Montag, 11. Mai 2015

Having a bad diet may have different reasons than you think...

When we think of reasons why people fail to maintain a healthy diet, many possible reasons come into our minds ...lack of motivation (or bluntly laziness), greed, sabotaging partners/friends, "it was just there", etc. .. Hello COM-B Model?!

I am going to present you with something you probably have never heard of. I have sometimes read about it and when I think about making an unhealthy vs healthy choice I do have to admit it does play a role to some extent sometimes. And it is on a much deeper level than we see it. What we often don't realise is that our choice of food is related to how we feel about ourselves - our self-worth.

You may now object: "Why on earth should what I have on my plate be influenced by how good or bad I feel about myself? I just cook what is healthy or what I feel like having, and that's it."

Well, unfortunately it is a little more complex than that and often we are influenced by many different thought processes where we take different aspects into account. Of course our hunger and appetite is a major driving force here since it ensures that we keep eating according to our body's needs.

But do you always really eat 100% in agreement with what your body REALLY craves? And how do you know?

To make this a little more clear, let's take a look at one example:

Imagine you are coming home after a long stressful day at work and you don't really want to spend a long time on planning and preparing your dinner (quite a common scenario, if you ask me).

Unfortuantely (or fortunately) due to our evolutionary remainders when deprived of engery, our bodies naturally tend to peeper highly calorific and sugary food for maximum and quick calorie replention, although you know at the same time that all you really want is a balanced, wholesome meal with lots of nutrients and vitamins (typically unprocessed ingredients such as vegetables , grains and proteins). You also probably know you will feel much better afterwards than after eating 1 bar of chocolate.
Then you actually picture yourself preparing the healthy meal, which includes knowing the appropriate recipe , buying the required ingredients at the supermarket, cutting and preparing the food, waiting and then washing up lots of dishes.

At the same time, you imagine how you would simply stop at the takeaway on your way home picking up the appetisingly looking pizza overflowing with melted cheese, that you can eat right now and don't have to worry about whipping anything up and cleaning the mess after.

You weigh the pros and cons, most likely subconsciously. Even if you have good intentions and a general motivation to eat healthy, this can be tricky. Thoughts occur such as "It's just going to be me, so what's the occasion for a "special" meal?, "I'd better use the wasted time to study/ do household chores", "I still have this half loaf of toast I have to finish, or it goes out of date." or "The carton with leftover pizza from sunday will do as well".


In my experience the easiest way out for it is PREPARATION, PREPARATION, PREPARATION!
If you already have a foolproof plan, which means you know what recipes you are going to cook throughout the week with the purchased required ingredients, you will be less likely to fall for temptation because you simply don't leave your dinner for chance. And why would you do this with something so substantial as what you put into your body? It deserves to be spoiled with fresh, delicious and nutritious food - believe me if you do some research you will come across many indulgent tasting meals that are actually healthy- such as in Eat. Nourish. Glow or Delisciously Ella.

It may just be your lack of self-worth that's holding you back and tells you that nourishing your body and mind is not worth the effort and extra time.
I can tell you, how you feel after eating three slices of purchased cream pie compared to a carefully prepared wholesome comfort dish is miles apart in terms of how good I feel about myself. It's all like a vicious spiral that will intensify over time. Don't bring yourself down by treating your body like a rubbish bin!

Dienstag, 17. Februar 2015

SIMPLE WAYS TO DETOXIFY YOUR DIET

Like I mentioned in my anti-diet post a few weeks ago, I don't believe in any fad diets or detox methods that leave us starving and nutrient deprived.

However, sometimes it can happen that we lose our usual healthy routine for some time and feel we need to take some extra effort to bring our body back to our usual level.

For me, this happened last weekend. It was Valentine's Day on Saturday and of course you are out to do something special and don't really tend to watch everything you eat. Although I always take a box with precut vegetables with me if I go on a day trip, I did indulge definitely more than I should have.
Even during the week that led up to it, I had eaten some sweets daily, so that was probably also an extra reason. 
But the real damage started when I made Meringues on Friday and before, I wasn't really aware of how much sugar it includes but I was really shocked! I expected them to be very light (After all it is basically just sugar and egg white) but I seriously got a sugar shock and couldn't even finish a whole portion. Later that day on Saturday, I had a salmon crepe which was also not so ideal, and Sunday night I went out and had a huge Margharita pizza, plus a chocolate muffin for dessert.

The next day I went for a run and went back to eating really healthily, but around lunch time, I started feeling kind of sluggish and slightly nauseous, so that's when I realised I had to take more measures to get my body back to feeling healthy and energized.

I started including certain foods (some of them I have already daily anyways) into my diet consciously and I already feel a lot better.
In addition to that, I am keeping my caffeine intake low (not more than one coffee a day, but if you don't have to, try avoiding it for a few days altogether), and completely cut out refined sugar and flour for the whole week.

