Get organised with this FREE 7 Day Meal Planner – #1 Small Step

Get organised with this FREE 7 Day Meal Planner – #1 Small Step

BlogHead_Nutrition Planning

When clients come for Follow On sessions, they tell me how planning and organisation have been the keys to making successful changes in their diet and lifestyle.

Planning and organising are the foundations to your new way of eating.  You will repeatedly thank yourself during a hectic week when you get home late and take a batch-cooked homemade soup out the freezer rather than a sad, beige, ready meal.

There are two main areas to focus on when it comes to planning ahead;

  1. How you organise your kitchen

  2. Meal planning and shopping

Before we look at the finer details of kitchen organisation, grab a pen and download the free meal planner;

7 Day Meal Planner_pdf

To inspire your shopping the Planner includes;

Planning chart

‘Eat a Rainbow’ food suggestions

Which foods have the highest pesticide residues and which are okay to buy non-organic

Now, lets look at your kitchen…

In the world of the Internet, everyone has a kitchen like this

neatkitchen_snip

In reality, it’s probably more like this;

messykitchen_snip

You may live alone, in which case great – all the cupboard space is yours!  However if you’re in a family of 6, there’s going to be several different food tastes and requirements that need catering for so space may be at a premium.

Firstly, go through your fridge, freezer and cupboards and get rid of anything past its ‘Use By’ date (‘Best Before’ is a lot more flexible and can be safely eaten for a good while after the date has past – use your own judgment on this), and anything that no longer fits with your new eating plan.

If your cupboards are full of junk snacks it’s going to be harder to hold your nerve and resist them.

Give anything still usable to friends and family or donate to your local food bank or shelter.

Next, place on your worktops the utensils you need to make your new healthful meals and snacks.

  • Cutting out caffeine? Put the teabags and coffeemaker at the back of a cupboard and bring out the water filter, herbal teas and juicer.

  • Snacking on homemade protein smoothies? Place your blender jug next to the plug socket, ready to use.

  • Batch cooking meals? Sharpen knives, make space for the chopping board and have pans and cooking trays within easy reach of the oven.

  • Taking new supplements? Place the packets of supplements next to the kettle or sink (unless they need to be stored in the fridge) so you see them when you get a drink.

  • Organise your storage containers.                                             Many of us (me included) know only too well the sinking feeling that comes when you open the Tupperware cupboard and find mismatched lids and cracked boxes.  Invest in glassware containers for fridge and freezer storage; IKEA do a reasonably priced range and I use old glass jars for freezing soups and sauces.   Over the years I’ve gathered several 1970’s style brown ceramic bowls with lids from charity shops: perfect for storing leftovers in the fridge.

  • The Zero Waste Chef has a great blog post all about freezing goods in non-plastic containers, see HERE for the details.  Admittedly, plastic tubs are lighter and easier for packed lunches, and you can easily find BPA-free ranges.

Now that your kitchen is clear and organised, it’s time to plan those meals!

Before you do the shopping, whether its online or a proper trip to the store, take 30 mins to sketch out your meals and snacks for the week ahead.

 7 Day Meal Planner_pdf

If one of your aims is to include more variety in your meals, browse a few recipe sites or cookbooks, pick 1 new meal to try, and add the ingredients to your list.

With online shopping you can save time by storing your ‘favourites’ or previous shopping lists in the software so you don’t have to type it all in again the following week.

Veg box schemes provide organic, or locally grown (or both) vegetables and fruits, and often inspire new meal ideas – after all, once a new veggie has arrived on your doorstep you’ll need to find a way to use it!

Consider stocking up on some ‘emergency’ ingredients – things that can be quickly thrown together to make a meal – for those occasions when (and it is when, not if!) your best laid plans go awry.

Ideas include;

  • Baking potatoes: they keep for weeks in a cold dark place and can easily accompany a leftover chilli, ratatouille, frozen fish and vegetables…

  • Frozen vegetables: peas, sweetcorn and cauliflower florets have a pretty much permanent home in my freezer.

    For tips on which vegetables freeze well and which are best left fresh, see here

  • Frozen white fish (sustainably caught): this cooks from frozen in 25mins and is delicious smothered in a tomato & vegetable sauce served with that baking potato you bought earlier or sweet potato wedges and broccoli…

  • Tinned tomatoes, red lentils and vegetable stock: here you have the base of a vegetable and lentil broth. Add chicken or a selection of leftover vegetables and you have a nourishing, warming meal.

  • Vegetarians and vegans: buy extra tofu to drain and freeze, so you have a versatile protein source to hand when needed. Not frozen tofu before?  Follow the steps here.

What are your top tips for getting organised in the kitchen?  

Email me at sallyduffin@nutritioninyork.co.uk or share them in the Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/nutritioninyork

If you’d like to know more about how we can work together to tailor your nutrition needs check out the consultation options or email or call today – 07910 705272 – and let’s get started!

 

Menopause mayhem? Get back in balance with natural nutrition

Menopause_Mayhem

As if we ladies haven’t got enough to do in our 40s and 50s, juggling jobs, homes, family and fitness whilst finally (finally!) not caring what other people think of us, along comes the hormonal havoc of menopause.

Hot flushes.  Mood swings.  Crazy irregular periods.  Hair thinning.  Forgetfulness.  Anxiety.  Just a few of the delights we can experience as we transition through this phase of life.

