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Keep it in the family

December 15, 2009

Sautee the onion and smoked paprikaadd the sliced cabbage and cook on a low heat with a lid on for 40-50 minutesFancy a variation on the Brussel sprout this Christmas, but want to keep it in the family?

This dish is packed with the same punch as the beloved spout, but this forgotten member of the cruciferous family will have you go back for more. And its ok, you can do because it is so good for you. Cabbage, as well as Brussels sprouts appears to guard cells against the very first onslaughts that progress to full fledged cancer.

This is an old Eastern European recipe, dead easy and really scrummy – almost meaty.

 Recipe:

3 white onions, finely sliced

20g butter

1 tablespoon organic, odourless coconut oil

1 small pointed white cabbage, finely sliced

2 tablespoons smoked paprika (this really makes the difference)

200g cooked spelt noodles – similar to Pad Thai noodles

Method:

1. Slice the cabbage finely, lay out on a flat surface and sprinkle with half a  tablespoon of sea salt or Kosher salt.

2. Allow to stand for 20 minutes, and then pat dry the cabbage, removing any excess liquid.

3. In the meantime, heat the butter and the oil in a heavy based saucepan

4. Add the sliced white onion to the heated butter

5. After 5 minutes reduce the heat to a small flame and add the paprika to the onions.

Allow to cook slowly for 15 minutes (the onions will be soft and discoloured – not burnt)

6. Now add the cabbage, cover with a lid and leave to cook for 40-50 minutes until the cabbage is soft.

7. Add the cooked noodles

8. Jazz it up by sprinkling a teaspoon of fresh thyme or fresh parsley on the top.

Trust me, this is so simple but very tasty and über nutritious.

 

How do you avoid the Christmas dietary pitfalls?

December 14, 2009

The Christmas season is fast approaching, and with it the endless canapés, buffet tables and three course meals, not to mention the booze.  If we’re not careful, Christmas dietary pitfalls can leave us piling on the extra pounds and creating havoc with our digestion.  Here are ten top tips to help you navigate your way around the Christmas menu, whilst still enjoying yourself:

  1. Never go to a party on an empty stomach.  You will not be able to make any sensible decisions about what and how much to eat when your stomach is rumbling and you’re being tempted by tantalising smells.  Therefore have a small snack with some protein before leaving the house, such as a boiled egg and rye toast, vegetable crudités and houmous or some yoghurt and berries.
  2. Avoid deep fried canapés such as spring rolls and go for ones that include some protein, such as king prawns or chicken satay sticks.  Olives, nuts, vegetable crudités and tangerines are also good foods to snack on rather than crisps.
  3. On the alcohol side, match each glass of wine with a glass of water and you’ll feel much better the next day, with a clearer head and more energy. And remember half a bottle of wine contains around 250 calories.
  4. Laden your plate with Christmas vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, carrots, swede and red cabbage.  The more colours on your plate the greater the range of nutrients.  Steamed or lightly boiled vegetables are best, so go easy on the roast potatoes and roast parsnips.
  5. Turkey is a wonderful lean meat, and is high in the amino acid tryptophan, which is needed to make the feel good brain chemical serotonin.  Therefore enjoy the Christmas turkey, but be wary of the trimmings such as sausages wrapped in bacon, which will be high in saturated fat.
  6. Choose mince pies with more fruit filling and less pastry, and remember 70% dark chocolate is preferable to milk chocolate, as it contains less sugar.
  7. Stay clear of rich creamy accompaniments such as bread sauce, custard, brandy butter and cream which will pile on the pounds and replace them with some natural yoghurt instead.
  8. If you over indulge then be kind to yourself the next day and start the day with a mug of hot water with freshly squeezed lemon and a breakfast of simple fruits. 
  9. Give your system and break from the excess wheat and dairy, by making a broth with the left over turkey and vegetables, or if making sandwiches use rye as an alternative to wheat bread. 
  10. To prevent that Christmas sluggish feeling, take the family ice-skating, go for a winter walk or a cycle.  It’ll boost your mood and get the metabolism going too.  Or if it’s difficult to get everyone to leave the house, why not get everyone moving about with Twister or charades!

