There Is No Such Thing As The “Perfect” Diet

In this day and age, as a human race we have never before had access to such an abundance of information so readily available at our fingertips. Granted, this is an incredible thing, but when it comes to the world of nutrition and food this can become particularly confusing.

Through platforms such as social media, the news and the internet we are now bombarded with the latest scientific research claiming that the “perfect diet” has been discovered. Whether this be the mediterranean diet, the latest keyto craze or the vegan way of living, it doesn’t actually matter because unfortunately I am here to give you some bad news. Don’t believe what you read friends because there is actually no such thing as the “perfect diet”.

Yes, I know, it’s true. And breathe.

Phew, now that’s out in the open, I can explain to you why….

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Joshua Rosenthal, the founder of The Institute of Integrative Nutrition, where I studied to become a Health Coach, best describes this as “one man’s food is another man’s poison”. This essentially means that what works for me, may not work for you and I’m going to give you a great real life example of this.

So when I switched to a whole foods plant-based diet I noticed such a huge change in my health and a huge reduction in my migraines. Amazing! And as I had been studying the benefits during my training at IIN, I had been educating my Mum on this during the process. She was totally inspired and decided that she too would adopt a plant-based diet due to all the wonderful health benefits it provided.

Initially this wasn’t a problem until a couple of months in when she started to experience some stomach issues. After a trip to the doctor she discovered that she was actually suffering with gastritis and this had been mainly caused by the foods she had been eating! Lots of spices, cooking oils and tomatoes turned out to be the main culprits in her discomfort which had been the staple for nearly every single plant-based meal she had been eating.

So on the flip side, my Mum now consumes a diet high in fermented foods including soy products, good quality dairy, cheese, bread, eggs and pasta all which are soothing on her stomach but all of which are my form of poison! If I were to eat the foods she now consumes I would be one big headachy, migraine mess!

One person’s food really is another person’s poison so you simply have to find what works for you yet still maintain a healthy balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables, healthy proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.

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Another reason that there is no such thing as a “perfect diet” is because we are all completely individual and unique in life and our needs nutritionally are no different. What our bodies need depend on:

  • Our age – A growing teenager’s intake of calories would need to be different to a retired pensioner.
  • Our physical activity level – Are you very active or do you live a more sedentary life?
  • Our ancestry – Are you eating the foods that match your heritage or going against your culture?
  • Our job – Do you sit in an office all day or are you physically active at work?
  • Our health – Do you have a health condition that requires certain foods to be consumed and avoided?

Considering all these factors, I hope it’s now easier to see that there is no way that there could be a “perfect diet” for us as a whole, just the perfect diet for you.

#Nutrition #Food #Diet #HealthCoach #PerfectDiet

The Conflicting Science Of Nutrition And How To Truly Eat Healthy

Nowadays you only have to scroll down your Facebook news feed and you will easily be greeted with an array of nutrition based articles, whether it be how to incorporate the latest superfood into your diet or a study about the harmful effects of too much red meat on the body. Whatever it is, we just cannot stop talking about what it is we should be putting into our bodies, and rightly so! Food on cellular level affects our skin, hair, nails, blood, tissue and vital organs, so of course we should be concerned.

So why is it then that one minute coconut oil is classed as a ‘health food’ and can help you burn fat and increase brain function, and in the next breath we are being told it increases your LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) which contributes to cardiovascular disease and heart disease? Wait a second, how can this be?

I am here to tell you that unfortunately, chances are, both could be be correct. Now bear with me here. Joshua Rosenthal, the founder of the largest nutrition school in the world, IIN said “Nutrition is a funny science. It’s the only science where people can scientifically prove opposing theories and still be right”. Hard to grasp, but it’s true. Let me give you some examples.

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Take dairy, it has been proven that yoghurt is fantastic in helping you maintain a healthy gut flora due to its probiotic qualities, yet at the same time it has also been shown to be linked to prostate cancer and heart disease. 

