Super foods: why you should be skeptical of trendy lists!

Super foods in spoons and bowls on a wooden background

If you read any nutrition magazine, or browse the internet for health related articles/blogs, you have probably come across some superfoods lists like the five top super foods to help you lose weight, or to get rid of wrinkles, fight disease, build muscle mass and so on.  Well, let me give you some bad news straight away.

Unfortunately there is no single food that will ever:

  • Make you lose weight.
  • Magically melt your fat away (Oh I wish!).
  • Build your muscles to make you look like Jessica Ennis (if you are a woman) or Jessie Pavelka (if you are a man).
  • Prevent or cure any disease.
  • Make you look 10 years younger.

Basically, there is no single magic food with super nutritional powers to do any of the above. Surprised? Keep reading because there is some good news too.

In nutritional terms a ‘super food’ is a nutrient dense food packed full of vitamins, minerals and other health promoting properties. However, in recent years there has been a huge amount of hype about ‘super foods’ which seem to come and go like funky trends. Some of them can be really expensive and this is also why I believe that now the term ‘super food’ is just another marketing trap and consumers should be aware of this and tread carefully!

Why? Because it is possible to eat healthily, consume plenty of nutrients rich foods without breaking the bank and without having to go to specific health food stores to find them.

Think about this for a minute, do you really need to buy goji berries, aronia berries, maca/lucuma/moringa powders, noni juice, kelp or teff? If you want to try something new or you like them already, then please do so and enjoy them. They are fantastic, nutrients rich foods but so are eggs, beetroots, garlic, broccoli, apples and sardines, for example.

What I am trying to say is that most unprocessed, natural and preferably organic ingredients (which you should be eating regularly anyway) like any fruits, vegetables, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds can be defined as super foods.

You also need to look at your overall eating habits, as no amount of goji berries, not even if consumed daily,  is going to make up for a generally poor diet.

So having said this, I am still going to give you a list of foods which can make a good addition to your diet. But fear not, as there are no trends in sight!

Here you are five of my favourite super foods which are neither expensive, nor exotic:

  • Eggs: great source of protein as well as iron, zinc, b vitamins and selenium. Eggs contain choline which is vital for brain function and memory. They are also easy and fast to cook.
  • Olive oil: well, I am Italian and I was raised with a Mediterranean diet which includes plenty of extra virgin olive oil. Use it raw on your salads or sprinkled on your vegetables once they are cooked. One of my favourite snacks is mixed raw (or lightly steamed) vegetables dipped in olive oil. It is called ‘pinzimonio’ in Italian and it can be used as a simple, yet delicious, appetizer.
  • Nuts and seeds: a handful of raw nuts or seeds make an easy portable snack. They are a great source of vitamins, minerals, protein, omega 3 fatty acids and fibre. Store them in closed glass containers in the fridge as heat, air and light damage the beneficial oils in them and make them go rancid.
  • Avocados: rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, like those found in olive oil, potassium and b vitamins. Add them to your salads, use them as a creamy alternative to mayonnaise or prepare them as a dip.
  • Green tea: rich in antioxidants. Studies have shown that green tea consumption can enhance our immune function, lower our risk of cardiovascular disease, and support a healthy metabolism. Try swapping your daily cappuccino for a cup of green tea instead, you will still get a kick from the caffeine but also a boost of antioxidants.

It is anybody’s guess what new super foods are waiting in the wings but, in the meantime, let’s think about keeping things simple, reducing sugar and all processed foods for a start. Let’s go back to the basics and forget about magic bullets.  You see, when it comes to health and nutrition, a lot of it is just common sense.

If you would like to know more about how nutrition can help you, please get in touch. Call 07772491975 or drop me an email at info@stellanutrition.com

 

 

Spring is in the air. Is it time for a detox?

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Spring is definitely here, even if it’s still quite chilly in London!  I have noticed a few daffodils appearing here and there, and I am starting to think it might be time to give my house a deep ‘spring clean’. Notice, this is just a thought and it will hopefully go away soon!

During this time of year many people think about detoxing their bodies too and I get asked about this topic a lot. The main question I would like to answer is: do we really need to detox?

First of all let’s just remind ourselves that our body undergoes detoxification all the time. We all have inbuilt mechanisms to get rid of toxins thought the liver, urine, faeces and sweat. The liver, our main detoxification organ, makes toxic substances harmless and then makes sure they are safely released from the body. Unfortunately we live in a very toxic world, where toxins are everywhere and include pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fertilisers, food additives, chemicals, alcohol, medications, and solvents.

