New ways of approaching food and cooking

Fed_Up-770x360

The problem lies in the fact that most of us are not even aware of how much sugar we are consuming. Whilst we know the obvious culprits (although even they can surprise us), there are also the sugar sources we don’t know about. Sugar is added to hamburgers to reduce shrinkage and add juiciness, to breading in deep fried foods or to give frozen fish a sheen. It is added to canned and frozen vegetables to maintain colour and juiciness; to bread to give it that golden crust; to soups and sauces to lend glossiness and flavour.

In fact, by some estimates, as much as 75% of the food available in supermarkets contains some form of added sugar.

Understanding sugars

Sugar, in all forms, is a simple carbohydrate that the body converts into glucose and uses for energy. But the effect on the body depends on the type of sugar you’re eating, and what you are eating it with.

Natural sugars are found in fruit and vegetables as fructose and in dairy products as lactose. Foods with natural sugar provide essential nutrients and come packaged up with vitamins, fats and fibre that assist the body in metabolising them appropriately.

Refined sugar (the white and brown crystals we think of when we say ‘sugar’) comes from sugarcane or sugar beets, which are industrially farmed (using all sorts of pesticides and fertilisers and even, in the States, GMO plants) and then highly processed to create the sugar crystals, leaving any nutrients or goodness behind. This granulated sugar, is typically found as sucrose. Food manufacturers use chemically produced sugar – aka high-fructose corn syrup – to get maximum sweetness with minimum cost.

Refined Carbohydrates as found in white bread, white rice, spaghetti and baked goods are ‘read’ by your body as sugars.  As far as  it is concerned, even if you are eating a hamburger, or a pizza, your body will deal with the bread in exactly the same way as it deals with refined sugar, which is to metabolise it very quickly.

Metabolism matters

Because refined sugar is digested quickly, you don’t feel full after you’re done eating, no matter how many calories of it you have consumed. On the other hand, the fibre and insoluble starches in fruit and vegetables slow down the metabolisation of the sugars they contain. That’s why it is easy to munch through an entire packet of biscuits, but an equivalent number of calories in apples? Not so much. It’s almost like nature put a handy brake on the amount of sugar we can take in one go. A brake that we humans were quick to dismantle, in the form of refined sugars and processed foods.

What determines how your body uses the sugar you have consumed is the amount of sugar already in your blood. Therefore even if what you’re munching on is a fresh apple, when you’ve just eaten your body-weight in donuts (or pizza) your body will still store the additional sugar from the apple as fat.

apples

The important thing, in addition to eating less sugar and refined carbohydrates generally, is to switch to unrefined, natural sugar. Use apples, bananas, carrots and dates to sweeten your baking.

The trick is to choose your sugars carefully.

(0)

Chronic fatigue is increasingly prevalent as our as our lifestyles become more and more frenetic and our diets move further and further away from the whole, natural foods our bodies understand. As anyone who struggles with this knows only too well, the daily battle with fatigue is extremely debilitating and depressing, making it difficult for people who suffer to get through their days productively and positively.

If you feel that you are struggling under a heavy blanket of exhaustion, know that you are not alone and that there is a positive way forward. Having suffered and overcome chronic fatigue myself, here is my strategy for naturally re-discovering your rightful energy levels.

Drink more water

Without enough fresh water to flush through the system, it becomes sluggish which means things stay in the body for longer than they should and this definitely over-stresses all your organs and tissues which have to work extra hard to to compensate.  If you can down at least two 8oz glasses of water first thing every morning that will set you up nicely for the day. Follow that up with hot water with lemon and ginger instead of tea or coffee and then aim for one big glass of water at least every two hours during the day.

Don’t kid yourself that you are getting plenty of fluids in your hot drinks. Caffeinated drinks, including tea, coffee and fizzy drinks are diuretics which means they actually deplete fluid levels. In addition they are all highly acidic for the system, and rev up the adrenals. All of which you really don’t need when you are trying to tune in to your natural energy levels.

Cut right back on sugar and hi-carb snacks.

