Now that we’re drinking more water and have the blood flowing through the body smoothly, one of the basics is in place. The next step is to consider the food. Here’s your guide to cooking and eating healthy, balanced and nutritious meals.
Obviously there are a multitude of different diets out there, many of which make some sense and many of which just don’t.
My personal opinion with regards to healthy eating is the same as with most things, life’s too short to be worried about a complicated diet that involves a million rules, counting of any kind (I count enough in my business) or not having wine! I feel it’s best to keep it simple and delicious, again treating your body with love and not punishment.
I also mentioned my food philosophy in a post from last year, which essentially echoes the philosophy of Jamie Oliver.
The philosophy of eating
The main thing is that food shouldn’t be made to be an enemy. The latest research that aimed to determine which was the most evil between carbohydrates and fat may surprise you in its outcome. You can read the article here. What it boils down to (and while I’m at it, don’t boil your veggies) is that neither actually makes much difference!
What does matter is the quantity (amount of calories) and quality of the food you’re eating! You don’t have to go counting every calorie but eat sensible portions and make healthy choices. One thing that must be avoided though, is sugar.
Why avoid sugar?
I always want to know the why’s. Aside from weight loss, here’s a quick list of reasons to avoid sugar from MindBodyGreen.com
- Directly linked to higher levels of anxiety, stress and depression
- causes inflammation which in turn
- negatively impacts the immune system
- increases blood pressure
- adversely affects mental function
- Speeds up ageing and can cause acne
- Blood Sugar spikes and crashes, affecting energy levels
- Increases risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
How to avoid sugar
Cooking your meals from scratch using fresh ingredients means that you avoid eating processed foods, premade sauces and meals that contain high amounts of sugar (and sodium).
Ditch the sweets for fresh fruits and berries, nuts and look for snack or treat recipes you can make with eg. raw honey, nut butters and dark chocolate. There are soooooo many different options for healthier choices.
Dump the fizzy colddrinks and fruit juices and instead, drink water*, unsweetened rooibos or herbal teas etc.
Don’t choose low fat products as they generally contain added sugar to make up for the taste.
After all this, what are the healthiest food and diet choices?
Firstly, crash diets and fads are so old hat. The only way to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle is with a sustainable eating plan, balance and moderation and yes, some exercise. You don’t need a gym, walking is also great and there are various fantastic workout apps including all different kinds of exercise.
Back to food!
The Mediterranean Diet is my guideline of choice for several reasons. It’s widely known as the world’s healthiest diet mainly because it largely reduces risk of heart disease, strokes and cancer. Let’s be honest, if your heart has stopped working it won’t really matter what your body looks like.
It also wards off chronic disease, promotes brain health, aids weight loss and slows ageing… what more could you possibly want?!
The key aspects of the Mediterranean Diet are:
- plenty of fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits
- fish and white meat, with red meat in moderation
- whole grains along with nuts, beans, lentils and seeds
- olive oil for the win!
- lots of herbs and spices for wonderful flavour without excess salt
- limit dairy to hard cheeses and plain yoghurt
- a glass of red wine daily (again, moderation applies)
Stay away from the cakes, sweets and processed foods. Stick to produce as close as possible to it’s natural form. Choose whole grain over white.
Give yourself a treat now and then! Don’t be mean to yourself for having a block or two of that choccie, it’s not going to crush the scale tomorrow morning… a small treat once a week is fine.
What appeals most to me about the Mediterranean Diet is that it’s the closest to the way we eat as a family in any case, therefore I don’t have to make different meals for different people.
If I don’t feel like having pasta for example, I simply don’t dish the pasta portion and happily have the delicious protein and veggies or salad. It’s uncomplicated, easy to cook, incredibly tasty, GOOD food!
Change your mind – change your life
Food is a friend. You don’t need to make it your enemy. Approach food with positive energy, cook with love, feel the joy of sharing healthy, nutritious meals with your family and caring for your body in the most loving way. You will be surprised at how much this changes your relationship with food as well as your body!
Water is life
This quote by Loren Eiseley is the perfect description for the first subject of my Beautiful Intention healthy living plan, which is water.
Over the course of the past year, water has been a powerful theme of life in South Africa. The ongoing, severe drought in the Western Cape has taken it’s toll on the people, animals and landscape crying out for water. At the same time, other areas of the country suffered violent floods that destroyed homes and took lives.
The fires that devastated Knysna were calmed eventually by water and it’s water that now restores life where there was ashes.
Water is the driving force of all nature and that includes humans. It even helps to make wine! So you see, it really is magic!
Drink plenty of water
It’s a message we hear very often and not without good reason. Taking the most important parts of our bodies into consideration, the brain and heart are made up of 75 percent water, lungs around 85 percent, muscles and kidneys consist of 80 percent water.
In order to have the body function optimally it stands to reason that the water balance must be well maintained.
What are the benefits of drinking more water?
There are a multitude of benefits associated with drinking a good amount of water every day.
- Starting your day with a large glass of water gives your metabolism a wake up call!
- Drinking water is proven to raise your metabolic rate substantially.
- Aids digestion by clearing the colon and improves movement of food through the digestive system, less bloating.
- Keeps skin hydrated and free of toxins.
- Prevents headaches – dehydration is a major cause of headaches and even migraines.
- Boosts brain function and productivity for better focus and clarity.
- Increases muscle function and energy.
- Drink water to control appetite – drinking water an hour to 30 minutes before a meal will help you feel satiated without overeating. Drinking water often throughout the day will keep snack attacks at bay.
- Improved flow of nutrients and distribution of hormones throughout the body, ensuring that you function and therefore feel your best!
