Wednesday, 27 April 2011


I popped into my local health food (Spitalfield Organics) on my way home to pick up a few supplies - nut butter, various nuts and seeds, gluten free noodles, nori sheets etc. - and had a bit of a shock when it added up to £40 at the till!

This kind of expenditure is a far cry from my student days shopping at costcutters on campus! And reminded me how expensive healthy eating can be.

Infact nowadays it is more expensive to eat unhealthily on a diet of ready meals and processed foods, than it is to eat a healthy diet of fresh foods, fruit and veg and wholegrains. However despite todays expenditure, I have infact over the years picked up a few tips and tricks to keep down my food bill:

Grow your own - definitely the cheapest way to get your fruit and veg and it doesn't need a lot of space - just room for a couple of grow bags to get you started with some tomatoes. This does however require some effort (I sadly haven't inherited my mum's green fingers) and isn't recommended if you live next to a busy road or in a polluted area. Even if you can't grow your own, buying fruit and vegetables that are in season is usually cheaper than buying those that have been shipped half way round the world.

Make your own - buying ready made food, especially in the city, is a sure fire way to burn through your cash. Instead make up a packed lunch - I like to make up random salads or use up dinner leftovers, but if you're short on time then make a healthy sandwich. Our canteen also charge a small fortune for breakfast cereals so it's definitely woth bringing in your own box of cereal or muesli.
For snacks it's again worth preparing your own, crudites and hummus, shoyu sesame seeds, salt and pepper cashew nuts and muesli bars are all easy to make at home. Make up a couple of batches of snacks for the week on a Sunday to save mid-week hassle.
If you're feeding a family it is also probably worth investing in a bread maker - not only will you save money but you'll also be able to make delicious homemade bread according to your tastes.

Freeze - Rather than throwing away fruit and veg that's reached it's best before date make use of your freezer to save these for later. Cut up ripe mango and banana and freeze in portions to use in fruit smoothies, stew apples, pears and other orchard fruit to make into fruit puddings and steam and then freeze vegetables to add to casseroles and stir fries. Leftover fresh herbs can also be frozen to add flavour to stews and casseroles.

Freeze leftover bread for toast, or if it's just gone stale make into bread crumbs in a food processor and freeze for instant bread crumbs when a recipe requires them.

Go veggie - meat and fish, particularly organic, are one of the more expensive food items, so save yourself some money by having a few vegetarian meals a week. Stock up on tinned pulses and tofu and use in salads and casseroles instead of meat. And for something quick make a healthy veggie sarnie with hummous, grated carrot, spinach, a squeeze of lemon and some fresh ground pepper.

Don't eat mindlessly - eating when you're bored rather than hungry isn't just bad for the waistline but it is also bad for the wallet. Pre-prepared snack foods are usually less good value than full size meals, and the cost soon adds up.

Quit the caffeine - the price of a coffee in Starbucks could get you a sandwich somewhere else, so quit the caffeine and switch to much cheaper, and better for you, herbal teas.

NITC will be escaping the London royal wedding extravaganza in favour of some fresh air in the countryside and will be back on Monday evening. Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Springtime blues

I'm sure I'm not the only one who was put in a great mood by the wonderful weather we had in the UK over the bank holiday weekend, and equally whose spirit was dampened on finding the sunshine had disappeared this morning.

The correlation between mood and the weather is not a new discovery, however in an interesting interview in this evenings 'All in the mind' on radio 4, John Sharp, a clinical psychiatrist at Harvard University surprised me when he stated that suicide levels peak in April with the changing seasons from Winter to Spring.

For most of us the increased sunshine and daylight hours brings on renewed energy and a positive mood however, whilst depression peaks from november to january, it is thought that the contrast of mood in those with depression compared to others becomes more apparent in the spring and it is this that causes the increase in suicide.

This was news to me, but makes me think that we should be paying more attention to our mood and health with every change of the seasons, rather than just focussing on the change into winter when there is an increased incidence of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) . In fact Mr Sharp also revealed the existence of reverse SAD, where sufferers feel depressed in the summer and have lower serotonin and dopamine levels in the summer months.

This just underlines how biochemically unique we all are which is why we need to listen to our bodies to look after our health. Have a think about which season you struggle with and prepare yourself in advance with supportive nutrition (protein and healthy fats are particularly important for mood) and supplements as necessary and reduce foods that can destabilize mood such as alcohol, sugar, caffeine and processed foods. It is also not the time to make radical dietary changes so hold off on your detox til spring has really taken hold. You can then make a smoother transition into the next season and avoid any sudden mood changes.