Here are the foods that I focus on in my meals to detoxify my body. They are very easy to add to porridge, cereal, stirfrys and other cooked meals.


I am going to go into each of them and briefly explain why they are detoxifying.


1. Cayenne Pepper

It increases metabolism, delivers nutrients more efficiently into cells, and reduces blood pressure as well as cleaning your arteries. It can be easily added to any cooked meals or even sprinkled onto avocados or salads.

2. Cinnamon

Cinamon has a boosting effect on the immune system and reduces cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood (harmful chemicals that are a consequence of eating sugar and white starches), so basically it lowers the risks, especially for the heart, after eating foods high in sugar and hydrogenated fats.
I sprinkle it every day onto my porridge.


3. Cacao Powder

Not be be mistaken with the conventional sugar loaded version you get in convenience stores and coffee shops, the raw, original version of cacao has amazing health benefits and is often referred to as the "The Health Miracle" or a "Superfood".  It protects against infections and cardiovascular disease, it releases serotonin in the brain which acts as a mood booster, and it has extraordinarily high levels of antioxidants that kill harmful free radicals. I love mixing it into desserts. If you don't like the extremely bitter taste, try mixing it with honey.



4. Blueberries

Blueberries are also filled with antioxidants and tons of vitamin C that, again, helps to protect  and get rid of harmful toxins.

5. Garlic

Garlic is an often overlooked herb that can be easily added to pasta dishes, risottos or vegetable stir fries. It is extremely good in terms of protecting the heart, it boosts immune function so it protects agains cold and infections, and it reduces blood sugar as well. Additionally, it protects against cancer and Alzheimer's disease and overall extends your lifespan.

6. Oranges

Due to high levels in Vitamin C and antioxidants, oranges can help brightening your skin and protecting it against external negative influences such as UV rays and toxins. Of course, the main benefit of high Vitamin C doses is the positive effect on the immune system.




7. Olive Oil

High fat foods are often demonised and avoided, especially when you aim to rid you body of toxins and the effects of fast food high in hydrogenated fat, but you should definitely not skimp with this amazing type of oil.
It is very high in antioxidants, has antiflammatory properties (protecting against various diseases), by for example lowering LDL cholesterol (the "bad" type), however it is important to make sure you buy the high quality version , Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

8. Chilli

Some of the benefits include protecting against stroke, it boosts circulation and it thins blood, as well as ridding your body of toxins due to an increase in metabolic rate.



9. Green Tea

I have a cup every single morning, because it is such an easy way to boost your health right at the start of the day.
Not only is green tea incredibly high in antioxidants, it also provides you with energy which you are definitely looking for when you feels sluggish and have eaten too much sugar or other junk. If you want to intensify these amazing effects, reach for matcha powder, which I sometimes take for an extra boost. It is basically like green tea, just about 100 times more concentrated.

10. Walnuts

Another high fat food on my list which should definitely be included! These small power seeds not only fight against cancer and protect your heart, they also contain a unique type of very powerful antioxidants, and it helps stabilising blood sugar, which is effective to keep you from reaching for more sugary snacks due to imbalances and spikes.


I have also been eating other foods on top, which are difficult to photograph, such as legumes (spinach and swiss chard), sweet potatoes and cucumber. 
Other foods to achieve similar results are beetroot or asparagus.

There are tons of other foods that are beneficial if you are looking to rid your body of harmful effects of your diet, but these are just the ones I have been adding lately!









Donnerstag, 12. Februar 2015

THRIVE THURSDAY: HOW TO MOVE ON AFTER LOSING MOTIVATION



In my previous Thrive Thursday posts I talked a lot about the importance of motivation in order to implement behavioural change, which is crucial to make healthy decisions and stay on track, not only when it comes to eating healthy, but also regarding being in the right place to be overall more productive and a better version of yourself, which stands in correlation to making better decisions for your health and acting upon them.

I don't know about you, but sometimes I fall into this frame of mind where I just cannot be 'bothered' about anything. It develops into an apathy towards your health goals and you lack overall motivation. The worst part is that you simply do not care if you are eating healthy or exercise, and even following a productive and focused lifestyle illustrates a burden that you simply feel you can't achieve at this moment.

These phases are normal for everyone, and it also effects people who are normally very discipled and passionate about living healthily. 
I wanted to address this issue in today's post because once you get into that state of mind, it may seem impossible to change pack and it is a huge trigger for feeling bad about yourself and thus relapsing into old unhealthy patterns altogether.

First of all, the most important thing that help me is simply forgiving myself for being unproductive and not pursuing the healthy lifestyle I actually do want for myself. You have to tell yourself that it is okay to take a little break once in a while, and it can even help you to get back into your full flow of feeling and staying even more motivated in the future.

