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New Year, New You – How’s that going?

New Year, New You – so, it’s the first week of 2018 and I suspect most of us are bursting with new resolutions, hopes, dreams, determination for a NEW US, as well as holiday food and booze.

The fact that we have mostly stopped quaffing and scoffing the ‘finer’ things in life, sadly does not mean we are not still wearing them snugly around our waists/hips/busts – sod it, everywhere we can conceivably carry on our persons this excess of ‘fineness’.

Fear not though, we know the problem and we know the solution! We are determined on regular visits to the gym (full of machines we have no idea how to use). We have committed to a brisk daily walk.  A thrice weekly swim.  A dance class, maybe boxing.  Whatever, we have a plan and we are going to stick with it, aren’t we?  Just like last year, so um, maybe not.

Most of our wonderfully planned New Year, New Us, resolutions are over by 3rd January.  Mine, to stop eating mince pies, was over on the 2nd when I found all my favourite brand pies reduced to 10p in Sainsbury’s, yes, just 10p from £2.50 – heaven came knocking on my door again.

I bought 12 (as you do) for the freezer to enjoy every now and then throughout the year with a coffee in front of the TV.  Except that I had eaten them all 2 days later!  Of course I had.  Thank goodness the shop has now sold out otherwise I would eating out of date mince pies until, well, the store ran dry. Oh God!

From the above total failure to stick with my resolution, you might have concluded that I am weeping in a corner, having jumped from the size of a small terraced house to the size of say, Downton Abbey.  I am not.  And, whilst  I have possibly added a small ‘extension’ to my frame, I won’t be imposing rules and limitations on myself (aka, New Year’s Resolutions), to dismantle it.

I know that by making hard, inflexibly strict rules I am setting myself up for failure, for disappointment, for feelings of cravings and deprivation.  I would be preparing myself to be miserable. Heck no!  Instead, I acknowledge my weight gain, go back to my normal eating habits, move a little bit more and give thanks for the wonderfully, happy Christmas and New Year I have been allowed to enjoy with my loved ones.

I will move forward with my health & weight goals by being consistent in my helpful, healthy food and lifestyle choices, and by consigning the unhelpful, unhealthier ones to celebratory occasions such as birthday’s, weddings etc that crop up during the year.

By remaining calm about any weight changes that have occurred over the holidays, and by making good food and movement choices without being frantic and panicky, my weight and health will easily re-balance and I will look and feel exactly how I want to feel without punishing myself physically or emotionally.  I am not useless, or a failure and my world won’t come crashing down because my jeans are a little (actually, quite a lot), tighter for a few weeks.

To give you a boost, here are my top 10 tips to get you back on track. Let’s go smash this New Year thing. Here’s to 2018!! xx

  • Eat breakfast – include a protein to keep you fuller longer, egg/oats/chicken
  • Limit caffeine to 1 – 2 cups a day.  Switch to herbal teas, give your over worked body and brain a rest from stimulants.
  • Drink WATER throughout the day – the first sign of dehydration is hunger. Drink first, wait, then eat only if you are still hungry
  • Keep small snacks with you, palmful of nuts (healthy fats), small banana, apple, oatcakes
  • Eat lunch – make a huge salad filled with a wide variety of colours and textures and portion up each day. Add a tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil and squeeze of lemon.  Or make a big pot of homemade veggie soup to portion out.
  • Whole foods only. Packed with fibre and nutrients these will get you slim and glowing in no time.  If it comes packaged with a list of ingredients, its not a whole food.
  • Dinner – fill your plate with 2/3 with steamed veg, add a protein – baked salmon or chicken in foil is soooo easy.
  • Use smaller plates – invest in some cheap smaller dinner plates and put the bigger ones out of sight. You will not notice the reduction in food that way.
  • Avoid sugary sweets/snacks – these and alcohol are the ultimate diet saboteurs.
  • MOVE – walk a little more every day. Use a phone app and count your steps, aim for a minimum of 10,000.  Buddy up and have a competition to see who can complete the most in a day.  Loser buys the coffee!
  • Think positive. Your weight at any one time is just a snapshot.  It is not your ‘for ever’ weight unless you choose it to be!
hangovers

Sugar Hangovers – They do exist!

As a recovering alcoholic of over 27 years, I know more than most how debilitating hangovers can be.  Not just physically, but emotionally as well.  It feels now as though I awoke, almost every week, of every month of every year for 27 years with a pounding headache, swollen eyes, parched dry mouth, dehydrated yet profusely sweating, unrefreshed as well as with no energy or zest for the day ahead. Now though, just over 2 gloriously, easy years of sobriety, which is not dependant on any interventions, support or therapies, I wake almost every morning refreshed, with a clear brain and eyes, fresh skinned and raring to go.  Not so great for my son, who is not a morning person, but perfect for my puppy, Gorby, who is!

