So I have been raving about this recipe to a few people and gotten a very similar reaction from all of them, which sort of goes like this – ‘Huh!?!’

This is closely followed by – ‘you put what in it?’

(Seriously, it does seem crazy, but bear with me, it is worth it – I promise).

Mystery Ingredient

So straight off the bat I am going to say what that ingredient is. It’s cauliflower.
I would love to take the credit for being the genius that decided to put cauliflower in a smoothie, but I cannot. Folks have been doing it for a while and with good reason.

Taste

Firstly – it does not taste weird at all, it actually makes your smoothie creamy and thick without the need for any dairy. Cauliflower is a high fiber food and excellent for gut health, but its also that fiber that gives the smoothie such a good mouth feel.

Nutrient Powerhouse(i)

Another little known fact is that cauliflower is loaded with Vitamin C; as are all the veggies found in the cruciferous family (i.e.: kale, broccoli, cabbage). Unlike the rest of its family its not green. At this point you may be remembering an article or something about avoiding white foods. Generally white foods are highly processed (breads, crackers, cereals, baked goods, sugar), and have low nutrient values, which is a good reason to avoid them. Cauliflower is the exception.

The leathery leaves that surround the cauliflower protect it from the sun and hinders the chlorophyll development, which is why, unlike its cousins, it’s white.

The nutrients remain though. Besides the fiber and Vitamin C you also get Vitamin K, potassium, phosphorus and a range of vitamin B’s.

Cancer(ii), Hormones(iii) & Plastic(iv)

Cauliflower contains glucosinolate compounds which have been shown to assist in the elimination of carcinogens. Most notably indole-3-carbinol, sulforaphane, di-indolmethane, and isothiocyanates have been the focus.

Indole-3-carbinol has also been found to assist in the regulation of estrogen activity and metabolism.

This is significant considering the issue we have with so much plastic in our food chain and home environment. Plastic chemicals mimic hormones (in particular estrogen) in our body and act as hormone disruptors. While we now have the option to purchase BPA free items, the hormone disruptor effects remain.

I’m not sure why cauliflower isn’t considered a superfood, but perhaps that’s a good thing. It seems superfoods come with a hefty price tag and we don’t want that to happen to this gem.

Bad Rep

Healthy food gets a bad rep sometimes as they can be a little bland or have a strong flavor that isn’t always that nice. Raw cauliflower can potentially fit into this category as there is a slight bitterness to it. (We can thank those nutrients I mentioned earlier for this). This can be remedied easily by lightly steaming it.

Avoid over cooking as it will become more bitter and lose much of its nutrient value.

The Many Ways to Enjoy Cauliflower

You can make so many things with cauliflower, it truly is a versatile vegetable. Here are some ideas:

  • Cauli-rice: grated, raw and flash fried, it makes a great substitute for rice
  • Cauli-pearls: raw stems, chopped into small pieces, lightly steamed make a great substitute for pearl barley
  • Cauli-mash: entire cauliflower (not the leaves), broken into chunks, steamed, add spices and your favorite milk/mylk, and mash it
  • Cauli-sauce: entire cauliflower (not the leaves), steamed, add favorite spices, dash of lemon and olive oil, your favorite milk/mylk blend well and you have a dairy free white sauce
  • Cauliflower: lightly steamed cauliflower with some spices or your favorite sauce over it is also great, no need to be fancy all the time.
  • Zero Waste: the leaves are edible! They can be added to a stir fry and enjoyed with other greens. All cauliflower scraps can be added to stews and vegetable broths

Then of course there is this smoothie recipe. I dare you to try it at least once. You don’t even have to use blueberries – try variations and make it your own!

Blueberry Smoothie

A creamy dairy free smoothie with loads of flavor
Prep Time10 mins
Course: Breakfast, Drinks, Snack
Keyword: dairyfree, glutenfree, nutfree, soyfree, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 2 cups oat milk cold, use more if required
  • 120 grams Cauliflower frozen
  • 220 grams Blueberries frozen
  • 25 grams Pitted Dates usually 2 or 3

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth
  • Serve and enjoy

Notes

No Oat Milk: Use your favorite dairy, seed or nut milk if you don't have oat milk
No Blueberries: Use your favorite frozen berries or fruit instead
Frozen Cauliflower: If you cannot find any in the store, then make your own.
Lightly steam cauliflower florets, allow to cool. Spread them out on a baking tray and place in freezer. Once frozen, place in a container and store in the freezer 

References:

Inflammation is at the root of many diseases, yet often overlooked when dealing with the management or treatment plan of a condition. Another aspect that gets overlooked is diet. But, before we look at how food can help reduce that nasty inflammation, lets first define inflammation.

There are two primary types:

Acute meaning short, sudden, sometimes severe, may last a few days or weeks.

Chronic meaning slow, creeping, mild to severe and develops over months and years.

Acute Inflammation

We all know acute inflammation. The insane headache, the fever or the heat you feel when you get a mild infection or injury. These are all good indicators of acute inflammation. However this is usually short lived and is a physical manifestation of your body mobilizing a very effective defense strategy. It’s actually a good thing.

Our first reaction may be to stamp it out immediately and take pain medication. (It is after all very uncomfortable and it’s in our DNA to avoid pain). Pain and discomfort aside, this process is doing exactly what it needs to be doing. Our immune system is going into hyperdrive to speed up the healing process and get us up and running as quickly as possible.

THE QUESTION: If inflammation is good, why would it be at the root of diseases?

Excellent question, so glad you asked!

The problem is that when the inflammation doesn’t go away, it leads to chronic inflammation.

Chronic Inflammation

Unlike acute inflammation, chronic inflammation isn’t always as obvious. I am tempted to use a heavy word like insidious but in truth it is, yet again, the body correctly reacting to its environment. Correct or not, long term low level inflammation can be very damaging to us. The immune system gets overworked and becomes like a toddler that’s just been given a few caffeine concentrated energy drinks. Anything and everything is fair game for an enthusiastic attack. Basically your immune system struggles to discern good from bad and can begin attacking healthy cells. This leads to disease.

This is all a very descriptive way of explaining inflammation. The folks at Harvard Medical School did a great job of explaining it from a medical perspective. If you are dealing with any form of inflammation or the diseases listed below, I highly recommend reading the article: Understanding Acute and Chronic Inflammation

Diseases Caused by Inflammation

Most of our health issues can be traced back to chronic inflammation, but here are some of the big ones. I would love to say these conditions are rare, but they are almost as common as the flu: (The list is also much longer, but these are the most common)

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Allergies
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Intestinal Permeability (aka: Leaky Gut)
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes

Inflammation can also cause general pain and discomfort that do not fall neatly under a diagnosis.

So What Does Food Have To Do With All Of This?

Food actually has a lot to do with it. There are many foods in our modern diet known to cause inflammation. Granted, these foods have varying levels of inflammatory effects. Much of the reaction depends on the person, but they cause inflammation none the less.

