Tag Archives: insulin resistance

Healthy Eating on a Budget

Healthy Eating on a Budget_Something New for Breakfast
Something new for Breakfast

Is Eating Healthy Expensive?


Food is medicine and the right nutrients, from a good diet, go a long way in supporting the body to begin the healing process itself.  However, often when I discuss this with my patients, they express the impression that healthy food is so expensive.  This is a myth.  Healthy food is only expensive if you add it on top of all the unhealthy snacks and treats we consume in our day but if you take into account the following tips for healthy eating, in fact, changing your diet away from food that diminishes health to that which enhances, will also save you money.

  1. Markup.

Many convenience foods include a heavy markup in the final price.  Convenience foods are packaged in boxes and containers that require their own manufacture, printing, labeling and marketing.  When you are faced with an array of 20 different breakfast cereals, each one vying for your attention and each with its own marketing strategy, you can be sure that you are paying for that marketing.  To top it all, we have the wool pulled over our eyes with labels like ‘9 vitamins added’ when the quantity of vitamin is barely more than a wave over the manufacturing vat.

  1. The True Cost of Convenience.

All those special designer coffees, take away’s, readymade convenience meals in their special, microwavable containers, are not only expensive but take their toll on our health and energy.  If I could factor in the true cost of poor meals, in time away from work, visits to the GP or specialist, extra money when we go over our medical aid threshold, the cost of the food would be astronomical.  Pain is masked with prescription drugs.  Energy is lifted using temporary energy drinks, or high sugar ‘Energade’ that lifts one temporarily, only for us to crash an hour later, requiring another take away cappuccino.  All hidden drains on our finances.

Another factor to consider is the cost to the economy.  Feeling sluggish, with brain fog, migraines and poor health also affects productivity.  Companies have to take this into consideration.  Many do, with Wellness Centre’s and health care professionals on the premises but people use these Centre’s when they are ALREADY feeling unwell.  How much better for productivity if employees never needed these Centre’s because staff felt well and vibrant.

The only benefit to readymade food is the time we save, but how much of that time we feel we do not have, is a result of the vicious cycle of low energy that results from… a poor diet.  We work all day and come home starving and want to just crash in front of the TV.  Often our family life suffers because communication plummets with our children.  They are also in front of the box, or behind their cell phones.  Children too have lost their energy to play and interact, because a poor diet saps them as well. Is this really ‘living’ or just existing on that hamster wheel with no joy and no motivation to go out and try interesting and special activities.

The price we pay is larger than we think and it becomes a downward spiral, that requires more and more effort to get out of, like swimming against the current.

We do not need to spend more to eat healthy!

Even if time and money aren’t on your side, you can still eat healthy. This is one of the most common misconceptions I hear. I understand the challenges of trying to eat well with limited financial resources, limited time, or both. But you don’t have to be rich or retired to eat well and take care of yourself.

Good quality, healthy food need not take time to make, nor cost a lot.  We don’t need to cook with ‘special’ ingredients.

The top items purchased in supermarkets are:

  1. Sugar
  2. Nicotine
  3. alcohol
  4. Caffeine
  5. Canned drinks

These are all addictive substances.  Just giving up, or even cutting back on the above, will substantially free up funds for healthy food.

Healthy food is also very accessible. Shop in the outside aisles of the supermarket, or even better, get a group of office friends together and order online from an organic veggie market that will deliver.  Then you can divide the produce between all of you.

Preparing healthy food, with the right equipment, is super easy.  A steamer does your veggies for you.  Then a quick turn in the frying pan, in a dab of butter with spices, will add a delicious flavour and take less time than waiting for the pizza delivery.  Sauces can be made in bulk over the weekend and will keep for 4-5 days in the fridge.  Have 10 recipes on hand, that you can easily rotate, that require only small tweaks to feed you and your family during the week.  Over the weekend you can be more adventurous.  Preparing large quantities of a delicious chicken casserole that can be stored in smaller containers in the freezer will also save time and energy

