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Egg’cellent dish!

Can you relate to this? You get back from work late and realise that yet again you have forgotten to take the evenings dinner out of the freezer! What to do?

You don’t want to waste money on an expensive greasy takeaway but you don’t exactly feel inspired to pop out to the shops to create a last minute gourmet meal either. This is where this quick and easy little dish from Bill Granger works wonders!

Created from left overs that are lying around in the fridge, it literally takes almost no time to cook. It’s packed full of protein and veges and is relatively light, especially if you are eating later than you would like. 

The recipe below serves 4 and it’s yummy cold so the hubby and I usually take a portion to work the next day…

Bill Grangers ‘Open-Faced Feta and Leek Omelette’

2 x leeks, washed and sliced (The recipe says white part only but I used all of it)

3 small zucchini (courgettes), finely sliced

A couple of handfuls of Broccoli, chopped very small (Bills recipe doesn’t include this)

1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tablespoons, chopped fresh mint

3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

6 eggs, lightly beaten with 2 tablespoons water

A little salt and pepper

115 g feta cheese, drained

Heat the grill to its highest setting. Place a 9 inch frying pan (with a heatproof handle) over a medium to high heat. Add the olive oil, leek, salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes stirring continuously. Add the broccoli and zucchini and cook for another 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the herbs and pour the eggs over the top. Crumble the feta over the omelette and cook for 5 minutes. Finish under the grill for another approx 5 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

And there you have it…Too easy!!

A SENSIBLE 14 day Detox

My post this week is a SENSIBLE 14 day detox plan that I often give my clients if they are low in energy levels, feeling a little down or depressed or if they want to kick start a weight loss plan.

I say SENSIBLE IN CAPITALS because there are no expensive supplements to take, no living off cabbage and soup for 2 weeks, its easy to follow and stick to and there no aggressive or potentially damaging powders that claim to rid your body of toxins (often causing more harm than good!)

This detox plan focuses on healthy nutritious eating, getting adequate portions of protein and vegetables and quite simply cutting out sugar.

The reason for cutting out sugar – very briefly excess or overloads of sugar that aren’t converted into energy are stored in the body as fat. This can lead to weight gain. Also the excess sugar will send your blood sugar levels soaring, initially leading to an energy boost but then what goes must come down and eventually you are left with a tired lethargic slump. Then you guessed it, you will need to refuel with more sugar to keep you going!  Is that mid afternoon slump familiar to anyone?

Anyway give this program a go and let me know what you think… Please note – you are still allowed small amounts of dry wine, tea and coffee but obviously in moderation!!

DR PHIL MAFFETONE’S 14 DAY DETOX

Dr. Phil Maffetone’s 14 day weight loss and cleansing test is a great way to get started on a program that will detoxify your body safely and with great results!

This is a great program for anyone who wants to regulate their blood sugar with healthy foods.

The Two-Week Test
Dr. Philip Maffetone

I developed the Two Week Test in the early 1980s to help people get back their intuition and instincts about healthy eating. This is the first step to getting off the vicious diet cycle which is perpetuated so much this time of year.

Many people eat too much dietary carbohydrate – beyond what their bodies can tolerate. The Two Week Test is a simple method for understanding and correcting this problem.

First note if you have any of the following problems, and write them down:

  • Physical or mental fatigue
  • Blood-sugar handling problems
  • Intestinal bloating
  • Sleepiness after meals
  • Increased fat storage and weight
  • Increased triglycerides
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Poor sleep
  • Depression
  • Addiction

In addition, if you are concerned about your weight, weigh yourself before starting the test. After the test, you will ask yourself again how you feel regarding these complaints, and also check your weight on the scale.

During the Two-Week Test you will significantly decrease your intake of carbohydrates. It is important that you do not go hungry. Eat as much as you want but stick strictly to the recommended foods. Before you start the test, make sure you have enough of the foods you’ll be eating during the test. Go shopping and stock up on these items. In addition, go through your cabinets and refrigerator and get rid of any sweets in your house, or you’ll be tempted.

