I am going to say something that may seem a little odd, but stick with me. I would like to make you think about the words that you use when it comes to food.
Do you use any of the following adjectives about food: good, bad, clean, junk, rubbish?
Have you ever stood at the front of a room filled with your nearest and dearest and promised a life-long commitment to a diet?
No? Then why does it seem appropriate when we use judgmental and shaming words around food? I am not unfaithful if “cheat” on my diet with a piece of chocolate. If my goal is “clean eating” does this mean I am “dirty” if I eat chocolate?
Food is food. It can be less healthy or it can be a healthy choice.
I’m a dietitian in private practice. This means that I spend most of my day talking about food. I spend a lot of time helping people reprogram the way they think about food so that their relationship with food becomes less emotionally charged, less judgmental and easier.
When you leave this mortal coil, you will not be judged by the kilograms of broccoli that you have eaten. What you eat does not make you a good or a bad person. It may make you healthier and perhaps good blood sugar control means you’ll be vibrant and less likely to snap, but the food you eat should not shape how you feel about yourself. Feeling guilty because you ate a biscuit is not a useful emotional response.
The words we use when thinking and talking, shape how we feel about things. If you purposely construct a food vocabulary that uses unemotional language, you are less likely to have an emotional reaction when you eat.
If you have an emotional vocabulary around food, it can be changed. Start by thinking of eating as an act of nourishing yourself, a part of self-care. You can choose healthy food or less healthy food. Sometimes we’ll really feel like something less healthy and this is okay as long as we focus on eating healthy foods 80-90% of the time. Be aware of the words you use about food. If you are using emotional language, do not judge yourself. Simply being aware of the language is the first step in making a positive change. If you do feel like something less healthy, think of what the rest of the week’s eating has been like and if you’ve been making consistent healthy choices, allow yourself the space to mindfully enjoy something less healthy. Afterwards, observe the emotions that emerge in response to what you ate. If you do feel guilty, ask yourself where you learned to feel guilty, do you think it is a useful response to food and if it is not, can you safely let go of this pattern to create a new, unemotional reaction to eating?
Changing a food language takes time and some consistent practice but it can be done and it is incredibly freeing.
So you’ve lost the weight... Now what?
I often discuss weight loss solutions on my blog, as this topic is always in demand. I provide tips, solutions and options on how best to achieve this. Weight loss is fantastic when it results in you looking and feeling great. However, the question we tend to overlook (”now what?”), is just as important as the weight-loss itself.
You’ve successfully lost the weight, you are looking and feeling fantastic, but how do you now maintain it? This is often the point at which people begin to gain the weight straight back. They feel as if the work has been done and now it’s time to relax back into old habits, only to find the weight creeping back on.
I am continuously telling my clients that weight loss is not just weight loss. Weight loss is a permanent lifestyle change. Remember these three words, say them out loud, and let them sink in, because if these three words are not implemented, then all that hard work goes straight down the drain.
Our inherent desire for quick results, coupled with the demands of our external modern-day environment, has ingrained in us unrealistic expectations in many areas of life - weight-loss included. It is always wonderful to achieve a goal, especially when it comes about quickly, but what happens to that goal when it comes into being?
Think of it like a business – say you have launched a business, and you have reached a point of great success – now what? Are you just going to stop working and let your business run itself? – never! You are going to put as much as you can into your business to have it grow further, so that you may reap even more success. The same goes for maintaining your body – it is constant work, and requires a major focus on your mental, physical and emotional health.
We need to change our perceptions about weight-loss to encompass more than just looking good. Reaching your desired body shape requires you to be healthy, and to maintain great health in order to maintain a great body. There are no short cuts or quick fix solutions. Only consistency and dedication to your health – every single day for the rest of your life.
So how do you maintain your body shape? Here are 12 great ways to keep yourself in check:
- Drink warm water and lemon every morning upon waking.
- Take a good quality probiotic to ensure proper digestion.
- Drink loads of water – at least 8 glasses per day.
- Load up on vegetables, and lean protein.
- Don’t fear healthy fats – these keep your blood sugar levels stable and make you feel satiated.
- When you eat, sit down, chew slowly and enjoy every bite. Make sure you are eating and only eating. Don’t pair eating with activities such as watching TV or playing on your phone. Let yourself be fully present and aware when you eat –you will be pleasantly surprised at the difference this makes to how you feel after a meal.
