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.
If you’re finding the series valuable, share the message on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Remember to invite your friends and family to follow along and feel their best too!
Intention is an idea formed in the heart
This series is inspired by my personal Intention for 2018. I have spent over a year now working on living life with positive intention and this has involved many hours of research, listening to podcasts and Ted Talks, reading and just really expanding my own world of knowledge and experience. It has had such a phenomenal effect on my life and outlook.
Whether the subject is food, mindfulness, physical health, parenting etc. years of personal study (and experience) have formed each droplet of water that comprises my little fountain of wisdom. I am still constantly learning, always soaking up more information and absolutely loving the exploration.
One of my wishes for 2018 is to share more with my family, my friends and of course my readers, things that I believe will help us live a more beautiful, positive life. Your thinking absolutely creates your reality and it’s so important to love both your body and mind, taking the most special care of both of them in order to be the best you that you can possibly be.
Once you have started with yourself, then you can share it with those around you.
Intention is more than wishful thinking, it’s willful direction.
Looking and feeling healthy
My goals for 2018 with regards to business and development are going to take an immense amount of energy. This body of mine had better be strong and ready for what my mind has planned!
Having my own business does mean having the flexibility to be available for my family when they need me too and this year they are going to have the best me, present and jumping up and down if necessary. Just don’t expect any running! Let’s not cross the line here…
So I am starting with me
And you can start with you, along with me!
This is not about being supermodel skinny or perfectly ripped and toned… that’s not what this is about. This is about realistically, in my lifestyle and with my resources, feeling happy and healthy and being the best ME.
I could stand to lose a little roll or two and after the December splurge I am looking forward to getting back on track!
I like to think that I generally have healthy eating habits and a positive attitude towards food and I instill the same in my family. We eat a good variety of fruits and vegetables, meats and fish. We don’t avoid carbs but I try to include a variety of grains for them and cut out the gluten for myself.
Unfortunately, chronic pain is a part of my life. Fibromyalgia is a disorder associated with muscle, joint and nerve pain as well as severe fatigue, memory problems and a variety of other issues that often make me feel like a really old lady.
Further to that, I also have degenerated discs in my lower back which come with their own special bag of tricks for me.
I take daily medication to relieve the nerve pain and some other symptoms but other than that I prefer to manage the conditions without too much medication.
A critical factor is avoiding inflammatory foods such as gluten, sugar and dairy. I will explore the how’s and why’s of everything in more detail in separate posts.
This healthy eating plan is suitable for everyone and anyone! I am also not advocating any particular “diet”, neither will I call this a diet. It’s a lifestyle change with positive, healthy intention at the core, following guidelines and research that simply make sense – eat good food and stay away from the bad stuff! In a nutshell.
Together with my meal plan and weekly shopping list, it fits seamlessly into a busy family lifestyle.
Meals are flexible and adaptable so that you don’t have to cook separate meals. Recipes are super easy and cooked in a flash! Everything you need to make life less complicated and more delicious.
The main points of my healthy lifestyle plan will all be explained in upcoming posts, but are essentially the following:
- Drink water! 3 litres per day.
- No sugar
- No gluten
- Limited dairy
- Fresh ingredients in their natural form
- Affordable and easily accessible… okay just normal ingredients. I may have the odd chia seed but you won’t find any pea protein powder or kombucha in my kitchen.
- Mediterranean diet – closest to the way my family normally eats and red wine is included!
- Quick, easy, delicious!
- Fibre is essential.
- Omega 3 and Vitamin D supplements.
- Have a treat now and then, be gentle with yourself. Do this because you love yourself, not to punish yourself.
- Stretch, chill, smile!
Some small changes can make a huge difference. I hope you will be joining me on this adventure and more than that, I hope that you will be inspired and that I will be able to add just a teeny tiny bit of value to you.
We’re going to feel positive, eat positive, live positive and love the beautiful life we live.
Remember that Beautiful Intention is not just a healthy diet, it’s a holistic lifestyle focusing on loving yourself (body and mind), your family and the world we all live in and simply loving this beautiful life.
Mamma’s on Holiday!
As we speak, my boys and I are in the car listening to Guns n Roses “November Rain” with SuperDad’s trusty driving skills taking us all the way to Crystal Springs Mountain Lodge.
This is a much needed break and one that we have been looking forward to with so much excitement! The boys had no idea we were going until we were on the road leaving Joburg this morning! We haven’t had any kind of decent time off and it has been a highly eventful, super busy year for us.
Hopefully you are following all my little adventures and musings on Facebook and Instagram as well and you can expect to see all our holiday food and fun!
I am not leaving you with nothing to cook though!
Over the course of last week I emailed to some of my earlybird followers, the brand new MammaChef Jozi Meal Planner and AND super cool recipe cards! I am uploading all of them here for you as well but if you want to be one of the lucky ones to receive it in advance so that you can get your shopping done, you can comment here with your email address and I will add you to the list. It’s still free!
I am so proud of these, beautifully designed by my nearly life long friend, Karen, The Mistress of Brand – Organic Identity.
Without further ado then (because I am also navigating and the we might end up in Mozambique)…
The Very First Meal Planner and Recipe Cards
Click the heading to download the recipe card.
Download the week’s meal planner (which includes a handy shopping list) MammaChefJozi Meal Plan 16Oct2017.
Have an amazing week and remember to comment with your email address to join us!