In short, my life has changed completely and I feel amazing. Until recently. Since I started to research sugar and its affects on our weight and physical and emotional health, I have made an astounding discovery.  If I eat too much sugar regularly, I wake up with almost the exact same symptoms as a vodka binge! I am experiencing sugar hangovers.  This is incredible to me.

I started my nutrition and weight loss practice, YOUtrition, after realizing that making simple, easy and straightforward changes to the foods I ate made a huge difference on every level to my health (at the beginning this was as a rear-guard action to counter balance the damage caused by my drinking), as well as my weight. And whilst this has now become a way of life that keeps me slim and in tip top physical shape, I have also noticed a huge shift in my emotional wellbeing.

Then of course, the better I feel, the better able I am to make the best food/lifestyle choices, as I love the way I feel now and I am thriving on every level.  So, sugar has been relegated to a small corner of my nutritional intake, a small slice of birthday cake or slice of occasional pizza – I am very  sociable.  Becoming sugar free was not even a conscious decision, it just came about because the wholefoods I choose to eat and love, don’t come with any pre-packed, processed nasties.

That is all well and good, but to write about sugar and its affects, I needed to actually eat the stuff, so I made a deliberate decision to include in my daily diet, for just one week, some of the food products I rarely eat.  Bread, shop bought cakes with my coffee on dates with friends, refined pasta, shop bought sauces etc.  I didn’t over eat, I just can’t, my body knows when to stop and sends very clear signals, which I cannot ignore, but still I ate differently and my God, the change I felt was almost immediate.

I am bloated (though no extra weight yet), my waist is thicker, my skin is duller, my hair (never anyone’s idea of a crowning glory), lifeless, my eyes are puffy in the morning, I feel sluggish and dehydrated and worst of all, I have no energy, little enthusiasm and my mood is lower. In short,  I have woken every day this week sufffering from sugar hangovers and the only thing that shifts them is either a huge jolt of caffeine, or a “sugar hair of the dog” in the form of a sugary breakfast that then starts the depressing and depressive cyle all over again.

I am only aware of this change because this is not my natural way of living/eating. And  I know I can’t live like this. My body is under siege from the assault of rubbish it now has to process and get rid of –  this stuff has literally nowhere to go, or has any use in my poor body so can only be stored as fat, mainly around my waistline (just where I want it most!). Plus, and by far the worst aspect for me, my emotional wellbeing is struggling too.  This then is a complete no brainer, I eat rubbish, I feel like rubbish.  End of experiment.  End of the sugar hangovers.

One week later, back to my normal eating habits, I feel amazing again.  Fresh, relaxed, my humour intact again and raring to go. Up and ready for my early morning puppy walk – let’s do this Gorby.

Give yourself just five days of eliminating processed foods – and they are all sugar/salt drenched, they have to be for longevity on the shelves and to compensate for the taste that’s lost through processing, and you will see and feel an amazing difference.  Don’t just trust me, trust our body, it will literally change a gear and whiz you towards where you want to be with your weight and health.

If you need any help or support in ditching your sugar hangovers and living an easy sugar free life – and it is easy as well as much less expensive, contact me.  I want you to feel the way I do every single day. I deserve to feel this way and so do you!

sugary

Sugar Addiction Questionnaire from my A Simply Sugar Free Life recipe book

As part of my YOUtrition, A Simply Sugar Free Life recipe book, I have devised a simple questionnaire to help you identify your triggers, moods and feelings around sugary foods (well, actually if they are not whole foods, they are “food products”), and on how much these “food products” feature in your life.

How much control does sugar seem to have over you? How much do you think about these foods and how often do you consume them?

By completing this questionnaire honestly, you are taking a first huge step towards acknowledging the power and prominence sugar has in your life and then, with my help, starting to make the changes in both foods and behaviours that will get you living a slim and healthy Simply Sugar Free Life.

Don’t overthink your answers, a simple Yes or No, (your immediate response) is all that is needed.

When you have finished, look back and review your answers.  There are no right or wrongs, it’s just about you, what you eat and how you feel about what and why you eat.

If you would like to send me your completed questionnaire, email me through my website, I will send you back a quick summary which will depend on how many Yes answers you have!