Taking HRT is an option, but not everyone wants it, and I have to say I’ve seen many clients who’ve taken it for years, come off it, and gotten all the symptoms of menopause back again because the artificial hormones have merely delayed the process.

HRT was originally created purely as a product to preserve youth and beauty – which says a lot about how women are viewed and valued once menstruation ends, and is not an attitude I subscribe to.  At this stage of life we have strength, experience, and wisdom on our side: a fact to be celebrated!  We just need to strip off the duvet and open windows more often.

So, let’s explore the stages of menopause, and how nutrition can help you through it…

Perimenopause

This stage can start quite early for some women, in their early 40s.  As there are fewer menstrual cycles where ovulation takes place, the hormones oestrogen and progesterone become  increasingly imbalanced.  Early signs that things are changing include periods becoming longer, heavier, more frequent, or more painful – and PMS symptoms can change too.

Perimenopause continues until egg production and ovulation stop altogether, and you enter menopause.  After 12 months with no periods, you are considered to have gone through menopause.

Because perimenopause to menopause is a transitional phase, the symptoms can fluctuate and change as you move through.  The more common menopausal symptoms include;

– Hot flushes (power surges!) caused by changing hormone levels affecting the temperature regulation system in the brain

– Fatigue

– Mood swings, anxiety, depression, apathy

– Weight gain

– Insomnia (often caused by hot flushes)

– Low libido

– Vaginal dryness and shrinkage

– Changes to hair & skin; lower levels of oestrogen affect skin elasticity and moisture levels, causing skin to be thinner and slower to heal.  Hair growth slows, and it can change in texture too

 Add to this list the increased risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, and you can see the extent to which menopause affects health.

Thyroid function

An underfunctioning thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) can produce symptoms similar to menopause: weight gain, tiredness, poor memory, constipation, for example.  Equally, menopause can accelerate any changes that may have been happening to your thyroid gland, and hypothyroidism often goes undetected as the symptoms get attributed to menopause.  If you suspect poor thyroid function, do look at getting it tested either with your GP or privately (please contact me for more details about private lab tests).

Stress

When does stress ever make things better?  Never!  And certainly not with menopause.  Hot flushes can be triggered by high levels of adrenaline, and chronic stress can lead to extra weight gain.

Creating time each day for 30-60mins of downtime is crucial when dealing with ongoing stress.  Reading, walking in nature, journalling, yoga, meditation – all are brilliant at helping your body downregulate the stress response and focus on healing and balance.

What to eat?

Phytoestrogens to support hormone balance

Certain foods contain high levels of ‘phytoestrogens’ – compounds with a similar structure to oestrogen, but a much weaker effect in the body.

There are 3 main classes of phytoestrogen;

 – isoflavones: found in chickpeas, lentils, red clover, kidney and aduki beans, and naturally fermented soya products like tofu and tempeh.

 – coumestans: alfalfa and mung bean sprouts are good sources Sprouts_snip

 – lignans: milled golden flaxseeds are packed with lignans plus essential fats and protein, making them an ideal seed to include regularly.

Phytoestrogens are not stimulative or overwhelming like synthetic oestrogens, and despite what the internet says, will not make any men who eat them grow enormous breasts!  Phytoestrogens are considered to act as ‘selective oestrogen receptor modulators’, exerting a balancing action on fluctuating hormone levels.  Isoflavones are the most widely studied type of phytoestrogen, with studies linking their actions to reduced cardiovascular disease risk in diabetic women, and beneficial effects on cholesterol levels.

Soya is a controversial food, but we’re talking here about traditional soya products being used in sensible moderation within a balanced nutrition plan, not the highly processed textured soya protein products.

As ever with nutrition, the research into phytoestrogens is limited and varies in quality.  However, the inclusion of phytoestrogen foods is seen overall as being beneficial for women transitioning through menopause.

Greens for energy and hormone detox

Green veggies in the cruciferous family – think broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts – support hormone detoxification and clearance through the liver.  This is particlarly important in Food choicesearly menopause, when low levels of progesterone can lead to a relative oestrogen excess.

More broadly speaking, all types of green vegetables are a good source of magnesium – the ‘anti-stress’ mineral that helps with energy production and keeping calm.

Helpful Herbs

Sage: organically grown whole herb sage supplements can be helpful for reducing hot flushes and sweats, thanks to the influence of sage on the temperature regulator in the brain.

Shatavari: this beautiful herb is from the Ayurvedic tradition in India.  The name shatavari loosley translates as ‘she who has 100 husbands’!  (Blimey!)  It is thought to support hormonal balance and act as a nourishing adaptogen for women.  See Pukka Herbs for more details.

Rose water: again, another idea from Ayurveda; spraying rose water on the back of your neck and face when a hot flush begins can stop it taking hold and cool you down.  Rose is traditionally seen as been a flower to support female health.

Siberian Ginseng: this gentle adaptogenic herb helps the body cope with different mental, physical, and emotional stresses, and can support energy levels.

Passiflora: a calming, soothing herb, suited to low or fluctuating mood and frayed nerves.

As with all herbal remedies, please seek advice from a herbal advisor or your GP before using alongside prescription medications.  The advice given here is not intended to replace that of a medical practitioner.

And a few tips for more specific female health conditions..

Thrush

Thanks to the close proximity of the vaginal tract to the bowel and the subsequent easy movement of unfriendly bowel bacteria, we ladies are particularly prone to thrush.  Antibiotics, stress, hormonal fluctuations and a diet high in sugary foods also contribute to yeast overgrowth and thrush symptoms.