You have to forgive yourself and move on. There is no use in dwelling on past mistakes because it keeps you from putting this energy in better behaviour in the present. It may also be helpful to put things into perspective by telling yourself that being unhealthy and unproductive for three days out of thirty is not much at all.
However, you must also ask yourself if this was maybe a subconscious mechanism to punish yourself, because after reflecting about this unhealthy relapse, you probably find yourself thinking that you didn't enjoy it and maybe it was simply a way of escaping or running away from a problem.

To summarise it, I give you some thought patterns that help to get out of this unhealthy state of mind and learn for the future:

- " I cannot change my past behaviour, so I accept it, I forgive myself and move on."
-  "Being unhealthy or unproductive for 10% of the time is not that bad really and doesn't make me a lazy person."
- "I will not punish myself like this in the future and I will work on finding healthier and better ways to release negative energy and bad thoughts'"

Additionally, it is important to build up a repertoire of coping mechanisms, so that you will refrain from getting into this unhealthy state of mind in the future. I will focus on the main points that I think are most effective from preventing

1. ORGANIZATION

There is a saying that goes "fail to prepare and prepare to fail" and that applies to all aspects of life- be it a healthy diet plan or a daily agenda of things to do.
I find that if I plan in advance, I am so much more likely to stick with a plan. So to do lists and shopping lists should become your best friends. It is key here to do these ideally a day in advance, especially if you have many things to do the next day that require a lot of coordination. If you have everything planned out, you are more determined to fulfil your goals. It makes a big difference to actually write it down, believe me! So just don't resort to planning it out in your head.
There is also nothing like the satisfying feeling of crossing off points from lists, because it gives you a feeling of accomplishment

2. THE RIGHT FRAME OF MIND

The best laid plans and intention can be thrown overboard by really small things that don't go according to your idea, and quickly you find yourself in a very bad place that leaves you incapable to get anything done and all your great resolutions are thrown out of the window.
To prevent this, it is important to create a certain fail-proof routine that conveys you familiarity and security, so you are less likely to even think about doing anything different from what you planned out. 
For example, small things like starting my day with 30 minutes of exercise like running or yoga or going for a coffee at 10 am every morning are these important things for me. Believe it or not, if I don't include these little, seemingly petty things into my day, I am much more likely to get out of control or carried away.
So what I basically mean are certain habits or rituals that are performed in a certain sequence at certain times. The more you practice this routine, the more it becomes automatic and internalized. This means it gets easier and easier over time.

3. BALANCE

Breaking out of your healthy lifestyle completely might also be a warning sign or a subconscious rebellion showing that you take things too strictly or you are being too extreme and idealistic about it. You have to accept, first of all, that nobody is perfect. A lot of people tend to fall into black and white thinking, so that once they are in their "healthy frame of mind" , they block out and reject everything that they believe is "bad" for them, and they become obsessed. 
Try to incooperate "unhealthy things" into your everyday life in moderation so that you don't feel that you have to restrict anything.
Accept that it is completely fine and even to some extent healthy to not have a perfectly healthy diet or 100% productive day. 


Do you feel that this applies to you? Do you feel these factors contribute to leading a healthy and productive life? If not, what are your tips to maintain this?


Montag, 9. Februar 2015

FOOD DIARY 3

Another week, another food diary! I can't believe how fast time is going, it literally only feels like one or 2 days since I posted my last one. However, there was still PLENTY of food, so it must be a while ago, eh?


Enjoy reading through my seven featured meals. This is of course, as always, just a selection of what I ate.





If you read my last blog post, this meal might look familiar to you already. It is the Indian curry with homemade paneer, which I attempted to make last week. Check out my last blog post if you would like to know how to make it from scratch. You won't believe how easy it is!


I had this delicious and simple kale salad after an exhausting gym session the other night. I just tossed some kale, avocado and walnuts with balsamico dressing, and it was ready to go. It tasted just as nice as it looked!





This was breakfast from the other day, nothing to special but I really love this combination. I used Coconut yogurt by Coyo from Wholefoods, mixed fruit and sugar free Granola by Dorset. I am currently increasing the fat content (one of the reasons is an amazing book I will review in a future post soon) of my diet a little bit, so the yogurt was very rich and indulgent with 20%.





This delicious salmon fillet was my dinner from Thursday night. I got it from a magazine as part of a "Beauty Foods" series, so all ingredients of the featured recipes are basically very nutritious and good for you, in terms of having amazing benefits for hair, skin, weight etc. The side consisted of sautéed turnip cabbage and leek, plus a cheeky dash of cream with some lemon. I will definitely cook this meal again, it was absolutely divine!




This quick lunch during the week included a chicken tikka sandwich as a base (store bought), but I pimped it up with healthy toppings: avocado, broccoli and a raw carrot.