Do you have a sugary food/drink every day? Yes No
Do you feel you need sugary foods to get you going? Yes No
Are you aware if you haven’t eaten a sugary food on any day? Yes No
Do you feel proud of yourself if you haven’t eaten a sugary food on any day? Yes No
Do you often think about your next sugary treat? Yes No
Can you stop after two sugary treats or does it trigger a binge? Yes No
Do you feel guilty after eating sugary foods? Yes No
Do you feel that sugar has control of you? Yes No
Do you go out of your way, even when you are tired or fed up to buy sugary foods? Yes No
Do you think eating sugary foods will make you feel happy on a bad day? Yes No
Does your energy crash after breakfast/ lunch? Yes No
Do you choose sugary foods that you know are unhealthy over healthier choices? Yes No
Do you think you a sugary food will make you feel better or comforted? Yes No
Have you ever tried stopping eating sugar and not been able to stick with it? Yes No
Do you feel drawn to sugar foods even when you don’t feel like eating? Yes No
Do you find it difficult to resist a dessert even after a big meal in a restaurant? Yes No
Does eating sugar affect your mood, either by not having some or overindulging? Yes No
Do you feel upset and guilty when you have eaten a sugar food? Yes No
Are you often tired and lacking energy? Yes No
Do you hide how much sugar you eat? Yes No

* A Simply Sugar Free Life to be published in November 2017

 

 

 

sugar

A Simply Sugar Free Life – My recipe book & guide to the life you deserve.

I recently started to research sugar, and sugar addiction for my new A Simply Sugar Free Life (scheduled for October release) recipe book.   I want to write a straightforward, no-nonsense, easy to follow book that will really make a difference.  A game changer hopefully (well, that is my aim anyway). I want it to be a mix of the science behind how sugar affects the brain and keeps us coming back for more after the first bite, the potential consequences to our health and the definite consequences to our weight.

“Ok”, I thought, “Jump in Sonia, go sugar free yourself”.  So, I did.  I gave myself one last dinner out and, fairly unusually for me, had a creamy, yummy dessert which, whilst it tasted pretty darn good for all of five minutes, left me feeling somewhat low and uncomfortable afterwards.  Been there anyone???? Anyway, the next day  I went sugar free.

First things first.  Off to the shops, no sugar shopping for me.  I had researched all the sneaky sugars and knew what to avoid.  And then as I wandered around the shops, a slow realisation came over me.  I was buying exactly the same foods I bought every week!  There was literally no change.  It suddenly hit me that I do, at least 90% of the time, live a sugar free life!  What on earth……..

So, a sugar free life is ultimately a life without processed foods.  It is as simple as that.  I don’t buy shop made sauces, I don’t buy processed cereals, I eat very little bread, I don’t buy cakes or sweets – instead I always treat myself to once piece of fresh, juicy, sweet and often exotic fruit each day and I love full fat yogurt with a teaspoon of honey or a good sprinkle of cinnamon and maybe, if I am going crazy a chopped strawberry or inch of chopped banana.  All of which satisfy my sweet tooth and leave me feeling good and positive afterwards.

I have to say, this was quite a revelation and also a slight worry.  How on earth was I now going to write the definitive book on a sugar free life?  I now knew that with a little re-thinking, as well as some tasty alternative recipes to guide my readers into the speed, ease and inexpensive way of making homemade sauces, dips and meals bursting with  texture, colour and flavour sans the sugar and salt that drowns out the taste of any shop bought ones, that I was done. In fact, I have just written it in this blog.  Read this, take it on board and a sugar free life is yours!

But of course, the food information is not the complete answer to a sugar free life, in fact on the whole it is only about 10% of it.  There is the science of addiction as well, how the brain responds to the sweet poison.  There are the types of sugar that we need to avoid, think fructose as well as sweeteners.  Then there is the sugar that we do need in the form of glucose for energy and brain function.  This information offers probably another 10% at best towards a sugar free life.

So, we are left with a huge 80% to deal with, and that it is where my expertise really kicks in. My first book, This Isn’t Me, is currently being published and is due for release in September 2017.  It is my memoir and deals with my 27 year battle, first with heroin addiction and then alcohol addiction. I write about my total desperation to be sober, especially after my glorious son, Christopher, was born and my total failure to be so even when armed with all the information, researched by myself, as to the devastating consequences both physically to myself and emotionally to him.  And still I just couldn’t stop.  And then I did.  I understood my addiction and just like that, I stopped.

That understanding of my addiction was the 80% that was missing, and it is the same with all behaviours.  Please trust me on this.

