Posts tagged ‘healthy’

November 25, 2013

Healthy Joints

by lrmetcalfe

jointsIf you suffer from the pain and discomfort of a joint problem, you may find that at this time of year, as the environment gets colder and damper, your issues worsen. There are a few simple steps you can take to improve joint problems…

Glucosamine
Glucosamine Hydrochloride, is a supplement commonly used by those suffering from joint problems. Glucoasmine is a precursor for glycosaminoglycans, a major component of joint cartilage, by encouraging healthy cartilage, arthritic conditions may improve.
Glucosamine, is available in a tablet and liquid form, as well as in topical creams and gels; it is often coupled with other joint protective nutrients, including MSM, Chondroitin and Omega 3.

Oily Fish & Omega 3
Eating three portions of oily fish or taking an Omega 3 supplement daily, could improve your joint problems. Omega 3, an essential fatty acid found in oily fish, has anti-inflammatory properties, and can help to reduce the inflammation associated with joint problems.

Fish high in Omega 3 include: sardines, mackerel, herring, tuna, salmon, anchovies. For some delicious recipes including omega 3 check out our article…Getting Fishy.
Alternatively, vegetarian sources of Omega 3 include linseeds, sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds, hazelnuts, cashew nuts, almonds and walnuts.

Joint friendly foods

Eating a healthy diet is essential, sufferers of joint problems who are overweight or obese, may find their condition improves if they change their diet and lose weight; the additional body-weight places extra strain on the joints.

Studies show that acid-forming foods including meat, alcohol and refined carbohydrates can acerbate arthritic conditions; increasing alkalising foods such as green vegetables and whole-grains (brown rice, millet, amaranth, spelt, barley and quinoa) may help. Eating three portions of oily fish each week may be beneficial too.

Try avoiding caffeine and swapping your coffee fixes for herbal teas, which naturally support joint health, such as, nettle or ginger tea.  To maintain healthy bones, ensure your diet is rich in calcium; look for low-fat dairy products, calcium can also be found in green leafy vegetables, dried fruit, tofu and yoghurt.

Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium, it can be found in eggs, milk and oily fish, however, most vitamin D is made in the skin in response to sunlight, take a short walk each day to top up your vitamin D levels.

Gentle exercise
When your joints are aching, it is difficult to find the motivation to exercise, however doing a small amount of gentle exercise each day may help, try swimming, tai chi or walking.

Topical remedies  

I believe that a topical remedy alone will not make a vast amount of difference, however combining this with the correct diet, exercise regime and supplements could help. There are many topical arthritis remedies on the market, however I have received a lot of positive feedback from the following remedies:

Glucosamine Gel

A topical form of the more commonly used Glucosamine supplement, many arthritis sufferers report positive results from this gel.

Perskindol Gel

Ideal for sports injuries, this cooling menthol gel helps to relieve muscle pain and has a pain-killing effect.

Arnica

Available in a cream, lotion or gel, Arnica is a traditional herbal remedy which has an anti-inflammatory effect. A natural alternative to ibuprofen gel, it can be used for a variety of joint problems, relieving pain and stiffness. Can be used for sporting injuries as well as arthritis.

October 30, 2013

Reflexology Case Study…Treatment 5

by lrmetcalfe

Treatment Plan

Due to other commitments my client has not been able to have a treatment for a while. This is unfortunate as sometimes this can affect the positive results we see from reflexology, but is often unavoidable.

However, my client has been well and has managed to stop taking her anxiety medication, after a long period of gradually reducing the dose.

 

The Treatment

My client is feeling sleepy today, so wanted to feel refreshed and energised by the end of the treatment, therefore I focussed on a firmer massage, and spent extra time on pressing the reflexes which are involved in energy production. I also used massage oil containing the essential oils of Grapefruit and Bergamot; both oils are refreshing and uplifting.

The client’s feet were warmer than usual; this indicates a possible improvement in the client’s circulation.

The ‘popping’ sensation was found in the reflexes for the thyroid gland, diaphragm and stomach.

 

Feedback

The client enjoyed her treatment and said she did feel more refreshed.

 

Changes/ Areas to focus on for the next treatment

Usually the client wants to feel relaxed, however today she wanted to feel energised. Depending on the client’s mood I will alter the treatment in accordance. The next treatment is the last in her course, so we will focus on the lifestyles changes she has made and how she can continue to improve her health without the treatments.

