Prepping

Prepping for SUCCESS! A Key Factor in Successful, Sustainable Weight Loss & FUN!

As a Specialist in Weight Loss and Nutrition, I know that food prepping is one of the key factors in successful, sustainable weight loss.

Once you start regularly prepping your food for the next few days/week, you really will never look back.  The days of grabbing totally unsatisfactory “beige food” from a fast food outlet or a pre-packed supermarket  sandwich (with a food label listing suspiciously chemical sounding ingredients), will become a distant, unpleasant memory – along with the uncomfortably tight waistband, lethargy, insulin spike, subsequent frequent hunger and disappointment in your continuing struggle with weight loss.

No matter how busy your life is, if you have time to watch watch TV in the evenings, you have time to prep.  It is all about prepping your life around your health and weight, not the other way around.

Make a list of wholefoods during the week (plus add some spices and other staples).  Choose and stick to a quiet time to spend half an hour in the shop – believe me, when you are mainly buying mainly wholefoods there is no wandering up and down the isles pondering over chemical choices and checking out food labels for the healthiest options.  Then set aside just an hour, experiment with easy recipes, mix up some that need cooking and some that don’t.  Batch up into sealed tupperware containers and pop into the fridge/freezer.  Keep it simple and keep it stress free.

Whilst I accept that in the beginning the idea of prepping and cooking food in advance for the fridge can be quite daunting, you quickly adapt and factor it in to your weekly routine.  As you start to make easy meals that you look forward to and that keep you on your weight loss track, it will become fun.  How fab to come home, grab something you really like from the fridge or freezer, pop in the microwave or oven, and by the time you have taken off your coat and changed your shoes, a delicious meal is done.  Or to wake late knowing that no matter how much of a rush you are in, breakfast, lunch and dinner is sorted and you just have to grab something from the fridge!

I am not a cook, but I really enjoy the (up to) 2 hours in the kitchen, normally at the weekends, “creating”.  I have my standard 5 – 6 meals which I jazz up with different herbs, spices and individual twists and I LOVE IT! I also love the fact that I know exactly what I am eating and feeding to my loved ones.

Always prepared.  Never hungry. Always working towards your health & weight loss (and one last and important point, much cheaper)!

Let’s get prepping.

calorie

Calorie Counting – An Excellent First Step To Understanding Weight Loss

A calorie is simply a measure of the amount of energy in food. It is not an indication of the nutrient quality of food.

I am not a great advocate of calorie counting long term, as I feel it places too much emphasis and time on  “diet” foods rather than everyday, long term, lifestyle foods that best support our weight and health.   As a Nutritionist and Weight Loss Specialist,  my aim is to guide clients away from the stress of counting calories in their food choices and  into the enjoyment of eating. I do this by showing them the best nutrient quality foods for their weight loss and health.

However because there is so much conflicting food advice out there, in the initial stages of weight loss calorie counting is an excellent way of understanding how much we are eating and gives a good basic outline of what works for us and what doesn’t.  It can help us to balance the energy we put into our bodies with the energy we use, which is the key to maintaining healthy weight.

It is important to note though that all calories are not created equal. For instance, a cup cake or ready meal that has 500 calories, is unlikely to sustain you as a much as a jacket potato with tuna and salad which also has 500 calories. It would be easy to eat a “diet” pre-packed meal or sandwich of 400 calories, but tough going to finish a plate of steamed fish fish piled up with colourful veg with herbs or spices, or a hearty homemade soup  with the same calories.   The prepacked meal would be calories dense (empty calories no matter what the packaging said), and the veg would be nutrient dense, packed with all the nutrients, fiber, vitamins, minerals – all of the essentials that a healthy body thrives on and needs for sustainable weight loss.

Then there is the subsequent hunger.  Which do you think you would feel hungrier after eating first?

All foods are not metabolised in our bodies in the same way, and the processed low calorie options often have more fibre free sugar which is broken down quickly in our bodies into glucose.  The glucose causes a spike in your blood sugar that starts the effect of high insulin production which in turn increases belly fat and when the sugar spike is over, you are left feeling hungry again.  Whole foods take longer to break down and digest and in the process use up more calories and keep you fuller longer.

It is also important to keep an eye on our macronutrient intake.

The macronutrients are Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats.  For a healthy diet, the percentage of our daily intake should be, 50 – 55% carbs, 10 – 15% protein, 30 – 35% fat, with an upper limit of 11% saturated fats and of no more than 2% being trans fats. The correct percentage of the healthiest options of these macronutrients is absolutely key to maintaining a healthy weight, with low body fat and optimum health.