Here’s another. The omega three fatty acids in fish have been shown to reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack, great! Yet in another breath we are advised to avoid fish such as king mackerel and bigeye tuna to minimise exposure to contaminants such as mercury. 

So faced with this contradicting science that bombards us on a daily basis, here are some of my top tips to help you navigate through the confusion.

It’s All About Balance

As we know already, too much of a good thing in life can sometimes be bad, especially in nutrition. So what we need to strive for in order to create a healthy diet is balance. For example, we all need protein (not as much as society thinks we do) but we still need it, however too much protein can cause bad breath, headaches and constipation.

Try to make sure you vary your diet with a mix of different proteins (plant and animal) such as red meat, lentils and beans, complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, whole grains, sweet potato and healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados and nuts.

Eat Mostly Plants

Plants are the key to vitality and health and they were put on this earth for us to consume and enjoy. Eating a diet high in fruit and vegetables means you are consuming plenty of essential phytonutrients which have been shown to prevent chronic illness, strengthen the immune system and to even prevent cancer. Yes, cancer!

It is also essential to vary the fruit and vegetables you are eating as you benefit from different essential vitamins and minerals from every plant. Another tip is to always try to eat what’s in season as it will taste amazing and the nutrient content will be at its highest.

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Always Choose Quality

Nowadays we are blessed with so much variety on the shelves of our supermarkets, however, sometimes this can lead to confusion as to what to buy. When purchasing meat, poultry, eggs or fresh fruit and vegetables it is always preferable to buy organic if possible.

This means that your produce will not contain any harmful antibiotics, artificial hormones, GMO’s, ionising radiation, herbicides or pesticides which all can negatively impact our health. I appreciate organic can be expensive sometimes, but it does ensure the healthiest outcome for our bodies.

The Avoid List

Now, I know nutritional studies seem to contradict each other, but they stand united in one area and that’s what not to eat! In order to ensure you are eating a healthy diet it is essential to eliminate the following; All processed foods, refined carbohydrates, refined sugars and harmful fats such as trans fats. 

Now I know you don’t want to hear it but the reality is that burgers, french fries, sodas, pizza, sweets, cakes, biscuits and baked goods are never going to be healthy. So if you truly want to adopt a healthy diet then do your best to cut out these nasties, as these foods are one of the main reasons that we have seen such a rapid rise in chronic illnesses and obesity in our society today.

Respect Bio-individuality

As much as one person will tell you dairy helps their gut, there will be several others that disagree with you and tell you that it causes them no end of issues. That’s because we are all unique and news flash, there is actually no perfect diet! Yes, it’s true, only a diet that suits you.

Some people may thrive on a diet including animal products and others will benefit from a more plant-based approach. As a Health Coach, I advocate bio-individuality and this simply means that no one diet fits all. One man’s food is another man’s poison so the key is to truly listen to your body and find out what works best for you.

 #Nutrition #HealthCoach #Diet #Health #Food #CleanEating 

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Essential Self-Care Behaviours To Reduce Your Migraines

Throughout my recovery from chronic migraines it’s fair to say I have learnt a lot, actually a hell of a lot, not through my triumphs, but through my failures. After all, if you don’t try then you won’t fail, and if you don’t fail then you won’t learn, and if you don’t learn then you won’t be able to succeed so I guess it was all part of the journey.

That being said, I wanted to share with you a few self-care behaviours that I learnt in the hope that I might be able to prevent you from a little bit of pain along your own journey of healing. Ok, so let’s get stuck in.

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    1.  Put Yourself First

This was a hard lesson and unfortunately one that I only learnt the hard way, in fact so many times I lost count. As a migraine sufferer it is normal to be filled with guilt on a daily basis and many times I would attend a party or gathering with friends when deep down I really knew I shouldn’t. My gut was telling me no but my conscience was telling me to go! I would always worry about what others would think and sure, I have lost a couple of people I thought were friends over the last few years but I am here to tell you that until you prioritise your health first above anything else, your healing won’t be able to begin.