 

Aftercare

Client needs to ensure she is sleeping for long enough, and should have an early night to recuperate. If she continues to feel tired, she could try Bio-Strath Elixir, a tonic which helps to improve energy levels and contains essential nutrients.

October 15, 2013

Let’s have a brew!

by lrmetcalfe

ImageThis week, the weather has suddenly become very chilly. This time of year makes me want to cuddle up on the sofa with a steaming mug of something delicious. However did you know there are many warming brews you could try with added healthy benefits…

 

Indian Tea- Chai

Bursting with the spicy benefits of cardamom, cinnamon, fennel and cloves, this drink really warms the insides.

Makes 6 mugs

Ingredients

  • 2 teabags (everyday breakfast tea)
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 2 cloves
  • 6 fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • 2 tsps sugar
  • Milk

1. Boil 500ml of water in a kettle

2. Pour the boiling water into a saucepan, add the teabags, spices and sugar, stir.

3. Bring back to the boil and leave to boil for 15 minutes

4. Once boiled add as much milk as required to turn the tea to the preferred strength/colour

5. Bring back to the boil (watch closely, as at this point it has a tendency to boil over)

6. Once boiled, remove from the heat and strain off the spices and teabags.

7. Pour into mugs and enjoy

 

Hot Cherry Punch

Cherries are rich in antioxidants, and studies show they are beneficial for those who suffer from arthritis and gout. Together with the anti-inflammatory action of chilli, ginger and cinnamon- this delicious fruity drink packs a punch for joint problems!

Makes a large jug of punch

Ingredients

  • 2 litres cherry juice
  • peel from 3 oranges
  • 1 thumb-sized red chilli, pierced a few times but left whole
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 10 cloves
  • 6 slices ginger

1. Tip the cherry juice, orange peel, chilli, cinnamon sticks, cloves and ginger into a large saucepan.

2. Simmer for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat.

(If you prepare in advance, leave the spices in for 4 hours, allowing them to infuse the juice)

3. Strain the spices and orange peel away, (re-heat if left to infuse). Serve in mugs or a heatproof jug.

 

Indulgent hot chocolate

It’s OK to indulge every once in a while, and the antioxidants found in dark chocolate, make this naughty treat a little more beneficial!

Makes 6 mugs

Ingredients

200g dark chocolate (70-80% cocoa content, for a spicier treat look for dark chocolate with chilli)

600ml milk

1. Break the chocolate into cubes and put into a pan with the milk. Gently heat until the chocolate melts,.

2. Bring almost to the boil, stirring constantly until smooth. Poor into mugs, top with marshmallows if liked.

 

I hope you will enjoy these delicious drinks, remember there are lots of healthy hot drinks on the market- my favourites include: Yogi Teas Classic Cinnamon Spice, Teapigs Green Tea with Mint, Starbucks Earl Grey. Why not find your favourite…

 

September 23, 2013

Healthy Eyes

by lrmetcalfe

My mother took a trip to the opticians today, for her Spinach-photoannual check-up. Worryingly he has said that her eyes are showing the beginnings of cataracts. My mum dismissed this as just a part of the ageing process, however, there are dietary changes we can all make to improve the health of the eyes.

Increasing the levels of certain essential nutrients which are important for maintaining eye health, can help. Antioxidants are important- Vitamin A,C, E, selenium, lutein is particularly important as it has specific properties for protecting the eyes.

So, I thought I would look at some yummy foods and recipes which contain these antioxidants.

Popeye never wore glasses- Spinach is a great source of the antioxidant, Lutein, along with other leafy dark green vegetables.

Palak Paneer (Spinach & Paneer Curry)

Ingredients

4 cups of fresh finely chopped spinach

1/3 lb paneer

2 medium tomatoes

1tsp chopped ginger

1tsp coriander powder

½ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp teaspoon chili powder

1 tablespoon oil

½ tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp salt, or to taste

2 tbsps of whole wheat flour

1 ½ cups of milk

  1. Blend the tomatoes and ginger to make a puree.
  2. Mix coriander, turmeric, and red chili with tomato puree and set aside.
  3. Mix whole-wheat flour with milk and set aside.
  4. Cube the paneer into pieces and  fry them on medium high heat just for few minutes so paneer becomes golden in colour, take paneer out, and put on kitchen towels
  5. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add cumin seeds.
  6. After cumin seeds crack, add the tomato puree mixture, and let it cook for a few minutes until the tomato puree is about half in volume.
  7. Add the spinach, and let it cook on low medium heat for about 10 minutes covered.
  8. Add milk mixture and let this cook another four to five minutes.
  9. Add paneer and fold it gently with spinach and let it simmer for a 2-3 minutes, keeping the pan covered.
  10. Serve with rice or chappatis.

