Archives for posts with tag: detox

If you read my last blog and have decided to go for it on a health kick this October, then good for you! Whether you have decided to go it alone or join my online club, the main things to keep in mind are EAT CLEAN and KEEP MOVING.

If the concept of clean eating is new to you, it may all seem a bit daunting but there’s really no need to worry. Clean eating is not about being hard on yourself and depriving yourself, it’s about treating yourself to real, natural and tasty food to give your body all the nutrients it needs. There are loads of amazing blogs and cook books out there to help you get started, and there are lots of variations of clean eating out there too – paleo, vegetarian, raw food vegan…to name just a few – but the one thing they all agree on is that you need to stop poisoning your body with over-processed food, unnatural chemicals and refined foods. If you can clear the junk out of your diet and load up on nutrients, you’ll be astounded how much better you’ll start to feel.

So, here are some of my favourite blogs and recipe books. Have a browse and see if you can find some really delicious recipes to look forward to over the next few weeks. Remember, healthy eating doesn’t mean ‘tasteless’, it means using fresh, high quality ingredients, plenty of herbs and spices, lots of healthy fats and the perfect seasoning. Concentrate on all the yummy foods you should be eating rather than worrying about what you ‘shouldn’t’ be eating.

My favourite cook books:

I Quit Sugar – simple, quick and easy to make recipes. I love this book and many of my go-to recipes like Paleo Veggie Bread and Coco-Nutty Granola come from her blog.

Honestly Healthy Cleanse – I especially recommend the broccoli, grain free pizza base from this book. Believe me, it tastes about 100 times better than it sounds and it will change your views on pizza forever.

Deliciously Ella – what I especially like about this book is Ella’s introduction. I really enjoyed reading her story and found it very inspiring. There are some nice, simple recipes and ideas in this book, although Ella is very keen on buckwheat, which doesn’t seem to agree with me. It’s always worth trying these things out for yourself though as everyone reacts differently to different foods.

My favourite blogs:

The Gracious Pantry

I Quit Sugar

mindbodygreen

Gluten Free Zen

Changing Habits

As I said, there are loads out there, so just google clean eating recipes and see what comes up. Oh, and of course, don’t forget to browse my blog too for recipes and information about healthy and unhealthy foods.

Good luck

x

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Walking my little girl to pre-school last week in the pouring rain, I could see the miserable expressions on other people’s faces as they realised that summer is over and autumn has well and truly begun. Maybe I’m a bit odd, but I love the change of seasons, especially the change from summer to autumn. I’m just a big kid – the moment the summer holidays are over and the weather starts turning colder and wetter, I get this little bubble of excitement because, in my head, it’s not long until Christmas! It won’t be long before the Christmas decorations are up around town and I can fish out my favourite Christmas song CD…Alright, I know I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here. It’s still only September and I’m certainly not wishing away the rest of the year, but on a serious note, I always see the change of seasons as a perfect time to start afresh: to detox my body, set new goals and reassess my exercise regime.

September/October time is a particularly good time to do this because, even if you’re not a Christmas person like I am, the colder weather and longer evenings can leave a lot of people feeling depressed and lacking in energy. Even if you’re a fitness loving, health nut most of the time, at this time of year it can be tempting to slip into your pyjamas as soon as it gets dark, curl up on the sofa and fill up on heart-warming comfort food. However, you know you’ll feel much better and much happier if you stay active and keep on eating clean, refreshing, nutrient-rich foods. It’s a well-known fact that getting the right vitamins and minerals into your body and having enough endorphins flowing through you, will lift your mood and can help to fight off seasonal depression.

And then there’s the other great incentive to stay fit and healthy at this time of year – you want to look and feel great in your Christmas party clothes in a couple of months don’t you? I know I do!

