Raw Fruit Or Fruit Juice? And 15 Other Healthy Eating Questions Answered By Gabriela Peacock

16 Burning Questions About Your Diet Finally Answered

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by Grazia Author |
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How to eat yourself to shiny hair? Vegan or paleo? Raw fruit or fruit juice? Knowing which dietary advice to follow, in order to feel good and look great, can seem more needlessly complicated than Gwyneth Paltrow's peachy protein breakfast smoothie. We spoke to top nutritionist, and former model, Gabriela Peacock who sorts the fads from the food and drink you should be choosing. Find out what to eat in the run-up to your wedding and which alcoholic tipples will keep you on the healthy bandwagon...

Grazia Daily: Going vegan has been made trendy by the A-list. What sort of vegan-friendly foods should a person with an average busy life be incorporating into their diet so they don’t miss out on key nutrients?

Gabriela Peacock: Variety of plant based whole foods is key to getting all the nutrients you need as a vegan. Vegan sources of protein include beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, tempeh, tofu and wholegrains. By eating a variety of these foods you will be getting all the essential amino acids the body needs. Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are often overlooked. Foods with the greatest nutrient density include raw leafy green vegetables such as spinach and salad leaves. Other greens such as broccoli, asparagus and Brussel sprouts. They contain minerals iron and calcium – two vital minerals often associated with animal products. Milk and yoghurt alternatives (made from soy or nuts) are also calcium fortified. Vitamin B12 deficiency is common among vegans. Find some nutritional yeast or a jar of marmite (love it or hate it!) and try adding it to dishes such as lentils or pasta.

Grazia Daily: Is it better to eat lots of small regular meals throughout the day, or three larger meals?

Gabriela Peacock: It is important to eat regularly to keep your blood sugar levels balanced, preventing fatigue and cravings. It is recommended to eat 3 meals with two snacks if you need them – but watch portion size. Eating too much – vegan or not – is likely to lead to weight gain.

Grazia Daily: What are the best foods to give an energy boost throughout the day?

Gabriela Peacock: Combining protein and carbohydrate is a good idea for balancing blood sugar/energy levels. Examples include a few oatcakes with nut butter, yoghurt with chopped apple, avocado on wholegrain toast or guacamole with crackers or porridge/oats with chopped banana and nuts.

Grazia Daily: Is going carb-free a fad or a really good idea?

Gabriela Peacock: Entirely eliminating a food group is not recommended. Carbohydrates provide the B vitamins involved in energy production. The most important thing is to avoid white, refined and processed carbohydrates such as white bread, cakes and biscuits. Swapping for wholegrain or rye, spelt or barley is a good idea. Rather than simply counting carbs, people should pay attention to the quality of the carbohydrates in their diet. Whole grains are a healthier choice than refined carbohydrates such as white bread, and whole fruits are a healthier choice than processed juices.

Grazia Daily: Going to business brunches and evening canapé receptions for work can be an obstacle to staying healthy. What sort of foods should you avoid and which should you enjoy?

Gabriela Peacock: Eating and drinking out can be a struggle as foods often contain more fat and salt than those prepared at home. Look for vegetable based canapés – crudités with dips and lighter bites such as sushi, prawns and fish. Avoid canapés in pastry or breadcrumbs and those that have been deep fried. Also watch your alcohol intake. Try to have a glass of water in between each alcoholic drink and opt for lighter options such as champagne and clear spirits over beer, wine and cocktails.

Grazia Daily: What are the lowest calorie alcoholic drinks to choose at post-work/ weekend drinks?

Gabriela Peacock: White/clear sprits such as vodka and gin have about 55kcal per shot. Mix with soda water and fresh lime. Champagne is a good choice as it is often served in a smaller glass. Have small glasses of wine topped with soda water – a spritzer.

Grazia Daily: Does fruit/ veg juice provide you with the same nutrients as eating the raw ingredients?

Gabriela Peacock: Eat whole fruit instead of juice (fruit first, juice occasionally). Whole fruit contains more fibre and so the sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream slower. Sugar found naturally in whole fruit is less likely to cause tooth decay than juices or blends because the sugar is contained within the body of the fruit. During juicing processes, some phytochemicals and dietary fibre are lost. Fluids are more rapidly absorbed than solids so drinking juice leads to a more rapid rise in blood glucose levels and insulin response than eating whole fruits.

