4 Simple Strategies to Lose Weight with a Healthy Mindset

4 Simple Strategies to Lose Weight with a Healthy Mindset

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When it comes to losing weight the healthy way, your mindset can play a big part in whether you are going to be successful. Approaching weight loss from the wrong perspective is one of the biggest reasons why so many people fail with diets and eating plans. And on the flip side, getting your mindset right can be a game changer for successfully losing weight.

Here are some mindset shifts that worked for me and could help you to supercharge your weight loss and keep the pounds off!

Think About Why You’re Doing It

Why you want to lose weight can make a lot of difference. Basing your reasons for being happier or looking good are a lot more likely to fail as there’s no saying that losing weight will actually make you feel good about yourself or bring you happiness.

Instead of choosing these kinds of reasons as your basis for weight loss, look at things differently. Think of your weight loss as part of a journey to becoming healthier and not just a means of getting to an end target. It’s a great opportunity to introduce healthy habits into your life that set the scene for both improving your health and losing weight into the bargain. When your ultimate goal is to live a longer and healthier life, weight loss will probably happen as a nice extra bonus as a result of these new habits.

Don’t Go for Broke

Trying to do too much too soon with your weight loss can work against you and this is one of the reasons why fad diets and drastically reducing your calorie intake aren’t successful in the long term. You might lose some weight, to begin with, but chances are, this will quickly tail off and depending on your mindset and eating habits, you might even start gaining more weight.

When it comes to weight loss, slow and steady tends to do a lot better than trying to lose weight as quickly as possible.

You’re a lot more likely to succeed if you go for smaller shifts that add up to bigger lifestyle changes. If you do them every day, they’ll soon become habits. This is more of a long game and you probably won’t see results straight away but there’s a better chance of actually achieving your weight loss goals compared to focusing on one big goal that could fail.

You want your healthy choices to feel natural and not like a chore or as though you’re depriving yourself and this is where healthy habits can really come into their own.

Breaking the Food-Emotions Cycle

One of the factors that can make it hard to lose weight involves emotional eating. We often eat when we’re not really hungry and because we’re feeling certain emotions. Breaking the link between your food and your emotions is a key mindset shift to master if you want to lose weight and keep it off.

Moving away from emotional eating helps you to react to genuine hunger cues so you’ll eat to fuel your body and not in line with how you’re feeling. Mindful eating is a great way to get back in touch with your body’s hunger signals but it can be a big challenge to master, especially if you’re used to emotional eating. Finding ways to address your emotions that don’t involve food can make a huge difference in being able to lose weight naturally.

Visualising Weight Loss Success

Visualisation can be a powerful technique for weight loss, especially if it’s combined with positive self-talk. How does visualisation work? The theory is that it helps to rewire pathways in the brain so it can be great for breaking habits and learning new ones.

To get the most from it, visualise yourself at your ideal weight, with your body fat transforming into a much more positive form of energy. Keep this mental image in mind as much as possible.

You can use positive affirmations and self-talk to highlight to yourself how you’ll feel when you get to this point. Don’t forget to focus on how you’ll feel with your health, fitness and wellbeing and not just how much better you’ll feel about being thinner.

Even though this is going to happen in the future, keep your self-talk in the present tense and not the future to make visualisation a more effective mindset shift. Tell yourself that you have the power to change your body through the power of your mind as the finishing touch.

Doing this every day can be a lot more effective than you might think.

Start making a plan for your life long goals for your health, not just the short-term ones.

I hope you found this blog useful and will be able to implement some of my tips. However, if you’ve been struggling to get in shape for some time, and you’re tired of trying new crazy diets that don’t work long-term, then I might have a solution. 

My Healthy You Membership provides you with simple step-by-step strategies that you can EASILY implement to help you make healthy food choices so you never feel guilty about food again. Healthy You is a monthly membership providing you with all the weight loss resources, support and motivation you need to create a healthy balanced lifestyle that you will love for only £25 per month. 

Lots more information about the Healthy You Membership can be found on my HOME PAGE. The monthly membership will be packed with lots of useful content, eBooks, meal plans, recipes and sooooo much more. If you need that extra accountability and motivation to reach your goals this will be a fantastic place to start making some BIG changes.

I hope you can join this amazing, growing community, where we will encourage and support each other along the way! What’s not to love!!

Best wishes,

Christy x

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Are you self-sabotaging?

Are you self-sabotaging?

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I used to have an all or nothing attitude when it came to my diet and the food that I ate, I either ate really well or really bad with nothing in between. So, when I was good, I thought I was being good – in fact it was the opposite of that. I restricted calories, skipped meals and exercised to excess. Guess what, it didn’t last long. I would feel low in energy, moody, lethargic, weak, couldn’t concentrate or focus on anything and generally felt miserable. The way I was eating was unsustainable long term and deep down I knew it. I would literally crash and burn and end up going on a massive binge, eating everything I had previously restricted myself from eating. I craved sugar and refined carbohydrates for energy. The initial rush of energy would feel good for a day or two until the guilt set in! The negative feelings I had about myself became worse I would feel like a failure and the horrible cycle of the yo-yo diet would start all over again.

Why would anyone want to put themselves through all that? Life is hard enough as it is juggling family, work and social commitments so why add self-torture (which is what this mentality is) to the list. I lived my life with the attitude that if I was being good then having a treat would undo all my hard work. My attitude was to hell with it, let’s just eat the entire cake, pizza, sweets, chocolate and anything else I could get my hands on. I would believe I had failed and ruined everything I had achieved so far, so why not! That attempt at one treat would turn into a month-long binge! I was self-sabotaging by falling into the mindset that I was only allowed to be good or bad never finding that healthy balance. This led me to a poor relationship food. Something I now see often in so many of my clients.

The biggest turning point for me was when I finally accepted that what I was eating and why I was eating the way I was, was down to so many factors. Stress, emotional eating and mindless eating all impact greatly on my day to day food choices. Not to mention hormones and lack of sleep to add to it! This is why it was important that I worked through those emotions, built new healthy non-restrictive habits that made me feel healthy and positively in control of my nutrition.

Creating the perfect plan for me meant that I had to no longer see myself following any kind of diet. SPOILER:  Diets DO NOT work long term! I now eat the foods my body needs for overall health and wellbeing. I no longer view a treat as a disaster, finding a healthy balance and knowing that consistency is what brings positive change, not perfection. For me now my diet is healthy 80% of the time. Generally, I eat well Monday to Friday and will enjoy a treat at the weekend. It’s not the entire weekend, maybe a pizza on a Saturday night with a bottle of wine. We can do a lot of damage over a weekend which can really impact your goals so you must be realistic. However, if on a random Tuesday afternoon, I fancied a treat or a glass of wine with my evening meal then I enjoy it, own it and move on. It is all about a healthy balance, with no damage done.

I now have the freedom to enjoy all foods from all food groups without the guilt. My mind is at ease and food is no longer all I think about anymore. I no longer feel anxious or nervous around food. I have the confidence now to make the best choices for me. Choosing food that makes me feel good! Food is meant to nourish our bodies, fuel us with the calories we need to function as human beings. It is not meant to be used as a way to punish ourselves through starvation or bingeing both of which have serious long-term side effects.

I recommend to all my clients to practice mindful eating as part of their journey to help overcome all the negative diet habits that develop over time some of which can be seriously deep routed. This is what really helped me find the healthy balance so I know it works.

So, what is Mindful Eating?

  • a peaceful eating relationship with food according to your body’s needs
  • eating to support your body’s natural healthy state
  • balance, choice, wisdom, and acceptance
  • eating consciously in a way to make our bodies feel well
  • being aware of our surroundings, mind, body, and spirit
  • being “in the moment”

Mindful eating is NOT about:

  • dieting
  • measuring or weighing food
  • restricting or avoiding foods
  • counting fat grams or calories
  • worrying about body size or the number on the scale’

Be aware of what your habits and mindless eating triggers are.  We all have them. Maybe it’s a stash of sweets in your desk drawer or eating while at your computer or on the phone. Maybe it’s when you come home from work and grab a bag of crisps or when you sit down to relax and watch a show on T.V. It could also be a trigger when you’re bored.  Think about what the triggers are for you, acknowledge it and make a plan to work on it.

For most of us, triggers come down to the habits that we have formed over the years. Many habits have us on autopilot without being consciously aware of the decisions we’re making. This is a great time to take a step back and evaluate which habits you’d like to change that will be more in alignment with your goals.