By prioritising number one it reduces your anxiety and eliminates unnecessary stress which only makes migraines so much worse. I lost count of the number of times I did things for others and suffered for days as a result so try to remember friends to put yourself first, it’s just not worth it. YOU are worth it.

    2.  Learning That It’s Ok To Say No

Ok, so you’ve listened to your gut (which I have to say is 99.999999% right most of the time) and you have politely turned your friend down for those birthday drinks you wanted to attend, but what I want you to realise is that you are not being selfish by saying no you can’t make it in any way. Real friends will stick around come what may, no matter how many times you cancel on them as they truly only want what’s best for you.

My top tip on how to make this situation more comfortable for both of you is to be honest with them from the start. If deep down you know you probably won’t be able to attend something just explain that to your friend from the start, be honest rather than promising you will be there and 10 minutes before you leave you message saying you can’t make it.

The more transparent and open you are about a situation, the more likely they are to understand and don’t worry, there will be plenty more opportunities in the future that you won’t miss out on.

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   3.  Love Yourself Exactly Where You Are

When my migraines were at my worst I’ll be honest, I hated everything about myself. I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror as I was ashamed of who I had become. That was until I read Louise Hay’s book “You Can Heal Your Life” and everything began to change.

She taught me compassion for myself, patience and how to love myself exactly the way I was. Don’t get me wrong, it took me a long time for my mindset to change but when it did I realised how much tension and stress I was creating myself.

She would always ask “What would you say to a friend if they were in your position?”. Of course you wouldn’t put them down and give them a hard time for what they are going through would you? No, you would be empathetic, patient and understanding of the battle that they are fighting so why aren’t you doing the same to yourself? She made a good point.

So take a moment today to be kind to yourself and reflect on this notion. And if you are still struggling then get yourself down to a book store and grab a copy of Louise’s Hay’s “You Can Heal Your Life”. It’s magic.

  4.  Nourish Your Body On All Levels

In order for your body to begin to heal, you need to master self-care in all areas of your life. Everything from making time out for yourself, being disciplined about your social schedule, how much sleep you get, the food you put in your body every day, whether you talk positively or negatively to yourself or whether you have time to release stress and tension through exercise.

Whatever it is, your body deserves the best and the more you give it what it needs, the more you will be able to thrive again and become migraine free. Essentially, self-care is simply ensuring that you are taking care of your emotional, physical and mental health friends and yes, we are all totally worth it so try checking in with yourself now and again to discover where you could nourish yourself on a deeper level.

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I really hope that these self-care behaviours help you find a little more balance in life in order to reduce your migraine frequency. In what ways do you struggle with self-care? Is it balancing family commitments or your busy work schedule? I would love to connect and hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment below.

#LousieHay #SelfCare #SelfLove #Migraines #Healing #Compassion

How To Go Beyond Just Eliminating Your ‘Trigger’ Foods And Start Using Food To Prevent Your Migraines

We all know that food plays a huge role in migraine, but I didn’t realise just how huge until I recently completely re-evaluated my diet and everything that I was eating.

A couple of years ago when I was seeking traditional western medical treatment for my migraines, the one question I seemed to be asked time and time again by different specialists was “do you know what your migraine trigger foods are”? What then proceeded was each doctor telling me the same list of foods I should avoid – MSG, chocolate, red wine, artificial sweeteners etc. The usual – you get the gist but unfortunately for me avoiding everything on this list like the plague didn’t seem to make much of a dent in the frequency of my migraines.

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This left me thinking that there must be more to this than just eliminating trigger foods? Yes I’m sure it helps but what about everything else that you are eating in a day, surely that must have an impact on your migraine frequency too?

It then struck me that not one doctor had ever asked me about my overall diet. All that seemed to matter was that I eliminated trigger foods. How had no one ever thought about this before I wondered? I had seen several top Neurologist’s, Headaches Specialists and General Practitioners, but none of them had ever approached this subject. Why, I asked myself?

