My top 7 holiday essentials.

 

Many of you have asked me what I pack when I go on holidays. Well, I am going to be packing soon because bikini time is next week for me, so it’s a good time to share my top 7 essential holiday items with you.

 

1) Healthy snacks.
Airport food has improved dramatically in recent years, so if you have time to spare you can still grab some decent snacks before you fly. However, you might end up stuck in traffic on your way to the airport and not have the luxury to shop at the terminal and then you are in trouble.
Do you really want to eat airplane food? No, trust me you don’t! In my previous life, when I was very young –ah dear a long time ago!- I used to be cabin crew and I learnt pretty quickly that if I wanted to sustain my energy during the flight and arrive at my destination feeling good, I had to simply avoid eating the food on board. I could go on and on about the reasons why you shouldn’t eat what they serve you on board, but I don’t want to bore you. Take my word for it and pack something edible instead.
Good and easy options are: oat cakes, gluten free crackers, nuts/seeds, olives, unrefined sugar-free bars and fruit. If you have time before you leave home, boil some eggs and take those too. By the way, these rules apply even better if you travel by car or train because you have fewer restrictions on what you can carry. So plan ahead and you won’t be bloated the first day on the beach!

2) Probiotics (live bacteria).
This is non negotiable, even if you forget all the rest you must take this!
Around 30% of travellers report that they experience diarrhoea while on holiday. When we eat different foods in unfamiliar environments it can be common to experience stomach upsets. This is thought to be causes by upsetting the balance of one’s natural gut flora which is the bacteria living in our digestive tract. I start taking a multi-strain probiotic supplement a week before travelling, during the holiday and a week afterwards to offer a degree of protection. When I am at home I use the Biocare range, but when travelling I switch to Optibac or Bio-Kult as they are still good quality products and don’t need to be refrigerated.

3) Multi-vitamin.
A multi-vitamin is like an insurance policy as you need a huge range of vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. I think that while on holidays you should still try to maintain your healthy habits and taking your multi be one of them.

4) Coconut oil.
No, I am not planning on doing any cooking at all while I am away.
I always keep a jar of coconut oil in the bathroom at home and now it’s coming with me. I use coconut oil to clean my face and moisturise my daughter’s and my own skin. I also use some on my hair to prevent the ends form drying out and tame the frizz.

5) Non-toxic Sun Lotion.
Sun protection is an obvious one, but have you ever thought about the amount of chemicals your skin will absorb while you keep applying your average sun lotion?
There are many different natural brands out there, but my top favourites are Jason and Green People. In the picture there is my daughter’s one as she was playing with the bottles I bought last week and now I can’t find mine anymore!
By the way, please avoid overexposing your skin to the sun and don’t think you are invincible just because you applied some lotion, natural or not.

6) A pashmina.
A pashmina, or big scarf, can serve a multitude of purposes. You can use it as a light scarf, a plane blanket, a rolled-up pillow, or umbrella. It’s useful to cover your shoulders on those breezy evenings on your villa’s balcony or to brighten up an outfit. If you have kids you probably need two as one will be used as a sling, breastfeeding cover, emergency matt or towel!
It’s a great fashion accessory that no self respected ex global girl can fail to pack, ever!

7) A good read.
I might be slightly obsessed but even when I take a break I read about nutrition. I just love to read about different approaches in the field and I also like to read books I can recommend to my clients. Choose whatever you prefer but I think a good book is definitely a must!

Stay healthy, take it easy and enjoy your holiday!

 

Five easy ways to fire up your metabolism.

 

Here in London the temperatures are starting to rise and summer is just around the corner. If you have planned a beach holiday, it means that ‘bikini time’ is quickly approaching.

It is true that ‘summer bodies are made in winter’ but we still have some time to get ready for the beach.  I say ‘we’ because I will be going to the beach too in July, and despite my diet being pretty good –at least 80% of the time! – I haven’t been hitting the gym as much as I would have liked recently. So, I am not really sure my body is ready for that bikini right now which means it’s time to take some action!

If the thought of baring it all in a bikini, is also making your blood pressure go up, you might want to read on. I am going to tell you about five simple ways to boost your metabolism and why this is important.

Your metabolism is the sum of all the physical and chemical processes by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. The higher your metabolism is, the more calories you burn and the easier it is lose weight.

Your ‘metabolic rate’ which is how fast your metabolism works (and is measured in calories) accounts for around 70 percent of all the calories you burn.  70 percent!  This is why it’s important to make sure you metabolism is working well.

Metabolism is affected by a range of things like age, gender, diet, physical activity and body composition; however there are a few things you can do to enhance it.

