Discover How To Improve Your Health And wellbeing

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Hope you have enjoyed your first day of 2021.

We might not be back to having a normal lifestyle yet, but it is about making the best of each day and trying to find something positive.

Being healthy is not about depriving yourself of your favourite foods or following a very strict diet. I certainly don’t live my life like that and I have never have. In fact I am eating a chocolate dessert while typing this. It was left over from last night. Yes some weeks I do gain a few pounds, it is when I have over indulged or not done any exercise. I still never remove my favourite foods from my diet, I just reduce the amount I have.

FOOD DIARY

Many people don’t realise just how much food they eat in a day. It can be a shock when they are asked to complete a food diary. There is no point cheating as you are only cheating yourself. Give it a try write down every single thing you eat and drink in a day.

GOALS

If you are wanting to lose weight or just want to feel healthier set yourself a goal and then break it down into small manageable goals or you will be put off before you have even properly started. A simple goal to start with could be to add an extra portion of fruit or vegetables to your meals for a week. Aim to have a 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day if you currently don’t have many.

TEA AND COFFEE

Cut back on your tea and coffee introduce herbal teas and green teas as these can have amazing benefits.

CARBOHYDRATES

Look at the type of carbohydrates you are eating. Do not remove carbohydrates from your diet. Your body needs them, If you are consuming a lot of white carbohydrates then swap them for brown carbohydrates such as brown pasta, brown bread, brown rice, use wholemeal flour. This is a quick and easy way to help your wellbeing and lose weight.

WATER

Increase your water consumption as it is so important for your body. Our brains are capable of telling us when we are hungry, when really we are thirsty. Water is so beneficial for your skin and lots more. I can really tell if I haven’t drunk enough water I get headaches, feel tired and fine lines appear under my eyes. If you are exercising don’t forget to increase your water intake.

FOCUS ON YOUR FOOD

Focus on your food, avoid rushing your meals. Eating slowly allows your body to digest the food and this will give the body time to register when it is full and stop you over eating. Think about how you feel after you have eaten, this can encourage you to eat healthier. The more processed and junk food you eat the more tired and sluggish you will feel. Try not to eat when you are bored. When you reach for a bar of chocolate or packet of crisps just think if I am really hungry I would eat an apple. Don’t use huge plates as this as this can make it super easy to overeat or add more vegetables to your plate. Everyone at some point has sweet treats when they are stressed or have a bad day. Yes I am guilty of this, I am only human as long as you recognise how many times you are using food as a comfort and if it is a lot look for other ways to ease stress. Some people exercise, go for walks or clean the house. Try something different.

MAKE YOUR OWN TREATS

You can make your own treats. Two of my favourites are flapjacks and energy balls. If you make it yourself you know exactly what has gone in and there isn’t anything hidden so you have control of what is going in your body. If you do buy shop bought treats check the label and have a look how much sugar is in it. More than 15g per 100g is classed as high sugar content.

FOOD PREPARATION

Preparation is the key to success when you are trying to lose weight or be healthy. If you prepare your food you are less likely to skip meals or grab a takeaway or eat processed food. Plan your meals and do a shopping list before you go shopping, This also helps you to speed up your shopping. Always have spices and herbs in as they can liven up any dish.

EXERCISE

Exercise plays an important part in your health and wellbeing. You need to find something you enjoy or it will become a chore. It is far better if you enjoy it. Once we reach 40 years of age we start to lose muscle mass and it leads to a slower metabolism. You can build muscle mass by doing strength training exercise. A big advantage to weight training is your body’s ability to burn fat during and after exercise. You don’t have to go to a gym to exercise. I do all of mine at home, I do hula hooping, yoga, cycling and walking. If you are busy like most people are these days break it down into small sections. I do 10 minutes of hula hooping in a morning. It will soon add up if you do 10 minute bursts or do star jumps while waiting for the kettle to boil or jogging on the spot during adverts in your programme. Exercise is a great way to manage stress.

SLEEP

Depriving your body of sleep can speed up the ageing process and deter your weight loss efforts. Lack of sleep can affect your diet as you can crave carbohydrates when you are tired. Aim for 6-8 hours if you can this allows your body to restore and to protect vital organ functions. If you struggle to sleep try a meditation app or CD they really do help you get to sleep.

Like I always recommend make small changes so you are not overwhelmed. Start with a food diary initially just to see where you could begin to make small changes.

Have a nice evening.

Is Your Food Causing You To Have More Headaches And Migraines?

