Healthy Treats to Eat Without Guilt

Healthy Treats to Eat Without Guilt

Whether we are in a hurry, chatting with our friends or watching TV, we all eat without thinking sometimes. We’ve all been culprits of mindless eating at some stage.

Snacking on healthy foods is important as we can so easily fall into the moment of grabbing a packet off the shelf because its easy and marketing tells us it’s ‘healthy’ when really, it’s full of nasties. Hidden sugars, refined salt, and additives fill snack type foods and this leaves us feeling empty and unsatisfied, leading us to wanting to eat more and more.

So what’s the answer: We need to snack SMART & snack LESS!

Over the next few days, I’ll share some of my favourite recipes to satisfy your desire for something small and sweet and some more when you fancy crunchy munchies!!!

I like to batch cook but this doesn’t mean we eat it all, it’s a great idea to share with friends or freeze it down for another day, ready for when you need a snack hit.

These bliss balls are a good source of mono saturated fats, protein and packed with many minerals including magnesium, zinc, calcium, potassium, selenium, iron and fibre. Be warned! They are more-ish yet extremely satisfying (unlike the packages snacks)

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Divine Apricot Bliss Balls

You’ll need:

1/2 cup dried apricots, no added sugar and sulphite-free

1/2 cup desiccated coconut, unsweetened

2 Tsp organic coconut oil, melted

1 cup cashews

1/4 cup medjool dates, pitted

Blend all of the above in a high speed blender. Roll into small balls and serve.

Choco Chili Bliss Balls

You’ll need:

1/4 cup walnuts

3/4 cup medjool dates, pitted

1/4 Tsp chili powder, grounded

2 Tbs raw cacao powder + extra for rolling

Blend together in a high speed blender till smooth. Roll into small balls and leave to chill in the fridge for 10 minutes. Remove, roll in raw cacao and serve.

Now, kick those packets out of your house and snack on real foods that are so healthy that you can eat without guilt!

 

 

Feel Guilty After Your Mid Afternoon Cravings? Not Anymore {Recipe}

Feel Guilty After Your Mid Afternoon Cravings? Not Anymore {Recipe}

 

Do you feel guilty or find yourself justifying those pesky mid afternoon cravings? Not any more as I have a perfect solution to satisfy your sweet tooth without the sugar rush….Trail Mix Cookies!!! And the best bit, there is no mixing and baking.  involved!

We all know that nuts and seeds are healthy but do you know that nuts are the best source of arginine, an amino acid that plays an important role in would healing, detoxification reactions, immune functions and promotion and secretion of several hormones, including insulin and growth hormone.

I love these trail mix cookies as they are warming on a cold, wet day! Just a hint of cinnamon-improves how your body handles sugar.Cinnamon turns on your insulin receptors so grab your favourite herbal tea , curl up in a comfortable armchair, bite into these little cookies and enjoy! You’ll be doing your blood sugar a favour.

You’ll need:12743899_841136166012448_623515898094409164_n

1 ½ cup almonds

½ cup walnuts

4 tbs pumpkin seeds

4 tbs sunflower seeds

4 tbs dried unsweetened coconut flakes

2 cups pitted medjool dates

4 tbs dried unsweetened cherries or raisins

1 lemon zest

2 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp pure vanilla extract

Pinch of pink himalayan salt

  • Line a large tray with parchment paper or cling film.
  • In a food processor, process the almonds and walnuts together till crumbly.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and process again till it forms a soft mix but not into a paste.
  • Roll into tiny balls and flatten.
  • Place the cookies in the tray and leave to chill in the refrigerator.
  • These trail mix cookies can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Tip: The mix can be spread into the lined tray and cut into small cookie shapes if desired. Alternately you can also halve the amount of pumpkin and sunflower seeds and use cacao nibs to satisfy the chocolate craving.

Here’s Why Counting Bouncy Sheep Over the Fence is not a Cure for Insomnia

Here’s Why Counting Bouncy Sheep Over the Fence is not a Cure for Insomnia

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The “fight or flight” syndrome – you’ve heard of it, right? Accompanied with the image of the saber-toothed tiger dashing after a hunter, getting ready to attack. You often get into this situation, don’t you? In modern times, we’re not literally in that frantic position, but our bodies are often reacting as if we were fighting for our lives. Our adrenal glands, located on top of each kidney, are forced to work overtime in an effort to deal with stress from all sources: injury, disease, work, family, finances, environment, etc.

