The Nutrition Coach Blog London Nutritionist The Nutrition Coach offers advice on healthy living, nutrition and diet issues such as IBS, bloating, gluten intolerance and more.

The nourishing Christmas

December 10, 2010

Christmas is a time for celebrating, and what better way to celebrate than with food?  Since time began, food has been used as a way of bringing people together and for sharing and celebrating special occasions.  Our recommendation for this Christmas is therefore to infuse your food with nourishment and love and to have a guilt-free day!  Far too many people can never fully embrace their Christmas meal as although their taste buds are having a party, it is accompanied with internal chatter of guilty feelings and promises to start a diet in the New Year.  The very act of sharing food with your loved ones is nourishing for the mind and emotions, and believe it or not the traditional meal is actually brimming with wonderful nutrients.  So, we say, kick the guilt aside and dive straight into the celebrations with our nourishing Christmas tips:

  • Don’t hold back on the turkey.  It’s low in fat and high in protein, and particularly the amino acid tryptophan which is needed to make serotonin the feel good neurotransmitter.  It’s also an excellent source of selenium and vitamins B3 and B6.
  • Pile up the Brussels sprouts – they are a wonderful cruciferous vegetable that should be on every Christmas plate.  They are high in sulphur which is needed to support detoxification in the liver, as well as being rich in vitamins C, E and A and flavonoid antioxidants to support the immune system.
  • Snack on walnuts and tangerines.  Walnuts are an excellent source of the essential omega-3 fats, which have many health benefits including cardiovascular, immune, metabolism and mood benefits.  They are ideal teamed with immune boosting, vitamin C filled, tangerines.
  • Season with cinnamon – use it liberally in home-baked mince pies and Christmas cake.  Cinnamon has many health benefits, but what is particularly important at Christmas is its ability to help lessen the impact of carbohydrates on your blood sugar levels.  It improves the insulin response, meaning you’re less likely to suffer from a blood sugar slump in the afternoon.
  • Cook your vegetables in a steamer, or lightly boiled, or if you’re roasting them then why not try using some coconut butter.  Coconut butter contains lauric acid and helps support metabolism.

So focus on all the nourishing qualities of your Christmas meal.  With all this goodness we promise you there’s no need to feel guilty when you indulge in that chocolate father Christmas… which after all is nourishing for the soul!

Wishing you all a nourishing time.

 Julia

This is the year that I….Stop Dieting for Good

December 9, 2010

I am very passionate about delivering our Dump The Diet Course –  our no-diet diet.  The philosophy is no quick fixes, just eat “normally”  Once you start eating normally you lose weight because you are not focusing on what you are NOT doing.   The key of course is to know what normal is!

In a “real diet” all the time you are thinking about how much weight you are NOT losing and how you are failing.  The Dump The Diet course is not letting you off the hook – far from it there are Rules to follow (just like everything in life that works.  You have to follow rules to make anything a success) but unlike diets in Dump The Diet there is enough flexibility for the regime to be for life and not just a short spurt.

Normal diets don’t work for just this reason – ie it is a short spurt.  You can do anything for a short enough space of time – so you “stick” to it for a week, a month or even a year but sooner or later you have got to crack and when you do it opens up the possibility of instead of being totally strict to go totally bonkers and eat everything in sight.  You can get all the special food in but what happens the first time you go on a business trip and you don’t have the “special foods” prescribed in the diet – oh no..crash and burn and “failure”

Diets encourage you to be “good” (ie not to get off the sacred dieting path)  but remember if we can be good – boy oh boy can we be BAD and when we do it is spectacular.  We say to ourselves that we will start again on Monday but Monday never seems to be the right day to start.  If we are not being bad we are rewarding ourselves with little “treats” – once we have had the treat we feel bad.  “Oh Well” we say,  if I have had one Jaffa cake – I might as well finish the packet to neaten it up and so I don’t have to have them in the house!

Another diet deception is the weighing scale.  We are encouraged to set ourselves Weight Loss Goals in normal diets – this is madness!  Once you get to your weight loss goal you stop applying the diet and of course the weight piles back on and you are back to where you were before.   Weighing yourself is OK if the weight is going down, but of course it can’t go down forever or you would fade away.  So one fateful day the scales start to go up a pound or two.  At this point there is a major panic that “you are losing the ability to lose weight”  and that it is not working anymore.  Of course weight will fluctuate but you can’t really accept this if you are in “dieting mentality”  – you only want it to go down.  So you get back on the scales just to make sure that you haven’t made some horrible mistake but the scales still seem to say that you are 2 pounds heavier.  You fiddle with the dial.  You get off and undress.  You take off your jewellery including your wedding ring.  You take a trip to the loo.  Well that got one pound off..phew.

