Eat yourself healthy

Last weekend I was invited to attend a healthy cooking class hosted by simplyhealth, the end result of which was me coming home and having a heated argument lively debate with the other half about eating breakfast. My request for him to try harder to have the most important meal of the day was somehow interpreted as me trying to slowly change his (already relatively healthy, thank you very much) lifestyle so that one day in twenty years time he would awake to find himself miserable and eating nothing but nuts, grains and other bland sugarless fodder. Wasn’t it enough that in the five years we’ve been together he’s cut down his caffeine consumption? That he drinks more water? How much more was I going to ask?!

Once I managed to decipher that his anti-breakfast rage had more to do with his football team losing that afternoon than with my actual request, I eeked out a “dammit, this isn’t about you being healthy and fit NOW, this is about me wanting you to be healthy at 95 so you can live a long, happy life with ME!” which brought all discussion to a halt as he realised the crazy pregnant lady really just wanted his annoying self around for as long as possible.

But does breakfast really make that much of a difference?

Before we got cooking, the energetic and funny Kate Cook gave us the low down on the seven elements of anti ageing – but the key one that I really didn’t know much about was balancing our blood sugar levels. 

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You often hear people talking about having low blood sugar, but I always just thought it meant they were hungry and a bit tired, and needed something to perk them up a little. What I didn’t understand was how much impact these have on your body.

Let’s say you eat a chocolate bar. Your blood sugar level spikes, so the body pumps out a bunch of insulin to bring everything back down to normal. But because your levels are now dropping rapidly, the body freaks out that you’re heading into a coma and pumps out cortisol to correct your blood sugar levels upwards. And what is cortisol? Stress hormone. What does stress hormone contribute to? Ageing the $hit out of you, that’s what.

You could literally hear the pieces falling into place in my mind as we learnt about everything. So that’s why eating foods that have a slow energy release is good, so they don’t spike your blood sugar levels suddenly. And that’s why eating breakfast is so important, to keep your levels from falling right at the start of the day. Who wants to be full of stress hormones before they’ve even left the house each morning?

And here’s the kicker: ever heard of the glycemic index? Essentially, high GI foods are those that are quick to burn, while low GI are slow release energy. Sugar is 100 on the scale (bad) and lentils are around 40 (good). Know what white bread is? 98. NINETY EIGHT. Saying that stuff won’t keep you feeling full would be an understatement.

So the big question is, knowing all this, is it going to change my diet or eating habits? Well luckily for me, I eat constantly anyway. And my love of junk is only matched by my love of fruit and veg. Actually, my love of all food. So for me, there really is no hardship. For my hubby on the other hand…he better get ready for the eggs I’m laying down for breakfast tomorrow morning.

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