This was actually last night's dinner. I wanted to create something from leftovers, since we had quite a few vegetables still hanging around the fridge. I decided to make chips from half a butternut squash. I cooked them in the oven for about 30 minutes and sprinkled olive oil and sea salt over the whole tray. Since I don't like traditional dips such as mayonnaise and ketchup, I just added some salted butter. I highly recommend this combination, it's heavenly! I always make my own chips from either sweet potatoes or something like this. I think the last time I bought conventional chips in a restaurant must have been around 6 years ago!





This dinner was made from a recipe I got from Lauren Conrad's website (You should check it out, all meals are very healthy and still indulgent). I used kale pesto from last week's shrimp risotto and baked chicken with mozzarella in the oven. On the side I added some fresh cherry tomatoes. The perfect low-carb dinner where you will not feel you have to compromise.


Have a great week ahead filled with lots of yummy food! As always, I hope I could give you some useful ideas to try.


Donnerstag, 5. Februar 2015

HOW TO MAKE PANEER

Instead of my Thrive Thursday Series, I decided to come up with another food-related post this week. This time it is a recipe where I tried something new that I had never made before!

So, I stumbled onto an Indian curry recipe last week that required a cheese called paneer. I have eaten meals at Indian restaurants many times, so I knew it was a type of very firm and rich cottage cheese that is often added to stews and curry dishes, and since I have always loved it, I decided to give it a go. The fact that it isn't sold in regular supermarket around UK gave me extra motivation, to be perfectly honest.

To make paneer for ca. two people you need the following:

- 1 L milk
- 3-4 tbsp of lemon juice

That's it! It's more about the technique than any complicated ingredients.


Firstly, pour the milk into a saucepan and heat it on the stove until it is about to simmer.







In the meanwhile, squeeze one lemon. When the milk is just before its boiling point, turn off the gas, remove the milk from the stove and add the lemon juice gradually (on tablespoon each time) to let the acid react with the milk to separate the fat from the rest.

In the end, it should look something like this:



Let the mixture cool down for about 30 minutes, then take a fine dish cloth and use it to collect the firm white bits. Pour the whole content through it and wring it to make sure all the liquid is removed.




Press the white mass onto a small plate and make it into small blocks. It should now look something like this:


As you can see the consistency is quite firm, almost like feta cheese. To make sure it will hold its form later while cooking, let it sit in the fridge for a few hours.

Now the fun part comes: The cooking! I decided to make a vegetable curry.
It is very important to fry the blocks of paneer just before the actual meal preparation to prevent it from falling apart after being added to the curry sauce! You can use sunflower or olive oil.


I prepared the curry then using creme fraiche and vegetable broth as the base and sautéed peppers, mange tout and aubergines on top of that. 
I added the fried paneer towards the end, and it blended perfectly into the meal and didn't fall apart. 




It tasted very good and I was surprised that you can just make it at home without a lot of knowledge or practise.
Definitely give it a go if you have some extra time on your hands.

It is a great option to add instead of meat, if you are vegetarian or you just want to change it up.

I think it is very important to keep experimenting with food and trying out new things from foreign cuisines to keep your meals innovative and interesting. It is a great experience and a good accomplishment to share with your family and friends.

I can guarantee you that everybody will be impressed and you can claim the meal 100% homemade by YOU, which is definitely a bonus.

Let me know if you have tried it out and how you liked it!


Dienstag, 3. Februar 2015

WEEKLY FOOD DIARY 2

Welcome to my second weekly food diary. I am glad that some of you seemed to like my first one from the previous week!
This week was a lot of healthy homecooked food, but there is a cheeky treat amongst it as well ;) . This shows I really don't eat "clean" all the time and love to have my occasional splurges.

That being said, let's get into it.


This was a vegan jerk stew I made last night for the first time. I got the recipe from an old Waitrose magazine and since I have never eaten much or cooked Carribean food, I was intrigued to try this. And I wasn't disappointed, it tasted amazing. I used butternut squash, kidney beans, pineapple and tomato and the sauce was made from coconut milk and jerk paste. I served everything with brown rice.




This was my breakfast from Saturday. I fancied something a little more special from my usual banana porridge so I had Dorset honey granola with raspberries and bananas and topped it with whipped cream, peanut butter and some walnuts. A heavenly combination!



This was a rather spontaneous quick lunch I made on a whim because I couldn't be bothered to cook. I simply took half an egg sandwich, leftover salad and topped it with spinach, mozzarella and kale pesto. Sometimes the simplest things are the best :)



This was a heart pancake my boyfriend made for me on the weekend. I wanted to make pancakes and prepared the dough, then realised it would take me ages to get ready, so he took over the cooking. So sweet of him , so I thought I would include it!



