10 Tips for Maintaining a Healthy, Happy, Glow Over Christmas and Into the New Year

It’s quite ironic that the holidays are probably the time of year that you most want to feel and look your best but they can end up being a minefield of health woes due to stress, overwhelm, overindulgence, party hangovers and colds and flus. It’s almost an unspoken rule that come December you have to indulge in unlimited amounts of Christmas treats and drinks (whether they’re sugar-packed flavoured lattes, eggnog, mulled wine, cocktails etc) and swap your exercise routine for late nights and shopping trips otherwise you’re a Grinch.

January can be depressing enough without heading into it sick or regretting the extra pounds gained.  I’ve already heard people say how they’ll do a ‘detox’ or ‘juice cleanse’ in January to make up for their sins in December.  Wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy the festive season and start the New Year with a healthy happy glow and not have to repent or restrict come January?

Here are some tips that might help do just that:

Get some sleep:  If you run yourself ragged and burn the candles at both ends, you risk getting ill just because you’ve worn down your body’s defences.  Getting as good a sleep as you can when you can will go a long way to boost your immunity and also your willpower as we often crave sugar, carbs and processed crap when we’re tired and give in to temptation much easier too.  Plus they don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing!

Pack healthy snacks:  Always have something healthy on hand to nibble on so you don’t have to eat the sugary treats laying around the office or rely on canapes at parties.  Like a good Scout or Girl Guide it pays to ‘be prepared’!

Healthy swaps:  See if you can find healthier versions of your favourite Christmas foods and drinks or even try making a few at home yourself.  You may be surprised to find that sometimes you can’t tell the difference or shock, horror the healthier version is actually tastier!

Know if you are a moderator or an abstainer:  Can you be ok with one treat or are you more a ‘once you pop you can’t stop’ person?  If you are the latter it could actually be easier for you not to even touch the treat in the first place!  I know it’s easier for me to say ‘I don’t eat x, y, z’ for some treats rather than overindulging and feeling guilty (or experiencing stomach pains) afterwards.  The phrase ‘I don’t’ makes me feel that I am the one in charge and I have power over my choices!  There are some things I can have in moderation and there are others I just can’t, so I know I should give those things a wide birth.

Stay active:  While you may not be able to maintain your normal exercise regime, it’s important to stay active for physical and mental wellbeing.  Walks in nature with family or friends, using a pedometer while doing your Christmas shopping, parking a little bit further away from the shops, taking the stairs instead of the elevators etc can all add up!  Exercise will help you deal with added stress and give you an energy boost. It will also help you manage your weight over the festivities.

Hydrate:  Water is so important for every system of the body so it’s really important to keep hydrated.  Even more so if you are drinking alcohol.  Starting the day with a warm water and lemon is a great detoxifier and is a vitamin C boost too.  Keeping hydrated will also keep your skin looking well.

Alcohol: Not only is it way too easy to consume more calories than you need, the calories are actually empty calories with no nutritional benefits.  There’s also the knock on effect of lowered inhibitions (cheers midnight greasy kebab), disrupted sleep (thanks to the blood sugar swings) and cravings the next day (oh hello there selection box, crisps and tin of sweets!).  You don’t have to abstain but maybe be more mindful of what drinks you choose to drink, make sure to drink plenty of water and maybe switch up a few alcoholic drinks for non-alcoholic ones.  Your liver and your waistline will thank you!

Eat as many veggies as you can when you can:  Vegetables are power houses for immune boosting vitamins and minerals.  If your plate is mainly veggies you can’t go wrong and it’ll go a long way to keeping your body in good working order.   No harm in a few green juices and smoothies thrown in for an added boost.  Plus I’ve been seeing green juices used as mixers for cocktails…. A little naughty, a little nice!

Eat mindfully:  If you decide to indulge in a Christmas treat, make it small, go for the best quality you can and savour every moment.  By taking small bites and chewing all of your food slowly (or drinking your drink slowly) you actually taste all of the deliciousness.  If you are going to indulge, why would you indulge in the crappy stuff that’s there all year round?   Make it worth the splurge and don’t feel guilty.

Decide what’s important and be ok with saying ‘no’:  Running around frazzled and stressed is not going to help anyone.  If you feel worn-down, it’s ok to skip a party or two.  Better to be at your best for fewer occasions that you really want to attend than spreading yourself thin with events that don’t even do it for you.  Decide what your priorities are and let those be your deciding factors.