It is not about what you know about what you do, it is about why you do it.  It is about what you feel, about what you do, be it drink, drugs or food.  It is about what you think it gives you. It is about how you think it makes you feel, even when all the evidence points you in another direction.  It is about understanding you, and finding alternative ways of thinking. It is about your mindset.

When you have that knowledge, that understanding, you have the elusive 80%.  Then with the science to back it up and the recipes to support you, you have your 100%, and as we are talking about sugar here, you have your simple sugar free life.

I would love to hear any questions you would like addressed in my A Simply Sugar Free Life book.  The more I have, the more I can help. I can write from my perspective, but I want to help you.  Have a think and email me through my website.

Believe me, my alcohol free life is easy, every day.  Your sugar free life can to too. x

 

 

frozen

FROZEN YOGURT – A healthier, Delicious & Versatile Alternative to Ice Cream

Frozen yogurt, along with my banana ice creams have taken the place of my favourite full fat, dairy summer time treats.  Now, I did not see that coming.  From when I was a little girl, I have always loved an ice cream.  I remember with such fondness the ice cream van coming to our street what seemed like every day of the year, but surely can only have been in the summer.  The blare of tinny, jangly music to announce its arrival and its gooey, sweet, synthetic offerings covered in either chocolate, or strawberry sauce, nuts and a flake if I had a few extra pennies.  Ah, delish!  But it was not ice cream and definitely had no real chocolate or strawberries in the sauce.  In fact, because of my knowledge now, I shudder to think what ingredients were in those garishly bright coloured sauces.  Anyway, I digress.

Now at 53, my tastes have evolved.  I do still like my sweet, icy desserts, but now I prefer the fresh taste of the fruit melting on my tongue and the quality of the ice cream sliding down my throat is of paramount enjoyment to me. Sadly though I can no longer scoff an ice cream every day without it hugging my waistline for the rest of the summer.

So, what to do? I am absolutely not prepared to give up frozen treats, so have experimented and the results are fabulous.  Frozen yogurt, like my banana ice creams are so easy to make, only three basic ingredients, delicious and refreshing to eat and so much lower in saturated fat (that’s the one we should be checking out on food labels).

For ice cream to be labelled ice cream, it must contain at least 10 percent milkfat and this is usually met through the addition of cream. Top quality, premium ice creams can contain as much as 16 percent milkfat. Frozen yogurt is not made with cream and does not have a fat requirement.  Without the added cream, frozen yogurt is much lower in fat. In one cup of ice cream the fat content is 15g fat, 9g saturated fat.  Frozen yogurt comes in at, per cup, 6g of fat, 4g of saturated fat.  A huge difference.

However, whilst frozen yogurt is much healthier, you do need to keep an eye on portion sizing, especially if you go for some of the higher fat additions.

So, how to make.  Frozen yogurt is so simple. For a basic, but still delicious one, grab, Greek yogurt (higher in protein), honey, and fruit (packed with fibre and nutrients). That’s it.  Literally, that’s it! You can serve in a bowl, cone or pop a lolly stick in before you freeze and you have gorgeous “ice lollies” for the kids.

  • 1 x cup plain Greek Yogurt.
  •  4 x cups frozen, fresh fruit or drained tinned fruit
  • 2 x 3 tbsp honey.

Blitz until the consistency you like, either creamy for approx. 5 mins, or if with “bits” in for 3 – this is entirely up to your taste.Freeze for a minimum of 2 hours, depending on how much you make.You can add to your frozen yogurt any fruit you like. Below are some other suggestions. Obviously, some are healthier than others, but you know that right!

  • Add cinnamon, allspice, peanut butter or Nutella in to the blitz
  • Caco powder & mint essence
  • Add crushed nuts as a topping
  • Add more fruit as a topping

So, make some today, keep in the fridge and be ready for a sunny afternoons delicious and nutritious treat.

good

Why Does It Feel So Hard To Make Good Food Choices On Bad Days?

 

On a good day when we are feeling confident, happy and in control it is easy to make the best food choices. The ones that will make us feel proud of ourselves, enhance our eyes, skin and hair and give us looser waistbands.

On a good day, it is easy to wander around the shops contented and un-tempted by the high sugar, high salt, frankly high rubbish, quick foods and sweets on offer.  On a good day, we don’t need to raise our hands to form the sign of a cross and hiss, “Temptation get behind me”.  Instead, although we see these “treats” as we pass by, all brightly packaged and maybe even on three for two offers, they don’t call to us. They might gently whisper or nudge at our consciousness, but on the whole, it is fairly easy to give ourselves a mental shake and move on to the real foods, the sweet, juicy fruits, fresh veg and unprocessed meats that we know will, a) make a delicious, nourishing meal in next to no time, b) keep us on our weight and health track, and c) actually enhance all our good feelings, both physically and mentally.  So, on a good day, healthy eating really does seem to be an easy no brainer.