On reflection, I guess this is because unfortunately western doctors have very little, if any, training on how important food is in the role of health. Sad but true. However after studying to become a Health Coach at The Institute of Integrative Nutrition, I found the answer straight away. It is HUGELY important, no actually it’s ESSENTIAL to evaluate our diets as a whole, as effectively we are what we eat on an even deeper level than you think.

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So, as my studies progressed I learnt all about the chemicals and pesticides sprayed on non organic food, how we refine carbohydrates and extract their nutrients, how sugar causes inflammation in the body, how hormones and antibiotics fill our meat, how soy and corn dominates pretty much everything in our diets and the list goes on.

The bottom line is that what we are putting into our bodies on a daily basis matters, A LOT! And my point is that you could be avoiding the original “trigger list” but still be filling the rest of your diet with the so-called ‘foods’ that I just listed above. If we can actually even call it food? Surely we need to be looking at the whole picture? It just didn’t make any sense to me so I set about using my own body to experiment and you will never guess what happened.

My migraines halved in severity and intensity! Yup, you heard me right! HALVED! I was proof that there was more to treating migraines by simply avoiding the so-called ‘trigger list’. And today I stand proud nearly 13 weeks migraine free! Oh yes.

Now I know other factors have helped me get to where I am today but what I have been putting in my mouth everyday has clearly been making a difference. Clean, whole, unprocessed, nutrient abundant food! It’s that simple. Not food imitating products that line our shelves pretending to be food, just plain old real food.

I guess you might then ask “so what do you eat” and my answer is simple. You know when you have got your trolley and entered the supermarket, ok? From there you are greeted with the fresh produce section, well that’s it! Just stay there and go crazy! From whole beetroot to radishes, from swish chard to mushrooms, from mangos to papayas, from pomegranates to dates, from green beans to asparagus, shop to your heart’s content, not forgetting a quick stop to the herbs, spices and whole grain isles but that’s it. See, pretty simply right?

To prove to you that it’s not all gloom and doom, below gives you an example of what my day-to-day eating now looks like and not for love nor money would I go back to eating low-calorie, weight watchers chicken tikka microwavable meals! (Yes I know, I actually did that – bad, bad Kristie!)

 

So from my findings I have come to believe that the migraine industry must be missing a HUGE trick. How is it that this has never been questioned before or even researched into? I just don’t get it!

However, as times change and functional whole body medicine starts to be introduced into mainstream healthcare, my hope is that the industry discovers the power of eating organic, whole, processed free food, in its natural form straight out of the ground, exactly the way nature intended. I believe not only can this help migraine sufferers, but it has the power to heal the world.

I guess Hippocrates really was right all those generations ago. Food truly is medicine.

 #Food #Nutrition #Heal #FoodIsMedicine #Health #MigrainePrevention

Surely Prevention Is Better Than Cure, Right?

Nowadays I view my illness as a blessing. A blessing for many reasons, such as immense gratitude for every healthy day I have, for being able to truly appreciate the friends and family I love and for finding a purpose in life, one in which I can help others fufill happy and healthy futures.

But what if we never had to suffer in the first place? What if ‘we’ as a society took a different angle on healthcare and rather than treat the symptoms of an illness when it occurs by covering it up with a concoction of pills, we look at how we could prevent the illness in the first place? To be honest I’m not just talking about headaches, this is a much wider issue. In fact I am sure this has to do with the global obesity epidemic that is plaguing the world right now which leads me back to my original question. Surely prevention is better than cure, right?

Right! The further I delve into the health care field the more I learn how effective preventative measures actually are, however the sad thing is that they are hardly ever practiced, especially amongst our doctors.

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America spends trillions of dollars on treating disease but not a dime on preventing it? Someone explain to me where the logic is in that? Perhaps that has to do with the 300 billion dollar drug industry? I know, I know, it’s a taboo subject, but can you tell me that the drug companies would encourage preventative measures such a lifestyle and diet changes whereby the patient would need less or maybe no pharmaceutical drugs anymore? Just saying.

