Category Archive Blog

Why Am I Always Hungry?

Why am I always hungry? If you often feel hungry, you are not alone!

There are many reasons to feel hungry. Of course, the most obvious one is that you are actually physically hungry. Perhaps your stomach is empty, your blood sugar has dropped, and your hunger hormones are having a party.

But other times, the hunger may not be physical hunger. It may be a craving, blood sugar imbalance or an emotional trigger. These are common reasons why some people eat too much. It could be brought on by a certain type of diet, stress, or other things going on in life.

It’s easy to mistake “psychological” hunger for “physical” hunger.

I’m going to talk about the difference between both of these types of hunger, and give you some tips how to figure out which is which.

And, of course, I will give you a very filling recipe too!

Physical hunger vs. psychological hunger

Your “physical” hunger is regulated by the body through your hunger hormones. And of course, it should be. You don’t want to be completely drained of fuel and nutrients for a long time. So, you’re programmed to seek food when your body physically needs it. Some of those physical needs are that your stomach is empty or your blood sugar has dropped.

“Psychological” or “emotional” hunger is eating to overcome boredom, sadness, stress, etc. It’s based on a thought or feeling. It’s what happens when you see a great food commercial or smell a bakery. It’s not from your empty stomach or low blood sugar.

So, here’s how to tell which is which.

Eight steps to figure out if you’re physically hungry or not

1 – The first thing you need to do is stop to evaluate. Scarfing down that protein bar at the first sign of hunger isn’t necessarily going to help you.

2 – Now that you’ve stopped. Pay attention to where this hunger is coming from. Can you actually feel or hear your stomach growling? Did you skip a meal, and haven’t eaten in hours? Or are you seeing and smelling something divinely delicious? Perhaps you’re bored, sad, or stressed? Take a peek into all these areas and really pay attention.

3 – Have a big glass of water. Now observe your hunger feeling for at least a minute. Really dig into the source of the feeling. It can be easy to jump to a conclusion, but that may or may not be the right one. So listen to your body and mind very deeply.

4 – If you do find that your feelings may be the source, then face them. Acknowledge and observe them. They may just be needing comfort and recognition, even if they sound like they need food. Try deep breathing, having a stretch, or going for a quick walk to release some of these emotions; this also gives your mind a chance to focus on something other than the feeling of hunger.

5 – If you’re pretty sure that your body physically needs nutrition, just wait a few more minutes to make sure.

6 – Now you can be fairly sure whether your hunger was from emotions, boredom, thirst, or actual physical hunger.

7 – If it’s physical hunger, feel free to eat healthy and nutritious food. To fill you up the food you eat should be high in protein, fibre, and water. Eat slowly and mindfully. Chew well and savour every bite of it.

8 – Rinse and repeat at the next sign of hunger.

To learn more about this, contact Kate for a free 15 minute breakthrough call.

Conclusion

The feeling of hunger can manifest for many reasons. Of course, if you’re physically hungry and need the food and nutrients, then this is what it’s for!

But often, there is an underlying psychological or emotional reason you might feel hungry.

Now you know my eight steps to figure out if your physical body is hungry, or if you’re bored, sad, or stressed.

Use this process over and over again to feed your body what it actually physically needs (and not overdo it).

Recipe (Filling): Slow-Cooker Roast Beef and Potatoes

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 onions, sliced (do this and go to step 1 before preparing the rest of the ingredients)

4 lb beef roast

1 lb potatoes, peeled & chopped

1 lb carrots, peeled & sliced

2 celery sticks, sliced

2pinches dried thyme or sage or parsley

2 cloves garlic crushed

2 pinches salt & pepper

Instructions

Place a layer of sliced onion at the bottom of the slow cooker. Put the lid on and turn up to high; this will start caramelizing the onions while you wash and slice the rest of the ingredients.

When all ingredients are ready, take off slow cooker lid and add meat and the prepared vegetables, garlic, herbs, and spices.

