Friday, January 29, 2010

Simple principles for healthy eating

In the Ayurvedic tradition, it is said: “If you have a good diet, of what use is a doctor? And if you don’t have a good diet, of what use is a doctor.” Diet can be one of the major causes of imbalance and illness. Conversely a good diet can also greatly contribute to healing, correctly imbalances and optimising wellness. Below are some general guidelines for a healthier diet:

Basic wholefood principles
Choose organic foods where possible
Eat foods as close to their natural state as possible
Drink lots of water – aim for 1-2L per day
Eat a variety of whole grains including spelt, rye, barley, oats, buckwheat, rice and quinoa
Eat high quality protein, such as cold water fish (excellent source of essential fatty acids)
Eat low GI (Glycemic Index) foods to keep blood sugar levels stable and reduce cravings
Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables – fresh fruit and vegetables contain an abundance of phytonutrients, essential for good health
Eat anti-oxidant rich foods such as berries, dark chocolate (min 70% cocoa solids), orange and yellow vegetables, green leafy vegetables, red wine/grapes, tea, wheat and barley grass
Eat detoxifying foods such as cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, chinese cabbage, brussel sprouts), green tea, watercress, dandelion tea, fennel tea, garlic, lemon and coriander
Start your day with a glass of hot water and the juice of half a lemon. This helps to detoxify your liver and kick-start the body’s digestive process
Minimise salt in cooking and use herbs such as coriander, turmeric, ginger, cumin, tarragon, cinnamon, rosemary, basil and cardamon for flavour
Eat lots of fibre (found in vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and whole grains) for healthy bowel movements
Use extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil as your main oils (coconut oil is fantastic as it remains stable at all temperatures and believe it or not, it is a fat that actually promotes weight loss!)
Increase your intake of nuts and seeds, which are full of essential fatty acids and nutrients
Mix up your dairy intake with dairy alternatives made from rice and oat milk. Soy milk and soy products are good in moderation. Low-fat cow’s yoghurt containing live cultures can also be very beneficial to those who don’t have dairy intolerance

Foods to minimise
Processed foods
Packaged foods – look at the ingredients label and if the product has a long list of ingredients it’s probably best to avoid it. Look out for the words hydrogenated and high fructose corn syrup. These are bad and should be avoided
Junk and fast foods
Refined sugar and products containing white sugar
Products made from refined white flour such as white bread, pasta, most cereals and most cakes, pies and pastries
Refined white rice – choose brown or basmati rice instead
Processed fruit juices
Starchy high GI vegetables such as potatoes
Canned vegetables as they tend to be high in sodium (salt), which is a big contributor to bloating and fluid retention
Refined oils such as safflower, sunflower, peanut and canola oil
Artificial sweeteners
Food additives, colours and flavours
Table salt – sea salt is good in moderation
Red meat
Caffeine and other stimulants

Mindful eating
Eat slowly and chew thoroughly
Avoid overeating
Don’t do any activity (such as watching TV or working at your computer - easier said than done!) while you are eating as the meal should be the main focus
Concentrate on the sensations of taste and texture
Allow yourself quiet time after eating to digest
Go for a short walk after eating if you can as this helps to promote digestion

Other hints and tips
Be wary of large portions – portion sizes have increased considerably over the last 20 years and many people don’t actually know what a standard portion size is. For example a portion of pasta is 1 cup, not 2-3 cups as many people would have in a normal meal. A portion of meat is approximately the size and thickness of the a person’s palm
Avoid overeating when eating out and eating socially – studies have shown that people eat considerably more when eating out and eating with friends
Always eat breakfast – breakfast is the most important meal of the day as it fuels the body after the night’s famine.
Dinner should be the smallest meal of the day and should be eaten 2-3 hours before bed to allow the body to digest the food and not interfere with sleeping. This isn't always practical, especially given that a lot of socialising revolves around eating out. If you know you're going out for a big dinner, then try to eat a lighter lunch to balance it out.

It's all pretty simple and common sense really, but sometimes we need a reminder. Eat well, live well and stay well.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Improve appearance of cellulite naturally

Almost every woman has cellulite. Even the skinny ones!

Cellulite is a term used to describe pockets of fat, fluid and toxins, which are trapped and cause dimpling in the skin. This dimpling is irregular and patchy (not to mention unattractive!) and has a similar look to orange peel.
90% of post adolescent women go on to develop cellulite at some time during their life. Your thighs, bum and tummy are the most common areas for a woman to develop cellulite.

Cellulite is largely determined by your diet, genes and level of activity. The good news is that there is something you can do. A cleanse can be one effective way to remedy cellulite. In a recent trial, 75% of participants reported a reduction in the appearance of cellulite following their cleanse.

In addition to cleansing, below is a checklist of dietary and lifestyle recommendations that will help to reduce appearance of cellulite.

Anti-cellulite checklist
·         Eat fresh fruit and vegetables everyday
·         Eat rice, beans and/or pulses everyday
·         Eat oily fish regularly
·         Where possible eat organic foods
·         Minimise processed and pre-packaged foods
·         Avoid ready-made meals
·         Drink at least 1.5L of water a day (6 glasses)
·         Drink herbal teas or hot water with honey and lemon
·         Limit your intake of dairy (low-fat yoghurt with live cultures is ok)
·         Reduce fat intake
·         Reduce sugar intake
·         Exercise more – incorporate cardio into your routine
·         Adjust your posture – don’t cross your legs often
·         Dry skin brush morning and night before showering
·         Self massage for 5 minutes morning and night
·         Finish your shower with 30 seconds of cold water
·         Moisturise your skin everyday – use an anti-cellulite cream, a skin firming cream or an essential oil blend for cellulite reduction

Dry skin brushing
Dry skin brushing is excellent for improving circulation (which is one of the main contributors to cellulite). It is very easy and especially beneficial if you do it everyday. It only takes about 5 minutes.

You can buy a dry skin brush from most health food and vitamin stores. Make sure you buy a natural one with a long handle.

BEFORE showering, brush with long, firm strokes TOWARDS the heart, except on your tummy when you should make anti-clockwise circular movements. Aim to brush each of your feet, ankles, calves, thighs, tummy, breasts, bum and arms for 20 strokes each. After you have brushed all of those areas, take a warm shower followed by a cool rinse at the end. This will invigorate your skin and stimulate your circulation.

Aromatherapy and self-massage
Certain essential oils can be very helpful in reducing cellulite causing toxins and improving circulation (two major contributors to cellulite). The best anti-cellulite oils are:
You can either self massage or bath in these oils.

In the bath: Add 5-10 drops of one of the essential oils above to your bath and stay in the bath for 15 or more minutes once a week.

Self massage: Mix 5-10 drops of one of the essential oils above with 2 tablespoons of carrier oil (sweet almond, avocado, olive, jojoba and apricot are good carrier oils) and massage your tummy, thighs and bum for 8-10 minutes everyday.

Emotional links to cellulite
Louise Hay, author of pivotal alternative medicine books, Heal Your Body and You Can Heal Your Life, asserts that all physical ailments have an emotional root. She suggests that the emotion cause of cellulite is stored anger and self punishment and prescribes this healing affirmation - "I forgive others, I forgive myself. I give myself permission to be free to love and enjoy life."

Now this may sound a little too "give up all of my worldly possessions, move to Byron and live like a hippy" to you, and that's fine; you'll get lots out of the anti-cellulite checklist on its own if you follow it.