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Month: November 2017

A Christmas party season survival guide.

christmas in london

It’s party season again and I want to assure you that it is indeed possible to have lots of fun and celebrate without compromising your health. Here are some easy tips to keep you healthy and mindful throughout December and help you go into the new year feeling good.

 

1. Don’t try to diet over the festive period. Unless you have an iron will, there are simply too many temptations, from alcohol fuelled parties to mince pies at every corner. Try setting a maintenance goal instead. This is more realisitic, much more achievable and will give you the freedom to enjoy yourself with the feelings of deprivation or the pressure to rebel.

 

2. Plan your food. Normal routine tends to go out the window over the holidays. Planning your meals is a way to make sure that you don’t forget about yourself, that you still have the right food in the house and you can still make good choices. All it takes is a few minutes of thought and preparation. Download my meal planning guide to make things a little easier!

 

3. Keep exercising. If your usual classes aren’t running, choose other options instead, such as brisk walking with friends and family, a family football game or an at home yoga session.

 

4. Don’t go to a party hungry. If you do, you’ll be fighting your body’s urges for sugar and will likely fill up on canapés and cakes. Have a snack such as an apple with nut butter or carrots and hummus before you go.

 

5. Watch your portion sizes and check in with yourself throughout your meal. It’s easy to let your eyes be bigger than your stomach and overfill your plate. Eating mindfully and being aware of how quickly you’re eating will ensure that you avoid overeating.

 

6. Make good alcohol choices. Avoid creamy & sweet drinks and try to drink alcohol with food to reduce the impact of the sugar and alcohol on your blood stream.

 

7. Drink plenty of water. Try alternating one alcoholic drink with one glass of water. This will slow down your alcohol consumption and improve how you feel the next day.

 

8. Be gentle with yourself. If you do overindulge, enjoy it and then get back on track at the next opportunity.

 

9. Try to have a few days in the week when you don’t drink. Too much alcohol is very hard on your liver, so a few days off during the party season will prevent you from burning out by the first week of January.

 

10. Have fun! 

What are the benefits of coffee?

coffee break

Like many people in the UK, coffee is my go to morning drink. I love the smell, the taste and the ritual of making a lovely cup of joe. There’s also the sheer weekend pleasure of having the time to sip on a hot cup of black coffee while reading the newspaper.

 

It pains me to say this because I love it so much, but coffee is a much-maligned drink, with the downside more frequently talked about than the many positives. A recent review of studies in the BMJ showed that moderate coffee drinking is okay and has some benefits, but like all good things, you need to know when to stop.

 

So what are the benefits? 

1. A cup of coffee is so much more than just hot black water. A cup of coffee contains riboflavin (vitamin B2), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), manganese, potassium, magnesium and niacin (vitamin B3). Coffee is also packed with antioxidants.

 

2. Coffee can improve brain function. Caffeine blocks one type of neurotransmitter that can hold you back and increases noradrenaline and dopamine, leading to enhanced firing of neurons.

 

3. Coffee could lower your risk of developing type II diabetes. A number of observational studies show that coffee drinkers have as much as a 62% lower risk of developing this disease; one of the biggest health problems of our time, which is characterised by raised blood sugar and the inability to secrete insulin to lower blood sugar levels. A daily cup can typically lower your risk by 7%.

 

4. Coffee can help you burn fat. Caffeine is found in almost every fat loss supplement because it’s one of a very small number of substances proven to help with fat burning. Research shows that it can boost your metabolic rate by up to 11%, and raise the amount of fat you burn by between 10% in overweight people and 29% in lean people. The downside is that the effects are likely to diminish with time in regular coffee drinkers.

 

5. The caffeine in coffee can boost your physical performance. Caffeine stimulates production of adrenaline. This is one of the stress hormones, but primes you for physical activity. A cup of coffee can improve physical performance by up to 12%. Caffeine also stimulates the nervous system, telling it to break down the fat stored in fat cells and making the energy more available to be used as fuel. A cup of black coffee before a workout could improve your performance in the gym!

 

What’s the best way to enjoy coffee?

No coffee after 2pm. It is, after all, a stimulant and, if you drink it too late in the day, it can interfere with the quality of your sleep, or your ability to get to sleep in the first place.

 

Ditch the sugar. A sure fire way to undo all the good a cup of coffee can do is to add a few spoons of the white stuff. The downside to sugar is now pretty well documented. In a nutshell, it increases inflammation in the body, and can lead to obesity and diabetes.

