"Health is a large word. It embraces not the body only, but the mind and spirit as well;...
and not today's pain or pleasure alone, but the whole being and outlook of a man."
~James H. West

I have just got back from a month in the UK, it would have been remiss of me not to explore the food scene while there and report back some of the highlights!

English Summer time!
My girlfriends and I spent a day at the UK’s biggest pick your own farm… it is summer there now, so we feasted on glorious berries of all varieties fresh from the vines… so delicious!

We filled punnets with fresh raspberries, strawberries, blackberries (that left our fingers stained purple), sugar snap peas, beans and more. We picked bright yellow sunflowers to brighten up the house and remind us of sunny days (necessary in the London! ☺).Pick your own Strawberries

This day was not only fun-filled it was the essence of a healthy day out… titillating for the senses, and so nourishing for body, mind and spirit. Being out in nature, gathering food from the vine like our ancestors, talking with friends, absorbing vitamin D from the sun, taking in the fresh air, getting some exercise as you walk the fields. It reminded me of my childhood days hanging out on the farm.

Did you know that eating tree or vine ripened fruit is the best way to enjoy fruit, it is the only time you can ensure maximum freshness and nutritive value, the fruit is bursting with enzymes that are still alive, nutrients that are mature and the body can receive it easily.

A great family day out and a great day out with the mates: pack some supplies and enjoy a picnic feast of all your pickings…
Where are “pick your own’s” in Australia?
You can pick your own strawberries, at Strawberry Lane in Eumundi! Or check out: www.pickyourown.org/australia.htm

Good food in London:
Other highlights included visiting Jamie Oliver’s Recipease shop in Clapham… lots of gorgeous food, and a wonderful demonstration kitchen running daily cooking workshops. Wow, my mother treated me to a rather sinful and totally decadent Almond Croissant. I wish I could say it tasted awful, quite the opposite! It was gorgeous.

But probably my favourite find was a small little restaurant in Walthamstow, called Eat 17, which featured a Quinoa salad! Quinoa, goat’s cheese and grilled mushroom. Absolutely scrumptious!
Quinoa is an ancient South American grain that is jam packed with nutrition, it contains a full essential amino acid profile, it is a complex carbohydrate (so that means it is low GL) and it is wonderfully versatile. I eat it as porridge, for lunch in salads and at dinner as an accompaniment to stir-fry and stew. (You can find out how to make it into yummy meals in our cooking parties).

Edinburgh:Oink in Edinburgh
I earned my degree in Edinburgh, so headed there for a trip down memory lane. A few surprises awaited! I stumbled upon a little café called “Oink”, the window display featured a whole golden brown pig… cooked, perky little tail up and head still on! They served hot roast pork butties. Certainly a hit for the carnivores out there!

In contrast the shop next door looked like a little chemistry lab with big glass bottles lining the shelves. Beside the bottles where little hand written signs detailing the contents… The potions ranged from Home brewed Elderberry Gin to Extra Virgin Olive oil. I delighted my tastebuds sampling the different liquids.

All in all some wonderful meanderings!

Homemade wine and vinegar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How can you tell if you are healthy?
Do you know your vital statistics?

What if there was a way to get the heads up on disease or impending disaster in your body before it hit?

Of course there is, your body communicates with you all the time… but how do you read the signals you are receiving?

How many of your vital statistics do you know? And do you know what they say about your body? Do this quick quizz to see how many of your vital statistics you know?

What is your waist measurement?

What is your waist to hip ratio?

What is the healthy range?

What is your homocysteine score?

What is the ideal score and what are the risks associated with elevated homocysteine levels?

What is your cholesterol ratio of HDL to LDL?

What is the ideal ratio?

Have you ever had your blood sugar levels tested?

What was your fasting glucose?

How is your blood pressure?

If you don’t know any of these, don’t worry, there is no need to feel overwhelmed, but consider the power and heads up you now have. You can go to your doctor and ask him to investigate some of these for you. When you know what your health score is, you can then work to improve it.

