DR. MEGAN ROSSI: How you can have your cake and eat it too!
Cake is a fact of life, a prominent player in many of our big milestones and celebrations. there is a Christmas cake, of course; and a birthday cake, a cake for meeting a friend for coffee, a christening cake, a wedding cake and a cake for an office celebration.
A study by the University of Chester, published in the International Journal of Workplace Health, showed that 87 percent of people are offered a cake at work at least once a week, and 68 percent find it hard to resist.
And that’s the problem – as prominent as cake is at many social events, it’s one of those foods that makes us feel bad. It probably ranks high on the ‘foods to avoid’ list for many considering New Year’s resolutions.
Like everyone else, I love a bit of cake, but it’s pretty high in sugar and saturated fat, so there’s definitely a reason not to overdo it.
Cake is a fact of life, a prominent player in many of our big milestones and celebrations, writes Dr. Megan Rossi (pictured)
But if you always feel guilty about eating it, it can cause problems.
Research shows that if people think of a certain food as ‘forbidden fruit’, it makes them crave it more.
And the more you try to suppress that desire, the harder it is to resist it.
For example, a University of Canterbury study published in the journal Appetite found that people who associated chocolate cake with guilt reported lower levels of behavioral control over eating and were less successful at maintaining a healthy weight over an 18-month period. , compared to those who associated chocolate cake with celebration.
This also happens in the clinic. I often see women in particular who have spent their lives trying not to give in to their desire for food like cake, but eventually the floodgates of cravings open. They just can’t stop and overdo it.
So there are benefits to cultivating a freewheeling attitude toward cake—and you can make a sweet treat like this one less taboo. It’s easier than you think.
There is, of course, the Christmas cake; and a birthday cake, a cake for meeting a friend for coffee, a christening cake, a wedding cake and a cake for celebrating at the office
Let’s look at the homemade cake first. Don’t stick to the same combination of flour, fat and sugar: the secret is to reduce the ratio of nutrient-poor ingredients, using more of those that give your gut microbes something to celebrate, but that also doesn’t diminish the joy of the cake.
My favorite baking substitutes include using ground almonds instead of flour; or half flour, half almonds. This adds fiber that lowers the blood sugar spikes you would otherwise experience with white flour. If you don’t like ground almonds, use wholemeal flour. Another quick fiber booster is to replace a third of the flour with oats. I also boost the recipe with a cup of shredded vegetables like carrots or zucchini, which add sweetness and moistness, as well as fiber and other micronutrients (see my Zucchini Cake, recipe at right).
You can add sweetness without using table sugar with dates, banana or applesauce. Although sugar is sugar, when you have it in whole fruit, it is packed with fiber that slows down the release of sugar while also regulating your appetite hormones, keeping you satisfied for longer. Whole fruits also have plant chemicals including polyphenols that are powerful antioxidants.
According to a poll conducted earlier this year, the nation’s favorite cake is cheesecake. A quick and easy way to improve its nutritional profile is to replace the cream with Greek yogurt and ricotta cheese to reduce saturated fat (look for that recipe in a few weeks).
In terms of shopping cake, a fruit cake is probably a better choice than a carrot cake, for example. The fruit cake has a lot more fiber, while the carrot cake comes with a thick wad of overly rich frosting and some real carrots.
Before you buy any cake, scan the ingredients and choose those with a more complete content – wholemeal flour, oats, dates, cinnamon.
Avoid those with lists that sound like the contents of a chemistry lab or that come in creepy colors, as this could mean your cake comes with additives that potentially interfere with gut microbes.
And opt for a plain cake over ice. The frosting is usually made of pure sugar and butter or cream and, by weight, usually contains more fat and sugar than the cake itself.
In fact, frosting can contain twice as many calories as cake, and one tablespoon can provide more than three teaspoons of sugar. This will likely lead to a rapid spike in blood sugar levels, which can leave you feeling hungry (and even grumpy) soon after.
So if they serve you a slice with a huge amount of frosting, don’t feel obligated to eat it all.