Our natural detoxification system can sometimes become overloaded and/or inefficient and an accumulation of toxins in the body can occur, leading to ill health. So when we think about detoxing, I believe it is more important to avoid loading our bodies with toxins in the first place, and to support our liver on a daily basis, instead of rushing to book a temporary quick fix juice-only retreat in the countryside!

For those of you who have read my previous posts, you know that I am not against juicing at all. I think that a short juice fast, for instance, can be useful to jump start weight loss, increase energy and empower people to take on healthier eating habits. A good detoxification programme may also be beneficial for some people, especially, those suffering from auto-immune conditions, allergies, headaches, fatigue, infertility, constipation, cellulite and cravings. However, extreme or DIY detoxification regimes can be particularly dangerous, especially if you suffer from a chronic condition, so before considering a detox, always seek advice from a fully qualified nutritional therapist or health practitioner.

So, which liver friendly foods should you consider?  Here you are a few ideas:

Vegetables: especially cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Beetroot is also extremely beneficial as it helps to thin the bile supporting detoxification. Globe artichoke, fennel, garlic and onions are also helpful.
Fruits: vitamin C rich lemons, oranges and berries. Apples and pears provide pectin, a soluble fibre, which combines with toxins in the gut and helps with their excretion. Papaya and pineapple contains enzymes which aid digestion.
Herbs: dandelion which improves gall bladder function and stimulates the flow of bile leading to improved digestion. It is also a strong diuretic and can help with water retention. You can eat the leaves in a salad or buy it as a coffee which you can find in most health food shops. Turmeric and wild yam also support gall bladder function.
Protein: oily fish (salmon, mackerel and sardines which also provide anti inflammatory omega threes fatty acids), white meats (chicken and turkey) and eggs. Avoid processed and smoked meats.
Fat: use coconut oil for cooking and extra virgin olive oil raw to add to foods. Avocado, in my view a true ‘super food’, is also a good source of beneficial oils as well as B vitamins, vitamin E and potassium.
• Choose organic produce whenever possible.
Water: ok it is not a food but it is your liver’s favourite drink! Aim for at least 1, 5 litres of purified water a day. If you do not have a water purifier then you can buy mineral water. You can also try lemon water or herbal teas.

And the foods you should avoid:

• All processed, pre-packaged foods which are loaded with hydrogenated and trans fats, as well as salt, additives and preservatives.
• Alcohol and stimulants (coffee, tea, chocolate).
• Refined carbohydrates, sugar and sweeteners. If you want something sweet, eat fresh fruit, in moderation.
• Eliminate gluten and dairy as they are pro-inflammatory as well as highly allergenic foods.

When it comes to avoiding food and detoxification, probably the best favour you can do to your body is to actually fast for a period of time. During fasting it is not just the digestive system that gets a break, but your whole body repairs itself on a cellular level. I do believe that fasting is not for everybody, but it can be beneficial for some people. Provided you are pretty healthy and do not suffer from specific conditions, you could give Intermittent Fasting (a ‘gentler’ version) a go to see if this works for you.

Another way the body gets rid of toxins is via sweat, so do not forget to include some physical exercise into your daily routine and go for a sauna, when you can.

There is also another aspect of detoxing and it relates to lifestyle. Toxins are not just in the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. For instance, women, and I have been guilty of this too in the past, put far too many chemicals on their skin and hair. If you have not already done so, you should consider switching to organic, chemical free cosmetics, as well as cleaning products for the home.

That spring cleaning might end up being a good idea after all!

 

If you would like to find out more about detoxing, get in touch. Call 07772491975 or write me an email at info@stellanutrition.com

Are you really hungry? Why distinguishing between physical and emotional hunger might be your best weight loss tool.

 

 

I have been really busy this month, and most clients have come to see me to lose weight.  There are many reasons why people might be struggling to maintain an ideal weight, and unfortunately it is rarely just a question of ‘calories in versus calories out’. If you are eating reasonably well and exercising too, but you still struggle with your weight, you might benefit from further investigations. Various imbalances in the body can make weight loss hard and need to be addressed. These include food intolerances, hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue, poor digestion as well as nutrients deficiencies.