How do you find ways to make it easier for yourself to remember to drink more water and actually stick to it?
I have a particular routine that I follow which makes it much easier for me. This includes the following:
As soon as I manage to pry my eyes open and peel myself out of bed (it’s not that I don’t want to rise and shine, I just really love my bed) the first thing on the agenda is a large glass of warm water.
Apple Cider Vinegar
I pour about a quarter glass of hot water, stir in a teaspoon of raw honey and two tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Top it up with tap water and drink. Then I follow that up with another glass of water.
There are a few reasons why I start with this and not because of it’s celeb status. Growing up, my grandmother did the same thing every day and the smell of ACV reminds me of her in the kitchen every morning. Things we grow up with tend to stick. Lemon and honey in water is another favourite of mine.
It’s not just for nostalgia though. Research is not always 100% conclusive as to all the benefits of apple cider vinegar however it has been used medicinally for centuries.
I will definitely not claim that it’s a magic potion but it has been proven to have various benefits in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle overall. Some benefits are:
- Regulating blood sugar, assisting breakdown of starch
- Enzymes found in the unfiltered ACV aid digestion
- Acetic acid can increase the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and minerals from food
- It’s antibiotic and antimicrobial and especially when combined with honey and water can soothe coughs and alleviate allergy symptoms
- Antioxidants are good for healthy skin
Important to note never to drink apple cider vinegar undiluted. 2 Tablespoons is a maximum daily amount which you can easily also ingest with salads or fish, equally good and much better than 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise!
Further to this it’s also very important to do your own research before starting anything new and consult a doctor if you have any kind of pre-existing condition. A well balanced article I found about apple cider vinegar is here, should you want to start looking through more information.
Getting the 3 litres in
General consensus is that an adult should be drinking about two litres of water each day, however for weight loss you should have at least three.
I find it helps me to keep a 1,5 litre bottle with me, finishing the first one before lunchtime and then refill. I easily have my share of water this way, especially when I have a desk day.
We’re lucky to have the luxury of clean and safe tap water in Jozi and my personal preference is water from the tap or at room temperature. Of course you can chill it, add fresh lemon or berries (not artificially flavoured water) to make it more interesting for the tastebuds.
I also like to have either black rooibos tea or Senna tea, which counts towards water too as well as having their own tea-licious health benefits.
Yes, frequent bathroom trips will be part of the journey at first but the bladder will adjust soon enough. Think of it as a little exercise and a chance to stretch your legs.
One small step for the body… one giant leap to beautiful wellness! If you don’t manage it right away please don’t beat yourself up. Remember to be gentle… tomorrow is another chance to be better.
With that, I think my well of wonderful water wisdom has run dry!
Please let me know if you have any tips for drinking water, or how you prefer to drink your water. Feel free to ask any questions here or via email.
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…as what’s on the chairs.
I lost a friend last week. We had been friends since varsity days and had some crazy times, fun times, shared some great moments, laughed together and cried together as you do. Living in different places eventually we didn’t see eachother much but we were definitely always in minds and hearts, happy to share in happy moments etc… always taking for granted that we would get together soon. Suddenly she was gone… and all I can see in my mind is her huge smile and hear her laughter.
If I could share a bowl of popcorn with her around a table, I would be happy. It’s not what’s on the table, but what’s in the chairs that matters.
Sleep sweet my friend…My maat van yster en plaat 🙂
On Sunday afternoon I found myself wondering where on earth the weekend went to so quickly? It seemed like I had blinked and it was gone. It was such a lovely weekend though and can only be followed by a very good week.
On Saturday morning we managed to get out to a Parkrun for the first time in weeks. It started off freezing cold but once I got going with some music in my ears to set the pace, I enjoyed it so much that I actually set a personal best time! Of course, on Sunday I was feeling the after effects in my body but it was totally well worth it! Perfect way to walk off the week.
Sunday was an opportunity for SuperDad to get out and play some golf in the morning while we got to hang out with family. My sister in law made the most amazing Feijoada, which is a traditional Brazilian/Portuguese stew made with mainly beans and pork. Served with rice and freshly baked bread rolls, it was just the perfect thing for a winters day.
The happiness advantage
As I spend quite a bit of time in traffic, especially in the mornings, I like to listen to podcasts and TED Talks as a way to keep my mind occupied with interesting, inspirational thoughts and very often learning about new concepts and ideas. I have been lucky in that the right one seems to find me at the right time, rather than me deciding on something and looking for it.
This TED Talk by Shawn Achor – The Happiness Advantage – was the one that found me on Monday morning and it completely set me up for the week. It’s short and to the point, about how positive brains link to better performance and some tips on how to get yourself there. Find twelve minutes for yourself and watch the talk here:
I have been spending a lot of time delving into articles, books and podcasts about mindfulness and the neurology of how the mind actually affects our physical bodies.
The mind is so incredibly powerful and the words you speak to yourself have a huge impact on your life experience.
Be kind to yourself!
It is Mandela Day in South Africa on 18 July 2017, which would have been Nelson Mandela’s 99th birthday.
In honour of his legacy, we encourage each person to devote 67 minutes of their time to charitable causes, giving back, making a change in communities and supports local causes.
Having had the privilege of meeting the great man twice in my life, I completely support this initiative and I also know that his legacy is not limited to action on one day of the year. We should be doing good, in any way we can, wherever we are, every single day.
Whether it’s smiling at someone who looks like they might be having a tough day, letting someone go ahead of you in traffic, donating used things that you don’t need anymore… share love everywhere! The world needs more love!
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams and live the life you imagined.
If not now, then when?