Everyone suffers from headaches and migraines at some time in their life, but for some people their life can be ruined by cluster headaches or chronic migraines. Although the types are physiologically different there are many similarities in the nutritional management. Other factors can also contribute to headaches and migraines.

Have small well balanced meals little and often, with small satisfying snacks is the best plan for eating. One of the most common triggers is low blood sugar levels. Your blood sugar may occasionally drop a little too low or drop too quickly which can trigger headaches and migraines. One of the worst things you can do is eat very sweet food on an empty stomach. This can cause the sugar level to rise too quickly to which the body reacts by providing more insulin, the hormone that breaks down sugar, causing the sugar level to fall again. When you feel low in sugar eat something that is both high in fibre and sweet. This could be fruit, a slice of wholemeal bread with a topping of banana or honey, roast ham or a flapjack. It is advisable to keep snacks like these readily available at work and at home.

Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach, or when you are dehydrated, exhausted or stressed can lead to an enormous headache or migraine the next day. Champagne and red wine which are rich in phenolic compounds are the worst offenders. Next in line is white wine which is very acidic. If you know which drinks affect you more then avoid them or drink plenty of water before, during and after. If you still wake up with a headache try a cup of dandelion tea.

Many people find that the more caffeine they drink, the greater the chance of developing a headache or migraine. Coffee is the main offender here, but caffeine is also present in tea. Caffeine intake in general should be no more than three cups of tea or coffee in a day. This should be reduced if coffee affects you adversely. If you like coffee first thing in the morning then try having it just at weekends, rather than every day. Try other hot drinks to replace coffee such as herbal tea – peppermint, camomile, cranberry and boiled water which you can add a slice of lemon. If you decide to cut caffeine out of your diet entirely, you may suffer from withdrawal headache. This may develop approximately 18 hours after your caffeine fix as your body is being deprived of toxins. You may prefer to lower your caffeine dependence cup by cup over a few days. Also having caffeine when you are hungry, stressed or totting up to ten coffees a day then having another before you go into a stressful meeting can be a trigger for headaches and migraines. This can be caffeine in tea, coffee, cola or chocolate.

There are also other foods that have also proved to be triggers in some people. The foods include processed meats, such as salami and other sausages, mangetout and the flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG). MSG is found in a lot of ready meals, bottled sauces, crisps and often found in Chinese food. Eating fresh food will mean that you avoid MSG.

Aged cheese can be a trigger. This includes cheddar, blue, brie, parmesan, gruyère and Swiss. Fresh cheese that hasn’t through the process of ageing is a more preferable choice. For instance farmer’s, cottage, cream, American, risotto and mozzarella.

Aged cheese contains more of a substance called Tyramine is formed in foods as they age or are fermented. It comes from the amino acid Tyrosine.

Nitrates are the substances that are added to meat products in order to give them a pink or red colour to preserve them. Unfortunately they can trigger migraines / headaches in particularly sensitive people. Nitrates are found in many sausages, chipolata, chorizo, hot dogs, salami and cooked meats such as corned beef. If you find that these trigger then avoid processed meats that are coloured red, instead try cold cuts of beef, chicken or turkey. Don’t forget to include the fish in your diet.

Lactose may be a trigger that can cause severe headaches. This occurs when the digestive system is deficient in an enzyme called lactase which breaks down lactose found in dairy products for example cream, milk, butter, yogurt, cheese and ice-cream. For many people all that needs to be done is to avoid having too many foods that are high in lactose. You need to be careful that you don’t compromise your calcium status by cutting out dairy products. Consult your own doctor if you are concerned.

Research has displayed results that the metabolism of people who suffer from migraines is slightly different from those who don’t suffer and it seems that foods that are high in copper can cause problems. These foods include shellfish, nuts, chocolate and wheatgerm found in wholemeal bread and other wholewheat products, however you would need to eat quite a lot of these coppery foods before a problem occurred. Rather than completely removing these foods from your diet just reduce the amounts you have.

Sleep is also very a important part of your health schedule, irregular sleep patterns can often contribute to migraines. Over sleeping at weekends can induce migraines as much as under sleeping due to stress. Try to get the same regular amount of sleep each night.

General Advice

Keep a diary of what you are eating and what you are doing to find out if there are any triggers. Some trigger foods can cause a migraine or headache within 20 minutes of eating it, whereas a stressful meeting wouldn’t cause a migraine for a few hours.

Body weight – try to keep your weight within the ideal range for your height. Bring overweight can adversely affect your blood pressure and this heightens the potential for migraines headaches.