However, I would like to address another issue here. One thing that most of my weight-loss clients have in common is that, according to them, they have a ‘difficult relationship’ with food. They tell me that this relationship is hard to explain; they call it ‘weird’, ‘shameful’ or simply ‘embarrassing’.  They say that sometimes they eat out of habit, or because they are bored, lonely, tired or stressed. Well, who has not done that, at least once? I can tell you that I have been there, and you?

This is emotional hunger which has nothing to do with physical hunger but still needs to be addressed if you want to lose weight.

Here are some clues to help you identify which hunger you might be experiencing:

 

PHYSICAL HUNGER 

 

·         Stomach is growling

 

·         Builds gradually

 

·         Can wait

 

·         Can be satisfied with a variety of foods

 

·         Stops when you are full

 

·         Occurs 3+ hours after a meal

 

·         Eating to satisfy physical hunger doesn’t make you feel bad about yourself and leads to satisfaction

 

 

EMOTIONAL HUNGER 

 

·         No physical clues

 

·         Develops suddenly

 

·         Needs to be satisfied immediately

 

·         Craves specific comfort foods

 

·         Persists even when you are full

 

·         Occurs at random times

 

·         Leads to feeling of guilt, powerlessness and shame

Next time you feel like eating something, ask yourself if you are really, truly hungry.

Is your stomach growling? When was the last time you ate something? Could you be thirsty instead? Drink a glass of water, wait for about 20 minutes and if you are still feeling hungry, then go ahead and have something to eat. Start to listen to your body, tune in and learn to recognise the physical signs of true hunger. Do not reach for food just because the clock says it is time to eat! On the other hand, if you are experiencing emotional eating you need to find satisfaction in something other than eating. You need to take a step back, take a deep breath, dig deeper and ask yourself what kind of void you are trying to fill.

So, next time you are reaching for the biscuits, ask yourself:

Am I bored? Change what you are doing. Go for a walk, exercise, give yourself a manicure/pedicure or read a book.

Am I lonely? Call a friend. Make a plan to meet up with someone you have not seen for a while, have something to look forward to.

Am I upset? Take a deep breath and let it go. If you truly have no control over the situation there is no point in getting stressed about it.

Am I tired? Take a break if you can. Have a hot bath, a massage or take a short nap.

Remember, no amount of food will ever satisfy emotional hunger.  Yes, not even a whole jar of Nutella is going to do the trick!

 

If you would like to discuss any of these topics, get in touch. Alongside Nutritional therapy, I regularly use NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) coaching techniques to help people make positive changes and achieve their goals.

 

 

Why you should ditch New Year resolutions.

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2015 is coming to an end and a brand New Year is about to start. This is probably the time when most people make New Year resolutions which usually involve food, drinks and exercise. People are promising themselves they will do everything it takes to be healthier, fitter and/or slimmer. Are you one of them? Then starting from tomorrow, you will finally join the gym (or start going if you are already a gym member), ditch the alcohol, ban chocolate and all sugars from your diet, eat more vegetables, and stop smoking. Better still you will start a strict detox for 3 weeks. Maybe you will do all of the above at the same time. Or maybe not.

Unfortunately, as we get back to our routines and the excitement of the new plans start to fade; most of these will be totally forgotten by mid February at the latest. Sounds familiar? Trust me, we have all been there. We have all tried to stick to our great resolutions but …yes there are always buts!

The truth is that as exciting as these plans sound, most of the time they are short lived because they are just unsustainable and totally unrealistic. Many people are looking for a quick fix and are prepared to embark on fad diets and crazy detox plans for the month of January hoping to fix all the damage done during the holidays, or even before that for that matter!  Let’s get one thing straight: detoxing or ‘being good’ (whatever that means for you!) for a short period of time and then return to your old eating habit, is just a waste of time.

Does this mean that we should not have good intentions to improve our health and wellbeing? Does this mean I do not want you to call me from next week and get busy working with you on some of these intentions? Have I actually had too much Prosecco over the holidays and lost the plot?   No, absolutely not! This might be just the right time to reconsider your new plans a little.

This is the time to realise that your health (not just your liver’s wellbeing) is a long term commitment.  It is the time to forget about quick fixes, the no-more-alcohol promises, the chocolate/sugar bans, or the crazy (non-supervised) detoxes. All these strict restrictions will not work in the long run and when you abandon them you will feel defeated and upset very quickly which is not a good way to start the New Year.