Cook on high for 3 – 5 hrs, or on low for 6 – 8hrs, or until done.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can substitute different vegetables if you like. For example, you can use sweet potatoes in place of the regular potatoes; or parsnips instead of carrots.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/ghrelin/
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/dealing-with-mysterious-hunger
https://authoritynutrition.com/18-ways-reduce-hunger-appetite/
https://authoritynutrition.com/15-incredibly-filling-foods/

5 Healthy Snack Ideas for Fatigue

The words “fatigue” and “sugary snacks” often appear in the same sentence.

Let me give you my best fatigue-fighting snacks that aren’t just nutritious but also delicious!

What’s my criteria you ask?

They have to be nutrient-dense whole foods where a little goes a long way; foods that contain protein, healthy fats and/or fibre.

Here are my 5 healthy snack ideas for fatigue:

1 – Nuts

It’s true – nuts contain fat, but they are NOT fattening!

Well, I’m not talking about the “honey roasted” ones, of course. Those probably are fattening.

Studies show that people who eat nuts tend to be healthier, leaner and have more energy.

By the way, nuts also contain protein and fibre, which means a small amount can go pretty far in terms of filling you up. Not to mention the vitamins and minerals you can get from nuts.

Did you know that almonds have been shown to help with weight loss? At least 10% of the fat in them is not absorbed by the body, and almonds can also help to boost your metabolism!

Tip: Put a handful of unsalted/unsweetened nuts into a small container and throw it in your handbag.

2 – Fresh Fruit

As with nuts, studies show that people who tend to eat more fruit, tend to be healthier. (I’m sure you’re not too surprised!)

Yes, fresh fruit contains sugar, but whole fruits (I’m not talking juice or sweetened dried fruit) also contain a fair bit of water and fibre; not to mention their nutritional value with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Fibre is something that not only helps to fill you up (known as the “satiety factor”) but also helps to slow the release of the fruit sugar into your bloodstream and reduce the notorious “blood sugar spike” followed by the energy crash.

Win-win!

Try a variety of low glycaemic index fruit (apples, pears, berries, etc.) and pair that with a handful of nuts.

Tip: Can’t do fresh? Try frozen. Plus, they’re already chopped for you.

3 – Chia seeds

This is one of my personal favourites…

Chia is not only high in fibre (I mean HIGH in fibre), but it also contains protein and omega-3 fatty acids (yes THOSE omega-3s!). As well as antioxidants, calcium, and magnesium.

Can you see how awesome these tiny guys are?

They also absorb a lot of liquid, so by soaking them for a few minutes, they make a thick pudding (that is delicious and fills you up).

Tip: Put two tablespoons in a bowl with ½ cup of amond milk and wait a few minutes. Add in some berries, chopped fruit or nuts, and/or cinnamon and enjoy!

4 – Boiled or poached eggs

Eggs are packed with nutrition and most of it is in the yolk.

They contain a lot of high-quality protein and a good amount of vitamins and minerals.

And recent research shows that the cholesterol in the yolks is NOT associated with high elevated cholesterol or heart disease risk.

Yup, you read that right!

Tip: Boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in your fridge for a super-quick (and nutritious) snack!

5 – Vegetables dipped in hummus

I don’t need to tell you how great these are for you, but just maybe I need to sell you on the delicious “snackability” of these nutrition powerhouses.

Veggies contain fibre and water to help fill you up, and you don’t need me to tell you about their vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, right?

You can easily open a bag of baby carrots and/or cherry tomatoes and give them a quick rinse (they’re already bite-sized).

Tip: Use a bit of dip. Have you put almond butter on celery? How about trying my new hummus recipe below?

For personalised healthy snack ideas, contact Kate to book an appointment.

Conclusion:

Go ahead and try one, or more, of these healthy snacks. Prepare them the night before if you need to. They will not be “tasteless,” like “cardboard,” or “completely unsatisfying.” Trust me.

