Why I don’t support exclusion diets.

My 6 week challenge group is already making great progress and I couldn’t be more proud. Everybody is involved, asking questions and encouraging one another. This morning they brought a challenge to my attention – J-Lo has announced a 10 day no sugar, no carbs challenge and my first thought was: “Oh no!” 😳

My very first diet was a “no starchy carb” diet back in 2010. I had no idea what I was doing at the time so I followed it religiously and didn’t touch anything that even resembled a carbohydrate. Due to lack of explanation from anyone and lack of knowledge on nutrition and nutrients, it got out of hand. It got to the point where I was scared to even eat yogurt (just to bring one example) without feeling guilty. But yoghurt is dairy and dairy contains naturally occurring milk sugars (yes, even Total 0%; it just doesn’t have any fats). It also contains valuable calcium. So you can imagine what removing such a valuable food group would do to one’s body and health. That is just one example as I know at the time my list of foods I would eat was shorter than the list with things I couldn’t/didn’t dare eat. My cravings started getting out of control as I was becoming deficient in minerals and vitamins that I was no longer receiving from the banned food sources. 

As soon as I stopped the diet I went on a mad sugar binge and started eating cakes and chocolate bars and incredible amounts of fruit because I had forbidden it so long that I could no longer stop myself. It took me about 6 months or more afterwards to turn around the mental damage and to learn to “trust” carbs and sugars again. 

You might think “oh relax Rahel, it’s just a challenge” – but I can’t support diets like this as my motto is “everything in moderation”. I am a Nutritionist and I know that there is no reason for any individual to seclude certain food groups unless they have a medical condition that would require this. I’d like to hope J-Lo is encouraging the 10 day challenge to get people to be more healthy and lose a bit of weight while they’re at it. However, a sufficient calorie deficit can be created by simply eating fewer calories across the board without completely excluding any macronutrient groups. If you are already eating for optimal health, you don’t need to worry about a bit of sugar in your tea or in a yoghurt like I did. 

My goal is to leave everyone better than I left them so please be careful if you still wish to try this. If you feel that, like me back in 2010, you currently don’t know what you’re doing when it comes to dieting, please get in touch and I’ll point you in the right direction! 😊

Courgette Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

img_1992-e1533900853323.pngBehold the Courgette Chocolate Chip Banana Bread!

I encourage my clients to follow my recipes to help them get to their fitness and weight loss goals. And I am very aware how few dessert recipes there are. So it was time to add another fantastic recipe to the collection! 😋

This one I found online and followed it almost to a T just to see how it turns out before I give it my own twist. And it was lovely! So nice even that Silver ended up eating most of it. The fact that he didn’t know there was courgette in there definitely helped. He loves vegetables but not in his dessert. 😂

Although this loaf has 2 cups of grated courgette in it, there is still 1,5 cups of flour and I want to bring that amount down to a minimum. So I’m going to adjust the quantities, ie mainly increase the amount of banana and reduce the flour. Let it be noted I didn’t use any honey and I used sunflower oil instead of coconut oil. Coconut oil is a saturated fat and unless you love the flavour (I’m not massively keen on it myself), there’s no real reason why you should put it everywhere. It was a great marketing stunt to hype up its healthy qualities a few years back and to get people using it on everything starting from their teeth to their door hinges. 🤣 But that’s another story!

Oh and chocolate chips aren’t usually something I would add to a healthy recipe, so I’m going to make sure I remake this into an even healthier loaf with better macros but with all the flavour! Because with The Amazon you can have your cake and eat it too! 😍

This is the recipe I used:

  • 2 cups shredded, unpeeled courgette (about 1 small/medium courgette)
  • 1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (1 medium/large)
  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil (any oil with no strong flavour)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1,5 cups all purpose flour
  • chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a loaf tin or a muffin tin if you’re making muffins.
  2. Grate the courgette, then thoroughly squeeze it with a paper towel to remove as much excess water as possible. Repeat as needed.
  3. In a large mixing bowl beat or whisk together banana, honey, brown sugar, oil and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the eggs and beat again until combined.
  4. Sprinkle the cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt over the top of the batter,  mix to combine. Sprinkle in the flour, mix in slowly, just until the flour disappears. Last but not least, fold in the zucchini and chocolate chips.
  5. Scoop the batter into the prepared loaf tin or muffin cups. If you’re making muffins, fill them 3/4 of the way. Bake the banana bread for 40-45 minutes, muffins for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove the tin from the oven and place it on a wire rack. Let cool for 5 minutes, then carefully lift the loaf or muffins out and place them on a wire rack to cool completely (this will keep the muffins from becoming soggy).