Thursday, 30 August 2012
Even if your partner is a real pie and chips man, remembering the old adage that the route to a man's heart is through his stomach will serve you well.
In my experience most men will eat whatever you serve them as long as it's edible so serving up healthy food when it's your turn to cook will already be doing them a favour. But the key to a full health conversion is to serve up healthy food that actually tastes good and will have them asking you to serve it again.
Whoever you're cooking for, even just yourself, having a repertoire of healthy easy recipes will keep you healthy and happy, no one should have to eat food that doesn't taste good.
I'm no great chef and probably have as many misses in the kitchen as hits, but you can benefit from my experimentation as I only post recipes that taste good and are also good for you on my recipe page (plus if I can make them anyone can).
Hot doc is also a keen recipe tester so I'll add more recipes as he finds good ones. Happy cooking!
Wednesday, 29 August 2012
Tuesday, 28 August 2012
The one nutrient that I've seen mentioned more than any other over the last few months is vitamin D. We already know that vitamin D is a very important nutrient for bone health as well as for immune function against organ cancers. However the latest research shows a significant reduction in respiratory infections in children when supplemented with vitamin D.
This was conducted in Mongolia, where sunlight is limited so natural vitamin D production would be limited, revealing the importance of children getting adequate sunlight exposure. The UK isn't exactly sun central so children with repeated respiratory infections may benefit from supplementation.
Vitamin D can be stored in the liver so you make lots during your hot summer holidays to use the rest of the year, but I don't tan easily so don't spend alot of time in the sun and take vitamin D in the winter months to keep myself topped up. You can also get vitamin D through you diet by eating eggs and fish, so if you're vegan supplementation is much more important.
Monday, 27 August 2012
Usually this would mean a movie evening ... perhaps with a face pack (glamourous I know)! But having recently read Laura Vanderkam's excellent168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think
I took the opportunity to take time for one of my hobbies that I struggle to find time for and spend some time in the kitchen cooking just for myself. I poured over some cookbooks, tried out some new recipes and cooked up some food for the week. Some of it turned out well, some not so well, but either way I had a lovely evening and felt way more restored and relaxed than if I'd wasted an evening infront of the tv.
If you've got kids, partners, a busy social life, it can be easy to let others set your agenda and end up without any time for yourself, but you neglect your own needs at your peril - the affects of your mental well being on your physical well being are already well documented, and yet still not yet fully understood or studied. If you are feeling anxious or stressed, remember that that is a result of and feeding into biochemical reactions in your body which will be negatively affecting your cells.
Whilst life can never be stress free and relationships and children can also bring great joy into your life, we all need to be a bit selfish and take time out of ourselves on a regular basis. Spend 10 minutes writing down what you enjoy doing just for yourself and not for the benefit of others. This could be something creative such as drawing or writing, or maybe something physical such as a dance class or going for a walk, it could be going out to a coffee shop and reading the paper in peace! If you're stuck for things you enjoy doing solo, think of what you used to enjoy doing when you were young, single and had no ties. Once you've come up with your list find a way to make half an hour this week to do one of those activities.
Not only will you enjoy yourself in that half an hour, but you'll come back to your family more relaxed and grounded than if you spend all your time running around after them ... as my brother-in-laws t-shirt aptly states "A happy wife is a happy life"!
Wednesday, 22 August 2012
One of these is Ian Marber who setup The Food Doctor company to provide health advice through nutritionists and public information and through selling health foods.
I'm a fan of his books and also snacks, enjoying the dried bean mix and the fruit based snack bars.
Whilst browsing the food doctor website recently, I came across this nice ten point approach he's laid out for healthy eating.
I've summarised it below, but you can read it in full at:
Proper nutritional advice is not some fad diet that you can easily consolidate into a paragraph but this is actually pretty comprehensive - so if you're looking for a checklist to keep yourselves on track then stick this on your fridge, on your pc or save it into your phone as a good reminder to keep you on the straight and narrow.
1 combine food (eat protein and carbs together in all meals)
2 stay hydrated (drink water and herbal teas throughout the day)
3 mix and match - (eat a variety of foods)
4 eat little and often - (have smaller meals with snacks to balance your blood sugar rather than gorging on large meals)
5 start smart - (start the day with wholgrains and fruit with eggs, seeds or yoghurt for protein)
6 cut it out - (avoid sugar)
7 act now - (stay active and keep your activity varied)
8, 80:20 - (eat healthily 80percent of the time and indulge for 20percent, but if you're naughty go for good quality homemade treats rather than processed junk.