Mindful eating is an awareness that can take some time to acquire. It certainly does not come automatically for most of us.  Our environment is definitely working against us here, and so is the hectic pace so many of us are keeping.  Maybe this is a good time to evaluate some things that are causing a lot of stress and find ways to reduce it.  Stress affects us on every level – emotional, mental and physical. By taking steps to eat more mindfully, we can at least know that a few times each day we get to slow down and do something good for ourselves, our health and our bodies.

Do you suffer from self-sabotage? Are you stuck in the YO-YO diet revolving door?

As always if you need help and support to get away from the diet mentality then let me know. You can book a nutrition package with one to one personal support or simply book a free consultation call to discuss your situation and find out what tools I have in place to help you make that positive shift.

Best wishes,

Christy x

Prevention is Better than Cure

Prevention is Better than Cure

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Cold and Flu Fighting this Winter

Boosting your immune system all year will reduce your risk of catching colds or worse the dreaded flu during the colder months. Flu season peaks in the months of January and February within the UK and can cause serious illness for the young, old and at-risk groups. If you fall into one of these categories it is recommended you receive the flu jag. However, we can take steps to help ourselves by leading a healthy lifestyle by eating a nutrient dense diet, getting plenty of exercise, ensuring adequate sleep and keeping stress levels low.

Here are some of my top tips to help you boost your immune system this winter.

Eat your veggies Keeping your body well-nourished helps with more than just weight control; it also supports your body with energy, digestion, immune function and disease prevention.  One of the most significant things you can do to start implementing an immune-boosting diet is to add fresh, whole foods when possible.  Start with vegetables because they’re one of the foods that are typically missing in most diets (or we just don’t get enough of them) there are so many benefits for your overall health and well-being by consuming at least 5 servings of vegetables each day. Green fruits and vegetables are a nutritional powerhouse and contain lots of the vitamins (including A, C, K and folate) and minerals (even calcium!) we need every day. This includes magnesium and iron, which are highly beneficial for fighting tiredness and energy slumps. Leafy greens like spinach are also a good source of vitamins A, C and K, for strengthening your immunity, supporting your eye health and even helping other vitamins to be absorbed well. An array of green vegetables to choose from include: kale, spinach, cabbage, asparagus, celery, broccoli, cucumber, artichokes, leafy greens (lettuce varieties, collards), peas, and green peppers just to name a few. It’s not just veggies that add more greens to your plate though – don’t forget about your fruits such as green apples, grapes, honeydew, kiwi, limes, avocado. Foods from the yellow/orange group are also packed with vitamin C, a natural immune booster. Try pumpkin, oranges, pepper, cantaloupe, mango, squash, sweet potato, papaya, pineapple, carrots and lemon. Stocking up on citrus fruits during the colder months or start the day with a half lemon squeezed in some water each day all year round to boost your immunity.

 

 

Eat enough protein Proteins are nutrients that are essential to the building, maintenance and repair of your body tissues such as your skin, internal organs and muscles. They are also the major components of your immune system and hormones. Protein is found in both animal and plant foods such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, dairy products, legumes, grains and some vegetables. Try to include protein at each meal to feel the benefits.

 

 

Good Fats Consuming sufficient amounts of fat in the right forms and proper proportions have been shown to offer significant health benefits.  Among other things, it can strengthen the immune system. Healthy fats are found in foods such as meat, eggs, nuts, seeds, and oily fish, like salmon. Purchase the highest quality you can if your budget allows.

Other good fat sources include olive oil, coconut oil and avocado (i.e. olive oil as part of salad dressing; coconut oil for cooking, baking and more; and avocado in smoothies or on your sandwich or salad). Remember you only need to eat a little of these to get all the benefits from fat.

 

 

Exercise reduces infections Moderate workouts temporarily rev-up the immune system by increasing the aggressiveness or capacity of immune cells. That may explain why people who exercise catch fewer colds.

Reducing stress There is a growing amount of research on the effect of stress on our physical bodies. For example, feeling overly worried can trigger stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline/epinephrine. It can also activate the “fight or flight” part of our nervous systems (called the “sympathetic” nervous system). When these are activated, they can physically suppress our immune systems, and make us more susceptible to infections. Try including 10 minutes of yoga or meditation each day to help reduce stress levels.

Improve the quality of sleep Poor sleep can lower immunity. If you seem to get every cough and cold going, your sleep habits may be to blame. Researchers deliberately exposed people to the common cold virus to see how likely they were to go on to develop a cold. Participants who had been sleeping for less than 7 hours per night had lower immunity and were almost 3 times more likely to be impacted. Even a small sleep debt has been linked to lower immunity.

Wash your hands regularly wash your hands to ensure you are not spreading germs. Germs can live for up to 8 hours on any surface, so getting into the habit of washing your hands after your morning commute particularly if you travel by public transport, after using the bathroom and avoid touching your face as much as possible.

 

 If you are struggling to implement any of these changes to your diet and lifestyle, please book a free consultation call with me and see how I can support you.

Best wishes,

Christy x

It is the best decision I have made in years

It is the best decision I have made in years

Blog Inspiration Testimonial

“I have followed every diet under the sun and my weight has gone up and down for years. No matter which diet I was on I always wanted to reach my goal weight so that I could stop starving myself! As soon as I came off the diet the pounds piled on again. Now I have found a way of eating that I know I can sustain for the rest of my life. The food is delicious and I never feel hungry. My friends are all commenting on how well I look and how much weight I have lost. I can’t thank Christy enough for introducing me to this way of eating.
So if like me you are fed up being on the diet yo-yo then take the plunge and contact Lose It and Love It.

It is the best decision I have made in years.

Thank you Christy.”

MOIRA PARK

To read more client testimonials click here.

Understanding Fermented Foods

Understanding Fermented Foods

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Your Quick Guide to Choosing the Ones That Are Right for You

Fermented foods are unique. For many years, fermenting was considered just a way to preserve food. Now we know that fermenting allows beneficial bacteria and sometimes yeast strains to build up in the food, turning it into a powerhouse of nutrients that helps the gut and the rest of the body.

Research does exist for fermented foods, plus there is a lot of historical information as to how they have been used in the past.

Most fermented foods are made with an anaerobic process, meaning the good bacteria build up lactic acid bacteria and other acids without oxygen. This means that there are no moulds or bad bacteria present.

Sauerkraut, kimchi, beet kvass, and cultured vegetables are generally made with a salt brine, although homemade versions can be made from whey (strained from yoghurt) or a vegetable starter.

Milk kefir, water kefir, and kombucha also use an anaerobic process but must be made with a “SCOBY” (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). This means that both beneficial strains of bacteria and yeast are present.

Sourdough bread is made with a “starter” using an aerobic process. Oxygen is needed for the development of the wild yeasts. Wine and beer are also made with an aerobic process.

Most fermented foods contain various types of lactic acid bacteria which means they produce lactic acid. Wine and vinegars like apple cider vinegar or real balsamic vinegar have strains that produce acetic acid. All are beneficial.

As for the benefits, three different studies have compared the microbiomes of rural Africans, Japanese, and South Americans consuming a traditional diet with plenty of fermented foods. Researchers found that those consuming the traditional diet had higher levels of beneficial lactobacillus and bifidus strains and lower levels of pathogenic strains such as clostridium than people living in western urban centres.

Individually, each fermented food has been studied and found to be helpful in a number of ways. Some of the benefits for each fermented food are highlighted below. Learning more about each should make it easier for you to choose the right ones. However, the best way to choose is to try them.

How Do You Use Fermented Foods?

  • Fermented foods can be consumed on their own as a snack or served with a meal to aid digestion of the meal.
  • Kefir, yoghurt, kombucha, and pureed sauerkraut or sauerkraut juice work well in salad dressings, replacing some of the vinegar because they are all acids too, just not as strong.
  • Sauerkraut, cultured vegetables, and kimchi can be added to soups. Add after the soup has been ladled into the bowl.
  • Yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, and beet kvass can be added to smoothies.
  • A delicious beverage can be made by adding fresh juice to water kefir or kombucha.

Are the Benefits of Fermented Foods Lost When Cooked?

No. You will lose the enzymes,  beneficial bacteria, and yeast strains. However, the microorganisms produce beneficial metabolites during the fermentation process, and these remain available to provide health benefits for the body. Also, the food that is fermented is somewhat predigested, and the nutrients in the food have been made more bioavailable. These benefits remain in the food even if it has been cooked.