It’s hard to imagine these small endocrine glands, essentially the size of a walnut, responsible for the manufacture and secretion of vital hormones such as cortisol, estrogen and testosterone. The cortisol production is crucial for the body to combat stress. Whereas thousands of years ago the stress was a finite amount of time – you either outran the predator or survived or you were eaten – nowadays, stress seems to be a state of being for so many people.

Although not getting along with a boss or missing a bill payment are not life-threatening like the saber-toothed tiger, our bodies react to the stressors in a similar fashion. The body starts to feel unsettled. More and more cortisol is produced because the body believes it needs massive amounts of energy to run for its life. This happens over and over again throughout the day: getting the kids ready for school and getting yourself ready for work, traffic, spilling coffee on your new suit, your assistant calls in sick and you’ve got to send out 20 packages today, the babysitter is late picking up the kids from school and taking them to soccer practice, your late afternoon meeting runs over and you leave the office late so family dinner becomes you eating leftovers alone. And all this is going to happen again tomorrow!

Here’s the problem: chronic stress can overload the adrenal glands to the point of exhaustion. For some, the fatigue will become overwhelming and the adrenals will no longer function properly to provide the energy and resources the body needs on a day-to-day basis. When someone is exhausted, a natural suggestion is to get more sleep. In the early stages, these are a few misconceptions about sleep:

  • I don’t need much sleep. I’m just wired that way
  • When I sleep doesn’t matter. Sleeping during daytime is every bit as valuable as sleeping at night.
  • If I miss sleep during the week, I can always catch up on the weekends.

Unfortunately, none of these beliefs are true. Humans are built to sleep. Even more importantly, we are built to sleep at night, around the same time every night. A lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep can hinder critical repair processes and generate inflammation- major driver of chronic illnesses. Insomnia is a common symptom of adrenal exhaustion. That too wired to be tired feeling and waking up feeling exhausted! There are, however, steps you can take to prepare yourself for sleep, which is certainly one of the best ways to refresh and rejuvenate your body, mind and spirit. Counting sheep is not one of them!

For better sleep and to heal your adrenal glands:

Counteract Stress: Although it might seem a dirty word to many, there’s no denying that exercise is the best when it comes to relieving stress. I don’t mean High Intensity workouts but deep breathing, walking, massage therapy and yoga.

Eat nutritious meals: The best way to prevent poor digestion and having your sleep disturbed by a bloated belly (thanks to late night meals and takeaways) or simply a body lacking nutrients is to eat healthy meals that your body can break down and absorb easily. Eating correctly doesn’t mean deprivation or bland food.

Switch your nightcap: The more you avoid coffee, soda and alcohol before hitting the sheets, the better your chances of a good night’s sleep. If you want a little nightcap, try herbal teas or tinctures such as chamomile and passion flower.

Whether you have occasional poor sleep or downright chronic insomnia, don’t for a slightest moment think that dangerous, addictive sleep drugs are your only answer. Instead, take a close look at what may be behind your “night owl syndrome” so your restless nights can finally come to an end. Imagine, sleeping soundly like a baby every night!

What Kitchen Nightmares can teach you about quick fix diets!

Confession time-I do miss watching Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares! There was something about Gordon Ramsay’s yelling and dropping the f-bombs in his attempt to fix the ailing restaurant’s problems from poor management, lack of experience and family egos-in some cases it was simply choosing to remain blindfold! Yelling expletives followed by cheering and a grand applause! However, the success was short lived.

 

A recent report showed that 60% of restaurants that appeared on Kitchen Nightmares have been sold or shut down. It isn’t Ramsay’s fault. . Most of these featured restaurants were in fact months away from closing before Ramsay shows up. We have seen time again that most reality shows are about short-term improvement (Biggest Loser, Celebrity Rehab, Secret Eaters) . What’s the take-away here? The on going off-camera improvement involves changing habits, which is not always easy.

When it comes to losing weight, there really isn’t a magic answer. Wouldn’t it be great to pop a pill and have the handles magically melt away? While there isn’t a magic answer to weight loss, there are things that you can practice for sustainable success. Note, I said practice and not a short term fix to drop a dress size.