Why not aim for one or two achievable, small and realistic goals instead? Your body (and your mind!) will benefit more from some small and consistent changes that you can sustain through the whole year, than a short time of sad restrictions. Bear in mind that I still think that a supervised detox (like a juice cleanse for instance) can be a wonderful way to kick start a new healthy eating plan and just what you need to get you motivated. What I want to make clear is that you should aim for the long term game and not waste your energy on just a January whim.

So here you are a few ideas for some small achievable and realistic health goals:

  • Is alcohol your weakness? Instead of going for a dry January, aim to go for 4 consecutive alcohol-free days per week all the time. This will help give your liver a rest and you will gain in energy, better sleep and clearer skin.
  • Are you eating too much gluten? If you are having cereals in the morning followed by a sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner, you certainly are. Aim to restrict gluten intake to just 1 meal a day to begin with, working towards removing it completely from your diet. Gluten intolerance or sensitivity (which is not celiac disease) is on the increase and many people find that when they remove gluten from their diet they experience improved digestion, less bloating, more energy, less water retention and better moods. So, swap the cereals for some oat based porridge, the sandwich for a gluten free wrap and the pasta for some rice. Your gut will soon thank you for this!
  • Addicted to caffeine? You are if you are consuming more than 4 cups of caffeinated drinks a day. Why not try to stick to one cup of coffee/tea, in the morning for example, if you cannot face the day without it (I am with you on this one!) and switch to herbal/fruit teas during the rest of the day? It might take you a few days to get used to this but it is actually easier than you think. Avoiding stimulants during the day will also help to keep your blood sugar levels more stable which means no mid afternoons energy dips.
  • What about exercise? Instead of planning to work out at the gym 5 times a week, start with getting off the bus/tube a stop earlier and walk the rest of the way to work. Better still, could you walk/bike to work instead? Exercise does not have to take place at the gym, you can increase your physical activity by doing something more enjoyable like dancing, gardening, swimming or playing a game of football with the kids.

Have fun tonight and when you have a toast to the New Year remember your new attainable goals and drink to those too!

May I wish you a happier and healthier New Year!

 

My top tips on how to survive the party season!

 

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December is the month of celebrations, spending time with family and friends, enjoying festive foods and drinks. Nutrition-wise this can be a challenging time but I do not believe that we should lock ourselves indoors to avoid the parties and skip on all the fun.

Here you are a few tips on how to enjoy yourself keeping your health (especially your liver!) and your waistline in mind:

  • First of all, avoid going to a party hungry. This is because when you are hungry it is easy to eat a lot of party food quickly, and you might end up not making the healthiest of choices. Before going out, nibble on some healthy fat and protein which will help stabilize your blood sugar levels and also prevent alcohol from being absorbed too quickly into your bloodstream. Great options are a boiled egg, some olives or a few slices of chicken/turkey breast.
  • When you get to the party stay away from the carbohydrate rich canapés, mince pies or sausage rolls. Choose some smoked salmon, nuts and olives instead. Although olives and nuts can be salty, they are still better options than crisps or nachos.
  • Watch your drinks! No, I am not going to tell you not to drink but choose your poison carefully and drink in moderation. I often get asked what my hangover cure is; well I say that prevention is better than any cure so the less you drink the less likely you are to wake up with a spinning head in the morning. Keep things simple and never drink on an empty stomach. Food in the stomach helps to delay the absorption of alcohol in the blood so you do not get drunk too quickly.
  • So what to drink? Sticking to a glass of wine is much better than having a mixed drink which can be loaded with extra sugars. Be careful with the sparkling wine though, as a standard glass contains 2 teaspoons of sugar, 3 times as much as red wine.  Try diluting alcoholic drinks. Fancy a spritzer or shandy anyone? Also remember that soft drinks, juices, punches and flavored mineral waters can have as many calories as alcoholic drinks. Be mindful as it all adds up and, unfortunately, it will probably all land on your waistline.
  • Pace yourself and alternate between one alcoholic drink and a glass of water. This will help dilute the alcohol in your bloodstream and prevent dehydration. Dehydration is one of the main causes of hangover symptoms like headaches so it does make sense to drink plenty of water too while you are out partying.
  • If you still wake up feeling dreadful the next day and you are unable to face going to the office, then try taking some Dioralyte. Dissolve a sachet in a glass of water to improve your hydration and replace mineral salts. By the way, this not a ‘cure’ but it might make you feel a bit better.
  • What about the morning-after breakfast? Although a full English breakfast might sound like a good idea, it will leave you bloated and lethargic. Go for a couple of scrambled eggs instead. Eggs are rich in cysteine which is an important antioxidant utilized by the liver to break down toxins. I would also eat as many bright colored vegetables as possible, especially carrots and beetroots. These contain powerful antioxidants which also help the liver to detoxify. Resist the temptation to drink lots of tea and coffee which are dehydrating. Opt for a super hydrating and energizing green juice instead, full of super nutrients like vitamin C, magnesium and B vitamins.
  • Remember to keep active. Even if you skip the gym routine, get out there and go for a walk instead. Nothing beats a brisk walk in the park to get rid of that morning after feeling. Why not involve the kids with a game of football to keep them busy and burn some calories at the same time?