- When you feel a craving coming along – brush your teeth. The cool minty taste will prevent you from wanting to eat.
- Find ways to move more – walk your dogs, go for a stroll in the park, find a sport you enjoy or create a hiking club. Making exercise social will help you enjoy it more.
- Stick to small dinners and bigger lunches.
- Try to get some protein in at every meal.
- Avoid carbs from grains at night. Stick to vegetables and proteins instead.
- Above all, don’t obsess about your weight! Give your body love, show it appreciation, and I can guarantee it will love you straight back!
This is a perfect nutritious recipe for those “Rush Hour” days. This simple recipe is filled with all the good stuff that will make you glow from the inside out. The ingredients are easy to find and easy on the budget. Boiled eggs will keep you fuller for longer and will prevent you from binge eating. Broccoli is a super food known for its high levels of calcium and vitamin K, both of which are important for bone health and prevention of osteoporosis. Broccoli is also high in fibre, which aids in digestion, maintains low blood pressure and curbs overeating. I cooked the mushrooms in a balsamic reduction source giving this lunch box recipe a burst of flavors
- 2 boiled eggs
- Handful of broccoli florets
- Handful of chopped raw peppers (red, yellow and green)
- 100 g sliced mushrooms
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Boil eggs and put aside to cool. Steam broccoli for 5 minutes and put aside to cool. Heat the olive oil over a medium heat in a small pot. Add the mushrooms and allow it to cook for about 3 minutes. Add Balsamic vinegar and allow it to simmer for 3 minutes on a low heat. Mix all ingredients in your lunch box and add the chopped raw peppers. Enjoy!
“Good enough is good enough. Perfect will make you a big fat mess every time.” ― Rebecca Wells
Let’s talk about perfectionism and the idea of being perfect. We live in a world in which we are constantly being bombarded with images of the perfect body, the picture-perfect relationship and the ideal life. The implicit notion is that if we are perfect we will AUTOMATICALLY gain more love, more money, more acceptance and more happiness in our lives. The premise of perfectionism is that until you reach perfect, you are unworthy of all that life can offer. This is possibly the greatest lie of our time. With social media and online living we are more connected than ever before but we are simultaneously at more risk of daily comparison and daily, internal berating. As a result, we try to contort ourselves into these impossible images of perfection, prescribed by an unwell, modern society, in the hopes that we will experience a better life.
Psychologists, Paul L. Hewitt (Ph.D.) and Gordon L. Flett (Ph.D.) have shown (through their numerous studies), that perfectionism has been positively correlated with depression, eating disorders, sexual dysfunction, anxiety, problematic relationships and lower levels of self-esteem. Perfectionists are more likely to express cynicism and experience higher levels of stress at home and at work, as well as experiencing a decreased sense of overall satisfaction with one’s self and one’s life. Striving for perfection will lock you in an egoistic, perpetuating cycle which will ultimately cause you more pain than happiness.
The cycle follows this general form: You hold an internal belief (that arose for whatever reason) that you must be perfect in order to have that ideal job, relationship etc; so in an effort to reach your goals you attempt to change yourself. For example, I will only find the love of my life when I drop five pounds. I will only be happy when I have (insert monetary amount here). Perfection cannot be maintained so you ultimately fail. This failure makes you feel guilty and shameful for not being perfect. In other words, you perceive the problem to be something that you did wrong and the cycle begins again. This vicious, perpetuating cycle of perfectionism must be broken. Perfectionism in itself is the problem, not YOU.
So disconnect from this notion, simply let it go. If you experience feelings of guilt and shame because you are not perfect, take solace in the fact that this is totally normal. Show me a perfect human being and I will show you their plastic surgeon. Allow these feelings to arise to the surface and then release them. Know this: there is no perfect, it simply does not exist. There is only this moment in which you can find the courage to live authentically.
