Posts

These two themes kept coming up

The summer holidays are over. Uni has started again and the new term has started, and the greatest news is I’m still loving all the lectures! 🙂

The last one, just before I left to catch the plane from London back to Malaysia, was on Female & Male Health. OK, admittedly, that doesn’t sound so interesting. But here’s what’s so exciting about the topic. It’s all about understanding how our hormones work, how we metabolise them in our bodies and how they can go out of balance.

For those of us who are well into or even past our 40s, the symptoms of unbalanced hormones can show up as poor sleep, fatigue, irritability, hot flushes, night sweats, joint pain, itching skin, memory loss, low libido, weight gain and more. It’s no surprise then to wonder if our best years are behind us and to question, “Is this it? Is life downhill from here on out?”

That’s exactly how I felt when I was 48.

Now, here’s the thing. Because the degree I’m doing is based in Functional Medicine, we don’t much care about the label given to a condition as such. Instead, we look at where or how the body isn’t functioning optimally and then work to get to the underlying root cause of that imbalance. Yes, lab tests often help to guide us in understanding exactly where these imbalances are, so that they can be addressed. But, regardless of that, two themes kept coming up, again and again, in virtually everything we looked at, which don’t require lab tests.

These two themes were the very ones that helped me, after I read that book that transformed my perspective from always and secretly wanting to lose weight, to understanding that food “tells” our bodies what to do. Putting it another way, food actually communicates to the hormones in our bodies. This was a major light bulb moment for me. And it’s also exactly the lightbulbs that happen for my coaching clients.

Many of us have mistakenly placed all emphasis on calories and calories only, without knowing that it’s the quality of the food that makes the difference, because of the messages it carries. For example, eating certain foods tells your body to pile the weight on, and other foods tell your body to build muscle, while some foods put your body into physiological stress, and other foods can calm you down.

So, the foods that you choose have a direct impact on either helping to keep your hormones in balance or helping to kick them out of balance. Which means, that the foods you choose to eat can have a significant impact on your experience of those symptoms I mentioned above.

Now, remember how I said that in Functional Medicine, we look to get down to the root causes?

Drum roll now please, for the two themes, over which you actually have more control over than you might think and which go hand in hand. They are:

  1. Normalise weight
  2. Normalise blood sugar and insulin levels (insulin itself being a hormone)

It may not sound so sexy when put like that, I know. But if you really want to make a difference to your energy levels and how you feel in yourself and about yourself, then this means choosing foods that help you to do just that.

Here’s how in a nutshell

  • Scrap the C.R.A.P. – Caffeine, Refined sugar, Alcohol, Processed food. These throw your hormones out of balance.
  • Make protein and non-starchy vegetables the foundation of all your meals. There’s plenty to choose from – salmon, eggs, cottage cheese, tuna, chicken…. Protein will fill you up (protein takes longer to break down), and help to balance your blood sugar levels to ensure you have energy throughout the day without experiencing hunger pangs or sugar dips.
  • Add some healthy fat – olive oil, avocado, raw nuts and seeds… These help you to feel satisfied and are also needed by your body for optimal functioning.
  • Keep starches low, focusing on protein, non-starchy vegetables and healthy fats to keep you filled and satisfied.

Now, to get your ideas flowing as to the types of meals you can have from focusing on those 4 things, here’s a list to get you going.

Your starter list of meals to try:

Soups

  • Coconut cream of Carrot, Orange and Ginger Soup with Chicken garnished with almonds
  • Creamy Cauliflower and Salmon Soup with Roasted Crushed Pecans

Salads

  • Thai Style Chicken Salad with Cashews
  • Spicy Chicken Wings with Roast Cauliflower/Roast Peppers
  • Tuna Salad with Avocado
  • Chicken roasted in cumin and coconut oil, with quinoa, celery, apple and cashews/almonds
  • Tuna, asparagus & orange
  • Prawn lettuce wrap – red peppers, cucumber, lettuce, thai dressing, chilli, coriander
  • Chicken with roasted cauliflower, sweet potato and caraway
  • Ground turkey fried in chilli and cumin, served with avocado, greek yogurt salsa, tomatoes and romaine lettuce

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Red Curry Prawns/Fish Laksa with Basil/Coriander, Lime & Chilli
  • Salmon Cakes with Mango and Coriander Salsa
  • Simple Baked Salmon in Coconut Milk
  • Ginger & Sesame Baked Cod or Salmon with Bok Choy
  • Roast Chicken with Caraway, Fried Mushrooms and sugar snap peas
  • Stuffed Peppers with tuna, basil and pine nuts
  • Caraway, Sweet Potato and King Prawn Chowder – here’s the recipe
  • Beef Bourguinon (no added flour)
  • Steak with Herb Butter/Chimchurri
  • Roast butterfly of pork fillet with rosemary
  • Pan-grilled pork fillet in thyme and lemon served with apple and chilli slaw (cabbage & carrot) in yogurt, mustard and white wine vinegar dressing, plus coriander

Snacks

  • Almond Butter & Celery
  • Apples and Turkey with Cheddar
  • Berries & Yogurt
  • Homemade Sunflower/Sesame/Almond Crackers
  • Easy-to-make Paleo Bread – Go on – give it a go!
  • Prosciutto & Pears
  • Chia Seed Pudding

Desserts

Not a bad list, eh? And when you cook those meals and serve them up, many people don’t recognise that it’s actually healthy food, because it looks good and it tastes good.

