TINA LAUND-CAULK has worked as a registered nutritionist for over 20 years and has a first class BSc Honours degree in Nutrition, and has post-graduate training in behavioural psychology and eating disorders and a specialist interest in nutrigenomics. Her latest book is Eat Well and Feel Great which is a great health resource for teenagers and families. Read on for an extract.
ABOUT THE BOOK
This easy-to-use and friendly handbook for teenagers will help you learn how to develop a healthy and loving relationship with food and your body, for life. Packed with helpful tips, advice and recipes, in an easy-to-digest format.
In no time at all you can dramatically improve the way you feel by making better choices with your food and lifestyle habits. Eat Well and Feel Great shows you how simple changes can have profound effects on your self-confidence and well-being, helping you to:
– improve your mood
– reduce stress and anxiety
– sleep better and focus more
– maintain a healthy weight
– have a fresher complexion and healthy hair
– feel happier in your body.
Written by an expert nutritionist with over 20 years’ experience, the book features case studies from the author’s clinical work with young people. With a selection of quick and easy recipes, you’ll learn how simple it is to nourish your brain and body with key nutrients.
Educating young people on the importance of good nutrition is vital and the bedrock for good health in later life. Eat Well and Feel Great aims to shape the health, well-being and self-esteem of current and future generations.
Spot the signs of nutritional deficiency
It’s estimated that 40–50% of teenagers will have one or more nutrient deficiencies. This can affect how you feel and whether or not you truly thrive. Along with essential fatty acids (the fats we can’t make in our bodies), four of the most commonly occurring nutrient deficiencies in the UK are iron, magnesium, calcium and omega-3.
So why are nutrition deficiencies so common in teenagers?
During the teenage years the body and brain are still developing, which creates an increased demand for key nutrients. Teenagers might also have a tendency not to plan what they eat, skip meals or rely on ultra-processed or pre-packaged foods. You can end up eating a very narrow range of foods and may decide to leave out some food groups altogether, such as carbohydrates, proteins or fats.
Our bodies have an extraordinary ability to show us when they need specific nutrients, so let’s have a look at some of the symptoms that could be a sign you have a nutritional deficiency.
Match your symptom …
|Possible nutrition deficiency or cause
|Vitamin D, Vitamins B6 and B12, essential fatty acids like omega-3 (every cell in our body needs them to function and we can only get them from our diet), iron, magnesium, zinc, iodine, selenium
|Essential fatty acids, vitamins A, C, D and E, zinc, iron, selenium, copper, folate
|Iron, vitamins B, B12 and D, omega-3, magnesium, dehydration
|Dry skin, dandruff, eczema
|Essential fatty acids, vitamins A, D and E, zinc
|Vitamin A, D and E, zinc, essential fatty acids
|Magnesium, vitamins B and D, potassium
|Poor concentration, memory and attention
|Essential fatty acids, zinc, iron
|Iron, vitamins A, B12, C, D and E, zinc, folate, biotin
|Plugged hair follicles (small bumps under the skin)
|Vitamin A, B, C and E, essential fatty acids
|Dark circles under eyes
|Iron, (dehydration or allergies)
|Brittle, flaking nails
|Iron, essential fatty acids, biotin, vitamins B12 and D, zinc
|Iron, vitamin B12, folate, niacin
|Gut bacteria imbalance, vitamin B
|Burning sensation in tongue or feet
|Vitamins B6 and B12, folate
|Smooth tongue (very pale)
|Iron, B vitamins
|Iron, vitamin B12, folate, iron, zinc
|Numbness and tingling around mouth
|Calcium, vitamin B12, folate, (allergies)
|Vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B12
|Slow wound healing
|Vitamins A, B, C and D, zinc
|Fibre, (or dehydration)
And to switch it round, if you do have one of the common nutrient deficiencies, here are some of the symptoms you might be experiencing.
Pale complexion Low mood
Dark circles under the eyes Numbness or tingling in Sore or swollen tongue hands or feet
Headaches or dizziness Muscle cramps
Poor concentration Fainting
Poor ability to learn and remember Insomnia
Breathlessness Bone loss (bones fracture Heart palpitations easily)
Brittle or spoon-shaped nails Delayed onset of puberty
Fatigue Brittle or weak nails
Magnesium Vitamin D
Lethargy Low mood
Irritability and anxiety Fatigue
Loss of appetite Muscle weakness
Muscle cramps and spasms Stiffness and achy bones
Facial or eye twitches Poor immunity
Think FOOD FIRST. Food is information: it informs our bodies how to behave and affects our metabolism, immunity and how we think and feel. If you aren’t feeling 100%, upgrading your diet with nutrients can help improve your mood, energy, skin and overall wellbeing.
To avoid nutrient deficiencies, we all need to eat a healthy, balanced diet. However, there are many contradictory messages around food, nutrition, health and weight, so let me dispel some of the myths I hear every day (in case you’re wondering, the myths are in bold!).
There are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods.
Wrong! All foods can feature in a balanced diet. It’s the quantity and frequency of foods that matters.
Carbohydrates are the enemy.
They’re not. They are our body’s and our brain’s main source of fuel. They not only help us feel energised, but they can also keep us feeling full for longer and stop sugary food cravings. Complex carbohydrates can be a key player in maintaining a healthy weight and keeping our mood stable. They are a good source of a substance called tryptophan and when tryptophan enters your brain, more of the happy hormone serotonin is produced and your mood tends to improve. Carbohydrates are also great food for your gut and a happy gut makes more happy hormones too (see page 67).
Always count calories.