Recipe (Vegetable Dip): Hummus

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained & rinsed

⅓ cup tahini

1 garlic clove

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 pinch sea salt

1 pinch black pepper

Instructions

Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. You may need to thin it out with a bit of water, so add it 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time and blend.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Don’t like sesame? Use an avocado in place of the tahini.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/20-most-weight-loss-friendly-foods/
https://authoritynutrition.com/foods/almonds/
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/almonds/
https://authoritynutrition.com/is-fruit-good-or-bad-for-your-health/
https://authoritynutrition.com/foods/apples/
https://authoritynutrition.com/fresh-vs-frozen-fruit-and-vegetables/
https://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds/
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/eggs/

Butternut Squash & Lentil Curry Recipe

It’s nice to have warm, comforting meals in the cold autumn evenings. This tasty butternut squash & lentil curry recipe is my favourite dinner to have. It makes the most of butternut squash which is in season in the UK in autumn.

The brown rice is lower in sugar than white rice and as it is wholegrain it contains more B vitamins and magnesium.

Serves 2

Time to prepare & cook: 1 hour

Ingredients

1tbsp Coconut Oil

1 Red Onion

1 Garlic Clove

1inch Root Ginger

1/2 tbsp Ground Cumin

1 tsp Ground Coriander

1/4 tsp Ground Turmeric

345ml Passata

1/4 block Coconut Cream

125g  Red Lentils

1 Butternut squash

I large leaf Swiss chard

1 tsp Olive oil

600ml Filtered Water

150g (75g/serving) Brown Rice

¼ tsp  Himalayan Pink Crystal Salt

¼ tsp Black Pepper

Instructions

Firstly preheat the oven to fan 180C.

Now chop the butternut squash in half. Scoop out the seeds with a dessert spoon and discard. Chop a grid into the surface of the butternut squash flesh. Place the butternut squash halves in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil.

When the oven is ready, add the butternut squash halves into the oven and cook for 40 minutes.

Next melt the coconut oil in a medium pan.

Now add the chopped onion, and salt, black pepper, cumin, coriander and turmeric and stir.

When the onions start to look clear, add in the chopped garlic.

Boil some water. Cut off a quarter of the coconut cream block and place it in a small glass. Pour in 200ml boiling water to dissolve the block.

Now add in the passata and water. Pour in the red lentils. Next pour in the coconut cream. Also cut up 2 inch pieces of the Swiss chard and add to the curry. Simmer on a low heat for 25 minutes stirring regularly. Add in extra water if necessary.

While the curry is cooking, pour the brown rice into a pan of filtered water at the ratio 1:2 brown rice:water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 25 minutes on a low heat. Do not stir.

When the butternut squash is cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Once cool. use a dessert spoon to scoop out the butternut squash flesh and put into the curry.

Serve the butternut squash & lentil curry with the brown rice. Enjoy!

How Much Sugar is Too Much?

It’s official! Organisations and governments are (finally) declaring a maximum amount of daily sugar intake.

While this is a step forward, there are still a few problems. One – they don’t all agree with each other. And, two, I don’t necessarily agree with them either.

We all know sugar is NOT a health food. It isn’t full of nutrition, and excess consumption is not associated with great health.

The problem is that sugar is everywhere. It’s naturally occurring. It’s also added to just about every processed food there is. And this “added sugar” is a factor in many chronic diseases we see today. Sugar is inflammatory. Too much is associated with weight gain, fatigue, brain fog, candida overgrowth, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and cavities. Too much sugar is a huge health risk, no matter how you look at it.

So let’s talk about how much sugar is “too much.”

Added sugar vs. naturally occurring sugar

What do some of the officials say?

Before we talk about the “official” numbers (and why I don’t agree with them), you need to know the difference between “added” sugar and “naturally occurring” sugar.

Fruit and other healthy whole foods contain sugar. They also contain water, fibre, vitamins, minerals, and other phytochemicals. They are good for you. Eating fruits and vegetables is a well-proven way to reduce your risks of many chronic diseases.

“Added sugars,” on the other hand, are concerning. In 2013, the American Heart Association calculated that about 25,000 deaths per year were due to sweetened beverages. “Added sugars” are also in baked goods, sweets, soups, sauces and other processed foods. You can find sugar on the ingredient list as many names, often ending in “-ose.” These include glucose, fructose, sucrose, etc.

So, “Total sugars” = “Naturally occurring sugars” + “Added sugars.”

