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A Wellness Quest: Cooking and Nutrient Preservation

Updated: Nov 8, 2020

Simona Hendy is a lovely Italian Personal Trainer who lives in Bali. I had a conversation with her about cooking, which is always an enlightening topic for me (I mean I once got banned from the kitchen for alphabetizing the spices).

What we eat affects everything, from gut health and immunity, to our mindset and skin. Yes, I said skin. This is a reaction that I still encounter, when people don't realize the deep connection between blemishes or peaky skin and what they've habitually started stress-eating during quarantine season.

Before speaking with Simona, I had a look at what my trusted Science Journals had to say about nutrient preservation. This is kinda like doing a bit of a workout before going to the gym. I found some handy info on "Effect of different cooking methods on the content of vitamins and true retention in selected vegetables" and how cooking can degrade 40 to 50% of the nutrients. Wow. Well I can personally live on sushi for a spell, but here are more precise tips from Simona:

Firstly, tell us about yourself:

My name is Simona Hendy, I am a Personal Trainer, Level 3 (U.K. Standards), with

Certificates in Personal Training, Fitness Instruction and all that all encompassing health and nutrition stuff. I practiced in London for years before returning to Rome. I practiced there for 3 years then moved to Barcelona for a few years. Thanks to my personal fitness background (Kickboxing, Dance and Functional Training) I my broad knowledge and understanding of fitness and training has allowed me the freedom to live anywhere.

"I do the nerdy thing: regularly attending courses to keep myself informed on any developments in the field of training and nutrition. I also taught belly dancing for one year, but I currently concentrate on creating workouts and nutritional programs for my clients. These days, I live in Bali.

Over the years, Simona developed a program that is based on functional workouts that she creates as a custom program for each client, based on knowledge of their abilities and needs, taking into account any physical/psychological impediment (disease, trauma etc..)

We are what we eat...and WHEN is everything.

Exercise serves to restore the natural abilities your body has, as well as to give you the hot body you've always wanted! To create the right training you need knowledge, so you can achieve results in a completely natural and safe way.
And nutrition is important.

Metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories. 

It speeds up or slows down depending on how much you make it work. 

When you wait too long in between meals, or eat too little, the body slows down to compensate for the temporary shortage of nutrients. Then when you eat again, even little, your body will store EVERYTHING as fat. 

Here is why; 

Think of your metabolism as a thinking person, with a memory of his own. If it feels that it will not get any food for a long time it will make a storage (fat!) so it can hang on to all of it. If it is used of getting food on a regular basis it will burn it all off to be ready for the next meal.

When you eat little imagine this person thinking "Ok, I know that I have to wait a while before I get more food for energy, so I better hang on to all of this and store as much as I can". That storage is gonna be fat.  

"When you eat often and enough, is as if this person (aka your metabolism) is thinking 'Ok, I know there is more food coming soon, so I better burn all of this off to make room for the next meal'"

You want your metabolism to be the 10km-guy, so keep it training. Do not starve it.

Also, avoid eating before bed time. At bedtime the metabolism tends to slow down and the calories are stored in reserve tissues (fat), because they are not needed immediatly.

You do not need food right before you go to sleep! And your body should not be trying to digest while sleeping, because it lowers the quality of your sleep, which, guess what, makes you store fat more easily! 

Simona's Cooking Tips

I quickly learned that the nutrients change with cooking, depending on temperature and time. "...Remember that cooking destroys many nutrients, the more we cook food the less nutrients it retains, so food passed from boiling water to the pan, arrives to us with almost no nutritional value. The best choice is to grill, bake or steam," Simona stressed.

Vitamins and minerals 

Cooking causes the destruction of almost all the vitamins, especially those water-soluble (and in particular vitamin C and those of the group B), with losses of up to 50%. 

So, when you say "I eat a lot of vegetables," ask yourself, after you've boiled them to smithereens...how many nutrients could your body have really absorbed from that? Surely then, frying becomes less attractive. Boiling is truly a waste.

Instead try to grill, blanche or steam vegetables.

Remember, the less you cook, the more nutrients are preserved.


The proteins subjected to temperatures higher than 55-60 degrees coagulate, change their structure by binding to each other. 

This is linked to loss of fluids in the flesh and a result of shortening of fibers, and in the eggs, the result is the firmness.

The coagulation of proteins makes them more digestible because they are more sensitive to the gastric juices that attack them. 

So in the case of a thick steak obviously we will need to cook it, but try to do so as little as possible. The Italian in her shining through, she adds:

"Treat yourself, from time to time, to a good carpaccio, which keeps protein intacts."


With increasing temperature the fat blends and become more fluid. When the temperature reaches the smoke point, fats decompose with formation of toxic substances such as acrolein. So if raw fat is bad for your body, cooked fat is worse!

Choose healthy fats like Avocado Oil or the more readily available OLIVE OIL.

Olive oil contains vitamin "A" and vitamin "E", and helps to reduce excess cholesterol. It does not generate "bad" cholesterol (LDL) at all; favouring, instead, the formation of "good" cholesterol (HDL). The richness of fat ("good") provides a more balanced development in children, helping the cellular tissue in the assimilation of substances essential to growth. Oil also facilitates the hepatic activity and regulates the bowel. But its composition is altered when it is cooked, so it's important to have it "uncooked", seasoning your meal after you cooked it. It's also important that the oil is "cold pressed", or, if obtained by methods that use heat, as if it is already cooked! So, always check the labels.


Simple sugars are dissolved in the presence of liquid, if cooking is prolonged the water evaporates and they form the syrup, up to the point where they get caramelized, that process begins at 150 degrees.

Investigate stuff like AGAVE SYRUP

Did you know that there is a NATURAL sweetener that does not have the drawbacks of sugar? It's called Agave Syrup. It's 100% natural and has no taste, when you add it to a drink it simply sweetens it, but unlike sugar, it does not hurm your body, indeed, has a high dose of calcium, minerals and trace elements. And is ideal for diabetics! It mixes well even when cold and sweetens on average 25% more than white sugar. It's good and does not contain fat. You can find it in natural foods stores or herbalists. Do you still prefer sugar? 


With the trend of high-protein diets people tend to demonize fruits, guilty of containing too much sugar, but excessive consumption of protein alone might make you lose weight, but it will definitely harm your health.

It 's a fact that fruits are an ally for the health and beauty of the body. Avoid, however, don't eat eat many of the same fruits, like 3 apricots or 3  kiwis, but mix it , in order to absorb all the nutrients you need, and even add a handful of nuts. Fruits should not be eaten at the end of a meal? It is not always true. The pineapple, for example, contains the bromelain, a substance that helps the digestion of proteins. Fruits are generally better in the early morning on an empty stomach, such as orange juice, as long as it is freshly made and drunk within 15 minutes, so it doesn’t loose vitamin C, which is useful, among other things, to prevent sunburn.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Water makes up the largest percentage in nearly all foods, and is what is most involved in the cooking process. Be aware of how much you take in every day. It is one of the simplest yet most forgotten detail about staying healthy. You're never too busy to stop working every couple of hours and get a glass of water into that beautiful body of yours.

Expect a lot more from our new #MelaninQueen Simona in LetsTalkMelanin.com over the coming weeks-- Simona Hendy will share more about her personal journey to health and wellness and how her space under the same sky across Europe and Asia have given her deep insights on health and wellness.

Wanna join our Wellness Quest? To be Inspired, or to be YOU who inspires?

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