 

Go organic. Coffee is routinely heavily sprayed with pesticides, so go for organic whenever you can.

 

How much can I drink?

The amount of caffeine in a single cup of coffee varies enormously. A small home brewed cup is likely to contain around 50mg per cup (unless you have an amazing coffee machine), while a large one from a coffee shop might have over 400mg. You’d expect the average cup to have around 100mg.

 

A number of studies suggest up to 400mg a day (that’s about 4 cups) is safe for most people but many people are able to enjoy more without any ill effects. Do bear in mind that tea, chocolate and some soft drinks and prescription drugs also contain caffeine, so you need to view your coffee intake in light of other things you are eating and drinking.

 

If you know you need a diet and lifestyle upgrade, but are not sure exactly what that would look like for you, get in touch. Looking forward to talking to you and helping you take the first step towards a new you!

 

Contact Me

Stories I loved this week.

richmond sunset

 

Want a more innovative company? Hire more women. (TED)

 

I loved reading this history of the chopped salad. (Bon Appetit)

 

Broccoli helps promote a healthy gut. (Science Daily)

 

Stop telling women their pain is normal. It should be treated. (The Guardian)

 

It’s true what your grandmother said: don’t go to the grocery store hungry. (Futurity)

 

New concerns about a widely used test to measure fertility. (New York Times)

 

This writer tried the top self-care tips on the internet. (Refinery29)

Autumn Pumpkin Waffles

autumn pumpkin waffles

I’m still on a pumpkin kick, adding it into as many dishes as possible to fully capture that lovely autumn feeling. They’re such an amazing vegetable, full of energy producing B vitamins, immune boosting zinc and fibre for your digestive system. And the seeds are such powerhouses – don’t throw them away! Wash them, and then toast them with a bit of olive oil, sea salt and your favourite herbs for a lovely snack.

 

We recently bought a waffle maker, partly to add a bit of diversity to breakfast, partly because I had such happy nostalgia about having big waffle breakfasts when I was growing up. And what better recipe to add pumpkin to than waffles?

 

If you get your timings right, you end up with waffles that are crisp on the outside, moist and fluffy on the inside.

autumn pumpkin waffles

 

What you need:

180g chestnut flour (you can also use wholemeal flour instead!)

1/4 tsp baking soda

2 large free-range eggs

275ml almond milk (or organic whole milk, if dairy works for you)

4 tbsp fresh pureéd pumpkin

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

20g melted butter

 

How to make it:

  1. Sift the chestnut flour, baking soda and cinnamon into a medium sized bowl and stir until the ingredients are combined.
  2. Crack the eggs and separate the egg yolks and whites, setting the yolks aside.
  3. Whisk the egg whites until they are frothy. This is key for really fluffy waffles!
  4. Slowly fold the milk into the dry mixture, then add the egg yolks and pumpkin.
  5. Add the butter and stir.
  6. Slowly fold the egg whites in the mixture until the egg whites can no longer be seen. Do not over fold!
  7. Leave the batter to stand for at least 10 minutes so the milk and baking soda have enough time to interact.
  8. Warm up your waffle maker.
  9. Once the waffle maker is warm, I like to brush a little oil across the plates to stop the waffles from sticking and to help the waffles get crisper.
  10. Use a spoon to to drop the batter in, making sure to cover each plate. Take care not to overfill or the batter will leak out the front and side. (Trust me on this –  I learned this the hard way!)
  11. Let the waffles cook for at least two minutes or until they are the consistency you like. I like a softer waffle, but M likes crispier waffles so I leave his on for a bit longer.
  12. Once you’ve made your waffles, top with the toppings of your choice. I like adding toppings like chopped fresh fruit, fruit compote, grated coconut and crushed nuts.
  13. Enjoy!

I Tried It: The 4-7-8 Deep Breathing Method For Better Sleep

sunset in richmond

Do you ever have nights where your mind is whirring and it’s tricky to drop off to sleep? I do.

 

I’ve been trying the 4-7-8 deep breathing method to help me get to sleep and it’s been really helpful! Pioneered by Dr Andrew Weil, the technique is designed to calm the mind and relax the muscles. If you’re one of the 30% of Brits who suffers from poor sleep, anything is worth a try, right?

 

Not sleeping well doesn’t just affect your blood sugar balance, make you tired and unable to concentrate – it also puts you at risk of more serious health issues including obesity, heart disease and diabetes and even reduces your life expectancy.

 

The 4-7-8 deep breathing technique comes from yoga breathing, where you have to keep the tip of the tongue behind the upper front teeth. You breathe in through your nose quietly and blow air out forcefully through your mouth making a whoosh sound.