 Ideas for budget healthy cooking

  1. Keep a journal for a week. Record what you eat and the costs for 1 week.  Add everything. At the end of the week, review what you must have and the cost and what you can do without, and what you will save.  This will be an enlightening experience.
  2. Choose a few items from your journal that you can do without. For example, don’t buy that convenience coffee every day — these add up to R100’s a year! Extrapolate the costs of these items over a year to see what you will save by eliminating them.
  3. Buy in season. Local is better  Order from local markets who will deliver.  Form a veggie group with a few friends in your office.
  4. Learn the Dirty Dozen. Organic and grass fed is more expensive and sometimes there is no firm guarantee you are indeed getting organic but the more you can, the more you will avoid GMOs and have better health. To learn the most and least pesticide-ridden foods, visit this link.
  5. Frequent family owned grocery stores. Search out cheaper sources of fresh, whole foods in your neighborhood. Support the small businessman.  It may appear that his food is more expensive but it is putting the circle of money where it belongs, within your own neighborhood and not in big corporate hands.
  6. .Keep some essentials on hand. Develop around 10 easy, cost effective and healthy meal plans you can rotate. Have the ingredients available at home at all times so you don’t get stuck eating food that doesn’t make you feel well or help you create the health you want. You will only need to plan this once.
  7. Create a “food club”. Have coworkers share the responsibility of making lunch for the group once a week or every two weeks. You get to eat real, home made, fresh food and only have to cook a few times a month. Or create a “supper club” with a group of friends; rather than go out to dinner, once a week or once a month rotate dinner parties at one another’s homes. Sociable and healthy.  Swap recipes to build your recipe base.
  8. Buy some items in bulk.  Certain items keep well and are cheaper in bulk, such as rice, some spices and coconut for example
  9. Make your own salad dressing with lemon juice, olive oil and spices.  Far cheaper, tastier and more healthy than the store bought one that is full of MSG and other preservatives.
Healthy Eating on a Budget
Healthy Soups
  1. Cut up the salad ingredients every weekend and store in glass containers in the fridge.  Then all that is left is to toss in the lettuce. Add colourful fruit to your salad. Pears, naartjies and well washed strawberries.
  2. Change your breakfast ideas. Eating cereal just because it is convenient is very unhealthy. Consider a new breakfast mindset with brown rice and lentils for example or oats and nuts. Oats make an easy breakfast. (not instant oats). Either make a large pot for the week, or cook as needed, in the microwave with cinnamon, raisins and apple.
  3.  Protein does not always mean meat. Beans and lentils are nutritious and easy to make in advance.  Be cautious of tinned beans as many are loaded with sugar. Both keep well in the fridge and can be added to precooked brown rice for a quick, super healthy, breakfast.
  4. Make soups in advance. In winter, slow simmer a large pot of ‘everything colourful you can add’.  Either divide and freeze or keep in the fridge and serve a small bowl daily, to cut your hunger while you wait for dinner to cook.  This will prevent the tendency to eat biscuits and unhealthy snacks because you arrive home starving.
  5. Make double of everything.  Most foods, except for fish, will store well for 3 days in the fridge. Make double quantities and either freeze or eat 2 days later.
  6. Share quick healthy recipes with your friends.  Start a competition for the most healthy, with quick and easy as a criterion.




The Toilet is my Friend

The Toilet is my Friend!


The toilet is my friend-toilet frog
Toilet Friend

Fibre is what cleans out the lower intestines and adds bulk to food. The best news about fibre is that:

• It helps keep you full
• It contributes no calories to your meal
• Helps you lose weight faster
• By helping your body transport fat and calories through your digestive system, it causes some calories and fat to be    excreted in your faeces.
• Soluble fibre coats the intestines, reducing the amount of fat absorbed.
• It takes longer to eat.
• It moves food quickly through the lower intestines, minimising the time toxins remain in the system
• Helps prevent constipation, haemorrhoids and diverticulitis
• It helps to balance cholesterol levels
• It slows the impact of carbohydrates, preventing sugar cravings and insulin spikes
• It lowers risk of developing colo-rectal cancer, irritable bowel syndrome and haemorrhoids.
• Leads to a more efficient absorption of water and minerals

Generally between 18g to 24grams of fibre are beneficial, with 25g –30g being optimal. It is found in bran, psyllium, vegetables, pulses, lentils and oats. When fibre is added to a diet, weight will begin to go down while the converse is also true, when refined foods are eaten, weight will either remain high or begin to climb. Initially though, if you are used to more refined foods and you swap to high fibre, you may experience some windiness. This is because fibre is fermented in the large intestines by the bacteria living there and this process produces methane, hydrogen and carbon dioxide. These side effects, while initially uncomfortable, are just part of the transition process and will settle as your diet improves. Introduce fibre more slowly into your diet and this will minimise the problem. Sometimes, as soon as we ingest more fibre, we become constipated. This usually happens if we are not drinking enough water. You can avoid this by increasing your water intake.

Soluble and insoluble fibre.
Insoluble fibre is the husk type fibre. This acts like a broom and ‘sweeps’ the colon clean. It can sweep quite quickly so we need the soluble fibre to slow it down. Soluble fibre absorbs water and forms a gel like colloid in the stomach. This slows down the time it takes the stomach to empty and this contributes to how soluble fibre decreases the glycemic impact of the meal. The food enters the intestines more slowly and from there, more slowly into the blood. Without the carbohydrate sugars spiking in the blood, the insulin also rises more slowly.
• Introduce the fibre slowly, over a four-week period.
• Vary your intake of veggies and fruits.
• Stay away from all processed foods. These do not benefit the body in any way.
• Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day.
If you are being treated for any health disorder, please check with your doctor before beginning a high fibre diet.
Do not overdose on fibre. Too much may cause the body to become depleted in minerals and vitamins.