However, once the wintery weather is finally behind us I am sure I won't be alone in putting in an extra effort with my diet and exercise to get myself beach ready, and for this I will be coming up with a "Beachcamp' programme just as I did with my post christmas Bootcamp. But this time I'd like your input, so if there are any particular problems you'd like me to deal with specifically (bingo wings, man boobs, cellulite etc) or if you have any diet must haves or total turn offs (eg. you want a diet that let's you still eat pudding but you can't stand counting points or calories) let me know and I'll see if I can incorporate them.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Crumbly goodness

My mum is a passionate gardener and has turned one corner of her garden into something akin to a mini-agri business, growing a whole range of fruit and veg. This means that one of the perks of going home in the spring and summer months is coming back up to London with some fresh goodies from her garden.

This Easter weekend I came back laden with rhubarb - which is by far the easiest fruit (well actually it's a stem) to grow and is rich in iron and vitamin C. It is however one that requires more preparation than most, and whilst I would usually eat any fruit mum gives me raw on it's own, rhubarb definitely requires cooking and a bit of sweetness.

Sadly the traditional crumble recipe combines gluten (flour), dairy (butter) and refined sugar which rules it out for me. But fortunately one of my favourite gluten-free blogs, Elena's pantry, has come up trumps with this almond flour recipe for Cherry Blueberry Crumble from which I just used the crumble topping recipe and sweetened up the stewed rhubarb with some agave syrup. I like to add a bit of texture to the topping with either flaked almonds or chopped nuts, and if making an apple crumble add a bit of cinnamon. This crumble would work with any stewed fruit and is lovely on it's own, or on a colder day served with some custard (made with rice milk for the dairy free) and great as a healthy recipe for fruit-averse kids.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The art of substitution

On my way home this evening I stopped off at Holland and Barrett and bought myself a dairy free dark chocolate easter egg for Easter Sunday. This is my reward for giving up crisps and nachos for lent, although I did accidentally break it last saturday when I was given some corn chips as an appetizer in a restaurant and totally forgot I'd given them up!!

Lent is a long period and has helped me kill a lot of bad habits over the years. But you don't have to restrict yourself to lent to break bad habits and make new ones, all it take is 30 days and a bit of self-discipline.

So as the weather warms up and you start thinking about summer holidays and baring all on the beach it might be worth identifying any bad habits you got into over the winter months and giving them up one at a time, to avoid the harsh reality of having to crash diet two weeks before your summer break.

A few baddies to give up are listed below for inspiration, and are especially good to give up if you are thinking about doing a detox at some point in the next few months so it won't be such a shock to the system.

The key to success is in being prepared so have a think about what you want to give up, when you usually eat it and what you could substitute it for, and then stock up. For example I made sure I had lots of healthy crunchy snacks (nuts, rice cakes, seeds) at work and at home where I'm most likely to fancy eating a bag of crisps. So to help you out I've listed some possible substitutes for these foods.

Coffee and tea - start by weaning yourself onto decaff or green tea, but ultimately aim to get yourself onto herbal caffeine free teas. Closest caffeine-free substitutes are Dandelion coffee and Rooibos tea which both have the comfort factor of tea and coffe.

Wheat - fortunately the supermarkets are now well stocked with wheat and gluten free breads for toast and sandwiches, for pasta try spelt (a less harmful form of wheat) or gluten free. You can also now get yummy gluten free cakes and biscuits in most supermarkets, but save these for occasional treats as they are very sugar-laden.

Dairy - milk is easy, switch to rice or soya varieties, butter is easily swapped for Pure sunflower margarine and Sojade soya yoghurt is a good switch for natural yoghurt. Finding a healthy substitute for cheese is a lot more difficult - you can buy fake soy cheese in health food stores which is a lot better than it used to be and makes a decent cheese on toast. But this is a super processed food so should be used as a stepping stone to giving up cheese of any kind.

Crisps - I found it was the crunch factor I missed the most when I gave up crisps, but nut and seed mixes hit the spot, along with vegetable crudites, whilst rice cakes were a good substitute when I needed some carbs. I also made some herby pita triangles (recipe below) for a comforting sofa snack to have with dips instead of nachos (I made
them with Tesco gluten free pitas).

Chocolate - oh the wonderful cocoa bean, how we love you. What isn't so good is all the fat and sugar that gets mixed with it to make chocolate. If you're giving up cocoa altogether you may need to find an alternative sweet treat (see below) but if it's just chocolate then allow yoursellf some cocoa rich sweet low-fat treats such as my favourite bean brownies RECIPE or Dr Merrell's chocolate mousse substitute (recipe below).

