How to Ensure You Fuel Your Body Correctly When Eating A ‘Free From’ Diet

Now I totally understand that the thought of making dietary changes can be daunting. I get it. You’re talking to the girl who went from a high sugar, highly processed, carb-heavy, meat and dairy based diet, to an organic, soy-free, gluten-free, processed-free, plant-based diet. Yes, I know, quite a mouthful and quite a switch but the way these changes have affected my body have been nothing short of a miracle. Previously chronic migraines ruled my life, however, I am now pleased to say that I am completely chronic migraine free, largely down to simply changing the food I consume on a daily basis. Who knew that food was so powerful and that food alone could actually heal chronic conditions, improve your energy, reduce your cholesterol, affect your sleep, lower your cancer risk, increase mental clarity, reverse diabetes and cardiovascular disease, just to name a few. Pretty amazing stuff huh?

If this is the case then surely our top priority should be providing our bodies with the correct fuel it needs in order for us to thrive? How do we expect our bodies to perform at their best if we don’t provide the tools in which to do so and yes, you guessed it, this all comes back to food!

As a Health Coach, a common question I face is how is it possible to ensure I fuel my body correctly when eating either a vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free or soy-free based diet or all of the above? And my answer? Simple – and I truly mean that! After personally adopting a plant-based ‘free from’ pretty much everything diet, I have to say it has been extremely easy to do and I honestly feel better than ever. I have more energy, I sleep soundly, I can think clearer and I never feel heavy and bloated after a meal anymore. So don’t panic friends, I promise that you will get all the nutrients your body requires even when removing soy, gluten, meat and dairy from your diet. In actual fact, you’ll be doing your body a huge favour in removing these nasties from your diet and allowing your body to function at it’s best.

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So firstly I just want to explain that we don’t actually need soy, dairy, gluten or even meat in our diets in order for us to thrive. Soy nowadays is highly processed and full of the bad omega 6 fats, dairy is full of yucky growth hormones, gluten contains absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever and meat, well don’t get me started on what’s in meat. Now I know your next question will be – “well where will I get my calcium from if I’m not drinking milk and where will I get my protein from if I’m not eating meat”? Well, in actual fact it is proven that by adopting a plant-based diet you will sufficiently consume more protein than you would if you were eating a conventional western diet and having to think “I must make sure I eat enough protein today”.

In basic terms, protein is essential for building and repairing muscles, bones and tissue in our bodies. So yes, we need protein as every function of our cells and organs are controlled by protein, but there are so many cleaner sources of it out there to choose from including IMG_3732spinach, kale, bok choy, collard greens, lentils, beans, chia seeds, hemp seeds and quinoa just to name a few. So my advice is to start your day with a green smoothie made with spinach, almond milk, a handful of fruit, some chia seeds and a couple of nuts thrown in and bam, you are all set to start your day with a punch of protein. Post workout you could grab a handful of mixed nuts and seeds, or a spoonful of almond or peanut butter and spread it over a sliced apple to help your muscles grow and repair after your workout. This is so much better than consuming a processed protein powder made with artificial soy that can be damaging to your health. This way you have naturally removed soy, dairy, gluten and animal protein and instead replaced it with clean nutritious protein. See how easy it is.

Ok so now let’s address gluten. Now I know there are so many gluten-free products on the market nowadays which is great, don’t get me wrong but just because you’re eating gluten free IMG_3715cookies doesn’t mean that they are healthy for you. Let’s be honest they are still cookies! So the best way to fuel our bodies by going gluten free is to find natural gluten free alternatives and my god there are so many out there. Gluten free grains include quinoa, amaranth, teff, millet, buckwheat, sorghum, rice, certain oats and other sources such as legumes, lentils, beans, fruit and vegetables. Through making this swap you will get plenty of fibre from the fruit and vegetables that will help to keep your blood sugar stable throughout your day so that you don’t have that sugar low mid afternoon and the urge to take a nap at your desk. By eating this way you are consuming lots of complex carbohydrates that your body can use steadily throughout the day as fuel for energy, not to mention that these natural options come with an abundance of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that help your body fight disease and allow you to thrive. Why not try some gluten free oats for breakie, made with almond milk or hemp milk, topped with some berries and a handful of nuts and seeds. This way you have provided your body with plenty of protein and complex carbohydrates which will give you a gradual, slow release of energy throughout your morning rather than perhaps a high sugar gluten-free cereal that is most likely processed and refined. Another tip would be pre work out, approximately two hours before, try eating a meal high in healthy carbohydrates which are in foods such as sweet potato, winter squash, root vegetables  whole grains, mixed with some beans or lentils so that your body can convert these carbohydrates into energy so you are able to get the most out of your workout.