  • Support bacterial balance from the inside by eating fermented foods

  • Avoid refined sugar, excess fruit sugar (1-2 pieces of whole fruit per day may be ok), fruit juices, yeast extract and alcohol

  • Use a non-perfumed simple cleanser instead of soap or regular shower gel: ‘Green People’ ‘Akin’ and ‘Dr. Bronner’ make wonderful organic, chemical free bodycare products

  • Drink plenty of water and address any bowel issues such as constipation or diarrhoea

  • If periods are still happening, opt for organic cotton tampons or sanitary pads – or escape tampons and pads altogether with an amazing reusable environmentally friendly Mooncup

Cystitis

Like thrush, cystitis can be triggered by antibiotics, stress, constipation, diarrhoea and hormonal fluctuations.  The menopausal drop in oestrogen levels affects the lining of the bladder, making it more prone to sensitivity and inflammation.

  • Avoid tea, coffee (regular and decaffeinated), alcohol, soft drinks and fruit juice.

  • Plain water and chamomile tea are soothing for the bladder whilst horsetail herb tea has bladder strengthening properties

  • Take a multi strain high potency beneficial bacteria supplement

  • If an overgrowth of E.Coli bacteria is responsible, cranberry extract (dried extract, not juice) can stop the bacteria clinging to the bladder wall

  • Check for food intolerances; gluten has been implicated in cases of overactive and sensitive bladder

  • If symptoms persist and are affected by your menstrual cycle ask your GP for a scan to investigate endometriosis: endometrial tissue can grow on the bladder, affecting its function.

Painful Sex

During the menopause the vagina shrinks and becomes drier as the moisturising effects of oestrogen are lost.  This can lead to small tears in the vaginal wall and painful sex.  Certain auto-immune conditions such as Sjogrens Syndrome also affect vaginal lubrication, so if you are experiencing dry mouth and dry sore eyes, see your GP for further investigations into Sjogrens.

  • Sea buckthorn extract is rich in omega-7, a type of fatty acid that maintains moisture levels in skin membranes: supplement with this for at least 3 months to support vaginal lubrication

  • Drink plenty of water and include omega-3 rich foods too (oily fish, walnuts, ground flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds)

  • Opt for a chemical free water based lubricant: ‘Yes’ offer a range of lubricants, some of which may be available on prescription in the UK.

If you’d like friendly support with your transition through menopause drop me a line today… Call on 07910 705272 or email sallyduffin@nutritioninyork.co.uk

Join in the nutrition conversation on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/nutritioninyork

 

Fermented Foods with fermenting expert Rachel Dickson from Loaded Table

Fermented Foods with fermenting expert Rachel Dickson from Loaded Table

Fermented Foods

A few years ago, my husband had an unpleasant encounter with kimchi in Korea.  I’ll spare you the details, suffice to say it involved a rotting buried cabbage being dug up and served for dinner.  It certainly made for a memorable meal but he didn’t order seconds.

Fortunately for him, this method of fermenting food is at the far end of a varied spectrum, and delicious, easy-to-use ferments are now readily available!

Fermented foods are part of many culinary traditions – including our own here in the UK – because fermentation is a simple way to preserve foods, extending their life and ensuring food availability during times of scarcity.

Nowadays, fridges and freezers have largely replaced the need for fermentation, but these conveniences mean we eat far fewer fermented foods and this has negative consequences for the billions of bacteria living in our guts.

The fermentation process allows lactic-acid-producing bacteria to develop.  These bacteria form a vital part of the microbiota – the billions of bacteria living inside us.

Our microbiota work incredibly hard at;

  • Absorbing nutrients

  • Producing vitamin K, and some B-vitamins

  • Ensuring smooth, comfortable bowel movements

  • Regulating our immune and inflammatory responses

Supporting levels and diversity of our good bugs with the right kinds of foods is a vital part of preventative healthcare.

 To investigate further, I spoke to Rachel Dickson, fermented foods specialist at Loaded Table about her range of ferments, and why they are so important for health…

Rachel from The Loaded Table

Sally: Hi Rachel, can you tell me a little about why you started your business, and what attracted you to fermented foods?

Rachel: Sure.  Well, I’ve always been health conscious, but it wasn’t until I had health problems of my own that I really started to focus on good nutrition and lifestyle changes.  Several years ago, I was diagnosed with uterine fibroids, and spent a year eating organic food, doing yoga, and having acupuncture.  At the end of this year, the fibroids had reduced by 25%.  I realised that stress was having a major impact too, and this led me to think about what measures I could have taken to prevent my health problems in the first place.  After a lot of exploration, my journey led me to fermented foods as a way of supporting the good bugs in our digestion that play such a major role in health.

S: And what did you think of them?

R: Initially I thought they tasted disgusting!  But, with practice, I’ve created some beautiful ferments that taste delicious.

S: When did you launch ‘Loaded Table’?

R: I spent a few years perfecting my recipes, trying them out on friends and family, and when I moved to the UK earlier this year, I launched Loaded Table.  I now supply a number of health stores in the North, including Alligator Wholefoods (on Fishergate in York), and have a stall at Acomb Market, on the 4th Saturday of every month.

S: Tell me about your products.