If you are battling with general malaise, pain or one of the many conditions linked to inflammation you may want to consider cutting some of these foods out. (See below)

The good news is that there are also foods that help our body fight this inflammation and they are readily available, we just need to know the difference. To help you, here are some foods to avoid and foods to include that can assist you on your anti-inflammatory journey.

Obviously if you have an allergy or sensitivity to any of the foods you will want to skip them, but you get the idea.

These foods are all natural and are abundant in the nutrients and compounds our bodies need to optimize health.

The foods we need to exclude are vastly different. They are often devoid of nutrients and made from one or two very common, cheap and exploited ingredients. Here are some foods to exclude if you are wanting to avoid or reduce inflammation:A Little More on GMO Foods
Each country allows for various levels of chemical exposure or genetic modification to food items. It is always best to investigate your region or country’s policies if you are looking to incorporate clean or organic eating.
Just for fun here’s a link to one of my favorite ads about the amount of chemicals found in food. It’s called the Worlds Most Skippable Ad. You most likely will only watch the first few minutes, but it’s enough to illustrate the point.

Essentially a diet that focuses on fresh whole foods is the ultimate way to optimize your health.

Yet another health question that we all wish had a simple yes/no answer! The next question is – when you say chocolate what do you mean? Chocolate meant something completely different to me 10 years ago to what it means to me today…

Confused?

Let me explain.

Until I got really serious about my food and did a bit of research, the word chocolate would conjure up very specific images. My favorite chocolate bar, the silken sauce over my ice cream or the powder I used for my hot chocolate (or ate from the can if I’m being honest). The only variation I couldn’t instantly eat was the cocoa powder for baking.

Many of you know (as I do) that it was also a one-way ticket to acne breakouts, a few extra kilos on the hips and a headache. But then – there was all this hype about dark chocolate being healthier, certain types of chocolate helping with blood pressure regulation and being an antioxidant? How could it possibly be healthy and cause so much havoc in my body?

So What’s The Difference?

It turns out that there are different types of chocolate. They are differentiated by varying processing methods.

Type of Chocolate

You may have noticed the chocolate ingredient being listed as either cacao or cocoa. Back in the day I thought that was just a spelling error, but it turns out there is a bit – nay – big difference.

Cacao

Also known as: raw cocoa, raw cacao, superfood, vegan cocoa, true chocolate
Taste profile: strong, bitter, acidic
Appearance: dark brown, fine dust like powder
Variations: nibs/liquor, powder
Used in: baking, drinks, sauces, desserts, cooking
Processing: Other than the initial fermentation, drying and grounding process, very little is done
Nutrition Profilei: As the processing is very limited and done at a low heat or using friction only. The nutritional profile is mostly unharmed. Without getting into the technical stuff the beneficial components are:
Minerals – magnesium being the most notable and useful as a relaxant
Polyphenolic compounds – flavan-3-ols being the component responsible for the bitter flavor and for the potent antioxidant effects.
Healthy fats – oleic acid the same found in olive oil

Using good quality dark chocolate made with raw cacao has been shown to be beneficiali in the fight against cardiovascular disease, lowering cholesterol, insulin resistance and much more. But, before you decide it’s all good, let’s talk about cocoa.

Cocoa

Also known as: cocoa powder, coca, hot chocolate, chocolate
Taste profile: creamy, mild
Appearance: light to dark brown powder
Variations: powder
Used in: baking, drinks, sauces, desserts
Processing: It begins with the same processing is followed as cacao. Thereafter it is heated and most likely mixed with other components. NOTE: Most cocoa powders are also mixed with fillers, anti-caking agents, sweeteners, whey powders and various other additives.
Nutrition Profile: The nutritional profile starts out exactly the same as cacao. It gets diminished by additional processing, adding of ingredients and dilution.

So how much chocolate is in my chocolate?

It appears to be anything from zero, typically labeled as ‘flavored’ and synthetic based, all the way to 100%, which is usually found in specialized boutique shops. The only way of really knowing is making sure you read the label or contact the manufacturer. Alternatively, buy cacao or cocoa powder and make your own dishes. This is the ultimate level of controlling how much chocolate is in your chocolate.

Getting back to “When you say chocolate, what do you mean?”

Hopefully, you are a little less confused by that question now. Chocolate, like so many foodie words nowadays, is used very loosely. Cacao and cocoa are also used interchangeably by manufacturers, so it can get confusing. What I have come to understand is this (based upon my personal opinion):

  • Chocolate is an ingredient or flavor (not the enemy)
  • Chocolate can be used for good (as part of a healthy eating plan), or
  • Chocolate can be used for bad (loaded with fillers, additives and miscellaneous stuff)
  • Chocolate as it is presented to the masses is more sugar than chocolate
  • When I would say ‘I need a chocolate fix’, I actually needed a sugar fix. Now, I use chocolate as a key part of a healthy diet. A chocolate treat can either help build my health or send me on a sugar frenzy..
  • Both options can be made with raw cacao.

What’s going to stop you from using cacao

Okay, so maybe you are all fired up about using the healthier version of chocolate. There are a few things that may put you off though, so let’s deal with them quickly.

Raw Cacao is expensive

  • Maybe some of you can find a reasonably priced supplier, but here where I live it’s right up there with buying an island. As a result, I am very selective about when and how I use it. I make it count. It is going to be rich, decadent and as healthy as possible.

Raw Cacao is strong

  • This helps with the expensive thing. Raw cacao is potent and you don’t need as much as you would with regular cocoa.
  • If you are swopping out cacao for cocoa, try the full amount for the first try of the recipe. If you it’s too overpowering, reduce the amount by a teaspoon or two for the next attempt.
  • If this is a new ingredient you are trying, experimentation will be required.

Raw Cacao is bitter

  • Many of you are probably picturing a delicious cup of hot chocolate after the reference earlier, but beware. This requires using a neat version of the powder and you may be in for a little surprise. Remember those flavan-3-ols mentioned under the nutritional profile – they are strong and as healthy as they are, they are bitter. Again, you are introducing a new flavor and it takes time and adjustment. You cannot use it the same as common cocoa. Perhaps start with blending cocoa and cacao to begin with and then gradually changing the ratio.

Chocolate – Healthy or Not?

If you are looking at chocolate as an ingredient in the purest form you can get and afford – then the answer is an easy yes. What you add to it to get the end product that you will be eating or drinking is what determines its ultimate level of healthy or not.

Recipes Please!

Now all this talk about chocolate probably has you motivated to try out a few recipes? I am way ahead of you. Pop on over to: 5 Effortless Chocolatey Recipes For You To Try. I added one of my own favorites and reached out to my colleagues for some recipes. They are diverse and delicious, so be sure to check them out, and don’t forget to show us. We love to see your creations #nutrichologist

 

CAUTION

Something I did not mention earlier is the compound Theobromine. This is one of the compounds in chocolate that makes us humans so happy when we eat chocolate. The more diluted the cacao is the less of an effect it has on us. The problem arises when we think it’s a good idea to feed it to our pets. Depending on the strength it can have a mild to lethal effect on our pets. It’s known as chocolate poisoning and causes anything from mild diarrhea and nausea to seizures and death. Dogs are particularly vulnerable. To be safe, please do not feed chocolate to your pets.