 

Blueberries are a great source of bioflavonoids, which encourage eye health. Try this healthy smoothie…

Super-Berry Smoothie

50g blueberries

50g Canteloupe Melon, diced and de-seeded

Banana

Pure orange juice (not from concentrate)

½  tbsp ground flaxseeds

1. Place melon, blueberries, banana and flaxseed into a blender, and whizz. Use the orange juice to thin out the smoothie, making sure it is smooth.

 

Check out these other great sources and include them in your diet to improve your eye health….

Vitamin A liver, paprika, chilli powder, sweet potato, carrots, butternut   squash, dark leafy green vegetables such as- kale, spring greens, spinach
Vitamin C chilli peppers, dark leafy green vegetables, broccoli, cabbage,   brussel sprouts, kiwi fruits, oranges, strawberries, guava, papaya,   grapefruit, cantaloupe melon
Vitamin E Sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, swiss chard, papaya, asparagus,   wheat germ
Lutein Spinach, kale, swiss chard
Selenium Brazil nuts, shellfish, liver, tuna, swordfish, anchovies, sunflower   seeds, bran
September 16, 2013

1, 2, 3…..Breathe…..

by lrmetcalfe

breathAfter a long break, I recently started practicing yoga again; and was amazed at how powerful I find this activity.

Due to back problems, I now have to stick to the basics- warm up stretches, simple postures and breathing exercises; however controlling my breathing is the part of yoga I find most effective.

It’s during the breathing exercises that I feel most relaxed, I often feel inspired or have new ideas, as my mind is cleared and becomes more focussed.

Breathing is the most basic of all human functions, if we stopped breathing in and out we would cease to be- yet we all take breathing for granted. We never think of the power that we can have over our health and our bodies if we took a few minutes each day to focus on the breath.

You may be surprised at the changes you notice just controlling your breathing for even 5 minutes a day. Try  sitting down and focussing on your normal breath for a few minutes, then start to control it- breathe in and out, slowly and deeply, inhaling and exhaling through your nose.

 

There are many breathing techniques, some extremely simple, others take a little more time to master. If you attend a basic yoga class the teacher will be able to show you many effective techniques. I want to mention a few of my favourites in this post:

Basic Abdominal Breathing/ Low Breathing

If you ask most people to take a deep breath in, we immediately suck in our stomach and force in a sharp inhalation of air through the nose. This is incorrect.

Inhalation occurs when the lungs expand to take in air, air is then exhaled when the lungs contract.

Focus on slowly expanding the abdomen as you inhale through the nose, hold your tummy still for a second and then slowly exhale out through the nose pulling your tummy in. Place your hand on the tummy to help you focus on breathing into this area. It can take a little getting used to at first.

Once you’ve mastered this, try counting while you inhale and exhale- in for a count of 5 and out for a count of 8- increase the numbers you count to as you become more practiced.

 

Full Breathing/ Complete Breathing

Full breathing is the deepest possible breathing. It involves the shoulders, collarbone, ribs, abdomen and diaphragm. Once you have mastered abdominal breathing, you can move on to this more difficult technique.

  • Lie on the floor and tilt your chin into your chest a little.
  • Keep the mouth shut, you should only be inhaling and exhaling through the nose.
  • Breath into your tummy, expand the abdomen.
  • Let the breath move up the torso and expand the diaphragm and rib cage
  • Then try and expand your chest, raise the shoulders a little towards the ears.
  • Feel the breath create warmth in the throat. As you inhale, you should also hear a sound in the throat.
  • Slowly exhale, lower the shoulders and chest, relax the ribs, relax the diaphragm, slowly relax and pull in the abdomen. The slower the better. Use counting to help you maintain control.

 

Alternate Nostril Breathing

My favourite technique, this exercise is extremely relaxing.

Get comfortable- sit on a chair, on the floor or lie down. If you are seated keep your spine erect and shoulders relaxed.

Place your left hand at your side or on the left knee, palms open to the sky.