Ultimately, if you do drink an extra glass or eat a bit more than usual, do not punish yourself. I believe you can allow small indulgences over the holidays and relax about it. Embrace the festive fun, provided you go back to your healthy eating and excising when the parties are over.

May I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

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Juice cleanse day 3: amazing energy and glowing skin!

Today was my third and last day of the juice cleanse, courtesy of The Healthy Juice Company. I woke up bright and early again to find my lovely juices waiting for me on the doorstep. This is getting exciting and I know I will miss this routine tomorrow. First of all, let me say that I woke up feeling incredible!  I started my day with tons of energy, no hunger, no craving for coffee at all and my skin looking brighter than usual. If one day you decide to embark on a juice fast, please try to stay strong on day 2 (I think this is the hardest by far) because the way you will feel on day 3 makes it all worth it. It is almost a feeling of euphoria that makes you want to smile!

So, after the first drink of the day, the delicious ‘sunshine’ in a mug and the school run I decided to go to the gym. During a cleanse, exercise is important but usually it is advisable to choose a gentle form of exercise like yoga, swimming, or walking.  I might be crazy but I was feeling fantastic so I went for my regular body pump session. Did I use my regular weights? Ok, I went a bit lighter on some tracks but I did well and continued to feel wonderful for the whole day! Having said this, I am not advising you to go out there and do a hardcore gym workout during a juice fast. You must always listen to your body and do what works for you. I just want to share my own experience.

I also met up with my client, Mrs Vassiliki Spyropoulou, who gave me an update on her progresses. Day 2 was also the hardest for her but today she was feeling great. She looked radiant and she told me she felt lighter and her jeans were very baggy too. This is us, proud to be showing a very healthy glow!

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I have also lost some weight. This is most likely to be just water because fresh juices have high content of potassium which helps cleanse out excess sodium that causes water retention. As previously explained this weight can be easily put back on while normal eating resumes. However, the initial weight loss, combined with the increased energy, could be very important for people who decide to do a juice cleanse in order to jump start a new healthy eating programme.

The highlight of my day was once again the lunchtime nut milk. This time it was a tasty blend of almond milk, cashew milk, dates, milk thistle seeds, Brazil nuts, cacao, raw virgin coconut oil, cinnamon, chia seeds and pink Himalayan salt.  Rich, creamy and simply delicious.  This is the one Vassiliki is holding in the picture above while I was still drinking a blend of beetroot, orange, fennel, and cucumber.

My least favorite drink during the cleanse has been the last drink of the day, the ‘Gentle green’ which contains some aloe vera. Unfortunately, I am not a big fan of aloe vera so I did not enjoy this juice.  Overall, I could not be happier with this experience and I think The Healthy Juice Company is delivering fantastic high quality products and a unique personal service. My only negative feedback to them, and I am being extremely picky, would be about this juice. I wonder if there is a way to make it taste better.

The day is coming to an end and I am still feeling good. From tomorrow I will need to introduce solid foods slowly to avoid shocking my digestive system. I am planning to start with some smoothies, warm soups and some raw vegetables. There is always time to introduce some ‘toxins’ later on (it is party season, right?) but at the moment I want to maximize the cleanse benefits.

I also would like to point out that this is not a sponsored post. I am not paid by anyone to test products or to express my ideas. I genuinely love this company and I would not hesitate to recommend their products to my clients and friends.

Please remember that, although adding a few juices to your overall healthy eating is generally ok for most people, a juice cleanse is not for everyone. Check with your doctor or registered nutritional therapist before you decide to embark on a juice fast, especially if you are diabetic, underweight, pregnant, have chronic heart disease, low blood pressure or cancer.