Of course, the big one I hear all the time is that surely as a vegan, I must be limited in what I can eat and won’t this affect how my body functions? God no! Once again you are able to fuel your body better on a vegan/plant-based diet than you are on a traditional diet. There are so many professional vegan athletes such as the tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams and even Mike Tyson that consume vegan diets and I don’t think it affected them too badly! In fact quite the opposite, that is as long as you don’t become a “junk food’ vegan and only consume processed options such as vegan pizzas, vegan cheese and anything else that comes in a packet. Yuck! So instead, try alternatives to meat but not the processed kind. From beautiful salads, spicy chillis to delicious stews, the choices are endless.

As our needs as consumers change, the food companies out there are really beginning to17618910_10210682991403851_636816463_n listen to what we want and as a result, there are now such great healthy “free from” options out there on the market to choose from which is really exciting, even gluten-free, vegan, organic, soy-free, dairy-free options combined. Yipee! Take GoMacro for example, a leader in providing nutritious, healthy snacks which are great for when you are on the go. Check them out and order their bars online by clicking here. Pack a couple of these into your bag for the day ahead and then you won’t be tempted to stray to that naughty afternoon jam doughnut or that Snickers bar for a quick energy fix. The key is to sustain your body throughout the day by making consistent, nutritious choices that will enable you to fuel your body so you can always function at your best.

Remember friends that whole, natural foods have everything in them we need in order to flourish as individuals. Nature has designed it this way. We just need to choose these options over the processed industrial “food” we have come to know today as normal. What foods do you find help fuel your body and maintain your energy throughout the day? I would love to know.

#Nutrition #HealthCoach #FreeFrom #Plant-Based #Nourishment #Health

What Does Going Organic Truly Mean And How To Switch Whilst Keeping The Cost Down

So really, what does going organic truly mean? I have to say before I began my course at The Institute of Integrative Nutrition, I really had no idea. I guess I thought it was a bit of a phase that everyone was just going through you know? Kind of like the ‘low fat’ phase we had and now we are on to the ‘gluten free’ phase as that’s all you see in shops nowadays. But little did I know that going organic meant so much more, not only with regard to the environment but how it impacts our health.

Ok so let’s delve deeper into my original question then. What does going organic truly mean for the food we eat – plant and animals? Let me break it down for you:

  • This means that no harmful synthetic pesticides can be sprayed onto the food we eat. These pesticides also end up contaminating our water supply and our environment
  • No synthetic fertilisers can be used in the planting of produce
  • No artificial hormones can be given to any animal to speed up the growth rate of that animal
  • No harmful trans fats are allowed in any organic food product
  • The feed of the animal must be 100% organic with no animal by-products incorporated into it
  • The animal must be provided with outdoor access and pasture for livestock
  • No ionising radiation can be used
  • No GMO (genetically modified organism) feed can be given to any animal or use GMO’s to alter any human food product

And why does all this matter you may ask? Well ultimately because we are what we eat! The food we eat literally becomes us on a cellular level. It affects our skin, hair, nails, blood, tissue and our cells, so what we put into our body literally becomes who we are. In that respect how do you think harmful synthetic pesticides, artificial growth hormones, GMO’s, radiation and trans fats will affect our bodies and how we function? You guessed it, not in a good way at all. It is only going to bring sickness into our lives. Pesticides alone have been linked to blood disorders, birth defects, skin, eye and lung irritation, nerve disorders and the growth of certain cancers. Did you also know that a single lettuce can contain up to 78 different pesticides on it after washing? I know, insane right! And a single apple up to 56. Who knew? I certainly didn’t and until now I’ve been happily eating my supermarket apples (a bargain at ten for two pounds) in total bliss. Not anymore!