1. Expose Your Kids To Nature
A recent study of kids with attention deficit disorder (ADD) found that a 20-minute walk in a park made significant differences to things like attention span, hyperactivity and concentration. The researchers used a walk in a street as a control so they were able to prove that it was the environment that made the difference, not the exercise. That’s a big deal. Think back to your own childhood. Almost all my best memories seem to involve being left to get up to my own devices outdoors somewhere. We have a huge tendency to over-schedule our kids, both during term time and on holiday when really, what they most want, is to explore things for themselves. The good news here is that it is probably enough to take your kids somewhere unspoilt on holiday, without having to think of things to do once you get there. They’ll take care of that themselves.
2. Have Dirty Kids – And Fewer Allergies
Talk Radio 702’s tame radio doctor, Dr Harry Seftel, sums up parents’ responsibility to their children’s health perfectly: ‘Let them eat dirt’. We are way too precious with the little sweethearts these days, with the net result that our kids are a snivelly lot, prone to higher rates of allergies than ever before. Boot them out into the garden, encourage them to poke sticks (gently) at slugs and crickets, and generally just behave a little more like the sorts of kids Enid Blyton was always writing about. Kids who grow up dirty have a far better appreciation of the world around them and are generally healthier too. I should know; I was filthy then and am often barely presentable now.
3. Read To Your Kids
Reading to your kids at night is like getting free karmic parenting points. It creates a rhythm of getting them to go down at the same time each night, it decreases your stress levels by forcing you to actually stop what you’re doing for a bit and it has been shown to improve their health and their scores on a whole range of tests. And while you’re at it, you may as well try a little subtle propaganda. The stores are bursting with good, green kiddies books but I still haven’t seen one better than The Lorax by good old Dr Seuss.
4. Buy Battery-Free Toys For Your Kids
Go and have a look through your kids’ bedroom cupboard (or all over their floor if cleaning their room is their responsibility). How many of the electronic toys still work? 10%? And yet they still play with the things, unless they’ve been so badly designed that all their functionality is lost once the batteries are out. I remember very clearly realising at the age of about 5 that battery-powered toys just limited the scope of play that your imagination allowed. Toys that don’t contain batteries last longer, are easier to play with and are far more likely to still be in a condition where they can be passed on to someone else once your child has finished with them . And your kid won’t even notice the difference as he’ll be too busy playing with the box it came in anyway.
5. Green Your School Lunches
A huge amount of research has gone into linking school children’s diet with issues such as concentration, behaviour and attention spans. The correlation between school lunches that are good for the environment and lunches that are good for your kids is almost perfect. A good first rule is that just about anything that comes pre-packaged in single helpings ‘just right for the lunch box’ is unlikely to be good for either. Apart from that, nature provides the perfect pre-wrapped food in individual fruits. And leftovers are brilliant. Last night’s mince makes a solid sandwich filling. Low-GI sandwiches, some fruit and some protein in the form of a stick of biltong or some cheese, and you’re providing them with a serious head start over their sugar-stoked peers.
V = Vata Dosha consisting of space and air with qualities that are light, dry, cold, erratic, moveable
P = Pitta Dosha consisting of fire and water with qualities that are hot, oily, dispersing, ascending
K = Kapha Dosha consisting of earth and water with qualities that are heavy, wet, cold, stable
Allspice is pungent, heating, balances K and V and unbalances P. It relieves gas, promotes peristalsis and stimulates metabolism. Best for autumn, winter and spring.
Anise is pungent, heating, balances K and V and unbalances P. It relieves gas and promotes digestion. Best for autumn, winter and spring.
Basil is pungent, heating, balances K and V and unbalances P if taken in excess. Basil is said to open the heart and mind to the Divine. Good for all seasons but less in summer.
Bay Leaves are sweet, pungent, heating, balance K and V and unbalance P if taken in excess. They stimulate digestion and relieve gas. It promotes sweating and can be a diuretic. Best for autumn, winter and spring.
Black Pepper is pungent, heating, balances K and V and is neutral to P, but unbalances P if taken in excess. It is a powerful digestive stimulant that relieves gas, neutralizes toxins, and burns up mucus and promotes health in the lungs and heart. It has been used in food and ceremonies since Vedic times in India. Good for all seasons.
Cardamom is pungent, sweet, heating and balances V. Its sweetness helps to alleviate P if not taken in excess and balances K. It is one of the best herbs for enhancing digestion, relieving gas and strengthening the stomach. It is good for coughing and breathlessness as well as burning urination. Good for all seasons.