So this is the naughty treat I mentioned earlier, haha! To be honest, I never really crave pizza (I have a sweet tooth), but my boyfriend loves it, and it was a lazy Sunday so hey, why not! But it was me who chose the topping (Margarita, my favourite)! Oh, the brand is Doctor Oetker, by the way, it is the best frozen one out there in my opinion. 



We actually ended up sharing the pizza and I made a huge plate of raw carrots, turnip cabbage, green peppers and tomatoes, as you can see. I just like to get my veggies in! (and after all, it is all about balance)



Having been on an exhausting workout that day, I was still not completely full after the pizza and veg, and I craved a healthy dessert. I looked at what was in our pantry, and spontaneously whipped up this amazing dessert, which I will definitely make more in the future! It tasted so delicious. I simply cooked some millets for 30 minutes, let them cool for 5 to 10 minutes, and mixed them with 2 heaped tablespoons of raw cocoa, 2 tablespoons of honey, a bit creme fraiche and coconut milk. In the end I added some (unpictured) sliced banana and chopped walnuts. I highly recommend this dessert. It doesn't only taste great, but especially millet and raw cocoa are amazing superfoods for hair, nails and muscle repair.



This raw and super healthy low carb Pad Thai inspired salad is by the lovely Rose from The Londoner. I found it on her blog last week, so just google it and look at the recipes on the website to find the ingredient list. It is 100% raw and vegan and I made it for lunch one day. Unfortunately, it requires a vegetable spiralizer to achieve this 'zoodle effect', so I just just the vegetables into thin stripes which was fine, but now I really want a machine like this!



Last but not least, I decided to show you my typical everyday breakfast I have during the week. I cook porridge with oats, full fat milk and chopped banana (usually half). After simmering this mixture for about 10 minutes I serve it with peanut butter (100% without palm oil or sugar), walnuts and dried fruit (in this case apricots). This is my all-time favourite go to breakfast and it keeps me full until lunch time!

I hope you are having a great food week, and that I could inspire you with one or another meal idea!
Let me know what you had or what the food highlight was for you this week.





Freitag, 30. Januar 2015

BRAIN OVER BINGE ?

Today I decided to review a book that I discovered a while ago, called "Brain Over Binge (Why I Was Bulimic, Why Conventional Therapy Didn't Work, And How I Recovered"). 




It is written by Kathryn Hansen, a recovered bulimic who developed her own approach to succumb binge eating after conventional therapy concepts (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Psychodynamic Therapy and Addiction Therapy) didn't work for her.

Basically, she sees the root of binge eating in an initial decision to diet, an not in traumatising experience and psychological issues, as traditionally seen in the majority of theories.
Therefore, binge eating illustrates a symptom of a survival instinct as a reaction to calorie restriction, and the more you engage in it, the more it starts to become a habit due to neural connections that are strengthened over time ("brain wiring").

She doesn't discount conventional treatment methods, claiming they are ineffective and useless, but she addresses the problem that while they helped her to stop irrational beliefs, thoughts and harmful behaviours of dieting, it didn't reduce her binges. Fruthermore, she emphasises that just because these concepts didn't work for her, and she believes they can definitely help other people. Her objective is mainly to help people who have made similar experiences like her and have given up hope in recovery.

I will briefly explain how the three conventional concepts aim to change the harmful eating behaviour, and why Hansen didn't find them effective for her:

1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy:

The goal is to substitute the harmful behaviour (bingeing) with healthier alternatives or distractions in order to overcome the urge. For Hansen, this approach is only an indirect solution. While it helped her regarding confronting and reflecting on her binge urges, it didn't take away the desire to eat . If anything, it only fuelled this instinct, since it put even more focus and attention to it.
On top of that, CBT stays dependent on monitoring behaviours that recognise triggers on the long term, so in certain ways, you will always be something like a 'tamed pet' that isn't fully recovered.

2. Psychodynamic Therapy:

This form of therapy assumes that underlying psychological issues and past experiences (especially in childhood) are the root of problematic behaviours/thoughts/feelings. However, for Hansen realising that certain behaviours or statements her parents made in the past probably had an influence with the accumulating factors which eventually resulted in her decision to diet, but this insight didn't reduce her binge eating.

3. Addiction Therapy:

Proponents of this therapy believe that a complete recovery from excessive consumption of stimulating substances (including drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and food) is only possible by complete abstinence from the substance, which is obviously not possible for eating disorders, because food keeps us alive and we cannot avoid it altogether. This is why it is suggested to stay away from triggering foods that provoke a binge due to the hormonal and neurotransmitter responses, which are primarily refined sugar and white flour.
This means, you will always have to restrict yourself and will always have a problem with eating. And if you then do eat these foods (accidentally or lack of choice), this means you are relapsing, which may result in unnecessary negative thoughts that in turn could actually provoke a full on binge.