As for the test itself, you merely want to eat using the following guidelines for a period of no less than two weeks.

Foods to avoid:

  • Bread, rolls, pasta, pancakes, cereal, muffins, chips, crackers and rice cakes.
  • All sweets
  • All products containing sugar such as ketchup, honey, etc. (read labels!).
  • Fruits and fruit juice.
  • Highly processed meats such cold cuts, which often contain sugar.
  • Potatoes, corn, rice and beans.
  • Milk, half-and-half and yogurt.
  • So-called healthy snacks, including all energy bars, shakes and drinks.
  • All soda, including diet.

Foods to eat:

  • All cooked or raw vegetables (except potatoes and corn).
  • Whole eggs, unprocessed cheese, cream.
  • All unprocessed meats including beef, turkey, chicken, lamb, fish and shellfish.
  • Tomato, V-8 or other vegetable juices such as carrot juice.
  • Nuts, seeds, nut butters.
  • Oils, vinegar, mayonnaise, salsa and mustard (check labels for added sugars).
  • Sea salt (unless you are sodium sensitive).
  • Water! At least six to ten, 8-ounce glasses each day.
  • Dry wine, coffee and tea if you normally consume them.

After the Two-Week Test
Re-evaluate your list of complaints. If you feel better now than you did before the test, or if you lost weight, chances are you were previously eating too much carbohydrate and would benefit by lowering your intake. Any weight loss during the test is not due to reduced calories, as many people eat more calories than usual during this two-week period. It’s due to the increased fat-burning resulting from reduced insulin production. While there may be some water loss, especially if you are sodium sensitive, there is real fat loss.

If your blood pressure has been high, and especially if you are on medication, ask your health-care professional to check it several times during the test. Sometimes blood pressure drops significantly and your medication may need to be adjusted, which should be done by your health-care professional.

   

Adding Carbs
If the Two-Week Test improved your signs and symptoms; the next step is to determine how much carbohydrate you can tolerate, without a return of these problems. This is done in the following manner.

Begin adding small amounts of carbohydrates to your diet with every other meal or snack. This may be an apple for a snack, or some brown rice with dinner. Begin with fruits, lentils, rice and honey, and afterwards try bread, potatoes and others. Whatever you add, make sure it’s not a refined carbohydrate: no foods containing sugar, no refined-flour products (like white bread, rolls or pasta), brown rice instead of white, etc. Don’t add a carbohydrate to back-to-back meals, as insulin production is partly influenced by your previous meal.

With each addition of carbohydrate, watch for any of the symptoms you had previously that were eliminated by the test. Look especially for symptoms that develop immediately after eating, such as intestinal bloating, sleepiness or feelings of depression. If your hunger or cravings disappeared during the two weeks and now have returned, you’ve probably eaten too many carbohydrates. If you lost 8 pounds during the test, and gained back 5 pounds after adding some carbohydrates for a week or two, you’ve probably eaten too many carbohydrates.

PS – Photo taken at Killcare, near Sydney Australia.

An old favourite that tastes of goodness!

This weeks post is an extremely simple and easy old favourite that I am sure most of you know how to cook already.

Each and every time I cook this particular recipe I remember in one mouthful why I love it so much! I honestly think this recipe actually tastes of goodness and I know it sounds insane but to me it is almost like you can actually feel the vitamins and other good stuff travelling down back of your throat (ok perhaps I am slightly weird!!)

Anyway, the recipe I am talking about is Ratatouille which is basically a tomato and aubergine (sorry egg plant for you aussies!) based dish. It is great as both a main meal feature – in addition to sufficient portion of protein of course and also an accompaniment to a main dish.

I tend make more of a feature of it, usually crumbling feta cheese on the top…along with my usual concoction of pumpkin, sunflower and chia seeds. I also like to stir in a can of tuna  for extra protein.

Anyway enough of my garbling… I am sure there are a million recipes out there for Ratatouille but this is mine!