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Stay away from empty calories: First thing that has to go is the empty calories from drinks and snacks. Get used to water and nutrient dense drinks that wake your body from cellular level. Yes, green vegetable juices and smoothies do that. Limit your snacking by keeping temptations far away from you. Instead make it a habit of surrounding yourself with healthy snack options such as nuts and seeds, veggies , protein balls (these are lip-smacking delicious!)

 

Don’t skip meals: If you let yourself go without food for long, you deplete your body of the energy it so badly needs and leads you to make poor food choices. Consistency is the key. Do not be afraid to eat a meal but make a conscious effort to choose the right foods, savor each bite and enjoy every mouthful.

 

Watch your portions: Its simple maths when it comes to losing weight-calories in vs calories out. If you take more calories than what your body needs, you will gain weight. Watch your portions. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. Slow down and pay attention to what you are eating.

 

Exercise regularly: Unless you are physically unable for whatever reason, you should be exercising regularly. Eating right and exercising go hand in hand. You don’t need to sign up to an expensive membership to exercise. Walking is just as affective. So dump those lame excuses!

 

Stop Comparing Yourself and Start loving Yourself: I know this is easier said than done, but don’t let your vision of healthier, happier, sexier body come from celebrities on the covers of magazines or your friend who has shed tons load of fat by following such and such diet. Food deprivation, low fat foods aren’t the answer. Neither are meal plan shakes with loads of ingredients that sound more like a chemical cocktail. Don’t get me wrong, celebrities who endorse these products get paid and have a team of dietitians, nutritionists and fitness trainers working with them. And the friend who shared her weight loss story that made your skirt feel even tighter, will most likely pile the pounds back on once she starts eating a “normal’ diet. When it comes to diet and weight loss, there is no one size that fits all. If there was one, we all would have reached our perfect, dream vision already. Reading this post would have been an utter waste of your time! The bottom line is if you truly love your self, you will really look after your body , cherish and nourish it the way it should be. Don’t abuse it with latest diet experiments.

 

Practice the 90/10 mantra: Do you reach for the “fun” foods- we all need that every now and then. The trick lies in balancing the “must have’ and the ‘like to haves” . If 90 per cent of your food is healthy and good for you, then 10 per cent can be a treat, without undoing your good workSo one small scoop of Haagen Daz won’t throw your whole diet off-track (although the whole tub certainly will!) You still need to plan on plenty of vegetables, salads, fresh fruit, fish, lean meat and whole grains, but one-tenth can be “fun” or not-so-nutritious. Apply the same rule when you eat out with friends, at a family gathering or on holiday. I am now healthier than ever – I’m not obsessed with over-eating or not eating, I have broken my caffeine habit and I don’t fear food anymore. I do indulge but within the 90/10 rule. I eat “clean and healthy” 90% of the time and allow for 10% of my meals to be off that regimen. In my mind, that small treat is helping me cope with the fast-paced, on-the-go, stressful lives we now lead.

 

Why not give it a go and let me know how you get on? And if you feel ready to wake up from your own diet nightmare that has only resulted in a lighter wallet and greater guilt, book your 15 minute Discovery Session here!

 

Eight Critical Causes of Anxiety and Depression

 

Christmas is for many the happiest time of the year emphasizing healthy, happy families. The nostalgia, feelings of joy and cheer all compressed within the short weeks wrapped around the day. The New Year is when many review the year just gone and bring in hope for the year that lies ahead. Of course, the period leading to the festive season is not without stresses- economic pressures, tiredness, over indulgence in food and drink, and playing long lost families on the day. It is indeed a complex and demanding season for all! According to the National Institute of Health, Christmas is the time of year that people experience the highest incidence of depression. Why? Is the Grinch out in full frenzy at this time of the year? Or is it the long, dark winter nights triggering Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Most of us feel depressed at one point or another in our lives, especially when faced with significant events such as unemployment, loss of a loved one, a divorce or a serious illness. We feel anxious from time to time- before exams, a job interview or outstanding bills. We often hear friends and loved ones advising us how we can feel better by therapies and/or medications. And no, it’s not all in your head either! Counseling can be extremely effective for many people and medications are helpful in certain cases. But that is not enough.

