healthy swaps


Little changes can make a really big difference over time. In a recent study published in the journal of nutrition a study found that even without reducing calories, switching to a healthier diet resulted in greater weight loss in the long term.

Here are a few ideas for healthy swaps.

Instead of snickers – eat dried fruit and nuts.

Instead of sugar on your porridge add fruit compote / apple sauce or even better, add a handful of berries to your cereal or porridge.

Instead of mayo on your sandwich spread mashed avocado.

Instead of soda and fruit juice add chopped fruit to a bottle of water.

Try out canned salmon instead of canned tuna, (it has more heart/brain/skin loving omega 3’s) or if you don’t mind oilier fish try sardines.

Instead of crisps, have oat or rice cakes and hummus or marmite.

Instead of plain buttery mash add sweet potato and carrots, and use milk instead of butter.

starting your day with oats helps weight loss

tumblr_mwip6aqE3Q1qdb2p5o1_400Weight loss tip!
Two new studies present a pretty compelling case to make oatmeal your go-to breakfast. Research from Lund University in Sweden found that the healthy fats in oats trigger the production of satiety (fullness) hormones in the body, helping prevent cravings for up to 7 hours. While the researchers used a special oat oil preparation in their study, dietitians agree that starting your day with a bowl of oatmeal may have a similar effect. Another recent study, published in the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism, found that people who ate oatmeal for breakfast took in 31% fewer calories at lunch than people who skipped breakfast or had a bowl of corn flakes!Pass the porridge! Here is a great recipe to start your day with. 

New year weight loss goals

tumblr_lyo82nAw5m1qdb2p5o1_500Here in the northern hemisphere we are right in the middle of the dark cold winter. In winter your caloric intake should be higher to keep you warm, your body is working 2-3 times harder to maintain body heat, and therefore needs the fuel to do so.

Unfortunately most of us live very busy lives, so getting the right amount of calories from the right foods can be difficult, and so our bodies slip into survival mode – where your brain sends signals to you for fuel in the form of cravings. These cravings are generally for fat and starch dense food or sugar, salt and caffeine. This is because throughout life your brain has been recording everything you have put into your body and the effect it has, so it knows that these foods are a very efficient source of fuel and stimulation, for the least amount of effort, that coupled with the very likely effect of SAD (seasonal affective disorder), a primary symptom being low motivation and lethargy, we have ourselves a sorry situation. So what can we do about this? We are going to approach this from two angles, which will work to achieve the same goal – optimum nutrition and health, and along with it all the psychological benefits!

1. We are going to look at maintaining blood sugar levels so cravings will not occur, and actually ENCOURAGE snacking to achieve this!

2. We are going to work on the mood levels so boredom and low mood will not stimulate cravings.

OK so, lets get started with point one; How to maintain blood sugar levels so your body wont stimulate the brain to send craving signals!

Ideally you should be fuelling yourself every three hours and in small portions. Your main meals will be larger than snacks but not so large you feel heavy and tired afterwards; it has been said that the digestive process requires as much energy as thinking thus causing brain lethargy after eating.
I will break it down into three sections, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Snacks.

1. Breakfast.
Some people require Carbohydrates for breakfast, others require proteins, and others a blend – you will know by the way you feel afterwards, if you feel satiated and energetic then it is for you, conversely if you feel tired and lethargic try the other. And as everyone knows breakfast IS the most important meal of the day – try to NEVER skip breakfast – especially if you are trying to lose weight. For all intensive purposes I will be providing an example of a balanced carb/protein breakfast.

Protein (plant based) shake with superfood powders, Banana and frozen berries, made with rice, soy or coconut milk.
My favourites are the antioxidant powders, Acai, Goji, Maca, Alfalfa and Spirulina, and a flax seed oil.
see  The shake is really quick and easy to make, and if you don’t have time to make anything else has enough nutrients and fuel to keep you going for about 2 hours, ideally you should couple this breakfast with one of the following;
Whole grain toast with spread, porridge, muesli or eggs on wholegrain toast.

2. Lunch – Is a fairly easy meal, most people are hungry at lunch and there is a lot to chose from especially if you work in an area close to stores. Ideally you will add some fresh ingredients to lunch such as a salad either plain or in a sandwich. Best lunch options are:
Tuna salad with egg.
Sushi and Miso soup.
Soup with wholegrain bread and salad.
Wholegrain salad and egg/chicken sandwich – I would not encourage ham, as the chemicals used to cure the ham are significantly carcinogenic.
Wholegrain Pasta, with a non creamy sauce and minimal cheese.
Risotto, but not a large portion.
Roast chicken and salad (minus the fatty skin)

Wholegrain is very important as only whole grains contain the fibre, minerals, b vitamins and other bioflavinoids , necessary not only for health, but their own metabolism, if you chose white bread, rice or pasta, you will experience a blood glucose level spike that will lead to the 3pm crash and most likely cravings.