A major theme is self-esteem.  We have to learn to live with ourselves just the way we are NOW.   We are were we are at in this moment (a bit philosophical this bit!)  – but so often we are only going to be happy WHEN.  When we are thin…we will buy that new dress, get that new relationship off the ground,  get the new job.  I would encourage you all to look in the mirror and only look for the good bits don’t focus on the future you by criticising ourselves constantly.  We wouldn’t talk to our worst enemy the way we talk to ourselves.

Be good to yourself this coming year and learn how to eat for life and in the process learn how to relax and see food as a wonderful friend!

Stuff the turkey not yourself

December 7, 2010

Yes we know, christmas time is a stressful time with all those festive parties, lunches and dinners, sorting out presents, getting the christmas tree up and running, writing christmas cards, queueing at the post office….The list goes on and on and you have probably stopped exercising weeks ago due to ‘being too busy’ and ‘you might as well start all over in January now’ and your usual healthy eating patterns seem to have gone all wrong by now.

But hey you say, again, what’s the point in sticking to it in December when everything is about overindulgence anyways and you’ll put on your usual 5 -8 pounds over the festive period anyways?

It doesn’t need to be that way. Let me tell you. Christmas is only one - two days of  ‘overeating’ so there’s really no need to throw all your good intentions out of the window. It’ll only get harder in January to go back to your healthy you and lose those christmas pounds!

That’s why it’s time to take the following thought on board: ‘stuff the turkey and not yourself’ . MAke sure you keep up the good work, incorporate your regular eating patterns, keep eating enough protein and all those immune boosting veggies and fruits out there now which are perfect in soups and stews. Eating well is all about preparation so while you’re doing your christmas shopping always make sure you buy some healthy snacks as well which you can keep in your drawers and handbag so you don’t have to opt for the mince pie lying around in the office. And if you really are too busy to exercise make sure you use every chance to be as active. Take the stairs, go for a walk, get off a tube stop before your home stop, have a dance at the christmas party, carry the presents up to the 4th floor , do some gardening, go ice-skating etc….

And overall, enjoy the festive time with your family and friends. It’s a time to be grateful and share with others.

In festive spirit,

Lisa

Holiday calories in a mug

December 3, 2010

‘tis the season – and also the weather – for a cozy fireplace. But unless your office has a fireplace (lucky you), you’ll be heading to your local coffee shop to recreate that feeling.

And what better way than drinking yourself warm with a fancy holiday latte, hot chocolate, or mug of mulled wine?

But be warned, it’s not just the mince pies that add up to a festive muffin top. Looking at the nutritional value of some of these festive drinks, you might be crossing the finish line of the eat-athon sooner than you expected.

Here are some numbers:

Calories in a mug *

Your normal, everyday skim latte has about 190 calories. Go for some caramel syrup on top and you can add about 50 calories. If you feel more festive, you may choose to drink a small meal worth of calories and have a gingerbread latte (320 calories) or a hot chocolate (370 calories – this includes whipped cream because you’re treating yourself). But if you want to top it off and drink ¼ of your daily recommended calories, go for an eggnog latte which has 470 calories.

That’s not a problem, you say. You’ll just skip your lunch or have a smaller dinner to make up for the calories – you’ll still fit into your LBD at the upcoming Christmas party. But then you find yourself going for a cheeky after work drink in Winter Wonderland, and soon you’re sipping on more calories in a mug, approximately 230 in your first mulled wine.

Here’s a thought to take on board: skipping meals will not help you lose weight, and neither will swapping your lunch for a fancy latte. It will only cause your blood sugar levels to drop rapidly or rise very quickly (due to the high sugar content in those winter warmers), which means you will quickly hit the keyboard wanting another of those yummy sweet warm drinks (or one of the mince pies you saw in the kitchen).

Now let’s have a look at the sugar content of some of those warming festive drinks.

Sugar in a mug

When looking at these numbers, remember what I wrote about previously: Your body can only ever deal with one to two teaspoons of sugar circulating in your system. One teaspoon equals about 4.2g of sugar. (I will leave some of the maths to you when converting the sugar content into teaspoons.)

Your normal skim latte has about 16g of sugar (because of the sugar in milk), but choose one of the festive lattes and you can easily double the sugar content and drink up to 39g of sugar in a medium sized cup. A hot chocolate might even have up to 43g of sugar which is about as much sugar as your daily recommended allowance. And if maths has never been your strengths, this equals about 10 teaspoons of sugar. Now imagine having your morning cup of tea adding 10 (in words, ten!) teaspoons of sugar. I would like to know if you will still be able to enjoy it.

The problem with all this sugar is that you will not only get an energy slump, but your body will also release more insulin to take the sugar out of your cells. And if you don’t end up using all this energy, your body will eventually store it, and your LBD won’t be looking as good anymore.

Why not choose an equally warming herbal tea that’s full of spices, such as yogi or chai tea? After all, you don’t want to be first to cross the finish line of the six week eat-athon. Because you most definitely won’t be wearing your LBD.

Think you might be addicted to sugar? Drop us a line and get in touch so we can help you getting back on track!