Thank you for following me on this juicing adventure. If you have any questions please post them on my FB page.

 

Juice cleanse Day 2: the juice fast continues!

Today was my second day of the juice cleanse. I woke up at 6.00 am and the juice box was already on my door step. I think I could get used to this! Today the juices were different from yesterday and I really like this because you get to experience new flavours and have no time to get bored! Another thumb up for The Healthy Juice Company!

I was not hungry on waking up but I had a headache. The warm cup of ‘sunshine’ went down well, just like yesterday. I had a busy schedule for the morning but I decided to go for a 30 minutes’ walk to see if the fresh air could clear my head. I felt a bit better afterwards but, to be honest, still not great. I know I should have taken a bit of extra time off to rest and go for a nap but this was not possible so I went on with juice number 2, the ‘Gloriously green’.  This is a delicious mix of cucumber, pear, celery, wheatgrass, coriander, lemon, spinach, broccoli, kale and chlorella. Yes, all of these wonderful nutrients in a 480ml bottle. I have juiced before and I thought I knew a thing or two about green juices, well let me tell you this is the best green juice I have ever tasted!  Incredibly refreshing, tasty and packed with nutrients.

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The highlight of the day was my lunchtime drink which was a wonderful nut milk. This time it was a blend of hazelnut and almond milk with milk thistle, seeds, dates, Brazil nuts, raw virgin coconut oil and pink Himalayan salt. This is a powerful mix of goodness and also very filling. After this my headache started to clear too which was great. I spent the rest of the day decorating the Christmas tree with my daughter and my mum who is spending a couple of weeks here with us in London. Mum, who is Italian and a fantastic cook, is also amazed that I have not been tempted by all her cooking (yes she always cooks for us when she is here) and that I am in a very good mood despite the lack of snacking. Did I ever mention this?  I am a ‘grazer’ and although I snack on healthy foods, I truly believe that I could do with eating less sometimes. For me an important ‘side effect’ of this cleanse has been the fact that I have learnt more about my own eating habits and how sometimes I also use food for reasons that have little to do with hunger. There you have it, nutritionists are not perfect either!

In the afternoon I had a visit from a princess (my daughter obviously!) who declared this was going to be her drink because ‘Princesses like juices too, you know mamma!’ She managed to drink almost half of it by the time I could claim it back. She was surprised when I told her the juice was made of carrot, fennel, pear, celery, lime, lemon, ginger, cardamom and clover and no, not orange despite the colour!

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To end my second day on this wonderful journey of juicing and self discovery, I took a long relaxing bath with Epsom salts. They contain sulphur and magnesium which are vital for detoxification. I know I am going to sleep well tonight even if I am not as tired as last night. It is almost 9.00 pm right now and, by the way, I am still not hungry!

I can’t wait to see the wonderful variety of juices that will be on my doorstep tomorrow. Stay tuned for more and if you have any questions on juicing or on my experience please post them on my FB page.  Thank you and happy juicing!

I also would like to point out that this is not a sponsored post. I am not paid by anyone to test products or to express my ideas.

 

At Stella Nutrition is time for a juice cleanse!

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I have been given an amazing opportunity to try a 3 day juice cleanse from the awesome The Healthy Juice Company.  For three days, each morning they will deliver directly to my doorstep (before 6 am!) a box with a whole day supply of cold pressed, organic, raw, fresh and tasty juices. This means that I get to experience the advantages of a juice fast without having to do all the hard work of buying the fruit/veggies, juicing and washing up! Yes, being a nutritional therapist has some advantages sometimes! I also like to try different diets and products before I recommend them to clients. Although we are all unique and we might react differently to various things, I think it is important for me to experience potential challenges that clients might come across while embarking on a new eating plan, so I can fully support them.

This time my challenge is a juice cleanse which means that I will be consuming only juices for 3 days. Obviously I can also drink unlimited amounts of water and herbal teas but no chewing foods! I have tried water only fasts and juice fasts before but only for a maximum of 2 days so I am curious to see if I can push myself a little further this time. Thanks to the extreme generosity of The Healthy Juice Company I also get to offer this amazing 3 day cleanse to one of my clients. I choose a lady in good health who just wants to increase her energy levels and who loves a challenge! I will be reporting on her experience too as we are doing the cleanse at the same time.

