Thursday, 31 May 2012

Six Steps to Feeling Great About Yourself This Summer

Summer is always one of the most difficult times of year for people struggling with eating disorders and body image issues. Rather than thinking about spending time outdoors and relaxing with family and friends, the only thoughts are about avoiding swimsuits and figuring what to wear and what will make you feel comfortable. 

Try these tips to change that and feel great about yourself.

1.    Surround yourself with supportive and positive people. Everything always seems worse when you are around people who are critical or unsupportive. Add that to spending time with someone who always seems to have it together and never lets their guard down, and you have a recipe for negative self-image.

2.    Go shopping with your best mate Shopping for a swimsuit or shorts can be difficult for even the most confident people. Make a day of shopping with your best mate a positive occasion.  She’ll support you and point out styles that will be a good fit for your body type. And if she’s like my best mate will be honest with you too.  If stores are overwhelming for you, you could also consider on line shopping.  Then you can try them on in the privacy of your home and return what doesn't work.

3.    Wear clothes you like. Prior to getting dressed or buying new clothes ask yourself "What would I wear today if I had no concerns about my body?" If that is shorts, then wear shorts. If the answer is a dress, then wear a dress. If you really like that bikini, then go for it! Don't let negative self-talk and criticisms dictate what you should or shouldn't wear. Your clothing choices should be determined by your own personality, and what you like to wear.

4.    Consider ditching the camera. It is wonderful to have photographs to remember fun occasions with. However, if you have an eating disorder or severe body-image issues an ever-present camera can also serve to increase anxiety to the point that the occasion isn't fun anymore. If this is true for you, consider leaving your camera at home and/or asking the people around you to refrain from taking photographs. This will allow you to focus on interacting with the people around you and not worry about what you'll look like in the pictures.

5.    Get active. Engage in summer activities that you enjoy and that don't trigger your eating disorder. This can be any variety of things; swimming, gardening, walking, get active with the kids, dancing, aerobics, gym, dance or workout DVD, Wii fit etc.  Find something you like to do, allow yourself to enjoy feeling your body move and remind yourself to be thankful that you body is able to engage in these activities.  Pretty quickly you will increase your endorphins (our natural pain suppressors) and coping mechanisms and start to feel so much better about yourself.

6.    Sit down and make a list of your assets - Get a pen and paper, sit down, and list your assets. Not only your physical assets, but everything you know about yourself that makes you special and unique. You can also include your talents, your achievements and even your goals and dreams. Then analyze which ones you want to improve on or develop and make an effort to do it!

7.    Do something nice for someone else.  Volunteer for a day, or do something for charity. Do something helpful for an elderly neighbour, they won’t judge you, quite the opposite and will enjoy your company, and you’ll feel so good about yourself and gain some new friends along the way.

8.    Take care of yourself. Self care can go a long way in helping you feel more rested, relaxed and confident. Make sure you are getting enough sleep. Make sure you are getting enough to eat and are eating a variety of foods. Make sure you are active.  Engage in relationships with people who build up your confidence and self esteem.  Ditch the ones that bring you down.  These things may seem simple on the surface, but many people forget about them in their daily lives.  
     Feel good about yourself no matter what life brings, remember at the end of the day there’s usually someone worse off than you!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Healthy pancakes for breakfast.............

Healthy breakfast pancakes (serves 4)


50g (2oz) wholemeal flour

50g (2oz) buckwheat flour


1 serving Herbalife Protein Powder

A few generous pinches of cinnamon powder

300mls (1/2 pint) coconut milk

2 teaspoons olive oil

Sift both flours into a bowl; add the bits left over in the sieve. Add the protein powder and cinnamon. Beat the egg, milk and oil together, and then slowly add to the flour. Stir until a smooth batter forms. If the mixture is a little thick add more milk till you’re happy with the consistency. Cover and leave to stand for 20 minutes, then stir through again.