In summary, whilst you are re-calibrating your body and mindset, please do look at the calorie content of your foods choices to make you more aware. The calorie content may well shock you and stop you from purchasing.  More importantly though, look at the quality of the food and remember, no food that benefits your health and weight loss long term, comes with a label telling you how little fiber there is or  how much sneaky sugar and salt regardless of the fat levels. Remember when fat is removed (which is tasty and filling and vital for so many functions in the body), something else, usually sugar is added (sugar is the ultimate weight loss and health disaster).  Also, look out for any other information which should be unnecessary to list on a “healthy” option food.  This rule sadly actually applies most to “diet” foods.

 

Clean Eating or Simple Eating?

As a Nutritionist and  Weight Loss Coach, I often check out the media for updates,  and recently as I have been reading through, one phrase jumps out at me constantly.  Clean Eating.

 Clean Eating is the new buzz phrase. It’s everywhere. Cookbooks, articles, interviews – you name it, its out there is some format or another and is pretty unavoidable. But what does “clean” mean? Does it mean that their are also “dirty” foods? It must do because there is always an opposite.

Some of my clients actually feel pressured to buy expensive produce and it causes them stress when they simply can’t afford to. Healthy eating is supposed to affect every aspect of your life positively, including reducing stress which can contribute to weight gain.

In principle, I absolutely agree with this way of eating, however after looking through the media, it often seems to include expensive, often quite exotic ingredients that will never really be part of the average family’s store cupboard. Organic Maple syrup? Agave nectar? More than twice the price of organic honey – and each of them have exactly the same affect on the body. I tried making my own Almond milk. It was delicious but cost me over £10 for less than 1 pint!

My YOUtrition system advocates “Simple” Eating rather than “Clean”. Simple everyday whole foods kept as close to their original state as possible, organic when you can afford them – but don’t beat yourself up when you can’t (if you do buy anything organic, try for the leanest meat, fish and eggs. For the rest a good wash/scrub is fine.)

Simple swaps include,

Almonds to Brazil nuts.
Blueberries to Blackberries.
Salmon to Sardines.
Chia Seeds to Sesame Seeds.
Kale to Broccoli.
Coconut Oil to Rapseed oil.

Typically, I buy fill my basket with fresh seasonal veg and if out of season, frozen. Same with fruit. I buy loads of herbs and spices, bit by bit, as these can also be expensive, but once bought you’re done. I regularly try out creations of my own, some a stunning success and some a little bet “meh”, but never a disaster because unless food is overcooked it still has texture and flavour, just maybe not to the whole family’s taste – and I very rarely use a recipe book. I know the tastes and textures my family like and I introduce small, simple changes all the time. I find that small changes are easier for them to cope with and they always come round.

Practice, experiment and trust yourself to know what works best for you and your family, keep it SIMPLE and don’t be tempted to spend time and money on produce and recipes that are not right for you, your family or your pocket just because they come under the “clean” heading

fat

Low Fat – The Diet Disaster

One of the most popular food myths is the Low Fat one. Almost every new client that comes to my nutrition and weight loss coaching practice in Beaconsfield says the same thing, “But low fat is good for weight loss”.  My answer always is “NO, it isn’t”, let me explain.

A universally acknowledged truth is that most diets are destined to fail. Not only are they destined to fail, but in over 99% of cases, dieters not only regain the “lost” weight, but add more on top. Why is this? It is because that “diets” are so restrictive and limit fat intake.

In every food store we see Low-Fat – less than 3% per 100g. Great! However fat is tasty and filling and in terms of healthy fats, think extra virgin olive oil, nuts, oily fish and avocado, and is absolutely vital for every aspect of our health, wellbeing and WEIGHT LOSS. So, when the fat is removed it has to be replaced by something else to avoid bland, watery and tasteless food. The replacement is sugar, simple carbohydrates and chemicals. Already sounding delicious?

The inclusion of these sugars and simple carbohydrates create a sugar spike and subsequent crash which fuels the unhappy cycle of feeling hungry again very quickly and so needing more food. Dieters then find themselves having to rely on willpower to abstain from eating more. However our willpower is stretched every day and as it is not limitless, so we eventually crumble after a stressful, unhappy internal fight and so the weight is regained until our next attempt. Hence the yo-yo dieter is born.

One of the most successful weight loss lifesytles is the Mediterranean-style diet, full of home made filling recipes with moderate amounts of the healthy fats listed above. This way of eating feeds the body properly and keeps hunger at bay for longer.