Then comes a bad day.  A bad day can take many forms. Disturbed night’s sleep, stress at work, argument with husband/partner/kids – it is usually men though isn’t it (or maybe that’s just me). The car breaks down, you don’t get the job you went for, maybe the cat becomes worryingly unwell or something truly devastating happens.

What do we do then?  How does this affect our food choices, and more importantly why?

Well, we usually look for comfort and support.  Something to make us feel better, to fill the “hole” the bad day has created within us.  And our go to “hole” filler is usually sugar and fat saturated food products and/or drink, be it an overwhelmingly sweet latte with syrup and sugar or alcohol. Anything in fact that takes our minds off our distress/tiredness whatever is getting us down.  Then as we wander around the shops, feeling upset or low, the very same brightly packaged food products, sweets and so-called treats seem to jump straight into our line of vision and suddenly we crave them.

We want to feel better quickly and we think that these are the perfect quick fix solutions to all our woes. So, we buy the rubbish and eat the rubbish,  usually in a much larger quantity than is our norm, and expect to feel better.  But then how do we feel? In my experience with clients they feel exactly the opposite of what they were longing for.  They feel sick, more upset, depressed, disappointed, completely derailed and hopeless.  Basically, feeling as rubbish as the food products they have eaten.  They never, ever feel better, so mission is definitely NOT accomplished.

This is my absolute area of expertise, and my understanding is unique. As a former alcoholic, I also used to view booze as an answer.  Actually, the answer to everything.  I drank to feel better, happier, more confident, to help me sleep, to get me through the day, the tough times, whatever I didn’t want to deal with.  And I thought, like my clients who feel the same way about their food choices,  that I could never stop.  And then I did.  It took one simple thought shift.  I stopped thinking about what I thought it gave me, and focused on what it took away.  I suddenly knew that what I drank only ever made a situation worse.  No bad day was ever brightened by my drinking, instead it was darkened.

From the moment I understood this, I was able, after 27 years to stop drinking.

I get my clients to view food in the same way.  I ask them, “Did that slab of cake, ice cream, glass of wine, ready meal make you feel better?”. “Did it make your day happier? Did you feel more able to cope? Did it take you back to the contented confident feelings you have on a good day?  Ultimately, did it make your day better or worse?”  Never once has a client said “Yes, it did” to even one of those questions, let alone all of them.

There is no connection between a bad day and making a bad food choice.  None. Nada, Zilch.  We allow ourselves to justify our poor food choices – “I need something nice to eat/drink to cheer me up”, on a bad day, but they are just excuses which harm us.  They are choices that will make you feel worse, which then promotes further poor food choices because we feel discouraged and so give up on ourselves. Conversely, on a good day when you make good food choices, you are spurred on by the way you look and feel to make even better ones.

Once we break the connection between rubbish days and rubbish food, making healthier choices becomes easier, plus those healthier choices can actually make a rubbish day better, even if it’s just that you feel in control of at least one area.  Your food.

Certainly, a good food choice on a bad day will make it easier to cope with a bad day, because you will be giving your greatest support in life, your body, the fuel it needs to fight all your good fights. You just have to stop in the rubbish food aisle and ask yourself, “How will I feel after I have eaten this? Will I feel better 30 minutes after? Will my day seem brighter? Will my problems have gone away or will they feel worse? How will eating this improve any aspect of my day” If you answer any and all of these questions honestly, the answer will be NO!

Don’t let a bad day tip you into food chaos. Once in, it can be hard to get out.  If you do make a poorer choice, look at in as a one off, dust your self down and commit to making better choices for the rest of the day.

Contact me if you would like to chat about your bad day and bad food choices and let’s see how I can do to help you x

 

 

looking

Looking and Feeling Amazing For Summer on YOUtrition’s 6 Week Group Program!

Looking & Feeling  Your Best  for Summer with YOUtrition – I make simple changes that work in your life easy and fun, REALLY!

Testimonials

*I have counted calories for over 16 years and nothing has worked for me before, but you do. Thank you!*

*Sonia, I love you and now I love me. I know I can stick with this, its me!*

With my YOUtrition program,  Looking & Feeling Your Best For Summer, I understand that the great, easy, tasty recipes you will get from me are not enough.   The tips on planning & prepping whilst vital, will get you to where you want to be, but maybe not keep you there.