The “official” change is the new Nutrition Facts tables. You may remember that they declare the amount of sugar, but don’t give it a %DV (% daily value); this means, they’ve never had a “benchmark” maximum daily value to use. They haven’t declared how much is too much. Now, they are implementing a %DV for sugar.

The %DV is based on 100 g/day of total sugar. Unfortunately, this number is large because it includes both naturally occurring and added sugars. The %DV is in-line with the Canadian Heart & Stroke Foundation’s recommendations of no more than 90g of total sugars per day.

In 2008, the average daily total sugar intake in the USA was 76.7 grams per day; this is less than these two benchmarks. Yet, it doesn’t seem that people are getting healthier. I’d argue that 100g per day total sugar is still too high.

In the USA, the labels are changing too. They are not declaring “total” sugars but will differentiate between naturally occurring and added sugars. They have decided on a maximum of 50g of “added” sugars each day. Unfortunately, this is still more than the American Heart Association’s recommended maximum of 24 g/day added sugar for women, and 36 g/day added sugar for men.

What is a better daily sugar goal?

While these official numbers are a step in the right direction, they’re not what I would recommend.

For one thing, I’d ditch as many processed food as possible, regardless of their sugar content. There are a ton of studies that show that processed foods are bad for your health. Period. I wouldn’t recommend eating your “daily value” of sugar from sweetened processed foods. I don’t recommend even 50g of “added” sugar per day. Get your sugar from whole, unprocessed fruits first.

Secondly, you don’t even need to max out your daily sugar intake. I promise! Try to reduce your sugar intake below these “official” amounts for an even better goal.

Tips to reduce your sugar intake

Here are some of my most popular recommendations to reduce your sugar intake, so you don’t get too much:

  • Reduce (or eliminate) sugar-sweetened beverages; this includes soda pop, sweetened coffee/tea, sports drinks, etc. Instead, have fruit-infused water. Or try drinking your coffee/tea “black” or with a touch of cinnamon or vanilla instead.
  • Reduce (or eliminate) your desserts and baked goods and bake your own instead. You can easily reduce the sugar in a recipe by half. Or try my delicious (no added sugar) dessert recipe below.
  • Instead of a granola bar (or other sugary snack), try fruit, a handful of nuts, or veggies with hummus. These are easy grab-and-go snacks if you prepare them in a “to-go” container the night before.

Let me know in the comments your favourite tips to reduce your sugar intake!

To learn more about how to reduce sugar in your diet and healthy replacement foods, contact Kate for a free 15 minute consultation.

Recipe (No added sugar): Ice Lollie

Serves 1

Ingredients

¾ cup almond milk (unsweetened)

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp cacao powder (unsweetened)

½ banana, frozen

Ice cubes

Instructions

Add everything into a blender except ice. Blend.

Add a handful of ice cubes and pulse until thick and ice is blended.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Double the recipe to share.

References:

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-labelling-changes.html?_ga=2.256456139.1337838755.1500915116-364691916.1498677123
https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm385663.htm#images
http://www.heartandstroke.ca/get-healthy/healthy-eating/reduce-sugar
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Added-Sugars_UCM_305858_Article.jsp#.WXYtbYjys2w
https://authoritynutrition.com/how-much-sugar-per-day/
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/truth-about-sugar
http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-break-the-sugar-habit-and-help-your-health-in-the-process
http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-spot-and-avoid-added-sugar

Prebiotic Foods

Prebiotic foods?

Yes! They’re the food that we feed our probiotics, the friendly gut microbes that are oh so important for good health.

Our gut microbes are alive, and they need to eat too. Their favourite foods are called “prebiotics” and include dietary fibre and resistant starch. The same fibre that keeps us feeling full slows down digestion and provides roughage that keeps us regular. Resistant starch helps promote healthy blood lipids. Both of types of prebiotic foods (fibre and resistant starch) are linked with many health benefits.

Technically-speaking, a prebiotic has three qualities:

It needs to be undigested and reach the colon intact;

It needs to be digested by our gut microbes; and,

It needs to stimulate our health-promoting good gut microbes.