Water – are you dehydrated? Dehydration commonly brings on both a headache and poor concentration.

Relax – it is vital to reduce both physical and emotional stress and taking time out each day even it’s only 15 minutes a day. You will make a great difference to your wellbeing. Even if you can’t identify that it’s stress that provokes your headaches or migraines, you should still take the stress / relaxation aspects of your life seriously.

I hope this information helps as migraines and severe headaches can have a huge impact on your life.

How To Help Your Immune System

This so important at the minute!!!

Your immune system can weaken at times, but you can give it a good boost!!

So here is what you can do to help………

Protein

Protein is the building block for many of the immune system’s key players such as antibodies and the white bloods that search out and destroy germs. Many protein foods are great sources of zinc, iron and many of the B vitamins which are essential for a strong immune system.

Make sure you are eating lean meat, chicken, fish, legumes, eggs, yogurt and other foods that are high in protein.

Pumpkin Seeds

Just 1/2 a cup of pumpkin seeds contains around 5mg of zinc, which one of the most vital nutrients for overall immune function. You can roast pumpkin seeds in the oven for 15 minutes at 150.

Brazil Nuts

These are a fantastic source of the immunity-supporting anti-oxidant mineral selenium. When you are low on selenium your white blood cells are slower to kill off microbes. Selenium also protects from free radical damage. Getting enough selenium rejuvenates immune cells so they are able to fight off the germs. All you need to have is 1 or 2 brazil nuts per day. If you are catching cold going then increase slightly.

Yogurt With Active Cultures

About 70 per cent of your body’s immune cells reside in the gut, so it just goes to show that a healthy gastrointestinal tract means a healthy immune system. Make sure you check the label on the yogurt for Lactobacillus acidophilus friendly bacteria. The more friendly bacteria you have, the less likely you are to be attacked by the nasty bugs. If you buy a live plain yogurt it will be low in sugar as well.

Cup Of Tea

The majority of us like a good cup of tea and now you have a reason to have one. If you haven’t tried green tea or you have and don’t like it, well this might just change your mind. Green tea is a major store house of immunity-boosting compounds including antioxidants like EGCG. Even black tea appears to have some immunity-enhancing properties.

Garlic

A very good friend of the immune system is garlic especially when you eat it raw. It has strong antibacterial properties. It is also good at fighting viruses. Its sulphur compounds are rich in antioxidants. Chop or crush your garlic and let it stand for 10 minutes to fully release the compounds healing potential.

Fruit And Vegetables

Eat a variety of colourful fruit and vegetables as they are a powerhouse of antioxidants, substances that our immune systems need in vast quantities especially when we are unwell or under stress. Stress and sickness increase the body’s production of the rogue, cell-attacking molecules known as free radicals. the damage these do makes us more susceptible to infections, which then means more free radicals. Antioxidants help break this cycle. Try to make sure you have a variety your immune system will thank you for it and so will your bosses when you aren’t always off work with illness.

As you can see it is definitely worth thinking about what you are eating.

Don’t forget to keep drinking water. I start the day with a cup of boiled water and finish the day with a cup of boiled water with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a teaspoon of honey.

Karen x

New Year New You

As New Year approaches many people think it’s time for changes and rush to start a new diet. There is quite a few fad diets out there.

You don’t need to start a very restrictive diet and if you do it will be probably be very difficult to keep it up.

I strongly believe in everything in moderation.

Think about your portion sizes.

Think about what foods you choose to have as snacks and do you take notice of how much you are snacking in a day. This is where a food diary is good, it can be a real eye opener.

Are you really hungry when you are eating or are you just bored?

Make sure your food is like the colour of a rainbow to ensure you are getting all the nutrients you need.

Most importantly if you have recognised you want to be more healthy then make small changes that you will be able to keep doing. Dont change too many things at once.

A great place to start is look at how much water you drink in a day. Water makes such a difference to how you feel and look. I can tell in just one day if I haven’t drank a lot of water.

Enjoy your New Year’s Eve.

Karen x

Cheesy Stuffed Pimentos

This can be served as a main meal or side dish.

Serves 4

Ingredients

Rapeseed oil for griddling

6 long thin pimentos Peppers halved lengthways and seeds removed.

175g ricotta cheese or dairy free spread of avoiding dairy.

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Small bunch of fresh tyme

Few fresh basil leaves

Salt and ground black pepper

Method

Heat a griddle pan and brush with a small amount of oil.

Griddle the Peppers on both sides until lightly charred.