So if I were to tell you that there was this magical new drug on the market which could have the following effects on your health would you take it?

  1. It could reduce type 2 diabetes and blood glucose levels
  2. Lower your blood pressure and bad cholesterol
  3. Help control your weight
  4. Reduce your risk of certain cancers
  5. Strengthen your bones and muscles
  6. Improve your mental health and reduce your risk of depression
  7. Help you live a healthier and longer life
  8. It could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
  9. Prevent falls in older age

Of course you would! Well I would that’s for sure and do you know what this magical drug is? PHYSICAL EXERCISE! Yep, can you believe it?

A regular moderate exercise program is enough to give you these incredible health benefits! The other amazing aspect to preventive medicine is that we normally take one pill to treat one condition, whereas preventative measures such as exercise doesn’t just treat one condition, it treats multiple and this is just physical exercise I’m talking about. What if we then throw in the mix some stress management tools, healthy eating, a regular sleep schedule and my god, you might just have yourself a chance at better bill of health.

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The view from my morning beach walk.

So I’m not telling you to negate medicine as in so many cases it is vital and the medical professionals deserve to be recognised for their amazing work but what if we could in so many cases, prevent medical treatment due to simple lifestyle changes and re-education and help reduce the strain on our health systems? My god I think we could seriously change the world from ‘sick care’ back to the world of ‘healthcare’ again.

Personally I think this would be most beneficial if we could start this early in schools. Rather than drilling into us when Henry VIII died and when the Battle of Hastings was (which I can still never remember to this day), surely it would be more effective to teach children proper life skills that they can take on into adulthood, to allow children to create a healthy and balanced life for themselves and their families in the future?

Can you imagine if we taught kids in school all about healthy food and how to cook and prepare it, how to look after their bodies, fuel and nourish themselves, how to find a form of exercise that they love, how to create healthy relationships and how to manage stress. Can you imagine what effect this could have on the sick care system that we know today? I predict that there would be a serious outbreak of health! That’s what would happen.

So in the meantime as preventative measures begin to get recognised in our world today, I am proud as a Health Coach to be part of raising awareness in how effective preventative measures can actually be. Not only could we save ourselves a lot of money, but at the same time our health care systems that are currently under enormous strain could maybe start to breathe a sigh of relief.

As Benjamin Franklin wisely once said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. And by god I think he was right.

#HealthCare #Preventatives #Medicine #Lifestyle #PhysicalExercise

 

 

How To Ensure Healthy Eating Doesn’t Become An Unhealthy Obsession

If we were honest with ourselves, I’m sure we could all admit to going through a time when we were super strict and regimented with our diet and what we ate, whether we did it to lose those 10 pounds to get back into those favourite skinny jeans or whether we just wanted to try out the latest ‘raw food vegan’ trend as one of the glossy magazines said it would leave our skin glowing.

Whatever the reason, these huge shifts in dietary habits without you knowing, could quite easily go from a healthy intention to an unhealthy obsession without you even realising it.

Just have a think back. Have you ever turned down an invitation to go out for dinner with friends because the menu didn’t have anything on it that you could remotely eat on the current ‘healthy’ diet that you were adopting at the time? Well if so, just be aware that if this became a regular pattern of behaviour it could be the beginning of orthorexia nervosa, a mental condition that can end up significantly impairing one’s daily function.

The disorder is characterised by anxiety, ritualistic thoughts and behaviours and excessive pickiness around food with a fixation on nutrition as a means to avoid other life situations and as a result the person may feel guilt, self loathing and socially isolate themselves. Like anything, when healthy eating is taken to the extreme it can actually become unhealthy for you.

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Healthy eating should compliment your life, allowing you to feel and function at your absolute best, however if healthy eating starts to dictate what you can and can’t do and limit your life then it’s no longer a healthy habit.

So in that breath I wanted to give you a couple of positive ways to help you maintain a healthy, yet balanced approach to healthy eating;

  1. 90/10 Rule 

I love this one and a rule I personally live by. So the gist of it is eating healthy and the foods you know nourish your body 90% of the time then allows you to treat yourself the other 10% of the time.

