Sun Sep 24 04:59:00 CAT 2017

Healthier ideas for your favourite food

By Karabo Disetlhe | 2015-10-10 07:45:29.0

Everyone strives to be healthy, be it hitting the gym, or cutting out certain food that doctors and dieticians advise us against.

That said, it is not easy to stay on track on the healthy part. Nibbling on a celery or carrot stick may be healthy but this is quite challenging when you watch someone next to you enjoying a juicy burger. This temptation can make one want to throw in the towel.

But what if there were healthier food alternatives that are also equally yummy?

Mpho Tshukudu, a registered dietician and Adsa (Associations for Dietetics in South Africa) spokeswoman, gives a healthier alternative to a list of food that most people love, and find very difficult to give up or cut out.

White bread

Most people love white bread, even though we are usually cautioned against it, or told how brown bread is the healthier option.

Is there healthy white bread we can eat?

According to Tshukudu, there is. The trick is the type of white bread you buy.

"White bread is high in glycaemic index. Glycaemic index (GI) is a number used to indicate the speed of absorption of sugar from starch or carbohydrate in the small intestines, thereby raising the blood sugar levels. The more rapid the blood sugar increase, the more rapidly insulin is released from the pancreas. The body uses as much sugar as it needs, and stores the rest of the sugar in the form of fat. This causes high body fat and obesity," she says.

"The high GI means there is a sudden rush or sugar, which is then used and stored - this leads to feeling hungry quicker in 20-60 minutes, and you eat again. If you choose the same high GI foods, you may gain weight from eating a lot of kilojoules.

"If you insist on white bread, there is low GI white bread. It does not have fibre, which helps to lower blood fats, sugar and improve bowel movement."


Who does not love a good burger? For most people, it's our achilles heel. But is there such a thing as a "healthy" burger?

Tshukudu tells us exactly what goes into making the healthier alternative of a greasy, saucy burger.

She says you must use a low GI seeded bun, non-processed cheese, and lots of vegetables like tomato, lettuce, gherkins, cucumber, pepper, onion and mushroom are good. This is because they are called free vegetables - meaning they have very few kilojoules. For your patty, go for grilled lean beef, ostrich or mince, or alternatively choose grilled chicken or fish. Do not deep-fry your patties.


Nothing soothes a craving and sweet tooth faster than chocolate. Most people end up feeling guilty after indulging themselves in a good slab of chocolate.

Tshukudu tells us about the healthier alternative.

"Choose a chocolate with 75% or higher cocoa content, with little or no sugar. Chocolate is high in antioxidants that are good for heart health. Lower content cocoa chocolate has too much sugar, biscuits, and milk, with very little chocolate.

"With high cocoa content you eat less because it is intense."

Chicken or beef

Some people choose to cut out meat when detoxing and believe that cutting it out can also be good for your weight loss. But should you cut out on meat to stay healthy?

Tshukudu says not necessarily, because the trick is how the meat is cooked.

"Both are healthy proteins. If you want to reduce kilojoule intake, remove the visible fat and skin. Do not deep-fry them."

She says one always has to eat a portion size of meat that is equal to the palm of your hand.


Tshukudu says one should not worry about coffee too much, as long as they do not overdo it.

"Coffee is healthy if you can tolerate it. Limit it to 2-3 cups a day. If you battle to sleep at night, do not drink coffee after midday. Drink your coffee without creamer and sugar. It can irritate the gut, especially when you have ulcers and irritable bowel disease. Do not drink coffee if you have heart problems or high blood pressure - it may increase your blood pressure. [Rather] choose tea - rooibos or fruit and herbal teas."


Pap is a favourite staple for many people and cutting it out can be almost impossible.

But did you know that pap doesn't have to be an enemy?

"Pap is made from ground and sifted maize, with the fibre removed. Freshly made pap is high in GI. Cool and/or reheated pap is lower in GI. Alternatives are Mabele, barley, brown rice or starchy vegetables such as carrot, sweet potato, beetroot and squash."