Ratatouille that tastes of goodness:

2 x onions – chopped

3 x sticks of celery – chopped

2 x courgettes/zucchini – chopped

2 x aubergines/egg plants (cut into chunks and blanched in boiling water for a couple of minutes)

1 x large red pepper – chopped

2 x 400g cans of tomatoes

8 x sundried tomatoes

1 x tbsp tomato paste

1 x handful of chopped fresh basil

Some chopped oregano

Pinch of salt and pepper

Feta/Goats/Sheep’s cheese crumbled on the top

Pumpkin, sunflower and chia seeds sprinkled on the top

Method:

Fry the onions in a little olive oil for a couple of minutes, then add the peppers, courgette and celery and sun-dried tomatoes. After about 4-5 mins add the aubergine (that has been blanched in hot water) and after a couple of minutes again the cans of tomatoes, herbs and seasoning. Simmer gently for around 20 -30 mins and serve.

Serves: 

Around 4-6 – My hubby and I got two lunches each and an evening meal accompaniment out of it. We find it’s actually better the next day!

Home Cooked Happiness!

I know it might sound totally INSANE but my life changed quite considerably recently, thanks to a slow cooker! For those of you who already have a slow cooker you will probably know what I mean and for those of you who don’t, hear me out, you seriously have to get one!

On the outside it is what it says it is a slow cooker. A big shiny pot that plugs into the wall and sits on your worktop. You literally chop up the ingredients and slow cook at a low heat for around 4 – 8 hours depending on the recipe. However, it is a whole lot more than that…

Imagine arriving home from work tired and hungry after a long day. You open the front door and it hits you… the whole house is filled with a wonderful aroma of hearty, warming, home cooked food. Food that nourishes the body and gives it energy, food that takes you back to your childhood days and those wonderful Sunday lunches that were prepared for you and not by you.

You walk into the kitchen and there is your perfectly cooked dinner waiting for you and your family. It has been bubbling away slowly all day, what a wonderful use of time. There is nothing else that you need to do other than grab a plate and serve up…

Aside from the tastiness and convenience aspect of this wonderful little pot, there are many other benefits to this form of cooking too. Due to the fact that the ingredients are being cooked at a slow temperature for a long time they become extremely tender and juicy and as there is little evaporation they won’t dry out.

Also very importantly the natural juices from the meat and vegetables are retained in the slow cooking pot meaning that the cooked food is extremely nutritious too.

The slow cooker is also very inexpensive too, I think ours was around $40 and no mounds of washing up afterwards as all you have to wash up is one pot!

Anyway, enough of my rambling, it’s time to put words into action! Here are a few great recipes to try using the slow cooker.

Beef Goulash Soup

1 kg of chuck steak

1 onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

400 g tinned tomatoes

750 mls (3 cups) chicken stock (I used vegetable stock and it worked fine)

350 g butternut squash, chopped

1 green capsicum, halved seeded and cut into thin strips

2 tables spoons of natural yoghurt to serve

What do to…

Put all of the ingredients except for the capsicum into the slow cooker. Cook on low for 4.5 hours, until beef is tender and butternut squash is cooked through. Stir in the capsicum and then turn the cooker up to high and cook for a further 1 hour with the lid off. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the yoghurt before serving.

Serves 4-6

Source: Slow Cookers – A classic kitchen collection for the busy cook

Basque Chicken

1.8 kg of chicken pieces

1 onion, cut into 2cm dice

1 red capsicum, 2cm dice

1 green capsicum, 2cm dice

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

200g chorizo sausage, sliced

150 ml white wine

80g tomato paste/puree

90g black olives

1/4 preserved lemon

2 tablespoons chopped basil

2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

What to do…

Put all of the ingredients (except the basil, parsley and lemon) into the slow cooker. Rinse the preserved lemon well, remove and discard the pulp and membrane and finely dice the rind. Add to the chicken and cook on low for 8 hours or until chicken is cooked through. Stir in the basil and serve with sprinkled chopped parsley.