Put a teaspoon of oil in a non-stick frying pan. When it’s hot add three tablespoons of the mixture, shake the pan to move it around and coat the pan. Cook for 2 / 3 minutes until the bottom is lightly browned, then turn over and cook the other side for a minute or so.

Serve warm with a handful of berries and a dollop of low fat yogurt or cr̬me fraicheРyum!

What makes these pancakes so good for you?

Buckwheat flour is high in protein and provides all of your 8 essential amino acids. It is high in fibre and minerals including, manganese, copper, zinc, iron and phosphorous. It is also known to lower blood sugar levels so therefore beneficial to diabetes sufferers.

Cinnamon is said to be a fantastic spice for aiding weight loss. It also regulates swings in blood sugar and cuts hunger spikes.

Coconut milk is quite high in fat but most of this is from MCFA's (medium chained fatty acids). These are not readily stored in the body but are absorbed directly from the intestines and sent to the liver to be metabolized where they are mostly burned as fuel.

Berries, all kinds of course are very nutritious and low in calories. They provide us with fibre, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, folate, and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, manganese and potassium. And are abundant with phytochemicals and antioxidants all know to fight off free radicals, and may help stave off some cancers.

So having these pancakes for breakfast then being active for the rest of the day could actually help you lose weight!

Till next time, enjoy those pancakes :)


Monday, 28 May 2012

Alfresco eating...................

Here's a healthy alfresco meal while we're able and its not done on the Barbie!  And to finish a twist on that summer time favourite 'Eton Mess' (well why not, we don't get this kind of weather too often do we?!).

Salmon Fishcakes with a Mint Green Salad
calories 360, serves 4

400g (13oz) new potatoes, scrubbed
juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons coconut milk
4 shallots, diced
2 x 200g (7oz) cans of salmon in spring water, drained and mixed thoroughly
2 tablespoons of plain flour
1 egg, beaten
75g (3oz) fresh wholegrain breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

Serve with a green salad made of spinach, rocket, watercress and torn mint leaves, dress with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  And a dollop of low fat creme fraiche on the side.

Steam or boil the potatoes until tender.  Mash, then stir in the lemon juice, milk, cooked shallots and salmon.  Season to taste.

Place the flour, egg and breadcrumbs in separate bowls.  Form 8 round patties from the salmon mixture, dip into the flour, egg then the breadcrumbs.  Transfer onto a lightly oiled baking sheet.

Drizzle over the remaining oil and cook the fishcakes in a preheated oven at 200C / 400F / Gas mark 6 for 12 - 15 minutes, turning once until golden on both sides.  Serve immediately with the salad.

Very Berry Crush
Calories around 160, serves 4

500g (17oz) of mixed berries and fruit such as strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries etc
washed, plus leave a few extra to decorate.
1 teaspoon of Stevia
300g (10oz) low fat fromage frais or low fat creme fraiche
4 ready made meringue nests
Mint leaves for decoration

Mash the fruits and Stevia with a fork or throw the lot in a food processor.

Put the fromage frais or creme fraiche in a separate bowl, crumble the meringue in and mix together lightly.

Add in the fruit mixture and fold together with a spoon until you reach a pleasing marble effect.  Spoon into tall glasses, decorate with the left over fruit and a mint leaf.

Yum, my mouth is watering as I'm typing this, I know what we'll be eating tomorrow:)

Till next time, enjoy

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Park Workouts - just perfect for this weather......

Wow I think Summer has sprung at last (and about time too!).  It's the perfect time for getting outside in your garden or out and about in your local park.  Here's a brilliant short but sweet metabolic fat burning workout using just your body weight, suitable for all ages and abilities (although common sense should be used at all times, and if you need rest, then take it and drink water frequently).

Set up 5 markers over a 50m distance (you can use bags, jackets, what ever you've got to hand).
Your aim is to run or jog two lengths (there and back) start at the first marker and perform a body weight exercise 10 times.  You then have to run again to the last marker and double back around the first marker before moving to the next marker and perform a different exercise and repeat the process until you've done all 50 exercises :)

The exercises are:

1st station - 10 x Squats (remember weight in the back of your heels, to protect your knees, as you push your hips and bum out behind you).

