Monthly Archives: December 2015

Intentions not resolutions: how to create good habits in 2016

fireworks

It’s almost 2016 (eep!) and it’s that time of the year when the best of 2015 and 2016 to do lists come rolling out.

Do you make resolutions at the beginning of the year?

I don’t. Controversial, I know.

I prefer to set intentions. Ahem, you ask, how are those different to resolutions?

Intentions are about setting the focus for the year and aren’t as vague as resolutions. Intentions are about creating new habits and breaking bad habits. They’re much much more focused and specific, taking into consideration personality traits (i.e. are you a Questioner or an Obliger? An Abstainer or a Moderator?). Research shows that it takes at least 10 weeks to build a new habit, good or bad.

So rather than just resolving to lose weight in 2016, a more intentional approach would be to identify a realistic (to you!) and consistent plan of action (i.e. a green smoothie  with protein for breakfast each morning, putting 3-4 workouts or classes in the diary each week, going to bed by 10:30pm each night, etc) with each part of the plan helping to establish good habits and remove bad habits. A few checkpoints, be they monthly or quarterly, will help to course correct if the plan isn’t working.

The main thing is that your plan needs to be specific to your needs and wants, not something cookie cutter from an off the shelf programme. Only you know if you are the type of person that responds to outward or inward motivation, that needs to abstain from certain food or activities or can indulge every once in a while.

What are my intentions for 2016?

Time: My biggest intention is to be more aware of how I spend my time. I find myself drifting back into spending a lot of time surfing the web, reading trashy gossip sites. I want to be more intentional with my time, focusing on the things I need to do, like my coursework and research and use books (including the Kindle app on my iPhone) not the internet to unwind. My plan is to give myself 20-30 minutes each day to web surf and after that, any internet time needs to be focused and productive.

Exercise: I want to continue my habit of exercising 4-5 times a week, with a scheduled (and booked!) spin class on Mondays and 4 at-home resistance training sessions. I’ve just started Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide 2.0, which is nicely split into 4 workouts per week, running a total of 12 weeks. Getting from week 13 to week 24 is a good target for me, especially knowing that I was able to finish weeks 1 – 12 of Kayla’s guide with good progress.

Writing: I want to post at least 3 times a week on this blog – a mix of recipes, nutrition information based on what I’m currently studying and other wellness / self-improvement posts. I’ve finally made 2 posts a week a habit and want to experiment with 3 posts for the next three months.

What are your intentions for 2016?

Photo by kazuend

Stories I loved this week.

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It’s Boxing Day! Are you out braving the sales or are you at home with friends and family eating bubble and squeak and relaxing? We’re headed to my in-laws today for more turkey and Christmas pudding and very excited toddlers running around.

Then it’s a full week off with family time in London, full of day trips, walking and fun. I’m excited.  I’m always amazed at how many steps I manage to tot up just running around London with my two guys, especially since little J wants to walk everywhere now – those little legs can move. Bonus: he polishes off everything we put in front of him for dinner and sleeps very, very deeply on those evenings.

Reading this article on Raffi brought back so many memories. I’ve introduced his music to my son and he loves it too! (NY Mag)

I really feel for the parents of these children with extreme allergies. (The Guardian)

Have you heard Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast yet? I’ve just started listening to it and am really enjoying the insights on how to boost creativity. (Magic Lessons)

Use the Christmas break to work on your sleep habits and hygiene, not catch up on your sleep. (The Pool)

The top wellness trends of 2015. The trend for seaweed is a good one, but slightly worrying as some types of seaweed, including kelp specifically, contain high levels of iodine, which can have a negative effect on thyroid function. (Well + Good)

Have you read the Time profile on Adele yet? (Time)

I Tried It: Making Bone Broth

Bone broth preparation with ginger

2015 has been the year of bone broth or stock, as your grandmother would call it. From Brodo to #boilyourbones, the Hemsley sisters’ catchphrase, it seemed like everyone was getting into the long simmer.

Real talk: I made a half hearted attempt at making bone broth towards the end of last year, but it didn’t turn out very well, so I didn’t bother trying again until recently. Meanwhile, lots of beef bones and chicken carcasses have been thrown out, giving me a regretful, wasteful feeling.