Serves 4-6

Source: Slow Cookers – A classic kitchen collection for the busy cook

Slow Cooked Chicken, Lentil and Pumpkin Curry

2/3 cup of dried brown Lentils

2/3 cup of dried red Lentils

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 large brown onion (200g) chopped finely

2 garlic cloves crushed

2.5 cm piece of fresh ginger (10g) grated

2 teaspoons of ground cumin

2 teaspoons of ground coriander

2 teaspoons of black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon of ground turmeric

1 fresh long red chilli chopped finely

3 cups chicken stock (750ml)

1kg of chicken thigh fillets chopped coarsely

400g canned diced tomatoes

500g butternut pumpkin chopped coarsely in medium pieces

1 1/4 cups canned coconut milk

155g baby spinach leaves

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh coriander

Plain yoghurt for dressing

What to do…

Rinse lentils under cold water until water runs clear; drain. Heat oil in large frying pan; cook onion, garlic and ginger, stirring, until onion softens. Add spices and chilli; cook, stirring, until fragrant. Add stock; bring to the boil. Pour stock mixture into 4.5 litre slow cooker; stir in chicken, undrained tomatoes, pumpkin and lentils. Cook covered on low for 7 hours. Stir in coconut milk; cook, covered on high, 15 minutes, stirring once. Stir in spinach and coriander. Season to taste. Top with plain yoghurt.

Serves 5-6

Source: http://www.mouthwateringmunchies.com/?p=4701

Sunday Night Comfort Soup!

Don’t we all have those lazy TV dinner moments when all we want is a film and some good old comfort food?!

Rob and I had one of those moments last sunday evening. We had taken the dog out for a run and it had started to tip down with rain half way round. By the time we got home we were drenched and were craving something warming and comforting but also healthy, nutritious and guilt free! In other words a food that would make us feel good!

After a moments deliberation we turned to good old Delia, in my view the queen of comfort eating! We came across this awesome recipe for Lentil Soup from ‘Delia’s Complete Cookery Course’. It is extremely easy to make and a great way to use up those left overs in fridge.

The recipe includes lentils which are packed full of filling, muscle building protein plus they are full of fiber and have significant amounts of folate, iron (for energy) and magnesium (which helps keep your heart healthy). The soup is so yummy and really is a meal on its own, it honestly keeps you feeling full for HOURS afterwards!

Give it a go and let me know what you think…

Ingredients:

8 rashers smoked bacon (rind/fat removed)

175 g of Puy lentils

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 carrots chopped

2 medium onions, ch0pped

2 celery stalks, sliced

225g tin of tomatoes

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

3 pints bouillon vegetable stock

225g cabbage, chopped

2 tbsp fresh parsley

salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large cooking pot and fry the bacon in it until the fat begins to run. Then stir in the prepared carrots, onion and celery and, with the heat fairly high, toss them around to brown them a little at the edges. Now stir in the washed, drained lentils plus the contents of the tin of tomatoes followed by the crushed garlic then the stock.

As soon as the soup comes to the boil, put a lid on and simmer, as gently as possible, for about 1 hour. About 15 minutes before the end add the cabbage. Taste and season. Just before serving stir in the chopped parsley

Source: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/type-of-dish/soups/smoked-bacon-and-lentil-soup.html

Please note: I made a few minor changes to the original version. I used organic bouillon vegetable stock instead of homemade for speed. I also used back bacon instead of streaky and a few extra slices to increase the protein content.

My Rave-worthy salad!

Hi guys, I am still here! Apologies for my lack of posts recently but the weeks seem to have flown past, all excuses I know but you know how it gets!

Anyway, I wanted to share a fabulous salad that I had on Saturday at a cafe in Paddo. This salad was SERIOUSLY good, so good in fact that I had to take a photo of it and then then raved on about it for hours and hours afterwards saying it was the best salad I had ever had! 

As you know I am a strong advocate of high protein, low GI eating for sustained energy and to keep you feeling fuller for longer. In other words eating in such a way that you avoid sugar spikes that are followed by subsequent dips that can lead to sluggishness and weight gain.