Hopefully these tips will have you feeling good all over Christmas and into the New Year!  And don’t forget to enjoy yourself!  Nothing gives you a better natural glow than the one from happiness, love and laughter!

 

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Navigating Christmas Parties and Dinners When You Have Dietary Needs

Navigating Holiday Parties

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!  I love Christmas – spending quality time with family and friends, buying and giving gifts, eating, drinking…and being merry! But the holiday season can be tough to navigate when you have food intolerances or dietary requirements like myself. There tends to be more temptation around food and alcohol that could derail even the most dedicated person.  And the repercussions of over-indulging can be a lot more serious than just an added few pounds.

I can’t avoid (nor do I want to) Christmas parties and dinners but I have to be even more vigilant to avoid the slippery slope to inflammation and a Crohn’s flare.

Christmas Party Tips

Have a bite before: If I can, I make sure to eat something healthy and filling ahead of parties so I’m not reliant on finger foods there and I’m not tempted by unhealthy snacks.  Nothing worse than turning up somewhere starving only to realise that there’s nothing there you can eat (or eating the food there that doesn’t agree with you)!

Bring your own: If it’s at a friend or relative’s house, I’ll bring some canapés and drinks that are suitable for my needs so I know that there’ll definitely be something I can eat and drink.

Drink a healthy MOCKtail: Unfortunately alcohol and I don’t mix very well.  I find that my stomach never feels good the day(s) after so most of the time I just think it’s not worth it.  It doesn’t have to be boring though, I like making a fun mocktail or my favourite simple mix of sparkling water with cranberry juice and a twist of lime or drinking gut-friendly kombucha.  If I do choose to drink alcohol I make sure it’s a drink I absolutely love and savour the one or two.  Ideally I’ll have the drinks with some food and make sure to drink plenty of water also.  But most of the time I’m happy to go sober.

Mindset:  I find that if I concentrate less on the food or drink and more on conversations and having fun, parties are a lot easier.  I’m less bothered about the restrictions and more in the moment with the people I’m with.

 

Dinner Party Tips

For the most part, hosts are good about adapting to guests’ dietary needs.  However they may not be as knowledgeable as you on what counts as ‘gluten free’ or ‘dairy free’ never mind ‘nightshade free’, ‘nut free’, ‘egg free’ or whatever your particular intolerance is.

Make a List for the Host: Draw up a list of foods you can and can’t have and post it where people can access it (e.g. Facebook), or email the list to the host well ahead of time.  Putting down all the things you can have will probably make it less daunting and seem less restrictive for the host than just giving a list of things you can’t have.

Know and communicate your non-negotiables:  My non-negotiables are definitely gluten and dairy.  Once sauces/dressings are on the side I can probably work around all my other intolerances.  Some intolerances I know won’t be the end of the world if I have.  But to be on the safe side, I usually ask for something plain (usually meat and veg) and I can bring my own condiments should I want to add flavour.

Bring your own:  If communicating your needs to the host is awkward and you’re worried about what will be served, offer to bring a dish that can be shared and is suitable to your needs.  There are loads of recipes online now that re-work Christmas classics to healthier / gluten-free / dairy-free versions.  Others may not even notice the difference, and sure what difference does it make if they do notice?  Trying something different never did anyone any harm.

So while you may not want to offend the host, it’s more important to take care of your health and besides, it’s the company that matters most.  I try to communicate that as much as I can to put the host at ease and to thank them for accommodating me and all their effort.

I’d love to hear your tips on navigating parties and dinners this holiday season.

Healthy and Happy Gift Guide 2015

HEALTHY GIFT IDEAS

Healthy Gift Guide

(1) One of my ‘best buys’ ever has to be my Vitamix.  Whether it’s whizzing up green smoothies, acai smoothie bowls, soups, dairy free ice-cream (made with frozen bananas) or coconut (or nut) butter it’s really just the tip of the iceberg as to what this machine can do.  Yes, it’s expensive but it does stand the test of time.  A really great gift.

(2) While I know it’s really important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water, I find it quite hard especially in winter when the weather gets cold and all I want is something hot.  This is why I love herbal teas as they are a great way to get some warm hydration!  I’m pretty sure KeepCups are meant for coffee but I use mine for my teas which I can have on-the-go!  Plus there are so many colours and sizes to choose from!