Remember, it’s the choices we make the majority of the time that count. So personally I tend to eat well when I’m at home and cooking for myself but when me and my husband go out for lunch or for a coffee now and again, that’s when I will treat myself but completely guilt free! And I don’t just mean a sweat treat, it could be a slice of some homemade hot crusty bread with melted butter, a sprinkle of goats cheese on your salad or perhaps your favourite glass of red, just something you that makes you smile, otherwise what’s the point?

Food is a pleasure in life and there for us to enjoy, so let’s not forget that. Life is all about balance right, which leads me nicely on to my next point.

2.  It’s All About Balance

So for me, the trick to finding balance in the way I eat is by listening to my body. Personally for health reasons I find that a predominantly plant-based diet works best for my body but this doesn’t mean that I can’t be flexible, no, no no! In actual fact I would class myself as a “flexiterrean”.

Some days I tend to feel my body craving some more grounding foods, (it’s normally red meat or eggs) but I understand that this is simply my body’s way of telling me that it’s missing something. We should not be scared of cravings, quite the opposite in fact, we should embrace them and learn to respond to them, that is unless you body is just shouting “CARROT CAKE” at the top of it’s lungs 24/7 in which case that might be something you need to address! Trust me, you don’t need to spend your life counting grams of carbs, fat and protein in each meal, just trust your gut and let your body work out the rest. That’s what is was designed to do, balance itself.

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    3.  Do Not Punish Yourself

After implementing the 90/10 rule, it only works if you embrace the 10%. Go mad if you like! Have that carrot cake with the extra cream cheese frosting just because – because you can and deserve it. However if you spend the proceeding hours punishing yourself and trying to work out how many calories were in that fab slab of heaven and how many minutes on a treadmill it’s going to take you to work it off, then you might as well have not bothered.

Society has taught us this cycle of depriving and starving ourselves from all of the foods we love, followed by feeling guilty and bad when we ‘give in’ to temptation. We need to break free from this negative cycle and try and create a better relationship with the food we eat and our bodies. Try practicing your 10% guilt free. It actually feels invigorating when you do.

4.  Eat Whole Foods Rather Than Counting Calories 

Who really wants to live life counting every calorie that they take in? Life is seriously too short for that. Constantly assesing how many grams of fat, carbs and protein you are eating and writing it down throughout your day then putting it into a fancy app to calculate how many calories you have left over for diner? Urrrrrgh, not me and guess what? When you eat whole foods, clean plant based foods that haven’t been processed or refinded one hundred times over and a ton of sugar added to them, then there is no need to count calories, fats, carbs or whatever it is your counting! I

f you are eating a high quality, nutrient dense, clean diet high in plant foods then there is no need to worry about the the grams of this and that. Your body is getting exactly what it needs. Real food! Relax a little friends, delete that app and embrace more beautiful whole foods and your body will thank you for it.

  5.  Become a ‘Flexiterrean”

Now I think some of these obsessive habits can occur when we decide to commit ourselves to a certain ‘diet’. God there are so many dietory theories nowadays. You could be vegan or paleo, high carb or low carb, keytogenic or atkins, low fat or low protein, the list is endless but for me this rigidity in eating a certain way can bring about challenges in day to day life, especially in social situations. I sure don’t want to miss out on a friend’s birthday just because they are having it in an all you can eat meat fest of a restuarant. This is why I adopt the flexitterrean approach.

Whilst adopting the 90/10 rule I would use this 10% to relax , especially in social situations so I can enjoy myself and not feel restricted. So why not give it a go? Test out your flexitterrean muscles today.

So that’s it, a few sure fire ways to ensure healthy eating doesn’t turn in to an unhealthy obsession. Remember friends, healthy living should not be ‘diet’, it should simply be a healthy way to live your life.

#HealthEating #Nutrition #HealthyHabits #CleanEating #HealthCoach