2nd station - 10 x Press Up's (remember to engage your 'core' muscles, hands a little wider than shoulders, aim to lower yourself to the ground then forcefully push your self back up).

3rd station - 10 x alternating lunges (remember to take an exaggerated step forward then drop your back knee down towards the ground, push back to the start position off the front foot and repeat on the other side).

4th station - 10 x Burpees (remember, start in a standing position, drop your hands down to the sides of your feet, now kick out your legs behind you so you come into a press up position (press up here optional), explode back into a standing position and jump into the air, repeat).  Very overweight people can miss out the jump.

5th station - 10 x sawing plank (remember plank position, lay face down on floor, elbows directly under shoulders, engage 'core'.  Bring your knees off the floor so your weight is evenly distributed between your elbows and toes.  Slowly shift your weight forwards so your head moves in front of your elbows then shift back towards your toes, this is 1 rep).

Repeat either for time; i.e see how many rounds you can do in 5 minutes, then better yourself after 3 / 4 minutes rest or repeat the whole circuit 2 or 3 times.  You can have a lot of fun with these, pitch mums against dads, boys against girls, have a prize for the winner.  Finish with a picnic as you would have earned it!

Till next time, enjoy working out in this beautiful weather.


Saturday, 19 May 2012

Triggers to Overeating - Part 2

Taking Control

The emotional and psychological links with food are an important aspect of weight control and a big part of recognising these mechanisms and applying skills and strategies to address the difference between the need to eat and the desire to eat.

Research shows that the three main causes of people eating when they are not hungry are; habit, boredom and stress.  Fill out a food and drink diary and answer questions such as what you ate and drank, where you ate and drank, why you ate and drank and score yourself with a hunger level (0 – not hungry, 3 – starving).  Hopefully this will allow certain feeding patterns to emerge enabling you to come up with strategies to combat eating when not hungry.  If there are certain habits that have formed over a long period of time, then the aim is to replace bad habits with good habits.  Boredom and stress related eating require a great deal of determination and different strategies but as long as you recognise why there is a deviation from the plan, then it is possible to work out a counter measure to get back on track.

In tune with hunger

People don’t necessarily know how to differentiate between true hunger and emotional hunger i.e. unconscious prompting of trigger foods, trigger situations and trigger feelings.  Emotional hunger is the hunger you shouldn’t give in to.  You can feel emotional hunger without responding to it.  True hunger only really occurs when you have not eaten for hours or have not had enough calories to satisfy your physiological needs.  Be aware of desires, temptations and even compulsions.

How often do you emotionally eat?  Try the below exercise which will help you to identify the situations where you tend to eat when you are not hungry.  So before you’re about to empty the fridge or cupboards for an unplanned snack or meal ask yourself the following truthfully:

·       On a scale of 1(over full) to 10 (starving) how hungry (real hunger) am I?

·       If you are eating something unplanned ask yourself why am I eating when I am not hungry?  This identifies the mood or emotion triggering you to eat.

·       What am I going to do instead of eating?  This gives you possible alternatives that you can do to help resolve those triggers instead of eating.

So if you feel sad or lonely, call a friend.  If you feel anxious, go for a walk, listen to some calming music (or your favourite music) or take a bath.  This will help you learn some positive ways of expressing and nurturing your emotional need without food.

·       When you think you are hungry, give yourself a moment to check that what you are feeling is truly hunger before the impulse to eat takes over.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Triggers to Overeating - Part 1

Nowadays with such an abundance of food around and so many choices to make, many of us are influenced into what we eat for many reasons other than hunger.  How many of us rush over to the biscuit tin, grab a packet of crisps, sweets or tub of ice-cream when faced with emotional difficulties?  Are we really feeding our hunger or are we feeding our feelings instead?  Unfortunately the choices that we make when we eat when not hungry are notoriously poor.  We tend to go for high energy, fat and sugary choices which offer immediate satisfaction, closely followed by feelings of regret and guilt.
Numerous studies show that appetite can be stimulated by feelings of worry, frustration, anger, hostility, guilt and poor self esteem.  Eating is a way to suppress these negative feelings. 