Close the index finger and middle finger of the right hand in towards your palm. Keep the fingers in this position throughout.

  • Place the ring finger and little finger on the left nostril, to breathe in through the right nostril
  • Gently press your thumb down on the right nostril and breathe out gently through the left nostril
  • Then inhale through the left nostril
  • Press the left nostril gently with the ring finger and little finger, to exhale through the right nostril.
  • Repeat this for 5 rounds to begin with, increasing the number of rounds when you are ready.

After every exhalation, remember to breathe in from the same nostril from which you exhaled. Keep your eyes closed throughout.

 

Try and do a little deep breathing each day. It is especially good when you’ve had a tiring or hectic day. Breathing is not only relaxing but energising, so, you can also use it to give yourself a boost. Why not swap your mid-morning coffee for 5 minutes of controlled breathing!

In addition these breathing techniques have many other healthy benefits. Controlled deep breathing….

  • kick-starts the metabolism
  • improves the condition of the core muscles, improving posture.
  • encourages elasticity in the lung tissue, allowing you to take in more oxygen.
  • tones the abdomen.
  • strengthens the immune system.
  • is useful for sufferers of respiratory conditions.
  • reduces levels of tension and anxiety.

So what are you waiting for! Controlled breathing can be done anywhere, by anyone, all ages and abilities.

So breeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeathe!

August 26, 2013

Back to School

by lrmetcalfe

It’s that time again!kids

The summer is coming to a close and September is getting; we need to start getting back into the routine. So, I thought I would mention a few holistic helpers to make September a little easier.

Unmotivated sleepy children?

If your children are constantly tired and unfocussed at school, there are two ways you could help…

1. Make sure they have a healthy breakfast.

We all know the importance of breakfast, this meal essentially breaks-the-fast, that we have had whilst sleeping. The brain and body cannot function without this morning hit of energy. Look for slow-releasing carbohydrates, and combine with a portion of protein, if you can get them to eat 1 of their five a day too- this would be an excellent start.

Try one of these:

  • Wholemeal toast, with good-quality peanut butter and a sliced banana/strawberries on top.
  • Low sugar cereal- Weetabix, ready-brek or shreddies, with milk- I like whizzing a banana in with the milk too and pouring this on my cereal- a banana milkshake with cereal!
  • Eggs are a great protein rich start to the day- try cheesey scrambley eggs and wholemeal toast or boiled eggs and soliders.
  • Smoothies- let them get creative, put out a selection of fruit, milk and yoghurt, and get blending.Nakdbars
  • If you’re really in a rush, I love Nakd bars- they are packed with dried fruit and nuts and come in a variety of delicious flavours. One of these with a yoghurt or a piece of fruit is a must have for a busy morning.

2. Make sure their diet is rich in Omega 3.

Omega 3 is all over the news, and is especially important for children. Omega 3 is one of the group of what is known as- essential fatty acids, these are the good fats, the ones we should be eating (!) they have so many health benefits, but we just aren’t consuming enough in our diets.

DHA, has been shown to be the type of omega 3 which is most beneficial for children. Multiple studies have been done into DHA’s importance for a child’s brain development and learning; links have been made between low levels of DHA and behavioural disorders.

These fats are ‘essential’ meaning the body cannot produce enough of them, we need to consume them in our diets- leading us to the main dilemma, the best source of Omega 3 is oily fish- tuna, mackerel, sardines, trout, herring, salmon- not foods most kids love to eat!

Check out my ‘Getting Fishy’ recipe article for some delicious oily-fish recipes, or have a look at fish oil supplements, especially ones high in DHA. Many companies have become well practiced at disguising the ‘fishy’ smell and there are some pleasant fish oil children’s supplements around. My favourites are, ‘Biocare Childrens OmegaBerry’ and ‘Eskimo Kids Fish Oil- Tutti Frutti’.’

Children with itchy heads?

Head lice- eek! My skin is crawling just thinking about it, but September and back to school, often sees the return of these horrible creatures. Tea Tree oil is nature’s answer! To act as a deterrent use tea tree shampoo or rub a little oil behind the ears, around the hair line.

If the critters do invade, use ‘What Nits scalb rub’, which contains tea tree, eucalyptus and neem oil, follow with tea tree shampoo and conditioner, then use a nit comb to scrape out the invaders and their eggs.

Can’t get up when the alarm clock rings?