Enjoy!

Julia

Time Management in December can be tough….

December 14, 2009

time-management

Ten Strategies for Time Management


1. The first step is being aware of where your time is going, now.
You can’t find something you’ve lost when you don’t know where you might have lost it in the first place. So the first strategy for managing your time is to know where it’s going, now. That means actually tracking or logging your time daily, for at least 1-week (preferably 2). Track the exact time you begin and end an activity, make a note of the duration in exact minutes, and a few words to describe the activity. This step requires you to be really honest with yourself and track EVERYTHING you do in your work day so you can see where your time is really going — so if you spent 23 minutes chatting with co-workers at the coffee machine (no cheating by logging all your time in nice, even 15, 30 or 60 minute intervals) — write it down exactly.

2. Analyze and summarize your time logs.
At the end of the week, review your time logs and start to summarize the tasks (and the amount of time spent on each) into categories. You will create these categories yourself, and you should have between 6 and 12 categories. They should be meaningful to you, self-defining, mutually exclusive and as concise as possible. Some examples might be Administration, Business Development, Sales & Marketing, Computer, etc. You will then summarize, for each day, how much time you spent doing tasks or activities for each category, in the exact number of minutes. You might also do a little math, to figure the percentage of time each category takes out of each day. You make this step as detailed as you like, but the key here is awareness.

3. Create a New Daily Routine.
If you were honest and diligent during steps 1 and 2, chances are you had a rude awakening when you reviewed and analyzed your time logs. You no doubt can see where the time drains are occurring — and now you’re ready to make better choices and create a new daily routine. This routine will maximize the time you spend on productive work by conforming to the natural flow of your day and with your natural rhythms, by taking into consideration when you’re at your best for certain tasks, grouping similar tasks together for greater efficiency and by setting aside dedicated time for doing uninterrupted work. How do you create your routine? Look at where you’ve been spending your time and start making some decisions about where the different tasks can best be fit into your day, then actually write this routine down and post it where you’ll see it every day. Strategies 4 through 10 will give you some food for thought as you develop and implement your new daily routine.

4. Prioritize and stay focused.
Once you’ve done the up-front work of tracking and analyzing your time, and creating a new routine, how do you keep it on track? You will also need to do some work on prioritizing what you do. You can create your own easy tools to do this. On one sheet of paper, create 5 sections: High Priorities, Secondary Priorities, People to Contact, Telephone Calls, and Schedule. You can fill this out each day, first thing in the morning (or better yet, at the end of your workday so you are well prepared to start fresh tomorrow!) Each day, ask yourself: “If nothing else gets done today, what are the one or two items that absolutely MUST be done?” Those are the items you will use to focus your day. You should also periodically go back to the time logging exercise, so you can determine if you are slipping back into those old bad habits and take immediate steps to get back on track.

5. Reduce interruptions by creating stronger boundaries.
It is true that interruptions to your day can and will happen, and to some degree they are out of your control. However, you probably have more control than you think. Instead of blaming other people and getting frustrated with them for interrupting you, take responsibility for creating stronger boundaries with your co-workers where appropriate. Keep in mind, other people don’t mean to be inconsiderate by interrupting, they are just caught up in their own “stuff” and probably don’t realize. It is really up to you to set up some guidelines for when you can and cannot be interrupted, to communicate them to others, and then to stick by them. For example: you might institute a “quiet time” policy (mornings are usually best) where you let everyone know that this is a time where you cannot be interrupted — and then set up another time later in the day where you have an open-door policy. This strategy creates a firm boundary but also provides time for you to be accessible to others. At first, those around you might try to cross your boundaries, and it’s up to you to gently remind them that they can come back and talk during your “open door” time. After a while, they’ll get used to it. Change takes time, so stick with it!