This monster salad is low GI, definitely high in protein (due to the cheeses, walnuts and seeds) and has plenty of good fats. Although it was totally yummy I have to admit two things… firstly it isn’t particularly low calorie (but hey we all have to have a treat sometimes!) and secondly I have adapted it slightly by adding a  few extra seeds to make it even more perfect. So, here it is:

Butternut squash (1 cup) roasted in mild curry powder and little olive oil

Spinach leaves (couple of handfuls of)

Rocket leaves (handful of)

Walnuts (a handful of)

Sunflower seeds (1 tbsp)

Pepita Seeds (1tbps)

Chia Seeds (1tbsps)

Ricotta Cheese (1 tbps)

Feta cheese (50-100g – portion is up to you!)

Balsamic Vinegar (a drizzle of)

Extra Virgin Olive oil

Enjoy! The combination of the curry powder and the feta are honestly to die for!

The Challenge – Eating out and NOT Over Indulging!

I have had a request from one of my really good mates. Like many of us he works in a busy, fast paced job and is constantly faced with entertaining clients – be it long business lunches or dinner/drinks after work, all these occasions  present a challenge if you are trying to eat healthily. He asked if I could give him some tips on keeping these wine, beer and calorie laden occasions as healthy and wholesome as possible whilst avoiding too much embarrassment. So here are my top tips on how to eat out and not feel the guilt afterwards:

Out for Drinks:

  • When ordering drinks always make sure you order a jug of water for the table at the same time. Try and match your drink with a glass of water 1 for 1,  this will slow your drinking down and will also help to avoid mindless sipping of your alcoholic drink when you are nervous or busy chatting. If you are able to pass on the alcohol a soda water with a good squeeze of fresh lime is a good option (I get mine served in a wine glass!) and it has a bit of a kick to it.
  • Order some healthy nibbles straight away, at the beginning of the evening, rather than waiting until you have had a few drinks and are likely to make the wrong choices. Order nibbles that have some protein which will help to balance your blood sugar levels (especially if you are drinking alcohol) which means they are much more likely to fill you up. Good nibbles choices include: hummus or tzatziki with crudités, unsalted nuts and olives, artichokes, chicken satay sticks (go easy on the sauce), grilled calamari, sashimi, grilled/roasted vegetables, grilled prawns etc. In addition order a salad for the middle of the table; despite appearances most people will be thankful for it!
  • Things to avoid: breaded and deep fried options, breads (no matter how inviting or healthy they look!), crisps, fries, wedges, pizzas
  • Watch your portion sizes! Picture a dinner plate and make sure that your nibbles don’t equate to any more than your usual plate of dinner. It is so easy to over indulge with nibbles because you are eating one thing at a time so it is hard to keep track of what you are eating.

Out for Dinner:

  • If you are able to choose where to eat, then take this option if you can! The best choices are usually the simple ones, so go for a restaurant/cafe where you can get a good piece of meat or fish and some vegetables or salad. Most reasonable Australian and European restaurants will offer this, good choices include: Italian, French, Greek, Turkish.
  • Be wary of sushi as it is very easy to overindulge and a lot of the rolls are made with white glutinous rice. If you do have sushi then stick to sashimi, endamame beans and grilled fish or meats. Also ask for a salad.
  • If you are going for Asian food then again try and go for the fish/meat option rather than the fried noodles/fried rice which are packed full of calories and little goodness.
  • No matter where you are always ask for a side order of vegetables or salad, even if your plate of food includes some vegetables already. If it isn’t on the menu ask anyway, I have never been refused a salad or vegetables yet!
  • If you must go for pasta or pizza then always go thin crust and opt to share a few dishes with the table and order a couple of salads to go with it. That way you can enjoy a few slices of pizza and a fill up with vegetables.

Out for Coffee/Afternoon Tea:

  • Avoid mindless sipping!  Whilst you are embroiled in a business conversation you are unlikely to be concentrating on what you are drinking (unless the meeting is really dull of course!) Therefore do you really need that mocha latte? Are you really going to enjoy it and taste it? If you have already had your quota of coffee for the day they why not opt for a cup of lemon and ginger or peppermint tea instead to avoid excess sugar and fat.
  • Find the nuts! I have noticed that lots of coffee places are now selling bags of raw nuts. Why not offer those to the table before anyone has a chance to eye up the cupcakes?!