(3) This Stanley vacuum food jar is BPA free and uses vacuum insulation to keep food hot or cold for up to 5 hours. A grown up lunch box for soups and stews perfect for winter.  And you may get some good recipe ideas in The Detox Kitchen Bible which are all wheat-free, dairy-free and sugar-free.

(4) Personalised planters are such a cute idea to starting a herb garden and getting fresh herbs is a great start to eating more SLOWly.

(5) Need to buy a gift for a gluten-free foodie?  There are some great gluten-free hampers available ranging in price and products offered.  I particularly like the ones from The Wholefood Revolution, Greedy Goose and Hampers Direct.

(6) Getting a good night’s sleep will be a bit more festive with this tartin sleep mask.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS GIFT IDEAS

Happy Holiday Gift Ideas

(1) I wrote recently about why I’ve started colouring.  Adult colouring books are everywhere and I’m hoping to get a few from Santa this year.

(2) Meditation is becoming more mainstream as more and more people discover its many benefits.   The Headspace app makes meditation even more accessible and user friendly.  A subscription to the app would make a wonderful gift.

(3) Kindness and giving are proven to be beneficial to our health and happiness.  Maybe you could try your hand at homemade healthy treats as gifts and give them in these lovely gift bags.

(4) Cultivating an attitude of gratitude goes a long way in improving happiness.  The Gratitude Diaries and Start Where You Are look like great inspirational reads in cultivating that attitude.  Meanwhile Big Magic by Eat Pray Love’s Elizabeth Gilbert looks like another inspirational read that will have readers start 2016 pumped with positivity!

(5) I’m not sure people laugh enough and laughter is so good for us!  Give someone the giggles for Christmas with a funny film.  The one that made me laugh a lot this year is Spy starring Melissa McCarthy.

5 Tips for Eating Healthy When You Have No Time

Whether you are trying to stay away from processed food, trying to lose weight or like me, are on a specific diet for a condition (I’m currently on a mash-up of AIP, SCD and Low Fodmap for Crohn’s) sometimes making the not-so-convenient choice can be difficult.  People have very little time as it is and coming up to the holidays, time is going to be squeezed that bit more which can sometimes make the healthy choice more difficult.  So I thought I’d share some tips on how to stay on the healthy road even when time is at a premium.

Meal Plan

While I don’t particularly like following set meal plans, I do like to have a look at the week ahead and see what’s on my schedule.  It lets me know how many meals I need to cook for myself and I jot down a rough outline of meals each day (e.g. what proteins I’ll have at what meals each day, what veg will go with them etc).  I usually do this on a Saturday or a Sunday morning before I go to the farmers market and/or supermarket.  This gives me an idea of what I need to buy for the week so I can do all of my shopping for the week in one go and I don’t overbuy and waste food and money.

Batch Cook

Sundays are usually my batch cooking day.  I say day, but really it only takes a couple of hours.  I utilise the stove top, the slow cooker, the blender and the oven so I’m multi-tasking and making the most of what resources I have.

I usually roast chicken (full chicken, chicken thighs and drumsticks or chicken breasts), salmon and a mix of vegetables together in the oven.  I try to utilise all the shelves.  I’ll cover a whole butternut squash or pumpkin (skin and all) in tin foil and pop it in the slow cooker on low overnight.  It’s perfectly cooked and the flesh is ready to be scooped out by the morning and I don’t have to waste any time chopping when they’re raw, saving time (and my arms!).  On the stove top, I’ll cook some round mince (beef/turkey) and steam some veggies.  If you eat whole grains you could cook some on the stove top also.   When my vegetables are all cooked (roasted or steamed) I’ll add some to a stock and blend to make soup for the week also.

While everything is cooking I’ll make up some green smoothies and keep two in mason jars in the fridge for Monday and Tuesday.  I either freeze the rest or I’ll prep the ingredients and put them in bags in the freezer (banana, berries, spinach, kale avocado etc) so I can just pop them into my Vitamix with some coconut water or milk and other ingredients of choice, whizz and go later on in the week!   I’ve seen people prep overnight gluten free oats for the week in mason jars too and they just add their toppings of choice each morning.  As I don’t eat grains, I don’t do this myself but it looks like a good idea.

I also then prep some raw veg (chop, slice and put into containers) so they’ll be ready in the fridge to throw into a quick stir-fry or salad or into the slow cooker one morning to make a stew later in the week.