So when you make the decision to lose weight, don’t lose the healthy, filling, delicious, nutrient packed fats, lose the low-fat foods filled with the no-nutrient, un-filling, addictive, ageing and obesity fuelling sugar.

NB. Please remember MODERATION is key

Truths About Six ‘Healthy’ Eating Habits

Healthy Eating is always a hot topic and also can be a very confusing one!  Let me help you unravel some of the most common myths.

Avoiding Gluten 

You would be forgiven for believing gluten is the enemy. With lifestyle bloggers swearing by the benefits of a ‘gluten free’ diet, and ‘gluten free’ recipes becoming main stream, ditching wheat is the new cool. But with Coeliac disease, or an intolerance to gluten, affecting only one in 70, it is perfectly fine for most people to consume wholegrains without any adverse affects to weight or health.

Swapping Dairy For Almond Milk

You would be hard-pressed to find a café without it, but ordering an almond milk latte is not as good for you as you might think. While almonds pack a punch of protein, almond milk does not.  Research has shown that you  would need to drink six glasses of almond milk to get the same amount of protein as simply eating half a cup of the raw nuts.

Juicing

Packed with fruit and vegetables, a fresh juice might seem like the perfect way to start the day.

But reducing fresh produce down to liquid form removes the fibre – the ingredient that makes you feel full. Left in fibre’s place is sugar, which can lead to pangs of hunger, mood swings and an energy slump.

Taking A Lot Of Vitamin C For A Cold

As the days get colder, most people find themselves reaching for the Vitamin C to ward off any unwelcome winter sniffles. But as the old adage goes, there can be too much of a good thing. While a little Vitamin C can boost your immune system, too much can cause diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, heartburn or headaches. The recommended daily dose for an adult is 2,000 milligrams, so make sure you check the label.

Avoiding Egg Yolks

Ditching the yolks in favour on an egg white omelette is a ‘healthy’ hack used to keep your cholesterol under wraps. But while eggs do contain cholesterol, eating them won’t make your cholesterol levels sky-rocket.  Plus by throwing out the yolk you are losing the powerhouse of the egg, all its amazing superfood nutrients! Healthy adults can eat seven eggs a week without increased risk of heart attack.

Eating Only Low Fat Foods

Low fat or fat free items line supermarket shelves, but constantly checking food labels for fat content will not help you beat the bulge. A low fat diet doesn’t help you lose weight or lower your risk of heart disease. When the filling fat content is removed, something has to be added.  Normally it is a lot of  extremely unhealthy processed sugar and additives!  Eat healthy fats, such as avocados, but keep in moderation.

The Tip To Remember : Low fat products do not help you lose weight and don’t lower your risk of heart disease 

 

Avocado & Greens Smoothie – Lunch in a glass

As I sit here in my Nutrition and Weight Loss Coaching practice in Beaconsfield, thinking about a quick, easy and super nutritious on the go snack or lunch, my mind always go first to a smoothie.

I am a smoothie queen!  You can experiment with all the fruit and vegetables in your kitchen and come up with some amazing concoctions! So quick and easy to make,  no fuss and very little mess.

Always be aware that the more fruit you put in the more sugar you will consume, so  with that in mind, I usually make the fruit the smallest amount (1/3) and fill up with an assortment of veg, water or low fat Greek yogurt.   In this smoothie both the yogurt and the avocado give it a really delicious, creamy, luxurious taste as well as being packed with fibre, and a whole host of goodness.

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup low fat Greek yogurt.
  • 1 ripe avocado.
  • 1 sweet apple chopped.
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped.
  • 1 carrot chopped.
  • 1 cups lightly packed kale.
  • 1 cup lightly packed spinach.
  • 1 1-inch piece peeled fresh ginger.
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds.
  • 8 ice cubes (optional).

PREPARATION

Blend yogurt, avocado, apple, celery, kale, spinach, ginger and ice in a blender until very smooth.  Add a little water to loosen up if desired. Remember to drink immediately as smoothies lose their nutrient quality quickly.

Top 10 Tips For A Healthy, Happy Christmas

Last night we had our first Christmas Dinner!  A little early I know, but as we are all dispersing for the actual holiday, this was the perfect date to celebrate.

As I was preparing for the big event, the cooking and baking, I started remembering the strategies that keep me on track for a healthy holiday.  I came up with these which I hope will help you over the season of overindulgence as much as they help me every year.