 

REFERENCES

[i] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4696435/

Part 1 dealt with how honey was made and some environmental issues. It was clear that honey is not without some controversy. However available and commonplace it seems to be across the world, it is something that we need to take notice of and consider.

In Part 2 we are going to talk a little more around the health and usage of honey.

Depending on your health practices/beliefs you may consider using honey as anything from a firm ‘no thanks’ to considering honey to be the elixir of life. Love it, hate it or avoid it, it’s a very interesting substance. As is the case with the history, production and environmental information available, a single blog, (or two), doesn’t even scratch the surface on health and cooking information. 

Lets Get The Sugar Thing Out The Way

The composition of honey is actually quite complex. It has over 20 different types of sugars that fall under two main categories: glucose and fructose. Proportions vary depending on the source of the nectar. (As a general rule sweeter honeys have more fructose). At this point you would be tempted to start reading up about the different sugars to determine their health benefits or effects, but regardless of the prevalent type of sugar it all turns into glucose in your body.

This makes it a potent source of energy. For those of you that are carb conscious it’s a no go sweetener. On the flip side if you are looking for fat free, low protein then honey is on the menu.

What about diabetics?

But what if you are diabetic? That is a very tricky question. A meta analysis(i) of over 100 studies, done in 2018, looked specifically at honey for preventing and treating various types of diabetes. A number of the studies showed clear benefits of honey, not all were specific to diabetes but there was promise.

There were also a number of studies that were inconclusive or contrary.

The conclusion – further studies were required and dosage would have to be determined. That’s science for you – yes, no… maybe.

You decide

While I will not weigh in on whether a diabetic can or cannot use honey, it needs to be noted that there are other benefits to honey unlike many other regular or processed sugars commonly available. If you are diabetic, pre-diabetic or have issues with sugar, then perhaps proceed with caution and make sure you are working with a health professional.

The Glycemic Factor

The Glycemic Index (GI) of honey is closely related to the combination of its sugar content and can range from 35 – 80.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with the Glycemic Index (GI) then the quick answer is this – The GI level of food determines how quickly it spikes your blood glucose levels. The scale goes 1 – 100 and foods with a value of 55 or less are generally digested slower, therefore less likely to spike you blood glucose, therefore insulin levels.

Now you may think, ‘I’m not diabetic, so that doesn’t apply to me’, but think again. Insulin has a knock on effect on adrenal and cortisol levels, growth hormones and more.

The GI level can be mitigated by what you eat with your honey. This is called a Glycemic Load (GL). By combining foods with a higher fiber and/or fat content you can potentially lower the overall load of the meal. The idea is slow down the metabolization of the food. Having honey in your tea versus having it on a seed cracker has a vastly different effect on your body. This is something to consider when deciding where to use honey in your diet.

Storage and Use

Before we get into the health benefits of honey, let’s make sure we aren’t destroying all that goodness while it’s sitting on our shelf.

Heat 

In part 1 I pointed out that the temperature was quite important. This is because the healing enzymes of honey begin to deteriorate and are deactivated by heat. Honey should not be heated above 40˚C. (This needs to be noted when cooking or baking with honey).

If you are using high heat then consider using a cheaper or pasteurized honey as you are using it for flavor and not for nutrition.

Pasteurized honey has been treated with high heat and is therefore not as nutritious as raw honey.

Light

Like heat, light has the same effect on honey. It is best to keep it in a dark environment or in a dark container.

Shelf Life

Honey stored in well sealed, dark glass containers have an indefinite lifespan. There have been vats found in Egyptian tombs dating back 4000 years. Still edible, still delicious.

You want to avoid plastic containers for two reasons. The first is the obvious reason of it being plastic and contaminating whatever is in it. The other is that plastic does in fact allow air in. This can darken the honey and even begin a small amount of fermentation.

Kitchen Hacks

  • When measuring out your honey for a recipe, coat your measuring spoon or cup with a little coconut oil first. This will allow it to slide out without too much staying behind.
  • To make honey more pliable or runny. Warm thick honey by placing the container in some warm, (not boiling), water for 10 – 15 minutes.
  • Honey can also be caramelized like sugar. You will need to heat it to around 70˚C or higher.
  • Honey browns more quickly than sugar. When baking you may have to lower the oven temperature and cook for longer.

The Health Benefits(ii)

Honey has been used as a healing balm and drink for millennia. Before the science and terminology was even invented, honey was used as an antimicrobial and antibacterial agent. Today medical grade honey is still being used.

The most notable studies are now being done around its efficacy in life threatening antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

A medical article(ii) published in 2011 listed the first written mentions of honeys medicinal properties as follows:

“a Sumerian tablet writing, dating back to 2100-2000 BC, mentions honey’s use as a drug and an ointment. Aristotle (384-322 BC), when discussing different honeys, referred to pale honey as being “good as a salve for sore eyes and wounds”

That same article went on to conclude that after reviewing many studies, “Microbial resistance to honey has never been reported”.

Honey is most useful in the medicinal sense as a topical application. However, this does not mean you get to bypass the doctor if you have a wound. The use and application for these purposes are done under medical supervision and dosage. What this does is simply validate the healing abilities of honey. 

What about when we eat it?

Honey has many health aiding benefits to it and can be a valuable addition to a healthy diet. However, caution must be taken and we must remember:

  • It is still a sugar
  • Where you get it from is important
  • How you store it and use it impacts its health benefits
  • Bees are crucial to our survival as a species, so be responsible when using honey

REFERENCES

Almond Butter Toffee

A simplified toffee recipe using just two ingredients!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time2 mins
Resting Time1 d
Total Time1 d 12 mins
Course: Dessert
Servings: 16
Author: Dawn

Equipment

  • Candy Thermometer
  • Saucepan
  • Spoon
  • Electronic Scale
  • Parchment Paper (optional)
  • Loaf Pan or flat dish

Ingredients

  • 150g Honey
  • 150g Almond Butter or use your favourite nut or seed butter instead
  • Coconut Oil for greasing

Instructions

  • Line dish with parchment paper or lightly grease with coconut oil
  • Place honey in sauce pan with candy thermometer and set heat to medium
  • Allow honey to boil until it reaches 120˚C
    - no candy thermometer - no problem. have a cup of cold water handy. When the honey is boiling, drop some (just a drop) into a cup of cold water, if it makes a ball and sinks then it’s ready
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool for a bit (±1min)
  • Add almond butter to the pot and stir until the mixture becomes toffee like and forms a ball (2-3min)
    - you should be able to handle the mixture without it sticking to your fingers
  • Place mixture in the loaf tin or dish or your choice
    - you may have to bang the tin/s on the counter to level out the mixture
  • Leave to cool for about an hour, then cover and refrigerate for 1 - 2 hours
  • Remove from fridge, cut into toffee size blocks and serve (can be individually wrapped in parchment or wax paper for gifting)

