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Obsessive Society – Health, Weight Loss, Diets….

We are obsessed with healthy eating, dieting, weight loss. But do we actually eat/live healthy? Looking at the rising obesity and diseases (such as cancer, heart diseases, diabetes) rates worldwide, we definitely do not eat/live healthy! Majority of us do talk a “good game” (or procrastinate to the next more “convenient day” or always find an excuse not to do it, pulled through!) but when it actually comes to eating/living/being healthy/doing it, fail! Why? What is holding some of us back or off? Why many of us struggle with loosing weight, keeping the weight off (!), being healthy, active and ultimately happy?

Lately I get to hear very often when people look at my food and say: ‘oh that looks very healthy?’ ‘You are eating very healthy!’ ‘Oh that looks delicious’. ‘Oh that is so colourful and appetising!’ ‘Oh I wish I would have time to do my own lunches, make home-cooked meals’…..

Well for me it is natural and essential, as we all call it “healthy” eating. That is what makes me, ME. A Human Being! And to be totally honest with you, I am starting to hate this phrase “healthy eating”!

And why do I eat such “shockingly” healthy foods? Because I don’t eat and want crap which is full of sugar (artificial or not. I won’t go into the detailed science with you here), bad fats, preservatives, artificial colours/flavours and other ingredients which I cannot even pronounce. Just think, if you cannot pronounce a certain ingredient how on earth does your body deal with it? Stores as fat, messes with your neurotransmitters, hormones and and and….

I came across something very interesting the other day. “If you are reading ingredient lists on products, then you don’t eat clean/lean/natural and (ok I say it here), healthy”. It is bloody true! Absolutely, if you are in the supermarket and read label after label then you are avoiding the real food! The food which is good for you, your body, mind, and and and! And you are in the wrong aisle! (Ok enough of rant).

On some occasions I get asked: ‘Don’t you treat yourself? Have some of the yummy cakes in the kitchen’. I just wonder – why? And that is what I really don’t get! Why do I want to “treat” my body and mind with high sugar, bad fats, crap food, empty calories?! A treat for me is a nice bowl of fresh berries (you can even have a spoon of full fat crème or Greek yogurt if you like), big fresh steak of tuna or piece of nice dark chocolate (at least 70%)! That is what a treat is – and should be! Treat, that actually gives your body good nutrients, cleansing your body from free radicals, oxidation stress, nourish your mind, gives you positive energy (emphasis on POSITIVE). Not crap, highly processed food! Please….

And then people say: ‘oh that is so difficult to resist those cakes, chocolate, biscuits, sweets in the kitchen’. Really? I don’t have a problem with that. Why? Just read the ingredients list and research each ingredient (good old google will help you with that). Find out more information and then think about it (digest the information you just read). Do you really want to have it in your body? Probably not (I hope so though otherwise I really don’t understand the world anymore).

The emphasis here is on natural, real, fresh food! We are designed to move, we are designed to eat whole food, real food.

And just an end note: I am proud to say that I haven’t been to McDonald’s (or similar establishments) in 15 Years! And I am not going to change it! I am shocked to see a queue in the Drive Through every time I pass a McDonald’s. Shocked! Seeing all the families with their kids stuffing their face with who knows what is in the “foods”!

Happy & natural eating!

Irina

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Posted by on 23 May, 2013 in Health & Wellbeing

 

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(Virgin) Olive Oil vs (Virgin) Coconut Oil

Something I have never thought of before, but after going to a Sports Nutrition seminar few weeks ago (where I learned a lot of amazing scientific evidences), I have to share this with you.

(Virgin) Olive Oil has been cultivated for thousands of years! It’s a great source of Vitamin K, E and Omega 9 fatty acids.
Being monounsaturated fat, Olive Oil protects against coronary heart disease, prevents diabetes and lowers blood pressure. It is no surprise that many doctors recommend to follow “Mediterranean diet”!

Coconut Oil on the other hand classed as a saturated fat and as we all know is not as healthy as (mono/poly)unsaturated fats. But the saturated fat in coconut oil is a different type as to those found in meat and dairy and doesn’t have the same health risks.
Coconut Oil is known as Medium Chain Fatty acids (MCTs) which means it is more soluble, easy to digest and metabolised by the body, used as energy source rather than stored as fat. The Medium Chain Fatty acids help with Calcium and Magnesium absorption.