So, we have dealt with the little ones, what about mum and dad? We all know that horrid feeling when the alarm rings, and you just can’t work up the energy to get out of bed, as the mornings get darker this feeling worsens.

You could try a supplement of 5HTP, it is a naturally occurring amino acid and is a pre-cursor for the production of serotonin- the neurotransmitter which is associated with feelings of happiness and wellbeing and melatonin- essential for the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle.

Low energy levels, can often be improved by supplementing with a high potency muti-vitamin and mineral. Make sure the supplement is high in water soluble B vitamins and vitamin C as these are essential for regulating energy levels and the nervous system. Look for a timed release supplement too, such as ‘Quest Super Once a Day’.

I hope this will help and give you some healthy ideas to get through September.

August 25, 2013

Getting Fishy

by lrmetcalfe

sTrying to increase your intake of Omega 3 fatty acids?

Check out these delicious easy fish recipes.

 

 

 

Neptune Pizza

For kids top with tuna, prawns and sweetcorn; for adults use tuna, anchovies, prawns and spinach leaves.

Serves 4-6

For the dough

375g plain flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon caster sugar

7g dried active baking yeast

2 tablespoons olive oil

225ml warm water

For the topping

Tomato passata

Cheese

Tuna

Cocktail Prawns

Anchovies

Spinach

Sweetcorn

1. Combine flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Mix in oil and warm water to form dough. Spread out on a large circular baking tray.

2. Spread with a little passata, sprinkle with cheese and add toppings.

3. Bake at 190 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

For another omega 3 hit serve with a rocket salad, using a dressing of lemon juice and flaxseed oil (two parts lemon juice to one part oil).

 

Happy Cheesy Fish Pie

I find traditional cheese pie quite sickly with the white sauce; this cheesy version is moist and delicious. Easy to make with kids, get them to make mini pies in small dishes and decorate with smiley faces, use cherry tomato halves for eyes, a carrot slice for a nose, a pea pod for a mouth- get creative.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1kg potatoes

1 carrot

2 sticks of celery

150g any white fish

150g salmon

150g smoked haddock

125g prawns

150g cheese

Olive oil

1 lemon- zest & juice

Milk

Butter

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees and bring salted water to boil in a pan.

2. Peel potatoes, cut into chunks and add to water.

3. Get an oven dish, (or do steps 3-5 in a bowl and distribute into smaller oven dishes to make mini individual portions). Grate, carrot, celery and cheese into dish (or bowl).

4. Cut fish into chunks and add to oven dish (or bowl).

5. Add lemon zest and juice to fish, drizzle with a little oil and salt and pepper.

6. When potatoes are cooked, mash with a little milk and butter- enough to make a smooth mash.

7. Top fish with mashed potato.

8. If making ‘happy’ cheesy pies, top with smiley faces.

9. Bake in oven for 40 mins.

Serve with salad, steamed green vegetables or baked beans.

 

Tuna Sweetcorn Burgers

Serves 4

Ingredients

85g white bread, torn into pieces

198g can sweetcorn, drained

2 x 185g cans tuna in water, drained

25g grated cheese

3 spring onions, finely chopped

1 egg, beaten

2 tbsp vegetable oil

Wholemeal bread rolls or pitta breads, salsa and salad to serve

1. Whizz the bread in a food processor to crumbs, tip into a bowl, then whizz half the sweetcorn until finely chopped. Add the chopped corn, whole corn, tuna, cheese, spring onions and some salt and pepper into the bowl with the bread and mix well. Add the egg, bit by bit, until the mixture is sticky enough to be shaped into four even-size burgers.

2. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan, then cook the burgers for 5 mins on each side until golden and hot through the middle. Stuff into buns or pittas with salad and a dollop of salsa.

 

Sesame Haddock

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 slices white bread, blitzed into crumbs

1 tbsp sesame seeds

4 fillets skinless haddock or any white fish

2 tbsp plain yogurt

1 tbsp olive oil

1. Heat oven to 220 degrees.

2. Tip crumbs into a bowl with half the sesame seeds.

3. Brush fish fillets with yogurt and coat in the crumb mix. Lay on a baking tray and sprinkle over the remaining seeds.

4. Drizzle with a little olive oil, then bake for 15-20 mins.

5. Serve with oven-baked sweet potato wedges & coleslaw or salad.

August 19, 2013

The Fast Diet

by lrmetcalfe

The Fast Diet or The 5:2 Diet, is the latest fad sweeping the diet world.