Now that we know what prebiotics are let’s dive into their health benefits.

Health benefits of prebiotics

Prebiotic fibre helps keep us regular by bulking up our poo. It gives it substance and form, so it’s not too runny or liquid. In fact, more fibre is often recommended to help with symptoms of diarrhoea. Prebiotic fibre used to be thought of like a broom that sweeps food through our guts, but we’re learning more about its health benefits beyond this role.

For example, prebiotics can also help to maintain normal bowel structure and function, and even enhance blood flow to the cells of the colon.

Those are some of the health benefits of prebiotics themselves. But we get even more health benefits when our friendly gut microbes eat and digest them.

For one thing, our gut microbes use prebiotics to make short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs (e.g., butyrate) can feed the cells of our colon to keep them healthy. SCFAs also inhibit the growth of bad gut microbes, and can even increase mineral (e.g., calcium and magnesium) absorption. These effects are all linked to the slight acidity caused by the acids in those SCFAs.

Dietary fibre also binds to healthful phytonutrients (phyto = plant). These phytonutrients are lost when the fibre is removed from the food. But, when we eat the prebiotic fibre, our gut microbes release these phytonutrients so we can absorb and use them.

Food more information on gut health, contact Kate for a free 15 minute nutrition consultation.

Where to get prebiotics

Dietary fibre and resistant starch are the main sources of prebiotics.

Prebiotic fibre is found mostly in plants; both fruits and vegetables. 

Resistant starch is any starch (a type of carbohydrate) that goes through most of our digestive tract without being digested. It’s not broken down by our digestive enzymes because it’s “resistant”… until it gets to our gut microbes in the colon. Resistant starch is found in starchy foods like whole grains and potatoes.

One of the big differences between fibre and resistant starch is that all of the fibre we eat is indigestible. All of it reaches our colons. Resistant starch, on the other hand, is just a small percent of the starch we eat. Most starch is digested and absorbed along our digestive tract, and that part is not considered to be prebiotic. Only the small amount of starch that is resistant to digestion and makes it down to the colon to feed our probiotics is prebiotic.

Prebiotic fibre is found in fibrous fruits and vegetables. It’s essentially what’s removed when we make juice – the pulp. It’s one of the reasons why eating whole fruits and vegetables is more healthful than replacing them with juice.

Here are some great sources of prebiotic foods fibre:

Onions

Asparagus

Bananas

Berries

Pears

Prebiotics foods resistant starch is found in:

Whole grains (e.g. oats)

Potatoes

Corn

Seeds

Legumes

Green bananas

Starches can be made resistant by cooking and cooling these foods before eating them. The cooling process allows the starches to re-shape themselves into a structure that is harder to digest (i.e., more resistant).

Conclusion

Prebiotics are fibre and resistant starches that feed our gut microbes. And when we feed our gut microbes, they help keep our gut healthy and have other health benefits too.

Do you ever juice your amazingly healthy fruits and vegetables and have a ton of leftover pulp? What do you do with it? I have a great recipe for using that oh so healthy prebiotic foods in a delicious way.

Recipe (Juice pulp): Brownies

Serves 12

Ingredients

¾ cup cacao powder (prebiotic)

3 tbsp coconut flour (prebiotic)

1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 eggs
2 cups juice pulp, firmly packed (prebiotic)

½ cup coconut oil, melted

½ cup maple syrup

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8”x8” baking tray with parchment paper.

Add cocoa powder, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a large bowl. Stir to combine.

Whisk eggs, pulp, oil and maple syrup. 

Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine well. Use a spatula to scrape the batter into the baking dish.

Bake for 30 mins until the top is firm and edges just start to pull away from the dish. 

Allow the brownies to cool.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: I like to blend the wet ingredients in my blender to make cleanup easier.

References:

http://neurotrition.ca/blog/your-gut-bugs-what-they-eat-and-7-ways-feed-them

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/juicing-removes-more-than-just-fiber/

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/resistant-starch-colon-cancer/

https://extension.psu.edu/prebiotics-how-to-feed-your-good-bacteria

https://www.monash.edu/medicine/ccs/gastroenterology/prebiotic/faq

Creating a Mindset for Health

So much of health is all about habits and actions, but where do these all stem from? What if we don’t have to make as many changes as we think we do? What if there was one powerful thing that makes a lot of difference?