What Is the Best Serving Size?

Try to consume 75g for sauerkraut, kimchi, yoghurt, and kefir. For beverages such as water kefir and kombucha, 224 ml is a good amount. For beet kvass, 56–112 ml.

The Easiest Fermented Foods to Buy:

Many good-quality fermented foods are easy to find in the health food stores and many supermarkets. Real fermented foods, with the exception of wine, will be found in the refrigerated area. Those found on the shelf have been pasteurised and will no longer have the active bacteria. These are the ones you will most likely find:

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is made by “sweating” the juice out of the cabbage with salt to create a brine. This is a simple process of rubbing cabbage with the salt. All the benefits of cabbage are present but in a more bioavailable form. Other vegetables or herbs can be used to add to the flavour and to increase nutrient diversity.

Sauerkraut has many benefits. It is antimicrobial and antifungal, and the juice can be used to preserve other foods. Phytonutrients found in cabbage, known as isothiocyanates, may have anticancer benefits and may be helpful with ulcers.

Sauerkraut aids digestion and helps digestion of other foods in the meal. It also contains prebiotics which helps feed our own good bacteria.

Kimchi

The benefits of kimchi come from several key foods as it is a combination of cabbage, carrots, onions, garlic, ginger, daikon radish, and hot red pepper powder (capsaicin). It helps carbohydrate metabolism, and the capsaicin in the red pepper powder may boost the body’s metabolism. It also contains the same isothiocyanates as sauerkraut which may help stomach cancer.

Kimchi can help boost the immune system. It aids digestion of all the food in the meal, has antimicrobial properties, aids intestinal health, and helps prevent constipation. A study found that Bacillus Pumilus, a strain found in kimchi, helped detox carcinogens and estrogen-mimicker Bisphenol A (found in plastic).

Kombucha

Kombucha is unique as it is made with a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), tea (with caffeine), and sugar. It aids digestion, helps stabilise blood sugar, and has antimicrobial properties. It may also help with cholesterol, and it offers beneficial antioxidant protection.

Research of kombucha focusses on the polyphenols found in black tea. They are more bioavailable in kombucha which can explain a lot of the health benefits.

 

Milk Kefir

Milk kefir originated from the Caucasus mountains in Russia. Despite attempts to duplicate them, only kefir grains can make traditional kefir. They are a symbiotic combination of 32 strains of good bacteria (both lactic acid and acetic acid strains) and yeast strains.

Kefir has anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce histamine, the chemical released during an allergic reaction. It may aid those who are lactose intolerant. Kefir is well-researched and has been shown to have anticancer properties, help reduce inflammation and stabilise blood sugar. It also helps inhibit candida albicans. And like all fermented foods, it aids digestion.

Kefir works best when made with cow and goat milk as the lactose and GOS help feed the grains. It can be made with coconut milk,  but some type of carbohydrate such as date puree must be added to feed the grains.

Yoghurt

Yoghurt is one of the oldest fermented foods and is made from at least two to four strains of good bacteria. It is common to more cultures than any other types of fermented food except perhaps wine or cheese. Different cultures use different strains for making yoghurt. Cow, sheep, yak, goat milk – all have been traditionally used for yoghurt. In North America, yoghurt is typically made with the strains Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.

Commercial yoghurt may be fermented in as little as an hour with thickening agents such as gelatin or modified cornstarch being added. In order to break down enough lactose and have a significant amount of good bacteria, yoghurt must be fermented for at least four hours or longer. Speciality yoghurts like Mediterranean and Greek are also popular –  both involve the process of straining whey to make it thicker. Zero per cent Greek yoghurt is made with non-fat milk. Whole milk yoghurts have more nutrients than low-fat Greek.

Real yoghurt should only contain two ingredients: milk and bacterial culture.

Studies on yoghurt are inconsistent – mainly because they do not specify what type of yoghurt was studied. What is known is that it aids digestion and helps support immune function. It may also be helpful for ulcers.

Sourdough Bread

Sourdough is made from a starter of flour and water that has been fermented by wild yeasts and lactic acid bacteria. A good starter or “sponge” can last for decades and be passed down from one generation to another. The fermentation process changes how the grain is used by the body.

It makes the nutrients in the grains such as zinc, iron, magnesium, B vitamins, and phytonutrients more available to be absorbed into the body. The yeast actually produces the B vitamins (even in white bread). It also helps break down the gluten and starches making the bread more digestible. Many people who have digestive issues with wheat have no issues with sourdough bread made with wheat.

Research has shown that sourdough does not spike blood sugar and insulin release, even when made with white flour. One study found that consuming sourdough in one meal positively affected blood sugar for that meal and the next. (Breakfast may be the best time to consume it.)

Look for sourdough bread at local bakeries. Some supermarkets and health food stores are now selling sourdough bread. It may also be available online and sold frozen.

Wine and Beer

Is there a place for wine and beer in a healthy diet? Yes. Both are traditionally fermented foods. Both are low in alcohol (in comparison to hard liquor).

Beer

To be beneficial for gut health, beer must be unpasteurised. This ensures that the good bacteria and yeast are present. Many commercial beers are pasteurised so be careful when choosing. Beer contains B vitamins and silicon which blocks the uptake of aluminium and may help prevent Alzheimer’s. Beer also contains hops which are anti-inflammatory and may help with sleep.

Wine

The health benefits of red wine are well known: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-ageing,

anticancer, and may help prevent heart disease. This is due to the phytonutrients known as the polyphenols which also happen to be prebiotic and feed good bacteria in the gut.

Wine is traditionally served with a meal to aid digestion. Most studies are on red wine, but white wine has high phenolic values as well. As long as they are consumed in moderation, red and white wine can be part of a healthy diet.

Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar with mother (meaning it has the remnants of the apple in it) is a true fermented food. The same is true of an aged balsamic vinegar. There are other vinegars that are fermented, but these two are the easiest to find, have many health benefits, and are rich in nutrients. Even though we only consume a small amount, they are still worthwhile to add to our diet.

Don’t Forget About Cheese

All real cheese is made from a fermented process, but it’s the hard, aged cheeses like natural cheddar and parmesan that have the most benefits. The older the cheese, the more the lactose is broken down and the more enzymes and beneficial bacteria are present. Look for cheeses made from raw milk, preferably organic, as these are the very best. Milk has many properties that are good for the gut and consuming a fermented version makes it more digestible.

How Much Should You Consume?

A study looked at people who consumed at least three different types of fermented food and had at least five servings per week. The fermented foods were removed for two weeks, and the immune response was lowered. Yoghurt was added back first and while immune response improved, it did not return to previous levels until all the fermented foods were added back in. Quantity and diversity matter.

Easiest plan: Have a serving of one fermented food every day, and choose three different types to rotate throughout the week. For more tips on how you can improve your gut health check out my recent blog Better Gut Health & Well-Being

I created the Sugar Detox and Weight Loss plans to help provide my clients with the knowledge that allows them to understand how to support their bodies more effectively. Gut health is an ever-evolving topic. The research is coming so fast and furiously that it may seem impossible to keep up. My goal is to help you find the foods that work best for you.

Different cookie-cutter diets are being recommended, but the long-term results show that this doesn’t work. I focus on taking a more foundational approach allowing the body to correct itself. This requires patience and customisation.

For more details on my one to one coaching plans click here.

Best wishes,

Christy x

Better Gut Health & Well-Being

Better Gut Health & Well-Being

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Learning to support your gut and the beneficial bacteria that live there is the best thing you can do for your health.

The good news is that feeding the gut with foods can be fun. Good bacteria love so many delicious fruits, grains, legumes, vegetables, herbs, and spices. Beneficial fats found in butter, olive oil, chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, avocado oil, and coconut oil provide nutrients that nourish the gut and, of course, protein is always needed to build a healthy home for the bacteria.

Maybe you react to certain foods. That is a sign you do not have the needed good bacteria to digest the food properly. Working on your gut health may help you to stop reacting. So, what do you have to lose? Feed your gut and feel the rewards.

In a perfect world, we would all have known more about the beneficial microbes in and on our body and how to look after them. We would know how to feed them, and we would be reaping the amazing health they help us achieve.

Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in, and many of us live with results of poor gut management and the symptoms that go with it – gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, and inflammation.

This is a complex issue, and what we know is that poor gut health is being linked as a factor to every other health condition. No matter what health condition you may have, being nice to your gut microbes should be part of any plan for repair and recovery.