I address both the “why” of our food choices and eating habits as well as the fabulous food.  My uniqueness lies in my 25 year drug & alcohol addictions.   For so many years I  was beyond desperate to be different and knew what I should be doing but just couldn’t stick with it.  Now at 53 years old, in the menopause (suffering no symptoms because of my way of eating) at 5ft 8, and weighing a steady 9st 7lbs, I do it easily.  This experience and my incredible strategies for long lasting change are what I do differently and what I share with you on my programs.

A one hour group session once a week for 6 weeks.  The group dynamic creates an excellent opportunity to work through what is and isn’t working for you and to find a way around an obstacles – believe me, as a group, we always find a way.

  • Professional, individual, qualified nutrition & weight loss support and information – this is no franchise diet club run by an unqualified rep!
  • A basic food plan – recipes and tips.
  • Every week a new breakfast, lunch and dinner recipe along with snack ideas –  based around the group’s needs, abilities and time constraints.
  • A shopping and meal planner
  • A food diary to keep with you and keep you motivated.
  • Professional exercise advice.
  • Strategies around food and your lifestyle that you build on over the 6 weeks, giving you confidence in yourself and your abilities and literally giving you the tools to set you and your food choices up for life.
  • Access to a private What’s App group message that I write on every day and that you can also contribute to.  This ensures you stay on track long after the program has finished.
  • A one-off  Maintenance session 4 weeks after the Program ends, to see how you are doing and to reinforce the program.

I create a powerful and non-judgmental environment where you are given the recipes, the motivation and the absolute support you need to create new habits.  New habits take six weeks to form, hence the length of my program.  Every week you will sit, in a small group, talking through what worked for you and what didn’t, receive at least one new recipe and in a truly supportive, encouraging space we work to find what’s right for YOU!  Not me, not the person sitting next to you, YOU!  We laugh, occasionally we cry and we clap a LOT.  We don’t just focus on the food we focus on the “why” of the food and find the way forward for you.


I preparing for my Summer programs for the areas local to Beaconsfield, High Wycombe and Slough, so please contact me for more information and to reserve your space!

The cost of the 6 Weeks to Looking Great & Feeling Great is £100.

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pesto

Hey Pesto! Quick, easy, delicious & nutritious pesto sauces

I love a pesto sauce, so quick, versatile and tasty and healthy – bit of a winning formula, don’t you think? I am on a sugar free quest right now (it is the subject of my next book), so I am working on as many fabulous sugar free recipes as possible, and pesto sauces are perfect.

Homemade in about 5 minutes, pesto sauces have long been one of my favourite go to solutions for any time when I have unexpected guests or simply run out of my prepped meals (and that does happen even to this self-crowned Queen of Prep). They can be stored easily for up to three days in the fridge and used not just with pasta meals, but on pizzas, in sandwiches, as dips, on chicken or salmon and the list goes on…….. See what I mean by versatile?

With pesto sauces, you don’t even have to rely on fresh leaves/veg, well I don’t, which is perfect if you return home as silly o’clock, as I did last month from LA, with horrible jet lag and absolutely no inclination to go anywhere or see anyone other than my sofa and Netflix.  Whilst I do usually have a store of frozen homemade meals, I always have a store of frozen veg.  Cauliflower, chopped spinach and even herbs.  And at times when the fridge is bare, they really do come in to their own when I need something quick and after a trip away, a hefty dose of nutrients.

I don’t want you to think though that pesto sauces are just about the times when I am tired, they most definitely are not.  I often use them to jazz up dinner parties – many a dull looking meal has been transformed by a gloriously glossy, beautifully jewel coloured, delicious pesto.  And for my 19-year-old son and his friends they are one of their most popular choices when they visit.  A huge bowl of pasta, homemade pesto and pulled chicken or tinned tuna are among their favourite meals, so easy to cook and there is miraculously very little mess.  Hallelujah!

So, my pesto sauces are whizzed in little more than 5 mins, less  time than it takes to cook some wholemeal pasta, courgetti or sweet potato pasta, and I have a fabulous nutritious and delicious meal that I will really enjoy.

I have put together a few of my fav pesto sauce recipes for you to try, but I would also like you to be brave and chuck in some of your favourite leaves & nuts, give them a whizz and see what you can create, maybe add chilli, or jalapenos and if you love it, let me know.

Method for all pesto’s.

Place all ingredients in food processor and blitz!  It’s as easy as that for all the recipes.  As you can see, I have often written 1 – 2 of ingredients, because we all have different tastes, and as long as you have the basic ingredients, just add or take away the garlic, parmesan and nuts to suit you.   Add salt and pepper to taste and you’re good to go.