But the problem with Olive Oil is that it is a low heat oil which means if using it for cooking (frying) it has a very low point at which is starts to burn and to smoke (Don’t tell me you don’t get it!). This results in activation of Free Radicals. In general unsaturated fatty acids are unstable and easily oxidized when exposed to oxygen free-radicals.
What are these Free Radicals? Free Radicals are highly reactive molecules contain one or more unpaired electrons, are extremely unstable and immediately react with another molecule (which then forms a new radical – the cycle of free radicals). They damage various body cells and could be the cause for various diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, immune system weakness, cataracts etc. Free Radicals have to be neutralized with antioxidants. Fresh fruit and vegetables are great source of antioxidants. No wonder medics, dietitians and scientists recommend eating at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day and include various colours (mix it up, brighten it up!).
BUT there are however also some benefits of Free Radicals such as production of sperm, and eggs in ovaries.

Conclusion even though coconut oil is saturated fat (MCTs) it is a much healthier option than olive oil.

Use (Virgin) Olive Oil as salad dressing without getting those nasty free radicals. Very simple recipe:

Olive Oil
Fresh Lemon juice
Lemon zest
Salt, pepper.
Mix all good together until you get silky dressing. Done!

That now explains to me why I never liked the smell in the house after cooking with olive oil. I found the smell very heavy, somehow poisonous. Since understanding a bit of science, I’ve started using coconut oil and the transformation is amazing. The house smells nice, it doesn’t burn, the meal is much cleaner, tastier and delicious. Check out my recent recipe.

Did you know that Vitamin E helps to keep the skin wrinkle-free and hair glossy? Vitamin K is the green leafy vitamin which helps against blood clotting.

Irina

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Is Healthy Eating a luxury?

We get to hear it all the time – healthy eating is unaffordable, complicated and takes too much time and effort. But perhaps all these are “easy” excuses?!

In my opinion, Healthy Eating doesn’t necessarily mean Organic food, from farmers/market or health shops only. It is easy to achieve by shopping at the local supermarket and even if you are on a budget. Expensive doesn’t automatically mean healthy! There are easy steps to follow when shopping at the big supermarkets (and not to fall for the big marketing foods). But lets start from the beginning…….

A few days ago I read an interesting comment from a Psychology professor at University of Oxford. He states that we can accomplish a healthy eating plan/life style by buying a few basic ingredients like eggs, chicken, potatoes, milk, apples, bananas, cabbage, onions, garlic, beans (even baked beans) and other fruit/vegetables which are in season….. The list could be huge and those are very basic, simple ingredients which are easily accessible and affordable, and can make up healthy meals/snacks. That made me think…. what steps do we need to take? How and when? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 1 December, 2012 in Health & Wellbeing, Recipes & Nutrition

 

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Food Advertising

On a sunny Saturday I was stuck in Saturday’s lunch time traffic on my way to The Mall (shopping mall), listening to the radio….
When I heard an advert about sausages. The play-actor in the advert (in this case a stressed and how it sounded to me, young mum) was promoting the sausages as a way to keep her children quiet so that she can have a moment of peace. That is when it became clear to me that the food advertising nowadays is mainly based on fast, convenient and unfortunately unhealthy food. We rarely see or hear healthy, nutritious food in TV/Radio etc. adverts (and if there are any those are usually fake “healthy” foods). Shouldn’t those kind of marking sources be used as an education channels?

Back to this sausage advert – at no point during the 20 second advert the mum was referring to the nutritional values of the product (in this case we all know that the sausages are not really a healthy option, unless they come from a good source like direct from farmers) or taste, texture etc. All she was happy about, is that her children were quiet…. For a moment.
Is that the only important factor for the majority of the population? Do we (as a society as a whole) actually care what goes into our children – our future? And…. Are we blindly trusting the food manufactures? Food Marketing? Food Advertising regulators? Or is it all just about savings? Big profit for the food industry? What is a “healthy” dose of junk food marketing? If any…..

I never thought or paid much attention to the marketing of junk food and sugary beverages (or any food adverts). I researched the food advertising regulations in the UK and found this recent study. Very interesting! So even though there are regulations in place, how and why do junk foods/beverages (including so-called “diet” drinks) get predominantly advertised? And why are there not tougher measures being introduced? Are governments in developed countries scared of the food industry? Scared to loose the big income which than they have to spend (or overspend) on high NHS costs (public health insurance)?

