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

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

How to Reduce your Food Cravings

How to Reduce your Food Cravings

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I used to suffer from really bad food cravings, I was addicted to sugar and didn’t realise that what I was eating was impacting my life so much. I was moody, tired, lacked focus and energy and my general mood was low. I was going through a massive change in my personal life and found myself a single mummy of three wee boys under 5. It was a scary time but I knew I had to keep strong and take care of my babies.

This was when I started focusing on my nutrition and how it was impacting my life and so much more than just my weight. I became so interested in my health and well-being I went on to study nutrition and sports nutrition. I implemented everything I learnt and I transformed my health. I am realistic in my approach and live a balanced life, I am not 100% good all the time and I certainly enjoy my treats and a vino or two.

Finding that balance has set me up for a life of healthy eating and no more yo yo dieting. I eat without the guilt and all the other emotions we feel while we follow horribly restrictive diets. It has been a really positive journey that I  now feel so privileged to be helping lots of other people make some positive changes.

 

 

So, what can we do to reduce cravings? By adopting the following eight practices, you can reduce your cravings for sugar or other unhealthy foods and drinks.

1. Don’t skip meals.

It’s super important when it comes to eliminating cravings. When we skip meals, we may think we’re reducing our calories for the day. The problem with this is that by mid-afternoon, hunger hits with a vengeance, we give in to the temptation and then we get mad at ourselves for failing. This often leads to eating even MORE empty calories, more sugar, more processed food, because now we again feel we are starving and we’re stressed from failing. It’s easy to just start to shovel in the closest food you can find when you’re “starving.”
When you can spread out your meals as evenly as possible throughout the day, ensure that your meals are based on whole foods, and add a healthy snack when needed, your blood sugar is likely to be more stable. This mean no more energy crashes which result in a craving for sugar to get your energy level back up.
Often, sugar cravings are our body’s response to needing energy. By eating balanced meals throughout the day, our energy levels stay up, thereby reducing cravings.

2. Don’t bring temptation home

This sounds simple, but it’s oh so true.
If you want to make good choices, only keep good choices in the house. I like to keep the veggies and fruit at eye level and up front for my kids. When they see healthier choices first, they go for what’s within easy reach. Keeping washed, pre-cut veggies with a pre-made yummy dip means healthy snacks are all ready to eat.
Plus, if the junk food, sugary cereals, cookies, cakes, ice cream, crisps, etc., are not there, you can’t eat any, right? Stock your kitchen with whole foods that fill you up, satisfy your hunger and give your body the nutrients it needs. This greatly aids in the reduction of cravings, because you don’t feel so hungry.

3. Eat enough protein and healthy fat

The low-fat diet craze caused people to fear all sources of dietary fat, including the healthy fats that our bodies desperately need to function properly. Healthy fat is crucial to providing essential fatty acids, the absorption of vital nutrients, vitamins and minerals and are a source of energising fuel. To make up for the lack of fat and taste in their products, the food companies added more SUGAR! Low fat foods are not very satiating, which leaves us hungry again a short time later. This leads to consuming more calories, which is not good if your goal is weight loss.
By eating more whole foods that are packed with the nutrients our bodies need, the less junk food we crave. Our bodies need real food – whole food in its natural state – to thrive. Providing our body with what it needs can reduce addictive cravings.
If eliminating junk food from your cupboards is a challenge for you because your children or spouse have snacks they “have to have,” try replacing one type of snack at a time. For example: Maybe instead of Doritos, which are full of artificial ingredients and MSG, transition to something like organic tortillas. Be sure you have a great fresh salsa or guacamole for the dip and serve with a plate of fresh cut veggies too! Starting with small changes and transitioning little by little can avoid a major mutiny. You don’t have to do a major overhaul all at once. This can take some time. It’s good to introduce new foods and see what everyone likes. You never know what may become a new favourite.

4. Get a good night’s sleep

Are you sure you’re getting enough sleep each night? And do you get quality sleep?
What does sleep have to do with healthy eating and achieving your ideal weight range? A lot!
Think about the difference of how your entire day goes when you wake up tired vs. how you feel and how your day goes after you get a full night’s rest. It’s typical that we make different food and activity choices throughout the day when we are rested and feel energetic compared to days when we are dragging.
Tiredness, stress and exhaustion all trigger food binges. When we’re tired, we get stressed more easily. Studies show how signals from the brain, which control appetite regulation, are impacted by sleep restriction. Our body craves more energy and we get more energy from food, so we end up eating more, and usually end up making less healthy choices.

5. Be a food label detective

We’ve been taught to look at the calories and fat content on labels, but not the actual INGREDIENTS. It’s shocking what our food is made up of these days. When we consume sugar, we CRAVE more sugar, so it’s important to know where it’s lurking.
To eat healthy food, you need to know what’s in it! That means you have to read the label! Sugar is often disguised under different names as well as being listed more than once under the different names.
Here are just a few of the names sugar goes by: high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, raw sugar, beet sugar, cane sugar, sucrose, dextrose, maltose.
Before you put something in your trolley, know what it is that are buying to eat. The front of the package is designed to be an advertising billboard to “sell” you the product and the food manufacturers know how to trick us! They know the buzz words that fool us, don’t they? Words like “healthy,” “natural,” “baked,” “whole grain”, etc. You might think baked would be healthier than fried, right.
IGNORE what the front of the package says and look at the list of ingredients. If it sounds like a science experiment full of names you can’t identify, put it back on the shelf.

6. First eat something healthy

Don’t tell yourself you can’t have something you feel you’re craving!
Instead, tell yourself, “I can have it, but first I’m going give my body something nutritious, such as a banana and a few nuts or a fresh salad with some protein.” This way, by the time you’re done with the healthier choice, you are way less likely be craving the sugar anymore and will skip it. Try it and see what happens. Some of my clients that try this are sceptical at first, but are pleasantly surprised to see how well it works.

Look at what some of your habits are and the food choices that go along with them. Do you pour yourself a cup of coffee and automatically reach for that biscuit? Do you nibble on a cookie before dinner to “hold you over” and then not feel so hungry when you sit down with your family? Does dessert automatically mean ice cream or cake?

7. Are you hungry for food or are you really craving something else?

What do you crave that’s not food?
Sometimes cravings are caused by things we feel are missing from our lives and food fills the void for us. We may be conscious of the void, or not. Stress, feeling bored or being lonely can do this as well. When you feel cravings coming on be real with yourself about whether it’s the food or something else. Get in touch with what you’re craving that’s not food and learn ways to nourish yourself without food.
Ask yourself if you’re REALLY hungry…or is it something else? If you just ate a meal an hour ago and felt satiated, maybe you aren’t really hungry. See if doing something else takes your mind off of mindless munching as a distraction. Boredom can be a big trigger for cravings.

I hope my top tips will help you reduce your cravings….