Before I tell you about how my first day went, let’s see why and if you should consider a juice fast.

The main reason for doing a juice cleanse is not weight loss like many people might think, (yes, you will lose some weight but this can easily be put back on when you start eating normally again) but for detoxing, increasing energy levels and vitality. During a juice fast your digestive system gets a rest but you are still introducing lots of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, amino acids) and live enzymes for optimal health. The high water content of the juices helps to hydrate the body and clear waste too. Toxins which have built up over time will also be released. The results? You can expect increased energy levels, clearer/glowing skin, better resistance to infections (colds and flu), improved mental clarity/focus and better sleep.  Isn’t this remarkable?

You are probably wondering about any side effects or if you are going to be starving at all! To help with any potential side effects or withdrawal symptoms it is better to start cutting down or removing the following foods 2 or 3 days (ideally a week) before starting on the cleanse:

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Gluten (such as wheat, barley, rye and spelt)
  • Trans and hydrogenated fats (found in most processed foods and cakes, biscuits, deep fried foods)
  • Refined carbohydrates (sweets, pizza, pasta, white breads and processed meals)
  • Red and processed meats
  • Salt
  • Dairy foods (especially milk and cheese. Yogurt is usually more easily tolerated)
  • All fizzy sugary drinks

Regarding hunger, in actual fact with these nutrients packed delicious juices you are not starving your body at all. You are probably giving your body even more nutrients than usual. Also hunger can be more emotional than physical as sometimes we put food in our mouths just out of habit or boredom and not because we are really hungry. We should all be more mindful when it comes to eating and listen to our body before reaching for foods.

Please note that if you suffer from any chronic conditions you should not embark on any detoxification programme without being followed by a health professional like a registered nutritional therapist or a naturopath.

So, how did I get on?

DAY 1

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I was up at 6.20 am and, as promised, the precious box was waiting for me on my doorstep. A lovely card to let me know that the juices arrived was put through my letter box. This was a lovely touch! The juices come in glass bottles which need to be rinsed and left outside at the end of the day to be picked up by the driver again. In the box you will also find some paper straws lined with beewax. These are provided so you remember to sip your juices slowly and also to protect your teeth enamel.

The first juice was not a real juice but a lovely mixture of lemon, ginger, turmeric, golden linseeds, coconut oil, Himalayan pink salt and black pepper which needs to be mixed to warm water before drinking. As stated by The Healthy Juice Company, this is simply ‘sunshine’ in a mug and a great way to start the day. Surprisingly I did not miss my usual morning coffee!

I drank the first juice of the day at around 10.00. This was a green wheatgrass juice. Wheatgrass contains chlorophyll which is oxygen for the cells and highly detoxifying. It tasted very refreshing.  The next juice (at around 12.00) was very fruity and simply delicious. I was busy during the morning and did not feel hungry at all.

My lunch was a fantastic and very filling nut milk. This was my favorite drink of the day as it tasted very indulgent. Around mid-afternoon I noticed my tongue was a bit coated and I was slightly lightheaded but this is very normal during the initial phases of any detox process. While writing right now (7.00 pm) I am sipping my last juice of the day. This is a very light drink with some aloe vera to calm and restore. I am feeling a bit tired and I am sure I will sleep well tonight.

Overall today has been a breeze and I can’t wait to see what juices will be waiting on my doorstep tomorrow morning!

I also would like to point out that this is not a sponsored post. I am not paid by anyone to test products or to express my ideas.

Wish me well and if you have any questions about juicing fell free to ask here on my FB page. Remember to like my page and keep following the blog for more updates on the next exciting days ahead.

 

Healthy and quick snack options for you and your children.

Healthy nuts and seeds

A lot of people seem stuck when it comes to choosing healthy snacks options and I get asked a lot what snacks are best and especially what snacks I prepare for my daughter. First of all, I cannot give advice as to what is ‘best’ as this depends on the individual and, as some of you have heard me saying times and times again, there is no special food/diet which suits everybody. We are all different and what might be good for one person could be totally unsuitable for another. This is something to always bear in mind when it comes to food!

Having said this, I am going to share with you some of the foods I snack on and some of my daughter favorite’s snacks which your kids might also like. This is because unfortunately, I still see many parents and kids who think that crisps, cupcakes and cheap chocolate bars are acceptable snacks. I am here to show you that healthy snacking is not only possible, but also easy and convenient. All you need is a little planning!

