We all know that with the grey skies, cooler weather and shorter days, the food gets warmer and a little more…well, beige.
The comforting foods we crave is pretty common for most of us, but indulging too much can leave us without the nutritional density and diversity we need to optimise our health. Particularly nutrients that support our immune system, improve our mood, regulate blood sugar & help with weight management. And it’s these systems that can really seem to struggle throughout the colder months.
The first step to staying well and enjoying foods like pasta, rice and bread, is to stop demonising these foods.
When we classify foods as bad or good, our labels create strange emotions and lead to disordered eating in some cases. For example, say I’ve decided that chocolate is a “bad” food. I can try and use all my willpower but in the end as per usual I have a little craving because I’ve avoided it so fiercely, and then instead of just eating a little bit, I wolf the whole thing. Now, wouldn’t it have been better to have the mindset that it’s okay to have a little bit more often if I’m eating nutrient dense foods the rest of the time. Hell yes!
So humour me for a second, and read on to help change your tune on the supposed “bad boys” of the food world and your eating habits.
Quality over quantity
As always when it comes to food, going for quality over quantity is key.
Spend a little more and support a small business that uses quality fresh ingredients, just like our gorgeous Otway Pasta Company supplier. It may cost a little more initially, but you can then look at serving smaller quantities so you get more out of it anyway.
An important practice that can help you reduce over-eating and maximise satiety is to practice “Mindful Eating”. This mainly refers to actually paying attention to your meal and tasting each bite. Savour your food, slow down and avoid any distractions. If you are a person that has chowed down a whole meal and you can’t remember when your bowl got empty, this is going to be a big one for you!
When choosing your breads, I’m sure we’re all in agreeance that your white tip top loaf isn’t cutting it in the health stakes. With slim to none nutrient density (unless they fortify it), it's just taking up space on your plate where something way more interesting and delicious could be.
Some of the best options for bread include a grain-rich, darker loaf which is going to be far more full of fibre, magnesium and B vitamins. This is because the bread has been created from the wholegrain, rather than stripped to create the white fluff you see in the supermarkets.
Have you gotten on the sourdough baking train this iso? Fab! Because those microbes actually encourage the production of an enzyme called phytase which helps to break down phytic acid. Phytic acid has been shown to bind to minerals and block their absorption, so by minimising this in your food as much as possible you’ll be getting a more nutritional bang for your buck (this can be done via soaking, sprouting or fermenting your grains & legumes).
So, optimally a wholegrain sourdough (rye, spelt etc.) will be a really great option for you!
You could also look at changing things up by eating breads made from different types of grains, nuts & seeds or vegetables. And when you do eat it, consider if you really need the two pieces. Fill out your plates with veggies or protein and treat bread like a support act rather than the main event.
If you’re making pasta but want to avoid over-doing it, one option could be adding half the amount of the pasta you would normally eat and fill it out with veg noodles (zucchini, squash etc.), top up on the sauce or add a side salad.
This just looks at reducing the role the pasta plays in your meal, but not giving it up completely!
When picking your pasta, try to opt for pasta that is going to be richer in fibre, protein and nutrient density like pulse pasta (chickpea, lentil etc.), buckwheat pasta or spelt.
But again, wheat pasta is something you should be able to enjoy without the guilt. So like I mentioned before, choose good quality and just change up the ratios.
Whether it’s rice, bread of pasta you can just think of these guys as a vessel for the delicious flavours you are going to add to it.
There are literally no limits to your creativity, think outside the box and layer your meals with nutrient dense plant foods and quality protein to round out our meals and help you tick all your nutritional boxes.
Until next time,
Rom & Al