It is important to note that with the olive oil, start with a little and add as required – as it is high in fat, I add splashes of water at the end to get the consistency I require, and I only ever use up to 1 tbsp on my own portion of courgetti.

Classic Basil Pesto 

  • 100g basil
  • 1 – 2 garlic cloves
  • 60g pine nuts
  • 50g parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Watercress & Brazil Nut Pesto

  • 100g watercress
  • Handful of basil
  • 40g brazil nuts, chopped
  • I squeezed lemon
  • 2 – 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 20g parmesan cheese

Spinach & Walnut Pesto

  • 100g spinach leaves
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 squeezed lemon
  • 2 – 3 tbsp chopped walnuts
  • 30g parmesan cheese
  • 2 – 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Cauliflower Pesto

  • 1 medium cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 2 tbsp chopped walnuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 – 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 30g parmesan cheese

Red Pepper Pesto

  • 1 x jar peppers, drained
  • 1 – 2 garlic cloves
  • 70g blanched almonds or cashews (not blanched)
  • 40g parmesan cheese
  • 2 – 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
plates

Want to Lose Weight? Change Your PLATES!

When I start working with a new client who wants to lose weight, there are two things I ask them to do immediately. One is to change their drinking habits, limit their caffeine, cut out alcohol and fizzy drinks and to replace all with water – pure, life giving, beautifying, simple and cheap water.

The second is to buy smaller plates.  Much smaller plates.  I ask them to put their standard size plates in the cupboard out of sight and only to use the new smaller ones.  Every single client who follows just these two tips lose weight even if they make no other immediate changes.  There is of course more to YOUtrition’ s method than water and smaller plates, but they are an excellent start.

The first tip, the water, all my clients understand.  Ultimately, whether you like water or not, and there is so much you can do to jazz it up, we all know that water is good for us and that it has no calories.  Most aren’t aware that it also takes the edge off hunger but they soon notice that and learn to love this elixir of life. The plates are a different story.

To demonstrate why I ask them to buy the smaller plates, I place on my table four plates dated from the 1970’s, 1980’s 2000 & 2009.  The difference in sizes is quite incredible and of course as our plates have grown in size, so have our portions.

In fact, we have gone from eating off 8.5” plates to 12” dinner plates in 40 years.  Can you imagine the extra calories as each plate grows?  Let me tell you that the 1970’s plate would have held approx. 800 calories, the 1980’s plate 1000 calories, the 2000’s plate 1600 calories and the 2009 plate a whopping 1900 calories. Now imagine a portion from the 1970’s of any meal on a modern day plate, it would look woefully small and yet is more than enough for all our bodies needs.

Then there is the quality of the foods on these plates. I am old enough to remember bread being sold in brown paper bags, which lasted only one day to today’s loaf that can last up 7 days. What is the difference?  There must be something “extra” in the bread. Now, in our instant gratification, fast everything, including food world, meals can be so easy to buy pre-prepared, beautifully coloured and wrapped in plastic ready for us to heat in our super quick microwaves and decant on to our huge plates.  These ready meals have plenty of ingredients, most of which aren’t food related, but not the ones we need.  They often lack both nutrients and the fibre required to keep us full, and so we can eat much larger portions.  I guess you can see where I am going with this………

Not only that, but along with the rapid advancement of technology, we now have remote controls for everything from the tv to the lighting at home.  I don’t think my 19 year old son has ever had to rouse himself from the comfort of his armchair to either turn the tv over or volume down.  We now have emails to whiz between departments so no longer have to move from our desks to confer with colleagues. Most of us have at least two cars per household (more if you have grown up children), so there is no need to walk anywhere. There are enormous supermarkets that cater for all our shopping needs from food to furniture,  and we can do our whole life shop in one place if we wish, rather than wander up and down the high street going to the bakers, butchers etc before lugging our heavy shopping home. Or better still, we can shop from our computers at home and get anything delivered.  Is some cases, it can even be put away by the lovely chap who drives it to our door.  So not only are we eating more, we are also moving less.

There is however, one element of our increased food consumption life that hasn’t overly changed, and that is the size of our stomachs.  They have remained pretty much the same regardless of our fast food world and humongous plates. Still, not to worry, as we continue to consume ever larger portions of unsatisfying “foods” that offer little taste and no nourishment, our stomachs are becoming increasingly stretched and distorted to accommodate the load.

