily protein intake, however it's important to beware of the calories and sugar. Sometimes, it's better to get your protein from natural food such as lean meat, poultry, eggs, nuts and seeds, and beans.
Do protein bars make you put on weight?
When it comes to weight loss and weight gain myths, it can be difficult to split fact from fiction. You will only really gain weight if you are eating more calories than you are burning in a day. Therefore, protein bars will only make you gain weight if they are taking your daily caloric intake over the limit.
However, it is certainly possible that eating protein bars could make you gain weight because you don't realise just how many calories they contain. Always check the label when buying a new protein bar to check not only how many calories it contains, but also how much sugar. What you thought was just an innocent, healthy snack could easily contain over 300 calories.
What is the best protein bar?
In order to find the best protein bar for you, you need to know your goals. When going on a fitness or weight loss journey, it's very important to set fitness goals so that you can track your progress and have something to focus on. Once you know your goal, you will be able to decide what is the best protein bar for you.
Some protein bars are designed to increase mass for those looking to build a lot of muscle. These bars will contain a high amount of carbs as well as protein and a high number of calories for those who are 'bulking' on a high calorie diet. On the other end of the spectrum, there are 'lean' or 'diet' protein bars which contain very few carbs and a low amount of calories while still packing a lot of protein, and these are better for people trying to lose weight while building lean muscle and strength.
Finally, one of the most important things to consider when deciding if a protein bar is right for you is the taste and texture. Some protein bars are very dense with a chewy texture, while some are designed to mimic conventional chocolate bars with their decadent taste and chocolate coating.
Many thanks to the team at Vega® for this recipe.
Serves 4 | 20 Minutes Prep Time
Homemade vegan ice cream, is there anything better…? How about Protein Vegan Ice Cream Sundaes! Not only is this recipe utterly delicious, we have added our Vega Essentials Nutritional Powder to the ice cream mixture to increase the protein and vitamin content. So, you think you’re just eating classic ice cream, however you’re also eating lots of fruit and vegetables that contribute to the 16 different vitamins and minerals present in just one scoop of Vega Essentials. Not that you can taste them!
So why not give this recipe a go, no ice cream maker required, just a few sandwich bags and you’ll have a refreshing dessert in this hot weather in no time!
Vegan Ice Cream
500 ml plant-based drink, like coconut or almond
50 g coconut or caster sugar
1 ripe avocado
1 scoop Chocolate Vega Essentials Nutritional Powder
25 g cocoa powder
1 pinch salt
Vegan Ice Cream equipment
4 re-sealable small sandwich bags
4 re-sealable large sandwich bags
Bag ice cubes
300 g rock salt
Vegan Coconut Whipped Cream
400 ml can coconut milk, **CHILLED OVERNIGHT**
1 tsp vanilla extract
Maple syrup, as desired
1 large bar dark chocolate
1 Tbsp coconut oil
Optional Toppings: Cherries, roasted nuts
Vegan Ice Cream
Blend together the ice cream ingredients until smooth and then pour evenly between into 4 small sandwich bags. Seal tightly, trying to remove as much air as possible.
In the large sandwich bags, evenly distribute the ice and rock salt.
Place one small sandwich bag into each large bag and seal tightly.
Squeeze the bags for 10 to 15 minutes or until the ice cream is thickened.
Coconut Whipped Cream
Meanwhile, remove only the coconut cream from the can of coconut milk.
Using an electric mixer, whip until soft peaks form. Add in vanilla extract and maple syrup as desired.
Break the chocolate into cubes. In the microwave or in a pan over a low heat, melt the chocolate and coconut oil until just melted
Place the ice cream in bowls, top with chocolate sauce, whipped cream and any extra toppings.
For more delicious recipes by Vega® make sure to follow them on Instagram (@VegaTeam_UK) and Facebook!