Refined and processed foods:  They do not feed the microbes properly so that they can thrive and protect us.

Antibiotics: They deplete both good and bad bacteria and for some reason, the bad recover faster from antibiotic use than the good.

Other Medications: Corticosteroids, birth control pills, aspirin, ibuprofen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) interfere with the mucus lining – the home of the good bacteria where they reproduce.

Stress: In today’s world, we run around like crazy with too many activities and responsibilities and it’s taking its toll. Amongst many other things, excess stress depletes good bacteria levels. In return, too much bad bacteria stimulates cortisol production, our main stress hormone.

Poor Sleeping Habits: Our gut bacteria sleep when we sleep, and just one night of no sleep can lower the quality and quantity of our gut microbes. Think about what it must mean when poor- quality sleep occurs night after night for many years.

Bad Digestive Habits: Chewing food properly is key to digesting good food properly. Forty-five per cent of the bacteria in the gut is seeded by the bacteria in the mouth. And to make sure the bacteria is primarily beneficial, we need to secrete lots of antimicrobial saliva to keep the bad bacteria levels low. Chewing stimulates saliva production and we need to chew more.

Exercise: Too little or too much doesn’t help us maintain our good bacteria levels. Moderate exercise on a regular basis is the best option.

What you need to know:

There are two types of beneficial bacteria:

Residential bacteria are native to you, and this is what you need to build and maintain long-term health.

Transient bacteria are found in probiotic supplements and fermented foods – they help while they are there, but they’re just passing through.

Do you suffer from foods sensitivities or allergies?

Food sensitivities are not caused by the food. They are a digestive issue due to lack of enzymes and/or lack of good bacteria. We do not know what strains any one person is missing, but we do know that different strains help us digest different foods. For example, lactose intolerance is due to lack of the good bacteria that helps break down lactose. Improving the quantity and quality of the strains will improve the ability to digest all types of foods.

What is dysbiosis?

It’s the name given to the condition in the gut when there is no longer the right ratio of good bacteria to bad bacteria. The gut should have 85 per cent beneficial microbes. Anything less than this can result in symptoms, and as the ratio gets further out of balance, more symptoms occur. Dysbiosis has been linked to all major health conditions.

It’s residential bacteria that need to be re-established. Probiotic supplements can help in the short term, but the permanent solution is finding the right balance of foods and lifestyle that the gut requires to function at it best on its own.

What do residential bacteria like to eat?

They like fibre like FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides), polyphenols, and resistant starch. Dairy products contain two types of food for bacteria – lactose and GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides) They also function best with lots of vitamins and minerals. So, load up on the fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and dairy products.

The key to a healthy gut is increasing the number and diversity of strains. Different foods feed different strains so variety is the key.

 Instructions: Take a look at the suggestions in each section. Pick the ones that are easiest for you to add to your daily life. Add one at a time if that is what works best for you. The goal is to add more suggestions as you go until you find the right combination for you. Look for your digestive, elimination and energy functions to improve. To view the above table click on this link 3 Best Steps To Better Gut Health and Well.

If you need further help and support please get in touch with me.

Wishing you health and happiness,

Christy x

 

6 Simple Tips For Adding  Healthy, Whole Foods

6 Simple Tips For Adding Healthy, Whole Foods

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The dietary changes you’re making should not feel restrictive, overwhelming or hard to live with.

Most Britains have grown up on processed foods. This may be a big change for you, so take it a step at a time. Pick 1 or 2 changes to make now, and once those are in place, pick 1 or 2 more.  This is the best way to make it part of a lifestyle change and something you can totally live with.  

Transitioning to a healthier way of eating may seem daunting so here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Eat vegetables at most meals. Think salads, side dishes, soups, or even adding veggies to your sandwich or wrap.
  2. When you are having a craving for something sweet, opt for a serving of fruit to satisfy your craving.
  3. When you eat meat, it’s best to choose organic, grass-fed, and hormone-free so you get the maximum nutrients possible without the harmful pesticides residue, antibiotics, hormones, etc.
  4. Fill your fridge and cupboards with healthy food choices that are ready to eat and go. Snacks like nuts, seeds, or fruit are good for ‘grab and go’.
  5. Never leave the house without food if you’ll be gone for more than 2 hours. Remember, eating healthy foods on a regular basis will help you avoid unhealthy choices. Make up some of your own trail mix (avoid ready-made trail mix as most of them have hydrogenated oils and other undesirable, processed ingredients) or bring a small cooler to keep in the car.
  6. Most importantly, don’t be too rigid. Making small changes over time will make a huge difference and it makes the changes easier to stick to.

If you need some help implementing these changes, please get in touch here.

Wishing you health and happiness,

Christy x

 

How Food Can Affect More Than Your Weight

How Food Can Affect More Than Your Weight

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What you eat can affect many areas of your health from your mood to how well you sleep. Your body needs a wide range of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to keep you in great physical and mental condition so it’s important to nourish it with the right foods and drinks. Here’s how your food can affect your mood, sleep, concentration and even your chances of developing depression.

How Food Affects Your Mood

If your blood sugar fluctuates too much, it can leave you feeling tired and irritable. Ideally, you want to be eating foods that keep your blood sugar stable which includes complex carbs such as brown rice, oats and whole grains. Nuts and seeds are also great for this.

Some foods can have a direct effect on your mood too. Fatty fish is packed with omega 3 fatty acids that affect the production of neurotransmitters in your brain, especially serotonin and dopamine. Both of these have a really strong link with your mood and low levels are linked to mood disorders. Fatty fish isn’t the only food that gives you an omega 3 boost; flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts also count. For dopamine, make sure you’re getting plenty of poultry, fish, eggs and leafy greens in your diet.

Protein is another nutrient that can affect your mood. A lot of foods with protein contain tryptophan, an amino acid that can help your body to produce more serotonin and dopamine. Chicken and turkey are good sources but if you’re a vegetarian, you can eat beans, lentils and quinoa to reap the benefits.

What you’re not eating can also be important. According to studies, not getting enough folate or B vitamins, in general, can make you more prone to depression and have a negative impact on your sleep and energy levels. Greens are a great source of folate so be sure to include plenty of leafy greens, broccoli and peas if you’re struggling with low mood.  Low selenium levels are also linked to fatigue, anxiety and even depression. Snack on walnuts or a handful of Brazil nuts to get your selenium levels up.

Depression may be linked to chemical imbalances in the brain but some nutrients are thought to make this more likely, especially if you’re deficient in them. For example, low levels of vitamin D are linked to a higher risk of depression and experts believe that getting enough vitamin D can be crucial for a healthy mind. Natural sunlight is the best option but you can also get vitamin D from your diet through fatty fish, eggs and liver. This is the better option when the sun isn’t out in colder climates.

How Food Affects Sleep

You might not realise it but what you eat can have a big impact on how well you sleep. Some foods are known to encourage sleep because of the nutrients they contain and anything containing magnesium is a good bet, according to studies. Need a magnesium boost? Go for leafy greens (especially spinach), almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and high-quality dark chocolate.

Another important nutrient is vitamin B6, which your body uses to make both melatonin and serotonin. If you’re not aware of melatonin and its role in the body, it’s known as the “sleep hormone”. This gives you an indication of how important it is for sleep! Our melatonin levels can be disrupted by “blue light” from screens and devices and as low levels of melatonin can make it hard to sleep well, it’s definitely something you want to be producing a decent amount of.

When it comes to melatonin, tryptophan helps here too (not just with mood!) as it helps your body to make more melatonin.  Chicken, turkey, milk, nuts and seeds all contain tryptophan and can help more melatonin be produced.

How Food Affects Concentration

If you find yourself struggling with concentration and focus, it’s time to look at your diet and whether you’re eating foods that are known to help.

A 2013 study found that people who were drinking 2 cups of cacao every day for a month were able to improve blood flow to their brains, which led to better results in memory tests. If you’d rather not drink a cup of cacao, a square of high-quality dark chocolate (minimum 70% cacao) can have a similar effect as long as there aren’t high sugars or other additives.

In a 2012 report, drinking blueberry juice daily for two months also led to better performance on memory and learning tests. This means that snacking on blueberries can be perfect if you need a focus boost!

And of course, there’s always water! Dehydration can cause tiredness and concentration problems, even if you’re only slightly dehydrated. Drinking a glass of water could be all you need to get more focused if dehydration is the problem.