And one final thing, in those moments of weakness remember this…as Buddha (c. 563 BC to 483 BC) – a spiritual teacher from ancient India who founded Buddhism said;  ‘To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.’  That strong clear mind you could gain from abstaining from those sugar filled treats could actually help you from a business perspective, rather than hinder it! 

 

Hungry an hour after breakfast? Then read this…

Is this you? You make sure you always start your day with a hearty and healthy breakfast because you know it’s the most important meal of the day. Maybe you choose a tasty bowl of cereal or a couple of slices of toast with marmite (or should I say vegemite now that I’m in Oz!)? Perhaps you are on a bit of a health kick so you enjoy a nice bowl of muesli with dried fruit or some chopped fruit and your favorite brand of yogurt? You feel satisfied at the time but by the time you get to 9.30am  you are absolutely starving! How can this be, you think?

The answer is that you probably aren’t getting enough protein for your breakfast. Many of the pre packaged cereals, muesli’s and breads are packed full of hidden sugars which will initially spike your blood sugar levels, filling you up and giving you a surge of energy. However, soon after your blood sugar levels will come crashing down, that’s when you feel hungry and need more food again. It is kind of similar to a roller coaster, what goes up must come down, so the higher your blood sugar travels up the lower it will go when it eventually dips.

So what to do about it? By eating a protein rich breakfast (which also includes some healthy wholegrains and good fats) you can help to keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the the day. In otherwise avoiding the roller coaster effect. This will not only encourage better sustained energy levels but it will also stop you feeling hungry and will be better on the waist line!

Here are my 5 Favourite Protein Rich Breakfast choices:

2 Boiled Eggs on 1 slice of multi seed toast with avocado and tomato (for those of you in Sydney there is a bakery in Bondi Beach that does a quinoa and amaranth bread, that is honestly to die for!)

Smoked salmon, cottage cheese and chopped cucumber on 1 slice of multiseed toast. Add a few pepita seeds for some good fats.  (I also recommend adding chopped chives to the cottage cheese, if you have the time!)

Spinach and feta omelette (*a very small amount of feta if you are trying to loose weight!) with 3 oatcakes or 2 ryvitta (I know it sounds like a hastle but honestly omelette’s are such a quick thing to cook! Literally bung the beaten eggs into a pan with a little olive oil. After about a minute add the spinach and small portion of feta, fold the omelette over and continue to heat for a another minute or so and serve)

A good portion of unsweetened natural yogurt with a high protein mix created from; chopped almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, flax seeds and chia seeds

Smoked kipper or mackerel (You may think I am crazy but they are fantastic for brekkie! They are really tasty and SO good for you…Give them a go!) with cherry tomatoes and 1 slice of multi seed toast

I hope you enjoy! If you have any other protein rich brekkie ideas then feel free to share.

Almond Butter – Tastes too Good to be Good!

My new favourite food of the moment has to be 100% natural almond butter!  This is why:

– It really tastes so good! It’s similar to peanut butter but it is sweeter and creamier. For a yummy snack try spreading almond butter on low GI oat cakes (much tastier than a sugary laden biscuit) and sprinkle with some pumpkin seeds. Alternatively use it as a dip for raw vegetables.

– It really fills you up! Almonds are packed full of protein, in fact they have more protein than any other nuts. This means that they will keep you feeling fuller for longer and ensures that your blood sugar levels are in check. Protein also helps to rebuild muscle, therefore it is an awesome post exercise snack.

– Full of nutrients! Containing more dietary fibre, calcium and vitamin E that any other nut. They also have a huge list of other nutrients including folic acid, zinc and the omega-6 essential fatty acids.

– Almonds help you burn fat!  Research has shown that of two groups of people on low calorie diets, those who ate almonds every day lost 50% more fat than those who didn’t.

* Make sure you always go for the 100% natural variety with nothing else added. Check the ingredients on the back for more info.

My Fitness Ramblings! The Big Why?