Know this: Most disease is preventable, there is no need for you to suffer or be in pain, find out your vital stats this week, and get that piece of mind that comes with being proactive and taking care of yourself.

Other signs you can look out for to detect warnings of ill health:

Ridges or dents in your nails; slits, lines and coatings on your tongue; cracks in the corner of your mouth; dark circles under your eyes; bad breath; loose unformed stools; stools with blood or mucous in them; congested sinuses; pain in joints; headaches, dizziness; ringing in your ears.

If you have any of these symptoms and want to know what they mean or you would like to explore any of your results in detail, please contact us with your queries, we would love to help you to achieve health worth celebrating!

Some interesting links:
Waist to hip Ratio: what it means for beauty and health
How do you measure up?
Blood sugar Control: what you need to know about testing

Categories : Useful Information
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stockxpertcom_id248989_jpg_d8d5ad9f3a2a763ef3a45103003f66061Many of us will experience an adverse reaction to a particular food or substance at some point in our lives.

Allergies and food sensitivities appear to be on the increase. Is there really an increase in incidence or is there merely an increased awareness?

With modern diets what they are, it is quite probable there is an increase, many people are taking in substances that are foreign to the body, e.g. artificial additives, preservatives, colorants, moulds and fungi, these chemical toxins and poisins wreak havoc in the body and can compromise the body’s immunity, in addition to this many people do not eat a balanced diet which means they are missing key essential nutrients (eg. amino acids, vitamins) so may not be able to synthesize the necessary enzymes for digesting particular foods. Both of these factors can contribute to allergies and food sensitivities or intolerances.

How serious are they? Food allergies tend to be very serious and can be life threatening, food intolerances can lead to malnutrition and dramatically affect the quality of life of the individual.

Here is a short article that looks at the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance
Allergies and Food intolerances

Where can you get help?
Booking an appointment with a nutritionist, dietitian or even a naturapath can be a great place to start. They can advise you on what tests you need to have done, if any, and some of them will even perform their own tests. They will help you to isolate possible suspect foods or substances and can also help you to manage your allergies and food sensitivites and still maintain a balanced diet, once you know what they are.

You can go directly to your GP and request allergy or food intolerance tests first, they will write a referral for you to have tests at a local lab (These are covered by medicare). Once you have your results you could book in with a nutritionist or dietitain who can then offer further guidance and support.

Whatever you do, don’t ignore allergies or food intolerances, the symptoms and destruction on the body only tend to get worse. It is best to seek professional help so that you are supported as you explore whether the foods you are eating are making you ill.

This is what people who have eliminated their trigger foods have said:
“I do not know myself now, I feel great, I have lost weight, I have more energy, and it was just a matter of creating some new habits. At the time it felt like hard work, but I would never go back now, it was worth the effort and I just love feeling this great, I didn’t know what I was missing.”

How can you find out more?

For more help or guidance on allergies or food sensitivities Contact Us

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 Well, it’s that time of year again, when colds, flu, the sniffles and “getting sick” becomes the trend.  And now that swine flu is on everyone’s lips there is additional concern.

The great news is that there is no need for you to sing that song!  There are lots of things you can be doing to keep your immune system strong and your body in tip top health all through winter (and in fact all year long). 

Here are 5 things you can do to keep your immune system strong this winter:

  1. Eat fresh fruit and vegetables every day. This may sound too simple and obvious, but it is the easiest way to get a cocktail of key vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes and phytonutrients that work as little immunity soldiers defending your territory against invaders.  Enjoy seasonal fruits: so some examplesof winter options are oranges (and citrus fruits), avocados, pumpkin and butternut.  
    Eat plenty fresh fruit and vegetables

    Eat plenty fresh fruit and vegetables

     