3. Dinner – If you work either 9-5 or shift work this can be the most difficult time of the day to be motivated to cook nutritious meals, the long day at work and the commute home seem to zap the last of your daily energy – hopefully after fuelling your body correctly all day you will not experience this to such a great degree! My advice for dinner is advance planning, and shopping. It would take about 1/2 and hour a week to set a meal plan for the week and shop accordingly, which ultimately will reduce your grocery bill too. Meats can be frozen which is the best news as you can buy in bulk and then defrost as needed! Veggies need to be bought fresh and organic (if possible) weekly. The following meal suggestions are some that ideally you should add every week.

Steamed Broccoli, beans, carrots, roast potato and grilled salmon or mackerel
Grilled Steak with steamed vegetables (as above)
Grilled chicken Fajitas with wholegrain tortillas and spinach, red pepper and rocket
Vegetarian pasta, with courgettes, carrots, beans herbs and tomatoes
Chicken or lamb stir fry, ginger, chilli, onion, herbs, broccoli, mange-touts, beans, red peppers, carrots, celery,  and whatever left over vegies you have!

If you are unsure of how to cook any of these, the recipes will be on google and here is a resource I like for new recipes:

1.Morning snacks
Nuts & Dried fruit
Granola bar (check the label for sugar content)
Piece of fruit
Crackers and cheese(minimal)
If you are in the UK you can get NAKD bars – raw nut and fruit bars that are so Yummy in lots of interesting all natural flavours.
Green tea! Is a fantastic drink, with a lot of antioxidants and gives you just a little stimulation from a little caffeine.

NOTE;  you can couple the snacks together, i.e. nuts, fruit and yoghurt etc…

2.Afternoon snacks
Crackers and cheese(minimal)
Celery and Carrot sticks and hummus
Rice crackers
Dark chocolate & Nuts (3 – 4 squares of Green and blacks dark chocolate)
And again green tea, the best time to drink this is about half an hour after lunch as it assists digestion and gives you a little bit of a wake up.
Try not to have starchy foods in the afternoon as it will make you sleepier and then crave more foods.

As with anything in life balance is key, the rule of thumb is to have everything in moderation especially snacks, even if you are eating the healthy option but tonnes of it you are not going to lose weight or feel healthy. Also chose foods unprocessed and organic as possible. If you are in the UK this is a fantastic option for ready made snacks and there is lots of choice

PART 2 Mood levels to control snacking

Serotonin is the brain chemical that affects things like mood, and sleeping and eating patterns. This chemical is produced from tryptophan an amino acid, and regulated by the Hypothalamus region of the brain. Due to lack of sunlight stimulation which we rely on to regulate our Circadian rhythms (sleep/ wake cycles) a chemical imbalance occurs in the brain resulting in the condition SAD – this does not occur in everyone, however most people suffer from lower mood levels in winter. For more info on SAD please visit .

The most effective treatment for SAD is light therapy, however the light boxes can be quite expensive, if you do suffer badly it is a good investment. For those who suffer mildly, getting outside and going for a walk is a great solution especially when the sun is shining.

Key factors in mood enhancement.

Exercise, elevates heart rate, eliminates toxins, releases endorphins

Love! The most rewarding and best mood elevator, this includes hugging :) Love for your partner, children, family and pet are all included!

Meditation, Many studies have been conducted to show the effect of the mind/body connection and meditation comes up as one of the best alongside exercise.
Yoga, A great combination of meditation and exercise

Supplementation, such as 5-htp can help stabilise serotonin levels, these supplements used in conjunction with a good diet and exercise plan is the most effective way of gaining results.

Doing things you like,  Music, dancing, socialising, watching films, reading books, learning, hugging your cat (my favourite) taking a bath (another favourite) Travelling, setting goals and making plans, can help lift your mood by giving you something to look forward to and a sense of achievement.

Avoid Alcohol,  Alcohol is not only a nuero suppressant, meaning it leads to brain chemical induced depression, it has the same amount of calories per gram as fat does, and causes your body sugar levels to go haywire. If you do drink – drink moderately for your gender and avoid drinks with soft drink in them, the best alcohols to stick to are red wine, beer and neat spirits. If you do over indulge make sure the next day you over indulge your body with NUTRIENTS and liver supporting foods such as lemon and milk thistle. a green juice and lemon juice fast during the day would be best with a light meal of salmon and vegetables, despite your intense cravings for fat, sugar, salt and starch, also drink a  LOT of coconut water to replace all the lost electrolytes and fluids in your cells, and add a B-complex supplement as the body is encouraged to excrete these essential vitamins by alcohol.

Help somebody else, Recently research has been conducted regarding the effects of an altruistic outlook and helping others “this research has established a strong relationship between volunteering and health: those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer. Comparisons of the health benefits of volunteering for different age groups have also shown that older volunteers are the most likely to receive greater benefits from volunteering, whether because they are more likely to face higher incidence of illness or because volunteering provides them with physical and social activity and a sense of purpose at a time when their social roles are changing”

Always remember to be a positive thinker! If you do slip up and have an unhealthy day – it is ok, just try to do better the next day! The best way to look at it is to have an 80:20 ratio – and having a day a week where you eat crisps and chocolate is not the end of the world, and can actually be of some benefit to your overall diet plan and psycological approach to eating – unless of course you are trying to loose weight or have other health issues, in which case always refer to your physician for advice.

how to maintain weight loss goals

How you can achieve your goals!!