We all know that feeling of being exhausted and reaching for a quick sugary pick-me-up. Only problem is, it doesn’t pick you up at all. You get a momentary lift as all that sugar hits your bloodstream, but because we are not designed to have so much sugar in our blood, the pancreas kicks in to release insulin which mops up all the sugar and then you feel worse than you did before, so you reach for another snack and the cycle goes on. This constant spiking of insulin levels is extremely bad for us, depletes energy levels and ultimately sets us up for weight gain and all sorts of other problems.If you must have a snack, make sure it contains fibre, protein and fat. Instead of sickly, processed chocolate try a fruit and nut energy ball. The fibre, protein and the natural fats in the nuts ensure the sugars are released more gradually into the bloodstream, this prevents those insulin spikes and roller-coaster energy levels.

Breathe deeply.

It sounds silly, but most of us are simply not breathing properly and therefore not getting enough oxygen into our bodies. This creates brain-fog and tiredness. We are particularly likely to take shallow breaths when we are stressed and that causes our adrenal glands to release cortisol, which also affects insulin levels, and makes us very tired. My favourite trick whenever I am feeling overwhelmed or tired is the 4-7-8 breath. Breathe in through your nose for a slow count of 4, hold your breath for a count of seven, and then release your breath slowly through your mouth for a count of 8. Breathing in deeply and then exhaling slowly triggers our para-sympathetic nervous system (often called the Rest and Digest system) which tells our body we are safe so stress hormones and energy levels return to normal.

Never under-estimate the mind-body connection. Breath-focused meditation is a wonderfully accessible method to de-stress and relax, delivering all sorts of proven endocrine and neural benefits in the process. If you want to kick it up a notch, experiment with Pranyama, a yogic tradition of controlling the breath to strengthen life force and energy.

Eat foods that support the de-tox pathways.

Eating a variety of high-fibre veggies and fruit with every meal is essential to feeling full of energy. The natural nutrients in veggies are parcelled up in different combinations in exactly the way our body likes to receive them. This makes it easy for our bodies to get the nutrients they need to function properly. In addition the fibre keeps energy release into the bloodstream at a constant. Finally, veggies, especially leafy green ones, support the liver and other de-tox mechanisms making them more efficient at eliminating the toxins that drag us down and make us feel tired.

Avoid heavily processed and packaged food, especially fried foods.

Most of the additives, preservatives and fats in processed food are known toxins and hormone disruptors. In addition they also contain a lot of addictive substances (like sugar, salt and fat) which put a heavy load on our adrenal glands and make us lose touch with our natural appetite. Even writing that makes me feel tired, so imagine how your body feels having to process all that stuff! Occasional helpings of processed food are obviously not a problem, but to eat packaged and/or fast food at every meal is very taxing on the body, pre-disposes us to weight gain and chronic fatigue.

Our bodies are subtle and complex and small things can upset the balance and create a cascade of symptoms. But, equally,  something simple and accessible can get us back on track.

By following these simple steps you will be doing a number of things that will help your body get back to where it wants to be; you will be supporting and encouraging a healthy digestive system, alkalising your cells to reduce inflammation, stalling the production of cortisol and supporting the mechanisms that help to mop it up. Sleep will improve, cravings will start to abate and you will feel a surge in new energy.

healthy-lifestyle-2

Fatigue is often a sign of imbalance in the body and, as such, should be taken seriously. If you are battling with fatigue, it is not all in your mind, you are not being stupid, or making a fuss about nothing. A lot can be achieved through diet but if there is as under lying problem such as an under-active thyroid, or over-active adrenals, it is worth having this checked out by a doctor or functional medicine specialist. Whatever you do, don’t suffer in silence and get whatever help you can.

.

Want to take it a step further?

Schedule a free initial consultation today

Sometimes it just helps to talk things through with someone who understands what you are going through and who can take you through the options.  If you would like some sensible, practical support to help you overcome and manage your fatigue, let’s talk.

(0)

I talk a lot about nutrition because I care passionately about helping people make positive choices so their bodies have the building blocks they need to keep well and happy. However, if we’re really looking to nourish our bodies, we need to go further than food. 
(0)

As we approach Mothers’ Day and acknowledge and appreciate the quietly unobtrusive way our mothers set about the business of making sure we have everything we need, let’s take a moment to fully appreciate the ultimate mother –  Nature herself!
(0)

The temptations of Christmas can be overwhelming

If, like me, you start to feel a bit panicky around about this point in the year, this is for you.

For all of us who struggle with our weight, health or food intolerances, the temptations of Christmas can make for a roller coaster holiday experience. I have tried all strategies and learned the hard way.  The ‘what the hey, it only happens once a year’ approach has led to multiple food comas, rock bottom self esteem and a seemingly endless struggle to get back on track.