  2. Spend a little time in the sun everyday if you can.  Vitamin D is vital for your immune system… and for feeling good through the sometimes gloomy winter.  To be most beneficial, you need to expose at least your face, hands and arms (at least 3/4 of your arm, so beyond your elbows) and you want to be in the morning or afternoon sun… between 10 and 11am or between 2 and 3pm, for about 20 minutes, without sunblock!  (And no, this is not irresponsible exposure.)  So enjoy your morning or afternoon teabreak outside, or make an excuse to go for a quick walk at that time.
  3. Keep your home and office well ventilated.  It can be tempting to keep doors and windows shut to try and keep out the cold out and the warmth in… but the problem is you also create a wonderful breeding ground for bacteria, moulds and keep a lot of the “undesirables” in. 
  4. Supplement 1000mg of Vitamin C everyday (take it in the Ester C or non-acidic form). You can increase this dose safely anytime you feel stressed or a tickle or sniffle.  (1000mg every hour or two, 2000mg to 8000mg over the day or until bowel tolerance-  you get a runny tummy). 
  5. Manage your stress levels, take time out and get enough sleep!  Stress wreaks havoc with your immune system, it not only weakens your immune system, but also delays your ability to heal. 

Here is a yummy pumpkin soup recipe for you.

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Jun
20

Addicted to Stimulants?

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If you are relying on stimulants to get through your day, it ’s not because you are weak or bad, it’s just your bodies chemistry may be controlling you. It is possible to get addicted to the stress response (which stimulants and lifestyle all contribute to).

If you crave the stimulation from sugar, coffee, stress and alcohol you may be low in the neurotransmitter noradrenaline. The neurotransmitter

Love my coffee addiction

Love my coffee addiction

involved in feelings of motivation and of pleasure. 

 Dancing, being in love, the thrill of music and similar exhilarating pursuits tend to raise noradrenaline.  A well balanced diet containing amino acids tyrosine and phenylaline, along with necessary vitamin co factors will give your body the ingredients it needs to make dopamine (from which adrenalin and noradrenalin are derived.) Low levels of tyrosine have been associated with depression and lack of motivation.

You can get tyrosine and phenylalanine from protein rich foods like meat, fish, beans, nuts, seeds, soya, and cheese.

Categories : life balance
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Jun
19

Health for Busy People!

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Is it possible to be busy and healthy?

When you are pushed for time it can be hard to even think about, let alone action, a healthy lifestyle

How much is your health costing your business?

How much is your health costing your business?

What you need is a few simple, easy to apply solutions, that will make an impact but require very little effort to implement.

Here are 5 things you can do that will help to:

  • Keep your energy levels up
  • Keep your mind focused
  • Keep you in control of your mood

  1. Eat something for breakfast: some quick breakfast choices are… a Carmen’s muesli bar, an apple and a handful of nuts, a bowl of muesli, a bowl of instant oats, A vegetable juice (a good combination is apple, beetroot, carrot, celery and ginger), a banana and a some almonds, fruit salad and yoghurt, whole grain seeded toast/pumperknickle or rye toast with avocado, peanut butter,  hummus, sliced tomato, a boiled egg or some veggie mite.  A good breakfast gives your brain, red blood cells and nerves the energy they need to get fired up and function for the day.  If you don’t have breakfast your body will break down your MUSCLE to fuel itself, a sure way to make you feel tired and low on energy.
  2. Keep healthy snacks like nuts and fresh fruit or trailmix, veggie sticks or sesame ryevita and hummus  handy to snack on during the day. Eating regularly through the day (small amounts 3-5 times) helps to keep your blood sugar levels stable, which keeps your energy levels and your mood stable… it’s that simple! The fresher the food, the more energy available in it.
  3. Keep well hydrated. Drink lots of water and keep the caffeine intake low.  A dehydrated brain feels foggy, dizzy and dirty.  Keep it feeling fresh and clear with lots of hydrating fluids, water, herbal teas, vegetable juices (aim for at least 3 glasses of water and 3 cups of some other caffeine free, 100 % natural beverage like 2 herbal teas and a vegetable juice) .
  4. Move your body in a way that feels good.  Keep the energy flowing into and out of your body, think of your body as a body of water, you want to stir it up every now and again, keep the stream flowing and circulating, airing it, energising it so that it doesn’t stagnate. Do you want a crystal flowing stream, bubbling brook or a stagnant smelly swamp.  Move in ways that you love e.g. walk, sFind time to play!kip, dance, body surf in the ocean, ride your bicycle, do the funky chicken with your kids, hike, swim… Start by getting physical in ways that feel invigorating and are filled with pleasure, don’t start with exercises that feel like torture and punishment. Move everyday! Do it with someone if it helps. The payoff from the commitment is MASSIVE. Commit to it, then do it, you will be SO glad you did after you have. Make time to play!
  5. Live on purpose… live and act with deliberate intention, pride and love. Love what you are creating and contributing to and acting on everyday. Find ways to reflect positively and shed light on all your daily activities. The things that you are finding difficult to do or procrastinating about might be out of line with your value systems, your beliefs, your purpose… this will cause incongruency in your life, which can manifest as pain, fatigue, frustration, disease. Find little ways to be grateful for what you are doing, find pleasure in all you do and do what you love.