It may seem like a lot of work and time but it doesn’t take that long and actually saves so much time during the week as I can grab my breakfast and go, assemble my packed lunch easily and have dinner in flash.

Cook Once Eat Twice (or Three Times)

If I do end up cooking again later in the week, I make sure to cook enough to have leftovers the next day for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Otherwise I can freeze a portion or two for times when I’m in a bind.

Have plenty of healthy non-perishables on hand

It’s good to have staples on hand.  Not only will it get you out of a pinch, it will also make the healthy choice a little easier.  I always have tinned fish (Wild Alaskan salmon, sardines or mackerel in olive oil etc), herbal teas, coconut milk, coconut flour and dried fruit (I’m currently obsessed with white mulberries and baked strawberries and bananas) in my cupboards and frozen fish, meat, vegetables and fruit in the freezer.  If you eat nuts, gluten free grains and seeds, these would be good to have on hand along with nut butters and flour also. All these things can be bought in bulk so you can avail of bulk buying discounts, saving some money too!

Prep snacks for the week and for emergencies and keep them handy

I think it’s really important to have healthy snacks and treats on hand in case the munchies arise.  I know that I tend to get ‘hangry’ if I get too hungry and with meeting up with family and friends, festive events, shopping for gifts, and the general reshuffling of my schedule this time of year it’s always good to be prepared for when time slips away and you’re not near your next meal.

Fresh fruit, sliced veggies, little packs of protein (prawns are always a good option), dark chocolate, nuts, seaweed snacks, protein balls are all great options.  It’s also important to make sure to have them on hand – there’s no use having them in the fridge rather than in your bag or car!  Have an emergency snack on hand at all times.

Convenience

What’s important about doing all of this, is that it means that I’ve made the healthy choice the convenient one.  There’s no weighing up options, deliberating or having to use willpower.  No real thought or effort is needed which means temptation for the less healthy choices is less likely to rear its little head.  A little bit of preparation goes a long way and definitely saves time during the week.

I’d love to hear other people’s tips for eating healthy when time is at a minimum.

How Kindness Can Give You A Healthy Happy Glow

Kindness

Tomorrow, Friday 13th November (unlucky for some!) is World Kindness Day!  How cool is that?  Really every day should be world kindness day but I don’t think people give it much thought so it’s really good that there’s a day to highlight the benefits of kindness and to remind people why we should all be a little kinder to others and dare I say it, to ourselves also.

Did you know that kindness can give you a healthy happy glow?

Let me explain…

Recent research in the fields of psychology, neuroscience, and wellness has shed light on just how powerful a force kindness can be.   Acts of kindness (both giving and receiving) are a super easy way to get a little more health and happiness in your life and there’s not a pill, supplement or diet in sight.

HEALTHY

Acts of kindness produce several hormones in the brain and throughout the body.  One of which is oxytocin, which is said to aid in lowering blood pressure and improving overall heart-health.

Other positive health benefits that have been linked to acts of kindness include more energy, fewer aches, an increased capacity to heal and even an increased life expectancy.  Studies have shown that children thrive when treated with kindness, that ill patients heal quicker when treated with kindness and that volunteering had a greater impact at lowering mortality rates than regular exercise!

HAPPY

Another hormone our body produces with acts of kindness is serotonin which is often called the ‘happy hormone’ as it makes us feel happy and relieves anxiety.  It’s been shown that altruistic people tend to be happier and more satisfied with their lives and they have lower rates of depression, stress and mental illness.  They also report a greater sense of purpose in their lives.

The body also produces the ‘feel good’ hormone dopamine which feels like a natural high.  So when we do something kind, we get a kick out of it.  These elevated dopamine levels are often referred to as ‘Helper’s High’ and will often make us want to do more kind acts to get the same dopamine response.

GLOW

I’ve talked before on the blog about how free radicals and inflammation can rob us of our glow and impact aging.  But research is showing that oxytocin reduces these levels in our cardiovascular system and so slows the aging process.  Kindness also reduces levels of the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol which also slows aging.

A RIPPLE EFFECT

What is really cool about this whole kindness thing is that the chemical effects of kindness are actually experienced in the brain of everyone who receive or witness the act.  Studies have shown that when we’re kind it actually creates a ripple effect, improving others moods and making them significantly more likely to ‘pay it forward’.