Associating eating and drinking with stress reduction is learnt from an early age and reinforced through the generations.  Take for example when a baby is hungry, blood sugar levels fall, they cry and scream which is stressful for both parent and baby.  So we tend to the baby by feeding it, instantly stress levels drop and everyone feels better.  Children quickly learn that eating alleviates stress.  

Tracking eating triggers is the first step to understanding why people eat when they are not hungry.  You firstly need to recognise how feelings are triggering your eating behaviour.
Look at the below table and see how many excuses you have used for eating when not hungry.

The reward syndrome

When you have had a really bad day, been shopping, juggled work, kids, housework and fitted everything in.  You feel you deserve a reward.

The last supper syndrome
I am going to start a diet tomorrow, and will never eat cake and biscuits again!

The closet syndrome

Nobody’s looking.  They know I’m on a diet, but if they don’t see me, they won’t know.

Because it’s there syndrome
I am in the kitchen preparing a meal and the biscuit lid is off and because I’m there, I eat them.  I can’t let food go to waste.

I’m fed up syndrome
I’m bored, lonely, cross, angry with myself or someone else, and I’m going to eat something naughty.  “I’m bored lets eat!”

The slippery slope syndrome
I missed breakfast; I ate far too much at lunch time so a little more won’t make any difference

Food as my best friend.  Being depressed can lead to weight gain and being overweight can lead to being depressed, creating a frustrating vicious circle.

Its time to eat.

Crowd pleasing
Going along with others.

Paired event eating
Movies = Popcorn, Shopping = Fast food restaurant

For others
I baked you a special treat.

Special occasions
Lets party!

In part 2 we'll look at taking control of emotional overeating.  Once you've found the triggers to overeating you will be more able to deal with your particular situation and become happier with food on your side.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Physical Activity Tips be at work, home or travel....

Being active at work
  • Walk to talk instead of using the phone or email.
  • Keep comfortable clothes nearby so you can take an activity break.
  • Do some stretches at your desk.
  • Walk or cycle all or part of the way to work.
  • If you must drive, park away from work so you can have a brisk walk both there and back.
  • Always use the stairs over lifts.
  • Plan some activity into your diary so its convenient for you and gets you away from your desk.
  • Take a 10 minute activity break 3 times per day, you will be more productive afterwards and also be working towards your health and well-being.
Being active at home
  • Walk or cycle to your local shops or if you have to drive, park at the furthest end of the car park.  Also if you are able, carry your bags of shopping rather than pushing them in a trolley.
  • Wash the car, wash the windows, turn mattresses, do the housework, gardening, basically anything that gets you a little out of breath and puts your joints through a good range of movement.  All these jobs are horrible, but if done with a little vigour (and perhaps your favourite music) will burn a lot of calories and also improve your flexibility. 
  • Eat less on a day when you are not very active - balance your food intake with your activity output.
  • If possible walk to collect your take away food.
  • Get active with the kids - Frisbee, hide and seek, twister etc.
  • Go for a sociable walk after your evening meal with family and friends.
  • Regarding point number two, your neighbours especially if they are elderly may find some of these jobs difficult, so offer your services.  You'll be a doing a good deed and they'll probably appreciate the company too.
  • Go dancing, use the Wii fit, do an aerobic DVD, have an early night! etc.
  • Join a club or group.
Active travel
  • Keep moving when waiting for the bus, train, tube or plane.
  • At airports take the stairs rather than escalators or lifts.  Or if you have to use an escalator and you are able to, walk on it rather than standing still.
  • Stand up, stretch or walk about frequently when on long plane, train or bus journeys.
  • Get off the bus or train a few stops earlier and walk the rest of your destination.
  • Or walk to the next bus stop or tube station along and extend this each week.
  • Walk or cycle to work.