That thing is mindset.

Mindset is sometimes called “the story we tell ourselves.” It’s our attitude toward things in our life. And we have control over our mindset.

And research is showing that it may be far more powerful than we thought.

Very interesting health mindset study

Here’s a quick story about a fascinating study.

Researchers at Stanford University looked at a bunch of people’s health and wellness lifestyle habits, as well as health markers.

What they found was that the people who thought they were a lot less active than they actually were, had a higher risk of death than the general public. And, they also had up to 71% higher risk of death than people who thought they were more active. Even if the story they told themselves about being “not very active” wasn’t true!

How is this even possible that people who simply thought they were less active had higher risks, even if it wasn’t true?

There are a couple of ideas why. Firstly, one is that maybe if we feel like we’re less active, it may make us feel more stressed. And stress isn’t good for our mental or physical health. Secondly, there may be a bit of a mind-body connection where the body embodies what the mind visualises.

Researchers don’t know why, but what matters is that there is a good mindset.

This means that our mindset, the way we think about ourselves and our habits is extremely important…just as important as actually having good habits.

So, let me give you a couple of strategies to boost your mindset for health.

Health mindset strategy 1 – Aim for good enough

Almost no one eats perfectly seven days a week (not even me, and I’ll be the first to admit it). It’s inevitable that obsessing over the quality and quantity of everything we eat or drink isn’t necessarily a great mindset to have.

It can bring on binging, shame, and guilt – none of these are great ways to get healthy. We want to get healthier by making better choices and building better habits. And these are usually best done incrementally – one step at a time.

So, instead of having a black and white approach where everything is good or bad, why not try aiming for good enough to empower ourselves to make better choices, instead of perfect choices.

If it helps, tell yourself that you’re doing an experiment. Allow yourself to try out a new habit or way of eating and give yourself permission to experiment with it, instead of aiming for perfection. Sometimes you need to use this mind trick to get yourself over the hump of getting started and sticking to it.

Health mindset strategy 2 – Stop making trade-offs

When you try to “earn” a gluttonous weekend by eating clean during the week, you’re making a trade-off. You’re telling yourself that, as long as you’re good most of the week, you can go wild on the weekend.

And that’s not awesome because the mindset is jumping from one extreme to the other. You’re controlling what you do all week, and possibly thinking about how to indulge over the weekend. A better mindset is to live as though you’re trying to do well every single day. Like you care about your health and wellness. Caring about your health can still include the occasional treat. When you’re consistently doing your best, that’s good enough.

For support in creating a mindset for health contact Kate for a free 15 minute phone consultation.

Conclusion

Creating a mindset for health can be a powerful tool for better physical health. There’s a proven mind-body connection that research can measure.

Thinking positively, and dropping the black/white and good/bad labels, can help you reach your health goals.

How is your mindset for health? Which of these tips resonate with you the most? How are you going to implement them in your life? Let me know in the comments below.

Recipe (Hydrating mindset refresher): Chia Berry Water

Serves 1

Ingredients

1 tbsp chia seeds
¼ cup raspberries
¼ tsp mint
2.5 cups water

Instructions

Add the water, mint & raspberries to your blender and blend until combined (add ice, if desired). Fill your favourite water bottle with the mixture and add chia seeds. Shake before drinking.

Serve & enjoy! This is a great source of fiber and a refreshing tasty drink to have during the day.

References:

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/weekend-overeating

My Timeline to Recovery from CFS/ME

Today I wanted to share with you my timeline to recovery from CFS/ME.

CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) is a chronic illness with extreme exhaustion and flu-like symptoms that is difficult to recover from. Many people suffer from CFS/ME for many years.

Some people with ME/CFS can recover in a few years (like me), some people recover in decades, and sadly some people never recover. Everyone has a different recovery time.

