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Why I’m not giving up food for lent

Why I’m not giving up food for lent

Why I’m not giving up food for lent.

Each year lent comes and goes, many don’t succeed and for some they do. Most of those who take part in lent have no religious beliefs what so ever, however they want to challenge themselves to give up something to see if they can do it. I am all for supporting peoples desires and if you do this and succeed at it then that is super creditable; good on you!!

I just wanted to share why I won’t be giving up anything for lent this year, and haven’t done for a good few years.

Lent is a religious event where Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. In his honour people give up something for this period of time, mostly a food item. I’m not aware of the “rules” but I know some people chose to give up a behaviour, which is great!

I questioned lent for a few days in the run up thinking, what should I give up? I googled lent and saw the reasoning for it and I knew straight away I wasn’t going to give up a food. Firstly, I’m not religious, but I always like a challenge. The thing that occurred to me however is that for once in my life there isn’t one item of food I want to give up!

I am finally in a great place with my diet and my mind and this means that I can eat anything I desire; no limitations! Coming from an eating disorder it was always about giving up a food, restriction, eating good and eating bad. There was no balance. Fast forward to March 1st 2017 I can say that there is not 1 item of food (or drink for that matter) that I feel I need to give up!

For others you may feel you need to give up something for whatever reason, but if this is the case then don’t let Lent be your reasoning. Do it for you and your health, this doesn’t need to start tomorrow, or at New Years, start now and for the long term.

If you are religious, then go for it! Your beliefs go way beyond just giving up a food for health, it’s your religion. I am just going on why many people I know give up a food for lent, and that isn’t for religious beliefs.

Good luck to all those giving up something for Lent and do what you love, follow what you love, and be happy in doing so.

 

What to Eat to Reduce Inflammation

What to Eat to Reduce Inflammation

What to eat to reduce Inflammation

A topic of conversation that regularly comes up in my working practise is inflammation.

Inflammation is at the root of many common, long term diseases: arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, to name a few. With education and correct food choices, symptoms can be reduced and discomfort eased.

Inflammation is not always a bad thing. In fact, inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury. It is a protective response to remove harmful stimuli such as damaged cells, irritants and pathogens. Problems occur however when inflammation becomes chronic.

Chronic inflammation can last from months to years. If not kept under control, or ideally eliminated, chronic inflammation can cause disease and illness. Through our diet, we are able to reduce inflammation and ultimately help health problems away.

Try adding the following foods into your diet to reduce inflammation:

  • Dark leafy greens (Kale, Swiss chard and Spinach)

Rich in Vitamins A, C and K. These greens are high in antioxidants that restore cellular health. Eat in salads, smoothies, stir fries and more.

  • Celery

High in antioxidants and a natural anti-inflammatory. Improves blood pressure, cholesterol levels and can prevent heart disease. Eaten as a raw snack or an addition to any cold pressed juice, stock, stew or homemade pasta sauce.

  • Beetroot

Contains antioxidant Betalain, a fantastic anti-inflammatory. Beetroot has incredible benefits when added in just small quantities. Try adding to a cold pressed juice, made into a beetroot hummus, boiled for a salad topper, burger or sandwich. Alternative options include spiralised on a salad, roasted or home-made healthy crisps!

  • Broccoli

Known as the “antioxidant powerhouse”, broccoli is packed with key vitamins to lower oxidative stress on the body and reduce chronic inflammation.

  • Blueberries

Contain a flavonoid called quercetin which fights inflammation and cancer. Blueberries can be eaten as a snack, put into smoothies, added to cereals or into your oatmeal.

  • Pineapple

Pineapple contains bromelain. Studies have shown that bromelain stops blood platelets from sticking together and building along the walls of blood vessels which leads to heart attacks and stroke.

  • Walnuts

The anti-inflammatory compounds in walnuts help protect against type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems. Walnuts are great chopped up and mixed into pasta sauces, topped on oatmeal or even made into great raw vegan desserts. If you prefer they can be eaten on their own but remember nuts do have a high fat content so although they have fantastic health benefits, do be sure to eat them in moderation.

  • Coconut oil

Lips in coconut oil contain anti-inflammatory compounds which heal arthritis more effectively than medications.

Coconut oil can be heated at high temperatures without destroying its healing benefits, so try using it as an addition to your stir fries, homemade sweet potato chips, or a great addition to oatmeal and smoothies too!

  • Chia seeds

The ultimate “superfood”. Not only high in omega-3 and 6 but Chia seeds have the ability to reverse inflammation, lower blood pressure and regulate cholesterol levels.

Chia seeds can be used in many ways, try adding them onto salads, pasta or rice. Make a chia pudding, pop in a smoothie or into oatmeal. When mixed with water they form a gel which is used as an egg replacer in baking so they really have multiple uses. You will not struggle to get these into your diet!