SARAH THORP_PARTY DRESS PLAN FLYER 2015

I am nearly 4 months pregnant at the moment so by December, I certainly won’t be feeling sleek and trim in my party dresses, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be eating as well as I possibly can over the next few months and keeping up with regular exercise. And, although there’s not an awful lot I can do about my ever-expanding tummy, I still want to help other people feel as slim, toned, healthy and happy as possible this winter, which is why have put together The Online Barre Fit® Party Dress Plan. Starting on either Monday 5th October or Monday 2nd November, this online clean eating and exercise plan is designed to help you get fitter, slimmer and healthier than ever, just in time for the party season. I originally designed the plan for members of my local exercise classes, but I’m pretty excited about it and I want to share it with anyone who fancies giving it a go. SARAH THORP_PARTY DRESS PLAN FLYER 2015

It doesn’t matter where you live or how fit (or unfit) you think you are, you can take part in The Barre Fit Party Dress Plan, so do please spread the word and get in touch if you’d like more information: sarahthorpfitness@gmail.com

Whether you decide to sign up for The Party Dress Plan or not, remember to keep moving and stock up on those vegetables and healthy fats. You’ll be glad you did.

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You can hardly have failed to notice the organic industry exploding over the past few years. I used to have to go out of my way to find organic produce but now the supermarket shelves are packed with it.  The problem is, it’s all so expensive. I don’t know about you, but it’s easy to become sceptical about the health food industry. Sometimes it seems as though food companies are using the word ‘Organic’ just so they can charge more for their products.

Well, I’ve looked into this and

“unlike most food assurance schemes, organic food production is subject to […] an EU Regulation, which has been incorporated into the laws of the United Kingdom.” (www.organicfarmers.org.uk)

This means that, in general, organic food cannot be grown with artificial fertilisers, herbicides or growth regulators, and livestock feed additives are also prohibited.

Interestingly, there is very little data supporting the health benefits of eating organic food. According to a study reported on the BBC News website last year, organic food is no healthier than conventionally farmed food:

“Overall, there was no discernible difference between the nutritional content, although the organic food was 30% less likely to contain pesticides.” (www.bbc.co.uk/news)

In the future, I would hope to see that figure of 30% rise to nearer 100% (wishful thinking?!) but even consuming 30% fewer pesticides seems a good reason to eat organic.  If the alternative is packing my body full of chemicals, hormones and even sewage, I’m going to try to eat organic whenever I can.

The BBC article goes on to point out that the data is inconclusive and that the study was only run over 2 years. We simply do not know the long-term effects of regularly consuming these chemicals and I’d rather not be a human guinea pig! So, whilst I do have a problem with a lot of foods labelled as ‘healthy’* (see my previous blogs on ‘free-from’ products and soya), I strongly believe that organic food is good for us.

However, as much as I would love to buy organic everything, I just can’t afford to. Luckily, I stumbled across this helpful guide to organic food  and The Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen™ and Clean Fifteen™ lists  that show which foods contain the most pesticide residues and which are relatively safe to eat even when non-organic.

Based on what I’ve read so far, I’ll definitely be going organic for

  • Milk
  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Grapes
  • Hot peppers
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Potatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Bell peppers
  • Blueberries
  • Leafy Greens
  • Courgettes
  • Summer squash

I don’t have all the information, facts and figures, and I suspect there is a long way to go before organic food is truly free from all the horrible pollutants we pump into the earth, but even if turns out that organic food really isn’t any better for our health in the short- or long-term (which I doubt), we know it is better for the environment and sustainable farming. Isn’t the future health of our planet – the world our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will live in – even more important than our own individual health?

I’d like to know your thoughts on this subject, so please get in touch.

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* I especially have a problem with margarines, low-fat spreads and other foods labelled as ‘low-fat’. These are generally not good for you and are misleading: low-fat, high-carb diets are detrimental to our health and are now known to cause all sorts of health problems. More on this in a future blog.

Good morning. Happy Valentine’s Day for yesterday!

How did it go? If you were lucky enough to be taken out for dinner last night, did you manage to resist pudding? Don’t worry if not; just count that as your cheat day and treat yourself to a lovely, sugar-free weekend.

We’re nearly at the half way mark and you might be starting to struggle without your normal quick energy fix: you might be feeling tired and grumpy after a long week of work; you might also be suffering from headaches or feel ill and as if you’re going down with something. I know it’s not very pleasant but it’s normal to get withdrawal symptoms like this: sugar is a drug after all. Just remind yourself why you’re doing this and think how good you’ll feel if you manage to resist those sugar-monster urges.

