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.

 

Tired And Lacking Energy? Check Your Iron Levels

Iron the unsung hero we all need!

It is common for clients to come to my Weight Loss Coaching practice in Beaconsfield,  saying that they lack energy and enthusiasm and I immediately wonder about their IRON levels. So I decided to write a post on this issue.

Are you constantly tired, feeling low, struggling to find the energy to wake yourself up, go to the gym? How about looking “pale and interesting”, when it is the last thing you want? If so you may well be one of the millions of people suffering from low levels of the mineral Iron. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional gap, with almost one if four women having low levels of iron stores (below the recommended daily intake of 14.8mg per day and 8.7mg per day for men).

Iron is vital for the production of red blood cells which help store and transport oxygen in the blood. With lower levels of red blood cells, your organs and tissues will not get the oxygen needed to thrive, hence the fatigue and listlessness. Iron deficiency can be so debilitating and sap the joy from an otherwise happy, fulfilled life. So let’s address this easily resolved problem.

The most common type of iron deficiency is anaemia, and the most common symptoms include:

  • Tiredness and lethargy (lack of energy).
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Heart palpitations (noticeable heartbeats).
  • A pale complexion.

Other, less common symptoms include

  • Headache.
  • Tinnitus (hearing sounds coming from inside the body, rather than from an outside source).
  • Feeling itchy.
  • A sore or abnormally smooth tongue.
  • Hair loss.
  • A desire to eat non-food items, such as ice, paper or clay (a condition known as pica).
  • Painful ulcers (open sores) on the corners of your mouth.
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia).
  • Spoon-shaped nails.m

Thankfully, iron deficiency can be easily rectified, simply by including more of the following foods: Dark green leafy vegetable eg, kale, spinach, red meat, pulses, eggs, nuts and seed, fish, brown rice, dried fruit (apricots, prunes and raisons).

So, let’s bulk up on these delicious and nutritious foods, raise our iron levels and watch our energy levels soar!

Feed Your Skin

One of the benefits of upgrading your nutrition is the positive affects it has on our skin.

One of the key signs of ageing is the condition of our skin.  We all want to look younger and the condition of our skin (ideally clear and smooth) helps to achieve this.  It is also an excellent indicator of our body’s health and is greatly affected by our nutritional status.  The food we consume plays a vital role in every stage of skin development and maintenance and we literally are what we eat.  The good news is that we can eat our way to glowing healthy skin.

Some of my top tips are.

1) Ditch sugar

Refined sugar has to no place in our diets!  As well as adding inches to our waistlines, it plays havoc with the addiction centre of our brains and it causes wrinkles.  Try adding spices like coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom to naturally flavour foods and reduce the craving to add sugar.   Stick with it, sugar cravings DO pass.

2) Healthy (Monounsaturated And Polyunsaturated) Fats

Found in avocados, oily fish, nuts, seeds and olive oil, they provide essential fatty acids which act as a natural moisturiser for your skin, keeping it supple. These fats also come with the added bonus of a healthy dose of vitamin E (a vitamin in which many of us are deficient), which will help protect against free radical damage.

3) Bulk Up On Leafy Green Vegetables

Packed with polyphenols, the most abundant antioxidants in the diet and found in vegatebles,  Also packed with fibre and iron, they aid digestion and support healthy circulation and beautiful skin.

4) Top Up Your Zinc

Zinc, found in spinach, kidney beans flax and pumpkin seeds, salmon, garlic, turkey, chickpeas and oysters, helps transport Vitamin A to our cells.  Vitamin A has wonderful skin healing properties.

5) Water

Our bodies are made up of roughly 75% water so proper hydration is vital.  It transports essential nutrients to all the cells in our bodies, plumps the skin and curbs our appetitie.  So, sip slowly and regularly through the day.

Finally, to give your skin its best chance to glow, try reducing alcohol, caffeine, chemical additives, saturated fat and smoking.  Use a gentle oil based cleanser and water, no soap and wear sunscreen.