It doesn’t need to be a grand gesture and it doesn’t need to cost any money.  It can be something small and the more you do the greater the impact you’ll have, thanks to that ripple effect.  Here are some examples:

Buy a colleague a tea or coffee

Pay for the car behind you at a toll booth

Donate blood if you can

Pay someone a genuine sincere compliment

Help a friend out by offering to mind their child

Volunteer at a local agency

See https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas for more great suggestions.

 

I’d love to hear suggestions on doing more random acts of kindness.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie (Gluten free, Dairy free, AIP, SCD, Low Fodmap, Vegan, Paleo)

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Recipe

Pumpkin Pie SmoothiePhoto: Instagram @ahealthyhappyglow

Nothing looks and tastes of autumn or the beginning of the holiday season more than pumpkin pie or pumpkin spice latte’s.  The colour, the sweet and earthy flavour attached to pumpkin pie is warming, cosy and filling – everything you crave as the leaves turn golden brown, the weather gets colder and the days shorter!

While I thought about coming up with a healthier version of pumpkin pie, I decided to try out the flavours in a smoothie.  Normally I make green smoothies, so to come up with an autumn-inspired one sounded like a nice change!  Full of Vitamin A, beta-carotene and potassium this smoothie is full of low-glycemic, mood boosting ingredients that will keep you fuller and energised for longer.

I added maca powder as I thought it complemented the earthy flavours of this recipe and added an extra energy boost.  Maca powder comes from the root of the maca plant found in Peru. Traditionally, maca has been used to not only enhance energy and mood, but also to regulate the endocrine system, particularly in women.

This recipe is perfect for using up leftovers and there are many adaptations that can be made to suit different diets.  I usually make it as a dessert as it’s on the sweet side. It’s so thick and creamy it feels like I’m having a decadent, naughty treat.

Pumpkin Pie SmoothiePhoto:  Instagram @ahealthyhappyglow
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 5 mins
Servings: 2

INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup sweet potato or butternut squash (cooked and cooled)*

1/3 cup pumpkin puree (cooked and cooled)

1 chopped frozen ripe banana

1 medjool date

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Dash of mace

¼ teaspoon maca powder (optional)

1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey (optional)*

½ cup coconut milk

Sliced pears and cinnamon for garnish

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Place all ingredients except coconut milk, and pear and cinnamon garnish into a high speed blender and blend until smooth.

Add coconut milk in small amounts and blend until desired consistency is reached.

Pour into a glass, sprinkle with cinnamon and top with sliced pears.

 

To make the recipe SCD Legal:  use butternut squash and honey instead of sweet potato and maple syrup

To make the recipe Low Fodmap: omit the date, pear and maple syrup/ honey, add another ½ frozen ripe banana and use butternut squash instead of sweet potato.

If you aren’t following an AIP diet you could swap out all the spices for 1 teaspoon of pumpkin spice.

 

7 Reasons Why I’ve Started Colouring

7 reasons to color

I loved loved loved colouring when I was a kid.  It was hands down one of my favourite past times and I would happily spend hours with my favourite markers, crayons and colouring books, doodling, drawing and colouring.  Art was probably my favourite subject in school and I even thought about studying it in college at one stage.  But, apart from one year about ten years ago when I actually took art classes, I’ve just not done much since school and art unfortunately became another thing on the ‘should do’ list for ‘someday’.

So you can imagine how excited I was when I saw colouring books for grown up’s popping up everywhere.

Colouring books have allowed me to get creative and reconnect with my inner child in a really convenient, non-time-consuming and inexpensive way.  And that’s not it, colouring is actually good for my health too!!  The famed psychologist Carl Jung was on to something when he started prescribing colouring to his psychiatry patients…

Here are my 7 reasons for colouring:  

Colouring focuses my attention on the present.
As I’m concentrating on what I’m doing, it’s quietening my monkey mind (which can be quite loud at times).  So not only is my concentration muscle being flexed, any negative thoughts or worries I may have are pushed aside for the duration of my colouring.  Colouring has been said to enable you achieve mindfulness and can be a good alternative to meditation if somebody has difficulty with meditating.   Colouring has become part of my evening routine as I wind down before bed.

Colouring allows me a digital detox.
If I wasn’t colouring, I’d probably be staring at a screen, flicking through social media or emails.  I can’t colour and check my phone at the same time so colouring enforces a bit of a digital detox (even if it’s just for a little while).  I think most people could do with a little less screen time.

