I haven’t felt like writing much about food and nutrition recently. There’s been a lot going on, personally and professionally. New job, a heavier course load at school and loads of political distraction (every morning, I wake up and think, ‘what now?’. Don’t you?). It’s […]
Tag: healthy living
People like shortcuts. Maybe it’s a symptom of our modern world, where we can get pretty much anything we want at the touch of a button.
Speaking of shortcuts, I’m often asked by friends, family and colleagues about the fastest ways to get healthy / fit / more energy (delete as appropriate).
There are two answers I always give, no matter what their underlying symptoms. Then I ask more questions and give a more detailed, tailored response.
The first answer is always – get more sleep or go to bed earlier.
I’ve talked about the benefits of sleep before – it regulates your metabolism, allows your various organs to repair and heal and allows your brain to process the events of the day. Don’t give into the current masochism around sleep – most people really need at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night to be fully functional.
And then my second answer is always – eat more fresh vegetables, especially green leafy ones.
I cannot overstate that vegetables are little nutrition powerhouses! Each vegetable has many individual benefits, with its own mix of macronutrients (protein, good fats and complex carbohydrates) and phytonutrients.
The greater the variety in your vegetable intake, the more benefit to you. When in doubt, just eat the rainbow!
Ideally, everyone would eat at least 5-7 servings of vegetables a day. I know that’s hard, so you’ll often hear nutritionists,(including me!) say to prioritise cruciferous / brassica vegetables. You know them as broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, kale, brussels sprouts, savoy cabbage, radish, bok choy and watercress.
Not only are they high in antioxidants like vitamins A and C, they are also high in folic acid and vitamin K and have a huge amount of minerals such as magnesium and potassium.
Cruciferous vegetables are also high in phytonutrients like glucosinolates which support your liver in clearing excess hormones, alcohol, xenoestrogens and environmental chemicals.
So, adding a big handful of kale to your morning smoothie after a big night out will help your liver clear the alcohol from your system and make your feel better a bit faster!
In a nutshell, adding more cruciferous vegetables into your diet can help you boost your energy levels, support your liver, balance your hormones, support your immune system and feed the good bacteria in your gut!
There are lots of ways to add cruciferous vegetables to your diet:
Add a big handful of kale to your morning smoothie
Make a big pot of soup with broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower
Make a big a*s salad with loads of different veggies in it
Grate up some cabbage for a coleslaw
Make a big tray of roasted veg
Steam some asparagus and eat them with hummus as a snack
How do you eat your veggies?
Have you ever been health shamed? I have, but at the time didn’t have a proper term to describe what was happening to me. It’s hard to pin point exactly what it is, but it’s generally those times where you’re talking about something new you’re trying (food / […]
We’ve just spent a lovely three days in Rye, a small, whimsical city on the South Coast of England. We drove down from London for some sorely needed time to recharge our batteries and enjoy some family time in the dog days of summer.
It was nice to get out of London for a bit, explore a new area and be reminded that there is life outside the Big Smoke.
Having a car for our mini break gave me a different vision of what life might be like. We don’t have a car, so we walk or take public transport everywhere we need to get to in London.
There are positives, like the sheer convenience and ease of getting from one place to another.
And there are a lot of negatives. The environmental cost is a big one. Another big negative is the lack of exercise. When I compare my step count (yes, I do check this quite often in the Health app on my iPhone) for the last three days to the same time last week, the difference is breathtaking. I try to get at least 10,000 steps / 5km a day – it’s arbitrary, but it works for me.
With a car, I’ve missed the latent exercise I seem to regularly fit in, from running for the bus, standing on the tube and walking up the stairs at work.
If you drive regularly, how do you fit in exercise? Is it something you have to schedule into your diary as a can’t miss appointment? A car might be in our future, as our lives get busier and I’m keen to make sure it doesn’t have a detrimental effect on our health.
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.