Substitution

  • Use a nut or seed butter of your choice. (Different nut and seed butters have different textures. End results may vary)

More Flavor

  • Add choc chips, chili flakes, dried orange rind, botanicals, ginger, vanilla, course sea salt, whole nuts…

Storage

  • Store in airtight container, in between layers of parchment or wax paper
  • Keep refrigerated for up to 3 weeks. (It sets more & gets better the longer you leave it in the fridge)

Notes

Nutrition Note
Remember this is a treat and should be eaten sparingly and mindfully.
A Word on Honey
Honey heated to 40˚C – 50˚C no longer has any healthy enzymes and is therefore just a sugar. For this particular recipe you may want to use a cheaper brand that may have been pasteurized. It is always prudent to check that the honey you purchase is sustainably sourced and from a local supplier.
Some cheaper brands are blended with substances that are called adulterants and should be avoided. Adulterants include substances like high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, flour and starches.
Hives that are kept in unsavory conditions require antibiotics and fungicides and may contain contaminants like pesticides and pollutants or even thinned out with water.

A question I get asked often is whether vitamin supplements are nothing other than expensive Vitamin Pee? It’s a good question but, unfortunately does not have a simple yes or no answer. It was also a question I struggled with for many years. 

There was a documentary/movie a few years back that looked at the role, use and sources of vitamins and supplements. It had a profound effect on me and further validated that what we eat is key to our health. At the time I was also questioning the use of supplements and how we seem to use them to bypass a less than ideal diet and lifestyle (the ‘health in a bottle’ principle). 

Supplements can be misunderstood or misused and lull us into a false sense of security if we are not being responsible about their use. So what are some of the things we should know about vitamins? (The documentary/movie was Vitamania in case you are interested).  

Supplements as a necessity 

Persons with diagnosed medical deficiencies, illnesses or conditions that prohibit nutrient absorption and persons taking certain medication that cause nutrient malabsorption may require very specific and deliberate supplementation. Their lives may very well depend on it and working with a qualified medical professional/s is essential. However, this is a very specific group of people. 

Supplements as a booster 

The bulk of the supplement market is aimed at the average person with the intent of ‘boosting’ your health status or dealing with ‘possible minor’ deficiencies. These words are in quotes on purpose as there is often no medical diagnosis or confirmation for their need or deficiencies. It is also mostly self-regulated. As for boosting, our immune system is something that is running 24-7-365 days a year. It fluctuates according to many factors such as state of mind, diet, lifestyle choices, geographical and environmental influences. Boosting implies that you are elevating your immune system to a newer, better level when in fact your efforts are at best temporary and massively dependent on the combined efforts you make both on and off your plate. 

The fire metaphor 

The fire metaphor is usually reserved for metabolism, think of your immune system as the fireplace in your home running constantly and keeping the house warm. Maybe it’s burning a bit low and you add an extra piece of wood. The fire flares up for a moment and then settles down again.

However, if the windows are all open, there is a blizzard outside and all you are doing is throwing more wood on the fire – the result will be temporary and require more and more fuel. This isn’t an ideal situation. We all have different life challenges but for some the blizzard could be a stressful job or financial issues or (insert major stressor in life).

The windows are your ability to regulate the effect the storm has on you and could include quiet time, a weekend away or a walk on the beach to help you down regulate that stress response. The wood could be your diet and in this case supplement regime. Exercise is exercise – carrying wood is a physical job no metaphor required. 

Phew – that is a long metaphor, but I think you get the point. 

Vitamins from nature 

Most of us with access to a decent food supply should be able to meet our daily vitamin intake with diet and only require supplements as the name intends – as a supplement. 

Eating a healthy balanced diet of whole natural foods is key to getting sufficient vitamins and nutrients. Some diets require a little more effort to obtain the right amounts and may need supplementation. If you have doubts or are unsure there are several professionals you could get to help you, depending on how in-depth you want to go.  

Natural sources are and should always be your first point of call. Our bodies respond well to good quality food and barring any medical conditions know how to optimize its use. 

Here are some basic pointers to get you started. 

How many vitamins are there? 

There are 13.  

Yup, that was a bit of a shocker for me when I first found that out. Somehow, I always associated vitamins with the periodic table. Not sure where that association comes from, but I’m guessing it’s probably from seeing rows and rows of bottles on the vitamin shelves.  

How many classes of vitamins are there? 

There are 2. 

Vitamins are either water soluble or fat soluble.  

Fat soluble vitamins hang around in your fat cells and liver and are much slower to be eliminated from your body (up to 6 months for some). They can also build up and potentially cause toxicity when you are taking mega doses of supplements.  

Water soluble vitamins are flushed out of systems a lot quicker and need to be replenished often. You will sometimes hear the expression – just making expensive urine (vitamin P). Basically, you can take a whole lot of a water-soluble vitamin, your body will just use what it needs and the rest… expensive urine. 

How many vitamins are essential? 

There 11. 

Whenever a nutrient is referred to as essential it means we need to get it from an external source or ingest it. Non-essential nutrients are made by the body. Vitamin K and Vitamin B7 (aka Biotin) are made by the bacteria in the gut. The rest we need from diet. 

What are they and where do we find them? 

Now let’s move on to what they are and where we can get these life-giving vitamins in nature. (This is just a basic breakdown to help you see how a whole food natural diet can be such a – dare I say – boost to your immune system). The importance of vitamins to our overall health is vast and complex. The list below does not even begin to scratch the surface. 

Vitamin A 

Type: Fat Soluble 
Essential: Yes
Also known as:  Retinol from animal source, beta-carotene from plant source and converted in the body to vitamin A. identifiable as red or orange pigment in food
Source: liver, fish, butter, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes
Functions: antioxidant, immune health, skin health, sight 

Vitamin C 

Type: Water Soluble
Essential: Yes
Also known as: Powerful antioxidant
Source: berries, peppers, citrus, cabbage, cauliflower
Functions: used to make collagen, wound healing, skin health, keeping white blood cells active, helps body absorb folic acid and iron effectively  

Vitamin D 

Type: Fat Soluble
Essential: Yes
Also known as: sunshine vitamin
Source: mushrooms, cod liver oil, pilchards, sardines, the sun
Functions: bone health (controls calcium absorption), dental health, cardiovascular health
CAUTION: not to be given to children unless under strict medical supervision 

Vitamin E 

Type: Fat Soluble
Essential: Yes
Also known as: Tocopherol
Source: sunflower seeds, almonds, sweet potatoes, spinach, avocado
Functions: protection against free radicals, skin health, fertility, anticoagulant, helps control body temperature (mitigates hot flushes)  