 

Apologies as I haven’t posted anything in a while!  I have been back in the UK with my family and am now in the process of organising our relocation to Sydney, Australia so things have been rather hectic!

I was recently interviewed by a top women’s magazine here in Singapore. They wanted to gain a personal trainers perspective on the importance of eating healthily and exercising. Here are my views, in case you are interested!

Question 1. What does having a balanced diet and adequate exercise really mean? Why is it important?

The combination of an active lifestyle along with a healthy diet are two of the most important factors that affect your overall health. We are often hearing about how obesity is on the rise along with other health issues such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease. By doing some form of exercise everyday and eating healthily you can prevent weight gain and illnesses associated with it.

Exercise and a balanced diet are also important for overall energy levels, enabling you to live life to the full and do all the things that you love. It keeps the mind active and healthy, relieves stress, improves moods (especially around ‘that’ time of the month!) and helps you to look and feel better. Exercise and a good diet that is full of nutrients also helps to keep bones strong and healthy for later life and prevents injuries and posture problems.

Question 2.  Tell us more about eating healthily: What does it mean? How difficult is it to achieve? What are some of the conscious decisions that you have to make, and how do you make the best decision?

Most importantly eating healthy is about eating a good balanced diet containing food from all of the food groups; protein, healthy wholegrains, lots of vegetables, fruits, pulses and good fats such as raw nuts, seeds and avocados. It’s about variety, trying to eat as many DIFFERENT nutritious foods as possible and drinking lots of water, at least 2 litres per day. Cutting out processed and packaged foods and trying to stick to foods that are as natural and simple as possible.

I believe that you should aim to eat a low GI diet, which means foods that break down slowly, releasing glucose more gradually into the bloodstream. This means sustained energy levels throughout the day and less hunger spikes. In short a healthy diet is about spoiling and nourishing the body, eating foods that are good for you and make you feel good!

The conscious decision you have to make is that YOU want to change. It is a decision that only you YOU can make. Once you have set your mind to do it, although there may be blips at times (and you may need to exercise some willpower!) it is easier than you may think! I would suggest making a start by really enjoying the food that you eat. Really taste it and notice what you are tasting. Take a bite, are you tasting lovely fresh flavours or just a lot of salt or sugar? Does everything taste the same?!

Whatever the changes are that you decide to make ensure that they will work for you long term and fit into your hectic schedule. Make promises to yourself that you know you can keep!

Question 3. We’re trying to get our readers to make small changes in their eating habits each time: How do you advise them to do this?

Firstly to set a goal, why is it that they want to become healthier – why is it important to them? What benefits could it add to their lives? It might be that they want more energy when they get up in the mornings, or perhaps they want to lose a few kg for their wedding day or have more confidence to wear that special bikini on the beach or maybe they have a family history of high blood pressure. Whatever it is, this goal will help to motivate them to stay on track… especially when temptations get in the way which they always will!!

Next they need to decide what the changes are going to be in order to achieve the main goal. I would recommend beginning by making changes to just one meal per day. For example the first change could be at breakfast (research shows this is the most important meal of the day).  A good breakfast should contain some protein, healthy whole grain carbohydrates  and some good fats. Therefore they may decide to swap a takeaway muffin for a boiled egg with one slice of multi-seed toast spread with almond butter.

Make a shopping list! Plan what you are going to eat ahead of time rather than relying on impulse buys. Look forward to your nightly meals and make each an occasion.

Once the first change is mastered than they can start thinking about the second one etc…

Question 4. What is one exercise you would recommend to girls to help them tone their bodies?

Ideally they should do a combination of cardiovascular exercise and strength/resistance training to keep themselves fit and healthy.

Cardiovascular training such as walking, running, cycling, dancing will help the body to burn fat. Strength/resistance training such as weight training, plyometrics, yoga etc will help to build lean muscle mass, give a toned appearance and increase the metabolism.

Unfortunately there is no one exercise that you can do but certainly walking would be a good first stage along with some simple resistance and core training exercises such as squats, lunges and planks.

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