Need some extra inspiration or support?

Check out fun ways to exercise and get 23 free healthy living and nutrition tips

Categories : life balance
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Do this quick quizz for fun…

If you are standing at a banquet table, what would you choose first:

  1. Apple
  2. Banana
  3. Strawberry
  4. Peach
  5. Orange

Decide and then type in your choice in the comment field and I will send you your result!

Categories : Celebrating Life, fun
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Jun
14

I’ve Got Life!

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Nina Simone an absolute inspiration!

… What have I got? I’ve got Life!

Categories : Celebrating Life
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Jun
11

What’s your choice?

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“Where in your life are you avoiding a choice?  Are you willing to make self-honouring choices today?  If you don’t make clear and conscious choices, you’ll be stuck with whatever shows up. ” Iyanla Vanzart

This is quite a confronting quote. But there is so much in it… The quote eludes to how even not making a choice is actually making a choice.  “Are you willing to make self-honouring choices today?”  Wow, this is important, how often in life are the choices you make in line with what you really want, really feel, really believe.  By making self-honouring choices you start to make different sorts of decisions and live a life more in line with your values and meeting your needs.  This is powerful.

Are there things in your life that you are putting off and hoping will just go away? We never get to hide from ourselves, so if it is a life choice that you are putting off and it affects your wellbeing, taking ownership and doing what you need to do… can be very liberating.

Sometimes it is challenging to stand up for yourself or to have the courage to make decisions or choices that other people might not understand and might not approve of.  One of the most important things you can do for yourself and your health is to be true to yourself. 

Make choices in line with your value systems and in line with your beliefs.   Sometimes it might make you unpopular, sometimes it might upset others.  Dr Demartini once explained: “If I have to choose to (upset) myself or (upset) somebody else, I choose them”, while this may come across as quite a selfish point of view in some ways it makes sense,  at the end of the day, many people will come in and out of your lives, but you are stuck with you and your choices forever.

And one interesting thing I have observed is how often the choices you make will actually inspire people or encourage people, empowering them or giving them permission to make self honouring choices as well. 

Have the courage to stand up for yourself, believe in yourself and make the choices you know you need to make. “If you don’t stand for something, you may fall for anything.”

You will always be glad you did… and know that whatever choice you end up making will be exactly the right one for you at this moment and for this circumstance.

Deep down you know exactly what it is you want and need  … trust that.

Categories : Celebrating Life
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Aaah… comfort eating. The sheer enwrapment and mm-mmm-mmm of snuggling up under the doona on a cold winter’s evening in front a fabulous chick flick with a cup of milo and a timtam. Dunking a Tim Tam

You nip off the ends and dunk the tim tam into the mug of hot milky liquid and suck deeply, oooh, the decadent ooze of warm soft slightly granular chocolately middle floods into your mouth.

