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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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Can anything be done to fight the obesity epidemic?!

What can be done to fight against a dramatic rise in weight gain, which we’re seeing Worldwide?!

Latest news about the obesity epidemic in the UK caught my attention. Then I asked myself – will taxing fizzy drinks, high fat/sugar/processed food really solve the problem? Quite possible. But aren’t we attacking the problem from a wrong angle? Taxing those kind of foods could be one option. But why not doing something more positive? Better? Something more encouraging and motivating? For example making the fresh products affordable? Accessible? Why not promote local grown products on local news? Subsidise our farmers? Make sure people are aware of their local farmers. Make local farmers more visible by organising farmers markets, help with advertising on local news? And “force” local big supermarkets to have more local produce in their stores? Yes, I really mean it, force them! Because what they care about is their profit and where do they make more profit than on high fat, high sugar, processed food! All those foods which are very, very cheap to produce, very cheap to buy and sell with 500% (or even more) profit made from the end consumer! And we wonder why horsemeat has been found in very cheap products! Think again but this time look at the bigger picture…..

Another point – Advertise more whole-some foods, give people ideas for recipes, what nutritional values they contain, why they are important to the human body aka us. I know big companies pay much more from for advertising slots but isn’t it wrong? (It looks very wrong to me!)

And just out of the blue I was thinking, people get told that they need to change their lifestyles, eat more healthy, exercise more. But wouldn’t it be much better to guide them, give them a practical guidance how to change lifestyle, how to adapt, give them realistic timescale, how hard it will be, and what will be happening inside their body during the whole process. It is good to give them tools but many just don’t know how to put those into practice or visualise it.

Irina

 
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Posted by on 19 February, 2013 in Health & Wellbeing

 

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Food Diary

Food Diary – No! I don’t need it! I knew I was eating good nutritious, whole-some, home-cooked food. My meals were spread out evenly, I wouldn’t crave any rubbish food, I drank good old H2O, no sugary sodas etc. But to be able to advise others, to give wise tips and tricks, I had to do it myself.

At first I had doubts with that project. Will I remember to actually do it? Find time? Motivation? But it became part of my daily routine and much easier than I though. And all those discoveries……

I started in New Year (not it wasn’t a New Years Resolution :)) and did for 4 weeks. I have to say it opened my eyes to many things.You only realise your own behaviour if you actually see it in front of you (well at least that is the case with me). I learned a lot from my food diary and noticed behaviour I didnt’ think I had. For example portion sizes (far to big! Greedy), eating same things, introduce little variety during the week and the timings of my meals.

First I started writing down what I eat, drank, any snacks for one week. Then I started to include the time of my meals and then actually weighing my meals. That is what I discovered:

1. Portion sizes. I was having far too large portion sizes without actually realising it. When I started weighing my meals and reading on the scale 200grams of for example home-made brown rice with veg, somehow the figure 200 stuck in my head and when I was actually eating the rice, I was thinking, wow! that is a lot and I was feeling very full very quickly. Of course I was having the rice with for example one avocado or some fish or roasted chicken breast.
Conclusion: weighing helps us understand the portion sizes and that we actually don’t need as much food as we might think we do! Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 14 February, 2013 in Health & Wellbeing

 

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Ingredients Translation – Breakfast Cereals

Let be honest, how many of us really read the ingredient lists? Compare products? Read what vitamins, minerals, carbs, protein, fat etc. are in the product we are about to buy? And then do we really know and understand what those fancy names actually mean, some of which we can’t even pronounce.

Today we look at the ingredients of some so beloved Breakfast Cereals. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I love it! I think everyone should start a day with a healthy, balanced and nutritious breakfast which kick-starts your metabolism after fasting all night. And it just makes the rest of the day (and followings meals/snacks) a better choice.

I took a bit of photographic evidence in the supermarkets Cereal aisle (felt like 007 lol). I looked at those colourful boxes which mostly aim at children. I picked this one – my favorite:

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Lets break down:

1. Wheat – highly processed, all nutrients, vitamins and minerals removed from the wheat through its processing.
2. Glucose-Fructose Syrup – translates: Sugar-Sugar Sugar
3. Sugar – very simple Sugar
4. Honey – again Sugar
5. Glucose Syrup – again, very simple translates to: Sugar Sugar
6. Molasses – sorry but this one is Sugar too, even though it does sound somehow exotic.
7.-10. added Vitamins and Minerals = fortified Cereals. Remember Cereals have to be fortified with Iron and some B Vitamin’s by law.

What are the two main ingredients? Highly processed wheat and sugar. Both are carbohydrates which means energy (bad energy). No wonder in this particular case the cereals called “Sugar Puffs”, with a very nice, friendly, innocent looking animal on the package. These are all tricks of the big marketing companies.

So what is the conclusion – Stay AWAY from those kind of cereals. All you eat is pure sugar (you probably be better of scooping pure sugar first thing in the morning, but you wouldn’t do that, that would be wrong). And especially you don’t want give those kind of cereals to your kids. They will go hyper as they blood sugar will go up like a rocket. And then after short time they get the big low which results in being angry, edgy, screaming, moody.

Check out my blog about Breakfast and alternatives like Home-made Granola

To help you identify Sugar hidden behind fancy words – read my blog Other names for Sugar.

Irina

 
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Posted by on 22 January, 2013 in Health & Wellbeing, Recipes & Nutrition

 

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Green Goodness

I have to admit I was a bit skeptical with the idea. No matter what others said, what I read about it… But after trying myself for few days I have to say, I am hooked. I feel great, not too full, not too hungry, my blood sugar is stable for several hours, my bowls are happy too and it taste so yummy! …. I am talking about smoothies for breakfast. Green Tea Smoothie to be exact, aka “Green Goodness”.

They are very easy to make and you can put whatever you like in them (ish). I don’t take any measurements so I kind of did an ish estimate (sorry). This one is my favourite:

1 cup frozen green grapes – no seeds
1 frozen banana (peel the banana before putting in the freezer. You save yourself a lot of time…. wrap it in cling film or plastic food bag – reuse the bag!)
2 cups of green tea – cooled. You can use whatever flavour you like (or have at home). I used mango/lychee, 3 tea bags for 2 cups, brewed it for 4-5 minutes.
2 cups of fresh Spinach (or 2 hand full loads)
3 tablespoons of plain probiotic yogurt
1 teaspoon Maca Powder (optional)
1 teaspoon Spirulina Powder (optional)
2 tablespoons runny honey
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
Optional: 1 avocado and 1 lime

The preparation is very easy (probably the easiest part). Put everything in the blender. Blend until smooth. Viola! You have got a great, delicious Green Tea smoothie to start your day.

Green Goodness

However I do give my stomach some solid food, I do have two soft boiled eggs before and a big glass of this delicious Green Tea Smoothie (I sometimes put some home-made granola in it to give a bit of texture). This breakfast keeps me going until lunch time (though I do have a mid-morning snack – banana and few nuts).

And even better, I make slightly bigger portion and have some as my afternoon snack.

As you may notice I use some unusual ingredients – Maca and Spirulina powders.
Maca Powder – increases energy, vitality and endurance. Is high in Vitamins C, B, E, Magnesium, Calcium, protein.

Spirulina Powder – is a blue algae. Great for weight loss, detox, stress buster. High in iron, carotene, Vitamins A, Bs, C, E and H, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc, Omega 3 oils, 18 Amino Acids.
I tried Spirulina Powder with water but didn’t like the taste. So put it in smoothie seems to work well. And it gives some lush colour to the final product.

Give it ago! You will love it!

Irina

 
 

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