Vitamin K 

Type: Fat Soluble
Essential: No
Also known as:  Phylloquinone or phytomenadione from plant source, menaquinone from bacteria in gut, menadione from synthetic source
Source: fermented foods, leafy green vegetables, egg yolks, green tea, oats
Functions: assist with blood clotting, bone health  

 The vitamin B complex make up the remaining vitamin range: 

Vitamin B1 

Type: Water Soluble
Essential: Yes
Also known as: Thiamin
Source: Brewer’s yeast, brown rice, organ meats, egg yolk 
Functions: essential for energy production, carbohydrate metabolism and nerve cell function  

Vitamin B2  

Type: Water Soluble
Essential: Yes
Also known as: Riboflavin
Source: Brewer’s yeast, liver, almonds, mushrooms, millet
Functions: converts food to energy, immune health, skin health 

Vitamin B3  

Type: Water Soluble
Essential: Yes (disputed by some as the body is able to make its own)
Also known as: Niacin
Sources: Lean meats, poultry & fish, eggs, peanuts, sesame seeds
Functions: extracts energy from glucose, mental health, cardiovascular health  

Vitamin B5  

Type: Water Soluble
Essential: Yes
Also known as: Pantothenic Acid
Sources: Liver, peanuts, mushrooms, pecans
Functions: extracts energy from fats and carbohydrates, aids in manufacturing adrenal hormones and red blood cells  

Vitamin B6  

Type: Water Soluble
Essential: Yes
Also known as: Pyridoxine
Sources: Sunflower seeds, walnuts, lentils, salmon, pistachio nuts
Functions: nervous system, maintaining hormonal balance  

Vitamin B7  

Type: Water Soluble
Essential: No
Also known as: Biotin, Vitamin H, Co-enzyme R
Sources: peanuts, almonds, egg yolks, liver, unpolished rice, brewer’s yeast, sardines, legumes
Functions: skin health, metabolism  

Vitamin B9 

Type: Water Soluble
Essential: Yes
Also known as: Folic Acid
Sources: brewer’s yeast, black-eyed peas, liver, spinach, broccoli
Functions: cell division, critical to nervous system development of fetus,  

Vitamin B12  

Type: Fat Soluble
Essential: Yes
Also known as: Cobalamin
Sources: organ meats, oysters, sardines, eggs. Small amounts can be found in nori seaweed and tempeh
Functions: nervous system, prevents anemia, promotes growth 

Weight loss is a subject that I treat with a great deal of respect. It’s something I am hesitant to promote as a product or skill. I believe that not only is it deeply personal, it’s also often (not always) a side effect that detracts from what we should be really focusing on – being healthy. If there is a weight issue, then focusing on your health will often have the welcome side effect of weight loss. The problem happens when we perceive thin as healthy and are prepared to do whatever it takes to get thin.

Wait, what did you just say?

Okay, so that was a loaded paragraph. It probably has some of you saying – ‘what the hell is she talking about! Weight gain or obesity is a very real problem and needs to be dealt with!’. Or, you are silently nodding in agreement. It is a polarizing and powerful subject, which further affirms my hesitation to post anything that says – 10 ways to lose 10 kilos or something to that effect.

Respect is key

There are many factors that affect the weight on your body like health, age, genetics, hormones, bone density, body type, medications, supplements, lifestyle, stress – you get the point. Narrowing the focus to diet and exercise alone is not only myopic but in most cases doomed. Like I said earlier throwing in a quick 10-for-10 post about weight loss is contrary to the ethos of Nutrichologist. If weight is your focus then give it the time and attention it needs and if you are going to enlist someone to help you, make sure they are as committed as you are.

Solutions galore

Finding a buddy, coach, practitioner or program is usually the last resort. Between the decision to lose weight and enlisting help we often turn to the offerings flaunted on the internet or shelves at our local pharmacies. (Sadly I have to add health stores and some naturalists to this list as well). A large portion of the solutions on offer are supplements. They come neatly and provocatively packaged as a tea or tablet. As trends have changed so have their terminology and marketing strategy.

Moving with the times

Gradually I have seen the focus shift from slimming or dieter’s tea to cleansing teas or supplements. Cleansing is a hot topic and you cannot fault the marketers for adapting to trend; it is their job after all. If I am forced to, I will say that their proclamations are a little closer to what they really are than before. Not much, but a little.

By now you have gathered that I do not approve of these products, let’s take a look at why.

But, do they work?

Let’s deal with whether they are effective for weight loss or not. If your only goal is to lose weight then yes, they may work.

However…

There are caveats though, they may be doing harm to your body and, you will most likely pick up the weight you lost and a little extra. This applies to about 90% of the population that use this form of weight loss strategy. I’m pretty confident with that stat so I am not going to add in any studies here.

Do a survey

Rather, I am going to ask you to do a little survey of your own. Look to yourself and those around you. How many have tried a slimming strategy like this? How many have been successful? How many have kept the weight off? Lastly, how many did this with the product alone – no ‘only effective in conjunction with a calorie controlled diet’ nonsense?

So what makes them effective and why do we keep going back for more?

  • The majority of these products use natural laxatives or diuretics. These cause frequent bowel movements or urination.
  • As these forms of elimination are closely associated with the popular cleansing trend there is the added sense of body cleansing with these kind of results.
  • Intuitively it feels right and good. (You could add juicing to this list, but that needs its own post. Juicing in and of itself is not bad, but can be misused much like these teas and supplements).
  • The proof of ‘loss’ is also sitting right there in the toilet bowl – no guessing required. It was in you now its not. Whether we acknowledge this or not, psychologically there are little tick boxes getting ticked.

You said natural – how can it be a problem if its natural?

  • Again, the majority of these products are derived from natural herbs or plants. They can include aloe, senna, rhubarb root, cascara, buckthorn and castor oil. One and all tried, tested and proven since ancient times. Shown to be potent in treating constipation and water retention. No argument there.
  • Some of these plants/herbs are so potent they are regulated as a drug and depending on strength may even need a script. This immediately says there is a danger or at very least a cautionary factor that we need to consider.

Now that we have established they work (and work so well that some need to be controlled), how do they actually work?

  • Diuretics and laxatives work on your bladder and large intestine (not your small intestine).
  • The small intestine is where all your absorption happens. If you are eating highly processed sugary foods then – sorry – that is still going to end up in your system and do all the damage they were always going to do. If you are calorie focused then the answer is also yes, calories are absorbed here as well.
  • Prolonged and/or excessive use will eventually affect your body’s ability to absorb fat. So when you see a fatty layer in the toilet bowl you may want to do a little victory shout out. Thing is, it’s not the fat you want to get rid of. You want the stuff sitting around your belly, on your hips etc. and that isn’t what you are seeing.