Heavenly, quickly before it drops into your mug you shove the rest into your mouth and the chocolate explosion is so gorgeous, you close your eyes near purring. You stare ahead at the screen and savour the last of the experience licking the chocolate off each one of your fingers…
mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Delicious, blissful… addictive even… You reach for another, then another… ooh, it is so rich, you are nearly feeling ill, just one last one. But your need is insatiable. Physically you couldn’t possibly have another, but psychological, oh yes you could!

Certainly you have at least one comfort food you reach for when you are feeling anxious, stressed, down, tired, frustrated, bored or just wanting a little “pick me up and make me feel better”…

Here are some of other peoples choices…

  • Cheese toastie
  • Apple pie
  • Macaroni cheese
  • Baked beans on toast
  • Chocolate
  • Ice-cream
  • Milk and cookies
  • Tea and biscuits
  • Tea and toast
  • Chicken Soup
  • Pizza
  • Mashed potato
  • Potato Chips
  • Peanut butter and honey or jam sandwich
  • Junket
  • Bread dipped in balsamic and olive oil
  • Pavlova
  • Roast dinner

It is interesting to note they typically have one very telling thing in common: they are high in refined carbohydrates. So what is it that makes us choose to eat certain foods over others, and why is it these foods can make you feel better when you are feeling down, you might be wondering…

It may come as a surprise to learn that your comfort food of choice has a lot to do with your upbringing.  Generally background culture tends to affect comfort food trends: for example one the most popular comfort food in the UK is boiled egg and soldiers (toast cut into strips for dipping into the soft yolk) where in Ireland Irish stews are popular.  So comfort foods are not necessarily unhealthy and are often far from gourmet.  Being male or female also seems to affect your comfort food of choice. Men are more likely to choose meals and the ladies are more likely to choose snacky foods.

What did your parents give you to cheer you up when you were growing up? Did you have a favourite meal request? Were certain foods associated with special occasions?

You may find your kids will request certain favourite foods (similar to how you used to request your certain favourite dishes from your mother, grandmother or even your father) … lentil soup or macaroni cheese, that will for the rest of their lives be imprinted in their brain as mom’s recipe (in my case, my dad makes the most glorious soup).  Fresh pawpaw always reminds me of my mom and being a little girl, we had these gorgeous honeygold pawpaws and she would get home from work, pick one, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and hand me a spoon, then we would sit on the back step and dig in.  I still love to sit outside in the sun and eat fresh pawpaw. 

The attachment to the food is much less about the food than about the feelings of nurturing, giving, and unconditional love and safety that come with feeding. The sense of home, love and belonging. Not to mention the feel good reward, as mom is able to provide for her little darlings something that they like to eat and nourishes them, and the little darlings get the positive warm feedback overflow from this.

Why do we comfort eat?

Any sort of emotional eating is usually an attempt to offset negative emotions.  Triggers include stress, anxiety, boredom, anger, loneliness, frustration and sadness.   There seems to be a couple of explanations for comfort eating, the reason is pretty simple, it makes us feel better, temporarily at least. 

One possible explanation from a study in October 2007 Nature revealed that the brain releases a key signaling hormone associated with pleasure when our stomach becomes full.  So chemically, comfort eating makes us feel better.

Another explanation is psychologically, comfort eating makes us feel better. Comfort foods tend to be described as foods that soothe the psyche, they typically relate back to pleasant memories and associations from your childhood, giving you a sense of nostalgia, safety and security when eaten. 

But has this changed?  Nowadays comfort foods tend to come in boxes or in packages, they are not the homemade comforts of old necessarily… and actually some children have never even tasted their parents home cooking! However the association and happy memory can still be there.  For example one client reported being taken to McDonalds everytime after a doctors appointment, therefore she connected eating McDonalds with feeling better.