Cayenne is very pungent and heating, balances K and V and unbalances P. Cayenne can be thought of a containing a great deal of sun energy because of its dramatic heating effect. It has the ability to relieve internal and external chilliness. Cayenne also helps to alleviate indigestion, stimulates the digestion and burns up toxins in the digestive system. It is good for circulation. It is pleasantly warming on a cold winter day. Best for autumn, winter and spring.
Cinnamon is pungent, sweet, astringent and heating. It balances K and V but in excess may unbalance P. Cinnamon’s sweet, astringent qualities make it suitable for P who are not in a state of excess. It stimulates digestion and circulation, relieves gas and balances blood sugar levels. It also helps to prevent heart attacks owing to its blood thinning properties. Good for all seasons.
Clove is pungent, heating, balances K and V and unbalances P. Cloves stimulate digestion and metabolism and eliminate gas. Acts on sinus and bronchial congestion. Best for autumn, winter and spring.
Coriander is bitter, astringent and cooling. It balances V, P and K (tridoshic). It helps to cool P aggravations and is good in general on a hot summer day. It can reduce fever and is a diuretic. Good for all seasons.
Cumin is bitter, astringent, pungent and cooling and balances V, P and K (tridoshic). It stimulates digestion and relieves gas. Wonderful medicinal qualities that can be used for all digestive complaints. Improves absorption of minerals in the intestines and can act as a mild pain reliever – stomach, nausea and diarrhea. Very restorative to the tissues. Good for all seasons.
Curry Leaf (Neem Leaf) is pungent, sweet and heating. It balances K and V and unbalances P. Best for autumn, winter and spring. Dill is pungent, bitter and cooling. It balances P and K and is neutral for V.
Dill helps with digestion and is a good cooling herb fro the summer. Good for all seasons.
Fennel is sweet, astringent and cooling. It calms and balances V, P and K (tridoshic). It is good for strengthening the digestive fire without unbalancing P. It helps to cool pitta, relieves gas and digestive slowness. Can help get rid of intestinal worms. Fennel is such a good digestive aid that in India it is used as an after-dinner ‘mint’. Good for all seasons.
Fenugreek is bitter, sweet, pungent and heating. It balances K and V and although it slightly unbalances P, it can be taken in small amounts by P. Fenugreek helps digestion. Fenugreek sprouts are good for indigestion. Good for all seasons.
Garlic is pungent, heating, balances K and V and unbalances P. It is a digestive stimulant, dispels gas and is a great general healer. It contains all the Ayurvedic tastes but sour. In its sun-dried form, garlic’s characteristic aroma and stimulating qualities are significantly diminished, so it can be considered more of a sattwic and balancing food than the heating and activating raw form. Best for autumn, winter and spring.
Ginger is pungent, sweet, heating, balances K, V and P. It stimulates digestion, improves absorption and assimilation of nutrients, relieves gas if not taken in excess and helps to detoxify the body, especially the liver. It improves circulation, relieves mucus congestion (has an affinity for the lungs); helps break down blood clots and may aid in preventing heart attacks. Good remedy for common cold, cough and breathlessness. Dry ginger is more balancing for K because of its drying qualities and fresh-squeezed ginger is slightly more balancing for V because of its more fluid qualities. Its sweetness allows P to take it in minimal amounts. When ginger is organic, freshly picked and young, the skin does not need to be peeled. Good for all seasons, but less in summer.
Horseradish is pungent, heating, balances K and V and unbalances P. It helps to relieve mucus and stimulates digestion. Best taken in small amounts and can be used to help heal asthma.
Mustard Seed is pungent, heating, balances K and V and unbalances P. It stimulates digestion and relieves gas. Black mustard seeds are slightly more heating than yellow mustard seeds. The most powerful action of the mustard seed is to help heal the bronchial system and to get rid of intestinal worms. Also a digestive. Best for autumn, winter and spring.
Nutmeg is astringent, pungent, heating and sweet. It balances K and V and unbalances P. It increases food absorption, particularly in the small intestine. It helps to relieve V in the colon. It is often used with cardamom. Too much nutmeg has been known to have a disorientating effect on the mind. Helps relieve cough, induces sleep and can reduce pain. Best for autumn, winter and spring.