Food wise, the omega 3 fatty acids in salmon can reduce cognitive decline and keep your brain sharp and focused. Another good reason to eat fatty fish a couple of times per week!

Now that you know how food impacts your mood, what did you notice you might need to add to your diet this week to counteract your nutritional imbalance?

Wishing you health and happiness,

Christy x

Is Not Enough Sleep Making You Fat?

Is Not Enough Sleep Making You Fat?

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Sleep is one of the best things you can do from a self-care perspective but it’s also one of the areas that are most likely to be neglected. 

The recommended amount of shut-eye is eight hours a night (preferably more!) but lots of us are falling far short of this and it’s having a massive impact on almost every aspect of wellbeing, from health to weight. You can live healthily in every other area of your life but unfortunately, it’s probably not going to do much to counteract the damaging effects of poor sleep habits.

Here’s a look at why getting enough sleep is so crucial for your health and wellbeing, and why diet alone can’t undo the effects of not sleeping well.

Sleep Duration Versus Sleep Quality

We’re always being told how many hours we should be sleeping each night but is it definitely enough even if we can manage to achieve it?

Sleep quality refers to how well we sleep and is a completely different prospect to how long we sleep.  It’s pretty easy to tell how long you sleep but the quality of it is a bit harder to determine.

Poor sleep quality means that you’re not sleeping in line with your circadian rhythm or going through all of the important sleep phases (particularly with REM sleep).

Some of the signs that your sleep quality isn’t as good as it could include:

  • Waking up during the night
  • Not waking up naturally e.g. you have to be abruptly awoken by your alarm clock most mornings

Sleep and Health

What exactly does your body experience when you don’t get enough sleep? Pretty much everything is affected but here are some of the more serious effects that poor sleep patterns can have on your health:

  • Lower immunity. If you seem to get every cough and cold going, your sleep habits may be to blame. In one study, researchers deliberately exposed people to the common cold virus to see how likely they were to go onto develop a cold. Participants who had been sleeping for less than 7 hours per night had lower immunity and were almost 3 times more likely to be impacted. Even a small sleep debt has been linked to lower immunity.
  • Higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Studies have looked at the link between lack of sleep and developing heart disease and stroke and it’s a scary connection. Getting less than 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night means a higher chance of developing Coronary Heart Disease or having a stroke – and dying from it.
  • Higher risk of diabetes. A sleep debt can pave the way for developing Type 2 diabetes.  In this study, just a week of not sleeping well-reduced insulin sensitivity and raised concerns about whether consistently sleeping badly might open the door to developing health issues linked to insulin resistance.
  • Increased inflammation. Inflammation is now linked to lots of different health problems and can be increased by sleep loss.

Sleep and Cognition

You’ve no doubt heard that eating the right foods can boost your brain health but it’s not just diet can affect your memory and concentration.

Sleep is an important factor too, and lack of sleep has been shown to impair them. In fact, one study has suggested that even moderate sleep issues can be as damaging as alcohol in affecting performance!

The deeper stages of sleep are particularly vital when it comes to clear thinking, focus, memory and learning. This is when your brain does a lot of its mental ‘sorting’, such as filtering out information that isn’t really needed right now. It doesn’t sound a lot but it all adds up to better cognition and performance.

Sleep and Weight Gain

If you don’t sleep well, it can be a lot harder to maintain a healthy weight. The main problem? It sends your metabolism a little bit crazy and can ruin your good intentions for eating well.

Lack of sleep has a big effect on hormones that are linked to appetite – namely leptin and ghrelin. Leptin helps to keep your appetite in check while ghrelin does the opposite.

Ideally, you want to have more leptin and less ghrelin but not getting enough sleep throws this balance out and effectively switches them around. This means you’re a lot more likely to overeat, even when you’re technically full. And you’ll find it harder to shift stubborn fat on your stomach, as sleep deprivation encourages fat to build up in this area in particular.

Improving Your Sleep Quality

  1. Some of the things you can do to try to get better quality sleep each night include: Making your room as dark as possible to support your circadian rhythm. Pitch black (or as close to it as you can get) is best.
  2. Setting a bedtime routine that involves going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at a specific time each morning.
  3. Switching off electronic devices at least an hour before bed (even your phone!) to reduce the amount of ‘blue light’ you’re exposed to just before bedtime. This ‘blue light’ means your body finds it harder to produce enough of the sleep hormone, melatonin, to help you sleep well.

If you haven’t been seeing sleep as a key part of your wellness routine, it’s definitely time to change that!

Wishing you health and happiness,

Christy x

How to Master the Mind-Body Connection to Improve Health and Overall Well-Being

How to Master the Mind-Body Connection to Improve Health and Overall Well-Being

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Have you ever felt a “pit” in your stomach, or a change in your appetite when you’re stressed? Have you felt your heart and mind race when you’re afraid? Have you felt calm and tranquil when you’re blissfully enjoying life’s moments?

These are examples of the mind-body connection.

Science has begun to recognise the connection between the mind and the body, and how our thoughts and feelings can directly affect our physical health. These connections have been suspected (even observed) by many patients and healers throughout the centuries.

The “mind” we’re referring to includes the mental states of thoughts, beliefs, and emotions.

The mind and heart are thought to form the “psycho-emotional” roots of health and disease.

Here’s the great part; The more we understand the connection between the mind and body, the more we can use it to our advantage to improve our health and our lives. Exciting stuff!

Thoughts and Emotions

It’s been said that negative emotions like anger, fear, guilt, and sadness can contribute to imbalances in our body, and eventually manifest as disease. Sometimes when we feel these emotions, our bodies react with digestive issues, aches and pains, and in other physical ways as well. Have you experienced this before?  I know it’s happened to me plenty of times.

This powerful link between our minds and bodies is the fascinating observation that improving one’s mood and outlook can reduce inflammation and even improve cancer survival! Pretty fascinating, right?

The “law of attraction” is a similar concept. It’s about using the power of the mind to transform our thoughts into reality. Have you ever focused your attention on something negative that you’re sure will happen… and it eventually does? Or the opposite; you’re hoping and working toward an amazing goal, focusing your mental energy on it, and you finally reach it? These are referred to as the power of the law of attraction.

Thoughts and emotions carry vibrations throughout our bodies. These vibrations can affect our cells. This is because our cells, hormones, and neurotransmitters are all made from atoms and molecules that are in a constant state of motion. This motion within our mind has a frequency that can influence other frequencies in our bodies.

The Physiology of the Mind-Body Connection

There is a growing amount of research on the effect of stress on our physical bodies. But, how is this feasible? What physical channels are there that can possibly link the mind and the body?

Direct links between the mind and body include the nerves and biochemical compounds (i.e. hormones, neurotransmitters, etc.). Both of these travel between the brain and the body sending messages in all directions.

Different mental states influence our physical health for the better or worse. For example, feeling overly worried can trigger stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline/epinephrine. It can also activate the “fight or flight” part of our nervous systems (called the “sympathetic” nervous system). When these are activated, they can physically suppress our immune systems, and make us more susceptible to infections. They can affect our heartbeat and breathing. Over the long run, they are thought to worsen heart and other health issues.

In fact, scientists have mapped out different areas in our brains and bodies that are activated when people experience different emotions.

One study showed that people who repress emotions are more likely to have an imbalance in the stress hormone cortisol than people who express their emotions. It’s thought that long-term psychological stress can even increase our risk of cancer and heart disease.

Emotions can indirectly affect our physical bodies as well. Oftentimes, how we feel affects the way we behave – whether we turn to or away from healthy foods, exercise, and sleep. Over the long-run, these habits and behaviours can take a toll on our physical health. These work in the other direction as well, whereby after we eat, exercise, and/or sleep, we feel different emotions than we did beforehand.

Think about what you do when you’re feeling stressed or sad.  Do you turn to (and devour) sweets and maybe skip your workout, for example? It’s also possible that you lose your appetite during times of stress. Do you find it easier to stay on track with your food choices and exercise routine when you’re happy and content?  These are examples of the mind-body connection too.

Mind-Body Practices for Optimum Health

There are many practices we can take on to help foster calmer minds, inner peace, and lead to a higher level of physical health and wellness.

These include:

  • Mindfulness meditation,
  • Yoga,
  • Tai chi,
  • Acupuncture,
  • Massage therapy.

Mind-Body Practices – Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation helps to focus the attention on the present moment. It’s an ancient practice that can help calm the mind and relax the body.