One alternative to the glaze is to use thick yogurt instead of cream or butter.
Did you know?
Avocados can increase your body’s absorption of carotenoids, which have powerful antioxidant effects (carotenoids are found in red, bright yellow, and orange plants like bell peppers and carrots). They are also rich in fiber: one medium avocado provides about a third of your daily needs.
That protein intake will help slow the rate of sugar absorption and make it more filling, helping curb cravings for another slice.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that eating cake every day is a great idea — but a celebratory slice, whether weekly or monthly, is perfectly acceptable.
Here are my top baking replacements to help you have your cake and eat it too:
Fat: Replace the butter with olive oil 1:1, or replace half the butter with thick, full-fat Greek yogurt to reduce your saturated fat intake.
Brownies: Replace a third of the flour with cooked black beans (I use canned), rinsed and drained to add fiber and polyphenols — when these are broken down in the gut, they produce chemicals thought to protect against disease, even cancer.
Cheesecake: Replace half the cream (1:1) with thick, full-fat Greek yogurt to add protein and other beneficial compounds that are created when bacteria ferment milk to make yogurt.
Chocolate cake: Replace half of the oil or butter with the same amount of silken tofu (puree), which will add a satisfying amount of protein, as well as phytoestrogens that balance hormones, vitamins and minerals.
Sweetness: Replace half a cup of sugar with eight medjool dates (mixed with 1/3 cup boiling water) — your gut microbes will enjoy the fiber.
Or use three ripe bananas instead of half a cup of sugar and half a cup of oil or butter — bananas are another favorite of gut microbes, and they also contain fiber and potassium (for blood pressure regulation).
I’ve been feeling down for the past few years. I had many medical tests, but they didn’t reveal anything—until recently, when I was diagnosed with bile acid malabsorption. No one explained what it actually meant. I have a white tongue too — is that related?
Bile acid malabsorption (BAM) causes chronic diarrhea — it’s estimated to affect about one in 100 people, so you’re certainly not alone.
Bile acid is released from the gallbladder into the small intestine to help absorb fat. But some people have an inflamed small intestine, which means their body isn’t able to reabsorb the bile acid after it’s done its job. Others develop BAM after their gallbladder is removed and bile acid finds its way into the intestines, even when it’s not needed, overwhelming the intestines’ ability to deal with it. There is also ‘primary’ bile acid diarrhoea, where your body simply produces too much bile acid.
The good news is that most people live happy and healthy lives with BAM; it does not necessarily mean that your health is getting worse.
The condition is currently incurable, but medication and controlling the amount of fat you eat is the best way to treat it.
Although BAM does not directly cause a white tongue, it can lead to dehydration, which can make the white tongue worse. After the diarrhea goes away and you brush your tongue twice a day with a soft toothbrush, you may notice that it becomes less visible.
Contact Dr. Megan Rossi
Email [email protected] or write to Good Health, Daily Mail, 9 Derry Street, London, W8 5HY — please include contact details. dr. Megan Rossi cannot access personal correspondence. The answers should be taken in the general context; always consult your general practitioner if you have health problems.
Try this: Lemon Zucchini Cake
The digestion-loving way to satisfy your cake cravings, this recipe packs extra fiber from the greens and healthy fats from the almonds, plus prebiotics (to feed your good gut bacteria) from the dates — your gut microbes will be asking for seconds.
- 7 medjool dates (pitted) or 1/3 cup honey
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup of olive oil
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 cup grated zucchini
- 190 g ground almonds
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- A pinch of salt
If you are using dates as a sweetener, combine the dates with half a cup of boiling water — add more water until a smooth paste forms.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and olive oil until well combined and creamy. Mix in the sweetener of your choice, cardamom, lemon zest and vanilla extract.
When combined, stir in grated zucchini, add ground almonds, baking powder and salt.
Pour the mixture into a greased or lined loaf tin and bake at 180c/160c fan/gas 4 for approximately 35 minutes.
Check if the loaf is cooked by inserting a clean knife. Allow to cool before serving.
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