Onion is pungent, sweet and subtly cooling to the digestive tract in it post-digestive effect. In its raw form it balances K, slightly unbalances V and unbalances P. Its sweetness, watery properties and post-digestive slowing of digestion may unbalance K if K is already in excess. Best for autumn, winter and spring.
Saffron is cooling, sweet, astringent and tonifying, aids digestion and is balancing to V, P and K (tridoshic) and has an affinity for the female reproductive system. It improves skin colour and complexion, is a blood cleanser, liver detoxifier, nerve tonic, blood thinner and heart tonic. Aphrodisiac and increases sperm count.
Salt is heating, increases P and K and decreases V. Salt is a digestive and improves flavor of food. It is a laxative and antiseptic and can be used to induce vomiting. Rock salt is rich in minerals and a strong digestive with a sweet post digestive effect therefore not as aggravating to P and K.
Turmeric is bitter, astringent, pungent and heating. Is known as the best medicine in Ayurveda as it cures the whole person. Taken in small amounts it balances V, P and K (tridoshic). It may unbalance V and P if taken in excess. It is good for digestion, relieves gas and increases peristalsis and maintains the flora of the intestine. It has tonic properties and is an antibiotic. It improves and balances metabolism. It is said to purify the subtle nerve channels of the body helping to reduce anxiety and stress; is an anti-inflammatory used to treat arthritis and period pains. Good for all seasons.
Going green can often seem like a daunting task, but the easiest and most efficient way to go a little greener, is to start at home. This doesn’t necessarily mean investing in new energy-efficient appliances or solar panels, although these are great ideas. Small changes in your home encourage daily practices and one place to start is in the kitchen.
Making the following changes can help you to save electricity without having to invest in new appliances:
- Match your pot or pan size to the size of the stoveplate. This ensures that the plate is not wasting energy by heating up the air around the pot. Similarly, avoid using a pot or pan that is too large for the plate.
- When you use the stove or oven, turn the heat off slightly before the food is ready to allow the heat remaining in the pot, stove plate or oven to finish cooking the food.
- Use a kettle to heat water. It requires only half of the electricity as boiling water on the stove. Ensure that you don’t boil more water than is needed, that the element is always covered, and that the kettle is turned off when it starts to boil.
- When you cook legumes, such as beans and lentils, let them soak overnight to soften up first and save on cooking time.
- Regularly check that the rubber seal on your oven is intact. Perished seals can allow heat to escape, which results in increased electricity usage.
- As a general rule, use the smallest appliance that you can for your cooking needs to save on energy and always check the energy efficiency ratings.
- Defrost frozen food overnight by leaving it in the fridge rather than using a microwave to defrost it.
For more tips on how you can save energy and costs every day,
Follow your body and not your mind. Listen to your body and what it needs.
What does this mean and how can we apply this practically in our lives day to day and moment by moment?
To help support a smooth and easy transition back into work and family life after the changed routine and potential excesses of the holidays, work with awareness and intention around what foods you reach for and why:
- Excess sugar creates an acid state in your body which in turn creates cravings for more and more sugary foods. Increase your intake of fresh and seasonal fruit and vegetables. This will detoxify your body and help return it to an alkaline state.
- Eat only when hungry and drink only when thirsty – in this way you follow your body and not your mind.
- Avoid eating cooked and raw food together; this will help to strengthen digestive fire (agni).
- Re-establish a regular routine around sleeping, waking and eating habits, this helps to ground and balance body and mind.
When we over identify with the story of our mind and are driven by fear, anxiety, frustration, anger or worry we become stuck in our head and disconnected from our body and life. Here, the practice of the half smile is a beautiful way to help bring us back into our body, our heart and the present moment.
The half smile:
- Slightly lift the corners of your mouth and hold softly for at least three breaths.
- Notice what changes in your body and mind… your focus drops out of your head and into your body, you become aware of what parts of your body are tense, which in turn helps it to relax, you get space from the drama of your mind, your heart can open which provides the potential to return back into the spaciousness of the present moment.
- This can be practiced during any periods of waiting – for the kettle to boil, in any queue at the shops, at the traffic lights, on the telephone as well as first thing in the morning upon waking, and last thing at night just before sleep.
- There is no quick fix… benefits accrue with regular practice over time. If you do this practice 5 or more times a day, it will make a surprising difference to your body and mind, and to the environment.