Interestingly though, there is some physiological sense attached to some of the more unhealthy high sugar, high fat comfort foods that are reached for in times of stress particularly later in life, when mom isn’t around to make the comfort food, you might reach for another…

There are a few possible explanations for this… one is that some of these carbohydrate foods contain an amino acid: tryptophan, which is used to make serotonin, commonly recognised as the happy hormone. Tryptophan utilisation is aided by the presence of glucose… so these sugary foods, chocolate is a good example, it contains both tryptophan and sugar, which means that you get a bit of a tryptophan kick, making more serotonin available. Chocolate also contains other chemicals that make you feel good… which is why it’s such a popular choice.  And it’s also why if you are low in serotonin or feeling a little down, chocolate actually can make you feel a bit better.

In addition, the sugar rush to your brain, can feel good, its a little druglike!

Another chemical dopamine is also involved in this pleasurable endevour.  Dopamine is your pleasure seeking or pleasure controlling neurotransmitter.  (And therefore is largely connected to motivation.) 

The cells in the dopamine system in the brain are active when we are taking or anticipating pleasure in some activity.  Tests in monkeys have found cells fire up in response to taste of pleasant food.  It seems that the dopamine levels contribute to this wanting, acting as a primary motivator to seek out things we believe we want or will get pleasure from.   Interestingly studies conducted on rats found that when dopamine blocking drugs were used to shut the system down, rats would starve even when surrounded by mountains of tasty food.     

The dopamine system also interacts with a class of brain chemicals called opiods (because of their similarity to opium).  Opiods seem to be directly involved in pleasure.  What is especially interesting about this is that in some people casein (a protein) found in milk can actually act like an opiate in the brain, due to a metabolism problem.  These people will generally feel a very strong attachment or enjoyment to milk as a comfort food. 

The injection of opiates (chemical form) into wide areas of a rat brain resulted in both more eating and more positive behaviours towards foods.  So these compounds can actually trigger you to eat more, which consequently can contribute to regular overindulgence and weight gain. The reverse is also true, taking an opioid-blocking drug makes things that are usually delicious seem less so!  

Is there a cure for comfort eating?  No and there needn’t be!  

What can you enjoy that isn’t going to become problematic to your waist line and still give you comfort? Or how can you let comfort eating serve you and not sabotage you?

Firstly, try to connect with what is stirring you emotionally?  Are you upset, bored, anxious, nervous…

Then you can try some tactics: like distraction… delay the gratification, don’t give in immediately, wait 15 minutes, nurture yourself another way or find an alternative way to give yourself pleasure or comfort. 

Break the habit of comfort eating…

 Try calling a friend, go for a walk, run a bath, go shopping… if that doesn’t work, seek out the best quality version of your comfort food (definitely don’t keep them at home, or keep a stock of healthy comfort foods) and sit and give it all of your attention, don’t do anything else other than eat and enjoy in your comfort food.  Eat it slowly, one mouth full at a time and savour each bite.  This way you are less likely to overdo it, soon you realise it isn’t really about the food its about the “vibe” and association, whatever you do enjoy the treat and DEFINITELY don’t feel guilty. 

And remember really any food can become a comfort food, with enough positive association around it:  a Chai Soy Latte has become one for me, raisin toast with cinnamon and a thin spread of my butter and olive oil mix, a couple of pieces of dark chocolate with almonds or hazelnuts, a big bowl of minestrone or pumpkin soup, and polenta and tomato relish because it reminds me of South Africa. 

It is also useful to consider and take advantage of other ways to nurture candlelit-bathyourself when you are needing comfort. A good long soaking candlelit bath with essential oils like rose geranium and ylang ylang also brings me great comfort, I feel like I am getting a great big warm hug by the water and the glow of the candles. Getting a foot rub or a reflexology treatment or a relaxing massage can be tremendously therapeutic.  

Because the mechanisms that control the wanting for things are not the same as those that control the mechanism for liking them, you can crave something very much and take little or no pleasure in it once you have it… so be sure you do take all the pleasure you can from the experience, and if you aren’t enjoying it, stop.  Find something else that will give you some level of pleasure.

So, relish in your comforts, treat yourself often, be kind to yourself absolutely, but do consider… are you guilty of being a comfort pig? ;o)
10 Ways to know for sure if you are a Comfort Pig…

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