9 stop and eat - (make time to eat and don't multi task whilst you're eating - I really struggle with this one)
10 love fat - (the good stuff, oily fish nuts and seeds)
Everyone reading this in the UK, enjoy your day off on Monday, I'll be back on Tuesday.
Tuesday, 21 August 2012
Lately a few of my friends have had to have their wisdom teeth extracted - a painful process necessary due to our evolution to smaller mouths but without having less teeth. My dentist assured me that due to the size of my mouth my wisdom teeth have plenty of room but this isn't the norm.
So it turns out I have an unusually large mouth! But at least I don't have to go through the process of having them removed.
But for anyone who does here are the tips I gave my friends on speeding up the post extraction recovery process.
Vitamin C and vitamin E are the most important vitamins for healing the delicate epithelial cells that line your mouth. Infact Vitamin C can be absorbed directly into the cells in your mouth, although the citric acid in fruit can be painful on damaged cells so a soluble supplement is best immediately post extraction.
Swelling is likely and opening your mouth can be painful after extraction so eating through a straw is easiest. Fruit smoothies and soups are therefore order of the day and a good source off vitamin C. Blend in some avocado, chopped nuts and seeds for some extra vitamin E. Nuts are also rich in selenium and zinc, both involved in the healing process.
Essential fats are also in order to help reduce inflammation. If you can't eat some liquid Eskimo Fish oil is an easy way to top up.
Rest is a must following any invasive procedure, your immune cells need energy to function so don't expend it being too active, or being stressed at work, just chill at home. A good gauge of when you're recovered is whether or not you feel like you could do some exercise.
Monday, 20 August 2012
In an ideal world we'd all. be able to afford to eat organically, but given that most of us can't, then which foods should be the priority?
Fruit and veg usually get sprayed with pesticides meaning they have higher levels on the skins, so smaller varieties with a higher skin to flesh ratio such as grapes, cherries and berries, tend to have higher levels than larger fruits. Salad leaves have higher levels for this exact reason.
Potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, apples, nectarines and peaches are the other candidiates with the highest pesticide levels.
Thicker skins and rinds prevent so much absorption into the flesh and generally aren't eaten so grapefruit, oranges, lemons, limes, melons, avocados and bananas are less important on your organic priority list. But if you're using the peel or zest in cooking remember to buy organic.
You can also peel non-organic fruit and veg to significantly reduce the pesticide content and you should give your fruit and veg a good wash before using them, even when you buy organically as organic produce can be treated with pesticides, just at a much much lower level and only in certain circumstances.
After fruit and veg my next priority for going organic would be meat and diary produce. Non-organic farming methods involve systematic use of antibiotics and growth hormones at high levels which end up in the final produce you're eating. You wouldn't want to regularly be taking antibiotics and hormones so why would you want to eat them. Organic meat in particular can be expensive but I rarely eat meat and don't ever cook it at home so it's just not a problem.
Personally I don't differentiate when I'm shopping as organic foods aren't always available so my basked ends up about 50/50 organic to non-organic. Still it makes a noticeable difference to my food bill but I justify this extra spend and balance it out with these cost savings, which are all motivated by their health benefits but also happen to save money:
- I don't drink alcohol
- I rarely buy meat, eggs or dairy produce
- I don't buy processed snacks or ready meals
- I prepare most of my meals at home and take them to work rather than buying expensive city lunches
- I don't drink coffee so don't have an expensive starbucks habit
- I eat out only once or twice a week
We all have our own priorities for how to spend our hard earned cash, but for me health is at the top of the list and is a long-term investment to which you may not see the most significant benefits til old age. For me, living a long and healthy life is worth the price tag.
Sunday, 19 August 2012
So onto this week ... now I (like I'm sure alot of people) like to be right, and I don't like being corrected, especially when it comes to food. So when hot doc suggested that buying organic food may be a waste of money I needed to prove him wrong.
Now I know organic food is better for health, but hot doc wasn't going to take my word for it. Fortunately for me I coincidentally came across this article on organic tomatoes and why they are better for you www.foodsmatter.com/blog/organic-tomatoes-really-are-better-for-you/
It turns out that spraying regular fruit and veg with loads of pesticides doesn't just mean that you'll end up eating lots of nasty chemicals that your body shouldn't be exposed to, but the fact that the fruit and veg are protected from insects by these nasty chemicals means that they don't have to put in the effort to make all the antioxidants that protect them from these bugs. The result is that fruit and veg grown non-organically have less antioxidant vitamins in them, which are the cancer fighting compounds that make them so good for us. More bad stuff, less good stuff, it's a no brainer for me!