Dietary fat and the fat on our body is not the same thing

  • We need healthy fat in our diet and our bodies. We use the fat we consume for essential things like maintaining cells and mitochondria.
  • These kinds of teas or supplements are effectively speeding up the elimination process. By pulling water from our body to loosen everything up and make it come out quicker.
  • Losing water weight shows quickly on the scale.

Let’s talk darkside or rather downside if that’s too ominous

The level of severity or how quickly these effects kick in will differ from person to person. Results will depend largely on their state of health when they start. So, if you aren’t experiencing these straight off the bat – give it time.

  • Laxative abuse is real and not just amongst those who suffer from bulimia, anorexia nervosa and teenagers. It’s use, rather misuse, is prolific and we need to be aware of it. As you read through this list you will get a better understanding of why.
  • Misuse of these products can lead to permanent damage to the gastrointestinal tract. Considering this is our bodies only way of drawing the life giving nutrients from our food and drink that’s a pretty big problem.
  • A damaged gastrointestinal tract opens the door to many diseases such as osteomalacia (softening of the bones), cancer, GERD, Celiac Disease, IBS, gallstones, fertility issues – lets just say the list is long and serious.
  • Then there is also nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, fainting and rectal bleeding (not sure why that last one isn’t more of a deal breaker for people, but, anyway).
  • The diuretic effects of course cause our kidneys to release more sodium to facilitate all that water being drawn from our body. Much of that water is coming from our blood.
  • Beside chronic dehydration there is the loss of minerals and electrolytes that our body really needs to function optimally.
  • Now for the ironic bit – it may also cause severe constipation and pain due to the colon losing its ability to function properly. In severe cases this has led to the surgical removal of the colon altogether.

There is a place for these herbs and plants in the medical world. But, not in the dieting arena. The option is alluring not only because of the snazzy marketing, but lets face it, it gets the job done quickly. It’s also a really inexpensive way of bypassing the ‘real work’. They make them taste pretty good, and so easy to incorporate in your day to day life. But, and this is the mother of all buts, they come at a very high cost and my question to you is:

Is it worth it?

Bruce Lipton is a Stem Cell Biologist with a focus on Epigenetics. With a bio like that you would be forgiven for thinking you needed a science or biology degree to read any of his books. At least that’s what I had thought prior to reading this book. You know the type. Where you dare not read unless you have access to Google to help you decipher the words let alone the concepts.

Pleasant surprise

This was, surprisingly, not the case – it ended up being a fascinating read with a ton of “oh, so that’s what that means” moments in it. It was fascinating and the author is quite comical in his portrayal of scientific information. His approach went a long way in helping the subject matter be less intimidating.

Bridging the gap

I would say that the author bridged scientific esoterica and every day application very well. I found the book inspired me to actually stop reading and do a little independent research as I went along. Some of the information was a bit contrary to my own personal beliefs. But, the author does state that his views aren’t the most popular (from the very beginning).

Re-readable (I know that’s not a proper word, but it works)

This is the kind of book you may need to read more than once. The author introduces a number of alternate theories and points of views which may be applicable at different stages of an individual’s journey. The author, being a researcher himself, readily refers to established research as well as his own as he covers various topics and presents the information in a logical manner.

Belief systems

The title is a very concise summary of what the book is about which is how our belief systems affect our physical body. We experience this on a more acute level with things like stress or dislike for a situation or person. The tell tale knot in the stomach, tension headache or something to that effect. These are all very real and physically prevalent manifestations that we are all too familiar with.

What you can learn from a single cell

Dr Lipton took those ‘feelings’ one step further and looked at single cells and their reaction to various influences both real and perceived.

He puts forward some compelling results from studies and tests and from there it isn’t a big leap to realize how the reaction of the single cell is remarkable. Multiply it by the approximate 30 trillion cells (that’s 30 with 12 zeros behind it!) and its downright hard to ignore.

There were many, and I mean many, light bulb moments for me during this book. I have read a few ‘science-y’ books, but this one was an absolute pleasure. No dozing off and maybe 2 Google searches the first time I read it.

Dr. Lipton’s work

Dr. Lipton has a number of YouTube videos and talks available on the internet. I’ll be honest, I find his written work better than the spoken. Partly because in his videos and talks he delves into very deep and intellectual content. I prefer to read and metabolize at my own pace. This is a personal choice and you may find his visual work engaging, so I would still encourage you to check it out.

Hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

apple, apple recipes

Apples are grown and eaten throughout the world and have been around forever. We love apples so much it’s in everything from fragrance, flavor, the shape of a perfume bottle and even the name of our electronics. There is even the infamous slogan – ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ which is more about eating healthy than the actual apple itself, but let’s not lose focus here.

Apples are so common place we may actually overlook its benefits and take them for granted. When you are standing with the fridge door looking longingly for something ‘nice’ to eat you will be forgiven for not noticing the pretty pile of apples on the center table and the row on the fridge shelf. But, after all these years in our history it remains an easy and crunchy dose of nutrition.

Apples are high in fiber (skin on for maximum fiber), vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and now that we know more about the microbiome there is that extra benefit of knowing that it is loaded with prebiotics which are massively beneficial to our gut health and therefore our overall health.

Let’s look at a few benefits these gems provide:

Antioxidant for anti-ageing… oh, and disease fighting

The beauty industry have gone out of their way to let us know about the anti-ageing properties of antioxidants and they aren’t wrong, BUT as I will repeatedly say in my blogs, if you want to optimize the absorption and benefits then diet is the best option. Apples don’t just come with antioxidants; they have many cofactors that bring their own disease fighting benefits to the table.

Apple vs Vitamin C Supplement

Antioxidant supplementation is a multibillion dollar industry and yet the humble apple (and many other wholefoods), go unnoticed (like the Cinderella of whole foods).

A review was done on numerous studies related to apples, in this review they compared the antioxidant activity between a 1500mg Vitamin C supplement to one apple (skin on), and, well let’s just read what they wrote:

‘The total antioxidant activity of apples with the peel was approximately 83 μmol vitamin C equivalents, which means that the antioxidant activity of 100 g apples (about one serving of apple) is equivalent to about 1500 mg of vitamin C’

That same review goes on to list the benefits in relation to cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma and pulmonary function, diabetes and the ever popular weight loss topic.

Take a deep breath

Asthma is all too real for many of us and needs to be taken seriously. So why not add food to your diet that can help. Apples contain a component called ‘quercetin’ that has been attributed to help lower the risk of asthma. Now I am not saying it will cure asthma, but if you are looking to create a lifestyle that deals with your health issues from all angles then including apples in your diet is a good place to start. Again the review mentions this specifically:

‘Flavonoid intake in general was associated with a lower risk of asthma, and the association was attributed mainly to quercetin, hesperitin, and naringenin’.

Keeping ’It’ Regular

Because of all that fiber and prebiotic goodness apples help keep you regular and help avoid that nasty constipation that seems so common nowadays. (Now you know what ‘it’ refers).