 

Here’s how to perform the 4-7-8 mindful bedtime trick:

1.    Exhale through your mouth making a ‘whoosh’ sound.

2.    Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a count of four.

3.    Hold your breath for seven seconds.

4.    Exhale through your mouth, making a ‘whoosh’ sound to the count of eight.

5.    Inhale again and repeat the cycle 2-4 times or until you feel yourself drifting off.

 

According to Dr Weil, this technique works by filling the lungs with air, allowing more oxygen into the body, which in turn promotes a state of calm. Dr Weil advises doing the breathing during the day as well as it can also be used to improve digestion and stop the ‘fight-or-flight’ response in the body, reducing stress.

 

Even if you decide this stress-relieving technique isn’t for you, it’s worth exploring other ways to reduce your stress levels. Stress plays such a huge part in how we feel about ourselves, and that in turn has a knock-on effect on how motivated we are to eat well and take proper care of both our physical and mental health.

 

It might seem like a luxury to practise mindfulness or indulge in any kind of self care but you know what they say when you’re on a plane: you’ve got to put on your own oxygen mask before you can save anyone else.

 

The same is true for healthy eating. In my clinic, people often come to me feeling unmotivated and exhausted by life and it’s my job to help you feel inspired to make positive changes for yourself. And once you feel motivated again, it will help to inspire the whole family and others around you.

 

If you know you need a diet and lifestyle upgrade, but are not sure exactly what that would look like for you, get in touch. Looking forward to talking to you and helping you take the first step towards a new you.

My new e-book is here!

 

I am so excited to share my first e-book, Six Ways To Improve Your Period Pain! In it, you’ll find six ways to get started on improving your period pain, including ways to integrate these changes into your life.

 

Period pain is so common and it needn’t be. I’m passionate about helping women get to a place where they understand their menstrual cycles, their periods are pain-free and they know more about how their bodies work. Use this link to download my book.

 

Want to know more and have a more personalised session? Get in touch for a free 20 minute period health review!

 

Cinnamon Pumpkin Pancakes

pumpkin cinnamon pancakes and coffee

I love making pancakes on the weekend. Something about the ritual of measuring out the ingredients and gently stirring, folding and mixing them all together is so calming to me.

 

My son loves his weekend pancakes and I now have the challenge of creating new recipes to keep things fresh and exciting and educating his palate with new flavours.

 

It’s fall and the shops are replete with pumpkins, which made me feel a bit homesick. Actually, I’m pretty sure the homesickness started around Canadian Thanksgiving when M made a butternut squash and pumpkin pie to celebrate. Nevertheless, I put together this pumpkin pancake recipe to celebrate this amazing ingredient.

 

pumpkin cinnamon pancakes

What you need:

180g chestnut flour (you can also use wholemeal flour instead!)

1/4 tsp baking soda

2 large free-range eggs

250ml almond milk (or organic whole milk, if dairy works for you)

3 tbsp fresh pureéd pumpkin

1 tsp ground cinnamon

10-15g melted butter

 

How to make it:

  1. Sift the chestnut flour, baking soda and cinnamon into a medium sized bowl and stir until the ingredients are combined.
  2. Crack the eggs and separate the egg yolks and whites, setting the yolks aside.
  3. Whisk the egg whites until they are frothy. This is key for really fluffy pancakes!
  4. Slowly fold the milk into the dry mixture, then add the egg yolks and pumpkin.
  5. Add the butter and stir.
  6. Slowly fold the egg whites in the mixture until the egg whites can no longer be seen. Do not over fold!
  7. Leave the batter to stand for at least 10 minutes so the milk and baking soda have enough time to interact.
  8. After 7 minutes, warm up your cast-iron pan on medium heat. After a few minutes, add a tablespoon of your oil of choice and make sure the bottom of the pan is completely covered.
  9. Turn the stove down to medium-low heat. Cast-iron pans conduct heat really well, so a little heat goes a long way.
  10. Use an ice cream scoop to drop the batter in. I like to make pancakes on the smaller side so they are easier to flip.
  11. Once bubbles start to form on the edges of the pancakes (normally after a minute or so), flip them over. Chestnut flour tends to cook a bit faster than wheat flour so you’ll need to keep a close eye so they don’t burn. I learned this the hard way!
  12. Once you’ve made all your pancakes, top with the toppings of your choice. I like toppings such as fresh fruit, compote, dried coconut, chopped nuts and cacao nibs.

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