DR MEGAN ROSSI: How can you have your cake and eat it too!Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
Cake is a fact of life, a prominent player in so many of our milestones and celebrations. there is Christmas cake, of course; and birthday cake, meeting a friend for coffee cake, christening cake, wedding cake and office celebration cake.
A University of Chester study in the International Journal of Workplace Health found that 87 per cent of people are offered cake at work at least once a week and 68 per cent find it hard to resist.
And that’s the problem – as much as cake figures prominently in many social events, it’s one of those foods that makes us feel sick when we eat it. It’s probably high on the “foods to avoid” list for many people considering New Year’s resolutions.
Like everyone else, I love a bit of cake, but it’s pretty good with its sugar and saturated fat content, so there’s certainly a reason not to overdo it.
Cake is a fact of life, a prominent player in so 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 view a certain food as “forbidden fruit,” it makes them crave it more.
And the more you try to suppress this 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 their eating and were less successful at maintaining a healthy weight. over a period of 18 months, compared to those who associate chocolate cake with the holiday.
This also manifests itself in the clinic. I often see women in particular who have spent their lives trying not to give in to their cravings for foods like cake, but eventually the floodgates of cravings open. They just can’t stop and overdo it.
So there are benefits to fostering a cake-ready attitude—and you can make a sweet treat like this less taboo. It’s easier than you think.
There’s Christmas cake, of course; and birthday cake, coffee meeting cake, christening cake, wedding cake and office celebration cake
Let’s take a look at the home-baked cake first. Don’t stick to the same old flour, fat and sugar combination: the secret is to reduce the ratio of nutrient-poor ingredients, using more of those that give your gut microbes a reason to celebrate, but that also doesn’t reduce the joy of a cake .
My favorite ways to bake include using ground almonds instead of flour; or half flour, half almonds. This adds fiber that reduces the blood sugar spikes you would otherwise have with white flour. If you don’t like ground almonds, use whole wheat flour instead. Another quick fiber booster is to replace a third of the flour with oats. I also top the recipe with a cup of shredded vegetable like carrot or zucchini, which adds sweetness and moisture, 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. While sugar is sugar when you have it in whole fruit, it’s packed with fiber, which slows down the release of sugar while regulating your appetite hormones, keeping you fuller for longer. The whole fruit also contains plant chemicals, including polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants.
According to a survey 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 cut back on the saturated fat (look for that recipe in a few weeks).
As for store-bought, fruit cake is probably a better bet than carrot cake, for example. Fruit cake tends to provide a lot more fiber, while carrot cake comes with a thick dollop of overly rich frosting and few real carrots.
Before you buy a cake, scan the ingredients and choose the ones with more healthy-sounding content – wholemeal flour, oats, dates, cinnamon.
Avoid those with lists that sound like the contents of a chemistry lab or that come in drab colors, as this could mean your cake comes with potential gut-destroying additives.
And choose a simple iced cake. The frosting is usually pure sugar and butter or cream and weight for 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 is likely to cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels, which can make you feel hungry (and even cranky) soon after.
So if you’re served a slice with a huge amount of frosting, don’t feel obligated to eat it all.
An alternative for frosting 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 peppers and carrots). They’re also high in fiber: one medium avocado provides about a third of your daily needs.
This protein kick will help slow down the rate at which sugar is digested and make it more filling, helping to curb cravings for a second bite.
Let’s 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.
So here are my top baking picks to help you have your cake and eat it too:
Fat: Replace the butter with olive oil in a 1:1 ratio, 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 crab.
Cheesecake: Replace half the cream (1:1) with thick, full-fat Greek yogurt to add protein and other beneficial compounds produced when bacteria ferment milk to make yogurt.
Chocolate Cake: Replace half the oil or butter with the same amount of silken tofu (puree), which will add filling protein as well as hormone-balancing phytoestrogens, vitamins and minerals.
Sweetness: Swap half a cup of sugar for eight medjool dates (mixed with 1/3 cup boiling water)—your gut microbes will feast on 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 provide fiber and potassium (to help regulate your blood pressure).
I’ve been feeling sick for the last few years. I went through many medical tests, but they revealed nothing—until recently, when I was diagnosed with bile acid malabsorption. No one has explained what this actually means. I also have a white tongue – is this related?
Bile acid malabsorption (BAM) causes chronic diarrhea – it’s estimated that around one in 100 people have it, so you’re certainly not alone.
Bile acid is released from your gallbladder into the small intestine to help digest fats. But some people have an inflamed small intestine, which means their body is unable to reabsorb the bile acid after it has done its job. Others develop BAM after their gallbladder is removed, and bile acid finds its way into the gut even when it’s not needed, overwhelming the gut’s ability to deal with it. There is also “primary” bile acid diarrhea, 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 deteriorating.
The condition is currently not curable, 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 your diarrhea subsides 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 enter into personal correspondence. Answers should be taken in their general context; always consult your personal physician with health concerns.
Try this: Lemon Zucchini Cake
Your gut’s favorite way to satisfy a sweet tooth, this recipe delivers extra fiber from the veggies and healthy fats from the almonds, plus prebiotics (to feed your good gut bacteria) from the dates—your gut microbes will want seconds.
- 7 medjool dates (pitted) or 1/3 cup honey
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup grated zucchini
- 190 g ground almonds
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
If you’re using dates as a sweetener, blend the dates and half a cup of boiling water together—adding more water until a smooth paste forms.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and olive oil until well combined and creamy. Whisk in the sweetener of choice, cardamom, lemon zest and vanilla extract.
Once mixed, stir in the 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 around 35 minutes.
Check if the bread is cooked by inserting a clean knife. Allow to cool before serving.
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