The key to feeling better is to get to the root of the problem and do what you can to turn these negative feelings around. Despite the therapy and medications, people still continue to suffer. And there’s a good reason why… actually there are eight good reasons. Sometimes the cause behind anxiety and depression isn’t mental at all! It’s physical. So if you suffer from more than just occasional Monday morning blues, see if any of these apply to you.

1. Blood Sugar Imbalances– This is one of the most common trigger of mental health challenges. If you find yourself craving sweets, coffee or cigarettes then this may be an issue for you. All of these can affect your blood sugar levels. Symptoms of spikes and drops include difficulty concentrating, mood swings, irritability, angry outbursts, crying spells, dizziness and palpitations.

2. Drug dependence– Here, I don’t just mean cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, heroin but also over the counter painkillers, tobacco and alcohol. Using these substances can bring on anxiety, depression, paranoia and altered perceptions.

3. Food allergies, intolerances and heavy metal toxicity– If you suffer from mood swings for no apparent reason, one possible reason could be that you are reacting to something that you’re eating. Most common substance relating to mental health problems is gluten-a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Other foods causing reactions include dairy, yeast, shellfish and nuts. Having a high level of mercury, lead and cadmium can bring symptoms of anxiety, paranoia, phobias, poor concentration, anger, hyperactivity, nervousness, headaches or migraines.

4. Thyroid– A sluggish thyroid can be a culprit behind those feelings of anxiety, depression, fatigue and brain fog. You may think you are tired because you have low iron, and less oxygen is around your body, but you are probably not terribly anaemic, it’s more likely you are “thyroid sick”. Ask your doctor for a test and run the following other tests (in addition to the TSH) to give you a more complete picture: Total T4, Total T3, Free T4, Free T3, T3 Uptake, Reverse T3 and Thyroid antibodies. The reason I suggest this is that the thyroid hormone levels are constantly changing as your body requires-so a routine blood test is not an accurate indication of what is going on with your thyroid.

5. Histamine Excess– Histamine is a neurotransmitter that is released in connection with an allergic reaction which is why the typical allergy treatment is with antihistamines. However some people just produce too much histamine and causes a lot more than a stuffy nose, itchy, watery eyes. The symptoms of excessive histamine are abnormal fears or compulsions, depression, OCD, cry easily, nausea, inner tension and suicidal thoughts.

6. Low levels of B3, B6 and B12 vitamins– These three B vitamins are crucial for optimal mental health. Deficiency of these vital nutrients can lead to feeling disconnected, anxiety, inner tension, continuous overwhelm, frequent mood swings, having delusions or illusions and feeling suspicious of people.

7. Adrenal imbalance- Excess of adrenaline can result in a state of high anxiety while low levels can trigger depression. Chronic stress can cause over secretion of adrenal hormones (the fight and flight response) and eventually lead to exhaustion over a period of time.

8. Neurotransmitter Imbalance– Neurotransmitters are essential chemical messengers used by neurons in the brain to send and receive electro-chemical signals within the brain and facilitate communication with all the other organ systems in the body. These powerful neurochemicals are responsible for regulating practically all functions in life, such as cognitive, physical and mental performance, sleep cycle, weight, pain perception and response and our emotional states. Imbalances in neurotransmitter levels occur due to above seven reasons, constant dieting (including low fat fad) and set the stage for mood disorders, anxiety and depression.

If you have been suffering from any of the above symptoms, here’s what you can do:

Get your blood sugar level checked by a doctor. Make sure you have a diet of “real” foods and not food like substances. Try an elimination diet omitting gluten, dairy and foods that you suspect may be a problem. See if you notice an improvement. Reintroduce the eliminated foods one at a time. If you notice the symptoms returning back then that’s an indication that you have some degree of sensitivity to these foods. Get your thyroid checked by a doctor. A hair analysis or urine analysis is the key to detect heavy metals. Get your histamine levels checked by a simple blood test. If the levels are high, supplementing with Vitamin C is helpful. A healthy diet, strong digestion and reducing stress can all help support better mental health.