A few of my family members and friends, have started to undertake this diet, after speaking to them, I was concerned about the basis for this regime. I thought I would do some research and write an article on my findings.

 

The Fast Diet- The Premise

Fasting has been a part of many cultures for hundreds of years, and it’s health benefits have been studied by many research programmes.

Early findings show that benefits of intermittent fasting (the style of fasting promoted in the 5:2 diet) include reduced risks of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, insulin resistance and immune disorders. However research is in the early stages, many of these studies have been done on animals or on small, human sample groups.

The author of The Fast Diet, Michael Mosley, designed the 5:2 diet, after filming a BBC documentary called ‘Eat, Fast, Live Longer’. Following his research into fasting for this programme, he decided to restrict his calorie intake to 600 calories for two days a week and eat ‘normally’ for 5 days a week. He lost 19lb and his body-fat percentage decreased. His blood chemistry was analysed before and after the diet and many risk markers for disease such as cholesterol and fasting glucose levels improved.

He wrote a book detailing his experiences and advocating this diet, in which two days a week men consume 600 calories and women 500 calories, eating normally for the rest of the week.

 

What I like about the fast diet-

The sections on insulin and balancing blood sugar were of great interest to me. The diet places emphasis on controlling insulin levels, eating low GI/GL  foods on fast days which keep your blood sugar balanced. There is a lot of research to suggest that by controlling blood sugar levels we can lose weight, increase our energy levels and reduce the risk of contracting diseases such as diabetes.

The meal plans for the fast days do look delicious, and I think it is important if you are following this diet, to try and follow these plans as they ensure you are receiving the maximum amount of nutrients for the small amount of calories consumed.

 

My concerns- What about the 5 days you are not fasting?

‘The Fast Diet’ book goes into great lengths to tell you what to eat on your fast days, and gives a lot of healthy choices; my biggest concern is how little is mentioned about what to eat on the five days a week you are not fasting.

When I first heard about this diet, it was from someone who was excited to do the diet, as he could eat all his favourite junk foods five days a week and then only had to diet twice a week. The book says ‘eat what you like 5 days a week’, and provides no further guidance-so what if I like to eat a diet high in saturated fat, processed foods and low in fruit, vegetables and fibre, 5 days a week?

Does eating a small amount of healthy food twice a week, compensate for 5 days of eating unhealthily? The book assumes that we all know how to eat healthily for the 5 days a week, but a nation that struggles with obesity and a UK diet industry worth 2 billion pounds, may suggest otherwise.

 

What dieters say… A woman’s point of view:

Why did the Fast Diet appeal to you?
I can eat normally for 5 days I only have to count calories/ cook special meals twice a week. This is convenient as sometimes on diets I end up cooking three meals for me, husband and 3 year old child.

Did you experience any side effects when completing the fast diet?

On fast days I was hungry and lacked energy but otherwise no.

What do you think the pros and cons of the diet are?

Pros – health benefits are major and only dieting for 2 days
Cons -hard to have a ‘normal’ day on a fast day as you’re quite tired

How long have you done the diet for, do you think it is sustainable, could you do it long-term?
I did it for two weeks but lost and then gained weight, as I was eating too much on non-fast days.  I will go back on the diet when I have lost weight to maintain, as it’s much easier than doing a diet every day. I stopped as I needed to lose weight more quickly as am planning to have a baby but will definatly do it again for the health benefits. I think it is sustainable and I could do it long term.

How much weight have you lost doing this diet?

I lost 4lb and put 2lb back on so lost 2lb over 2 weeks.

Did you experience any health benefits other than weight loss when doing this diet?
No, not that I am aware of.

 

What dieters say… A man’s point of view:

Why did the Fast Diet appeal to you?

I saw the Horizon programme on BBC 2. I have believed for some time that fasting could be beneficial to health, the programme listed the benefits and backed them up with scientific research, this prompted me to start the diet.

Did you experience any side-effects when completing the fast diet?

No

What do you think the pros and cons of the diet are?

Pros- I find the diet works for me

Cons- The con, which is true of all diets- they are difficult to follow

How long have you done the diet for, do you think it is sustainable, could you do it long-term?

Three weeks, I believe the diet is sustainable, if you have the will-power to continue with it.

How much weight have you lost doing this diet?