So, take my professional advice, all of it works. Pop out to any supermarket, buy yourself a few smaller plates. Ignore the processed food products, fill half your plate with veggies, one quarter lean protein and healthy fats, and the last quarter grains or wholemeal carbs and take the first important step to successful weight loss.  I promise you, within a week, you won’t even notice the difference in portion sizes.  Then of course come back to me for some more tips.  Happy eating everyone!

YOUtrition

YOUtrition – No Fads, Lotions, Potions, Gells Or Spells!

What is YOUtrition and why am I different?  What do I know that other “diet clubs” don’t (well, I am not a diet club for a start). Am I another fad foodie offering an unsustainable diet plan with weird lotions/potions/gels or spells to guarantee a slim you forever?  No, I am not.  So, let me tell you what I am, who I am and why I am different.

At the age of 53 years (young), and after 27 years of seemingly hopeless addictions at times to both alcohol and drugs, I am now easily and happily sober. I tried all the interventions out there along with a fair few quacks, none of which had any impact.  At the time, I didn’t understand why but now I do and that knowledge is the difference  that I, as YOUtrition, bring to my clients.

Let me explain.  For the 15 years I was desperate to be clean after my son was born I searched high and low for an answer.  An external answer to an internal problem. A cheap sticking plaster if you like. One which didn’t fit properly, that didn’t allow the wounds underneath to heal and so I stayed drunk.  I made the fundamental mistake of relying on a book, class or person to have the secret to my alcohol free life.  To tell me what to do.  But I knew what to do, I needed to stop drinking, I just couldn’t.  So of course nothing worked for me. Plenty of people told me what I already knew, but not one had any impact. I thought I was destined to live and die an alcoholic. And then something, or rather someone, did work.  And that someone was me. I found that the only way forward for me was to think differently about what alcohol gave me (or rather took away) and by the simple change of thinking differently I was able to make different choices. Alcohol free ones.

Then there was all the interventions. Excellent in theory, except that they seemed to have a “one size fits all” policy (much like a diet plan), which was perfectly understandable as, again like a diet plan, they deal with large numbers of people, not the individual. However, even the individual therapists I saw had an accepted view of  treatment for addiction and recovery.  Sadly though, not many of us fit that one size.  Believe me I tried. Time and time again. But I struggled to fit myself into the constricting guidelines which didn’t resonate with me and so, also time and time again, I slipped and fell off a wagon that had no seat for me in the first place.

Does that sound to you like some of your food struggles?  Do you find that the weight loss recipes and diet rules just don’t work for you? That clubs telling you what to do, when frankly you already know, just don’t “click”? Do you then find because they didn’t click that the reliance on willpower and perceived deprivation and restriction becomes depressing and unsustainable?  If you experience any of those thoughts and feelings, you haven’t found the right fit for you. You haven’t found your click.

My passion is to find YOUR right fit (your click)!  What works for you and why.   I provide simple, tasty, health giving and stress free recipes that you and your family will love and work to put food back in its rightful place in your life.  A place of physical and emotional nourishment and a time of bonding for you and your family. But more importantly,  I focus on your thoughts as to the “why’s” of your eating habits and choices and it is understanding the why’s which is your food struggle game changer.  Change your why’s and everything becomes easy.  I  know this because I live this!

I want my life, after so many years of struggle to be simple and I keep your life simple too. If you find your favourite family meals are unhealthy,  I simply swap out ingredients for a healthier version. Planning and prepping a chaotic nightmare?  I soothe your bad dreams away and replace them with strategies that work. Struggling to fit healthy eating in around your work/life commitments? I always find a way that works.  A way that you tell me works because you can stick with it.

I challenge your often long held thoughts and belief’s around your food choices and eating habits.  I know that so many of these come from childhood, where often we were rewarded with foods,  or maybe chastised if we don’t eat everything on our plates or  suffered some emotional upheaval that we haven’t had the skills to cope with and overate instead. I put these firmly in the past.  Together we laugh at your food monsters, turn them on their heads, pack them up, drop them in a bucket and then chuck them down the drain.

YOUtrition’s method works! I know what worked for me and I know by helping you think differently about food and its place in your life, that I can make it work for you. You are my passion.  Everyone deserves the chance  that I so thankfully found for myself.

I put you, your weight and health first until you are able to. Until you have learned the habits and healthy food choices and skills that will stand you in good stead for life. Once you have those firmly in place, you pick up the baton and the wellness and dress size you desire really does become a long term reality and not just a summertime fling. A fling that once the the love affair with your new size and restrictive diet ends, finds you slinking back to the eating habits and food thoughts that bought you to me in the first place.

I work with small groups and 1-2-1’s, so contact me to see what I can do for you!