If you have tried pharmaceuticals, psychotherapy or have exhausted what conventional medicine has to offer, don’t give up and accept these feelings as a way of life! Scientific research and over 20 years of proven clinical results show that amino acid supplements are at least as effective as pharmaceuticals when treating mood disorders, especially depression, without the painful side effects. A neuro nutrient treatment targeting a specific combination and therapeutic dose of amino acids, vitamins and minerals that promote neurological balance with the body’s natural occurring chemicals and establishing a diet to support healthy brain and body chemistry, can accomplish faster, cheaper results with fewer side effects. Working with a skilled and supportive doctor and therapist is very important but do explore what else may be behind your symptoms. A program based on neuroscience that brings the body and brain chemistry to balance, expedites recovery from mental health issues and deepens spiritual practice and connection might just be the effective, natural alternative to your recovery.

This post was first published in the Huffington Post UK on 16/12/2014.

 

 

Is Your Sneaky No a Saboteur to Your Health and Happiness?

Last March, the Penguin Foundation in Australia requested sweater donations from the public to protect the birds from ingesting the oils while grooming themselves. Many donors came to their aid.

One sweater donor, however stood out among the rest. At 109, Alfred “Alfie” Date, Australia’s oldest man still continues to practice a favourite past time of his: knitting. After hearing about the penguin sweater or jumper call out, two nurses from the “aged care village” where he lives knew that Alfie was just the person for the job and told him that he should contribute. ” The two girls come in to me and say “We believe you can knit”, he said in a video interview. And that’s just what he did. “I can’t say no”, he said.

Why am I sharing this? If Alfie and many others had turned around and said no, these endangered birds would have further declined in numbers. Instead they stepped up and took action. And this made all the difference.

The mind is a wonderful thing. It’s also a complete liar, constantly convincing you not to take actions you know are good for you, and limiting many great experiences and changes in your lives. Changes like a healthier diet, regular exercise, meditation, paying off debts, quitting smoking-if you didn’t have the excuses taking complete power over you, you would stick to the changes, wouldn’t you?

The mind wants comfort, and is afraid of discomfort and change. Its used to staying wrapped up warm in it’s cocoon, and anytime you try to push beyond, the mind starts playing the tricks to get back to the “safe” cocoon. At any cost, including our long-term health and happiness. Let’s put the mind aside and look at the excuses.

I can’t do it: It seems too hard, so you think you can’t stick to the change. You don’t believe in yourself. This can be countered from the fact that many other people no more capable than us have done it.

He/She can do it, but that doesn’t apply to me: Just because someone else can do it, doesn’t mean you can, right? You look for reasons they can do it, but you can’t. She doesn’t have children, so she can go to gym after work. Maybe she doesn’t have all the commitments that you have, or has a supportive husband, or doesn’t have a health condition. I get it. It’s easier to find excuses: but look at all the other people who have lots more on their plate and have done it. Stories abound of people with limitations, responsibilities and illnesses who overcame their obstacles to achieve amazing things. Your obstacles can be overcome.

I don’t know how: Yes, it’s true, but you can learn. Start small and learn to embrace this new change. Ask those who have successfully done what you are doing, get support and you’ll be able to kick this pesky excuse.Bshutterstock_109430222

I can do it later: Sure you can…but your later self will also feel the same way. How would the later self be more disciplined than your current self. In fact, as you are allowing yourself to slip now, you’re building a habit of putting yourself in the back burner. Don’t let yourself fall behind just because you don’t feel like it or don’t have the time.

I’m afraid: Let me tell you, this is the most honest excuse there is and one that most of us don’t want to admit. Just because you are afraid doesn’t mean you can’t do something. You can. I have done tons of things, I ‘m afraid of- creating a new career that I worried I’d fail at. Sure, there are challenges but the act of pushing through the fear is incredibly important and I learn a lot in my journey.

I have used all of the above excuses a thousand times each, so don’t think I have overcome them all. You have used them too. The key is to be aware of what you’re doing. Are you giving in to a lame excuse? After giving in, see what the results are. Are you healthier? Are you happier? Is your life better? Was it worth not taking action? What price does saying no cost you? An extra ten pounds? Guilty about saying no? Stress? Don’t like the results? Remember, the best way to get something done is to begin.

 

This post was first published in The Huffington Post UK on 05/03/15.

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