Constipation isn’t just an uncomfortable experience, if it’s happening a little too often; you definitely want to get it checked out. It could be a symptom of an underlying health problem or actually cause nasty things like hemorrhoids, hiatal hernias, and varicose veins.

The Wrong Kind of Runs

You may think avoiding apples would be better if you have the ‘runs’, but that would be a mistake. They contain a binding ingredient called pectin. Not only is this the reason we use apple sauce as an egg substitute in baking, but that very same effect works in your intestine and helps keep things balanced. Applesauce made with the skin is a great home remedy that has been used over the ages. Homemade applesauce is of course best and the only sure fire way to ensure it hasn’t been loaded with sugar and additives.

Hopefully by now I have convinced you to give apples another go and not let them go wrinkly and brown on the kitchen counter. If this is the case then I have a few extra pointers to help you.

So your choice is that you can have a tasteless supplement or a delicious crispy disease fighting apple that will satisfy a craving or two and keep hunger pangs at bay – you decide.

Buying and Storing Apples

  • Buy organic where possible
  • Check your apples before you buy them and try get them as unbruised and firm as possible. They should have a bright color, no wrinkling and smell good.
  • As soon as you get home, be sure to give them a good rinse and dry them off well.
  • Store loose and on their own. Apples give off ethylene gas which accelerates the ripening of produce.
  • Fresh apples can be kept in the fridge for a few months (may not look as pretty, but they are still okay).
  • Use browned, older or bruised apples for applesauce or cooking – you won’t notice the blemishes and still get all the flavor and goodness.

Taking the boring out of apples

  • Apples served with a side of almond butter to dip in is a great snack and rich in boron;
  • Dice your apple and add to your oatmeal for extra flavor;
  • Sprinkle your apple with a bit of cinnamon and/nutmeg to spice it up;
  • Skip the cucumber and add some apple slices to your next sandwich (you will be surprised).

LET’S ADDRESS THE WAX ON APPLES

There have been videos going around showing warm water being poured over apples and a shockingly large amount of wax coming off the apples. This of course is very off putting and may make you rethink your apple consumption. But here are a few things you should know:

Yes – some food chains do coat their apples with a wax mix. They do this to add shine and for longevity. The type of wax and how much they use depends on the supplier. There are different blends that include natural and synthetic blends. We are also assured that these are safe and do not harm us, I will leave the decisions as to whether it is bad or not to you. Organic farmers seem to get by just fine without it?

At this point you may be thinking ‘ where did they get the idea to coat apples with wax’? Brace yourselves – nature. Yup, in nature all species have built in protection mechanisms and apples are one of the fruits that actually produce their own protective wax-like coating. The coating is called epicuticular (cuticle) wax. Perfectly safe and nothing a good rinse in vinegar water wont sort out.

Apples really are a healthy ‘to-go go-to’ (that was fun to type) food, no extra packaging needed.

So before you give your farmer or organic fruit supplier the beady eye ask them first if they add wax or if it’s the natural version. In fact, just check before you assume as not all fresh produce suppliers add wax.

Is it a thumbs up or thumbs down for apples?

All those interesting health benefits of apples aside, it’s a really versatile little fruit. In The 5 Things You Can Do With Apples recipe booklet we get to incorporate apples into everyday meals. So you may find eating a whole apple a little boring, then my challenge to you is incorporate it in other ways.

Is there a downside?

If I was backed into a corner and told – Find one downside of apples? I would have to mention the seed. It contains trace amounts of cyanogenic glycosides. These glycosides release tiny amounts of cyanide when coming into contact with human digestive enzymes. Now before you panic! Please note that the author of this here article has eaten apple seeds since she was a child. Even with my grandmother telling me an apple tree would grow out of my stomach and through my ears. You would also need to eat and very finely chew a lot. I mean A LOT of seeds to do some damage. So maybe, just don’t eat the seeds.

All in all, apples are a great addition to a nutritious diet – so thumbs up from me… how about you?

When we talk about health we tend to think diet, exercise and your friends latest proclamation of some amazing new supplement that is life changing. We are all bombarded with the latest and greatest all the time and it always seems to come down to being told that you must be doing things very differently from the way you are currently doing things. While there isn’t anything overtly wrong with that, we often overlook the small stuff. The simple things that can have an enormous and impactful long term benefit on our health. They almost seem trivial and easily forgotten while we sweat our way through grueling workouts and count our calories and carb intake.

Perhaps if we brought a little math to these little things it might help illustrate the efficacy of simple acts. Think of each act as the numeral 1. Doing one of these simple acts once doesn’t seem like much, but do it every day for a year and suddenly it becomes 365 acts of nourishment and kindness to you and your health journey.

So whether you choose to only do one or many of these suggestions, and you choose to give it a try consistently, take a moment to consider the cumulative effect on your health. The best part of all of these boosters are that they are free, don’t need any special equipment and nobody needs to know. It’s like going into stealth health optimization mode.

‘Knowledge is a process of piling up facts; wisdom lies in their simplification” Martin H Fischer


HERE ARE 10 SIMPLE HEALTH BOOSTERS TO TRY:

1) Breathe before and during a meal

Effective and optimal digestion takes place when we activate our Parasympathetic Nervous System or Rest and Digest state. A quick and effective way to do this is through a breathing technique known as diaphragmatic breathing. By activating our vegus nerve (aka: *pneumogastric nerve) we are helping our body get into a state of relaxation which means our blood flow, heart, lungs and digestive organs can work on our food in the best possible way. When we are stressed we activate our Sympathetic Nervous System which moves resources away from our digestive system to our extremities and places our brains on high alert. We effectively go into an emergency state and are ready for action. Digesting a meal is not essential and more of a hindrance, as the objective is to get food out of the system as quickly as possible and shortcut the nutritional absorption.
*(pneumo = lungs & gastric = stomach)

2) Chew your food

Following on from breathing, chewing is a key factor that influences digestion. As a general rule of thumb we should chew each bite for around 30 seconds before swallowing. For those of you who have reached out to that biscuit next to your tea and are now chewing for 30 seconds – you are probably thinking ‘that’s insane!’. If you are eating highly processed foods there will most likely not be much left in your mouth after 30 seconds. Highly processed foods very seldom have fiber and we need fiber! Also, there are enzymes that help digest and break down food (especially carbs) in our saliva, these then react with other enzymes in our stomach which further help digestion. By skipping or skimping on the chewing part we put undue strain on our stomachs which can lead to indigestion, gas, bloating and even leaky gut syndrome.

3) Move more

I feel like this point has been flogged to death already and you may have rolled your eyes when you saw this. Unfortunately it is a goody and as prolific as this tip may be, it cannot be overlooked or ignored. If all you can do is stand up and stretch at your desk every 30 min then do that, but try as much as you can to MOVE MORE!

