18 Feb

Challenges of a Busy Life – rest, relaxation, recreation and good food can help

I recently had an operation,
not serious but under general aesthetic, my recovery was slower than expected
and I was feeling under the weather for weeks. On top of this I continued to
run around as I usually do being a busy mum of two teenagers. I always have to
cook from scratch, ready meals are not an option and though I have this skill
down to an art it still involves a lot of work everyday. I like to shop at the
local organic store and food has to always be in the fridge to feed the family,
lovely but extra load on life. I am also starting a new business with a lot of
extra challenges. By February this year I was burnt out, I was tired, grumpy and bit
Luckily we had a holiday booked but even that I could see far enough,
the thought of packing was overwhelming me. However we went and my goodness
what a difference that made to how I feel. We were skiing, so when you ski all
you think about is skiing – all my worries drifted away for a week. I had my
meals cooked for me – bliss. There was a fantastic spa where I relaxed everyday
after a hard day on the slopes. There was even an infrared sauna – infrared
sauna’s help remove mercury from your body, I know I have some from a hair test
so I was in there everyday detoxing my body. I have come back rejuvenated,
rested and recovered, which led me to write this blog. 
My life is not any
different to yours, we are busier than we have ever been before, years ago you
literary did nothing on a Sunday, now shops are open, the internet is always
available, emails are constantly checked, we do not switch off. This can affect
our health and wellbeing so it is important to take time out of the daily life
load. Doing this can help the way we cope with everyday challenges, we cope
better and therefore feel better. Life is still always going to be fast and
busy but finding our own individual ways to slow down can make a difference. You
don’t necessary need a ski holiday but finding hobbies that you enjoy or even
watching a funny film can ease the load of life.
How and what we eat impacts
also how we deal with everyday life and by eating wholefoods in their most natural
state rich in nutrients we give ourselves one less stressor on the body as
opposed to processed, sugary, fried and refined foods.
What is stress?
Stress is a reaction to a
physical, social, or emotional stimulus that requires a response: extreme heat
or cold, chemical toxin, physical trauma or a strong emotional reaction are all
examples. A stressor can be emotional or physical.  Big time stress events may be a divorce or
death of a loved one. Less obvious stressors include not sleeping enough,
skipping meals, working long hours, over exercising and a poor work life
balance. Even positive events can be stressors such as getting married, having
a family or planning a holiday. 
An individual’s ability to
cope with a stressor has a huge impact on health.  If the stressor is extreme, long lasting,
unusual or overwhelming it can become harmful to the systems in the body.
Headaches, fatigue, irritability,
changes in appetite, memory loss, low self esteem, withdrawal, teeth grinding,
cold hands, high blood pressure, disturbed sleeping
Lifestyle tips
– Deep breathing can calm the body down. Find
a quiet place to sit or lie down and breathe in through your nose and out
through your mouth. Breathe in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 4, feel
your tummy rising on in breath and falling on the out breath.  You can place your hand on your tummy to feel
it and just focus on the breath. Do this for five to ten minutes a day.  Doing this or something similar like mindful
meditation or yoga will help balance your body and stress levels.
– Have a good night’s sleep – sleep
deprivation is associated with high cortisol levels.  Try to turn of electrical equipment at least
1-2 hours before bed, avoid television, intense exercise, caffeine and bright
lights. Relax in a warm bath with chamomile or lavender oil/Epsom salts. Avoid alcohol, alcohol contains sugar and this can affect sleeping.
Laugh!  Having fun can reduce the feelings of stress.
– A good work life balance is
essential.  Spending quality time with
family and friends is valuable. Taking up a hobby that distracts you from the
daily chores of life can also help towards managing a busy life.
– Exercise is important and regular
activity can be a great stress reducer. Exercise alone can improve mood. It
doesn’t have to be high intensity either, gardening or a daily walk in the
fresh air can all help.
– Massage, reiki or craniosacral therapy
are all relaxing therapies.
Tips for improved time management
– Set priorities
– Organise your day
– Delegate
– Tackle tough jobs first
– Avoid putting things off
– Don’t be a perfectionist 
– Eat a diverse range of rainbow coloured
foods: green leafy vegetables, carrots, red, yellow peppers, sweet potatoes,
beetroot, apples, pears, plums, berries. Spices and herbs such as turmeric,
oregano, parsley, basil
– Eat wholefoods and home cooked meals
– Eat regular, planned meals in a relaxed
– Think about food that may not agree
with you. Gluten, dairy, eggs may be examples of foods that people can be
intolerant to. Eating foods you are intolerant to can cause inflammation which
is a stressor to the body.
– Eating protein at each meal can help
control blood sugar and therefore reduce stressors on the body
Food to avoid
– Eliminate or restrict caffeine – stimulates
adrenal glands, adrenal glands secrete cortisol to help deal with stress, too
much stimulation can cause blood sugar problems, sleep problems and eventually lead to
– Eliminate or restrict alcohol intake –
stimulate adrenals
– Eliminate refined carbohydrates  – these foods can contribute to problems with
blood sugar levels
– Avoid foods high in trans, hydrogenated
or oxidised fats as they can be inflammatory – inflammation is a stressor
Want to know more, good books to read:
The Immune System Recovery Plan – Susan Blum
Why Zebras don’t get Ulcers – R Sapolsky

