As a 32 year old woman living in a society focused on looking well, staying fit and energetic, there are many fad diets out there. My own healthy eating programmes focus around restoring balance to the body first and foremost, improving digestion, giving clients better quality sleep, reducing headaches, and eliminating body aches and pains. As you grow older, ageing isn’t necessarily a part of the deal, it’s merely a by-product of the unhealthy lifestyle you have lived for too long finally catching up with you.
So what are my top tips for healthy living, maintaining a healthy weight, fat loss and better health? Here’s a day in my life, and why.
6am: I have always been an early riser, a big believer in working with your body’s natural rhythms, and waking with the sun. I start the day on a hot water and lemon, a much more gentle way to wake up the body than a cup of chaos. Lemon and water stimulates the metabolism, while beginning to flush out the liver and start digestion. As someone who has been on long term medication, my liver health is important to me and this simple tip, combined with a healthy diet and sticking within the Government guidelines for alcohol intake can keep your liver well, long into your life.
6.30am: It is important to firstly eat breakfast, and also to eat it within 30 minutes of rising in the morning. Breakfast is exactly as its definition is – breaking the fast, your body without breakfast is running on adrenaline. Adrenaline is the ‘fight or flight’ hormone, released when the body is under stress, yet you are not stressed per say, just hungry. When the body is in a state of long term stress, blood glucose levels are also elevated and insulin is released to bring these back to a normal state. Long term this results in increased stubborn belly fat, which despite all your hard efforts at the gym, will not shift, due to an imbalance in the body. The key – restore balance. So breakfast for me is a berry and spinach salad with smoked salmon topped with a mix of sesame and flaxseed. These nutritional powerhouses are packed with essential minerals such as magnesium and calcium, the alkaline minerals. Alkaline = health. Another very easy way to add seeds to your diet would be to top porridge oats with berries and seeds, a delicious way to start the day.
I enjoy flaxseed for the following reasons:
- Just one tablespoon provides more than your RDA of healthy, anti inflammatory promoting omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids.
- These essential fatty acids may also boost brain health, help in weight loss and improve skin health.
- A top tip for anyone wanting to lose weight – cut back on simple carbohydrates rather than good fats.
10am: Despite coming off most of my medication through diet, I am still on medication which causes blood sugar highs and lows. Just like you, one of the keys to weight management and avoiding that ‘steroid bloated’ look, is to watch what you put in your mouth and ensure you balance blood sugars. Eating every 3 to 4 hours works for me. A green smoothie around this time of day gives me an energy hit, and is loaded with fibre.
I add chia seeds to this for the following reasons:
- High in fibre, protein and loaded with essential minerals such as calcium, particularly important for bone health and a strong and healthy nervous system. All vitamins and minerals work together, and need co-factors to do their job optimally, which is one of the reasons variety in diet is so important.
- Chia seeds are also loaded with magnesium, which works together with calcium in the body, making this form of calcium easily absorbable and useable by the body. Magnesium is often referred to as ‘The Forgotten Mineral’, yet is a necessary mineral for over 300 other essential nutrient to work together in harmony to promote health in your body. Many of us are not eating magnesium rich foods (seeds, and dark green leafy vegetables), so to begin with our levels are low. Then we compound the deficiency by depleting this mineral through stress, and high caffeine intake. Symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, aches and pains, constipation, back pain and headaches are all potentially curable with a little care and attention to your diet.
12.30pm: We are a nation of late risers and late eaters, when ideally we should be consuming our largest meal of the day when our digestion peak, i.e. somewhere between 7am and 9am, which will fuel us through the morning. A substantial lunch will help keep energy stable throughout the afternoon especially if we eat it when we need it rather than when we are famished. Working with your body rather than against it is one of the easiest ways to health. I would often have a raw salad topped with some hemp seeds, naturally an alkaline food and high in protein, just two heaped tablespoons provides almost as much protein as two eggs! If, like me, you are always on the go, an easily digested lunch works well to avoid bloating or other digestive complaints later in the afternoon. Hemp seeds also have the added benefit of being high in both types of fibre, insoluble and soluble, which means when combined with high water intake can ensure healthy bowel movements and a happy tum!
3pm: Natural dip time – the ‘3pm Slump’ is a daily routine for many office workers, when the kettle is flicked on and it’s difficult to resist the biscuit cupboard. By eating smarter and following my rules as above, you can minimise this dip. If you eat a piece of fruit or some celery with hummus around 2.30/3pm you will boost blood sugar levels before cortisol naturally drops, thus ensuring a biscuit free, high productivity zone right through until dinner time.
6pm: Aim to eat dinner before 8pm when digestion naturally slow and make it your smallest meal of the day rather than saving all those calories up during the day to pig out at night, interrupt sleep, and wake up feeling groggy, only to repeat again the next day. I encourage you to break the cycle. Today. Make dinner a light meal of home made soups with pulses and spices such as chickpeas and cumin, sprinkle toasted seeds and nuts on soups, salads and stir fry meals.
As you can see there are a variety of ways to incorporate more of these ‘bird-like’ foods in to your daily diet, and plenty of reasons why you would want to. Seeds are the new superfoods in my opinion, and for anyone wanting to boost health and vitality, by adding these in to your diet, rather than focusing on what you have to remove from your diet, you will feel a dramatic difference in no time. Bowels will move regularly, energy will come up, brain function will improve and your skin will glow, ready for summer suntans with minimal need for make up!