Often we get so caught up in making grandiose New Year resolutions we kind of forget to hash out the specifics of how we will go about achieving them, that is why more often than not, these plans are forgotten about by February. Another reason is that people can start changes too rapidly which end up being too stressful to incorporate into everyday life, for example a common goal is to “lose weight “ a person then embarks on a full on gym bender and restrictive diet, which 3 weeks later has become too stressful to manage. This is where SMART goals come in, SMART stands for;






For example a great goal to set is to decrease sugar intake a smart goal would look at the following;

Specific — (the who what where and when) = I will reduce my daily sugar intake to improve my health and lose weight

Measurable – (How much, or how many) = To no added sugar in my tea and coffee, 1 biscuit per day

Attainable- (attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach goals) = This is financially beneficial

Realistic – (objective toward which you are both willing and able to work) = For example cutting out every sweet treat from your life is probably unattainable unless you have an iron will, also achieving smaller goals will encourage you to keep going.

Timely -( A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency.) In the next six months, then if you are going well you can re-evaluate your goal.

END result; I will reduce my daily sugar intake to no added sugar in my coffee and tea and to 1 biscuit per day for the next six months. This will help improve my health and reduce my weight.

Healthy Eating and a busy lifestyle.

Healthy Eating and a busy lifestyle.

Healthy eating can be hard, but as with all things in life the harder the path the greater the reward. Even with knowledge about nutrition, healthy eating etc, it is hard for me.  Especially when so much of our food industry is not geared to nutrition, but for convenience.

I do not bounce joyfully out of bed every morning to make my breakfast, excited about all the nutritional possibilities of the day – I stumble up the stairs and blearily stare at the kitchen cupboard for a few minutes while my brain catches up. Neither do I bounce into the kitchen after a ridiculously stressful day of studying or working and rejoice that I can make a nutritiously gormet dinner. This is not to say I do not enjoy food or cooking, I really do, its just sometimes life and stress gets in the way.

What makes it easier however is PRACTICE, and PREPARATION and the rewards of feeling healthy. I plan my meals on sunday night, shop accordingly and have all my ingredients ready to go. In the morning I have jars of nuts and seeds and berries ready to sprinkle on either yoghurt, smoothies or oats, similarly I have all my smoothie ingredients in jars which makes it easy just to spoon into the blender. After a while it becomes second nature and if you are prepared you do not need to think so much about what you can and cant eat. And yes it is Ok to have a burger once in a while.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone, and be kind to yourselves

simple weight loss tips


Some simple weight loss tips.

Healthy weight loss involves exercise and a healthy diet that contains less saturated fat and fewer calories.

Cardiovascular exercise (such as jogging, walking or biking) five or six days a week is a great way to burn calories. Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes, or break it up into three 10-minute sessions over the course of the day.
In addition to cardio, incorporate weightlifting into your workout routine. The muscles you build will help you burn calories even when you aren’t active.
When it comes to food, keep in mind that if you have been eating high-fat foods like burgers and fries, it may take a few weeks for your body to stop fat cravings.
So what should you eat? Vegetables like spinach, broccoli, salad greens, tomatoes and peppers are low in calories and can help control food cravings.
Fruit, especially grapefruit, has also been shown to aid weight loss. Aim for at least three servings of fruit each day.
If you have a sweet tooth, fruit can also be a substitute for some of your desserts. You’ll get more nutrients and less fat.
Replace white bread with whole grain. Likewise, eat brown rice instead of white
When eating meat, go for the leaner options such as chicken breast, salmon, turkey and egg whites. You’ll also reduce calories and fat by grilling or broiling your food.
Olive oil is one of the healthier cooking oils if you prepare meals at home. The best bet is to switch to a cooking spray to reduce more fat and calories. But do not heat olive oil to high temperatures, rather use coconut or rice bran oil.
Don’t skip breakfast! Eating several small meals throughout the day, including breakfast, helps your metabolism. The fruit and cereal above is a healthy, high-fiber option.
Another good tip is to eat slower. Take smaller bites or try replacing your fork on your plate after each bite. This allows time for your stomach to feel full, and you will likely eat less calories as a result.
Be sure to drink more water when trying to lose weight. Sometimes dehydration may feel like hunger, and the water will help you feel full longer.
By avoiding sodas, you can also cut several hundred calories from your diet each day.
If you are still having trouble with your eating habits, keep a food journal of everything you eat so that you can pay more attention to what you are consuming.
Invest in some low-fat cookbooks so you can eat healthier at home
For added support, find a weight-loss partner to help keep you accountable to your weight-loss plan.