Grazia Daily: Eating healthily can be expensive. What are the lower-cost ways to improve your diet?

Gabriela Peacock: You can eat well while on a tighter food budget. Shop around – look for local green grocers and independent market stalls that often sell fruit and vegetables for less than the supermarkets. The same applies with beans and lentils. By adding beans or lentils to meat dishes you are bulking them out – making the meat go further. Eat seasonally and locally and you will notice the costs coming down too.

Grazia Daily: Which foods can make your skin glow and hair shiny?

Gabriela Peacock: Omega-3 fatty acids – found mainly in oily fish are important for healthy hair and skin. They are called essential fatty acids because the body can’t make them so we have to get them through the diet. Try to make sure you are eating one portion of oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines) a week. Zinc is another key nutrient for skin. It is found in brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, oysters, shellfish, oats and eggs. Vitamin E in avocadoes, cold pressed oils and whole grains contributes to shiny, luscious locks.

Grazia Daily: What is the ultimate breakfast that’s both delicious and good for you?

Gabriela Peacock: Soaking porridge oats overnight in milk/dairy alternative makes them more digestible. They are very filling and slow releasing. Make them into a nutritious bircher muesli by adding a grated apple, some probiotic yoghurt and a couple of nuts and you are good to go! I am also a fan of a green smoothie as it’s an easy way to get in a good dose of fruits, veggies and you can be creative by adding extras like maca, baobab, wheatgrass and spirulina powders.

Grazia Daily: What are the healthy eating pitfalls most people encounter? How can they be overcome?

Gabriela Peacock: I think portion size is where most people slip up. Even the best intentions can be jeopardised if you are eating too much! Making sure half your plate is covered in vegetables is a good way to ensure the portions of carbohydrates/proteins are balanced. The same can be said for nuts – they are really nutritious but quite high in calories so if you are watching your weight you want to be mindful of portions.

Grazia Daily: Is Gwyneth Paltrow’s favourite Paleo diet – which cuts out all grains, cereal, dairy, beans, potatoes, processed foods, sugar, salt, and refined oils – worth the hassle?

Gabriela Peacock: There are no large scale studies to show that the Paleo is a suitable diet – for some it’s severe restrictions present a danger – by excluding so many foods it could lead people seriously deficient in essential vitamins and minerals. To replace whole foods with supplements is not suitable long term. It may also have a negative effect on your digestive system with some complaining of constipation. Cutting out refined sugar and oils would be advisable though and something to consider.

Grazia Daily: What are the best ways to beat mid-morning/ mid-afternoon sugar cravings?

Gabriela Peacock: Eat a balanced breakfast in the morning – combining protein and carbohydrate and carry small nutritious snacks. By keeping blood sugar balanced you are less likely to crave sugary foods. Try having a cup of herbal tea – particularly something like lemon, ginger, rooibos or cinnamon which can help. Carry nutritious snacks such as a few nuts and dried fruits such as medjool dates which are particularly sweet and useful if you are in a bind.

Grazia Daily: How can we tell if we are drinking enough water?

Gabriela Peacock: By the colour of your urine. If it is dark and you don’t go often, you will feel fatigued, possibly even experiencing headaches if you are dehydrated. You may also experience cramp, especially if you have not drunk enough when you are working out.

__**Grazia Daily: What foods would you recommend if you're going on holiday and want a pre-beach glow?

Gabriela Peacock: You want your skin to look tip top before you go on holiday – which takes some effort! Get a good scrub. Stay hydrated both while travelling and when on the beach. Moisturise with natural oil such as coconut oil or products that contain nut oils. Vitamin E rich foods such as avocados, nuts, seeds. Oily fish for their omega-3 fatty acids that help skin glow.

Gabriela Peacock is a Nutritional Therapist and Founder of GP Nutrition. Follow her on Twitter at @GP_Nutritionwww.GPNutrition.co.uk

By Lauren Clark

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