After learning so much I am trying to make the switch to going organic myself but as I have come to realise, this comes at a price and most of the time a high price. So I wanted to share a couple of tips with you to help making the switch to organic that little bit easier on the purse strings. So here we go……

The Dirty Dozen

Ok, so the level of pesticide residue you consume differs depending on what fruit or vegetable you eat. Some have higher levels and some lower. As a result, the Environmental Working Group came up with a great way to help shoppers make some healthy switches to organic by identifying the top fourteen highest pesticide containing fruits and vegetables. That way if you eat several of these fruits and vegetables on a regular basis from the list 17349242_10210561529447378_1143045215_othen maybe you could switch these to organic options rather than your entire food shop and it costing you a fortune. Brilliant idea or what! So here is the list friends. As you will notice they tend to be the fruits and vegetables with no protective coating and the ones that you tend to eat the skin.

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Peaches
  6. Pears
  7. Cherries
  8. Grapes
  9. Celery
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Peppers
  12. Potatoes

The Clean Fifteen

Now in opposite to ‘The Dirty Dozen’ welcome to ‘The Clean Fifteen’. As you might have guessed these are the fruit and vegetables that contain the lowest pesticide residue. So to save yourself some more pennies these would be the fruits and veggies that you would be better to buy non-organic on your shopping list. This time round you can see that most 17274040_10210561529847388_1858673149_ohave a nice protective coating around them and a skin that we don’t tend to eat.

  1. Sweetcorn
  2. Avocado’s
  3. Pineapple
  4. Cabbage
  5. Onions
  6. Sweet Pea’s
  7. Papaya
  8. Asparagus
  9. Mango
  10. Aubergine
  11. Honeydew Melon
  12. Kiwi
  13. Cantelope
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Grapefruit

Join A CSA – Community Supported Agriculture

Now if you live in the United States then this is for you. There is an amazing initiative going on in America which is encouraging the consumer to choose local, seasonal produce from an independent farmer instead of huge commercial chains. So what you do is you go to http://www.localharvest.org and enter your zip code and it will show you the closest farmer to you that is included in the scheme. You pay the farmer five hundred dollars at the beginning of a six month period and every week for the next six months you get a huge basket of local, fresh fruit and veggies delivered to your front door. This works out at roughly just twenty one dollars a week. Absolute bargain! The advantages are that you get to eat ultra fresh food, you know exactly where it came from, you know how it was grown, you get to know your local farmer and you get exposed to eating a range of new vegetables too. Win win as far as I’m concerned. As we learnt earlier, it is so important to know what’s going into our bodies and this way you will know exactly that.

Buy From Farmers Markets 

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Once again I had never even heard of a farmer’s market before my studies began but now it’s all I hear about. By purchasing your fruit and veg from a local farmer not only increases the freshness of your food, but it means that you are protecting the environment because your food hasn’t had to travel thousands of miles to get to you, burning up the world’s precious fossil fuel resources in the process. And do you know what? Produce that comes from a farmers market tends to be cheaper than in your supermarket. Especially if you buy seasonal and that’s the key. By eating strawberries throughout the summer when they are readily available and squash in the winter times you will save yourself some pennies as these foods will be cheaper at those specific times of the year. Plus you are also keeping in line with the seasons which is exactly how nature intended for us to eat.

Grow Your Own

Ok, so with this one I’m setting you a little challenge. Have you ever thought about growing your own fruit, veg and herbs before? Well maybe this is the time to give it a go for yourself? There is nothing more satisfying than picking beautifully home nurtured vegetables from your garden and then preparing them in a delicious home cooked meal. What could be better? You know exactly where your food has come from and for some reason it takes extra tasty when you have grown it and cooked it yourself. Plus not to mention you will be saving yourself a fortune. Why not give it a try?