Now that’s enough about sugar! It’s time to stop focussing on what we’re ‘not allowed’ and start looking forward to some really delicious meals for the weekend. If you’re missing pasta, why not try cooking a dish with Spaghetti squash (Cucurbita squash). Bake it in the oven and then scoop the spaghetti-like flesh out and cook with it. I found a fantastic recipe idea here on one of my favourite new blogs, www.ourlifeinfood.com. Check it out for inspiration.

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what we’re not allwingIf you are feeling a bit down in the dumps and need a treat, here’s a delicious snack recipe courtesy of my frined Jemma Parker:

Very moreish cheesy flapjack
I’ve found a delicious meal idea that might just cheer you up, especially if you’re missing your pasta. This recipe uses Spaghetti squash (Cucurbita squash) as a replacement for pasta

If anyone out there is doing The Sugar-Free Challenge with me, how have days 1 and 2 been? Have you craved anything in particular, have you broken any of the rules you set down for yourself?

If you’re anything like me, this isn’t the first time you’ve tried to change your diet for the better. I’m constantly striving to be healthier and fitter. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes my willpower buckles and I let myself down, which is never a nice feeling. However, recently I’ve come to realise that if I monitor myself as I go along, understand where I might be going wrong and then adapt the diet slightly, I won’t end up going crazy and eating everything in sight. This isn’t cheating; it’s just identifying what works for me.

On this latest sugar-free challenge I had promised myself a slice of soda bread with honey every other day. Today, day 2, was ‘soda bread and honey day’, but guess what? I didn’t just stop at one slice: I had a few slices and then I started getting cravings for all sorts of other sugary carbs. You’ll be glad to hear I didn’t give in to these cravings, but it made me realise that if I’m going to succeed on this 14 day plan (and beyond) I’ll have to completely cut out the soda bread and honey. If I don’t start it, I’m fine but once I start there’s no way I can just stop at one slice.

I guess what I’m trying to say is be kind to yourself. Don’t instantly think you’ve failed just because you slipped up once. Learn from it, adapt and keep on going until you get the results you want.

I’d love to hear from anyone who’s taken up the challenge so please get in touch.

Oh, and Happy Pancake Day! I hope you’re all enjoying your sugar-free pancakes. 😉

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In some of my recipes, I have been using alternatives to refined sugar such as fruit and dates. I have a very sweet tooth and I love to bake but I am also aware of what refined sugar can do to the body, so I’m determined to find healthier alternatives that still taste good. I ordered some coconut sugar last week, which has just arrived and I’m excited about trying it out. I’m going to have to wait a while to use it though because I’m on day 1 of my 2-week sugar-free challenge. You can join me and do the challenge yourself: for more information, see The Sugar-Free Challenge page.

If you have any of the following symptoms, it could be that sugar is the culprit:

  • Aching joints
  • Permanently blocked sinuses (you know that feeling when you think you’re going down with a cold, but it never quite happens?)
  • Always tired
  • Lethargic
  • Headaches
  • Itchy skin
  • Dry skin
  • Thrush
  • Bad digestion
  • Fuzzy head
  • Forgetful
  • Depressed
  • Anxious
  • Irritable
  • Prone to mood swings

So, why is refined sugar so bad for us?

There is so much information out there about how sugar damages your health, so I’m going to stick to the basics and leave it you to find out the specifics if you want to. Let’s start off with the obvious.

Sugar is quite bad for you because

  • It leads to tooth decay;
  • It is high in calories and completely lacking in nutrients, which leads to weight gain and malnutrition.

Ok, you probably already knew those 2, but that’s just the start.

Sugar is terrible for you because

  • It supresses the immune system;
  • It promotes inflammation;
  • It speeds up the ageing process;
  • It raises insulin levels. In the short term, this means sudden energy slumps and food cravings. In the long term, this can lead to diabetes;
  • It robs the body of B vitamins, which are basically needed to keep your nervous system, muscles and tissues healthy and functioning. See here for more information.

For more information on the list above, there’s a great article here at www.nutritiondiva.quickanddirtytips.com.

For a truly terrifying list of how sugar damages your health, see 141 Reasons Sugar Ruins Your Health at www.nancyappleton.com.

Now for the worst part:

The problem with sugar is that it’s just too tasty. No matter how much we want to hate the stuff, it’s very difficult to give up and that’s because sugar is a drug; it is addictive. There is an amazing lecture about this on YouTube called Sugar: The Bitter Truth by Prof. Robert Lustig, which I really recommend you watch if you are at all interested in the subject. Be warned, it’s over an hour long though!