Meditation is also used to reduce fatigue, lower feelings of stress, help improve mood and sleep, and help cope with pain and illness. It can help to focus attention and increase self-awareness.

Modern neuroscience has associated the meditative state with changes in the electrical function of the brain.

Meditation is considered a safe practice for healthy people. If you have physical limitations, then there may be some movement-based practices that should be avoided.

To begin non-movement based meditating, there are many free videos, audios, and apps available that can guide you through meditation. Three great apps (available on iOs and Android) include Head Space, Calm, and The Mindfulness app.  My personal fave is Head Space, but check out different ones to see what you like best.

“Meditation is a process of lightening up, of trusting the basic goodness of what we have and who we are, and of realising that any wisdom that exists, exists in what we already have. We can lead our life so as to become more awake to who we are and what we’re doing rather than trying to improve or change or get rid of who we are or what we’re doing. The key is to wake up, to become more alert, more inquisitive and curious about ourselves.”

~ Pema Chodron

Mind-Body Practices – Yoga

Yoga combines the use of physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation. It is sometimes used to help reduce pain and improve moods.

Yoga is considered safe in healthy people when practised appropriately. Some people should avoid certain poses, so working with an experienced instructor who can suggest safe modifications is recommended.  If you’re brand new to yoga, it can feel a bit intimidating, so one option is to start with a yoga DVD (Amazon.com has a good selection) or check out streaming online yoga classes.  Just search “streaming yoga classes” and you’ll find a bunch. My favourite is Yoga With Adriene.

“Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way. With yoga, we become aware of how and where we are restricted — in body, mind, and heart — and how gradually to open and release these blockages. As these blockages are cleared, our energy is freed. We start to feel more harmonious, more at one with ourselves. Our lives begin to flow — or we begin to flow more into our lives.”

~ Cybele Tomlinson

Mind-Body Practices – Tai Chi

Tai chi is a centuries-old mind-body practice that involves specific gentle movements with mental focus and breathing.

Research shows that practising tai chi improves balance and stability, and can reduce the risk of falls. It can also help with pain, fatigue, and moods. You can look for tai chi classes in your area, purchase DVD’s or check out streaming videos.

“Tai chi does not mean oriental wisdom or something exotic. It is the wisdom of your own senses, your own mind and body together as one process.”

~ Chungliang Al Huang

Mind-Body Practices – Acupuncture

Acupuncture comes from traditional Chinese medicine. It’s a technique that uses thin needles strategically inserted into the skin at specific points on the body.

It is used to help with many types of pain.

Acupuncture is generally considered safe when a well-trained experienced practitioner uses sterile needles.

“Broadly speaking, acupuncture has three primary effects:

  • It relieves pain.
  • It reduces inflammation.
  • It restores homeostasis.” ~ Chris Kresser

Mind-Body Practice – Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is a very popular mind-body practice. Massage therapists work on muscle and other soft tissues to help you to relax and feel better.

There is some evidence that it can help with certain types of pain, as well as reduce fatigue and stress, promote relaxation, and improve moods.

Massage therapy seems to be a safe practice when performed by a trained practitioner.

Conclusion

The way you think and feel can help to feed health or disease. Your thoughts, beliefs, and emotions can affect your body directly (through nerves and hormones) and indirectly (by influencing habits and behaviours).

Some of the common health concerns that many people use mind-body practices are fatigue, stress, pain, and moods.

There are many different mind-body practices including, mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai chi, acupuncture, and massage therapy.

What can you start implementing today?

I love helping my clients figure out ways to reduce stress and help them recognise the mind-body connection and how it may affect their overall health and happiness.

It’s always best to speak with your healthcare provider before beginning any type of health practice. When choosing a practitioner to guide you through a mind-body practice, ensure they are qualified and experienced and can make any modifications necessary to support your current state of health.

Wishing you health and happiness,

Christy

Why you aren’t losing weight after 30

Why you aren’t losing weight after 30

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If you notice your weight starting to creep up once you hit 30, your lifestyle could be having more effect than you think. We all know the obvious triggers such as eating too much and not doing much exercise but there are some sneakier factors that can play a big part in weight gain. Here are some of the most common ones to avoid so that you can keep your tummy trim and within a healthy weight range.

Too Much Stress

Struggling to keep your stress levels under control? There’s a good chance that it’s affecting your weight – especially for women. Your body releases the stress hormone, cortisol, during stressful periods and this can send your blood sugar levels haywire. According to studies, high cortisol production leaves you craving sweet foods and means you’ll probably eat more calories.

Cortisol also changes how your body uses glucose, makes it harder to burn fat and makes it easier to store fat. Women are more likely to store fat on their stomach but this can also be true for men. Abdominal fat has been linked to health issues so it’s definitely something you want to keep to a minimum!

Falling Into Emotional Eating Habits

Not taking care of your wellbeing can mean that you eat in line with your emotions rather than when you’re genuinely hungry. Feeling sad, stressed, lonely, bored or disappointed can lead you to eat to fill an emotional void and crave particular foods (usually the unhealthy kind!).

You might feel a little bit better in the immediate aftermath but in the longer term, this type of emotional eating can have a big effect on your weight. Most of the time, you won’t get a signal to say that you’re full and it’s all too easy to find that you’ve eaten a lot more than you planned in a very short space of time. And you probably won’t feel any better afterwards. In fact, you may well feel a whole lot worse as it’s common for emotional eating to make you feel guilty and ashamed of your food choices.

Not Sleeping Well

Poor sleep quality makes you more likely to eat more calories and gain weight. This is because it disrupts hormones that control your appetite. Lack of sleep increases production of ghrelin and decreases leptin levels, which means it’s harder to manage your appetite.

Sleeping well is one of the underrated ways to keep your weight in check as your levels of these hormones will be a lot more balanced.

Not Building Muscle Mass

If you spend a lot of time sitting down and aren’t very active, you probably don’t have much muscle mass. This might not seem like a big deal but it’s a common weight gain trigger.

Lean muscle boosts your metabolism and makes it that little bit easier to burn calories. If you don’t have much lean muscle, your metabolism doesn’t get this benefit and it’s harder to burn calories.

One of the best ways to build more muscle mass is through strength training. Don’t worry- you won’t end up looking like a bodybuilder! The idea of strength training is to build a toned body with minimal body fat rather than the bulky look we often associate with weights.

Not Eating Enough

Being on a diet more often than not means you’re definitely going to lose weight, right? Not always! Restricting your calorie intake too much slows down your metabolism and encourages the body to go into “starvation mode” so that it can run on fewer calories. This also means you burn fewer calories too as your body uses most of your intake to survive.

These kind of diets are very hard to stick to in the long term. Chances are, you’ll go back to a less restrictive way of eating but your body can still be more likely to store fat. This is why many people find that they gain weight after coming off a low-calorie diet.

Eating “Low Fat” Foods

Just because a food claims to be “low fat” doesn’t always mean that it’s going to help you to stay in shape. A lot of supposedly “low fat” options are often high in sugar and salt to make them tastier and can also contain a lot of calories. Eat too many of these “low fat” foods and you’re probably going to put weight on!

Tips for Avoiding These Triggers

So, what can you do to avoid these common triggers and get your body in the best shape?

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet that isn’t too restrictive on calories and stay away from “low fat” foods that can promote weight gain
  • Be physically active and help your body to gain a bit more muscle mass
  • Get plenty of sleep to keep appetite hormones in balance
  • Make stress reduction a big part of your self-care routine and finding healthier ways to manage your emotions that don’t involve emotional eating
  • Adopting a more mindful approach to eating so that you don’t eat on autopilot
Sugar, the dangerous ingredient in almost everything

Sugar, the dangerous ingredient in almost everything

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As a whole, we consume massive amounts of sugar in our diet each day even though it has been linked to a slew of health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer just to name a few.

Sugar is a carb that is naturally found in many foods, including lactose (in milk) and fructose (in fruit). These aren’t necessarily the big problem for your health; it’s the processed and added sugars that pose the biggest dangers and it’s not as easy as you may think to avoid them.

Sugar is in so many foods – much more than you may realise. Soft drinks are the obvious culprits, with just one can of fizzy juice having as much as 7 teaspoons of sugar – but that’s not all you need to watch out for.

Low fat “diet” meals often contain plenty of sugar to make up for the lower fat content and to stop it tasting bland. Processed foods, in general, have added sugar, including tinned soups and ready-made sauces. You may not realise, but even bread can be a victim of sugar! This is why checking your food labels is key to ensure your diet isn’t falling victim to sugar.