As one of our amazing lecturers Andrea Beaman said this week, “We have our priorities all wrong nowadays. We are happy to pay eight hundred dollars for the latest iPhone but not an extra two dollars for an organic apple” ! Surely our health should come first, right?

#Organic #CleanEating #Health #Nutrition #FoodIsMedicine

Heal Yourself By Truly Listening To Your Body

I have to say years ago if someone would have said to me “learn to listen to your body Christie” I would have nodded, politely smiled and been secretly thinking to myself what a complete and utter nut job! What do they mean listen to my body? In what way and how on earth do you do that? What a load of airy fairy, mumbo jumbo. However, along my journey of self-healing, let’s just say I have had a lot of time to get to know the real Christie Jane and in that time through a lot of trial and error, I have actually come to understand what my body needs more of and less of, in order to be in a happy and healthy place. And funnily enough, that’s all that listening to your body really is, having a better understanding of what works for you and what doesn’t. It’s that simple. Let me give you an example.

So recently I have been trying to get back into exercise as my migraines seem to have pretty much disappeared which is flippin’ amazing! The problem that I have been having though is that exercise gives me tension headaches, so I have been going through the process of trying different types of exercise to see what works best for me. I’ve tried yoga, pilates, cycling and walking but not all of these have agreed with me. So in order to listen to my body, all I needed to do was monitor how my body felt during and after these activities. Did it leave me feeling refreshed, revitalised and stretched or did I come out of the activity feeling more tense, tight and sore than when I went in?

Overall I found that cycling left me with a strained neck for some strange reason, pilates worked well for me as it didn’t involve my upper body and only my core, my Yoga class left me wanting to stretch the muscles that the class didn’t cover and sore from the ones it did, and walking loosened my muscles with no after effects at all. So there we have it! It’s that simple. By listening to the signs and symptoms my body was giving me after each activity, I learnt what form of exercise worked best for me and this turned out to be walking and doing my own combination of yoga stretches to suit my needs. Putting this to the test this week I have driven down to the beach three times, plugged in my iPod and walked along the beautiful seafront watching the sunrise here in Dubai. On return from my walks, I then did a gentle 20 minutes yoga flow covering all the muscles at the time that felt sore and needed to be stretched. That way by doing my own routine I could spend longer on some stretches that really needed it rather than being hurried on to the next exercise like you would during a class. And do you know what? I haven’t had a tension headache at all this week! I even managed to walk 5K and do a little jog! What??? Me, jog! I know! I don’t think I’ve jogged for nearly five years!

 

The bottom line is that no doctor or specialist can tell you exactly what your body needs as the only person who truly knows that is you! Sure they can give you suggestions and guidance but we are all individually unique and what works for me may not work for you and visa versa. This is done by listening to the signs and symptoms that your body gives you and also from that little voice in your head. You know the one I mean don’t you, the one that says “Oh no I forgot to lock the front door” or “I really can’t afford to buy those shoes” or the one that says “If I eat this cake I know I’m going to feel really bloated afterwards”. That voice! Ok so you could call it your conscience, your intuition or your gut instinct, but that voice is also your body talking to you too. Quite literally! By learning to trust this inner voice and your intuition you will find that you begin to make positive choices that will aid your healing. In the past I would say if I had just gone with my gut 99.9999% of the time I would have made better decisions in many situations. We really do know what our bodies need in order to heal, just trust your gut.

Ok so if I were to ask you now “What is the most important thing that you could do to improve your health what would it be?”. Now don’t think about this for too long as it should come to you instinctively. Did you get it? What was that little voice in your head saying to you? When I ask myself that question the voice in my head says I need to make sure I dedicate enough time to self-care, continue my meditation, exercise more but at the same time be patient with my body and pace myself. Ok so I know actually saying and doing are two totally different ballgames, but that’s where I come in as a Health Coach. I would work with you one on one to really help you learn these signs and symptoms, get to know your body better and to guide you to achieve your personal health and wellness goals.

As one of our amazing lecturers at The Institute of Integrative Nutrition recently said…

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 #Body #Intuition #SelfHealing #Mind #HopeHealthCoaching