6. Structure your telephone time.
Set aside certain periods of the day to accept, initiate and return calls. The best time to accept incoming calls is just prior to lunch or at the end of the work day (the other person will not want to dawdle on the phone at those times either) — so whenever possible, let others know this is your preference and set that time aside so you are available. When initiating or returning calls, the best time to contact those difficult-to-reach clients is early in the morning, just before or after lunch, or late in the day.

7. Don’t procrastinate.
Procrastination is probably one of the biggest “time hogs” we have. Not only are we NOT doing the thing we’re procrastinating about, but we also end up wasting even more time worrying about how much we’re procrastinating. So, if you have an unpleasant task to do, simply make up your mind to take care of it immediately and just get it done.

8. Under-promise and over-deliver.
You may have heard this one before, but a little reinforcement never hurts. Many of us have too many requirements on our time because we take on more than we should. When we over-commit ourselves, we are not only creating unnecessary stress in our lives, but we are also creating potential situations where we cannot deliver what we’ve promised. We also don’t realize that when we can’t deliver what we’ve promised, we can inadvertently cause more pain and hurt feelings than if we’d been willing to say no in the first place. Remember that you’re not doing yourself or anyone else any favours by taking on more than you can reasonably deliver. Commit yourself to making this strategy a high priority in your life, and watch what happens.

9. Separate your work from your personal life.
It is critical for your health and emotional balance that you find a way to separate your work from your personal life. If possible, don’t take work to be done after hours at all unless you are certain you can get to it. It’s better to stay a little longer at the office (but be sure and set time limits for yourself) to get it done, then enjoy your leisure time without the stress of having to do work after hours. If you work from a remote office, you will need to be even more diligent in setting aside separate times in your day for work and for your personal time and family.

10. Remember that you’re only human.
We all have only 24 hours in the day — and sometimes that just doesn’t feel like enough, does it? There will always be days where things happen that are unplanned and which can throw even the most organized day into a tailspin. When that happens, take a deep breath or two, and accept that you are doing the very best you can, right now. Tomorrow is a new day and a chance to start fresh. Let go of the need to be a perfectionist and remember you’re only human.

More information about me can be found here and here

A Customer isn’t just for Christmas

December 11, 2009

customersforlife_medium

In these difficult times, how do you ensure that you have a steady base of loyal customers through customer loyalty? How do you influence your customers so much that they always opt only for your products or services, and never move to the competition?How do you keep a customer loyal for life – other than offer the lowest price so that they keep coming back to you for just that reason?

Follow these 7 simple and easy ways to build customer loyalty:

1. Once you have sold your product or service, urge the customer to call you if there are any questions or doubts he/she has. Go the extra mile and assure them that the product or service can be replaced if there is any dissatisfaction. Leave your contact details.

2. Ask your salesperson to call your customer back within a considerable period of usage of the product. Ask if the product is meeting their expectations. If not, are there any suggestions for improvement? This can be done through a Customer Satisfaction form (builds your database as well).

3. Keep in touch with your customers at acceptable intervals to give suggestions on better usage of the product, or informing them about a new product. this can be done through newsletters, flyers, emailers, etc

4. You must do whatever to make your customer happy. If the product is faulty, replace it or refund the amount. Never ignore your customer’s complaints. If they have a problem, straighten out the situation. Don’t give them a chance to speak about the bad experience to the others. Bad news travels faster than good news!

5. Give your customer a reason to come back to you. Build customer’s loyalty by offering them discount coupons, or promotional offers such as a “buy-one-get-one-free” scheme. Influence your customer by introducing incentives for the next purchase. Organize a lucky dip or even offer free service or replacement for your product (you can always factor a reasonable spend into the cost per product).

6. Entice your customer to introduce a friend. Offer gifts in return. Influence your customer with free stuff.

7. Be polite and warm, accommodate their needs – remember, the customer is king.

80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers.