Sugar - sugar is extremely addictive so can be hard to give up but because of this it may be easier to go cold turkey, rather than having small amounts every now and then. Ideally stick to fresh or cooked fruit and dried figs, prunes or apricots to satisfy any sweet cravings, but if you're used to puddings then start making them with fructose or agave syrup and then gradually switch to more fruit based puds. Read all labels, even for savoury food - you'd be surprised how often sugar crops up. Once 30 days are up you'll be surprised how little you miss sugar and how easily you can satisfy a sweet craving with some fruit. Not to say I won't be enjoying my Easter egg on Sunday!

For NITC readers not in the UK, we have a four day weekend from Friday, so NITC will be back Monday night.

Have a good weekend.


Baked pita triangles


12 wholemeal pitas

110ml (4 fl oz) olive oil

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic salt, such as Schwartz

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried parsley or chervil


Preheat oven to 200 C / Gas mark 6.


Cut each pitta into 8 triangles. Place triangles on a baking tray.


In a small bowl, combine the oil, pepper, garlic salt, basil and parsley. Brush each triangle with mixture.


Bake in preheated oven for about 7 minutes, or until lightly browned and crispy. Watch carefully, as they tend to burn easily!

Eat fresh from the oven

Dr Merrell's Dark Chocolate Mousse

Place the following ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth and creay, Smooth into a bowl or individual reamkins and chill for 1 hour or overnight before serving, serves 2-4

340g silken tofu

5 tbsp cocao powder

1.5 tsp vanilla extract

150ml agave syrup

1/8tsp cinnamon (optional)

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The home dining experience

The sun had seriously got his hat on in London today and so I made the most of it and for the first time this year I ate my dinner alfresco on the balcony.

What I noticed, other than the people pootling by below, was that without the distractions of the tv, newspaper or whatever else was going on in the flat my pace of eating slowed right down and I just enjoyed my food at a leisurely pace. This is in strong contrast to what often happens, where I inhale my dinner as soon as it's on a plate, or more often than not out of a bowl with just a fork to hand!

For some reason, us Brits love the experience of dining out, but massively neglect our food rituals when we're at home, compared to our European counterparts. However presentation and environment play such a big role in our enjoyment of food and the pleasure of mealtimes that we should all make more of an effort to turn our home dining experience into fine dining, even if we're eating solo.

This doesn't have to mean spending hours preparing three course cordon bleu meals every evening, just a few small touches can make all the difference:

- first up, set the table, even if you're eating alone - minimum knife, fork, spoon, water glass, but the more you have on the table the more it will feel like a luxurious dining experience; napkins, flowers, candles, even just a nice salt/pepper set. And don't save your best china and glasses for christmas dinner - enjoy using them to enhance the presentation of your food every day.

- when you serve up your food take some inspiration from Masterchef and present it on the plate as nicely as possible, even if it's a very basic dish. Do the same for side dishes and keep some fresh herbs to hand to add as a garnish.

- spend two seconds creating a calm environment before you start eating - clear the pile of post off the dining table, turn off the tv/radio/other noisy distractions and set the appropriate lighting. If you do have an outdoor space then make the most of it and dine alfresco, the natural lighting and fresh air creates a much more relaxed ambiance. This doesn't have to be a costly endeavour - my super cheap fold up dining set from Argos has stood up to the extreme weather conditions on my balcony.

- get in the habit of having three elements to any meal - this keeps your food varied and interesting. It can be three courses but doesn't have to be that elaborate, for example get in the habit of serving a side salad and another vegetable side along with your main course. Or have a soup to start your meal and a natural yoghurt to end it. You can even apply this to breakfast, start with a fruit course and then have your main breakfast dish and for the third element a cup of green or herbal tea.

- pause at the end of the meal to appreciate the lovely food you've had and the relaxed dining experience. You will feel so much better than if you've eaten your dinner standing up, straight out the saucepan (you know who you are!).

Monday, 18 April 2011

No more tears

I recently reintroduced the humble onion into my cookery, having avoided it for sometime due to problems digesting them. I still find I can't eat onions raw, but once cooked the cellulose fibre is partially broken down making them easier to digest.