Colouring relaxes me, resulting in the better ability to deal with anxiety and stress.
Colouring is said to relax the amygdala — the fear centre of the brain — allowing your mind to get the rest it needs, thereby relaxing you.   I’m all about stress management and love any little hacks that can help me become more balanced.

Colouring is a form of self-expression for me.
While it might not be my drawings I still have the creative freedom to choose any colour I want and I get to choose to colour inside or outside the lines.   It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of it.  It’s a no judgement zone.  It’s just for me.  Bliss!

Colouring is said to improve fine motor skills and vision.
It requires the two hemispheres of the brain to communicate and therefore may help in the prevention of dementia much in the same way as crossword or soduko puzzles.

Colouring can ignite the exploratory nature of the creative mind.
Colouring is said to break up routine patterns and ways of thinking.  As it gives my mind and thoughts breathing space, it can then go in new and different directions.  I often find I get ideas popping into my head as I colour.

C’mon basically when it comes down to it, colouring is fun!!
Realistically I don’t actually think of the health benefits when I’m colouring.  I do it because I enjoy it and I love using colours and making pretty pictures.  Even if the only benefit was enjoyment, I think that’d be a good enough reason for me!!!
Have you tried colouring?  Have you noticed any benefits?  What’s your favourite colouring book?

Feed Your Face and Get Glowing Skin!

If you were to ask people about their skin care routine, most would start talking about the beauty products they use.  However, skin care goes way deeper than that.

Our skin is the largest and one of our most important body organs and is the first line of defence against the environment around us.  It battles the many toxins we meet on a daily basis such as pollution, second hand smoke, sun damage and chemicals from cosmetics etc, all of which can contribute to poor skin health and a deterioration in its quality (such as getting wrinkles).  So you can see why healthy and strong skin is necessary.

The health of our skin can be a real reflection of what’s happening inside us. Often the symptoms of poor skin health can indicate a lack of nutrients or a struggling digestive system.  Maybe we aren’t absorbing nutrients, maybe our diet is too high in inflammatory foods or maybe our gut bacteria is out of whack.   Intolerances and allergies to certain foods can lead to dark circles under our eyes, spots and pimples, rashes and a puffiness and there have been studies that have found that more than half of all acne sufferers have an altered gut bacteria.

So apart from our genes and lifestyle factors, what we eat plays a big role in our skin health. When you think about it, it totally makes sense that what we put in our body has a direct impact on what shows up on our skin.  And while we can’t control a lot of the environmental factors around us, we definitely have more control over what we feed our bodies.

If you want to minimize wrinkles, acne, inflammation and other skin-related conditions and get a glow that you just can’t fake with a cream, the trick is to start with food.

EAT MORE OF THESE

Foods rich in Vitamin A

Vitamin A helps form new skin cells and is critical for skin repair and maintenance.  Beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A, is an antioxidant found in brightly coloured foods which helps reduce free radical damage that is caused by sun overexposure.

Foods sources high in vitamin A and beta-carotene include: dark green, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables such as dark leafy greens (collard greens, kale, spinach etc), butternut squash, carrots and sweet potatoes as well as liver, egg yolks and fish oils.

Sweet potato and carrot soupCarrot and Sweet Potato Soup  Photo: Instagram @ahealthyhappyglow

Foods rich in Vitamin C

Vitamin C is important for the production of collagen, which is a protein for making your skin supple and prevents sagging.

Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, greens like broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale and parsley along with bell peppers, tomatoes, all provide healthy doses of Vitamin C.

citrus waterCitrus infused water   Photo:  Instagram @ahealthyhappyglow

Foods rich in Zinc

This mineral helps to regulate sebum production and assist in the structure of skin cell membranes. It’s vital for the immune system and the healing of scars and wounds and a deficiency can cause a dull complexion and lumps under skin.

Get your Zinc from pumpkin and sunflower seeds, cashews, raw cacao, seafood and eggs.

Foods rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

High-quality omega-3s help create a glowing complexion by managing cortisol levels (the stress hormone), reducing inflammation, promoting cell growth and controlling the oils and fats in our body.  This all helps keep our skin supple and guards against wrinkle formation.