The alternative ‘I’m not going to let a single empty calorie pass my lips’, just leads to massive party-pooping and a sudden all out binge when it all becomes a bit much.

Is there a middle way?  I think there might be.  Finally, I think, I have worked out how to survive Christmas and enter the New Year, relatively unscathed and able to fit into my jeans.

It’s just about going with the flow enough to have a good time, but not so much that you’re drowning in egg-nog.

To help you manage the holiday season with éclat, here are a couple of my favourite Christmas recipes.  Designed to get some Ho-Ho-Ho into Wholesome, these recipes are light and delicious and will provide you with the armoury you need to manage the two big Christmas danger zones – the cake tin and the cheese board!

If you need more than this to get you through the Christmas Season unscathed, then download my FREE Christmas Survival Guide by clicking the link below.  It has everything you could possibly need to help you get through the Christmas Season including a 4-Day Reset Plan, just in case things go wrong!

Mince Pie Flavoured Amazeballs

There is no point in denying yourself the occasional sweet treat, that way disaster lies as it is just not realistically achievable for most humans!  But, by rolling all the flavours of Christmas into one delicious little ball, with my mince pie flavoured Amazeballs you get all the benefit of Christmas, with none of the drawbacks!

You can join me in my Christmas Kitchen as I prepare these delicious Mince Pie Amazeballs (my daughter calls them Crimballs!) in this video.

Join me in my Christmas Kitchen

And I will show you how to make these delicious Mince-Pie flavoured Amazeballs

Join me in my Christmas Kitchen as I demonstrate how to make these delicious Seasonal Treats.

Ingredients

  • 1 large cup (well, a mug really) walnuts
  • 9 pitted medjool dates
  • ½ cup sultanas, soaked in brandy (optional)
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 heaped teaspoon chia seeds
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Method

  1. Place all the ingredients into a food processor, or very powerful blender
  2. Whizz until all the ingredients are combined, stopping the machine and stirring up the ingredients from time to time as necessary.
  3. you are aiming for the point when everything starts to clump together but there is still a bit of texture to the mix.
  4. Roll the mixture into little bite-sized balls and then coat in finely chopped walnuts to coat.
franmac.co.uk
Although these mince-pie flavoured amazeballs are perfect for sharing and make the most amazing gift, I bet you'll want to keep them all to yourself. Yummy little nuggets of Christmassy gorgeousness.

Dairy-free Cashew Cheez

Cheese can be really tempting at this time of year, but it’s also very heavy on the digestive system, and a really no-no for anyone who is avoiding dairy. To help you get all the cheesy benefits without any of that gastro-intestinal distress, here is my easy-peasy-cheez.  Literally whizzed up in a second and versatile enough to be used as an alternative to cheese sauce in, for example, a veggie lasagne, dolloped into baked potatoes or alongside a chilli, or even popped onto delicate and sophisticated canapés.  The choice is yours and I am sure you can think up a million ways to use this super-versatile, uber-easy recipe.

franmac.co.uk
Deliciously cheesey tasting without any of the digestive drawbacks, this cashew cheez is the ultimate dairy-free stand-by.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cashews, soaked for at least 6 hours
  • 2 cloves garlic, slightly crushed
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 heaped tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • Water – for a cream cheese texture, you will need approx 2 tablespoons, for a dip, add more water to reach the consistency you prefer.
  • 1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • herbs and flavourings of your choice eg capers and dill (delicious with smoked salmon), chives (the perfect dip), tarragon and lemon zest, parsley, coriander ..

 

Method

  1. Put all the ingredients, except the herbs, into your food processor or high speed blender.
  2. Whizz until combined and a smooth, even consistency is achieved.  Add more water as necessary to get the consistency you prefer.
  3. Add the herbs and flavourings of your choice and either stir in by hand or pulse to combine.

I hope knowing there are some healthy alternatives to the usual Christmas pitfalls has inspired you!  If you would like to have more tips and tricks to help you survive the Christmas season plus and 4-day reset plan (just in case it all goes horribly wrong), then download my 20 page Christmas Survival Guide below!

Download your FREE Christmas Survival Guide

Everything you need to help you get through Christmas unscathed.

With 28 pages of strategies to help you manage temptation this Christmas, AND a 4-Day Reset plan in case it all goes wrong.  This is the perfect emergency kit to get through Christmas unscathed!

(0)