It’s all about making your customers happy so they could talk about you to the other prospective buyers. Word-of-mouth will give more favorable results. Try to build a personal relationship (if possible) so that they become “Advocates for your brand/product”.

Do you do anything different, or special, to keep your customers loyal to your service?

More information about me can be found here and here

Is Christmas stressing you out?

December 10, 2009

Apart from causing anxiety and pressure, stress also creates some physiological changes in the body.

Stress causes the adrenal glands to secrete the ‘fight or flight’ hormones – adrenaline, noradrenalin and cortisol. In the days when we were hunter-gathers the fight or flight reaction was vital for enabling us to flee dangerous situations whilst out hunting.

Our modern stresses are obviously very different! Fast paced lives mean that many people are now under long-term stress, which can cause the adrenals to become fatigued.  When this happens, sleep, mood, concentration and appetite are often disrupted. Long-term stress can make us more vulnerable to illness and can contribute to many health problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, psoriasis and repeated colds and infections.

Some simple dietary and lifestyle changes can help counteract the effects of stress and help you stay healthier.

Eat little and often (never skip meals), avoid refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta and cakes, avoid or reduce stimulants (alcohol and caffeine), and eat a little protein at each meal/snack. Dips in blood sugar trigger the adrenal glands to release adrenaline putting more pressure on your adrenal function.

Chew your food well and aim to eat in a relaxed environment. This will help your body to digest and absorb nutrients efficiently.

Sleep is vital for rest and repair.  Aim to get eight hours a night. Go to bed early and get up at the same time each day as this helps to set your body clock.  Allow yourself to wind down before going to bed – have a warm bath and read a good book or practice deep breathing.

And finally – don’t take yourself and life too seriously.  Just smiling can reduce your stress levels.

If you’d like to find out more on how stress is affecting your body, book in for a nutrition consultation and get some more personalised support.

Top mood food tips

December 4, 2009

With the reduced daylight hours and the sun setting by mid-afternoon, the winter months can be mellow.  It’s tempting to want to warm ourselves up and boost our spirits by reaching for traditional comfort foods.  Unfortunately these tend to be stodgy, high-fat foods that do little for boosting our mood and actually make us feel worse in the long run.  If this sounds familiar and you suffer from winter blues, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), it’s all the more important to eat well to ensure that you’re getting enough mood-boosting nutrients.  Try following our top mood food tips to keep you feel merry in the run-up to Christmas:

  1. Aim to include oily fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel into your diet two to three times per week, and have a handful of seeds or nuts (walnuts and hemp seeds are ideal) per day.  These foods are rich in omega 3 fats which help build receptor sites for ‘the happy hormone’, serotonin.
  2. Include foods that are rich in the amino acid tryptophan in the diet, such as fish, chicken, turkey, oats, eggs, cheese and beans.  This is because tryptophan is needed to produce serotonin.
  3. Eat complex carbohydrates such as oats, brown rice, rye bread, pulses and vegetables.  These help to stabilise blood sugar level fluctuations which can cause mood swings and depression.  They are also rich in brain boosting nutrients such as B vitamins, zinc and magnesium.
  4. Eat three meals a day and a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack.  Eating little and often helps prevent large dips in blood sugar levels and can leave you feeling low
  5. Avoid artificial stimulants including sugar, refined carbohydrates and caffeine as these play havoc with blood sugar levels and lead to low mood.  This includes white bread, pasta, cakes, many breakfast cereals, chocolate, coffee, alcohol and fizzy drinks.  Diets based on refined foods can reduce your levels of nutrients such as zinc, magnesium and the B vitamins which are vital for good brain health.
  6. Food intolerances can play a part in depression and therefore it may be worth seeking advice from a nutritional therapist to identify the culprit foods.

Find out more about how diet and nutrition can help improve your mood, or contact us to book an appointment at one of our London clinics.

Julia

Nutrition coach
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