R: I produce kombucha, kimchi (vegetable ferments), sauerkraut, and some prebiotic ferments – asparagus, onion, and garlic.  All the ferments are tested to ensure they have the right types and levels of bacteria, and they come with a shelf life to prevent spoilage and the growth of bad bacteria.

S: How do you recommend people use your products?

R: The kombucha is really popular, and is great for kids too – they love the ginger and turmeric flavours!  Adults can take 100ml a day, and kids 50ml.  With the vegetable ferments, just add a tablespoonful to a salad, or have it alongside a cooked meal.  The prebiotic ferments are a little different: I suggest 5-10g per day, and mix these in with dips, relishes, or sauces – but don’t cook them as this destroys the fibres that will feed the probiotics.  My kimchi is delicious – I’ve added my own Yorkshire twist to it!

S: I love the sound of that!  What’s the Yorkshire twist?

R: There’s less chilli, and a whole range of different warming spices, including fenugreek which gives it a distinctive flavour.

S: Any plans to offer online shopping?

R: Yes, that’s coming very soon, along with some new flavours for the kombucha and vegetable ferments, and I’m planning to offer workshops to help people make their own ferments.

S: Thank you Rachel!

For more details about Rachel’s products, and to download recipes go to www.loadedtable.co.uk

If you’re dealing with digestive problems, low energy, or stress, remember to download your FREE copy of ‘Your 3 Easy Steps to All Day Energy’ and schedule a FREE 20min no-obligation telephone call with me to discuss how nutritional therapy may be able to help!

 

Your Route to Thyroid Health

Your Route to Thyroid Health

Are you exhausted all day?

Struggling to concentrate and remember things?

Sluggish digestion?

Thin, weak hair and fragile nails?

Feel like your brain is made from fuzzy wool?

Your thyroid may be underfunctioning.

Underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism is a common condition with a wide range of symptoms including;

  • Constipation

  • Low energy no matter how much you rest or sleep

  • Weight gain and difficulty losing weight

  • ‘Brain fog’ – poor memory and lack of concentration

  • Dry skin, brittle nails and falling hair

  • High cholesterol

Your thyroid gland regulates your metabolic rate – similar to how the accelerator regulates the speed of a car.  When it’s underactive, all your body processes slow down, as if you had taken your foot off the gas.

The standard treatment is Levothyroxine a synthetic version of T4, one of your thyroid hormones.  However this is only prescribed if you fall below certain parameters on blood tests and many people suffer with sub-clinical hypothyroidism where their thyroid is underfunctioning but not badly enough to receive medication.

Simply taking Levothyroxine is only part of the picture of managing low thyroid function.  Your body converts T4 to T3, the more biologically active hormone, and this conversion step is problematic for many people.

Issues such as stress, poor digestion, and a lack of the necessary vitamins and minerals all impair the conversion of T4 to T3;

Blog_Thyroid_snipSimply replacing T4 by taking Levothyroxine is just the first step in managing hypothyroidism.  A whole-body approach focusing on healthy digestion, the right foods to support thyroid function and hormone conversion, relaxation, and movement is the most positive way forward for true thyroid balance.

If you’re struggling with thyroid problems, join me for the interactive workshop ‘Your Route to Thyroid Health’ taking place on Friday 29th September here in central York.

We will be covering;

 – The signs, symptoms and causes of thyroid imbalance – both underactive and overactive

 – What medications are available

 – The links between thyroid function and other health conditions such as chronic stress, chronic fatigue syndrome and cardiovascular health

 – Natural nutritional support for thyroid hormone production, conversion and function

 – Supportive lifestyle techniques to help with relaxation and stress management

Dates & times;

 – Friday 29th September 2017

 – 10am – 12pm

 – The Garden Room, Friends Meeting House, Friargate, York, YO1 9RG

 – Detailed handouts are provided, and there will be plenty of opportunities for questions


Tickets: £20


For more information and to book your place contact me via email at sallyduffin@nutritioninyork.co.uk or on 07910 705272

Photo by Sander Weeteling on Unsplash

Eat A Rainbow – #1 Small Step

Eat A Rainbow – #1 Small Step

Eat a Rainbow

Ever wondered why doctors and nutrition-people (like me!) keep talking about how important it is to ‘eat a rainbow’?  (A phrase which is dangerously close to the slogan for Skittles – ‘taste a rainbow’- which will have quite the opposite effect on your health!).

It’s because brightly coloured fruits and vegetables contain an array of natural compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that are all bound up with what colour they are.

Food choicesSo for example, orange and yellow veggies like peppers, carrots, and butternut squash are rich in beta-carotene, an immune-bosting antioxidant compound that’s a member of the carotenoid family, whilst dark bluberries and red grapes contain cyanidin – another protective antioxidant compound.

Including at least 1 food from each colour group everyday means you will be nourishing yourself with a vast range of naturally powerful ingredients, giving your body the support it needs to cope with modern life!

Pick any one of these top 10 practical tips to start increasing the colour, variety and nutrient load of your diet;

  1. Green powders are helpful if you struggle to get enough greens into your day: mix spirulina, chlorella, barley grass or wheatgrass powder into pesto to boost the antioxidant and protein levels.

  2. To support blood sugar stability and reduce reliance on refined carbohydrates, swap to higher protein alternatives. Mung bean pasta, lentil pasta, quinoa, or wild rice are good alternatives.

  3. If you’re dealing with intestinal yeast overgrowth (and this is best confirmed with a stool test rather than trying to guess), think foods before supplements: natural anti-microbials such as garlic, ginger, oregano and marjoram can be added easily to salads, soups, casseroles – even herbal infusions.