What Does Sugar Do to Your Health?

Too much sugar essentially spikes your blood sugar levels and then leads to a big dip. You might get a sugar high in the short term but it’ll be followed by a crash that affects your mood and makes you crave more sugar. This vicious cycle is one of the main reasons why sugar is so heavily linked to obesity as it encourages you to keep eating more sugar.

The health problems associated with sugar can go far beyond this though. One of the main concerns is focused on high fructose corn syrup. Fructose in fruits isn’t all that bad and this can fool you into thinking that high fructose corn syrup can’t be that dangerous either.  In reality, it’s one of the worst types of sugar you can consume. It’s a major ingredient in a lot of foods these days as it’s cheap to produce, so it’s definitely one to watch out and stay away from as much as you can.

Why is it a problem?

Our ancestors didn’t eat fructose other than the amount that was naturally included in fruit and some vegetables. Your liver can metabolise fructose to a large extent but when it reaches the tipping point, it starts turning it into fat instead and this is where the health problems begin. In the modern world, a lot of us eat more fructose than the body can handle.

Eating too much fructose can make your liver inflamed and start building up fat. It also encourages uric acid to be produced, which raises your blood pressure and even lead to gout. More worryingly, it also affects blood lipids and cholesterol levels,  which can lead to cardiovascular problems and type 2 diabetes.

Even fruit juice can contribute to this as it is high in fructose. According to studies, its fructose content can encourage the body to store abdominal fat, especially the type that surrounds organs.

You’re better off choosing whole fruits (rather than fruit juices) or juice your own fruits as the fructose in these is naturally occurring and in no way a danger to your health. You’ll also get more fibre from whole fruits and you’d have to eat an unrealistic amount for their fructose content to become a cause for concern.

TIP: Mix natural sugars with protein to balance your blood sugar levels and to stop the sugar being absorbed into your bloodstream as quickly. For example, team a piece of fruit with a handful of nuts or some yoghurt. This can also help to curb cravings too.

What to Look For

Sugar often won’t be included on the ingredients as sugar. Food manufacturing companies are getting crafty when it comes to labelling their products. Sugar can be labelled as a long list of other names and it can be hard to really understand what you’re eating. Anything ending in “ose” is an obvious giveaway, including glucose, sucrose (better known as table sugar), fructose and maltose.

Less obvious signs that something contains sugar are syrups such as rice syrup and corn syrup. And then there’s the big one – high fructose corn syrup.

“Sugar-free” foods generally contain artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and aspartame. Studies have suggested that these don’t do a lot to satisfy sugar cravings and may actually make you overeat. There are also concerns that they may pave the way for health problems.

If these type of ingredients are high up on the list, meaning they are in the first few ingredients listed, then you know that there’s a good amount of sugar hiding in the food!

Today, go through your pantry and check your labels. What has hidden sugar in it?

I provide one to one sugar detox and weight loss plans. If you are at a loss as to where to start, or you have tried everything then feel free to book a free telephone consultation with me and let’s discuss your situation in more detail and find out how I can help you. BOOK NOW!

Binge Eating vs Emotional Eating

Binge Eating vs Emotional Eating

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When does indulging in your favourite snack cross the line from comfort to concern?

The difference between emotional eating and binge eating lies mainly in how much food you consume. But, other key features may help you distinguish between the two and put an end to unhealthy snacking.

Emotional Eating

Stress manifests in different ways, but most of us can relate to the concept of emotional eating. Ever catch yourself wallowing in a container full of ice cream after a particularly stressful day? Emotional eating or stress eating is when you consume food not out of hunger, but out of anxiety, frustration, or sadness. For some, emotional eating is triggered by a particularly traumatic event but for others, it can just be a habitual reaction to financial or emotional turbulence.

But don’t worry- emotional eating is somewhat normal, and in some cases, better for your mental health depending on how you handle it.

In fact, emotional eating can be great for relieving stress with THE RIGHT FOODS, provided it doesn’t get too out of hand. Eating puts our body into a state of relaxation by activating the parasympathetic nerves. Indulging in and savouring the flavours of food feels good and can lift our moods instantly.

But when emotional eating no longer relieves but rather contributes to stress, it can get out of hand.

At a point, emotional eating gives way to self-loathing as we feel ashamed of our indulgence. We want to hide our “binging” episodes, but because of a lack of other emotional coping mechanisms, they spiral out of our control.

To prevent emotional eating from advancing to the next stage, we need to tackle the problem at its roots: stress, frustration, and other emotional ruts.

Take up meditation or yoga to simultaneously tackle stress and improve your self-discipline. Engage in a stress-free activity like painting or fishing and take plenty of time to distance yourself from whatever may be causing your stress – whether that is work, a stressful home environment, or relationship woes.

To make sure your stress eating never borders on binge eating, keep a food journal. Records of your day-to-day eating choices will help prevent you from putting on unwanted pounds and improve your overall mindfulness when it comes to consumption.

And finally, to manage your emotional eating in a far more healthier way, look for healthy alternatives to your favourite go-to snacks such as oven baked sweet potato fries instead of the regular deep fried kind or carrot sticks and hummus instead of crisps.

Binge Eating

Binge eating, unlike stress eating, is considered by nutritionists as a potentially severe eating disorder. Characterised by constant overconsumption, BED (Binge Eating Disorder) involves consuming huge quantities of food in a relatively short span of time. It’s not just your average bloated belly after a heavy dinner, but a constant overeating that leaves the body uncomfortable and unhealthy.

The transition from emotional eating to binge eating occurs when you lose your sense of control: you move from being conscious of your reason for eating and how much you eat, to eating without any control over intake. It often leads to guilty eating, which is worse for your mental health and stress levels as well. This leads to a vicious cycle: your stress turns into binge eating, and your binge eating fuels your stress.

What’s worse is that the guilt of binge eating (which usually occurs when alone) traps us in a “shame cage”- we don’t want to reach out to friends or family for fear of revealing ourselves.

But the BED is too serious of a condition to keep under wraps. Instead, it is vital to talk to someone if you are experiencing any one of its symptoms. Your attitude towards your body image, your history with other mental health complications, and eating habits, in general, could be contributing to BED.

Total recovery from binge eating is absolutely possible. It doesn’t need to take over your life. To start your healing process I encourage you to keep a food journal to track your habits to work out the emotional triggers that affect your binge eating and the thoughts and feelings you have while on a binge episode. This gives you amazing insights into the WHY of your situation so that you can easily manage the HOW of getting out of it.

Remember to remain body-positive. I am always here to talk if you need to. You can take advantage of my free consultation call if you feel you need some 1:1 guidance. It’s my way of giving back – I’ve been on the binge eating path and having someone to lean on is the only way forward.

Christy x

5 Quick and Easy Self-care Tips for Busy Women

5 Quick and Easy Self-care Tips for Busy Women

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For busy women, self-care can feel like an unaffordable luxury. Self-care is often advertised as long weekends spent at the beach, a trip to the spa, or even hours spent on exercise. In reality, though, self-care can be anything (small or big) you do to give your body attention.

Which is why the following self-care tips won’t take more than 10 minutes of your time while still having a big impact on your body and mind.

Touch your toes and stretch

It’s easy to ignore the stress in our spines. But the truth of the matter is that when we spend long hours hunched over the computer, curled up on the couch or picking up after the kids, our posture and body take the backseat. It won’t take more than ten minutes to step out of your chair and touch your toes, but the stretching will do your aching joints and body some long-lasting good.

While you’re at it, stretch the rest of your body as well. Perhaps you can look up a yoga posture, or you have a stretching routine in mind already. Whether it is advanced or basic, any kind of stretching will keep your body functioning well despite periods of inactivity. Touch your toes, extend your arms and gear yourself up physically and mentally for whatever task is at hand.

 

Massage and moisturise

We tend to link massage and fancy lotions to a day at the spa, not many of us have the time or budget to indulge in frequent spa trips. But that’s okay because no masseuse will know your body and your preferences as well as you do!

Use a natural lotion such as organic coconut oil or avocado oil (don’t be afraid to indulge in your favourite) and rub it mindfully into your arms and shoulders, or even across your legs. Spread the cream or oil gently and thoroughly and use your hands to massage over your body across areas that you might not realise are aching. You might come across some sudden sore spots, it’s important to focus on those for a moment, rubbing in the lotion. You will be relaxed and energised and your skin will benefit greatly from the extra moisturising.