The onion is often undervalued as a vegetable but it counts towards you five (eight!) a day just like any other veg and for good reason. Onions are rich in quercetin, a powerful anti-inflammatory, so good for hay fever, allergies and other inflammatory conditions. They are also good for anyone concerned with heart health as they are thought to thin blood and lower LDL cholesterol and also have antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties so a good idea to eat if you are feeling under the weather.

They're also a pretty great addition, taste wise, in any cooked dishes (see last weeks paprika salmon recipe This evening I enjoyed them with squash as a veggie side dish (see recipe below).

However the one thing I haven't ever enjoyed about cooking with onions is the tears when I chop them. I'm not sure if I'm particularly susceptible but chopping an onion gets my eyes streaming terribly leading to amusing/unattractive red eyes and mascara smudges - that is until I came across this tip for chopping onions. My mum also suffers a lot when chopping onions so this is a tip for her and any other onion cryers out there!

How to chop an onion without crying

Before you start chopping rinse both the knife and onion under the tap (and don't dry) and then chop ... no more tears!

Squash 'N' Onions recipe from The Kind Diet, by Alicia Silverstone.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 3


1 1/2 cups Butternut Squash

1 medium White Onion (feel free to add more)

1/2 tbsp Spices, Oregano Leaves

1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/8 tsp Sea Salt

1. heat oil in sauce pot

2. cut onion in half and slice

3. sautee onion until transparent

4. add oregano, sea salt, butternut squash and 1/2 cup of water

5. cover and simmer for 30 minutes

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Why being stressed makes you old

A few years back I was at a presentation by the excellent Dr Jeffrey Bland on developments in nutrition and health and he mentioned something I'd never heard of before which really caught my attention - and that was Telomeres.

Jeff described telomeres as fuses on the end of your chromosomes, however in last weeks Economist they were wonderfully described as 'to chromosomes what plastic caps are to shoelaces - they stop them fraying at the ends'. I loved this description which gives a great analogy for explaining their importance - telomeres protect your chromosomes from damage, but they are constantly shortening over time and when they run out the chromosomes can no longer replicate.

This is why controlling the rate at which the telomeres 'burn' is the key to slowing down the ageing process and keeping your body young through your cells replacing themselves.

It has been known for some time that chronic stress causes accelerated shortening of the telomeres, however what warranted a mention in the Science and technology section of the Economist is the recent suggestion by a group of researchers from the University of California that active stress management not only stops the telomeres from shortening but it can even lengthen them again. The supplement Resveratrol, derived from grapes, has already been shown to do this, but the idea that non-food/drug related telomere regeneration is possible is very significant.

It's very early research, so not conclusive, but it suggests that talking therapies such as counselling can actually lengthen the telomeres. So by neglecting to address stress or anxiety you can speed up the ageing process, but if you make a conscious effort to manage your stress you can also slow it down.

The impact of your state of mind on your health is well documented which is why I often make recommendations to clients that have nothing to do with nutrition but a lot to do with stress management. These include breathing exercises, scheduling 'me time', identifying the stressors in their lives and making changes to avoid or minimise them, as well as counselling for anxiety or depression.

Whilst talking therapies still might have some stigma attached to them, I hope that more research in this area will lead to greater emphasis on the importance of mental health in looking after an individuals physical health.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

It's not just me!

I've been telling clients for years that five portions of fruit and veg is a minimum for optimum health and that everyone should be eating eight portions daily - but because government guidelines have said five is the right number I think my advice often falls on deaf ears.

Well finally there is some official advice to back me up - the World Health Organisation are now recommending we eat eight portions of fruit and vegetables. Hurrah!

The World Cancer Research Fund has long advocated between five- and 10-a-day whilst research by the UK Institute for Optimum Nutrition, where I studied, found that the healthiest people they surveyed ate eat eight-a-day.

Outside the UK recommended intakes have been higher for sometime - In Denmark it's six, in Australia seven, Spain eight, Greece nine, Canada "up to 10" and Japan an astonishing 17 (it's no surprise that the Japanese are the longest living nation).

So why does the UK government only recommend five portions?

It's more than likely that five a day was picked by the government as a realistically low goal for a nation that is notoriously unhealthy rather than because it's actually what we need. However I think the low goal has lead to complacency and that a lot of people who think they are eating five portions of fruit and veg a day are actually eating a lot less.

Research from the department of health showed only 1 in 3 brits actually consumed five portions of fruit and veg daily. At least with a higher target even if people miss it they might still eat more portions trying to get there. I have to admit I often set five a day as an initial goal for clients but ultimately I want them on eight portions a day for optimum health.

Have a think about what you ate yesterday and jot down how much fruit and veg you had when you weren't consciously making an effort - you might be surprised at how little you had.

