Why do lactose-free products contain lactase?

We are seeing an increasing amount of dairy products these days labelled lactose-free or lactose-reduced. Nutritionally, these types of foods are similar to that of regular milk and dairy products.  Lactase is an important enzyme that breaks down lactose, hence, it is used by manufacturers to rid of or reduce the amount of lactose within the product.

Do I need to count calories? 

I am a firm believer of counting nutrients NOT calories. Our bodies were not made to be calorie counting machines. Each of us has a different biochemical and physiological make up which means different metabolisms as well as different nutrient needs. My personal take is that while calories can be an important consideration for a healthy eating approach, they are definitely not the be all and end all and there is so much more to it than meets the eye! It isn’t as simple as calories in, calories out. Also not all calories were created equally. For example, a whole food based meal rich in complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and good quality protein can equate to be more calorie dense than a skipped meal, toast for lunch and a Mars bar snack. Furthermore, different foods travel down different metabolic pathways and thus have varied effects on our hormones and our ability to use and produce energy. In other words, you won’t feel the same after eating 500 calories of French fries or cake as you will after 500 calories of a dish with high fibre quinoa, chicken and vegetables. I certainly notice the sustained satisfaction and vibrancy I feel after eating the latter over the former.

I guess the moral of the story is that health is a LIFESTYLE; its not a quick fix, its certainly not a fad. It requires a long term, sustainable approach. Remember, the most effective changes one can make are the changes that we can maintain for our life’s entirety.

Does eating late cause weight gain?

We hear it all the time….”don’t eat after 7pm if you don’t want to put on weight!”. I mean this is so hard to avoid in our fast-paced, busy world! Low and behold, there is absolutely NO magic time where the body goes “right, everything consumed from this second on gets stored as fat!”. Lets change our mindset and focus more on the conventional thought process that a calorie equals a calorie no matter what time of day it was consumed.

It is generally recommended to stop eating 1.5-2 hours before bed, to allow for efficient digestion of food. We digest more efficiently upright, allowing our bodies the best opportunity for rest and repair. However, if you get to 9pm and haven’t had dinner or ate at 6pm and are starving at 10pm, by all means eat! The key is to listen to your body; to what it needs/what it doesn’t/what it wants or craves. If you do give in to the late night snack, practice mindfulness. Eating late at night is not a cardinal sin of weight management! Going hungry will only set you up for poor blood glucose balance, cravings and overindulgence when you finally do eat.

On the other hand, if you do find you are overdoing the Maltesers late at night, the key is to have a balanced intake throughout the day so that you’re less reliant on overindulging later in the evening. If you are finding that you are eating more later in the day, this can be directly proportional to eating too little earlier in the day. This pattern leads to overconsumption and can then contribute to poor weight management. If this is you, look at bulking up your breakfast and lunch to ensure your body is more satisfied during the day. The appetite-regulating hormone ghrelin is much better regulated in the morning than any part of the day, therefore, making it easier to prevent overindulgence at this time of day as opposed to at night. In other words, the body exerts an increased ability to feel ‘fuller’ in the morning than the evening. This explain why we just keep eating the ice-cream at night and we can’t manage that extra bite of avo toast in the morning.

The ultimate key is to listen to your body, practice mindfulness when eating and aim for balance throughout the entire day.