No more. I’ve since realised bone broth is the one of the easiest things to make, especially if you have a slow cooker. Even easier if you have a pressure cooker as it only takes 2 hours.

My chicken broth recipe is really simple and you can easily substitute chicken for turkey (how seasonal!), beef or lamb bones or whack all the bones in together:

  1. Strip any excess meat off the chicken carcass and place the carcass into the slow cooker.
  2. Add 3-4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. This helps release the collagen from the bones.
  3. Add 3-4 garlic cloves, an onion, chopped in half, 3-4 carrots and a leek, chopped in half.
  4. If you want a deeper flavour, add 3-4 circular pieces of ginger, 3 cm in diameter.
  5. Season to taste with himalayan sea salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary.
  6. Cover with water.
  7. Set your slow cooker to low, cover and leave for at least 24 hours, stirring it occasionally and topping up the water as necessary.
  8. When you’re satisfied with the taste, or the bones have crumbled, remove the broth from the heat and pour the mixture through a strainer.
  9. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 7 days and in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Bonus tip: if you don’t have enough bones to make broth, stockpile them from individual meals in a big Ziploc bag in the freezer. After a while, you should have enough to make at least 2 litres of broth.

What can you do with your freshly made bone broth?

1. Sip it. It’s great for helping to repair a leaky gut and as a nutrient source in illness, as it’s full of collagen and protein.

2. Make soup! Knowing the soup has homemade broth in it is such a rewarding feeling.

3. Risottos are even lovelier with a homemade broth.

4.  I like to add a little zing to little J’s rice by adding a little broth to it for flavour and nutrients.

What do you do with your broth?

 

How to stay healthy over the holidays.

concert love

It’s so easy to indulge over the festive period and why not? It’s such a fun time of year and there’s so much going on – parties, concerts, lunches, dinners, brunch – it’s non-stop, with many smiling faces offering glasses of champagne, mince pies, cookies and so much more!

So how do you enjoy it all without waking up on January 1st feeling regretful and not fitting into your favourite jeans? Here are a few things that have helped me this year. Unsurprisingly, many of my tips focus on ‘pre-game’ nutrition.

1. Prioritise eating good, satiating meals.

Make sure you have a good breakfast when you have an event at lunchtime in the afternoon and prioritise breakfast and lunch when you have evening plans. Eat a good breakfast and lunch full of good fats like avocado, olive oil, oily fish and lots of protein – animal or plant based (just make sure it’s complete plant protein like quinoa, buckwheat or amaranth).

2. Alternate drinks (and actually do it!).

I like to alternate alcohol with water to make sure I don’t get too drunk and can enjoy the party for longer. I choose sparkling water with a lemon slice to feel more festive.

3. Eat before you go out. 

This requires a bit of planning if you’re going to an event after work, but it is possible. If you’re full of good, nourishing food, you’re less likely to drink to excess and less likely to grab food from the canapé buffet. Bonus: you’ll probably be less hungover the next day.

4. Plan your indulgences so you don’t feel deprived. 

If your thing is mince pies or Christmas pudding or gingerbread men, find the best possible version and indulge a few times over the holiday period. Then you know you’re not missing out and you’ve had the best possible version. My husband reckons the best mince pies in London are from Gail’s and makes a point to get a few (and only a few!) of them every year.

5. Have a few dry days per week, with no alcohol and early to bed.

If you don’t have something on every day (if you do, well hello social butterfly!), then stick to water and herbal teas on your free days, to give your body a break and help your liver to detoxify after all of the boozing and sugary cakes and cookies.

6. Eat lots of green leafy vegetables to help liver detoxification.

In less than two weeks, we’ll start to hear a lot of people talking about a ‘New Year’s detox’. The truth is that your body is constantly detoxing through the liver. It’s the body’s waste purification plant. Everyday we can eat and drink things that support this detoxification process, without resorting to a full on ‘detox’. Cruciferous vegetables such as kale, arugula / rocket, watercress,  like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts are all high in antioxidants like vitamins C and E and B vitamins that support the processes the liver uses to detoxify alcohol, sugars, fats, heavy metals and toxins. Green smoothies and juices are the easiest ways to get the goodness in when you can’t face a salad.