Enjoy the festive season,

Lisa

P.S. And if you’re still looking for a christmas present, why not give away a consultation with the Nutrition Coach in January!

The 5 week Eat-athon

November 30, 2010

How’s the liver-loving campaign going? Bought (and eaten) your first pack of mince pies already, washed down with brandy butter and some mulled wine?

Studies have shown that 50% of the average annual weight gain is most likely to be gained in the six weeks between mid-November and Christmas. So we’re about one week in to the fixe week eat-athon which usually finishes with the consumption of a whopping 6,000 calories on Christmas Day (that’s three times the daily guideline amount of 2,000 calories for females). And unfortunately, that weight gain will (for most of you) still be there when Christmas comes around next year.

Over the next couple of weeks I will be taking a closer look at the nutritional value of some of the foods we tend to stuff our faces with during this six week eat-athon. The first on the list is the seasonal must-have, mince pies.

Did you know the female record holder ate 46 mince pies in 10min? With an average 250 calories per mince pie, this equals 11,500 calories, the recommended calorie intake of 5.75 days! Now I’m sure you don’t eat that many mince pies, but let’s have a closer look at this serious calorie punch.

So we’ve established an average mince pie contains 250 calories, 1/8th of your daily guideline amount of 2,000 calories. Put this into the mince pie calculator, and it tells you if you go swimming for an hour you burn off 1.4 mince pies. (But who has the time to do more exercise with all those festive dinners, ice skating events and shopping evenings. And be honest, do you really fancy showing off your body in an all-too-revealing swimming costume at this time of the year?) The mince pie might be small in size but high in sugar, containing up to 25gram per pie – that’s a total of five teaspoons of sugar in one mince-pie!

Considering your body can only ever deal with one teaspoon of sugar circulating in your system, you know what this will do to your blood sugar, insulin, and energy levels. The fat content isn’t much better – some of the mince pies out there contain a whopping 8g of total fat, and that’s not the healthy kind of polyunsaturated fat. So if you happen to eat 2.5 mince pies (which can happen too quickly, I know) you can easily reach your recommended daily allowance of 20g of saturated fat. The puff pastry offers little to no fibre, and can cause you to feel bloated and sluggish should you tend to be wheat or gluten intolerant. Protein levels are low so you won’t be satisfied for a long time, and you’ll want more mince pies in no time.

Now add a teaspoon of single or double cream (or brandy butter) and you can easily hit the 500 calorie mark. If you can’t resist a humble mince pie, keep these figures in mind, start reading labels, and try one of the gluten-free and lower calorie/fat versions out there.

After all, you don’t want to be first to cross the finish line of the five week eat-athon!

Lisa

P.S. Check out my weekly column to find out more how to survive the festive season and still fit into your LBD on Christmas day.

Satisfying heart hunger

November 20, 2010

This week we come to the last of the seven types of hunger…. Heart hunger. 

We associate certain foods with particular memories and the mood or emotion that the memory evokes.  Therefore the memory of special times infuses foods eaten at that time with warmth and happiness.  For example, many people long for foods that they’ve eaten on holiday, or foods eaten with people they loved.  Therefore, the particular food isn’t as important as the mood that it evokes.  If you have a particular comfort food, think back to when you first had that food and how it has before a comfort.  Is it connected to a story that triggers happy emotions and a connection to other people?

Many people are aware that they eat in an attempt to fill a hole, not in the stomach but in the heart.  For example, eating when they are lonely or when a relationship ends.  These are ways that we try to take care of ourselves, but we need to be mindful that filling the stomach doesn’t ease emptiness in the heart. 

Over eating comfort foods wont satisfy heart hunger, but we can start to feed our heart by preparing food for ourselves, and treating ourselves as well as we would a guest.  It only takes a few minutes to arrange food nicely on a plate, to sit down at a table set with colourful utensils and a candle, rather than standing up at the kitchen counter.  In this way we are eating in the present and connecting with the experience, which is far more fulfilling and comforting.  According to Zen teachings, whenever we eat, we take in the energy of many other beings.  The food on our plate, for example, is the product of the sun, the earth, the rain, the insects that pollinated the plants, and many people along the food supply chain, including farmers and grocers.  When we eat we are therefore connecting to this flow of energy that has enabled to food to get to our plate. 

If you feel hungry and recognise that it has arisen from heart hunger, then try to deliberately nourish the heart, by doing something that you love.  For example, talk to someone you love, create something, listen to your favourite music or do anything that you really enjoy.  If you eat, then be mindful to prepare your food as if you were preparing it for a guest and eat slowly with mindfulness of the many steps that have brought the food to your plate.

Heart hunger affects everyone, but can be a particular problem in cases of binge eating, overeating and other disordered eating patterns.  If you have a question about disordered eating then please do give us a call to see if we can help you, or to book a consultation at one of our London nutrition clinics.

Julia

Nutrition coach
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