Mix together the ricotta, thyme, lemon juice and seasoning.

Spread the mixture into the Peppers while they are still warm. Sprinkle with a few basil leaves and serve.

Karen 😀

Potato And Chicken Bake

This is a lovely warming meal, perfect to have in the evening as the colder nights are drawing in.

Ingredients

4 chicken breasts

1 red onion

50g butter

1 carrot chopped into small pieces

225g button mushrooms sliced

900g potatoes finely sliced

16floz milk

1tbsp olive oil

25g plain flour

1tsp wholegrain mustard

Salt and pepper to season

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180 / Gas 4.

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the chicken for 5 minutes until browned.

Add the onion and fry for a further 5 minutes.

Add half the butter to the pan and allow it to melt.

Sprinkle the flour in the pan and stir in the milk.

Cover over a low heat until thickened, then stir in the mustard.

Add the carrot and mushrooms and season to taste.

Line the base of a 3 pint ovenproof dish with a layer of potatoes.

Spoon over one third of the chicken mixture on top of the potatoes.

Followed by another layer of potatoes, repeat with chicken mixture.

Cover with another layer of potatoes carry on with layers and finish with a final layer of potatoes.

Top with the remaining butter in knobs.

Cook in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. \cover the dish with a lid or foil after 30 minutes of cooking.

Serve and enjoy.

Karen x

Why Should You Drink Green Tea?

Green tea is not just a refreshing drink, it is also packed with powerful healing nutrients.

It has lower levels of caffeine that black tea.

Green tea contains fantastic antioxidants such as polyphenols and flavonoids. Flavonoids are used by plants to protect themselves against the damaging effects of UV light. Since green tea is packed with flavonoids, it can help protect the skin against ageing as well as reduce skin damage caused by the sun.

It has been shown to boost metabolism, increase energy production and breaks down the fat stored in the body. It is also known to be an anti-inflammatory.

The tea also contains vitamin E which is important for healthy glowing skin and boost immunity.

It even has a natural antihistamine which can help with hayfever.

Due to its anti-bacterial abilities it can help to fight tooth decay and gum disease.

You can enjoy the benefits of green tea by drinking 3 to 4 cups a day. To take advantage of all its nutrients leave it to brew for 5 minutes. I generally have 3 cups a day. I start my day with a cup of boiled water followed by a cup of green tea.

So as you can see there is so many benefits to drinking green tea give it a try you might enjoy drinking it as much as I do.

Karen x

Peanut And Date Cookies

Do you like your sweet treats?

I do enjoy eating biscuits and when you make your own you know exactly what has gone in them.

This recipe makes around 24 cookies depending how big you make them.

Ingredients

100g dried dates chopped into small pieces

100g smooth peanut butter

100g butter

150g soft brown sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

50g plain flour

2 eggs

150g oats

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 / gas 6 and line 2 baking trays with baking parchment.

In a large bowl add the peanut butter, sugar and butter and mix until really smooth.

Add the 2 eggs and again mix until smooth.

Fold in the oats, flour and baking powder and mix until it starts to form a dough.

Finally add the dates and mix again.

Spoon even dollops of the mixture onto the baking trays. Leave a gap between each one.

Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until golden brown and set around the edges.

Leave on the baking trays to cool before serving.

Karen x

Chorizo And Chicken Pie

This is a great meal and it can be prepared the day before which is what I do a lot with meals so it helps when you get home after a busy day. You don’t have to decide what to cook just pop it in the oven.

Serves 4

Ingredients

800g potatoes chopped for boiling.

1 tbsp milk

25g butter

1 onion chopped into small pieces

4 chicken breasts cut into small pieces

2 garlic cloves crushed

1 red pepper chopped into small pieces

170g chorizo sliced

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp chilli powder

500g passata

2oz cheddar cheese grated

salt and pepper

Oil for frying

Method

Place the potatoes in a pan and cook for 20 minutes or until ready for mashing.

Drain and mash adding the milk and butter.

Heat the oven to 200 / Gas 6

Fry the onions in a bit of oil for around 10 minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally.

Add the chicken and garlic and continue to cook for 5 minutes until lightly browned and sealed.

Add the pepper, chorizo, paprika and chilli and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add the passata and salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.

Pour into an oven proof dish this can either be 1 large dish or use smaller individual dishes which was what I did.

Spread the mash potato over the chicken and chorizo mixture.

Sprinkle over the grated cheese and bake for 50 minutes.

Serve and enjoy.

Ready to go in the oven

Karen x