I first got ill in December 2008 which I when I had to stop working and move back with my parents. I was able to go back to work full-time in December 2011. So my recovery time took 3 years.

The key to recovering is finding all of your root causes with symptom diagnosis and functional testing and pulling them out. You may have multiple root causes and it can take time to find them all and treat them.

Below I share with you my timeline to recovery from CFS/ME so you can see how long it took me to recover from my CFS from the time I went to see a Nutritionist, to the time I was able to work full-time again. I’ve also shared other things I tried that helped me on my recovery journey. I hope it gives you hope.

My Timeline to Recovery from CFS/ME

2010

JulyNovember

Nutritionist, Supplements & diet change – I went to see a Nutritionist, at the recommendation of my Acupuncturist. This was the best thing I ever did for my ME recovery. She used a Vegatest Bioresonance machine to detect that I had Candida overgrowth, Epsteinn Barr virus and cytomegalo virus. She gave me a course of natural supplements to kill off the infections. Also I was deficient in Vitamin C, iron and Omega-6-fatty acids and she gave me vitamins to take. Additionally she discovered that I was intolerant to cow’s milk, yeast, sugar and beef. So I immediately cut all these foods out of my diet. I felt much better after doing this, especially after cutting out sugar. I began eating healthier, experimenting with cooking new foods. After removing my food intolerances andtaking these supplements for a few weeks, I had a lot more energy. I could concentrate for longer, my mind was clearer; I could do more physical activities around the house such as cooking and washing my hair.

July

Fluconazole – the nutritionist advised my to visit my doctor when she detected that I had a yeast infection. He prescribed me fluconazole for my thrush.

Anti-Candida Diet – I felt weak and shaky the morning after cutting out sugar from my diet. This is the body’s normal response of withdrawal symptoms to suddenly stopping taking a drug. I replaced the processed white sugar with fruit.

August

NHS Pacing Programme – I went once but did not like it as they were very patronising and only talked about the managing the symptoms and not things that might help cure them. They made us sit on hard, uncomfortable chairs which for people with ME who have aching bodies is not very comfortable. I felt that they didn’t understand ME.

September

Relaxation Music – as I was housebound I would spend most of the day sitting in the conservatory watching the nature outside and reading and spent the evenings listening to relaxation music from Global Journey where you can get 25 free downloads. This really helped to slow down my overactive nervous system and get me out of fight-or-flight mode and into the rest-and-digest parasympathetic nervous system. The gentle sounds, calmed and relaxed me and left me feeling so peaceful and content.

October

Positive Affirmations – I also read the most amazing book ‘You Can Heal Your Life’ by Louise L. Hay. She taught me how to change my negative thinking habits into positive ones and how positive thoughts attract positive experiences and it brought miraculous events into my life.

2011

January

Holosync Meditation – I discovered Holosync Audio meditation. This is another one of the best things I have ever done. Whilst resting for an hour everyday laying on my bed, I listened to the audio meditations on my iPod and allowed my body to get into the healing state. It quietened my over-active mind. I became a more peaceful, calm and happy person. My stress tolerance improved and I now don’t get upset about the things that I used to. I remain calm under pressure.

Reduce ElectroMagnetic Radiation (EMR) – I turned my bedroom into a tranquil paradise and removed most of my electrical appliances such as my TV and computer to reduce nasty EMFs that affect my sleep.

February

Massage – I started having massage at a beauty clinic using essential oils which warmed and relaxed my tense and aching muscles and left me feeling so peaceful and calm. It is a shame the effects wear off after a day!

May

6 Month Check-Up with Nutritionist – I had a 6 month check up with the Nutritionist. All my results on the Bio-resonance machine were good. I told her about a past trauma I had had and she recommended that I went to go and see a counsellor and hypnotherapist.

May – August – every 3 weeks

Counselling & Hypnotherapy – It was helpful to talk about traumas that happened in the past and my current problems. She gave me some great advice such as encouraging me to join a ballroom dancing club to be around people again and to learn to drive to get more freedom and independence. She did guided visualisations to get me into a relaxed state and then put positive messages into my subconscious mind.