However if eight portions sounds too much don't be put off from trying - actually it's pretty easy:
Yesterday I had: berries with my breakfast, a salad of peppers, spinach and cucumber with my lunch, some carrot sticks as part of a snack, pak choi and baby leaf salad with my dinner and the juice of a lime in my favourite daily cherry active cocktail.

That's eight portions without any difficulty and that's before you count the cherry active which has equivalent antioxidants to 15+ portions of fruit and veg.

But that's an important caveat - I don't let my clients count juices, smoothies or concentrated antioxidant supplements for more than one portion as you lose some of the nutrients in this process and concentrate the sugars. This is why I also recommend everyone eats more portions of veg than fruit, as otherwise someone could be eating 8 portions of tropical fruit a day sending their blood sugar into orbit, whilst thinking they we're being healthy!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

On the mend

As regular readers will know, my good friend and snowboarding partner in crime Ms Haribo is a bit of a fitness freak filling her time with endless sporting activities. The downside of all this is that with all the snowboarding, pole dancing, running, dancing and parkour, she's picked up quite a few injuries along the way. Which is why she's asked me to blog on nutrition for injury recovery.

Infact this topic was covered on the recent sports nutrition conference I attended at the Royal Society of Medicine although the advice really hasn't change much since I did my training. So what does Ms Haribo need to get her on the mend?

Protein - provides amino acids, the building blocks for muscles, and so is needed for muscle repair. However your body can only assimilate 20-25g of protein in one go, so for maximum muscle building or repair you need to eat small amounts of protein regularly ie every 3-4 hours. So include healthy lean proteins with three meals and two snacks daily, such as fish, skinless chicken, eggs (max 1 a day), whey protein, tofu, soya, nuts and pulses.

The essential fats that I talked about in yesterdays blog have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body so are particularly important when recovering from any injury. They also can improve circulation - improving blood flow to the injured area, encouraging a good supply of these beneficial nutrients. Eating even just a palmful of nuts or seeds daily can be beneficial, whilst herbs such as Gingko or Gotu Kola are sometimes used to help improve circulation.

Conversely saturated fats, found in meat and dairy products, encourage inflammation and so should be minimised generally, but particularly when recuperating from injury.

Antioxidants help prevent all tissue damage and shorten recovery time, so you need to be extra vigilant on eating enough fruit and veg. However in times of intensive exercise or recovery food alone is unlikely to provide sufficient antioxidants. This is a great time to also supplement with an antioxidant top up such as Cherry Active or Red or Blue lightening powders as well as N-acetyl cysteine, Vitamin C, Selenium and CoQ10 supplements.

In the case of a break or other skeletal injury minerals such as calcium and boron will be important for bone repair, along with Vitamin D. A diet rich in leafy greens, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fish and eggs should be sufficient but in times of injury a bone specific supplement may be a good idea.

Rest and de stress - when you're stressed your body puts repair processes on hold and keeps the body in fight or flight mode - repairing a muscle just isn't a priority when you're running away from a tiger. So injuries will take longer to heal if you feel stressed or anxious or aren't getting enough sleep. So whilst your injury is keeping you from the gym, use your usual exercise time for some serious relaxation to help you recuperate and get as much sleep as you can, as a lot of the repair and tissue building will happen whilst you get your zzzzz.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Something fishy

There is one nutrient group that is either very low or missing entirely from the diets of most clients the first time I see them, and that is the essential fats. These are 'essential' as they are necessary for the body to functions properly and support brain function, energy production/fat burning, healthy skin, cardiovascular health and hormone balance. They are found in oily fish, nuts and seeds – and the type most commonly missing from peoples diets is the omega 3 fats found in oily fish and flax seeds (most people get enough omega 6 and 9 from using seed oils and olive oil in their cooking and eating nuts).

The omega 3 fats in fish are easier for the body to use than the plant sources which is why you should eat oily fish 2-3 times a week. However one of the common replies I get when I ask why a client doesn't eat oily fish, is that they do like the taste, but they don't know how to cook it which is why they don't eat it. A fear of cooking fish is quite common but with some uncomplicated recipes it's actually quite easy (and I'm really not a particularly competent cook).

Here's my sisters favourite salmon recipe:

which has a nice mild flavour to it, but for anyone who likes a bit of a kick to their food here's a new easy salmon recipe that I tried myself this evening - yum.

So now you've no excuses!

