The vegan food market has expanded recently. This can be a good thing as people who eat less meat do tend to live longer, healthier lives.
The vegan diet is for those who avoid eating all animal products due to ethical, animal welfare, environmental and/or health concerns. It can be done well but it takes planning particularly for children, teenagers, older people and athletes. Vegans are at risk of missing out on vitamin B12, iron, zinc and omega 3 fats.
Here are some vegan snacks I have found in Leeton and Griffith, NSW. Remember unprocessed vegan food is the place to start if you are looking for a vegan snack- fruit, vegies, nuts, seeds and legumes. Vegan dips include hommous as pictured here which goes well with vegie sticks.
Processed vegan snacks usually consist bars and balls. They contain dried fruit for sweetness and to stick them together. Then nuts, seeds and coconut are usually added.
Then there are the non dairy milks (see my blog from June 2020) and non dairy yoghurts. Remember to look for 300 mg calcium per 250 ml serve as non dairy milks don't contain any natural calcium. Neither of the vegan yoghurts pictured here (Nakula and Dairy free Yo Pro) contain calcium so they offer no benefit to keeping your bones strong.
When teaching clients how to read food labels I encourage them to buy food with less than 10% fat and sugar (or less than 10g per 100g). These processed vegan snacks are higher, ranging from 10-40% fat and 15-40% sugar. The lowest in sugar and fat I could find was The Bar Counter blueberry choc fudge bar (black packet) with 20% fat and 19.5% sugar. The Kez's kitchen gluten free naked snack bars have a very high 44% sugar and don't taste that great. Take note though that the fat is mainly the good stuff (unsaturated) and the sugar is mostly natural from dried fruit.
These bars and balls are all good sources of fibre at around 2-3 g per serve (we need 25-30g a day).
Then there are the vegie chips which people assume are healthy because they are made from vegies. These ones have less fat (20%) than regular chips (30-35% fat) but you'd be better off eating steamed or roasted vegies with your dinner than a packet of vegie chips.
So if you are eating vegan foods look go for the unprocessed food if you can.
By the way, I wouldn't recommend the triple berry snackaballs- the salted caramel ones taste better!
In October 2019 the Federal Government made it compulsory for all aged care facilities to report on weight change in their residents. Since then I have been doing a lot of calculations to find the healthy weight range for aged care residents.
It has got me thinking about how arbitrary this all is.
From one number (someone's height) comes an ideal weight range regardless of age, gender, activity or background. It really is a very vague guide which I only use as a baseline measure when deciding what someone's ideal weight is.
This is why I do not use the ideal weight range or a BMI calculation for clients I see in private practice. It is just not helpful for most people. In some cases it is a guide, but is ever only a guide.
In aged care it gives guidance to staff as to whether a resident should be gaining weight to reach the minimum weight desirable for their height. Rarely in aged care do people need to lose weight. If they are losing weight they are usually losing muscle which is not good. Losing muscle can mean more falls and infections which we aim to avoid.
So don't worry about a specific weight you should or should not be. You are more than a number on the scales.
Non-dairy milks have become popular for many reasons. They provide a substitute for milk for people who can't cope with the lactose (or sugar) in milk. They are also an options for those who have milk allergies. They have become popular too since the rise of the paleo movement and veganism.
However they also have their drawbacks. They will usually be more expensive, and are usually UHT (long-life). This means they are not as fresh as cow's milk and this in itself gives the milk a different taste. They also lack calcium and some are very low in protein. Below I have pictured a few available and outlined their nutritional qualities.
Overall cow's milk is the cheapest and the healthiest. If you can't tolerate that then soy milk is the closest milk nutritionally to cow's milk.
Cow's milk provides valuable calcium for strong bones, particularly for kids, teenagers and post-menopausal women. A non-dairy milk contains no natural calcium. However most have added calcium except for the organic coconut milk and the oat milk seen below.
There is very little protein in almond, coconut and rice milk. This means they are not as filling and not as nutritious as cow's, goat's or soy milk.
Cow's milk does have natural sugar (3 teaspoons in 250ml) in it but as it is naturally packaged with calcium and protein it is still nutritious and an everyday food. Flavoured milk should be treated with caution as it has much more (added) sugar, like 25-30g per serve or 6-8 teaspoons per glass! Most of the non-dairy milks I looked at had less sugar than cow's milk with the exception of the Vitasoy Rice Milk.
(Remember 1 teaspoon of sugar = 5 grams).
Almond breeze- 200 mg calcium, 1.3 g protein, 0.3 g sugar
So Good Almond- 300 mg calcium, 1.4 g protein, 8.6 g sugar
Organic Coconut- no calcium, 0.3 g protein, 0.5 g sugar
So Good Almond Coconut- 300 mg calcium, 1.3 g protein, 0.5 g sugar
Vitasoy Soy Milky- 300 mg calcium, 7.5 g protein, 6.3 g sugar
So Good Soy Regular- 400 mg calcium, 8.5 g protein, 5.1 g sugar
Oat Pure Harvest- 6 mg calcium, 4.5 g protein, 9.3 g sugar
Vitasoy Rice Milk- 300 mg calcium, 0.7 g protein, 14.5 g sugar
Living Planet Goats milk- 305 mg calcium, 8.8 g protein, 11.3 g sugar
Cow's milk- 292 mg calcium, 8.2 g protein, 12 g sugar
Since COVID 19 began I have been conducting nutrition clinics from home using the phone or Zoom. I have heeded the NSW Premier's advice to stay home to avoid catching and spreading the corona virus which has had a devastating impact on the health of our world. However nutrition services are deemed to be essential so I have continued providing a valuable service, even if it does look different at the moment.
The Federal Government has temporarily added dietitians to the health staff who can access Medicare for phone or tele-health from 30 March to 30 September 2020. It is great to be able to allow our clients to access a Medicare rebate after a nutrition consults over the phone or using tele-health.
Corona virus isolation has had different impacts on people. Some are enjoying their extra time to exercise and cook at home more. However other people may be eating more working from home. They now have easy access to food and the structure of eating at set times in a workplace is gone. Gyms are obviously closed at the moment so people need to be creative about looking for other exercise options to avoid weight gain.
There are also positive and negative aspects of phone or tele-health nutrition consults:
Positive aspects of phone or Zoom consults:
Leanne is an experienced dietitian who is passionate about helping people eat well.