  4. The anti-inflammatory actions of turmeric and cinnamon are well documented; these spices blend well with warmed almond milk to make a simple chai-style beverage.

  5. Seaweed flakes can be sprinkled into salads, soups or casseroles, and Nori sheets make a good alternative to wheat wraps, instantly increasing the iodine, zinc and magnesium content of your meal – perfect for thyroid support.

  6. Mixing a tablespoon of olive oil into 25g of butter creates a spreadable butter rich in oleic acid – with none of the negative effects associated with margarine or poorly processed vegetable oils.

  7. Encourage children to explore different coloured vegetables by using a picture colour chart and negotiating which coloured veggies to try next.

  8. Nourish your friendly gut bacteria with pre- and probiotic food. Add a tablespoon of sauerkraut to grilled salmon and roasted vegetables; use unfiltered apple cider vinegar in salad dressings with lemon juice and fresh herbs; or mix kefir into a morning smoothie.

  9. Green vegetables can be problematic for many people, especially supertasters. A basic smoothie made from baby spinach, banana and almond milk is a gentle option to begin with, and is packed with folate, vitamin K, vitamin C, and the antioxidant compound lutein.  If you’re managing IBS, add fennel or caraway seeds when steaming brassica greens as this helps to soften the taste and aid digestion, reducing bloating and wind.

  10. To eat different foods you have to buy different foods. A vegetable or fruit box delivery scheme is a hassle-free way to have new ingredients delivered direct to your door. Many schemes offer inspiring recipe ideas too.

Remember, the idea behind #1 Small Step is to encourage steady change and growth whilst side-stepping overwhelm.  So pick 1 new idea to try, and build up those changes gradually!

If you’ve enjoyed this post you might also like;

#1 Small Step – Plan Your Way to Nutrition Success

#1 Small Step – How You Can & Why It’s Good To Eat Mindfully

#1 Small Step – 7 Energy Boosting Breakfasts

What Small Step can you take today?

Tweet me at @nutritioninyork or drop me a line via sallyduffin@nutritioninyork.co.uk

A shorter version of this post was originally produced for Nutrition I-Mag (July/August 2017 edition) downloadable HERE

7 Energy-Boosting Breakfasts – #1 Small Step

7 Energy-Boosting Breakfasts – #1 Small Step

Energy Boosting Breakfasts

Another small step you can take towards improving energy levels and overall health, is to start the day with a nourishing breakfast.  Eating within 2 hours of waking means your body doesn’t have to produce extra stress hormones to support your blood sugar levels.  When this happens, your energy stores are playing ‘catch up’ for the rest of the day and you are likely to find yourself reaching for sugar and caffeine fixes to keep going.

This recipe-roundup is packed with creative ideas for your first feed of the day.

Some of the recipes are super quick whilst other may take a few more minutes to prepare, and they will all keep you energised till lunch (or ‘dinner’ as we call it here in Yorkshire!)…

Categories are;

P good protein source

Ve vegan (or vegan option)

GF gluten free

DF dairy free

Sweet Potato Hash Egg Skillet from Naturally Ella: P GF DF       Naturally Ella

Save time by using leftover cooked sweet potatoes from the day before in this protein and antioxidant packed breakfast.  You can swap sprouted seeds for watercress or rocket – and in case you’re wondering, pepitas are pumpkin seeds!

 

Fluffy Breakfast Quinoa from Food Heaven Made Easy: P GF DF Ve                                                                                                                                                       Again, this one involves a bit of pre-prep to save time in the morning.  Cook a large serving of quinoa at the start of the week and dip into it for breakfasts and lunchtime salads.

 

Grab & Go Chia Yoghurt Parfait from 101 Cookbooks: P GF swap to a plant based yoghurt for DF Ve   This one really is for the super-quick breakfast people!

Chia Yoghurt Parfait

Buckwheat Pancakes: GF with options for Ve and DF.  Add ground seeds or a protein powder to boost the P content.  Perfect for when you have a bit more time to enjoy breakfast; discover this and other warm breakfasts (that aren’t porridge!) over in the Recipe Section

 

Wild Mushrooms on sourdough toast: from My New Roots: use olive oil to make it Ve & DF, and non-gluten bread for GF                                                                  Wild mushrooms on toast                  Regular mushrooms can be used in place of wild ones, and as Sarah says in the post, keeping a packet of dried mushrooms in the store cupboard means you can add them to any mushroom dish for deeper flavours and higher nutrient value.  Mushrooms are a fantastic source of fibre, immune-supporting nutrients, and vitamin D.

 

Greek Chickpeas on Toast: from Lazy Cat Kitchen P DF Ve and GF option          Greek Chickpeas

A warm breakfast packed with protein, fibre and antioxidant plant nutrients from the herbs & spices!

 

 

Butternut, Spinach & Sausage Egg Cups: from Real Food Whole Life P GF DF       Make these in advance and you have a ready-to-go breakfast option for days and days.  They freeze well too.  If you prefer a meaty version there’s an option for including good Rainbow Egg Cupquality sausage or bacon.