 

  1. Drink green tea.

Green tea has always been appreciated for its high levels of antioxidants but there is evidence that its active ingredient, catechin, may help in boosting metabolism too. As green tea still contains caffeine, avoid drinking it too late in the day if you have trouble falling asleep or you know you are sensitive to caffeine.

 

  1. Eat protein.

It takes longer to burn protein than carbohydrates and fats, so your body expends more energy to absorb the nutrients coming from protein. Have some good quality protein (eggs, lean meat, fish, nuts and seeds) at every meal and snack. This will also help in keeping you fuller for longer so you don’t end up overeating.

 

  1. Add spices to your meals.

If you like a spicy dish then there is good news for you. When you eat spice your body temperature goes up which might increase the amount of energy you expend. The research looking at this refers specifically to capsaicin, the active compound that gives red chilli pepper its powerful kick. And it appears that, although eating chillies gives you just a temporary boost in metabolic rate, it might also increase feeling of satiety which is another good reason to spice foods up!

 

  1. Do some HIIT.

HIIT workouts normally include short bursts of high intensity exercise, alternating with short relief breaks. There is evidence that this form of exercise protects against heart disease, supports healthy blood pressure and also improves insulin sensitivity which impacts metabolism.  So, it’s official there is no need to spend hours at the gym with these shorter, but still effective, powerful sessions. I like the sound of that!

 

  1. Get a good night sleep.

Unfortunately we are a sleep deprived society who sleeps, on average, 2 hours less than a century ago. Research shows that people who are sleep deprived are more likely to overeat or choose unhealthy foods because their appetite/hunger hormones are altered. We are all different, so we all require different amounts of sleep for optimal function; however most people need around 8 hours of good quality sleep at night for optimal health.

 

We all know that there are no special foods or magic tricks that are going to make us lose weight quickly, safely and for good. However, if you just need to tone up or have only a couple of pounds to lose, following these simple tips might just do the trick and you will arrive at the beach looking great and feeling fantastic!

 

If you would like to lose weight in a safe way and maintain your weight loss for good without any starvation or fad diet, please get in touch. Call 07772491975 for a discovery call to find out how I can help you feel good about your body again!

 

Beat the holiday bloat: 5 top tips to keep your belly flat during the festive season.

Christmas is almost here! You have decorated the tree, you have done all your shopping already (well done you! I will be doing mine at the very last minute as usual!) and you might have already been tempted by the various festive foods and sweets out there. The supermarket aisles have been packed with loads of decadent foods for weeks now, and yes, I hear you say that it’s all tasty and it’s Christmas and all the rest, but the truth is that these foods can truly irritate your digestive system as well as sabotaging your healthy eating habits.

As a result of overindulging, many people end up struggling with bloating, trapped wind, acid reflux, abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhoea. If you suffer from IBS you might be noticing that your symptoms flare up during the holidays which can make you feel more stressed and anxious. This is a time when stress is already a big factor as families get together, kids are off school and you might be juggling many things to make sure it all runs smoothly on Christmas day.

So, what can you do to make sure that at least your tummy won’t play up? No worries, I won’t ask you to stay at home and avoid all the parties and the fun. However, I don’t think Christmas should be an excuse to eat loads of unhealthy food and then feel unwell because of it.

Here you are my 5 top tips to beat the Christmas bloat:

Watch those sprouts.

I am officially giving you a great excuse to avoid eating Brussels sprouts this Christmas. For those of you who like them, did you know that you can eat them even before and after the holidays? And for those of you who don’t (I am with you) why bother? Do you end up eating them just because it’s a tradition? Sorry but it makes me laugh when I see people loading their trolleys with them just at Christmas.

Back to the bloating, those little devils together with other cruciferous vegetables (like cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, which I love by the way!), beans, lentils and anything too rich in onions and garlic can give you bloating. They contain FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-di-mono-saccharides and polyols) which are carbohydrates that escape digestion and get fermented by gut bacteria in the colon, causing gas. If you are used to eating them already, then you won’t not be affected, but if you aren’t, then please go easy with them or you will end up with a belly like Santa.

  Say hello to probiotics.

Overeating can lead to an imbalance of gut flora and encourage tummy upsets. Support your gut with foods which contain live bacteria like plain unsweetened yogurt or kefir. To boost the levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut, you can also take a multi-strain probiotic supplement daily during this time of year. In this way, you will be doing your immune system a favour too as well as keeping any IBS symptoms in check.

Slow down.

Eating too quickly can cause you to swallow a lot of air, worsening the bloated feeling you might get after meals. When you eat rapidly, you also don’t savour your food properly and you end up eating more than you should which is never advisable.  So, always eat sitting down and take time to chew your food properly. Remember, your stomach doesn’t have teeth!

Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate.

Unfortunately I am not talking about drinking wine, spirits or any fizzy drinks which you are inevitably going to be offered at parties. I am also not going to play the bad cop and recommend you stay away from alcohol completely.  Be mindful with your drinks and alternate every alcoholic drink with a glass of water.

When you are not partying, drink plenty of filtered water and herbal teas to keep warm and hydrated. The best options to calm and support the digestion are: fennel, ginger, peppermint, liquorice and cardamom. You can also chew on some fennel seeds after a meal. This is a delicious traditional Indian method which works well at promoting digestion.

 Sweat it out

If you end up overindulging with food and drink, then try to stick to your exercise routine as much as possible. If you are not able to get yourself down the gym, go for a brisk walk or a jog instead. Light exercise will still carry oxygen to your digestive tract and move everything through you faster. Exercise is also a great stress buster which is a bonus.

And finally, do enjoy the festive spirit. Focus on slowing down instead of worrying too much about what you should or should not eat. Provided you go back to your healthy eating and exercise routine when the holidays are over, you really have nothing to fear.

May I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a New Year full of health and well-being!

Is chocolate good for you?

chocolade-e14247589597861 It is Chocolate Week here in London, and if we need an excuse to indulge in one of the most loved and popular sweet treats in the world, this is definitely a good one. I know for sure I will be heading to Olympia at the weekend for the Chocolate Show. I hear you asking: ‘Why on earth would a nutritional therapist go to a chocolate show?’ Well, first of all because it is a fun way to spend an hour or two. Last time I went they had amazing chocolate creations on display, the whole place smelt divine and I also got to taste some weird and wonderful combinations -lavender and lime flavoured chocolate truffles anyone?-  The real reason is that I actually  love chocolate!

A question I often get asked is: can chocolate be good for you? I have great news for you! Yes, chocolate can be good for you, but before you go and stuff yourself with a couple of Kit Kats, wait a minute and read on.

Perhaps I am going to spoil the good news, and your day, now but I am not about to tell you that moderation is key here. You know how some people say ‘yes, well a bit of what you fancy won’t hurt’ and so on. Actually, what does ‘in moderation’ mean anyway?  I am sure some people are very self discipline and can open a box of chocolate, eat one, put the box away and forget it in the cupboard for weeks. The reality is that most of us (me included) would happily munch their way through the whole box while watching the news.

 So, yes the amount of chocolate you eat is very important but hold this thought for a moment. The most important point is actually the quality of the chocolate you choose to eat.

Chocolate comes from the cacao plant and most specifically from its seeds. Cacao is extremely rich in flavanols which are a type of flavanoids (antioxidants). The studies we hear about which boast of chocolate’s amazing health benefits, are actually referring to the properties of raw cacao rather than the average store-bought sugar and trans fats filled chocolate bar.

So, it is dark chocolate (with a high cocoa content) that is actually quite nutritious and can improve your health. Chocolate with a 75-85% cocoa contains good levels of iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, zinc and selenium. If you swap your milky bar with a few squares of high quality dark chocolate you could benefit from the following:

  • Improved blood flow and lower blood pressure: the flavanoids mentioned earlier seem to stimulate the production on Nitric Oxide in the lining of the arteries. This lowers the resistance to blood flow and therefore blood pressure1.
  • Better heart health: the antioxidants in cocoa can improve various risk factors for heart disease like lowering LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad’ type) in the blood and reducing insulin resistance2,3.
  • Reduced stress: chocolate increases the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is the feel-good chemical which plays a role in positive moods, emotional health and balanced appetite. Low levels of this neurotransmitter are linked to depression, so if you are feeling a bit blue because it’s getting colder and darker out there, add a couple of squares of dark chocolate to your diet and watch your moods improve.

In a nutshell, the higher the cacao content and the lower the sugar, the better. Choose organic if you can, and bear in mind that chocolate also contains caffeine and theomobrine which are stimulants and should not be over consumed.

 And the quantities? In case you go around telling everybody I said scoffing chocolate is great for you, I will say it again, it’s just a couple of small squares from time to time not a whole bar in one sitting!

See you at the Chocolate Show!

References

  1. Schewe T, Steffen Y, Sies H. ‘How do dietary flavonols improve vascular function? A position paper.’ Archives Biochem Biophys. 2008 Aug 15;476(2):102-6.
  2. Wan Y et al. ‘Effects of cocoa powder and dark chocolate on LDL oxidative susceptibility and prostaglandin concentrations in humans’. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2001 Nov;74(5):596-602.
  3. Grassi et al. ‘Blood pressure is reduced and insulin sensitivity increased in glucose-intolerant, hypertensive subjects after 15 days of consuming high-polyphenols dark chocolate’. Journal of Nutrition 138, 1671-1676.