Healthy foods naturally rich in omega-3 fatty acids include wild salmon, mackerel, sardines, free-range eggs along with nuts and seeds (especially walnuts and chia seeds).

salmonPan fried wild salmon   Photo:  Instagram @ahealthyhappyglow

Antioxidant-rich foods

These guys mop up free radicals and fight aging on the skin.  Blueberries, raspberries, acai berries, goji berries, green tea and raw cacao are all loaded with antioxidants.

acai berry smoothieAcai berry smoothie   Photo:  Instagram @ahealthyhappyglow

EAT LESS OF THESE

Sugar

Sugar is Public Enemy #1 nowadays and it’s not surprising.  Sugar can contribute to yeast overgrowths and an imbalance in gut bacteria.  Sugars can also raise blood sugar levels and promote overproduction of insulin which can lead to inflammation throughout the body including the GI tract and the skin.

Processed Foods

A lot of processed packaged foods have added salt (not to mention all the crappy additives, artificial sweetners and chemicals) which food manufacturers add in order to preserve their shelf life.  All this salt can cause water retention and can make your face bloated and puffy.  There’s also no knowing how people react to additives, emulsifiers and other chemicals added to packaged foods.

Foods you are intolerant to

Eating foods you are intolerant to, contributes to inflammation in the gut and in the body.  Gluten and dairy are the two most frequent culprits of skin disorders.   A simple way to figure out if you have an intolerance to these foods is to do an elimination diet, removing the foods containing gluten (wheat, rye, barley, oats) and dairy from your diet for at least 30 days before reintroducing one at a time to see if there is any noticeable reaction.  Other foods that people can often be intolerant to include corn, eggs, seafood, soy, tree nuts, peanuts and citrus fruit.

AND DON’T FORGET…..

Hydrate

Not drinking enough water can leave the skin very thirsty and dry.  Drinking water is the best way to hydrate your cells and give you that refreshed plump look (bye bye wrinkles!).  Hydration is also essential in getting rid of toxins by helping flush the products of digestion through the colon as backup can lead to toxins leaching into your blood supply which can result in unpleasant skin symptoms.

So there you have it!  Eat more veggies and real whole foods and less of the inflammatory processed stuff and drink plenty of water!!!   You’ll be glowing in no time.

You Don’t Eat Dairy? How Do You Get Your Calcium Then?

where to get calcium when dairy is off the menu

I gave up dairy a few years ago when I found out I was intolerant to it.  Whenever somebody finds out that I don’t eat or drink it anymore, I inevitably get asked ‘but where do you get your calcium from then?’  A fair question and one that I too asked as I think it was always drummed into me as a kid to drink milk and eat cheese to get calcium.  I’m pretty sure I thought it was the only way to get calcium.

I don’t think I was that surprised when I found out I had a dairy intolerance.  I instinctively didn’t like a lot of cheeses as I would often note stomach pains after eating them but I loved sweet milky tea, yogurt and ice-cream!  It was tough giving those up for sure but the benefits outweighed these things so it was definitely worth it.  But I was also concerned about not getting enough calcium.

But, I have since learnt that there are loads of non-dairy ways to get calcium and there is an ever-increasing number of dairy alternatives out there.

Why Do We Need Calcium?

Most people would associate calcium with healthy bones and teeth.  Which is correct but calcium is also important for other things such as muscle development, healthy blood pressure, regulating the body’s pH and skin health.

Importance of Other Vitamins and Minerals

Calcium actually relies on Vitamin D, Vitamin K and magnesium to get absorbed and do its job properly.  The body uses magnesium to convert vitamin D into its active form so that it can be used in calcium absorption.  Magnesium is also used in the creation of the hormone calcitonin which keeps calcium in the bones and out of the blood stream meanwhile Vitamin K also helps keep calcium in bones and out of arteries and muscles.

Unfortunately a lot of people are lacking these vitamins and minerals nowadays.

For example, a friend of mine recently found out she was low in calcium which she was surprised at, as she consumes a lot of dairy.  Her problem may not be the lack of calcium but rather a lack in the vitamins and minerals that help her absorb calcium!

Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium

An interesting fact is that not all the calcium we consume is absorbed.  It’s said that only about a third of the calcium from dairy products is absorbed and there are actually other food sources which are more absorbable which could be down to the presence of Vitamin D, K and Magnesium.

My favourite places to get calcium are from dark leafy greens, tinned fish with bones, fortified non-dairy milks and bone broth.

Dark, Leafy Greens

Kale, bok choy, broccoli, swiss chard and collard greens are all great sources of calcium that is easily absorbed.  They are also great sources of Vitamin K, A, C, E, folate and B-vitamins so they are all-round power houses!  I try to have a green smoothie once a day and add some of these greens to most of my meals.