Hansen suggests an alternative approach that she has derived from the so called "Rational Recovery".
This approach has mainly been applied for OCD patients, who have similar thought and behaviour patterns like eating disordered people (intrusive thoughts, compulsiveness and black and white thinking).

It is assumed that our brain consists of two parts, the lower brain (or "animal brain") and the higher brain (prefrontal cortex).
The lower brain is responsible for all binge urges. It is primitive and includes our survival instincts, in this case the binge eating is a response to restrictive dieting. 
The highest human brain, which is seen strictly separated from the lower brain, separates the "I "from binge urges by inhibiting them.
This can be achieched by the following steps:

1. view urges to binges as neurological junk from lower brain
2. separate highest human brain from urges (or as ego-dystonic)
3. stop reacting to my urges
4. stop acting on my urges
5. get excited (by realising that this works which will enforce future resistance to binge)

Taking this into consideration, developing binge eating as well as reducing it, is a form of conditioning and extinction.

The points are elaborated more precisely in the book. If you would like me to summarise them in a future Thrive Thursday post, just leave me a comment , and I am happy to do so.

My personal opinion on this book is overall positive.
I find this woman's story very inspiring, especially considering that she suffered from binge eating for her whole young adult life and had already given up hope until she stumbled onto this originally developed for OCD technique and applied it to a problem herself many people suffer from, which is very innovative.
While she cannot prove that this theory works by scientific evidence, I see parallels to a cognitive technique that I read about a few months ago, where binge urges or simply urges to eat unhealthy foods, are seen as intrusive passengers on a bus, that you are blocking out, which is equivalent to a ego-dystonic technique (other passengers are not part of you).

I definitely don't think that it can replace conventional therapy, because it is important to address underlying issues and irrational beliefs or harmful thoughts, however it is worth considering implementing it in cognitive techniques as a method to help reducing binge eating urges that will in turn make it easier to develop better alternative behaviours.

The only negative point I would like to mention is that Hansen sees certain disease criteria, e.g. "compensatory behaviours such as the use of laxative and overexercising" as "no sign of disease" which I disagree about, because from personal observation a person without an eating disorder would keep eating normally after overeating.

Find out more about the book here. I definitely recommend it to people who have a long history of binge eating or other eating disorders. I also think that it is very important to read for people who are thinking out going on a strict diet, or are already on it. The sooner you prevent potential harmful consequences, the better; especially considering that Hansen sees her initial root for problematic eating (first anorexia, then bulimia) in her decision to diet.




Montag, 26. Januar 2015

WEEKLY FOOD DIARY 1: A GLIMPSE INTO MY DIET

Happy Monday, everyone!
I wish you all have a great start of the week.

To give you some inspiration for what to eat, and also to give you a kind of glimpse into my diet, I decided to do a weekly post of a selection of meals I have been eating during the week before.

I initially contemplated doing something like "What I Ate Wednesday" like many bloggers, but I figured that would be a little boring since I tend to have similar snacks and breakfasts, and let's be honest, a sandwich usually doesn't look pretty enough to be photographed (unless it is from some fancy bakery which mine are not).

As a disclaimer, I don't really eat out a lot because firstly, I try to live on a budget, and secondly, I enjoy home cooked food more at most times, because it is often fresher, more nutritious and I can determine the ingredients.

I would also like to point out, that I don't follow any diet hype or the 'clean eating movement'. I usually enjoy eating healthy and nutritious meals because it makes me feel better mentally and physically, but I would say about 80% of my diet is what is considered healthy, and for the rest 20% I enjoy eating things like cookies, chocolates and cake (I am not a huge fan of takeaway meals or fast food such as chips and pizza, but my weakness is my sweet tooth).

With all that being said, let's take a look at some of the things I ate!




This granola fruit parfait was my fancy Saturday breakfast! I used my favourite granola brand Dorset (which tastes amazing plus it's sugar-free), dairy-free coconut yogurt by Coyo and as a special treat raspberries as a topping. I buy raspberries very rarely because they are so expensive but I thought I would treat myself for once ;).



This foto isn't the best quality because I took it with my phone but I just had to show you this great lunch! It was Indian chicken curry with my favourite Indian bread, Paratha (admittedly it is frozen, but you would never be able to tell!). To make it a little more nutritious I added a chopped beetroot. I actually hate beetroots, but I force myself to eat them because they are so incredibly good for you.



This photo was taken Saturday afternoon, when I went to Waitrose cafe in Aylesbury with my boyfriend. I had a cappuccino (right), and he went for a Moccha (left). To be honest, they didn't taste as great as they looked. I envy people who live in Italy because everywhere you order a cappuccino it is simply amazing!



