Welcome to the 21 day oatcake challenge!!
Many people ask me for simple, stress free hints and tips that involve the least effort but have the maximum impact.... so here we have it 'the 21 day oatcake challenge.'.
All you have to do is to replace every slice of bread you would normally consume each day with an oatcakes for 21 days and the benefits to your health as well as your waistline will be well worth the tiny bit of effort involved.
Of course, there are lots of oatcakes out there but I'd like you to choose the Nairn's oatcakes or Paterson's. They don't have to have the words Gluten Free but they do have to be wheat free to be beneficial to your health. (Some of the triangular, slightly larger versions contain wheat so please avoid) Oats are naturally Gluten free but in order to carry that on the label they have to be manufactured in a part of the factory away from any gluten for the benefit of people with a serious allergy, so we don't have to worry about that unless we know we are one of those people. You will notice that Nairn's also make sweet biscuits. If you are continuing to eat sweet biscuits during this challenge, then please replace with these ones. However, we would recommend you take the opportunity to reduce sugar and try plain oatcakes with a savoury or nut topping instead. This will keep you going longer, so you don't feel hungry and will maintain energy levels which is what we all need these days!
Oats are packed with both soluble and insoluble fibre which means they help to promote healthy digestion and also help us to feel fuller for longer. They contain a particular type of fibre known as beta-glucan which is known to reduce the bad type of cholesterol in our blood reducing our risk of coronary heart disease. Studies have also shown a link between consumption of oats and reduced colorectal cancer due to the fibre content.
Oatcakes also have a high mineral content especially manganese and phosphorous and are excellent for maintaining our energy levels. They also have a low glycaemic index which makes them helpful in managing blood glucose, especially if topped with a good quality protein/fat such as a nut butter.
Why ditch the wheat?
For many of us wheat based breads have become problematic. Complaints around bloating, IBS, eczema, depression and tiredness to name but a few have all been linked in many scientific studies to the consumption of wheat. When you consider that the wheat we eat now in our supermarket breads is a from a hybridized grains with 30% more gluten than our grandparents were exposed to, then you can see why so many people are removing wheat and or gluten from their diets, However, there are many other reasons for these types of symptoms and following this challenge does not replace an appointment with a nutritional therapist who can help you get to the root of your particular health challenges and may refer you for further testing via your GP.
At this stage just replacing a poor quality bread with limited nutrient value and some potential disbenefits with something more nutrient dense and with a good source of both soluble and insoluble fibre can be a huge asset for maintaining health. There are of course many alternatives to wheat breads such as rye, spelt, amaranth and quinoa. Look out for these breads in theBiona range in the supermarket
However, for now, let's keep it simple. Oatcakes are delicious and portable. You can carry them in your handbag/briefcase to work or out for lunch. They are fab with soups so you are not tempted to pick up that bread. You can add any topping you like as you would a sandwich or have along with a bag of salad (NOT one of those awful pasta salads but a packet of greens or egg or other protein such as salmon in with your salad) Ideally make your salad at home with lots of veg and some protein, either meats, fish or veggy source such as kidney beans.
For snacking, they are ideal and can be enjoyed with some nut butters (check out almond, cashew and pumpkinseed butters or some pate or humus. You will find that you only need one and are ready for action with sustained energy! Similarly, they are great as a bedtime snack to keep you going through the night.
Check out some nut butters at your health food shops. For example, Meridian Almond Butter. Now also available in Supermarkets.
For breakfast you could replace that toast habit with oatcakes and an egg based breaky, or try oats as a porridge topped with nuts and seeds and a few berries. The great portability of oatcakes in the individual packets means that if you are in a rush, just make a boiled egg the night before (or as you take your shower!) and take your egg to work with some oatcakes to have when you get there. (Far superior to most cereals on the market!)
We would love it if you got your family, friends, work colleagues to join you in this 21 day oatcake challenge. Many people find changing their diet a little daunting, but this is a fabulous way to make such a huge benefit to your health in a short time.. You will be surprised at how well you do. Bon appetit!!
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