Grain or No Grain?

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Hello Warriors!

Apologies for neglecting you, I have been caught in a whirlwind of work and study and unfortunately not had time for much else!

I’m nearly at the end of my Nutrition and Weight Management diploma. It’s interesting to say the least, I’d recommend that anyone who has a keen interest in nutrition looks into doing something similar even if you don’t wish to pursue it as a career. There is so much conflicting information out there it’s good to have a foundation knowledge that you can use to make your own decisions.

So I’ve been experimenting with going grain-free or at least reducing the amount in my diet. This is a subject that always sparks a debate. Do the benefits of eating grains and outweigh the potential damage they’re doing to us? Are they really causing any damage at all or is it just a theory? I’ll leave you to  make up your own minds on that one from the various resources available. Here are some that I have found very useful;

http://wellnessmama.com/575/how-grains-are-killing-you-slowly/

http://www.builtlean.com/2013/07/16/whole-grains-healthy/

(BTW, I’d totally recommend following Wellness Mama and her blog if you’re not already doing so)

Everyone’s body is different and reacts differently to different foods. I personally do find that I have more energy and a clearer mind by having a breakfast rich in good fats and protein (essential for balanced hormones!) and I don’t find myself crashing at 3pm reaching for something sugary. That’s just me though and others might be different. I’d definitely recommend giving it a go for a day or so and seeing how your body reacts. Maybe try it over the weekend so you can be prepared with meals and snacks to hand without being tempted by the work canteen come mid-afternoon.

All I would say is that if you do opt to avoid grains for a while, make sure you are eating plenty of fruits and vegetables including starchy veggies like sweet potatoes and butternut squash. Often people can go too low carb causing their body to go into famine mode – holding onto any body fat available as energy reserves. This is why you are likely to see quick weight loss on a diet like the Aktins. Your body needs carbs, whether you chose to get these from grains or veggies and fruits or a bit of both. Do what works for you.

For those of you that want to give the grain-free way of living a go but can’t bear the thought of living without bread, try this simple recipe for a nutritious and satisfying grain-free alternative from the Guilty Kitchen; http://guiltykitchen.com/2013/04/15/paleo-sandwich-bread/

It’s my first go at a paleo-style bread and I must say I was really impressed! I had a slice this morning with some scrambled eggs and kale and it kept me going until lunch. A little goes a long way! It can be quite expensive if you don’t have all of the ingredients in your cupboards but once you have them you can experiment with other alternatives.

Don’t let the fat content in this loaf put you off… it’s full of essential fats that we need to keep us healthy and our skin shiny. In fact, I think fat deserves a post of it’s own, there are too many benefits to list here!

Have you ever experimented with going grain-free? I’d be really keen to hear your stories and experiences.

Bye for now! x

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Startober!

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Hello Warriors!

I hope you’re all well and loving life now you have your green smoothies to start the day!

So, how many of you are taking part in Stoptober? I’m very much a fan, it’s for a great cause and I love how people jump straight in and don’t stop at quitting just the booze for a week, I know people that have kicked the cigarettes to the curb, chocolate, all sorts.  They say it takes 3 weeks to change a habit which at the time can seem like an eternity but in reality, what’s 3 weeks in the grand scheme of things?

With this in mind, I’ve decided to patent … Startober! The aim of the game is that you start 5 healthy habits and before you know it, you’ve swapped out the bad for the good. Come November you’ll be a shinier, happier version of you. Are you all in?

Here’s my top 5 healthy habits to get you started;

1)      Start the day with a steaming mug of hot water and lemon. If nothing else, this is one of the best things you could do for yourself every day. Lemon is a super food. It’s full of vitamin C, calcium and potassium  and aids the digestive system, making the process of eliminating waste products (including fat) from the body easier. Simply put, this morning tonic will give your digestive tract a spring clean so it’s ready to efficiently process whatever you send it’s way that day. Add a pinch of rock salt to boost levels of electrolytes after 7-8 hours without fluids and a tea spoon of manuka honey to keep the office cold at bay.

2)      Eat within an hour of rising. Whilst sleeping your body has been busy repairing itself which takes up a lot of energy! Upon waking your body will be crying out for some fuel to help it get going for the day ahead. The longer you leave it to eat the more stressed your system will become, releasing cortisol which will eventually lead to an increase in fat storage. We’ll come onto cortisol and the role it plays in weight management at a later date.

3)      Add a dash of cinnamon to your morning coffee. Cinnamon is a natural fat burner. When added to food or drinks, it helps to balance your blood sugar levels, keeping you fuller for longer and helping to avoid the sudden crash we’d normally experience after our morning caffeine laden beverage. Not only that, it’s naturally sweet so try it in stead of your usual sweetener in your porridge, coffee, smoothies. I also like to add it to my morning hot water and lemon tonic, divine!

4)      Eat more fat! Yes you heard me, fat burns fat. I am talking healthy fats though, not the kind you’re probably used to. Increase your intake of avocados, full fat unflavoured yoghurt, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds. If you’re on a low fat diet, you’re body will hold on to the fat that it already has as it thinks it’s not going to get any more.  Try adding some full fat greek yoghurt to your morning smoothie or snacking on a handful of nuts if you’re hungry in-between meals. Healthy fats help to regulate hormones and when incorporated into our meals, help to tell the brain that we’re full so we don’t overeat.

5)      Make sure you’re eating enough protein at every meal. It takes the body longer to digest protein than most fats and carbs, keeping you fuller for longer as well as helping to build lean muscle. Try adding a scoop of protein powder (naturally flavoured if possible) to smoothies or scrambled eggs for breakfast, adding chicken or an alternative lean meat to lunch and a portion of fish for dinner to get your omega 3’s.