 

 

What’s your go-to breakfast option?  I’d love to know!  Share on Twitter (I’m @nutritioninyork) or email at sallyduffin@nutritioninyork.co.uk

If you’d like to know more about how we can work together take a look HERE

You may also enjoy;

   #1 Small Step – Plan Your Way to Nutrition Success

   #1 Small Step – How You Can & Why It’s Good To Eat Mindfully

How To Eat Mindfully – #1 Small Step

BlogHead_Mindful Eating

What do indigestion, bloating, excess wind, heartburn, and weight gain all have in common?

They can all be caused by not chewing food properly!

It’s a simple thing to do, but chewing so often gets neglected in favour of eating quickly due to short lunch breaks, or multitasking with food and a laptop.

Retraining yourself to chew food thoroughly is a vital first step to digestive wellbeing and healthy weight balance. 

Let’s look at why…

 

  • The action of chewing tells your brain to send messages to your stomach alerting it to the fact that food is on its way. These nerve signals tell the stomach to start producing the gastric juices that break food down.

  • Chewing mixes food with saliva and salivary amylase, an important digestive enzyme that begins the breakdown of carbohydrates. This is why food taste sweeter the longer you chew it: amylase is busy breaking down carbohydrates into simpler sugars.

  • Your stomach does not have teeth! If food isn’t chewed in your mouth, it won’t get broken down properly anywhere else.  So, you can be eating the perfect diet and still be nutrient deficient, simply because your body can’t access the vitamins and minerals bound up in the food.

  • Chewing properly means you eat slower. Remember at school there was always one child who took ages to eat dinner?  That was me!  Sitting there chewing away whilst my friends were itching to get outside and play!  But eating slowly is no bad thing.  It allows you to tune into satiety signals, and realise exactly when you have eaten enough rather than ploughing on and finishing your plateful regardless of how you feel or how big the portions were.

Taking the time to chew food is part of the overall practice of eating mindfully. By eating in a calm relaxed manner, savouring each mouthful, you begin to appreciate each food and flavour and receive those all-important hunger and satiety signals.

Food choices

Try these 5 basic steps to eating mindfully;

  1. As you sit down to eat, take 5 slow deep breaths. This relaxes your nervous system, preparing you to ‘rest and digest’ (parasympathetic dominance), rather than trying to eat whilst in the stressed out ‘fight or flight’ response (sympathetic dominance).  When stressed, the body down regulates digestive functions producing less stomach acid and digestive enzymes – pretty much guaranteeing that you’ll end up with indigestion and bloating!

  2. Chew. Exactly how many times you chew each mouthful will depend on what you’re eating: yoghurt needs less chewing than steak for example.  And yes, you do need to chew yoghurt and other soft foods like smoothies and mashed potato – otherwise, how will your stomach know that it’s on its way?  If it helps, put your knife and fork down whilst you chew, and don’t prepare the next mouthful until you’ve swallowed what you’re chewing.

  3. Savour the flavours. Really appreciate how each food tastes and feels in your mouth.

  4. Once you’ve finished eating, sit still for 3-5mins to allow food to pass comfortably down to your stomach.

  5. Wait for at least 10mins before deciding whether you want dessert or not. It takes roughly 15-20mins from the start of eating for your brain to register the actions of satiety hormones like leptin.  These hormones work in a complex way, registering how stretched your stomach is, and how much fat you have stored in your body overall.  They tell your brain when you are full, but if this message is ignored you eventually become resistant to their signals.

Eating mindfully does involve changing habits, and this can take time.  It’s not always easy to do, especially if you’re juggling your own meal with feeding a couple of cranky toddlers!  It really is worth persisting though, as no amount of supplements or nutrition guidelines can replace the benefits of good chewing.

If you’d like the benefits of mindfulness to spread beyond the kitchen table, and support other areas of your life, say hello to Joanne Bull at CalmWorks.  Joe offers a Mindfulness_sniprange of mindfulness training options designed to build your inner calm and resilience to ongoing stress.

 

You may also enjoy;

   #1 Small Step – 7 Energy Boosting Breakfasts

   #1 Small Step – Plan Your Way to Nutrition Success

Need nutritional support for dealing with ongoing stress?  See HERE for options of how we can work together.

 

 

 

 

IBS Relief with Nutrition & Acupuncture – Case Study

IBS Relief with Nutrition & Acupuncture – Case Study

 Irritable Bowel Syndrome is one of the most common conditions clients come to see me for, seeking relief from symptoms such as constipation, pain, diarrhoea, wind, bloating and headaches.

Stress is one of the main triggers for IBS, and this was certainly a factor with the client in this case study.ibscare

Let’s call her Jenny (not her real name).  Jenny originally began working with my colleague Tiziana Bertinotti at York Traditional Acupuncture, and Tiziana recommended she also see me for nutritional support.

Tiziana and I frequently work together with the same client as the combined power of nutrition + Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture (the real deal, not just dry needling techniques) brings huge transformative effects to people’s lives.

Jenny was 23 years old and had been suffering with IBS symptoms of constipation, tiredness, pain, wind and abdominal discomfort for 8 years.  Her symptoms began just after her parents divorced when she was 15 – she also had a bad viral infection at this time too, so there was a combination of physical and emotional triggers.

Jenny had taken an ELISA food intolerance test in her teens and cut some foods out of her diet already which had brought temporary, but not lasting, relief.

She admitted ‘holding on’ to stress in her stomach and was not finding enough time for relaxation.  Due to low energy levels she had stopped exercising as much too: this is a real catch-22 situation as exercise can improve both energy levels and IBS symptoms.

 

The Acupuncture Approach

Acu_Ggle_blogTiziana’s approach was multi-faceted and focused primarily on calming Jenny’s mind and sympathetic nervous system (the ‘fight or flight’ response) whilst improving the flow of energy through her digestive system and liver.  She used combination of body and ear acupuncture, with moxa for extra warmth and stimulation.

The Nutrition Approach

My approach was based on the ‘4 R’ technique;

 – Remove aggravating foods

 – Replace with suitable nourishing alternatives

 – Reinoculate: support the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut, and the entire digestive process from mouth to anus

 – Repair: deal with inflammation and increased permeability in the digestive tract

Jenny was keen to undertake another food intolerance test, and this revealed multiple reactions.  Rather than removing all these foods, we focused on a handful of strongly reactive foods whilst working on supporting healing and repair in her digestive system.  Multiple food reactions are indicative of increased gut permeability which allows partially digested food particles to stimulate the immune system.  The foods are not really the problem: the poor gut integrity is, hence focusing on healing and repair.

Her diet included plenty of warming, cooked foods that are easy to digest and supply  the necessary nutrients for digestive comfort and energy production;

 – Magnesium from green veggies, nuts  and buckwheatthomas-rehehauser-49045

 – B-vitamins from suitable grains, nuts, slow-cooked meats and vegetables

 – Essential fats from nuts, seeds, flaxseed oils and oily fish

 – Zinc from pumpkin seeds, meats and fish

 – Vitamin A from beta carotene rich vegetables and egg yolks

Supplements

Jenny had been taking several supplements and we identified some of the reactive foods as ingredients in these.  I replaced them with just 2 products to begin with: a multi-strain broad spectrum probiotic formula and a blend of digestive herbs including ginger, fennel, cardamom, papaya, peppermint and clove for their anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory and carminative properties.

And the result?

At her final 3 month Follow On session Jenny happily reported having consistent improvements to all of her symptoms.  She was sleeping better, exercising regularly, free from constipation, wind, and pain, and was enjoying relaxation time.

fitness-332278_640In her own words…

“After many years of discomfort I can now enjoy life to the full!”

which is what you want when you’re 23 years old!

Tiziana and I wrote up Jenny’s case for the Complementary & Alternative health Magazine (now called Integrative Healthcare and Applied Nutrition) and you can see the article here;

Sally IBS case CAM Jan 2016

If you would like to be free from IBS like Jenny, take a look at the Nutrition Plan page to see how we can work together or call or email me to arrange your no-obligation 15min chat and discover how nutritional therapy may be just what you’re looking for!

Call: 07910 705272

Email: sallyduffin@nutritioninyork.co.uk

How can I reduce my sugar intake?

New sugar limits for sweet foods and snacks have been published today, in a bid to get food manufacturers to reduce the sugar content of products by 20% over the next 3 years.

Public Health England (PHE) announced new targets for the food industry in face of rising levels of childhood obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.  NHS figures reported last week show a 24% increase in toddler tooth extractions over the past decade, largely due to children eating more and more sugar.

The new sugar reduction proposals suggest 3 ways for manufacturers to meet the targets;

  • Cut sugar levels by 20% across all productsbrooke-lark-203839

  • Promote ‘no added’ or ‘low sugar’ alternatives

  • Cut overall calories or reduce the portion size

These proposals are entirely voluntary and whilst some manufacturers are embracing the changes, well aware of the fact that this cannot be avoided and voluntary measures are likely to be more lenient than legislation will be, others are stalling for time and protesting the moves.

Will the proposals work?

Cutting sugar levels across all products is undoubtedly a strong step in the right direction for improving public health.  But, when you take something away you have to offer a viable alternative: cue the ‘low sugar’ alternative foods.  A potential problem here may be the inclusion of more salt or more processed fats to maintain the texture and satiety of the product.

Sugar, salt and fat are the magic triage of ingredients used in processed foods to achieve maximum levels of taste and ‘feel’ – the ‘bliss effect’ – when eating.  Remove one of the triple and you have to add more of the others to maintain the status quo.

What about artificial sweeteners?

Cutting sugar levels almost certainly means an increased reliance on artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and aesculfame.  These compounds are 200 times sweeter than regular sugar and are currently widely used in many sugar free products like chewing gums and sugar-free soft drinks.

The safety of these chemicals remains highly controversial.  Much of the evidence promoting their safe use is industry funded and frequently conducted on animals – the human digestive process and nervous system differ in many ways to that of animals!

Newer research has shown the negative effect artificial sweeteners have on our beneficial gut bacteria.  Our microbiome comes into direct contact with the breakdown products of sweeteners in the digestive tract, and in the case of aspartame, the main breakdown product is formaldehyde – a recognised carcinogen to humans, and most commonly known as embalming fluid!

A healthy, nourished microbiome plays a major role in regulating immunity and inflammation, as well as influencing nutrient absorption and the production of certain vitamins, namely vitamin K and certain B-vitamins.  Imbalances in gut bacteria are, ironically, linked to disturbed metabolism and obesity – the very health issues we are trying to combat.

Artificial sweeteners also account for a significant amount of food sensitivity reactions in both adults and children.  Pushing more of these chemicals into our food chain puts us at risk of myriad side effects and is certainly not the answer to the obesity problem.

So how do we reduce sugar?

Rather than relying on food manufacturers who have only profits in mind, take your own steps to sugar reduction.  Start slowly, and gradually phase out sugar and artificial sweeteners to allow your taste buds to adjust.

Simple swaps include;

 – Replace standard breakfast cereals with Overnight Oats or homemade granola sweetened with maple syrup.  No time to make your own granola?  Marks & Spencer offer a granola base sweetened with a small amount of apple juice and honey.

 – Replace fruit juice and fizzy drinks with fruit water: add fruit slices (lemon, pomegranate, lime, orange) to filtered water.

 – Replace white bread with wholegrain, or look for bread alternatives such as oatcakes, buckwheat crackers, or nori sheets to make wraps with.

 – Dried fruits are a concentrated source of sugar but their high fibre content helps slow down its absorption into your bloodstream.  Snack on a palmful of dried fruits and mixed nuts, or keep Nak’d bars in your bag / glove box / desk drawer.

 – For an after dinner sweet hit try Pukka Herbs Liquorice & Cinnamon tea: liquorice is up to 50 times sweeter in taste than sugar and the cinnamon supports healthy blood sugar balance.

 – Make sure to combine good quality protein with healthy fats and slow releasing carbohydrates at each meal to support steady, sustained energy levels and reduce sweet cravings.

Struggling to break the sugar habit?  Take a look at the 4 Week Flourish and 8 Week Positive Change Plans to see how we can work together to turn your health around! 

Call 07910 705272 or email at sallyduffin@nutritioninyork.co.uk to book in!

Keeping your brain sharp – the Naturopathic Nutritional Way

Image from www.alzheimers.org.uk

Image from www.alzheimers.org.uk

Here in the UK there are currently 850,000 people living with dementia.  Because we are an ageing population, this figure is set to grow massively over the next few years, placing a huge strain on our already beleaguered healthcare system.

Last week I had the privilege of attending a lecture by Dr Dale Bredesen, a Professor of Neurology at the Buck Institute in America.  He is pioneering research into dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease (which accounts for 62% of all dementia) and achieving incredible results. 

His protocol combines nutrition, lifestyle, supplement and medications – a truly holistic approach for what is a complex condition.  You can read more about his work here at the Dementia Alliance International website.

The problem with all the new dementia drugs that keep hitting the headlines is they are only focusing on 1 aspect of the problem: the accumulation of protein tangles in the brain.  Stopping these protein tangles will not halt or reverse the progression of dementia in the long term because this is only part of a much broader picture. 

Dr Bredesen likens dementia to a leaky roof that has 36 holes in it.  The drugs plug 1 or 2 of these holes but the roof will still leak!  Taking nutrition, exercise, lifestyle and key nutrients into consideration is crucial in order for the roof to become watertight again.

The causes of dementia vary from person to person, but 3 main areas have been identified:

1.   Inflammation in the brain

2.   Exposure to brain-damaging toxins such as aluminium, mercury – and for some individuals, gluten – and infections

3.   Chronic lack of nutrients needed to maintain brain function

So, if you’re concerned about cognitive decline or simply want to keep your faculties as sharp as possible for as long as possible, what can you do?

Investigate your genes

The presence of the homozygous APOE-4 gene variation causes a 90% increased risk of developing dementia.  This is an increased risk – it’s not a definite destiny!  How your genes are expressed is determined by your diet and lifestyle: you have the power to positively influence your genes. 

For more information on genetic investigations and nutritional support please contact me.

Balance your blood sugars

Alzheimer’s has been termed ‘diabetes in the brain’ because the brain cells lose their ability to respond to insulin and use sugars effectively for fuel.  If your diet is high in refined sugars and processed foods, cut these out.  Switch to wholegrain versions and include a wider variety of naturally gluten-free carbohydrates like buckwheat, quinoa and brown rice.  Include good quality protein with each meal.  Aim to have a mini-fast each night by not eating for 12 hours e.g. 8pm to 8am.

Go for full fat!

When brain cells struggle to utilise sugars properly, they can still use a type of fat called MCT (medium chain triglycerides).  Coconut oil is an excellent source of these fats, and anecdotal evidence demonstrates improvements in dementia symptoms from including 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil each day. fishoil

Your brain also relies on ample levels of cholesterol: 25% of your body’s cholesterol lives in your brain.  This works alongside omega-3 oils from oily fish, nuts and seeds to keep your brain cells communicating properly.

Check your Vitamin D

Vitamin D receptors are found throughout the brain and low levels of this nutrient are linked with increased inflammation – a key trigger for dementia.

Detox toxins

Reduce your exposure to toxins by switching to natural cleaning products and bodycare products.  Stop smoking (that’s obvious!), avoid aluminium pans and utensils and include plenty of antioxidant foods: coriander, spirulina, chlorella and dark green leafy vegetables, eggs and onions are some of the best sources of powerful antioxidant nutrients.rainbowveggies

Movement and mental stimulation!

Movement of all kinds improves circulation and blood sugar balance.  Including movement each day, whether its walking, swimming, yoga, Tai Chi or a full on gym workout is vital. 

Keeping your brain stimulated by learning new things is just as important.  Your brain cells grow and restructure themselves each time you learn new information or have to solve problems.  Learning a new language, doing a daily crossword or Sudoku puzzle can all help stimulate ‘neuro-plasticity’ – the reshaping and growth of brain cells.

 

Concerned about your mental wellbeing?

Looking for naturopathic nutritional support for depression, anxiety or poor memory?

Drop me a line at sallyduffin@nutritioninyork.co.uk to find out more…