Five days into my family holiday in Cala D'Or, Majorca and I'm sitting here feeling somewhat "puddingy"; tired, lethargic, bloated - basically like a beached whale. The weather has not been great today, very windy so sitting by the pool is a dangerous pastime as a lilo blows out of the pool and slaps you round the face. DS is in kids clubs and DD is sleeping like an angel so I'm in the hotel room writing this, eating cake and drinking hot chocolate (it's not that cold but it's there and it's on tap so why not?)Read More
I get asked, ALOT, about healthy snacks and I do believe that snacks can play an important part in a healthy style, keeping blood sugar levels up between main meals and curb over-eating at your main meals. However, get it wrong and you can quickly consume excess calories throughout the day. Here are some tips to healthy snacking:
Avoid sugary items at all costs. This includes sweet drinks, biscuits, cakes, sweets.
Snacks should never contain enough calories that constitutes a meal. 200 calories or less is about right.
Have no more than two snacks per day; one mid morning, one mid afternoon. Snacking quickly becomes a habit rather than a necessity. If you are regularly grabbing snacks many times a day, perhaps you need to review when and what you are eating at mealtimes. Your aim should be to eat enough at mealtimes to keep you going until the next meal, rather than snacking.
Snacks should be a good balance of lean protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fat - too make you feel fuller for longer. Aim to add to your overall nutrition intake that you may be missing from other meals.
The simplest method to cut unhealthy snacking is to avoid having these types of snacks in the house. This is not always easy when you have a family but the best option for everyone is to encourage your family to have healthier snacks too.
If you're feeling peckish then have a glass of water first. Wait 10 minutes and if you still feel hungry then maybe you are. Sometimes the feelings of thirst can be mistaken for hunger pangs.
Be mindful of what you are eating rather than mindlessly grazing. Fill a small bowl or plate with your snack and walk away. Once it is eaten, snack time is over. Never take the whole packet with the intention of stopping when you've had enough - before you know it you've eaten the whole lot.
Don't snack in front of the TV or at your desk. Avoid all distraction so that you can focus on eating and enjoying your food.
Plan your snacks as you would your main meals and if necessary prepare your snacks in small containers so you can grab them on the run.
- Chopped crudités (pepper, carrot, celery, cucumber) with guacamole, hummus or tzatziki
- Oatcakes/Rice cakes with nut butter or slice of avocado & smoked salmon
- Handful of mixed nuts or seeds and some dried fruit
- Fruit with natural bio yoghurt
- Dates and walnuts
- Fruit juice ice lolly
- Hard boiled egg
- Plain self-popped popcorn
- Small natural liquorice bar
- Two squares of dark chocolate
- Homemade vegetable crisps
A is for Alcohol
Quite simply alcohol adds fat all over your body, especially over your stomach, waist, thighs and bottom. It is the simplest and most fattening sugar of all. It makes your body store fat, stresses your liver so it can’t burn calories properly and makes your face look old and wrinkled!
B is for Berries
Berries are low in calories, high in fibre and they contain vitamins and minerals your body needs to function normally. They are packed with antioxidants and a highly beneficial compound called proanthocyanidins, which protects you against degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
C is for Caffeine
Excess caffeine stimulates your nervous system, causing your body to produce cortisol, a fat-storing hormone which helps the body respond to stress. Caffeine disrupts your sleep and lack of sleep encourages your body to store fat. On the plus side, Caffeine can help the body to burn fat and it’s great for digestion. Limit yourself to one cup a day of good quality, organic coffee.
D is for Dairy
Dairy is ok if you're ok with it. Many people find the lactose in cow's milk hard to digest, making you bloated and uncomfortably full. If you find this then you may be intolerant. Goat's milk is a good alternative as it is better for you and easier to digest. Other options include; unsweetened almond, oat, rice or hazelnut milk. Wherever possible buy organic. Organic milk contains more nutrients than non-organic and also contains more omega-3 fatty acids.
E is for Epsom Salts
Try taking an Epsom salts bath for 20 minutes, 2-3 times per week. The salts are full of magnesium and encourage the body to shed toxins quickly. Epsom salts are also good for boosting digestion and reducing cellulite.
F is for Fat
Eating fat is good for you as long as it is a good fat. Good fat prevents you from over-eating, burns fat and gives you a flat tummy. Bad fats include; anything with a crust, pizza, ready meals, shop-bought cakes, anything deep-fried, sautéed or breaded, fat on meat and salad dressings. Good fats include; nuts, seeds, oils, meat, fish, seafood and avocados. You should aim to have some good fat with every single meal or snack.
G is for Gluten
Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye. Gluten is very hard to digest for most people and can cause indigestion, candida, allergies and coeliac disease, the side effects of which are bloating, diarrhoea, constipation and fatigue.
H is for Honey
A better for you sweetener than processed sugar as it is packed with calcium, iron, B vitamins, potassium and antioxidants. Moderation is the key here and honey should only form a small part of your diet. The best types to have are raw honey or Manuka honey.
I is for Insulin
Eating sugar causes a sharp increase in your blood-sugar levels. This increases the production of insulin, preventing you from burning fat and encouraging your body to store fat instead.