Spicy pimento salmon

Preheat the oven to 220C then you need to make the spicy paste:

For this place the following in a blending container for a hand blender or directly into a proper blender – make sure you add the ingredients in the following order – and then blend to a smoothish paste:

½ large red pepper, seeded and chopped

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped,

1 inch piece of fresh ginger peeled and chopped

¼ tsp dried thyme

1 small onion peeled and chopped

1/4 - 1/2 tsp powdered pimento – depending on how hot you like your food.

Then take two 20 cm squares of tin foil, place shiny side down. On the matt side of the foil brush a little olive oil and season the foil with salt and pepper. Then add a quarter of the spicy paste, on top of that sit a salmon fillet, skin down, and then top with some fresh pepper and another quarter of the spicy paste.

Bring two sides of the foil together and then fold down a couple of times to create a seal. Then do the same with the two remaining open ends of the foil to create a sealed parcel.

Do the same for the other fillet and place in the oven on a middle shelf for 15 minutes. Then take out, open the parcels carefully (watch for steam) and then serve on a bed of raw spinach leaves with a squeeze of lime juice over the top and a side of new potatoes.

Monday, 11 April 2011

A smoky surprise

Whilst I was pleasantly surprised by the good value healthy food I was served in Austria, I also had another not so healthy surprise - with all the mountain air and pure sunshine you'd expect I'd return home feeling refreshed, but instead I returned home with a chesty cough!

No it wasn't due to the late night partying - it was a smokers cough from some serious passive smoking. What I hadn't realised before I went, was that Austria doesn't have the wonderful smoking ban for bars and pubs that we have in the UK. The government did us all a huge favour with this ban - not only did it give hundreds of thousands of brits the nudge they needed to quit but it also extended the lives of the rest of us non-smokers who were passively smoking on our nights out. After I'd spent a couple of nights in smoky bars I was hankering after the smoke-free bars of London.

Also what was surprising was that it wasn't just the Austrians puffing away - but lots of my fellow English snowbombers seemed to be making the most of the opportunity to smoke indoors.

I'm sure that I'm preaching to the converted but I'm still regularly surprised at how many intelligent folk I meet that still smoke despite all the health problems - heart disease, lung, tongue and throat cancer, deep vein thrombosis and other circulatory issues.

I think one of the problems is the number of years it can take for these conditions to develop - the diseases you put yourself at risk of are so far off that they seem unreal. I think this is why the Alan Carr books and courses are so effective at helping people quit - as they force you to face up to the future consequences of smoking.

Another useful way to look at it, and infact at any unhealthy behaviour, is to think what you would do for a child - you'd be horrified if a parent gave a child a cigarette to smoke, or a macdonalds for breakfast - and whilst as an adult your body is generally more resilient than a child's it still needs looking after - so next time you go to have a smoke, or find yourself eating your way through a whole packet of biscuits - ask yourself if you'd let a child do that and it might just make you stop.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Take a breath

I hope you all had a good week last week, and for those who did the homework that you made some healthy additions to your usual menus.

I had a fab holiday - although going on holiday can be a bit of a nightmare if you have special dietary requirements, which is why I often take a fair amount of food with me - gluten free bread and snack bars, nuts and seeds and the odd pot of almond butter (don't pack this in your hand luggage - it will be confiscated!).

So it's always a nice surprise when you go somewhere where your needs are catered for - which was exactly the case last week at the lovely Kramerwirt hotel in Austria, where the super friendly staff cooked me a delicious three course gluten and dairy free dinner every night for the ridiculously cheap sum of €12 a night!!

The downside of this wonderful catering is that I ended up ignoring my own advice about stopping eating when you're full, and ended up eating way too much!! Mainly because I was really enjoying the food, but also because I was pretty hungry by dinner time and so wolfed my food down too quickly.

What I should have done was put my knife and fork down between each mouthful and wait til I'd chewed my food to a puree before swallowing ... but that just didn't happen. However I have a new tip for how to slow down you're eating to a healthy pace, which I'm going to be trying this week - and this is to take a breath between each mouthful.

Basically chew your food thoroughly and then don't put more food in your mouth until you've taken a breath with a totally empty mouth - this might sound strange, but when you try it you'll realise how often you put food in your mouth when you haven't totally finished the last mouthful. The objective is to slow your eating down to a pace where you can properly digest your food and your appetite signals have a chance to tell you you're full (if you eat a bit plate of food in 15 minutes your appetite won't have a chance to tell you you're full).

So that's my tip for this week - and if you do ever go to Mayrhofen I can thoroughly recommend this hotel: