Sustainability

Five unexpected ways I’m reducing my plastic consumption

Hi everyone, it feels a long time since I blogged over here.  I’ve been busy writing for other people (over here) and on Instagram but I haven’t felt inspired to sit down front my laptop and add anything here for ages. Well, I’m happy to say that has changed. Maybe it’s the new year, or maybe I’ve just had the break away that I needed? Eitherway, it’s nice to be back.

So, how have you been? What’s new with you? Some things for me are very different – like my second year of studying in the bag (say, whaaaat?! Where did the year go?) and others not so much, like my rapidly growing passion *cough* obsession *cough* for reducing how much single use plastic I’m using.

Over the past year I have been slowly switching up into some more sustainable habits and this year I’m determined to keep building on those foundations but go even further if I can. So if you’re already using a reusable cup and don’t go anywhere without your cotton tote bag but feel like you want to do more to reduce your plastic habit, then this is the post for you.

Here are the five unexpected ways I’m reducing my plastic consumption, and there’s not a bad suggestion in the bunch…

Continue reading “Five unexpected ways I’m reducing my plastic consumption”

Food hacks

Back to work (or school) health hacks

Hi everyone, how are we doing now we are ‘properly’ back into January? I’m feeling fairly fresh and energised (which I’m attributing to some newly implemented habits) but if you’re not then this post might come at the right time for you.

Today I am sharing some quick and easy things you can do help keep your healthy habits on track and your wellbeing a priority as the day to day routines settle back in and the year rolls on.

If your good intentions are starting to slump and your motivation is waning then read on for some easy ways to inject some goodness into your January – without investing in a new gym membership or embarking on a crazy diet.

Continue reading “Back to work (or school) health hacks”

Christmas

The Christmas fallow – what now?

Hi everyone,

How was your Christmas Day?  Are we all feel sprightly and bright or did we overindulge and feeling in a bit of a festive fug?  Well, hopefully you’re somewhere in between and had a great time, however you celebrated.  If you did indulge more than you originally intended, please don’t beat yourself up about it.  It happens, today is another day and another chance to have a fresh start.

This period between Christmas and the New Year (the Christmas Fallow) can leave you feeling a little ‘what now?’ as it is that strange time when some are back to work, others are not and there’s usually lots of leftover Christmas food to eat – but we’re all starting to feel mighty sick of the excess chocolates and cheeses.  With this in mind I thought I’d share some easy ways to use up leftovers in-case you are in the mood to start re-introducing veggies back into your diet and you’re feeling a bit ‘now what?’

Continue reading “The Christmas fallow – what now?”

Christmas

Beat the Christmas bulge

Hi everyone,

Today’s post is another post in the ‘festive season survival’ series and it comes curtesy of the lovely Melissa Pierson.

Melissa is the founder of Roots & Shoots Nutrition, and is a UK registered nutritional therapist practising in central and SW London. She aims to bring her clients health and wellbeing back into balance and helps them to maintain optimal health by using a range of tools to assess and identify nutritional imbalances. She uses the Functional Medicine approach of nutrition science in her clinic to ensure the most up to date and effective nutritional practices are available for her clients.

She is passionate about inspiring, motivating and educating others to lead healthier and more balanced lives. She does this by offering private consultations, workshops, seminars, events, and other nutrition services.

If you want to find out or to book a consultation with Melissa more you can visit her site here or her Instagram here.

Without further ado, here we go…

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Don’t get me wrong…I love Christmas as much as the next person. The endless eating, presents, movie marathons and the Christmas parties and drinks! However, I’m also aware of that gloomy feeling come January when you feel far from healthy and spry!

It’s not surprising to know that the average person puts on 6lb of weight over the Christmas period, and roughly 6000 calories are consumed on Christmas day alone (this is 3 times the recommended daily consumption for women, and 2.4 times the amount for men)!

First things first, my food philosophy is one of balance and still being able to enjoy what you want to…. for me it’s about everything in moderation. Christmas should very much be a time for celebration and relaxation.

So, I thought it would be good to share my top tips for beating the Christmas bulge AND still being able to enjoy the festive period!

  • Eat breakfast – Start your day the right way –  it sounds pretty simple however if we start as we mean to go on we are much more likely to continue good habits throughout the day. It has been shown that people who eat breakfast regularly have a more balanced weight than those who do not. Make sure your choice of breakfast is a protein rich one which will satiate you and keep you fuller for longer. Foods like eggs, porridge and greek yoghurt are all good examples.
  • Maintain your blood sugar balance – what does this mean? Eating what we call low glycaemic load (GL) foods (which are complex, unrefined carbohydrates such as wholegrain bread, brown rice and pasta) take longer to break down once consumed compared to simple, refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white pasta etc. and they release sugars more slowly into your bloodstream. This means that you don’t get a sugar spike and energy release is more stable throughout the day. Also, adding protein and a small amount of good fat to each meal will also help with appetite control.
  • Be mindful of your sugar intake – often foods have a traffic light diagram on the bottom right hand corner of the label – you may be surprised at some of the foods that are in the red categories, and these are the ones that should be avoided or consumed at a minimum.
  • Choose wisely when it comes to alcohol – its highly likely that your alcohol intake will increase over Christmas. This in itself will contribute significantly to your calorie intake as alcohol provides you with 7 calories per gram, second only to fat which gives us 9 calories per gram. The key here is to stick to clear spirits or drinks that aren’t full of added sugar. Spirits like vodka, gin etc. (with sparkling or soda water) are a better choice over wine, beer and cocktails.
  • Eat before any Christmas parties – this will give you more control over the food you eat at parties. Canapes alone can contain 100 calories each and don’t tend to be hugely filling. Eating fibre rich foods will ensure you stay fuller for longer and help to suppress any sugar cravings.
  • Practice mindful eating – again this sounds pretty simple however in reality we can sit in front of the TV and eat for hours without really feeling full. Being fully aware of what you’re eating with no distractions (sitting at a dining table and not in front of the TV, properly chewing each bite etc.) can help your body to tell you when its full and when you should stop eating.
  • Be mindful of portion size – eating off smaller plates can be a huge help in not overeating throughout the Christmas period. Top up your plate full of fibre rich vegetables and lean protein (turkey being a great example) and eat these first, leaving less room for more dense and calorific foods.
  • Make sleep a priority – lack of sleep can increase our cortisol and adrenaline levels, which can in turn increase our appetite. Some studies show that sleep deprivation can cause people to overeat on the following day, choosing high sugar and high salt foods over fruits and vegetables. Use this time to reduce any sleep debt you may have by getting a good night’s kip (min 7-8 hours per night).

I hope some of the above will be useful, and that you have a great festive period with your loved ones!

A huge thank you to Melissa for sharing her words of wisdom as we get closer to Christmas day and the challenge to stay healthy becomes even harder (or is it just my total lack of willpower at the moment?!) . I will definitely be keeping her tips in mind as I know that I can let some of these good habits slide as the festive pressure increases.

Hope you’ve all had a great weekend. I will be back on Wednesday with another festive post.

Katie x

*This post originally appeared on http://rootsandshootsnutrition.com/

Christmas

Surviving the Christmas party scene

Hi everyone,

For the second instalment in my ‘how to survive the festive season’ series today I am focusing on providing you with some practical (but enjoyable) ways you can survive the (often numerous) festive parties.  As I don’t know about you but I seem to have something planned in my calendar everyday between now and Christmas Eve.

So, today I’m talking through how you can survive those social occasions with grace and still enjoy yourself at the same time.  I know how at this time of year even the most dedicated of healthy eaters can lose their willpower when faced with a Christmas buffet (me included).

First things first

Be prepared!

Continue reading “Surviving the Christmas party scene”

Food hacks

Easy and clever ways to reduce your meat consumption

Hi everyone,

I’ve now completed a whole month of being vegetarian and although there have been the odd slip up (like the time I accidentally bit into a homemade pasty from a colleague and didn’t think to check if it was meat free before realising it was a proper Cornish pasty filled with mince beef and potato) but otherwise nothing too horrendous.  I must admit that in the first week I found myself looking longingly at bacon and sausage sandwiches which surprised me as I’ve always been someone who thought they weren’t that fussed about meat.  I’m happy to report that those feelings soon passed and the rest of the month was relatively smooth sailing.

I managed to find all the foods I wanted and used it as an opportunity to experiment with meat free recipes throughout the week which saved me both cash and time and I’ve even got back into the groove of batch cooking and freezing which has been brilliant – although I am aware I have a freezer full of meat that needs using up and I’m in no rush to get to it.  Perhaps I’ll give it away to my parents?  I will keep you posted on that one.

In the meantime I thought it would be helpful to share some ways I found to reduce my meat consumption over the past month.  I know if you’re used to eating meat at nearly every meal it can seem a little daunting to reduce the quantity (especially if you’ve never tried it before and were raised on the meat and two veg philosophy of my childhood) but just a few tweaks to your regular routine can make all the difference.

Here’s how I did it…

Continue reading “Easy and clever ways to reduce your meat consumption”

Sugar

How to beat sugar cravings

Hi everyone,

Today’s post is the penultimate one in the sugar mini-series I’ve been doing and I’m going to cover what to do when the sugar cravings strike and you don’t know how to stop thinking about chocolate, or cake, or both if you’re like me.

Before we begin if you’ve missed any of the posts in the series then head over here to catch up.

Continue reading “How to beat sugar cravings”

Food hacks, Uncategorized

Quick and easy make ahead breakfasts

When I wake up in the morning one of the first things I think about is what to eat.  Which is great if it’s a weekend because I have the time to make something delicious like breakfast burritos, pancakes or French toast and omelettes.  I’ve even been known to have multiple courses (croissants then toast followed by a fry up since you ask) but during the week I simply don’t have time for all that.

Most weekdays I roughly leave myself 30 minutes between my alarm going off and getting out the door to drive to the train station.  This is easily done as my clothes are sorted the night before, my work bag is packed and my food is in the fridge ready to go.

But being quick doesn’t mean I want to compromise on taste or flavour. I want the best of both worlds – and don’t even think about suggesting those instant oat sachets that are stuffed with sugar and other nasties.  They give the illusion of being quick and easy but in reality, they’re junky and you could cook regular oats in the same time (eye roll).

The good news is that there lots of different breakfast options you can make in advance which will take you minimal preparation time, taste amazing and you can simply grab and go during the week.

Continue reading “Quick and easy make ahead breakfasts”

Food hacks

Quick, easy and cheap low sugar snacks

Hi guys, how is your week going?  I’ve been in the healthy eating flow recently and following off the back of my post here on easy ways to reduce your sugar intake I thought I’d share some examples of smart swaps you can make when you’re stuck for a snack and don’t know what to eat.

There are loads of quick and easy options (whether you DIY it or buy them from a shop) to avoid eating on junky sugary foods that will make you feel crappy in the short term.

I’m going to do a post shortly on where sugar hides in food, to help you avoid falling in to the sugar traps because it’s so easy.  I consider myself quite clued up on the subject but the other day I was in a rush and picked up a ‘protein’ yoghurt without reading the label properly and low and behold it had over four teaspoons of sugar in it.  Total fail on my part. 

So if you’re interested in some quick, easy and cheap snack options which will fill you up and stop your sugar cravings read on…

Continue reading “Quick, easy and cheap low sugar snacks”

Food hacks

Simple ways to reduce your sugar intake

So I think we can agree that we all know we should be reducing the amount of sugar* we are consuming, yes?  Yes.  But how to do this in reality can sometimes be confusing and end up in you eating more sugar than intended, which defeats the object and can be morally deflating.

If you’re trying to cut down on your sugar consumption but don’t know how, let me give you a few pointers on some simple swaps you can make which will help to cut your sugar load but with minimal difference to your day to day eating habits or your wallet.

*Before I begin, let me clarify what I mean when I say sugar.  Our bodies need sugar for energy.  Glucose is our main energy source and we get this from the foods we eat (such as fruits and vegetables) and there are other types of sugars we consume found naturally in foods (like lactose from dairy).  This is completely normal and natural and I’m not suggesting we need to cut down on consuming these kinds of foods.

What I’m talking about are the artificially processed or added the sugars that are sneaked in to foods where they have no place to be – like in mayonnaise, or pasta sauces or even in yoghurts.  These are the kinds of sugars we sometimes don’t even know that we are eating but are having a detrimental effect on our health because of the volumes we consume them in, or the things we’ve traditionally have been told are healthy (and therefore we can consume in abundance) which in reality are ok on occasion or smaller quantities but mindful consumption of these is advised e.g. fruit juice.

1. Cut out ‘low fat’ versions of foods

Contrary to their promise of being better for you, low fat versions of products are actually stuffed full of sugar and other junky ingredients.  When companies remove the fat content they have to replace the taste and texture with something to make the food palatable again and so what do they use to fill this void? Sugar!  Low fat flavoured yoghurts are one of the best examples of this:

As you can see from the above, just one pot of these contains 19.8g of sugar (see: ‘carbohydrate, of which sugars’).  That’s 4.9 teaspoons! By switching to plain full fat yoghurt you’ll instantly save on sugar.  Natural yoghurt contains some sugar (lactose) but it should only work out about 4.7g/ 100g of yoghurt.  Always check the label – anything over that is added sugar and should be treated with caution.  The great thing about natural yoghurt (apart from all the great bacteria) is that it is infinitely customisable and you can get creative with toppings such as berries or low sugar granola or even dark chocolate (because you’ve made your sugar saving and a square or two of dark chocolate won’t kill you  – I’m talking about moderation).  By eating the full fat version you’ll feel fuller for longer and it will taste delicious.  I promise you.  We need to stop being so scared of fat as a nation (which is not carte blanche to go and east a stick of butter a day) but the ‘low fat’ label needs to be recognised for what it is – junk food in other disguise.  If you are dairy intolerant coconut yoghurt is great alternative but again, go for the naturally unflavoured options.

2. Reduce the amount of fruit juice you are drinking

I know, I know.  What could be more healthy than a glass of OJ in the morning?  Unfortunately there’s the same amount of sugar in a glass of apple or orange juice as there is in a can of Cola.  ‘But it’s natural sugar!’ I hear you cry.  The thing is, on a basic chemical level our bodies don’t distinguish between ‘natural’ sugar or ‘processed’ sugar because they all look the same, so our bodies treat them the same.  When we eat the whole of the fruit it also contains lots of good stuff (like fibre) which prevents our bodies from going crazy on the sugar.  But when we juice fruits we are essentially just extracting the sugar and leaving all the good stuff behind.  Which means unfortunately that a glass of juice isn’t all that healthy.  I’m not saying don’t ever drink fruit juice again – I certainly still do – but make it an occasional glass of fruit juice or even better try diluting it with water (I prefer sparkling) which also has the added bonus of making a carton stretch further (and you know I love getting value for money out of my food).  Seeing fruit juice as an occasional rather than a daily ritual can help to dramatically cut down on sugar.

3. Reduce the amount of dried fruit you are eating

Following on from the above, another easy way to reduce sugar consumption is swapping out your dried fruit for fresh.  When fruit is dehydrated (the water is removed) the sugar levels are sent rocketing.  Those super sweet raisins in your muesli aren’t the best idea first thing as they’ll give you the initial sugar spike and then leave you craving more later in the day.  And portion wise, I can easily eat a whole bag of dried apricots but if I tried to eat the equivalent amount of fresh fruit and I would struggle.  Dried fruit is a great little treat now and again but to mitigate the sugar crash I try to eat it only occasionally and combine it with good fats or protein to help slow down the sugar spike e.g. dried apricots and some yoghurt or nut butter.

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4. Swap your snacks (‘cereal bars’ for hummus, veg, cheese etc.)

I’m planning on doing a whole post about this but a good one is to swap your sugary snack for a savoury one.  Instead of cereal bars (yep, even the vegan, wholefood ones made from dried dates) try some hummus and carrots, or a block of cheese, or a handful of nuts with an apple, or some crackers and smoked salmon.  There are lots of yummy savoury options which won’t send your sugar levels in to the stratosphere. My top tip is to be creative – I love sweet potato wedges (roasted and left to go cold) dunked in to really garlicky hummus.  I can highly recommend that one.

5. Upgrade your chocolate

Life is too short to go without chocolate.  You’ll never hear me argue in favour of completely eliminating chocolate from our diets but I do think we can be smarter about the type of chocolate we eat.  The bog standard or cheaper stuff we can buy in the supermarkets doesn’t contain a high cocoa percentage and is filled full of extra junky ingredients such as vegetable oils, sugar alcohols, and emulsifiers such as E442 or E476.  By swapping to better quality chocolate you’ll still get your chocolate fix but with some added benefits: dark chocolate contains essential minerals that we need like iron, magnesium, calcium and it is full of antioxidants (which helps to repair cell damage).  Again, this doesn’t mean eating a whole bar a day but now and again by swapping out your regular chocolate fix you’ll be doing your insulin levels a favour.  I try to choose 75% cocoa level or above (I’ve even tried 100% which I like but it isn’t for everyone), and places like Hotel Chocolat are great for finding darker chocolates without compromising on the fun element or if these are too pricey I’ve noticed that Aldi and Lidl so a range of over 75% cocoa chocolate which come in at under £1.50 for 125g bars which is pretty affordable. 

Ok guys, that’s my top five tips for reducing your sugar consumption.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this and I you have any smart tips you like to use let me know – I’d love to hear from you.