01 Feb

The importance of fat in our diet

Fats are an extremely
important part of our diet and we need to include it into our daily food plates
for good health. 30-35% of fat should make up your daily calories.
Fat has many functions:
– Energy production
– Cell and cell membrane
health – healthy functioning of the body, especially the brain
– Involved in bile
production, needed for digestion and detoxification
– Heat – keeps us warm
– Cholesterol production – Yes we need
– Hormone production and
balance – thyroid, sex hormones, cortisol and insulin
– A healthy balance of fats
can reduce inflammation

Signs of fat deficiency or
imbalance may be: dry skin, brittle nails, dry hair and scalp, eczema and
asthma, low mood, poor concentration and more serious conditions may be
neurological disorders, cancer and heart disease.
Bad fats are hydrogenated,
trans and damaged fats and can be detrimental to our health.

Some tips regarding fat intake:

Avoid bad fats
Saturated fat is actually better
to cook with as it is more stable when heated than vegetable and nut or seed
oil however watch the consumption, it should be no more than 10% of daily
Cook with olive oil at lower
temperatures, coconut oil or butter. For roasting at higher temperatures, it is
better to use a saturated fat like coconut oil.
Store nut and seed oil, nuts
and seeds in fridge and eat a variety of different types of nuts and seeds for
example: Brazil nuts, walnuts, pistachio, cashew and almonds. Pumpkin seeds,
flaxseeds, sesame, chia and sunflower seeds. Grind seeds for optimal benefit.
Increase omega 3 intake by
eating oily fish – salmon, trout, mackerel, anchovies and sardines.
Good sources of essential
fats are: nuts, seeds, oily fish, organic eggs, avocados, olive oil, flaxseed
oil and nut butters like pumpkinseed, cashew nut and tahini.
Increase antioxidants to
help reduce damage caused by fats – rainbow coloured foods – apples, berries,
peppers, green leafy vegetables, beetroot, carrots, onions and garlic.
Coconut oil is quite special as it is used in the body straight away for energy and therefore less likely to
be stored in fatty tissue. It also contains Lauric Acid which may support the
immune system. Its microbial action may help with Candida, MRSA, Helicobacter
and Staphylococcus aureas
Meal suggestions
Steamed salmon fillet with
sweet potato mash and broccoli
Porridge with a mixture of
ground seeds and walnuts topped with fruit
Mashed avocado with drizzle
of olive oil on wholemeal or rye toast topped with tomatoes
Pasta sauce cooked with
olive oil and mixed salad, sprinkle of seeds and olive oil, lemon juice
Make salad dressings with olive
oil, flaxseed oil or rapeseed oil
Scrambled eggs topped with
smoked salmon and asparagus or wilted spinach