Thursday, 16 August 2012
One set of games may be over but that doesn't mean that the Olympians disappear only to emerge again perfectly formed in 4 years time. They still have their other competition circuits to do, but more relevant for me....we can join them....
Jessica Ennis still runs with her local running club!
Mo Farah runs (and wins) the Bupa 10K every year. For the past few years now I watched Mo Farah stride up the embankment with a huge smile on his face, running like it's easy while I'm 7km behind him running the other way down the embankment. Anyone can enter the Bupa 10K. It's fantastically organised and an awesome route.
In October "Queen" Victoria Pendleton will be doing her best to try and beat me in a 80km (or 40km) bike ride. Sorry boys, these are women only (although support will be very welcome). There are a number of Cycletta events all round the country, taking in some beautiful scenery. It's a nice alternative to endurance running too, especially as running puts a lot of impact on the body. Plus unlike the marathon you don't have to train in February when it's cold!
Obviously I'm never going to come close to winning any of the races I enter but I can still enjoy the feeling of trying to do my best, challenging myself and feeling the support from the cheering crowds.
Ps. I would like to point out that the Olympics aren't over. The Paralympics are coming in September, which are going to be fantastic. But I also think it's useful to remember sometimes to be thankful for the bodies we have got rather than focusing on what we want to improve. I know I'm lucky to be able to do what I do, and there are many people out there who cannot. (Yes Miss Haribo's Olympic sapometer has gone through the roof.)
Tuesday, 14 August 2012
10) Wood chops: get a weight or kettlebell. Stand with your legs apart bring the kettle bell over your head and try to wham it down to about knee height (not on your knees), and then lift it up again.
Monday, 13 August 2012
Sunday, 12 August 2012
I've been pretty inspired by the Olympics (thank you provider of men in tight shorts on TV). So I thought I'd high jump onto the band wagon and do some olympics related blogs.
Last week I had an amazing night. I went to a Q and A session with Paula Radcliffe and Carl Lewis as part of a tribute to Paula Radcliffe. The two of them were both pretty fabulous, incredibly intelligent and surprisingly witty. Paula was exceptionally lovely. Watching Carl Lewis clearly admire Paula's body and tell her about it as she came on was a hilarious highlight.
It was also amazing to see Carl Lewis give practical advice to an aspiring long jumper; Carl gave him some things to work on and I could just picture the poor guy trying to tell his coach that "Carl Lewis told him his training was wrong".
They talked a lot about what it was like to experience the Olympics both on the inside and the outside. But the big takeaway was when Paula was talking about cross country running. She said that after she 'only' came second in her first cross country race her father took her out running and up a hill and said thathe was going to teach her to run off hills. Her father said that everyone always likes to relax because they've made it to the top and think they can rest, but if you keep going off that hill then you can get ahead of the rest of that bunched up field.
Apart from the obvious life metaphor what interested me the most was that she said that she used that lesson several years later to win the junior cross country. It's just a little lesson, but it stayed with her forever and got her to the top. One of the great things about Emilie's approach to nutrition and health is that it's only small changes to make, they make a big difference and you can keep them for life.
ps. Paula was a total inspiration and such a good reminder of how important the mental aspect of training is. I'm dedicating my runs (such as they are to her as part of nike's #legendsrunforever campaign).
Thursday, 9 August 2012
I haven't eaten hugely differently to usual, I've just done less recycling - so not having dinner leftovers for lunch. It's required a bit more cooking, but not a lot, and has generally left me more satisfied with my meals as they've all been different. In particular I've had a different breakfast everyday which is pretty unusual for me, but definitely a habit I'll try and keep up.
I'm not sure I can be bothered to keep up the counting though, instead I'm going to set myself a new challenge of not buying the same food two shops in a row. By forcing myself to buy different foods my diet will naturally stay more varied and make me try some new recipes and expand my cooking repertoire.
Next week I'm passing the blogging baton to the very capable Ms Hairbo for some more Olympics inspired blogging and a welcome break from me! Enjoy!
Ps Today's food additions for those who are interested:
Dark chocolate (yum!)
Wednesday, 8 August 2012
And it's not just tiring on the eyes - using or watching any lit screen is stimulating to the nervous system and therefore can induce a stress response. Therefore going home and unwinding in front of a tv or logging onto facebook is not a good antidote to a day staring at a computer screen.