I’d love to hear what your top 5 healthy habits are. Remember not to over do it, we live stressful enough lives as it is so if it’s just one healthy habit you introduce this Startober, you’re still going to be better off and you should be proud of any effort you make to improve your health and wellbeing. You’re the most important person after all 🙂

Oh My Greeny Goodness!

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I’ve been pondering over what to talk about next, there are so many things that I can’t wait to share with you!

Over breakfast this morning I realised the answer was right in front of me, literally, in all it’s green glory. My morning green smoothies have become a staple in my life and make sure I start my day off in the best way possible so I thought it would be terribly selfish of me to keep them all to myself.

I stumbled across these little beauties at the beginning of the year and have been hooked ever since. I was working hard at getting in shape for my wedding but couldn’t lose the stubborn tyre around my middle that seemed to present itself at every opportunity. I consequently learnt how excess estrogen can wreak havoc on stubborn fat and is often the cause for many a pot belly. I will caveat this with it’s not the only reason but still a major contributor, I’ll come back to this at a later date.

It turns out that all those dark leafy greens and cruciferous veggies that your mamma used to give you, actually help flush out all that extra estrogen and put you on the path to getting that flat belly we all crave but dare not dream we will ever achieve. Fear not peeps, you heard it here first, eat your greens and get a supermodels tum.

I don’t know about you but a bowl full of greens in the morning doesn’t feel me with delight… it makes me want to reach for the crumpets and a jar of jam. Who wants a flat belly anyway… luckily I stumbled across my smoothie maker before I got to the jam jar.

A couple of handfuls of veggies, a portion of fruit and some almond milk later and I’m Mrs Incredible, I can take on anyone and anything. Not only that but to go with my new-found confidence I need a new wardrobe to adorn my new frame. Hallelujah!

Drinking your greens instead of chewing them is also less work for your digestive system, making the vitamins and minerals readily available and giving your body a chance to do some necessary repairs with all the new tools you’ve given it. Woo hoo, party in the small intestine!

If this hasn’t got you browsing the Argos catalogues for a smoothie maker I don’t know what will. Don’t get me wrong, a green smoothie for brekkie and a McDonalds for lunch probably isn’t going to make you feel all that good. Be sensible people, if that was the case we’d all be supermodels.

Even Mr P has even got himself hooked on these beauties. Of course he has manned them up a bit but more often than not in our house, Saturday morning consists of us, our jammies, Saturday morning kitchen and a big glass of greeny goodness.

My favourite recipes to date is;

  • 1 large handful of kale
  • 1 large handful of spinach
  • 1 small banana
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 tea-spoon Maca powder (full of B vitamins and a natural energiser)
  • 1 tea-spoon Spirulina (full of omega 3’s and too many minerals to list)
  • 1 scoop Body Brilliance (Bodyism product – you can replace this with any protein powder of your choice or leave it out all together)

 

There are so many options. To get you started I’ve listed some of my favourite ingredients below;

Veggies (choose 2):

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumber
  • Red Peppers
  • Carrots

 

Fruit (choose 1 or 2 depending on how sweet you like your smoothies):

  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Banana
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries

 

Fillers (choose 1 to keep you going for longer):

  •  ½ avocado
  • 1 cup of oats
  • Small handful almonds
  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds

 

Liquid:

  • Almond milk
  • Filtered water
  • Rice milk
  • Oat milk
  • Hemp milk

I wouldn’t recommend adding regular milk to these smoothies but if you’re fine with milk generally then try and see how you go. Also, the ratio of veggies to fruit should be around the 70:30 mark. You want as many veggies in there as possible.

Feel free to experiment and think of other yummy ingredients that can be used. I challenge you to 7 days of a green smoothie for breakfast, I’d love to hear your feedback and ideas.

Now go forth and create your green monsters!

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Hello!

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Hello beautiful people,

Welcome to my blog!

I’m a total newbs when it comes to blogging so I’m excited and nervous at the same time. I imagine it’s much the same as how my Grandad felt when we coerced him into creating a profile on Facebook… hopefully my blog will be more of a success than his stab at conquering the world of social media.

The reason behind my venture into blogging is to share with you my knowledge, experiences and research into the world of nutrition. It’s something I’m extremely passionate about for lots of different reasons.

I’ve not always paid such a keen interest into food and the how, what, why and when but early into my teens I started suffering from painful stomach cramps and bloating and I couldn’t put my finger on what it was; the doctors were just as stumped as I was. I was tired all the time and had no energy. I did some research, changed up my eating habits and started to see dramatic changes very quickly.  I can’t say my diet is perfect by a long shot, but the journey to improving it has been insightful to say the least and has led me on to the path of working towards a Diploma in Nutrition.

I wouldn’t wish some of the diets I have tried on anybody; 5:2, Atkins, Paleo, Slimming World, Dukan, you name it I’ve done it. Looking back, they’re probably the reason for my digestive issues in the first place. Food is essential to our wellness and being, you can choose to nourish your body and in return reap the rewards or choose to eat for convenience without giving much thought to the effects.

Most of the time we lack the knowledge we need to make sensible choices and it can be so confusing with all of the conflicting information coming from all angles and so I want to share as much as I can with you so that you are able to make informed decisions everyday. Nobody’s perfect and I certainly couldn’t live without my indulgences but the rest of the time I eat well to balance it out. No funky diets, an active social life and definitely a few glasses of wine along the way!

Enjoy! x