  • Flaxseeds

Another great source of omega-3’s. Flaxseeds are high in antioxidants which are hormone balancing and great for cellular health.

Like chia seeds, flaxseeds can be used in multiple ways: sprinkle onto salads, on top of pastas or rice, or as an egg replacer in baking. For baking you will need the ground version of flaxseed and not the whole seed. An easy way to add flaxseed into your diet is in smoothies, 1 tbsp is a great amount and you can’t taste it either!

  • Turmeric

As you may have heard before, turmeric is fantastic at reducing inflammation. It’s active anti-inflammatory component, curcumin, is it’s primary compound.

Simply add this powerhouse into home-made curries, a warming addition to your rice, cold pressed juices or a warming turmeric latte!

  • Ginger

Ginger has the ability to break down the accumulation of toxins in the bodies organs. Use dry or fresh, it works the same way.

Ginger is a common spice and an essential part of any curry however it has many other uses. Try: fresh ginger and lemon water, freshly made juice, stir fries and raw vegan desserts. Due to the powerful flavour of ginger it can be a more difficult addition to a diet, however you only need a small amount to get the benefits so have some practise with it.

 

Eliminate the following inflammation inducing foods:

  • ALL processed meats
  • Red meats
  • Margarine, shortening and lard
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Fried foods
  • Refined carbohydrates (white breads, pastries, doughnuts etc)

Why I despise calorie counting

Why I despise calorie counting

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Is it me or has the world gone calorie counting obsessed? Counting calories is one of my biggest pet hates and something I wish everyone would stop doing. Wherever we look we are faced with calories; from TV programmes to going out to dinner, to wearing a watch on our wrists counting every calorie we burn to calorie tracking apps. When we go out for a nice meal it is a treat, a place to socialise, be happy and enjoy ourselves. Why is it that when looking through the menu we have to be faced with the caloric value of our food? The thing is: would you rather eat a whole foods salad with raw veggies, healthy fats, complex carbs and whole lots of vitamins and minerals which contains 750 calories (for example) OR eat a Burger and Chips for 700 calories but contains saturated fats, high cholesterol and very little nutritional benefit at all? The problem is that instead of eating nutritious food and enjoying it we are so obsessed with the number of calories we are eating that we don’t enjoy the food any more and our focus is on how much we will eat and when we should stop. The thing is, when we forget calories and eat whole nutritious foods we can eat until we are full, stay full and nourished until our next meal AND enjoy ourselves with no guilt at all! When we calorie restrict, we don’t eat until we are full, we eat until we have reached the caloric value we desire, get hungry again soon after and then pig out later on unhealthy accessible foods to feed ourselves up and more than likely until we are so over full we feel sick. This isn’t healthy and it is not a fun way to live.

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I understand that people feel the need to count calories to lose weight but it isn’t maintainable. We should be counting the nutritional value and benefits of foods and focus on this. Eating whole foods with tons of vitamins and minerals means we can eat until we are full and have no need to restrict, no need to pig out soon after and can eat without any guilt at all. Yes, we all get cravings, I am one for this absolutely. I have one of the greatest sweet tooth’s on the planet and if you are a female then I know that there is one time of the month in particular when your hormones are out of control and all we want to eat is sweet foods! But all junk food out there has a healthy alternative and can be made a healthier option. For example: want chocolate? Opt for a high cocoa dark chocolate option. Try dates with nut butter. Raw vegan brownies. Raw vegan cheesecake. Make some icecream with frozen bananas, dates and raw cacao. We all have times when we over indulge and thats not be felt guilty about; it is normal (Binge eating and over indulgence are two very different things!) How we chose to indulge is our choice of options and what we eat. If you chose a packet of chocolate digestives and know that you’re going to eat the entire packet and feel guilty about it, don’t do it. You’re much better eating an entire jar of almond butter and dates for example, feel full and satisfied but without the guilt, and at least you’re body isn’t going to hate you for it.

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My point is: don’t be consumed by calories and focus on the nutrition of food instead. When we all switch our focus to nutrition that is when we will all begin to strive and live the healthiest version of ourselves. There will be times when we over indulge because that is normal but dieting and binge eating will be no more. Eat fruit and vegetables in abundance, carb up on complex carbohydrates and stay hydrated. When we change to this way of eating then exercise will be enjoyed for the health benefits, not the calories burnt, eating out will be enjoyed for the company and food, not the fear of calories and weight gain and life will become a whole lot less stressful. Experience what it’s like to be confident in yourself as you know that what you are eating is allowing you to thrive in life and not leave you feeling unhappy, under nourished and dissatisfied.

Stay healthy and happy everyone,

Hannah

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