Foods that are rich in fibre include fruits, vegetables, brown rice, wholegrain pasta, whole meal bread, nuts, seeds, and bran. Foods that are high in soluble fibre are fruits, vegetables, lentils, beans, and outs. Foods high in insoluble fibre are: whole meal bread, brown rice, fruits, and vegetables. It is best to eat a combination of soluble and insoluble fibre.

Some interesting facts about your colon, called your large intestines.

• It is about 6 feet long
• It serves to dehydrate liquid waste material
• Your appendix is attached to your colon
• Your rectum is a storage pouch that retains feces until your large intestines contract to expel the contents.
• Your colon is contracting all the time in moves called peristalsis.
• Your emotional state affects your colon health.
• While 90% of the water you take in is absorbed by the small intestines your colon also has special cells that reabsorb water and some nutrients, as well as cells that release mucous that lubricates the large intestines.
• When waste material moves through the bowel too quickly for water to be reabsorbed, you will experience diarrhea.


When waste travels too slowly, too much water is absorbed, leading to constipation. Constipation leads to the development of little pouches in the colon wall, called diverticuli. Small bits of old feces can get lodged within these pouches, leading to diverticulitis and other problems.

Causes of constipation

• Sporadic, small meals that do not elicit peristaltic contraction of the intestines
• Not excreting when you feel the urge to do so.
• Poor water intake
• Poor fibre intake
• Poor intestinal health
• Stress

Preventing constipation

• Eat 3-4 larger meals during the day, not 5 smaller meals. This promotes the stretch receptors in the stomach, which, in turn, trigger peristalsis
• Do not suppress or delay the urge to go. The longer the waste remains in your bowel, the more water will be absorbed from it. In addition, the toxins will also be reabsorbed.
• Drink lots of water
• Consume plenty of fibre rich food
• Consume healthy fats, particularly omega 3.
• Maintain healthy bacteria in your intestines by taking probiotics
• Maintain low stress levels

Insulin Resistance and Belly Fat

Insulin Resistance and BellyFat
In a normal metabolism, when we consume carbohydrates, the pancreas will release insulin that carries the glucose (broken down carbohydrates), into the cells to be used for energy output.
When the body has been exposed to prolonged, excessive carbohydrate intake, and the pancreas has had to pour out increased loads of insulin, eventually the cells become less and less sensitive to the insulin and will no longer allow the insulin to carry the glucose into the cells.  The result is that there are high levels of insulin in the blood, a condition known as hyperinsulinemia. This condition is not yet diabetes but left untreated, may become type 2 diabetes.

If the insulin cannot carry the glucose into the cells, the body senses that there is too much sugar in the blood and the pancreas produces yet more insulin, eventually wearing itself out, much like constantly revving your car engine. This becomes Type 2 diabetes.

High levels of insulin, even before the official diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, has far reaching and damaging effects on the body.

Insulin resistance plays a role in the following conditions.
– increased risk of prostate and breast cancer
– Hypertension
– Heart Disease
– Weight gain
– Difficulty losing weight
– Stroke
– Metabolic Syndrome
– Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (infertility)
– Increased triglycerides and decreased HDL
– Affects thyroid health

While factors such as exercise levels and obesity do play a part, not all insulin resistant individuals are obese. Other factors are involved, as greater than 50% of individuals with IRS are not obese, and individuals may have normalized insulin levels while still remaining overweight. The combination of genes and lifestyle may affect the individuals response to insulin.  Nutritional intake may play a huge role in either offering some protection against insulin resistance or indeed, propelling an individual towards this. Apparently, the ability of insulin to stimulate glucose uptake varies widely from person to person, with the degree of obesity only one factor, and each individual needs to be assessed with unique response in mind.

It is insufficient to simply look at fasting glucose to measure diabetes risk or status. Other factors need to be measured to fully understand the individual, particularly when the individual is experiencing symptoms such as:

– Belly fat
– Inability to lose weight no matter what the calorie intake
– Thyroid disturbances
– Sugar or carbohydrate cravings
– mid afternoon slump

What to do about it?

Consult a lifestyle coach or Functional Medicine Practitioner.  Correcting Insulin Resistance is not a linear approach and each person is different. Certain toxins such as mercury play havoc with Insulin as well as the receptor sites on the cell membrane, for example, as well as mistakes in eating timing and food choice.  Some basic minerals such as magnesium deficiency also affect the efficacy of Insulin and the integrity of the receptor site.
Once the status of the individual has been properly assessed, a program of nutritional and vitamin support that will re -sensitise the cells to insulin, plus an exercise regime that may easily be incorporated into the unique lifestyle of that individual, is required.  Stress is also a factor in managing insulin resistance, as well as the impact on the thyroid.  Success is elusive without a multi- pronged approach.

What can I do immediately, before consulting with a Functional Practitioner?

1. Increase Fibre
2. Drink more water