4) Eat at least one green vegetable every day

Green vegetables are like that small gun Will Smith gets in MIB. It seems ineffective and boring, but boy does it pack a punch. Dark leafy greens in particular help purify our blood, improve circulation, strengthen the immune system, improve liver, gall bladder and kidney function and so much more. (Dynamite truly does come in small packages when it comes to green veggies)

5) Get a plant

There is so much to say about this, but let’s keep it simple. Not only does it help freshen the air around you, but if you manage to keep it alive and flourishing you will (and I speak from personal experience) feel like a champion (cue Chariots of Fire background music). It looks good and connects you with nature. If you are stuck in an office all day, that little glimpse of beautiful nature you are caring for can be the highlight of your day.

6) Make your bed

I am not talking Marie Kondo tidy here, and if you are a messy person by nature then start with just making your bed every day. Moms across the planet are nodding their heads at this. There is even a navy big gun who says it’s one of the secrets to success. (A gazillion moms and the navy seals can’t all be wrong). It’s not just about making the bed, the act of tidying and organizing follows through to your thoughts and has a similar effect on your brain waves. (If you are interested what the navy guy had to say – he wrote a book: Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe the World by William McRaven. I haven’t read it yet, but I make my bed everyday and personally think there is merit to the title alone).

7) Make a decision

I am sure you make decisions all day long, but we are talking about you and your health. So for today, make a decision about you and stick with it. Today you can decide:
– I am beautiful
– I am where I am meant to be
– I am worthy
– I have a great smile
– I am strong
Make it about you, make it positive and believe it.
This may take some practice as we are often not as direct about what we think or believe about ourselves, unless it’s negative. We feel guilty or think it makes us conceited, which is not the goal here. As humans we react on a molecular level to positive and negative feedback and our internal feedback is even more acute. You are literally destroying cells in your body every time you engage those negative thoughts.
(If you want to understand this on a deeper level, I highly recommend you read Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton).

8) Do a Swop Out

Identify one food item or activity that may be contributing to your health issues and swop it out for something that helps optimize your health. Let’s say you eat a choc chip muffin with your morning coffee, every day from the local garage, on your way to work (and breathe – that’s a very long sentence). What can you swop that out with that is a healthier option? The idea is not to deny you your morning snack, just to optimize the opportunity. If you aren’t ready to give up on baked yumminess then consider making your own over the weekend and use a more fibrous flour, dark chocolate and less sugar or healthier sugar and less salt. Same thing, just you did the quality control and know that you put the best ingredients in – (your blood pressure and gut will thank you!).

9) Cook extra

Cooking a little extra for dinner and then taking it for lunch the next day is another powerful secret weapon. Being that prepared with so little extra effort needs to have an award or some kind of formal recognition. It saves you time in the morning, avoids you having to starve yourself because you didn’t have time to organize lunch and avoids that oh so alluring temptation of buying junk food, so there is the money being saved as well.

10) Take the scenic route

Whenever and where ever the opportunity presents itself – take it. If you don’t have to rush home and there is a route that is less congested, more calming and beautiful choose that one. If you are walking to your appointment from the parking lot and there is a route through the garden – take that one.

These actions can seem so arbitrary that we would hardly mention them. They aren’t the kinds of things we sit down at a coffee date with our friends and gush about how we drove the ‘long way’ home from work on Thursday and saw the most amazing garden with flowers in full bloom. You are more likely to hear a confused ‘okay, that’s a bit weird’ than an “OMG! I also did that and it was awesome”, but, it does not take away from the fact that as trivial as they may seem, we don’t do it, and we most certainly don’t appreciate the impact they have on our health. These small things add up and build toward a happier and healthier you.

I challenge you to try just one for a while. No you wont suddenly loose 10kg, you wont suddenly be healed of anything, but maybe, just maybe you may have a moment of happiness, a moment of less gas or a moment of calm and that my friends is priceless and everlasting.

Just like ‘creeping obesity’ these stealth health tips have a more positive connotation ‘creeping healthiness’. Try them out and enjoy the rewards.

I recently read an article where a nutritionist/personal trainer gave an account of what she ate in a day. Then, a dietitian weighed in on the food choices. The dietitian seemed happy with the overall account, but noted that more dairy could’ve been added to up the calcium intake. I found the article to be both interesting and annoying.

Curiosity gets the better of us…

It was interesting, because, as a society we seem to have an overwhelming curiosity about how everyone else is eating or doing things. And, yes it’s natural to want to know more and be curious if our objective is to learn. THAT’S O.K! It’s a human reaction. The problem happens when we think we can become the other person. When we are obsessed with being like that person. When we reach a point that we override what we know does or doesn’t work for us or we become overly judgmental about others that do not do the same.

Be curious, not judgmental

It was annoying because, by all accounts it was a well balanced diet. We were also only getting a very small snapshot of her overall life. Yet, it had to be nitpicked and ‘some improvement’ could have been made. Now this is not about dietitian VS. nutritionist, this is about how it seems acceptable to weigh in on each others diets/lives without taking a bigger picture into account. While adding dairy for additional calcium was a valid suggestion, it’s not the only source of calcium available and lets be real – no one – yes no one – eats perfectly everyday.

Like so many of us, we scour the internet, magazines and various social media for cues and hints about our dietary needs and, of course, we compare. It’s this comparison that I find the most annoying and damaging. It plants seeds of doubt and insecurity about our own lifestyle, food and exercise choices. We get caught in what seems to be an eternal loop of feeling like ‘not enough’, ‘must do more’ or ‘I can’t do this on my own’.

Wait, aren’t you a Health Coach?

At this point you are probably thinking, isn’t that exactly what you do? Aren’t you a Health Coach?

Yes, I’m a Health Coach and no, that’s not quite what I do. I am diet neutral and my focus is not on telling you what you must or must not eat, my focus is on finding what works for you, in the space you are in. There are many factors that influence diet and lifestyle choices and if you are able to accommodate the latest and greatest trends, then go for it. Telling a cash strapped client  a healthy diet isn’t complete unless it has chia and hemp seeds in it, well – not going to happen. Likewise, telling someone who gags at broccoli they just have to suck it up isn’t going to help either.

Knowledge is power, and, understanding the pros and cons of food and lifestyle choices is far more useful in finding a sustainable and natural way of living. The teach a man to fish proverb is what we’re going for here.

What’s Omnisim got to do with it?

Omnisim in its simplest form is:
The belief that there is no true religion or beliefs, but that there is truth in all religion and belief.

I believe this applies to diets as well. The number of diets and ways to eat in the world today is staggering. The onslaught of campaigns for these different ways is relentless. From my own personal experimentation with diets and lifestyle choices I have found dietary Omnism to be the best way to learn from it all. With each experience I have found elements that work for me and others that don’t. I drop what doesn’t and keep what does.

As health coaches we are taught about bio individuality and what works for one may not for another. When we work with that as a base it sets you up for greater success. Granted it’s not a quick fix. But, it is the one that gets you to a place where you don’t panic on receipt of a dinner invitation or when you have to travel.

Our diets and lifestyles should empower us to do more – not less, and that is the ultimate goal.