The fact that eating fewer calories can lead to a longer and healthier life has been know for some time, and in the background scientific research has slowly simmered away looking for the reasons and explanations for this. Last Monday Michael Mosley covered the subject on the BBC’s excellent Horizon programme, and immediately my twitter stream exploded with people trying the intermittent fasting or 5:2 diet.
The diet is simple, eat normally for 5 days a week and on the other 2 eat 500 calories (women) or 600 for men. This should be enough to make you IGF-1 hormone drop enough to put your cells into repair rather than growth mode. All this will help you live longer and healthier, the diet should prevent cancer, prevent diabetes and prevent heart disease as well as help you lose weight.
The diet might not be for everyone, and you should probably chat to your doctor before embarking on it. Unless you have had blood tests done at the start and end you will not be able to measure your IGF-1, but the scales and how you are feeling should be a pretty good measure.
When I am feeling a little bloated and generally “urgh” I try and eat a few high raw plant based meals. I usually feel better the next day and literally bounce out of bed. However if I do not eat enough I feel really cranky, and it is best for everyone not to be near me, when I get hungry, I get really hungry to the point of sudden nausea and almost not being able to stand up. Eating anything helps instantly; because of this immediate recovery I suspect the hunger pangs are more to do with an empty tummy than having low blood sugar.
My main aims for a low calorie raw meal are
- Lots of bulk – the above took me about 25 minutes to eat
- Lots of texture and crunch
- Interesting taste
- Low GI – I do not want a blood sugar surge to be replaced by cravings later in the day.
The salad above is a mix of spinach, carrots, parsnips, butternut squash and kale, dressed with a simple fat free miso dressing and sprinkled with toasted seeds and dried seaweed. If you are not used to eating raw vegetables get busy with your knife, grater of juilenne peeler – smaller pieces are easier to manage and the more bitter vegetables will be masked by the sweeter ones.
Miso and seaweed are both delicious and packed with nutrients. I love Clearspring’s white miso, you can get it in many supermarkets, Ocado or health food shops. As it is a fermented product it will keep for ages in the fridge once opened, just clip the pouch closed.
Vegetable Salad with Seaweed & Miso
- 1 tsp white miso
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp cider vinegar
- Pinch chili flake
- 2 carrots peeled & grated
- 1 parsnip peeled & grated
- Chunk butternut squash peeled & grated
- Handful kale finely chopped
- 1 tomato finely chopped
- 1 Spring onion finely chopped
- handful Spinach
- 1 tbs mixed seeds
- 1 tbs dried seaweed flakes
Whisk the dressing together, and season with pepper.
Place the prepared carrots, squash, spring onion and kale in a bowl and mix well with the dressing.
Arrange the spinach on a plate and place the carrot mixture on top.
Sprinkle with the seaweed and seeds.
Variations: Add peppers or tomatoes. If total calories are not an issue then add olive oil to the dressing, or add an avocado.