This is a spinach omelette with avocado, marmite and wholemeal bread that I whipped up for brunch Sunday last week. I just love the combination of eggs and marmite, although so many people hate the bitter taste. In the UK, it is very difficult to find good quality wholemeal bread, so I was thrilled to pick up this delicious 80% wholemeal rye bread from the Bakery Euphorium in Islington. It almost tastes like from Germany (although it is apparently Swedish).



I simply love Green Juices, because they provide so many nutrients, they are energising and provide an easy way to contribute to your 5 a day, oh and of course they are delicious ;).
This is how I usually make mine (but you can add what you like really):

- 1/2 avocado
- 1 or 2 apples
- 1 beetroot
- generous amount of spinach leaves
- 1 banana
- cucumber or celery



This delicious Green Tea Pasta with salmon is a staple of mine. Salmon is one of my favourite foods, and along with the green tea sauce (that I make with Matcha Powder and leek), it makes an interesting but irresistible combination. This was dinner from Wednesday night.




I snacked on this combination of dried apricots, dates, blueberries and nuts on Saturday night while watching TV. I am not a fan of conventional snacks such as crips or salty crackers, so I usually reach out for something like this.



I know this photo looks super messy but this is how Sunday brunches usually look like with my boyfriend and me. We started with an onion omelette with cherry tomatoes, wholemeal bread and avokado, and then had muesli with fruit (Crunchy Nut for my boyfriend and granola for me). I sipped on Green Tea, and he had orange juice.




My mouth is still watering from just looking at this photo! Because my boyfriend loves cheesecake, and I am obsessed with peanut butter, I decided to join these two foods into an indulgent dessert, called Peanut Butter Cheesecake. We ate this though out the week every now and then, because I made a small tray altogether. The base was made from crumbled digestives with melted butter, and for the topping I simply mixed cream cheese, peanut butter, powdered sugar and some more butter. It was actually the first cheesecake I tasted and genuily liked! Will definitely make this again, and it is really easy to make.




I just thought I would share a photo of my favourite mug with green tea I got as a gift for Christmas from my sister. I usually drink a cup of green tea every morning with my breakfast, or sometimes as night after dinner.


I hope you all had delicious meals. What did you have? I am always curious to know what other people are eating!

Donnerstag, 22. Januar 2015

THRIVE THURSDAY: USE YOUR PSYCHOLOGICAL NEEDS TO EAT HEALTHIER

Like I promised last week, I have started a new series that 'investigates' strategies to use knowledge about the meaning of psychological needs in the context of healthy behaviours.

The first part focuses on ways to evoke basic needs in order to fuel your motivation for the right nutrition.
I admit that this sounds a bit bizarre and abstract, so let me start with the theory behind all this.

Abraham Maslow developed a pyramid that suggests that human beings strive to fulfil basic psychological needs in a certain rank order, starting with physiological needs that are necessary to survive. The assumption is that if the 'lower' more basic needs are fulfilled, the person will strive for 'higher' goals, such as elevating his self-esteem.

This is how this hierarchal pyramid looks like:


In normal circumstances of our society, we can assume that our physiological and safety needs are more or less fulfilled. We live in our own place without immediate jeopardy and we have access to food and water (even here you can take hunger/thirst as a motivation if you feel that only a healthy and nutritious diet is vital for your body and physical well-being, however it is not required to survive), so the focus of the approach I am discussing  is on the three needs love/belonging, esteem and self-actualisation.

According to the self-determination theory, the needs that are crucial to engage increased intrinsic motivation are especially autonomy, personal growth (relevant for self-actualization) , experiencing competence (part of the need esteem) contribution to community, acceptance (important for love/belonging).

To give you a more precise understanding of how each single need can consciously be evoked by eating healthily, I will elaborate examples of thought patterns and behaviours that address them and thus may lead to actual motivation.

1. PERSONAL GROWTH

Have you ever had a hobby that you felt you truly 'owned'? You might have felt pride because you felt with time you developed more abilities and skills.
This was probably because you had potential and talent for it. 
With other things (may it be a certain sport or instrument) you maybe felt you were not progressing although you were practicing a lot.
Luckily, with the right nutrition, what you put 'in' correlates highly with results, so you don't really need a special gift to be 'good' at eating healthily.
All it takes is certain discipline and patience. Of course, there are some people that are blessed with a exceptionally fast metabolism, and it will be slightly easier for them to shed weight.
It is important that you see yourself isolated from other people and stop comparing yourself. After all, you can 'only' be the best version of yourself, and if you put enough time and effort you will see results.
See the healthy lifestyle (I don't like to call it diet because this is often associated with restriction) as a form of a hobby and skill that you are good at. If you see it rationally, it is easy really. You just eat three times a day and include healthy foods. See it as a form of entertainment and enjoyment. It gives you the opportunity to experiment with new foods and to learn cooking (which actually can be a proper hobby!).
And like I said last week, don't focus on the outcome, but enjoy the ride. At all times, even if you have just been doing this for a week, you will feel some sorts of benefits, be it physical (more energy, feeling fuller for longer...) or emotional (excitement of cooking with new foods, stable mood...). 
Feel how these benefits affect your personality (e.g. happier, calmer) , your skills (e.g. cooking different cuisines and hosting dinner parties) and identity (e.g. "I am able to control what I eat." / "I believe in the importance of healthy nutrition.")