 

Are you ready for the colds’ season?

62794150 - fresh organic onion, garlic and lemon on jute canvas on old wooden background, healthy nutrition, strengthening immunity and treatment of flu

Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_ratmaner’>ratmaner / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

 

The kids have settled into their school routines, you have put  the summer clothes away and replaced the sandals with boots. You are getting ready to face the colder months, but is your immune system prepared to fight the dreaded flu season?

Follow our healthy tips to boost your immunity and have a cold free winter:

  • Vitamin C: although it appears that taking vitamin c won’t prevent you from catching a cold, loading up on foods rich in this powerful antioxidant, might still help your body to fight infections and shorten symptoms if you do fall ill. Best sources are: citrus fruits, kiwis, berries, peppers, broccoli and kale.
  • Zinc: this mineral is needed for optimal physical performance and energy levels. It is also required for proper functioning of the body’s infection-fighting white blood cells. Best sources are: lean red meat, seafood (especially oysters), whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
  • Eat a whole foods diet: beside vitamin c and zinc, many other nutrients are needed to support the immune system like vitamin A, C, D, E and selenium. Base your diet on whole foods like good quality proteins (eggs, fish, lean meats, nuts and seeds), legumes, whole grains as well as plenty of fresh vegetables and Avoid pre-packed, processed foods which are nutrients poor as well as being full of refined sugars, additives and all sorts of artificial ingredients.
  • Herbs and spices: these contain powerful immune boosting nutrients. Add garlic, oregano, parsley, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, and cayenne to your cooking regularly.
  • Keep hydrated: as the weather gets colder it is easy to forget to drink but keeping hydrate is vital to help the body to fight any harmful viruses and stave off colds for longer. Drink filtered or bottled water and experiment with some warming herbal teas like lemon and ginger, apple, cinnamon, orange peel, and cardamom.
  • Sleep: remember that the body repairs and rejuvenates during sleep, so not getting enough sleep increases our chances of falling ill. Try to have dinner early at least two, better three, hours before bedtime and keep all electronic devices away from the bedroom to ensure a restful night.

Remember that chronic stress can weaken the immune system and make us more vulnerable to diseases, so take some time every day to have some fun and enjoy life! This can be just 20 minutes of playing with your kids when they get back from school, going for a quick walk with your dog or enjoying a cuddle with your partner at the end of the day.

It doesn’t really matter what you do, but it is important to take some time to switch off from our busy lives and reconnect to nature and/or with each others ……so please switch off the mobile phones too during these precious moments!

Please note, we do not recommend the use of supplements without seeking professional advice first, as doing so could be harmful. Call 07772491975 for personalized advice on how nutrition can help support your immune system.

It’s tennis and strawberries time in Wimbledon!

Red strawberry in a bowl on wooden background

We are very excited at Stella Nutrition because the Wimbledon tournament is almost here and so it’s the great tradition of having strawberries and cream. This combination was originally consumed by royalty, but it is now a ritual among all tournament fans.

Strawberries smell beautifully, taste delicious and they are also packed with nutrients. Provided you are not allergic to them, there are plenty of good reasons to add them to your summer menu.

They are an excellent source of vitamin c which is a powerful antioxidant protecting the body from free radicals damage. Vitamin c is also important for immunity, cardiovascular health, collagen formation, and cancer prevention.     Strawberries are also a great source of manganese, a vital mineral for bone health, blood sugar balance and the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates.

This yummy fruits also contains various phytonutrients (plant based nutrients) including anthocyanins which provide them with their rich red colour and their powerful anti-inflammatory properties. They also contain decent amounts of potassium which is involved in regulating blood pressure.

Consuming berries, not just strawberries, has been associated with a decreased risk of developing many chronic illnesses including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Strawberries are also low in sugar and rich in fibre, so they are great if you are trying to lose weight…..just go easy with the cream! You could try having them with a little plain yogurt instead.

The way I love to eat strawberries is very simple. I chop them, put them in a big bowl, sprinkle with lemon juice and let them rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving them. This is a summer ‘dessert’ I grew up with in Italy and it reminds me of summer afternoons spent in the garden with friends and my dad playing guitar and singing. Simply perfect! However, if you find them too sour with just the lemon juice you could add a bit of xylitol on top.

May your summer be filled with juicy strawberries, warm sunshine and amazing tennis!

 For more information on how nutritional therapy can benefit you call 07772491975 or visit www.stellanutrition.com

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!