- When we smile it immediately brings us back into our hearts.
Enjoy the practice of the half smile, and remember to listen to your body.
Many of us wake up and jump headfirst into our day, with little time for reflection. If you want to add some serious productivity – and meaning – to your day, a morning routine can make a powerful difference. Why the morning, you ask? Well, this is the easiest time to craft your own day. Early mornings are usually our own time, where we can meet personal needs without obligations, appointments and others’ interference. If you have kids and wake up at the same time, I strongly suggest waking up just 30-45 minutes earlier – it will make a significant difference to your day. Even applying just a small handful of the suggestions below, can help add some energy, productivity and calm to your day.
Drink Water – Or Healthy Versions Of It
Upon waking, you’ve gone hours without food or liquid, so there’s no denying your need to replenish. Gulping down a glass of water immediately after you wake up gives you a head start in getting on top of your daily quota. Better yet, make the morning your time for a cleanse – add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a squeeze of lemon (to disguise the taste) to a tall glass of water. Or try a warm brew of lemon, ginger and honey. These cleansing ingredients are best ingested on an empty stomach for maximum benefits, so the mornings are ideal.
It’s pretty easy to understand the benefits of a morning stretch, but most of us still don’t do it. It not only relieves your stiffness from the night’s sleep, it improves circulation and flexibility. Perhaps of the biggest benefit: it helps you wake you up! Pushing blood around the body is a natural and effective energiser. Inverted yoga poses or even a minute or two on a mini-rebounder will have the same benefit.
Set The Tone
Music-fundi or not, there’s no denying music’s impact on our moods. It’s a guaranteed pick-me-up that is within our control – so make use of it! Play a song or two guaranteed to energise you or fill you with happy thoughts. Online meditation tracks or mood-themed playlists can help if you don’t have a lot of your own music at hand.
Count Your Blessings
Many of us wouldn’t consider ourselves ungrateful, but we still need to consciously acknowledge what we are grateful for in order to fully appreciate it. Doing so has a grounding effect that can help us keep our perspective throughout the day, and promote resilience when problems crop up.
Remember Your Goals
We may sail through life effortlessly and appreciate some wonderful events, but in the end, a feeling of accomplishment comes from having a goal and reaching it. There’s something about putting in a little effort to get what you want that just makes the reward so much sweeter. Rather than wondering ‘where did the time go?’, have a balance of a few general goals and a few specific ones to really add purpose to your days. It also helps keep you on track in terms of crafting a life you really want, and making every day count towards it. General goals could be – I want to have children, I want to build close relationships with my family, I want to travel each year. Specific ones could be – I want to see the Northern Lights, I want to bungee jump, I want to save enough for my children to attend a private school. You may already have reached some big goals without realising it, but simply being mindful of the achievement process plays a big part in feeling accomplished.
It could be 5 minutes alone or 15, but mindfulness is crucial to our authenticity, our productivity and our wellbeing. Many of us perform certain, varying roles in a day, influenced by others and the situations we are in. Being alone helps us connect with our thoughts honestly, helping us focus better on who we are and what we’d like to get out of life.
Get A Game Plan
Have a general idea of what you’d like to – or need to – get out of the day. It doesn’t have to be set in stone or complete, but you’ll manage to tick more things off your to-do list simply by having one. You’ll also feel more productive as a result.
I don’t mean this offensively as I am seriously guilty of it myself – but don’t overestimate yourself! Be realistic versus idealistic about what you’re going to get done in the day – add some buffering time around each appointment as emergencies, distractions or even just traffic often cause us to lag on our daily schedule.
Fuel Up Properly
What nutrients are you likely to by-pass in the day – getting enough water, taking your vitamins, or squeezing in enough veggies and fruit? Avoid these possible deficiencies by packing a nutritional punch in the morning.
Make Your Bed
Or do whatever other tidying you need to do to keep your space clear. Bringing order to your physical space has long been identified to help with mental clarity – take advantage of it!
Exercise – If You Can
I know this is not an option to everyone, but consider exercising in the morning if you can. Curve balls often get thrown at us during the course of the day, or we can simply be too exhausted at the end of the day to care about exercise any more. Fitness and health really need to be our top priorities, and getting a session in at the crack of dawn means it is less likely to be cancelled.