J is for Junk Food
A 'junk' or processed food is one that has been altered from its natural state to make it cheaper, more convenient, more attractive or to extend its shelf life. This type of food is usually made in factories, stripped of its natural goodness and mixed with man-made additives and preservatives.
K is for 'breakfast like a King'
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it determines what you are likely to eat for the rest of the day. Changing the habit of a lifetime and avoiding high-sugar cereals and bread for breakfast will be one of the best things you ever do for your health.
L is for Lemons
Start your day by enjoying a glass of water with a slice of lemon. This is a great start to the day because it aids the removal of toxins, kickstarts your metabolism, reduces cravings for sugar and salt at breakfast and refreshes you after a long sleep.
M is for Massage
A regular massage helps to reduce cellulite by improving blood flow to the area and softening fatty tissues underneath the skin. Cellulite is created by fat cells that have bulged into the skin's middle layer, where they pull on connective tissue to create a dimpled skin surface. Try having a massage twice a month to really improve the appearance of your skin.
N is for Nuts
Raw nuts are great for snacking as they are packed with protein, fibre and essential fats. Have a handful of mixed nuts per day to get a wide range of vitamins and minerals.
O is for Organic
Eat organic food wherever possible. Many people feel that it is too expensive to eat organic but it is best to do what you can afford and remember it is an investment in you longterm health. Organic food contains fewer toxins and additives and more health-boosting minerals and vitamins, which can help to make you healthier, stronger and slimmer.
P is for Positive Thinking
Feeling fat can make you feel fat and a negative body image can lead to weight gain. Think fabulous - celebrate your positive bits, eat healthy and exercise regularly. The rest will just fall into place.
Q is for Quinoa
Quinoa is considered a superfood because it contains all eight essential amino acids making it one of the most protein-rich foods available. It's rich in fibre, magnesium, iron and is gluten-free which makes it easily digestible.
R is for Reward
If you achieve a goal, don't reward yourself with food. As children, we are brought up with sugary foods being used as a reward for good behaviour, or to cheer us up when we felt sad. Teaching us that our relationship with food is an emotional one. Instead try other ways of yourself such as; a relaxing massage, a new pair of shoes you've had your eye on or a simple manicure.
S is for Sugar
Sugar is a highly processed, emotionally addictive substance that causes spikes in your blood sugar levels, giving you an instant energy boost followed by a big energy slump. Once eaten, your body finds it difficult to process sugar so it is converted into fat and stored. Eat too much and you will have high reserves of unwanted fat around the waistline in no time.
T is for Green Tea
Try switching to Green tea, which has a lot less caffeine than ordinary tea and coffee. Drinking four to five cups of green tea daily, combined with exercise, can accelerate the loss of fat around your waist. Green tea is rich in antioxidants, that can raise your metabolic rate, making it easier to burn fat. It also helps to regulate blood sugar levels, which means you'll be able to combat those sugar cravings more easily.
U is for yoU
Modern stress in a relentlessly busy lifestyle is bad for you. When we are stressed our body produces cortisol, a fat-storing hormone, which prepares your muscles for the "flight or fight" response. It also helps the body to release sugar into the bloodstream for instant energy. All these hormones and excess sugar eventually end up as fat around your waist.
V is for Vegetables
Forget five-a-day, eat as many vegetables as you can during a day, they are the healthiest food that you can eat.
A diet rich in vegetables contains beneficial antioxidants that help reduce your risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease. When eating vegetables have as much variety in colour and texture as possible, think rainbow.
Try to eat local and in-season wherever possible. It's better for you, it's better for the environments and it's more natural.
W is for Water
Water is the one thing that we can not live without. Keeping well-hydrated is one of the most, THE MOST, important things you should be doing for yourself. Two litres of plain, fresh water per day should be your aim (preferably filtered or bottled). It is difficult at first, you will probably find it a struggle to drink that much water during the day, however, it does get easier as it becomes a habit.
X is for Xylitol
If you are having a tough time giving up sugar then there are a couple of alternatives. Xylitol is a sweet-tasting crystalline alcohol derived from xylose, present in some plant tissues and used as an artificial sweetener in foods. Stevia is a herb that is 200 times sweeter than sugar, which you can buy in granulated form.
Y is for Yoghurt
Eating live natural yoghurt every day helps restore balance in the digestive tract, critical for supporting your immune system. It is rich in calcium so great for your bone health and by eating more calcium-rich foods helps you to lose that excess weight, particularly around your tummy. Try a bowl with a few mixed seeds and a drizzle of honey.
Z is for ZZZ's
The quality of your sleep has a huge impact on your weight, appetite and food choices that you make. After a good night's sleep your body will crave clean, fresh foods. But after a bad night's sleep your body will crave sugar, fat and caffeine for a quick energy fix. The result of this is crashing blood sugar levels, sugar addiction and extra fat being stored. Take time to wind down before bed and aim to get 8 hours sleep per night.
We could all be our ideal body weight. We could all do the recommended amount of exercise per week. We could all eat the perfect balance of protein, carbs and fats. But... We don't, because making big changes like this takes dedication and motivation and we always find an excuse. The key to really changing and becoming healthier is in small steps, one day at a time. Making good habits that will last a lifetime.Read More