Alright, maybe one of these days I’ll get my act together and post recipes and photographs. That said, documenting things really aren’t my strong point, so please don’t hold your breath, but feel free to remind me!

Now over to you. How will you change some of your food choices today?

Make your next years your best years.

Is Dietary Fat Good or Bad?… 30 Leading Health Experts Weigh In

Think back to the last time you decided you wanted to lose weight or to improve your health.

Now ask yourself: On that morning, what did you do differently? Did you continue eating exactly the same but eating less instead? Did you try to count your calories? Did you cut down on fat and eat more carbs?

The truth is, many people aren’t always sure what the best strategies are, because there have been mixed messages about what it really takes to lose weight, feel great and reverse chronic disease naturally.

jar sand measuring tablespoon of ghee - clarified butter on grunge wood

One of the key areas of confusion has been around the subject of dietary fat. Dietary guidelines told us to eat less fat and more carb. These were based on the results of a study known as the Seven Countries Study. Unfortunately, the results of that study were “cherry-picked”, meaning, that only the findings that supported what the researchers wanted to show were reported. In short, it was bad science.

Fast forward to today. According to the Fat Summit website, “In 2015, the United States Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee removed any recommendations to limit fat in the diet (after concluding that it doesn’t make us fat or sick).” I am absolutely curious to hear more about this.

If, like me, you want to hear what the experts have to say, then I have something to share that I know you’re going to love.

The Fat Summit – “Separating Fat from Fiction” <— Check this out

Take a look at this amazing event, featuring some of the top leaders in health and wellness, and functional medicine. Hosted by nine-time New York Times bestselling author, and an internationally recognized leader, educator and advocate in Functional Medicine, Dr Mark Hyman, the list of speakers include David Perlmutter MD, Chris Kresser, Josh Axe, Nina Teicholz, JJ Virgin, Barry Sears, Gary Taubes, Walter C. Willett, MD, Christiane Northrup, MD, not to mention 21 other experts in the lineup.

For one week starting January 25, they’ll be weighing in (pardon the pun!) on dietary fat and the secrets to sustained weight loss, health and longevity. And incredibly, they’re giving all this away for FREE.

Here are just some of the many fascinating topics they’re covering:

  • Why eating more fat (and less sugar) actually leads to weight loss
  • Whether or not children should eat a high-fat diet
  • How carbohydrates impact hunger (I wish I had known about this years ago)
  • The research on red meat (does “grass-fed” really make a difference?)
  • The connection between toxins and weight gain
  • How to enjoy healthy meat (with minimal environmental impact)
  • The best sources of plant-based fat
  • The role of fat in ageing (ahhh, this one is close to my heart these days)
  • And much more…

Registration kicked off YESTERDAY and space is limited. Don’t put off what could well be the most important move you make all year. Sign up right now.

I can’t wait for you to watch this. This is going to change lives.

Here’s to a healthier 2016!

Love

Veronica
xo

Food Really Can Be Your Medicine

If you could turn back the clock to become healthier, more energetic, more youthful and have a better quality of life, would you? And what if you could make changes to the extent of increasing your life expectancy while reducing the medication you need?

You may or may not have heard of “functional medicine” before. This is medicine which gets down to the root cause of the issue, instead of only treating the symptoms. Of course, there are times when it is absolutely appropriate to help alleviate the symptoms, but identifying and then resolving the root cause of the issue is generally not addressed at all.

Food-Is-Medicine

The good news is that “how we do medicine” appears to be changing. The Cleveland Clinic in the US, started a Functional Medicine faculty earlier this year. And here in the UK, the BBC broadcast a programme called, “Doctor In The House,” which shows how Functional Medicine works – by taking time to really understand the individuals, their needs and their lifestyles. And this takes much more time than the average GP (physician) currently has for each time slot of less than ten minutes per patient.

On the show, we saw a man who had been diagnosed with diabetes some 12 years ago and was on 3 medications, yet his blood sugar levels were too high. But by the end of the show, having tackled the root cause of his disease, by changing what he ate, how he ate, and adding in appropriate movement to his days, he lost weight, and more importantly, his visceral fat levels were significantly reduced (visceral fat is fat that surrounds the organs and are associated with risks for certain health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease), his blood sugar levels had returned to normal and as a result, he was able to stop taking two of the three medications.

He who takes medicine and neglects diet wastes the skill of the physician. (Chinese proverb)

Here’s the thing. Getting down to the root cause and then making changes in diet and lifestyle can make quick and significant impacts on health, for the better – even to the extent of reversing the markers of chronic health issues, such as diabetes, and reducing the medication needed. (I understand that the programme will be broadcast on BBC America in the new year, so be sure to watch that space).

Dr Chatterjee, the “doctor in the house” has summarised the main principles of his approach. It’s not rocket science, and the most important piece that underlies it all, is that of personal responsibility – making the decision that making the changes you need to make are worth it, so that you can have more energy, better health, improved longevity. So, here are Dr Chaterjee’s principles:

1. Eat well
2. Move well
3. Sleep well
4. Relax well.

They’re totally aligned with the 6 Keystone Tips which you can download here, if you haven’t already done so, to get you started.

Now your turn. What changes are you going to make to uplevel your health this week? What is it that you perhaps already know would be good for you to do, but you just haven’t made that step as yet? Come on over to the Facebook page and share.

Love

Veronica
xo