What are the alternatives?

It’s important to remember that alternatives to refined sugar are still high in calories and will still raise insulin levels, so we shouldn’t go crazy and eat loads of them. However, it’s nice to have a sweet treat here and there and the alternatives in the list below contain more vitamins and minerals than refined sugar, meaning they nourish our bodies when we eat them rather than stripping the nutrients from us.

  • Fruit
  • Dates
  • Rapadura sugar
  • Coconut sugar
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup

Alternatives to avoid:

In my opinion, sweeteners are even worse than refined sugar and should be avoided at all costs. But that’s a huge subject in itself, so I won’t go into it now.

By now you’re probably beginning to hate me a little for making you feel bad about eating sugar, but please don’t!  I wish I could eat lots of sugar too. As I said in my very first post, “I love food…especially cake. It makes me happy”  and I like nothing more than enjoying yummy food with family and friends. Emotional health is just as important as physical health so I’ve had to find a balance that is reasonable and sustainable: I try to eat healthily most of the time, if I have treats at home I try to use the healthier alternatives, but I’m not going to beat myself up about the odd indulgent meal at a friend’s house or a delicious, sugar-laden pudding at a restaurant. Life is for living and enjoying after all!

X

I am not a saint when it comes to food. I really wish I was. I wish I had a little bit less of a sweet tooth and a-lot-a-bit more self-control, but I don’t. I eat well most of the time and I mostly keep my sugar cravings at bay, but every now and then my love of sweet stuff takes over and my inner sugar monster rears its ugly head.

Not surprisingly, this is exactly what happened over Christmas. Like many people, I ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and when I began to feel a bit ill, I took a break for half an hour and then started again. Yuk! Why do I do these things to myself?

The outcome was, by the end of December I was extremely grumpy, quite a lot blobbier than I would have liked and every joint in my body was stiff and aching. I knew exactly what I needed to do. I needed to go clean and get off the sugar and the bread and the rich foods….and yet, somehow I just couldn’t do it. I’d wake up each morning full of good intentions and by bedtime I was feeling guilty, grumpy and full of chocolate once again.

I needed a little help to break this unhealthy cycle and get me back to healthy eating again. So I signed up to Mission Clean & Lean, an online detox programme set up by Fern Whittaker and Jo Parry. Ordinarily, I don’t think I would have signed up for something like this, but Jo Parry is an international fitness presenter whose classes I’ve enjoyed at Fitness Fiestas for many years so I was confident it would be good.

I wasn’t disappointed. The programme started on 7th January and ran for 21 days. A couple of days before the diet started, I was added to a private Facebook group which would become my social support network for the next 21 days. Each day Fern and Jo would post the food plan and the 10 minute exercise video (to be done twice) for the next day. The rules were different each day: some days we would be allowed a small snack as well as our meals, other days it was just 3 clean meals, whilst other days we were asked to fast, which was not as terrifying or painful as I’d expected it to be. There were various fitness tests to be completed throughout the week to chart our progress, and weight and measurements to be taken every Monday.

The whole programme is excellently designed to keep participants interested and motivated, and the emphasis is on enjoying food and exercise rather than starving yourself.

But for me the real genius of Mission Clean & Lean is the Facebook group which, I have to admit, became a bit of an obsession. I found myself checking the group every few minutes to see if anyone had posted anything new: a picture of their dinner perhaps, or a new recipe idea, maybe even admittance that they’d had a few too many cashew nuts that day! As time went by I felt as if I got to know the other people on the diet, even though I’d never met them, and that is the beauty of Mission Clean & Lean because the Facebook group keeps you interested and focussed and makes you feel supported and motivated.

I can honestly say there isn’t a single person who wouldn’t benefit from signing up to Mission Clean & Lean. Whether you want to lose weight, kick start a new fitness regime, or simply feel happier and healthier in yourself regardless of size and body shape, this is a great programme. My goals going into the diet were to detox and break my sugar addiction, and maybe lose that last, stubborn bit of baby weight. I succeeded.

Thank you Fern and Jo. And thanks to all the other Clean & Leaners for your support. x