6lb

Did you experience any health benefits other than weight loss when doing this diet?
No other noticeable health benefits.

 

What the NHS says…

The UK National Health Service posted an article about the diet on its website, citing limited evidence for weight loss in humans, and a lack of good evidence for increasing lifespan, improving cognitive decline, and prolonging life in humans in real life (as opposed to animal and laboratory results). The conclusion was: “compared to other types of weight loss programmes the evidence base of the safety and effectiveness of the 5:2 diet is limited. If you are considering it then you should first talk to your GP to see if it is suitable for you”.

 

My conclusion…

Research continues on fasting, and until there is more solid evidence on the best way to fast as part of a healthy diet, I would think carefully and consult your doctor on whether the 5:2 diet is suitable for you.

At the end of the day, the basis of ‘the Fast Diet’ is good old-fashioned calorie restriction. We all know if we want to lose weight we need to eat less, eat healthier foods and exercise more. I believe one of the main reasons the fast diet is so appealing is because it allows us to eat the foods we love but know are bad for us.

However, if you eat healthily and increase your activity levels, there is no reason why you cannot treat yourself occasionally.

I believe that the minute we place ourselves on a ‘diet’ we are setting ourselves up to fail, a ‘diet’ suggests a short-term change.  We should place more emphasis on eating and cooking healthier foods and living a more active lifestyle for the rest of our lives.

August 13, 2013

The Perfect Picnic

by lrmetcalfe

picnic

The Great British Picnic- a wonderful accompaniment to a summer outing in the UK, but how many times do you find yourself wanting more than the usual soggy sandwich?

There are so many healthy, delicious picnic ideas out there you could try. Here is a collection of my favourites:

 

Panzanella

Ingredients

700g very ripe, tomatoes

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp cider vinegar

½ a loaf slightly stale s bread (300-400g), torn into chunks

About 25 black olives

1 small cucumber, peeled, deseeded and cut into thick half-moons

1 small red onion, halved and finely sliced

1 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed

A handful of basil leaves, torn

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Put the tomatoes in a large bowl and crush them with your hands. Tip them into a sieve and push through. Discard the skin and pips. Add the oil, vinegar and plenty of salt and pepper to the tomato juice to make a dressing.

2. Put the bread in a large bowl and pour over the dressing. Add the olives, cucumber, red onion, capers and basil. Toss everything together well with your hands. Leave for 20 minutes and serve or pack up in lunchboxes for your picnic.

 

Minty Coleslaw

This quick, easy and fresh coleslaw recipe, goes well on crusty rolls with ham or cheese.

Ingredients

½ red cabbage, finely shredded

½ white cabbage, finely shredded

½ onion, skinned and finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and finely shredded

6 tbsp natural yoghurt

3 tbsp mint jelly

Black pepper

1. Mix the yoghurt and mint jelly in a large bowl.

2. Add the vegetables and mix well, if the yoghurt doesn’t coat the vegetables, add more yoghurt and mint jelly.

3. Season with black pepper to taste.

 

Mini pitta pizzas

Great for kids, they can make their own combinations and add their favourite toppings.

Makes 8 mini pizzas

Ingredients

4 Pitta breads, chopped into halves

Tomato puree

50g cheddar cheese

Topping ideas

  • Mozarella Cheese, Parmesan Cheese
  • Tuna, prawns
  • Sweetcorn, Jalapenos, Peppers, Onion, Chilli, Olives, Capers, Cherry Tomatoes, Mushrooms
  • Chorizo, Ham, Chicken, Pepperami, Bacon, Turkey
  • Pineapple
  • Boiled egg

1. Heat oven to 200C and put a baking tray inside to heat up. Spread each pitta with 1 tsp purée, add your favourite toppings and sprinkle with the cheddar cheese.

2. Place the pittas on the tray and bake for 10 mins until the pittas are crisp and the cheese has melted. Leave to cool and pack in lunchboxes for your picnic.

 

Fruity Kebabs

You can get as creative as you want with these fruity kebabs, however I love this combination, it can also be drizzled with honey and grilled on a barbeque for a summer pudding.

Ingredients

Mango, nectarine,pineapple, banana, strawberries.

