Lucy-Ann Prideaux is a regular speaker at RF training breaks with The Running Inn. Every month she’s here to answer your nutrition questions - www.simply-nutrition.co.uk
A Busy Mother asks…
Q. I’m a mother of two children, aged nine and 14. Both do loads of sport, and because they’re fit I often find myself saying they can eat what they like! However, we are reliant on pasta, fruit and treats, and don’t eat fish and veg – any tips for a busy mother?
Sue, East Sussex
A. No one, whatever age or activity level, can actually eat what they like. Poor food choices can lead to reduced or imbalanced energy, erratic moods, weight problems, poor immunity, ill health, and at worse, disease. Calories should come from fresh natural foods: whole or complex carbohydrates; healthy proteins such as eggs, fish and lean meats, and fresh; varied and colourful fruits and vegetables. Think about choosing foods close to their natural state, and teach your children to appreciate nutrients. Explain the difference between fresh and processed food and the crucial link between food/nutrition and life-long health. Here are some great ideas to get more fish and vegetables into the kids’ diet:
*Use fish steaks rather than fillets or whole fish and pan-fry in a little oil.
*Try fish cakes, made with flaked salmon, tuna or haddock, and potato. Chop some fresh chives, or spring onion into the mashed potato, and coat in breadcrumbs.
*Try combining meat and fish (eg chicken and tuna) into stir-fries, which is one of the best ways to get lots of veggies into a meal.
*Roast vegetables such as sweet potato (made into chips), carrots, onion, sweet peppers and courgettes work very well.
Q. I work in an office and run at lunchtime. I want to keep hydrated but I’m running out of ideas! I’m saying yes to every coffee run in the office. Do you have any ideas for tasty hydration?
A. Before I give you some ideas, I want to make sure you know how to assess what you need to stay hydrated. Fluid needs are dependent on the environment (temperature/humidity); how much water is in the food we eat (high water foods include, fresh fruits and vegetables, soups, salads and juices); how many dehydrating fluids and foods we consume (high caffeinated beverages, diuretic herbal teas, alcohol, sugary drinks); how active we are; and how much fluid we lose through sweat.
How much lean tissue versus fat we carry (ie our body composition) also determines, in part, our fluid needs. Obvious signs that indicate you’re not drinking enough water include flushed skin, headaches, tiredness, dry and itchy skin, and constipation. But one of the best ways to determine your hydration status is to monitor the colour of your pee! Your urine should be the colour indicated by the numbers one to three on the colour scale (below), if it’s not, hydrate slowly through the day. Plain water is an obvious choice, and definitely a very effective way to keep hydrated, but it can be boring. Try adding apple, orange and/ or lemon slices in the glass. Or, make up quarter juice and three quarter water combos – cranberry, pomegranate, grape and apple are my recommendations. Be wary of flavoured waters as they can contain artificial chemicals and sweeteners.
When you choose coffee, try having a glass of water, too, even a few sips will help, and just have two caffeinated drinks a day.
The Pee Chart
This is a quick and easy way to know instantly whether you are hydrated, mildly dehydrated, or worse – severely dehydrated! Your target is to make sure your pee is the same colour as the numbers one to three. Four and five is dehydration; seven and eight show severe dehydration.
Q. I run at 6am four times a week, and go to the gym three evenings a week. The rest of the time I’m on the road and find a chocolate bar is the easiest way to get an energy boost. I’ve decided to pack a cool-box with food, but I’m not sure what to put in it! Any ideas?
A. I always encourage busy clients to pre-prepare and, the very best way to transport food is in lock-tight food containers that stack on top of each other in a cool-box. Here are some food ideas:
- Fresh fruit (apples, pears, small punnets of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, grapes, clementines, fresh figs, oranges, bananas). Snack on fruit to ensure you never go hungry and your energy stays steady.
- Raw chopped vegetable crudités (carrot, cucumber, courgette, sugar snap peas, mange tout peas, and cherry tomatoes). Lots of colour and nutrients, easy to eat.
- Avocado, hummus or cottage cheese. Protein snacks – guaranteed to fill you up.
- Mixed raw unsalted nuts or seeds (almonds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts or sunflower seeds). A small handful is plenty – nuts are very calorific.
- Small pots of plain, natural yogurt – add fresh fruit for a healthy sweet snack.
- Carton varieties of soups such as Covent Garden soups – an easy and quick meal-in-one. Drink cold, like a veggie juice!
- For the main dish, use a base of brown rice or other cooked grain such as quinoa, wild rice or pearl barley. Boil up enough for a couple of days and keep cold in a covered dish in the fridge. Put two to three tablespoons in your lunch tub and mix with protein: a can of fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel or tuna); chopped chicken or turkey breast; or a small drained tin of butter beans, chickpeas or mixed beans. Then add plenty of raw salad ingredients of your choice. Go for five to seven different salad ingredients! Season with fresh herbs such as coriander, mint or basil. Keep olive or flax oil, and balsamic, apple or cider vinegar in a separate tub and add it when you are ready to eat.