Green smoothieSource: Instagram @ahealthyhappyglow

Tinned fish with bones

A quick, easy and cheap way of getting some calcium is tinned fish like sardines or salmon which still have the bones.  The bones are usually soft and easy to eat.  And before you dismiss this option, as someone who used to have a fear of eating fish with bones (yes, really!), I honestly don’t notice the bones.  Plus since these oily fish are also a great source of Vitamin D, they enhance digestion of the calcium and make it more usable.  Bonus!  I try to have tinned fish a few times a week.

Sardines - a healthy happy glowSource:  Instagram @ahealthyhappyglow

Bone Broth

Boiling and simmering the bones over long periods of time allows the calcium and other minerals to dissolve in to the water which you drink.  Bone broth is also full of other amazing nutrients so it’s definitely something I’ll be consuming more of in the winter months.

Other Foods

There are many other food sources of calcium including:

  • Spinach and seaweed
  • Figs and oranges
  • Beans
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Almonds
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Oysters
  • Fortified dairy alternative milks (such as coconut, nut, rice milks)

 

So what are your favourite sources of calcium?

 

My Favourite Places for Green Juices and Smoothies in Dublin

I love a good green juice and smoothie.  They are a great way of packing even more nutrients into my body and can be a great snack or addition to my breakfast or lunch.

Lucky for me there are so many choices to pick up these green drinks around Dublin now.  While the following list isn’t a definitive guide to places to get green juices and smoothies in Dublin (there are new places popping up all the time) these are places I go to regularly enough and like.

Favourite places for green juice in Dublin

The Punnet (1)

Now in three locations, I regularly go to their store in Glasthule in South Country Dublin and Mount Street in the city centre.  I like their menu and that they can make up the juice / smoothie there or you can get pre-made bottles to go.  I usually like getting mine made up as I like them as fresh as possible and I also usually swap some ingredients due to intolerances.  Their Green Glasthule juice is my favourite.

Select Stores, Dalkey (2)

This was the first place in Dublin that was on my radar that did fresh green juices.  I used to travel across the city at the weekend to climb Killiney Hill and grab a juice afterwards!  Their juices and smoothies are made fresh and their menu is extensive.  I usually have their Auntie Cancer Queen Juice which is choc-a-bloc full of veggies!  It may not be one for a juicing beginner but you’d probably get your days worth of veg in one drink!

Pog Fro Yo

Just beside O’Connell Bridge in the city centre you couldn’t get more central.  While from the outside it looks like it’s an ice-cream / sweet parlour, their menu of juices, smoothies, salads, paleo treats and frozen yogurts make it a healthy stop when you are doing a bit of shopping in the city.  They do a great matcha latte too!

Alchemy, BT2 (4)

Upstairs in BT2 you can get fresh juices / smoothies made up or bottled to take away.  I always love getting a seat beside the window so I can look down at the shoppers on Grafton Street below.  Great people watching and great healthy options.

Urban Health, Ranelagh (5)

Just south of the city centre Urban Health has a great selection of pre-made juices and smoothies if you don’t want to wait to get one made up fresh.

Green Beards Juicery

Also in Ranelagh you can find Green Beards, a cold pressed juice bar which offers raw beverages hand crafted with deep regard for organic growing practices, seasonal harvests, local suppliers and recyclable materials.  They branched out this year and opened a pop-up store on Baggot Street just a stone’s throw from St. Stephen’s Green.  Their juices can be found in two of my favourite eateries too – Cocu and Eathos on Baggot Street amongst others.

Sprout & Co, Avoca (3)

Sprout & Co juices are cold pressed and they work with the seasons, sourcing as many of their ingredients as possible in Ireland.  There are plenty of Avoca’s around Dublin (city centre, Rathcoole, Kilmacanogue and Monkstown).  My favourite juices are their Super Green Juice and Mojito juice blend.  They also supply other locations with their juices including the Barlottie eateries.

The Food Room, Clontarf

A great place to pick up a fresh juice / smoothie and salad after a walk on Dollymount Beach or along the Clontarf boardwalk.  It’s very popular so the queues can be extensive at busy times but it’s usually worth the wait!

My friend shared this article with me this morning:  15 of Dublin’s Greatest Juices.  I’m looking forward to trying one’s I haven’t had before!!!