I'm not someone who usually watches a lot of tv, especially during the day, but I have to admit I've become swept up in the Olympics and consequently have had the tv on most evenings and a fair amount of time on the weekend.
Obviously this is not the stuff of a double-blind placebo controlled study, but I've definitely noticed I've had less energy since watching more television.
We all need a screen free day every week as an antidote to our over stimulating lives, to recharge, de stress and also to break the screen habit.
As with all over indulgences I'm going to get myself back on the straight and narrow with a tv detox once the olympics are over. Instead I'll use the time for reading, going to the gym, catching up with friends and taking up some new outdoors habits, all of which will make me feel energised rather than drained.
ps today's additions to my food list for my 100 foods in a week challenge are:
Chopped brazil nuts
Tuesday, 7 August 2012
Eating this way means buying more foods in smaller quantities which isn't usually the most economical way to shop.
This is where freezing can come in - instead of eating leftover dinner the next day, freeze your leftovers and eat them the next week to keep up the variety.
It also helps if you live with someone so you can share your dinner, as cooking and eating for one is more likely to lead to waste of fresh food.
For durable foods it's much easier - I have a big box in my cupboard containing a whole range of bags of different nuts, seeds and dried fruits. I add these to my breakfast each morning so it's easy to eat a different type every day of the week. I also use different spices on my brown rice porridge so will start rotating allspice, cinnamon, turmeric and ginger.
Herbs are another easy food to rotate. Although they go off quickly you can freeze them in small batches and then add them to your cooking - basil, coriander and parsley are all tasty options.
Rotating oils and fats in your cooking also helps vary the flavours and balance out the ratios of the different fats in your diet. I cook with olive oil or coconut fat, and pour cold walnut, flax or sesame oil on my salads.
Plain doritos (don't tell anyone!)
Monday, 6 August 2012
Not only does eating different foods everyday help increase the range of nutrients in your diet, it also helps keep food interesting. When eating healthily it's easy to find a few easy dishes you know are ok to eat and then eat these over and over again. However your taste buds will quickly get bored leaving you more likely to look for naughty treats or unhealthy foods to satisfy you.
Instead if you keep things varied you're more likely to feel satisfied with your food and stay on the straight and narrow.
For anyone who's interested here are the ingredients I can remember from today:
Rice protein powder
Juice of half a lime
Brown rice cooked in Kala coconut milk
Frozen summer fruits (cherries, cranberries, strawberries)
Gluten free pasta
Baby salad leaves
Mixed seafood (calamari, mussels, prawns)
Fresh mint tea
Sunday, 5 August 2012
However sometimes it's worth the time to read something a bit longer when it's really worthwhile. I'd apply that definition 100 percent to this article written about how to make decisions about nutrition and food in the face of endless fads and extreme news coverage. Many thanks to Ms Haribo for suggesting it.
It's really worth a read but for those of you who can't be bothered here's one tip from the article that I liked and will be trying to put into practice myself:
'Rule for a balanced diet: try to eat a hundred different ingredients every week. That was her only philosophy. Carrots, cashews, cilantro, black pepper, goat cheese, salmon, Brussels sprouts, olive oil, flax seeds, brown rice – it's been ten already. Broccoli, eggs, millet, quinoa, mint, apples, raisins, sesame oil, black beans, red cabbage – another ten. If you open your mind and enjoy cooking, it actually goes faster than you think. The great thing about such a precept (or shall we say, lifestyle), is that it makes you try new types of food; as it turns out, you get to know a lot of different veggies; when you do try a new type of food, more often than not you'll be trying a new recipe, which means you'll actually be cooking, which means you'll be eating less preservatives and less processed foods; most importantly, whatever you eat, you won't overeat it; even the stuff which is considered nasty under some circumstances might end up bringing some benefits if used in reasonable amount.'
Thursday, 2 August 2012
Now most of us know we should cool down and stretch after exercise but tight schedules and probably not thinking it's that beneficial means that most of us skip the cool down.
It might seem easy relative to the rest of your workout, but just 5 minutes of low resistance cardio at the end of your workout can make a noticeable difference in your recovery reducing muscle soreness and speeding up the rate at which your muscles get stronger and fitter.
When you cool down you keep oxygen flow to the muscles and give them a chance to clear the built up lactic acid which can make them feel sore.
Your heart is also a muscle and cooling down let's it recover in a controlled way instead of going through the shock of going straight from a high heart rate down to a resting one.
But don't take my word for it - watch any Olympic swimming and you'll know that straight after a race the swimmers go straight into the cool down pool for a controlled cool down to make sure they're in the best condition for their next race.