Category Archives: Conscious Eating

Eat in Season for cheaper more nutrient dense produce

Seasonal Produce Infograph – http://pinterest.com/pin/495677502708176001/

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Healthy ways to reduce calories, lose weight and feel better

If there is one thing I have learnt over the past 7 weeks in trying to lose a bit of weight and feel good about putting a bikini on again ready for my holiday in 8 and a half days time (I’m not counting)!! Is that if you start eating sensibly early enough to allow yourself to lose the weight then you can do it without adopting a fad diet. I know it can work because I have done just that in the last 6 weeks and I promise you I haven’t been doing any silly diets, just healthy eating and exercise, but even without the exercise you can lose weight with a sensible approach to eating. So here are some of my tips to help you do just that. If you want to lose a few pounds remember you need to reduce your calorie intake by 500 calories per day to lose 1lb per week.

  • If you have a smart phone get an app to help you count calories, you will be surprised at how many calories you are eating and it is a very effective way of keeping track of what you eat as you can really see where your calories are coming from and how much sugar and fat you are eating. I recommend ‘my fitness pal’ excellent calorie app and it has most definitely helped me stay in control. You can also add exercise and although it is not 100% accurate in calculating calorie expenditure it does go some way to giving you an idea of how many calories you might be burning during exercise.
  • Try and plan meals in advance, leaving it to the last-minute usually results in bad choices.
  • Weigh your food, not everything but definitely cereal because there are a lot of hidden sugars and more calories than you think. Secondly look at the serving size in relation to calories, it usually ranges between 30 – 50g and believe me even 50g is a small portion when you weigh it. Most people double this when they fill the bowl and the calories, you could easily be consuming 500 to 600 calories in breakfast and milk alone when eating cereal.
  • If you have had a bad day and consumed more calories than you perhaps should have then don’t stress about it but instead make up for it the following day and reduce your calories to around 1000 or do some exercise, I find this works well if I have been invited out for a meal or something. It means you can still be naughty from time to time without worrying too much. I have still lost weight using this method.
  • Find a good fitness program off the internet there are a lot of free ones. Circuit training is good or HIT (high intensity training) short bursts of intense exercise lasting about 20 to 30 minutes per session. You do need to include weight resistance in your programe…trust me it will work wonders on burning calories.
  • If you find a meal you like for lunch at work for example, then keep using the recipe but alter one or two things to it so you don’t get bored and just keep tabs on your calories.
  • If body fat is what you need to reduce then ensure you are paying attention to fat in the foods you are eating. Reduce your fat intake and you will start to lose fat too; your body will start to burn stored fat instead if you are reducing how much you eat…it’s simple really and if you chose to exercise as well then you will burn even more and you will see the weight start to drop.
  • Take measurements for thighs, hips and waist as well as weighing yourself and body fat %, because you might not see weight drop but you could have lost inches.
  • Whilst I don’t advocate low fat food options such as low fat cheese etc, they are a good way of reducing your calories initially to get you started but once you have reached your ideal weight I would recommend that you stick to normal full fat foods but again just continue to keep a watch on your calories. There is evidence to suggest that low fat foods actually make you hungry because they are not satisfying the hunger pang so you end up eating more. If you find this to be the case then stick to normal foods without low fat options, if you are watching your calorie intake then naturally the amount of fat and sugar you consume will reduce anyway as long as you are choosing healthy options of course!
  • Eat goods fats not bad for example bad fat = animal (saturated fats) good fat = avocado and oily fish (omega 3&6).
  • Eat whole foods; whole grains, nuts, brown bread, fruit and vegetables, potatoes (sweet potato) – foods that nourish and fill you up.
  • Have three meals a day and 1 or 2 snacks in-between (healthy snacks), eating this way keeps your metabolism ticking over rather than it becoming slow and sluggish.
  • I can promise you that if you start to change your diet for whole food and little or no refined and processed foods you will notice a difference in your energy, concentration and how you feel. I feel less bloated and tired, more awake and able to go to the gym after work.
  • Even if you feel like you can’t do exercise after work still go because as soon as you’re there and working hard your energy will pick up and you will feel different and glad that you made the effort.
  • If you choose to lose weight without exercising that is fine but, you won’t feel the benefits of exercise such as; muscle tone and definition – your whole body will look more defined through exercise and you will be stronger, you will feel more energetic and more confident. If you want to have lean legs, arms and less wobbly bits then I’m afraid exercise is the only way you will achieve this.
  • And finally, losing weight and feeling great don’t come easy you have to work for it I’m afraid, but it will all be worth it.

Good luck.

Making wise food choices!

I don’t intend to come across all hippy in this post,but the truth of it is us humans really need to embrace mother nature and harmonise our bodies back to what they need to live a happy and energised life. Food nourishes the soul, the body and the mind but we have lost touch with what food and nature provides and the endless benefits we can reap from them. Our world is becoming more complicated, populated and frantic with technology, that we become overwhelmed; this affects our well-being and sometimes leads to illness both mental and physical. If you can’t change the environment you live in or the job you do maybe you can start to make changes to what you eat which will help you to cope better with the strains of everyday life.

Food doesn’t just satisfy hunger it nourishes, protects, repairs and fuels us. We often look for a quick fix, or a convenient meal that requires little or no preparation and this usually results in consuming over-processed food, fatty or high sugar fixes that provide no valuable nutrients to help us feel good. You will most likely have had that sluggish feeling at work after you have eaten a ready-made sandwich or something similar from a fast food shop or takeaway, and perhaps you have not felt satisfied or have that feeling of wanting to sleep afterwards. This is because those foods are just too much for the digestive system to handle. The bread in a pre-made sandwich is often cheaply manufactured bread using refined flour and additives whilst the cheese is fake and has a plastic texture; because these ingredients are required to have a decent shelf life and look good in the packaging they add stabilizers and other additives which ultimately makes the food fake.

There are so many different lunch products available today in supermarkets and small shops which is good for choice but on the other hand these foods are not what I call real food they impersonate real food and marketing makes these products appear healthy and nutritious. If it has been manufactured on an industrial level, packed and transported half way across the country to your nearest supermarket or shop and the shelf life is still several days ahead then ask the question “how real is this food?” then look at the ingredients and if you are buying what should be a simple cheese sandwich, then surely the ingredients should reflect this!

How much attention do we really pay to what we are eating? We are so used to convenient food that we have forgotten what real food actually tastes like. When was the last time you had real homemade pizza, or apple pie, because if we all made the effort to try to make dough or pastry then you would realise that there is a noticeable difference between a manufactured pizza and a homemade one not only in taste and texture but in how it makes you feel after too. I strongly believe that ‘Irritable Bowel Syndrome’ (a very common western ailment) is as a result of western diet and not something that just so happens to be!

Making small changes to your food choices a little at time will make such a difference to your health and well-being that it is worth the extra effort…I promise! I feel so much better when I eat real food and food that I have made from scratch. When I cook from raw ingredients I know what is in my food, when I buy a ready-made product I have no idea what is in it…if there are ingredients on the list that I don’t recognise how do I know what I’m putting into my body.

To not care about what our food is, where it comes from and what it provides us with, is to not care about ourselves.

Dieting and cancer risk

Scientists in the US, Norway and South Korea have been studying 1099 people over 40 years old over a period of 10 years carrying out frequent blood tests for 7 of the most dangerous pollutants. Including DDE, a pesticide linked to breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s and PCB169, a toxin linked to the brain and nervous system.

These levels were higher in people who had lost weight and it is suggested these chemicals are released from fatty tissue increasing the concentration of POPs (Persistant organic pollutants). Meaning, they could reach critical organs through circulation. These POPs are found in electrical goods, pesticides, food, especially animal fats.

Stored in fatty tissue they are believed to cause little harm but if released into the blood could increase the risk of cancer. Britain have been phasing out POPs since 2001 and levels in food have declined but it could take decades for them to break down. Another study also suggests that losing weight quickly increases the body’s production of stress hormones increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Obviously losing weight has many benefits but studies like this one show that balance is important and losing weight very quickly on fad diets and not following good advise could lead to further problems later in life.

There is still so much to learn about the body and cancer and I fully support cancer charity’s that research the possible causes of cancer. We are told that pretty much everything causes cancer these days but having information about research published in the media helps people to make informed decisions.

Why modern food is bad for you

The human digestive system is not designed to consume the thousands of different food products and additives mass-produced by food manufacturers. The digestive system is complex, sensitive and delicate and i believe that the problems humans experience today (obesity, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, skin disorders, headaches, migraines, cancer, hormonal changes etc etc) are all related to the food we eat. When I talk about modern food I mean processed food!

Modern manufactured food does not provide us with the nutrients we need; a pizza from the frozen food section of a supermarket only provides excessive amounts of fat, salt and sugar. Whole foods such as nuts, seeds, grains, fruit and vegetables are produced by the earth they contain an abundance of natural vitamins and minerals and fibre. They are real and alive and give us vitality. Foods made from whole foods such as pasta, flour, bread and oats are also good for us. Brown rice and pasta are substantially better for us than white because they contain more nutrients and haven’t been stripped of them. They fill you up for longer because they take the body longer to break down. White bread often states ‘added vitamins and minerals such as iron’, ask yourself next time you buy white bread “why are these nutrients added?” the answer…because the bread has no nutritional value without them and even when they are added they are not going to be as good as the whole version i.e. Wholemeal and when nutrients are added to food our bodies deal with them differently than if they were part of the whole food. Our bodies are being forced to deal with a synthetic material.

Do you find yourself constantly hungry, if your diet consists mainly of processed, refined, high sugar, salt and fat then your body will send messages to your brain that it is not satisfied and it needs more food. This is because it is constantly craving good nutritional food that it is not receiving this leads to overeating and weight gain. The obesity levels in the UK are continuing to increase but there is a simple solution and it requires the gradual change of diet to whole foods, food that has not been refined and reduced to simple sugars and bad fats, food that is a close to its natural form as possible. Whole food such as brown rice and whole grains will fill you up for longer give your body what it needs and you will benefit from it, include fruit and vegetables or a rainbow diet (choose food that is colourful) and your body will thank you for it.

We are after all a living organism…does it not make sense to eat food that is alive, vibrant and full of goodness!