No, don’t worry about that. Trust your hunger and fullness cues, and practise eating mindfully. Balancing your plate at each mealtime with the healthy plate layout (see page 32) will ensure you have stable energy levels and feel full up for longer, and won’t get the blood sugar dips that drive hunger.
Vegetarian and vegan diets are always healthier.
Vegetarian and vegan diets can be healthy if they are rich in plants and include lots of whole grains, but they can also lack certain nutrients. By removing all animal products and fish from your diet, you may be lacking in protein, calcium, iron, iodine, choline, omega-3 fats and vitamin B12. You can find many of these nutrients in eggs and dairy if you’re vegetarian, and in fortified products if you’re vegan. Some meat replacement and vegetarian or vegan food products are highly processed with lots of additives and unhealthy ingredients, so read the labels and avoid foods that are over-processed. See Chapter 8 for tips on going plant-based.
Detoxing is important.
In fact, your body has a built-in detoxification system: your lungs and other organs work around the clock to remove harmful substances. Drink plenty of clean water, reduce your exposure to chemicals (pesticides, personal hygiene products, plastics), exercise (and sweat) regularly and, along with your daily bowel movements, that will ensure healthy detoxification.
Gluten-free is healthier.
There’s little evidence to suggest gluten-free has any particular health benefits unless you are a coeliac or have a gluten intolerance. In fact, cutting out all foods containing gluten can be incredibly limiting and mean you consume far less fibre and nutrients in your diet, leading to gut health issues, including constipation. Gluten-free replacement foods often contain bulking and emulsifying chemicals with no nutritional value and they can lack all-important fibre. If you need to eat gluten-free because of a genuine medical condition, it is better to eat naturally gluten-free grains.
Sugar-free diet drinks and food are better for you.
The latest science shows that the artificial sweeteners in diet drinks and food disrupt our important gut microbiota and may lead to increased weight gain and type 2 diabetes. Sugar in moderation may be a safer choice as it is a ‘real’ food rather than a man-made, artificial product. Having said that, many commercial food products are laden with added sugars, so be careful not to overdo your sugar intake. Go ahead and enjoy the occasional sweet treat – head to page 211 for some recipe ideas.
If you’re skinny, you’re healthy.
In fact, just because you’re thin it doesn’t mean you’re healthy, because a very slim person may be under-nourished. We can be healthy at every size. Rather than fixating on body shape or dress size, enjoy a nutritious diet and maintain an active lifestyle, as these behaviours often improve your body weight, lean muscle mass and body fat percentage.
You should compare your body to others.
We each come in a different shape and size, which is what makes us so interesting and beautiful, and we are also so much more than our body shape.
You need to eat like your friends.
You don’t. You are unique. Your energy and nutritional needs will differ. Don’t worry about following trends.
Fats make you fat.
Fats tend to have a bad rep, but healthy fats are a really important part of a balanced diet. They support brain health, keep our skin nourished, make sure we feel full for longer, are a great source of energy and help support hormone balance. You can learn more about healthy fats in Chapter 4.
Skipping breakfast is a good idea.
In your teenage years consuming breakfast is VERY important, so skipping breakfast or any other occasional fasting is a bad idea. Studies show that having breakfast improves concentration and mood, and ultimately academic outcomes, but opt for something that will release energy slowly (see the breakfast recipes on pages 176–183).
Snacking is bad for you.
If you get tired and hungry between meals then a healthy snack is a good idea. Just make sure you plan ahead and carry snacks with you so you make better choices and aren’t tempted to buy processed snacks that are high in sugar and saturated fats.
Healthy food is really expensive.
It doesn’t have to be! Although organic produce, unprocessed meat and fish, and nuts and seeds can be expensive, the basic elements of a whole foods diet (such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains) are affordable supermarket items. Buying in bulk, at local markets and at the end of the day in supermarket reduced sections is a great way to make food more affordable. Picking frozen meat, fish, vegetables and fruit are also cost-effective ways to eat well on a budget. To help remove pesticides from non-organic fruit and veggies, soak them in vinegar (any type) and water for 20 minutes. Aim for one part vinegar to four parts water.
Food is just fuel.
It is fuel, but it’s also so much more than that. Good food nourishes our bodies and we should take pleasure in it. A beautifully presented meal is an instant mood-enhancer, so experiment and make your food colourful, varied and interesting. It’s scientifically proven that food presentation makes food taste better too.
What you read about food and health is always true. What do you think? Is it?
The sensible approach is to check the source of the information. Who wrote it and what qualifications do they have? Do they have a degree in nutrition or have they just done a short online course? It takes years of studying to learn everything about nutrition and health.
Aim for 30 different plant foods each week, including whole grains, fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices. Try making smoothies with frozen fruits, green leaves, nuts and seeds; buy bagged salads with different leaves and top with mixed nuts, seeds and dried fruits; cook with fresh or dried herbs; or try a granola like Bio&Me which offers 15 different plants in one portion.
Although we have an abundance of food and calories in the UK, nutrient deficiencies are still very common, particularly among teenagers. If you recognise any of the symptoms listed in this chapter, you may have a nutrient deficiency. To maintain good levels of all nutrients, aim to eat a healthy balanced and varied diet. Variety ensures you get the widest range of nutrients you can. There are a lot of myths around about what a healthy balanced diet is, so make sure you know the true facts. Creating a weekly menu plan to ensure you are including all the key food groups is a great way to get started. To change your dietary habits, visualise yourself feeling energised, healthy, nourished, glowing and confident from eating well – associate your diet with health, happiness and energy.