So as you can see lots of opportunites to get some activity into your daily routines whether at work, home or away.  There must be many others, please leave me a comment on how you get your activity into your day.

Till next time, keep happy and active.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Whats Your Desert Island Meal?

Okay one night on a desert island and assuming you could have a chef, what would you eat?

Well my choice is quite easy, my favourite meal of all time is a big steak, dauphinoise potatoes (or you may know them as potatoes au gratin) and baked beefsteak tomato.  Washed down with a glass or two of red wine, finished with apple crumble and custard.  Well no said it had to be just one meal!

So your probably thinking to yourself sounds okay, and quite delicious, my mouth is watering as I'm writing this blog!  You've got some protein, carbohydrates and fats, in fact something from all your three main food groups.  Now this meal perhaps once a week, as long as you watch portion sizes and are active, is not going to do much harm, but could we make it healthier?  Yes of course we could.  Here's a few pointers to help you on your way;

  • Your steak is from the protein group.  Protein is your bodies foundation.  It is essential for your bodies functioning and development.  Your daily protein intake depends on your activity levels, usually the more active you are the more protein you require to help your body repair and rebuild.  Anything from 0.75g to 1.5g per kg of bodyweight, perhaps more if you are a bodybuilder or serious exerciser.  For example if you were a sedentary or moderately active healthy adult weighing 80kg you would need 60g protein per day (0.75 x 80).
          Recommendations are that your steak should be around 4 ounces, or about the size of a deck
          of cards.  This is very far from what you would probably eat in a restaurant or buy from the
          butchers so now the portion of a steak is more likely to be sized on the length of the palm of   
          your hand from your wrist to your middle finger.

         Try different cuts of steak, my favourite is rib eye, also try rump, sirloin, fillet mignon, T-bone,  
         chuck steak and shoulder steaks.  Don't overcook your steak, pat dry, a little slither of coconut
         oil and seasoning, sear in a hot pan, turn once or twice.  Cook for 2 - 3 minutes for rare steak,
         4 - 4 and a half minutes for medium rare and 5 - 7 mins for a well done steak.  And if you can     
         buy organic or grass fed beef at least you know you've made a difference.

  • Next our dauphinoise potatoes and tomato.  If you've ever had dauphinoise potatoes you'll know just how garlicy and creamy and indulgent they can be while also adding a fair amount of calories sadly.  A better option could be mashed potato made with both white potatoes and sweet potatoes.  The sweet potatoes are a lower GI so these will help lower the overall GI of the meal.  You could also substitute white potatoes for butternut squash which again is low GI or have a mix of all three.  And you could also swap the butter for a dollop of low fat creme fraiche, swap cow's milk for a dash of coconut milk or just add a little water.

  • Tomatoes, are very high in lycopene, they also contain Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Potassium.  Cooking tomatoes allows the lycopene to be better absorbed by the body.  Cook them quickly with a little coconut, or olive oil and seasoning until skins are starting to burst.  Not to say you shouldn't eat them cold, of course their great in your salads or as a handy snack, just eat them like you'd eat a fruit (which technically that's what a tomato is!)  Look for variety, tomatoes don't just come as red, you've got orange, yellow and green.  Also if you can, try and buy organic. 

  • My plate could ideally do with more vegetables, no one ever got too fat on veggies!  Vegetables should make at least a quarter of your plate, so take your pick from any coloured vegetables including; broccoli, asparagus, peppers, mushrooms, spinach, onions, carrots, beans, kale, aubergines etc etc.
Not going to comment on the wine and pudding as you know that moderation is key, and life is to short at the end of the day, so my philosophy, is a little bit of what you fancy does you good!

Please leave me a comment on what your favourite desert island meal is.

Till next time,