Easy snacks options to carry with you when you are out and about:

  • An apple (or other piece of fruit) and a handful of nuts or seeds.
  • A handful of pre-mixed seeds (sunflower and pumpkin), mixed nuts and chopped dried fruits (like apricots and raisins).
  • Cheese cubes with grapes.
  • Homemade high protein, sugar and gluten free muffins. See this post on my facebook page for one of my recipes.
  • A small pot of plain Greek yogurt with some blueberries.
  • Homemade flapjacks or oat bars. If you are pushed for time, travelling or stuck with a shop bought version (I know life is busy and we do not always have time to bake!) then go for one of the Pulsin fruit bites or protein snacks. They are available at most health stores and although they still contain some fructose (sugar from fruit) they are high in protein and low GI. This makes them a better choice than most fruits bars and flapjacks you find at the supermarkets.

Snacks options that require a bit more preparation or are just easier to eat at home:

  • Carrot, celery, pepper, cucumber sticks dipped into hummus, guacamole or tzatziki.
  • A couple of gluten free oatcakes with some nut butter or spread with cream cheese and topped with smoked salmon.
  • A couple of bread free ham rolls. Instead of bread slices or wraps use thin ham slices and add any filling you like. I usually add some cream or grated cheese and grated carrots.
  • A banana smoothie (banana, strawberries or other fruit of choice, a scoop of protein powder, and coconut/almond milk blended together).
  • 1 boiled egg with some homemade kale crisps.
  • Half an avocado with a few prawns.
  • Frozen banana bites. Slice some ripe bananas and freeze them for at least 3 hours. Remove from the freezer and spread a little almond butter on half of them. Top them with the other banana slices as if you were making a sandwich. These are always a winner with my daughter’s friends!

Many children are very hungry when you pick them up from school. If you find that these healthy snacks are not enough and they keep asking for more food, then you might want to consider bringing their dinner forward. I often do this with my daughter as it works best for her especially on sports day. If after an early meal, she gets a bit peckish again later on in the evening, then she can have one of the above snacks. With kids you really have to be flexible and go with what works best for them.

Most importantly, as I mentioned earlier, plan ahead so you are prepared. Always carry some of these snacks in your bag or keep some in the car for when you are travelling so you are never caught out.

Now you know the real reason why my handbags are so big!

It’s pumpkin soup time!

pumpkins-nutrition-wimbledon

Autumn in Wimbledon has arrived and this means it is pumpkins season!  I am very excited because I simply love pumpkins! I love their smell, colour, flavour and because I like cooking with seasonal produce, I am going to share my delicious pumpkin soup recipe with you.

But first let me tell you something about pumpkins and their nutritional value.

Did you know that pumpkin is not a vegetable but a fruit? It belongs to the family Cucurbitaceae, which includes cucumbers, melons and squash.  In this soup I used both pumpkin and butternut squash. These are just variety of winter squash which come in many different shapes, colours and sizes but share similar nutrients.

Pumpkin is a great source of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Consuming foods rich in beta-carotene helps to support our immune system (much needed as the colds season is also fast approaching!)  as well as delaying the aging process, keeping our skin glowing and our eyes healthy. Pumpkins are also rich in fibre and minerals like copper, calcium and potassium.  And do not forget the seeds, they are also packed with nutrients and a great, easy to carry, on-the-go snack!

So go on, don’t just carve this beautiful orange fruit for Halloween, cook it and eat it too! You can make pumpkin pies, mash, curries, risottos, biscuits, muffins, or simply roast it in the oven and enjoy it with a drizzle of olive oil. The choice is yours!

Now back to my warming and nutrients rich soup.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pumpkin
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsps coconut oil
  • Nutmeg and ground black pepper to taste
  • Pumpkin seeds and coconut cream (optional)
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Half the pumpkin and the squash remove the seeds then chop and place on a large baking tray in the oven.

Meanwhile, chop the onions, garlic, and carrot. Heat the coconut oil over a medium heat in a large saucepan then add the chopped vegetables and cook until soft.  When the pumpkin and squash are ready scoop out the flesh and add to the pan with the hot stock. Blend with a hand blender and your delicious soup is ready!

Ladle the soup into bowls and, if you like a richer flavour, you can add some coconut cream and some pumpkin seeds before serving. Here is a picture of one I made this morning.

Enjoy and Happy Halloween from Stella Nutrition!