2. AUTONOMY

See the healthy lifestyle as your personal choice. You eat what you eat because you want it and made the decision, not because you were pressurised or it is expected from society. You are the master of your beliefs and actions and you are passionate about it and stand behind your opinion.
To enhance this aspect, I recommend not sticking to a certain diet plan stricly. Maybe initially when you are still learning about good nutrition this is important, but try to incorporate your own ideas and favourite foods as soon as possible. So you can kind of see it as a 'patchwork approach'. Try to include different recipes and choose these based on what you enjoy eating, after all this is a long-term change.
I recommend looking through different types of cook books and blogs and experiment with what you like. After a while you will feel you have to put less effort and it will come more naturally. Remember to always stay true to yourself and keep your diet interesting for yourself. 
You may even cook old indulgent favourites and look for healthier alternatives. Often even the fact that the meal is homecooked makes it automatically lower in sugar, salt and saturated fat, but you will often find that by replacing certain ingredients, you will barely taste a difference and it may be up to half the fat and calories. (Just google Healthy Spaghetti Carbonara or Vegetarian Lasagna ;) )

With this type of customised diet you will feel that what you buy and eat is your own and that you were actively engaged in the choice.

3. COMPETENCE

This psychological need is somewhat related to Personal Growth, in the sense that you acquire a skill or a vast knowledge that makes you an expert, and thus elevates your self-esteem.
Nowadays, there are countless 'diet' books, blogs and articles on healthy nutrition. I generally recommend staying away from one-sided and extreme concepts in books (especially initially) , such as low-carb, the now uber-trendy veganism, Dukan diet, etc.
Choose more holistic approaches that focus on all food groups, because going from an unhealthy diet to entirely restricting certain foods is certainly not healthy and will most likely result in a relapse or complete resignation. 
Pick literature that genuily interests you, because that keeps you motivated and passionate about your health journey.

This depends on your personally preferred approach and style. 
For people who like scientific literature I recommend the book "The Diet Deluison" , which I recently read and was impressed by the fact that every statement was backed up by scientific evidence. 
For somebody with who would prefers the easy-going, fun approach , the book "French Women Don't Get Fat" is a great read and engages the reader on a more personal and casual level and is very entertaining to read. You learn about the right nutrition without even realising it because it is integrated in stories.

I don't read many food blogs ( I am personally for into fashion and lifestyle blogs that sometimes have food-related posts) , but I definitely enjoy the following blogs or websites from time to time:






4. CONTRIBUTION TO COMMUNITY

This definitely sounds a lot more idealistic and far-fetched that it really is in practice. 
Simply use your acquired knowledge and newly accomplished skills to help your near and dears (family or partner) to develop a healthier and better lifestyle.
They will be simply motivated by the fact that they see the benefits of these changes in you, and you inspire them. Of course there will be some that are very resistant to change, but I promise you that it is very rewarding to see after seemingly ages of convincing and talking to no avail, (I definitely annoy everyone with my obsession to eat mountains of vegetables and fruits ;) ) you suddenly see a small change  in their behaviour as well, so all your selfless efforts had an impact on them after all.
Of course it is impossible to make a pizza and candy addict into a health nut over night, but don't stop to try to inspire others (without being patronising of course!). It always makes me happy when people tell me they have integrated useful tips I gave them into their daily lives, and they made a significant and positive impact on their well-being and health.
It will motivate you to stay this healthy role model that others take their inspiration and motivation from.

5. ACCEPTANCE/ CONNECTIVITY

I added connectivity as part of a social need, because acceptance often implies a wrong approach for motivation that is extrinsic. This is the case if you for example lose weight because you think you will be more popular or attractive with others.
I am , on the other hand, talking about the sense of acceptance and connection you experience when you engage with other people who have similar beliefs, goals and aspirations, in this case eating healthily.
This can be achieved by cooking healthy meals together, supporting each other by giving advise, or just talking about their journey and experiences. This creates a strong emotional bond and adresses human the psychological needs love and belonging.
If your family, friends or partner don't engage in changing their lifestyle, you can find social support systems online in various communities, and if you prefer a more personal interaction face to face, there are funded support groups for weight loss in every city.
The main aspect of this need is probably the feeling of being part of a community, which is achieved by a strong group identity and connection among its members. 
Everyone feels more accountable and responsible for their actions, and they associate their positive health changes with being accepted and being part of a social support system.