Phone a friend

At a time where connectivity options are abundant, it’s funny how disconnected we actually are. The troubles of everyday life can be exhausting and drain us of all the time and will to socialise beyond what is absolutely necessary. During our free time, there are personal things we need to tend to that make socialising take a back seat. But to truly care for ourselves, we need to nurture social and emotional aspects as well.

While it’s easy to pick up your phone and send a text, take ten minutes out of your day to chat with a friend or family member. You benefit just as much as they do. Simply talk about your day and maintain the feeling of being connected. Your support system can help relieve stress and help you to maintain a healthy mindset through your shared bond.

Drink two additional glasses of water today

Water is that little magic potion we all too often ignore: it relieves fatigue, clears skin, detoxes your body, improves digestion, and prevents cramps. And yet we often forget to hydrate, or hydrate so little we get headaches as a result. Not only will drinking two glasses of water help you hydrate, it will also give you much-needed time to get away from your technological devices and focus on your surroundings.

Drink the water slowly and savour the break from your work before you dive back into it. Take it in slow sips if you need to, and be sure to follow this tip regularly to met your daily requirement of H2O. Try to follow the sensation of the water as it trickles down your throat as this will help you take your mind off of the stress and daily chaos of your life for a few seconds. Not a big water fan? Add a little squeeze of fresh lemon or lime to add a touch of flavour. Better yet, grab a jug of water and put some sliced fruit such as strawberries and mint for a delightful way to get your water in.

Play with your pet or go for a walk

Whether it’s a furry friend or a tank full of fish, scientists have proven the health benefits of animals at every turn. A pet of your own means a faithful companion. And in addition to that spending time with a pet is a proven way to lower blood pressure and increase oxytocin levels.

The enjoyment from pets can be calming and repetitive motion of petting your companion (or even staring at a fish tank!) will help soothe you. Don’t have a pet? Go for a walk to your local park, just taking in the sights of other dogs and animals has the same impact on your wellbeing.

Self-care isn’t just about facials, eating your greens and getting your hair done. It’s also about the soul food that fuels you and the small things that make big impacts on your overall wellbeing. By practising these 5 tips, you get to spend 10 minutes away from whatever it is you do each day and you get to separate yourself from the chaos and stress of your daily life. There is so much more to achieving a happy healthy body and mind than diet and exercise!

If you would like to have a chat about how I can support you to achieve a healthy balanced lifestyle, then please book a free telephone consultation at a time that suits you best.

Wishing you health & happiness,

Christy x

My Personal Journey to Health and Happiness

My Personal Journey to Health and Happiness

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I have made the decision to share my personal journey with you all. This wasn’t easy to write as I am a very private person but as a coach, I feel it is important to be able to relate to my client’s struggles and be able to offer support and encouragement from a place of personal experience. I see so many people struggle with their own health and weight loss issues for lots of different reasons. Healthy eating and managing your weight isn’t just about what we put in our mouths. It’s so much more than that.

After having my second child I was diagnosed with postnatal depression and generalised anxiety. I lived in a constant state of fear.  I can only describe it as living with that same sensation of that split second a car pulls out in front of you. You slam on your breaks, you get a fright, your heart is thumping, you can’t breathe and your legs are shaking. Depending on how big a fright you get this sensation of panic will pass. However, for me, I lived in this constant state of ‘fear’ day in and day out. I stopped leaving the house and was utterly terrified my kids and I would be killed in a tragic accident. We stopped going to the shops, I stopped walking with the buggy and we stayed in the house all day long. I lived like this for around 6 months before getting help.

Help for me came in the form of antidepressants, a particularly nasty kind because I was breastfeeding. After about three weeks the sense of impending doom lifted and I was able to function again. I went back to work a few months later and things were good. I was a bit of a zombie and gained a lot of weight which I couldn’t shift on my medication. Looking back now, I wish I knew then what I know now about the true powers of exercise and good nutrition.

When I was well and feeling better I weened myself off the antidepressants. My diet at this time was poor, highly processed and I consumed a LOT of sugar! I tried various diets and they worked for a few weeks but were unsustainable long term. I would lose some weight then put it back on, or I would reach my ‘goal weight’ then revert back to my old ways and pile it back on and feel like a failure. A common story for so many people. That diet treadmill is a horrible cycle to be stuck in.

Fast forward one year and I fell pregnant with my third child Charlie, he was a pleasant surprise, however, I was scared post-natal depression would rear its ugly head again. Fortunately, it didn’t. In fact, I felt amazing. I had three gorgeous boys and I felt really good. This came as a big relief to me, I was more sociable, outgoing and generally a much happier mummy. I believed my days of depression were behind me at last.

Five months later my world was turned upside down in a split second when I discovered my husband was having an affair with someone I viewed as a friend and had been since before I fell pregnant with Charlie.

My husband and I separated almost overnight and I found myself a new place to live. Due to the situation, I also made the decision to move my kids to a different school and nursery. (This all happened in a matter of weeks, 2 weeks to be exact!)  This was such a difficult time for me mentally, I was terrified of the thought of being a single mum, bringing up three wee boys all by myself. It wasn’t how I thought my life was going to turn out. Silly things would sadden me, like family holidays, how would I ever manage two weeks on my own in Spain with three kids, silly I know but I felt like my dreams of a family life had been taken away from me.

At first, I muddled on the adrenaline got me throw the first few weeks but as the dust settled I could feel myself slipping down ‘that’ horrible road again. I just couldn’t go through all that again, my kids needed me more than ever! They needed a fully functioning, happy, loving mum. They also needed me to support them through this sudden change to their family life. Everyone I confided in about my concerns for my children, told me how resilient kids are and to not worry about them too much. How right were they, thank goodness!

After several trips to the doctor, I was prescribed another course of antidepressants. I reluctantly accepted them as I felt it was my only option.  After arriving home from the doctor’s surgery clutching my prescription, I sat at my kitchen table staring at them, not wanting to take them but also not wanting to feel this bad either, I wanted the old me back.

I knew deep down this depression was caused by a situation in my life that I knew in time would get easier. I made the choice to researched how to help improve my depression and anxiety without medication. It became very clear quickly, that exercise was up there as one of the main ways to help improve mood and reduce anxiety.  Nutrition also played a massive roll in alleviating the symptoms of depression. So that was it I was hooked! I threw my anti-depressants to the back of the cupboard and decided to get myself through this with healthy eating and exercise and it worked, it worked fast. I am not saying anti-depressants are bad or should be avoided because they helped me in the past. This time I wanted to help myself in a way that I knew would benefit me long term. I would not recommend coming off medication without consulting your doctor first.

So my journey to a happy, healthy Christy began nearly 5 years ago. I started walking every day with the buggy, then running and I started training weights, lifting heavy weights made me feel strong, with no man around the house I needed to be strong physically as well as mentally. I cut sugar from my diet and cut out alcohol Monday to Friday. I started my journey by eating clean, cutting all processed food from my diet, including flour, sugar, bread, pasta and avoiding preservatives, colour additives and fat replaces. I felt amazing, strong and above all HAPPY. At a time where I could have easily gone in the other direction, I managed to help myself through self-care and love. I nourished my body with everything it deserved. I was so passionate about how wonderful I felt I wanted to support others through their own struggles and help them make positive changes to their diet and lifestyle. I knew I could do this because I had gone through the changes myself. I 100% do not view this type of eating as a diet but as a lifestyle approach to food.

Honestly, I can say I felt amazing almost instantly, more energy, alert, I was losing pounds every week, my hair and skin started to glow. It truly did change my life and relationship with food forever. I was so pleased with my results and keen to learn more I went onto to study Nutrition.

It was at this point I decided to create Lose It and Love It, I wanted to help others achieve what I had with my health goals. My mission was to help my clients feel fabulous by nourishing their bodies with wholesome foods. My approach to weight loss, nutrition, my one to one coaching and accountability helps clients make lasting changes to their diet and lifestyle. I feel so privileged to have helped so many women make the change.

Life throws so many curve balls and that’s what life is about, right? I hope my personal journey has shown you that things have not been smooth sailing for me and that I struggle sometimes but I always know that if I focus on a healthy balance of exercise and good food I will feel better again very quickly. If you are struggling just now my biggest piece of advice is to start taking good care of YOU.

Wishing you health and happiness,

Christy x