Enjoy!

Photo by Anthony Delanoix

Stories I loved this week.

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Christmas is in 5 days. Are you excited? I am. It’s been fun easing myself into the Christmas spirit with lots of kiddie Christmas parties and outings.   I still can’t believe another year is almost done. The days are long, but the years are short – that expression rings so true to me. Remember how long summer holidays used to feel? Now the summer just whizzes by.

The latest episode of Happier, one of my favourite podcasts, gives a nice round up of the Four Tendencies. Which one are you? (Happier)

A fascinating article on the menopause – what we don’t know and how to treat it. (The Guardian)

The breadwinner penalty – I found this utterly shocking. (The Pool)

A great primer on how genetics, lifestyle, diet and epigenetics influence methylation, from Dr. Ben Lynch. (Chris Kresser).

Your iPhone is ruining your posture and your mood. Surprise, surprise. (The New York Times)

What happens to your body when you eat too much sugar. (Self)

This book has been so helpful for potty training. Now my son insists on carrying it around with him everywhere and yelling, “Everyone poops!”

When you don’t agree with your client’s food preferences.

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Everybody has their own food preferences, likes, dislikes, intolerances and allergies. Some people are omnivores, some people are vegetarians and some are vegans. All personal choices and preferences for any number of reasons.

What do you do as a nutrition practitioner? How you put aside personal nutrition preferences when working with clients?

This is the question my colleagues and I have been wrestling with as we go further into our second year of our nutrition studies and we start to observe clients in clinic. There are quite a few vegetarians and vegans on my course who have very passionate beliefs. How they will work with clients who don’t want to give up meat, who believe that eating meat is a part of a healthy diet?

On the flip side, what about the meat eaters who work with vegetarians and vegans? There is a lot of evidence that meat has important vitamins and minerals, some of which can’t be obtained from plants. A long term vegetarian or vegan may not be interested in that information, especially  if they’ve chosen this dietary model for political, religious or ethical reasons.

So what do you do?

Right now, it seems to me that there are a number of routes.

1. Present the facts to clients in a neutral and respectful way and understand their reasons for their food choices. This will help understand  if there are any areas where your clients may or may not be flexible.

2. Explain where you’re coming from (if necessary), again, in a neutral way, sticking to the facts.

3. Use the experience to develop the tools in your practitioner’s arsenal. If you’re a vegan / vegetarian, learn how to optimise a meat eater’s diet – the right omega-3 sources, the best balance between meat and green vegetables. And on the other side, it’s equally important to understand the best ways to optimise a plant eater’s diet – the best vitamin b12 supplements, the best sources of complete plant protein and the sources of fat for this group.

4. Specialise in working with vegetarians and vegans. I’m not sure if it’s possible to only work with omnivores, but if there’s a will there’s a way.

Above all, respect is essential.

Photo by Death to Stock Photo + Mumsy

Stories I loved this week.

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Photo by Maria Shanina

12 days left till Christmas! Have you done your Christmas shopping yet? I’m just finishing mine off, with only a few more to buy. Here are a few ideas if you’re stuck. What are you up to for Christmas? We’re staying in the UK this year and I’m looking forward to lots of lovely food, family time and relaxation. It’s the one time of the year when things really shut down and it’s almost mandatory to relax a little bit.

Have you heard about the new Michael Pollan documentary, based on his classic book, In Defense of Food? The trailer looks great. (Well + Good)

Camilla Puglia comments on Taylor Swift and the #girlsquad culture. (The Hollywood Reporter)

How to eat organic on a budget. I’d add ‘shop just before closing time’ to this list. You can get some incredible bargains on organic food that is nearing or just past its use by date. (Food Matters)

Are you a ‘healthonist’ (excuse the annoying portmanteau word)? (The Times)

Serial is back! (Serial Podcast)

There’s a growing and highly disturbing trend to give very young children (as young as 18 months!) anti-psychotic medication. (New York Times)