1. Soak skewers in cold water for an hour.

2. Cut the fruit into chunks, thread the fruits onto the skewers, alternating the different types.

August 5, 2013

Fun in the Sun

by lrmetcalfe

ImageTwo weeks in to the summer holidays- are you scratching your head as to fun things you can do with your children? I thought I would give you a few ‘holistic ideas’ of healthy ways you can have fun, which will make a difference to your health or to the environment.

Home-made ice lollies

Who needs the ice cream van? Make your own healthy summer ice lollies, easy to do and cheap to make, these refreshing lollies are great for hot summer afternoons. Just pick up a cheap lolly mould and save some old lolly sticks and get started. The possibilities are endless, but here are some of my favourites:

Bananarama Lolly- Peel a banana cut in half. Push a lolly stick into the cut end and dip the pointed ends in a little melted chocolate, roll in desiccated coconut, hundreds & thousands or chopped nuts. Leave on a plate until the chocolate has set, then put in the freezer overnight.

Strawberry Yoghurt- In a blender, whizz up some strawberries with some natural or strawberry yoghurt. Pour into lolly moulds and leave to freeze overnight.

Juicy Orange- Pour in your favourite breakfast juice to a lolly mould, my favourite is orange, but this would work with lots of different juices. Freeze overnight.

Garden camping

OK I love camping, I know I may be in the minority here, but it’s great fun for kids and nothing is better than waking up to the sounds of birds chirping. Take the expense and hassle out of the experience my camping in the garden.

You could make a night of it; have a barbeque, toast marshmallows, sing campfire songs and settle down to a night under the stars. The next morning you have the added luxury that camping away from home is sorely lacking- the comfort of your own bath and loo!

Your garden becomes a new environment at night, one many of us may not have discovered before. I found that we had a resident toad in our garden, when we slept outside during the recent heat wave.  (Don’t worry it didn’t hop in to my sleeping bag, we heard a strange noise coming from the pond and I looked it up online the next day!)

From 9th-11th August, the RSPB are holding a fundraising event, raise money for conservation by sleeping outside, in their ‘Big Wild Sleepout’. For more information visit: www.rspb.org.uk/thingstodo/sleepout

‘Spring’ clean

OK, so it may be a little late for ‘spring’ cleaning, but a good clear out is very therapeutic and is a great activity for those rainy summer days.

Get the kids to sort through their old toys by playing ‘trash or treasure’, creating piles of unused and loved items. Any toys that are in good working order can be sold on eBay or at car boots, given to charity, or check out ‘Freecycle’, a swapping website, where you can advertise unwanted items to other like-minded recyclers.

You could also make your own natural cleaning products:

Multi-purpose spray- Fill a spray bottle with water until it’s nearly full. Fill the remainder of the bottle with distilled white vinegar and add a small amount of detergent and lemon juice. Shake well.  Use on countertops, sinks, stoves, floors, and toilets.

Air freshener- Add lemon or tea tree essential oil to some cheap vodka and pour into a spritzer bottle, squirt for a fresh, sweet smelling home.

Get on your bike

I’ve recently rediscovered the joy of cycling, many of us take our children to the park to ride their bikes, but do we ride with them?

Look for a cheap bike, if you don’t have one already, often you can pick one up second hand, or borrow a neighbours. Pack a picnic and set off on your bike for the day.

Cycling is a great form of exercise, its low-impact, so it’s easier on your joints, and gives you the chance to get out into the great outdoors.

Check out the national trust website for organised family bike rides, through picturesque settings all over the UK. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/activities/cycling

 

Create a wildlife haven in your garden

Make a wood pile- A wood pile is a great way to attract bugs and amphibians to your garden. Leave a pile of logs, garden cuttings and dead branches in one corner, preferably in a shady area. Fungi may start to grow on your rotting wood this is great for wildlife; it makes good food for slugs and snails which in turn attracts hedgehogs and garden birds.

Feed the birds- You can do this all year round, set up a bird table or bird feeders near to trees and hedges. You don’t have to spend lots of money on bird food. Birds will enjoy many of our kitchen leftovers, including: plain cakes, potatoes, stale bread, rice, soft fruits, apple cores and grated cheese.

You could even make your own bird feeder by pouring melted lard onto a mixture of seeds, nuts, dried fruit, oats, cheese and cake. Stir well in a bowl and allow it to set in a container, an empty coconut shell for instance. Place on your bird table when set.

Leaving an area of your lawn uncut, attracts insects, which provide food for birds.

I hope I have given you some new fun ideas for those long summer days!