  1. Plan for the change of routine – always start with a healthy, sustaining breakfast.  This will set you up for the day and psychologically you are already winning!  With a good start to the day, it becomes easier to make healthier choices for the remainder of the day wherever you are.
  2. No Thanks! – Practice the art of saying “NO” with grace.  Tell your friends/colleagues/family how important your weight management is.  Get them on board and you will have an amazing support system.  Remember, those who don’t support, you even after you have asked for their understanding, usually have a different agenda – if you are “good” then they should be.  Be strong, know your goal and stick with it.
  3. Follow the 80/20 rule.  With soooo many delicious treats out there it is unrealistic to expect total abstinence.  Stick with your plan 80% of the time, indulge mindfully and don’t beat yourself up for the little treats that are only around at Christmas.
  4. Alcohol – this is one of the harder ones.  Christmas is so tied up with drinking – adverts everywhere, parties etc.  We are totally brainwashed into believing that excessive alcohol makes for a better time.  In my experience, it means talking rubbish, a horrendous headache the next day and half remembered embarrassing moments…. What’s not to love about it!  Anyway, drink mindfully, after every alcoholic drink have a non-alcoholic one and if possible, stay well clear of the cream laden liqueurs.
  5. Eat a little protein before you go out.  Protein keeps you full longer than carbohydrates or fats so have a little something.  I often have a boiled egg before I go out (I am slightly odd at times).
  6. Where possible, make the little tweaks that make such a massive difference in your weight management.  Opt for half fat crème fraiche instead of double cream with puddings.  Pile up the vegetables.  Have either a starter or a dessert – do you really need both?  Keep a close eye on your bread consumption.  Little changes, big results.
  7. How you eat.  Eat slowly, savour every mouthful.  The only place we have taste buds are on our tongue.  From the minute the food is no longer in our mouths we cannot taste it, so chew slowly and get the most enjoyment out of the food.
  8. Incorporate movement into every day.  A walk with the dog, round the park, to and from the shops, up and down the stairs.  Anything.  Just moving will aid digestion, keep you motivated and help with your weight management.
  9. Snacking – remember to ask yourself, “Am I hungry?  How will the snack help me with my weight management goals?  How will I feel about myself after I have eaten this snack?  Will I feel guilty or happy with myself?”  Be honest with yourself and the consequences of your choices and then decide.
  10. All responsibility for your choices is with you and only YOU.  In every situation there is a healthier choice or portion size.  It is up to you to decide what is important, not in the moment, but long term. Trust yourself.

Avocado And Poached Egg on Toast

As a nutrition and weight loss coach, I am always looking out for  easy, nutritious meals that tempt me to eat on a busy day.  Here is one for you to try.  Poached eggs are one of my favourites and I am always looking at ways time intergrate them into my diet. I love them in this easy, simple breakfast or light lunch.

I simply mash one deliciously ripe avocado, add chilli flakes, coriander, lime juice, squeeze of lemon and ground black pepper together.

Poach an egg (Tip below), toast your favourite wholemeal bread, assemble the mashed avocado and place egg on top. Add a good grind of black pepper (I don’t use salt – lemon is the perfect substitute)

TIP – place cling film over a cup, making sure there is a “well” for the egg, brush with a smidgen of olive oil and crack egg into the cling film. Make a sealed parcel of the cling film and place in pan of boiling water for 5 mins.  Remove egg from pan, take of cling film and you have a perfect poached egg!

Soup is the New Juice!

As a nutrition and weight loss coach, I am a big advocate of souping, and winter time is perfect for home made, thick, nutritious soups, packed with all the fibre that juicing removes.

I regularly collect all the vegetables I can lay my hands on at home and wizz up a fabulous light supper or hearty lunch.  So easy – I don’t even peel my vegetables, just wash them thoroughly.  Then depending on my mood, I might add lentils or pearl barley or spices such as Garam Masala, Tumeric, Cumin…..with these soups, anything goes!

For this soup I used

2 x carrots.

2 parsnips.

1 x large sweet potato.

1 x chopped celery stalk.

1 x chopped onion.

1/2 x chopped red chilli.

500ml boiling water.

1 x cube low salt vegetable stock.

Ground black pepper and garlic salt to taste and a little coriander to make it pretty…….

Sweat the onion and celery for five minutes. Add all vegetables, boiling water, stock and season to taste.  Bring to boil and the simmer for 20 minutes.  Place all ingredients into a blender and there you have it, a thick, tasty, low calorie, filling soup with all the nutrients intact.