In my opinion the food adverts broadcast should include healthy foods, explaining their nutritional values, what vitamins, minerals are present in that food, why are those vitamins/mineral good and what they do.
Since doing my Sports Nutrition course I learned how important a well balanced nutritious diet is. What role vitamins and minerals play in our bodies and how important those are for human health, and what happens if our bodies don’t get enough of those vitamins/minerals. It is only the basics I’ve learned so far but even they help me to make the right choices while shopping, reading the labels for hidden “stuff”  and creating healthy, balanced and nutritious meals/snacks.

I do understand that not everyone has time, money or particular interest in nutrition to do such a course. That is why it is so important to use the food advertising as an education source to reach to the general population (as it seems that we spend a lot of our free time in front of the television anyway). And then there is the money factor, especially in the times of recession and a double dip recession. BUT shouldn’t we invest more in our health and our children (our future) rather than into the big fat and already rich fast-food manufacturers? Shouldn’t we better support our local farmers and growers who can you tell exactly what is in their products. Clearly that is the way for healthier and happier lives….

Irina

 
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Posted by on 22 November, 2012 in Health & Wellbeing

 

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Eggs = Performance Enhancers

I have been avoiding eggs (or was very careful consuming on regular basis) for years. We all heard it before, eggs are too fat, too many calories, cholesterol rich. In short, not good for you if eaten on regular or daily basis, an so on. Well you get the picture.

It has changed for me few weeks ago as I discovered and researched that eggs are actually very good for you, especially if you exercise on daily basis. And during my Sports Nutrition course this has been confirmed and here is why:

Eggs are packed with vitamins and minerals, which are essential for human health. Eggs contain outstandingly balanced nutrition with many B vitamins, Vitamin A, many minerals, and Omega-3 fatty acids (healthy fat). And are low in fat and calories! (did someone say OMG!) And of course a perfect source for protein.
But why does my title say “Eggs = Performance Enhancers”? Let take a look at three B vitamins in a bit of detail.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) – also called “The Carbo Burner”
Thiamin plays an important role in the metabolism of energy in all cells because it’s a coenzyme (TPP and TTP) which is essential for energy production. In short, Thiamin releases energy from carbohydrates. Good source of Thiamin is brown rice, pulses, cereals, vegetables and not to forget our good friend the egg.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) – also called “The Fat Burner”
Same as Thiamin, Riboflavin also releases energy from carbohydrates. Riboflavin works effectively with iron which helps to promote red cells blood which transport oxygen. The coenzyme Flavin from riboflavin is needed for the metabolism of carbs, fat and proteins = energy source.
Good source of Riboflavin is milk, beef, spinach (which also contains iron) and our good old friend the egg.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) – also called “Feel the Burn”
Niacin is essential for growth and healthy skin. And like Thiamin and Riboflavin, Niacin also releases energy from carbohydrates. Niacin is used in two coenzyme which are involved in energy production from carbohydrates, protein and fat (and alcohol, but I don’t count alcohol as a “good”source of energy).
Niacin can be found in meat, nuts, beef, chicken and yes, you are right thinking, the egg.

So here is a little bit of scientific evidence that eggs are actually very good for you and classed as Super Food. (or shall we call it “Wonderfood”!?)

Happy egg eating!

Irina

 
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Posted by on 21 November, 2012 in Health & Wellbeing, Super Foods

 

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Healthy Savoury Rice – Lunches for Work

Most weeks we make a savoury (brown) rice dish which we can keep in the fridge and take to work for lunch, or have handy for a quick & easy meal at home. The basic recipe is easy and healthy, and normally we’d use cooked ham or chicken as the meat ingredient, but this week I found a couple of packs of diced chorizo sausage on offer so decided to have a treat! 😉

Ingredients:

1 x celery stick, diced
1 x carrot, diced
2 x peppers, diced
1 x cup of peas
1 x cup of diced or chopped meat of your choice
Finely chopped Chilli’s to suit your taste. We like a spicy kick so use 2 or 3 birds eyes!
Half a bag of brown Rice.
Pepper to season & a couple of tsp’s of dried parsley

Method:

Cook the rice as instructed, but not for the full time on the bag as we will fry and then steam it a little at the end, put it to one side. (When the rice is cooking, I chop all the veg ready, then drain the rice and put it in a large bowl, so I can use the same large pan to cook the veg. Saves on washing up!) Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 20 November, 2012 in Health & Wellbeing, Recipes & Nutrition

 

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