Learn to drive – I started having driving lessons once a week for an hour. I found it mentally and physically exhausting, using muscles that I hadn’t used before to press the clutch and accelerator. However I had a great driving instructor who made me laugh! I passed my driving test the second time around in August and bought a car. This gave me freedom and independence.

September

University – my counsellor encouraged me to leave home and go back to university. As I was interested in Nutrition I enrolled in a Dietetics degree. I got a place at the University of Plymouth. However after a 4 hour drive, when I got to the room I would be staying in, I realised I couldn’t stay there. It was cold and horrible with squeaky floor boards and an unforgiving landlord. In the end I returned home. It was a big trauma and I had to pay for the room rent for a year as I had signed the contract. This left me with no money and I had to sign on for job seekers allowance and look for a job.

October

Volunteering – I started on job seekers allowance and volunteered at the British Heart Foundation Furniture & Electrical shop to get back into society. I regained my confidence, made friends and had a lot of fun.

December

Full-time job – I started working in a full-time job on a contract as an administrator in an office. This is the point that I began to call myself fully recovered as I was able to work and function in society again.

If you would like to work with me to get your energy back and recover from CFS/ME, contact me HERE or book your free 15 minute fatigue breakthrough call.

Healthy Salad Dressing Recipe

I often get asked by my clients for a healthy salad dressing recipe. So here is a tasty and healthy salad dressing recipe to make your salads zing!

In the hot summer days it’s nice to having a hydrating, fresh salad for lunch with seasonal vegetables such as tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, rocket and cucumber.

Make sure you add a portion of protein such as chicken, sardines, mackerel anchovies, eggs, tofu, walnuts or feta.

Also you want some healthy fats to help you absorb the fat-soluble nutrients including vitamins A, D, E and K such as avocado, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and your healthy salad dressing! The olive oil in the salad dressing also helps you to absorb fat-soluble nutrients.

Healthy fats and protein also keep you feeling full for longer and prevent the urge to have a sugary snack a hour later!

Check out this yummy and healthy salad dressing recipe below:

Ingredients

2tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1tbsp apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar

1 clove garlic crushed

1tsp dijon mustard

¼tsp sea salt

¼tsp black pepper

Instructions

Add the olive oil, vinegar, crushed garlic, mustard, sea salt and black pepper to a glass jar and shake well to mix.

If you would like more guidance on what foods to eat and avoid in a healthy diet, contact Kate for a free 15 minute consultation to discuss how I can help you.

For more healthy recipe inspiration click HERE.

How to Reduce Stress Hormone Levels Naturally

STRESS!!!

Its causes are absolutely everywhere. Would you agree?

Our natural “fight or flight” stress response can sometimes go a little overboard. It’s supposed to help us escape injury or death in an emergency and then return to normal after we’ve fought or flew. But, that doesn’t happen too much in our society – it becomes a long-term reaction. It becomes chronic.

You’ve probably heard of the main stress hormone, called “cortisol.” It’s released from your adrenal glands in response to stress. It’s also naturally high in the morning to get you going, and slowly fades during the day so you can sleep.

Did you know that too-high levels of cortisol are associated with belly fat, poor sleep, brain fog, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and even lowers your immunity?

Do you experience any of these? Well, then read on because I have a list of foods, nutrients and lifestyle recommendations to show you how to reduce stress hormone levels naturally!

Foods and nutrients to lower cortisol

Let’s start with one of the biggies that increase your cortisol… sugar. Reducing the sugar we eat and drink can be a great step toward better health for our minds (and bodies).

High doses of caffeine also increase your cortisol levels. If coffee makes you feel anxious and jittery, then cut back on the amount of caffeine you ingest.

Also, being dehydrated increases cortisol. Make sure you’re drinking enough water every day, especially if you feel thirsty.

Eat a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods; this doesn’t just help reduce stress hormone, it helps all aspects of your health.

Lower your cortisol levels with tea and dark chocolate (not the sugary milky kind!). Have a bit to unwind.

Don’t forget your probiotics and prebiotics! There is so much new research about the gut-mind connection, and how taking care of your friendly gut microbes is key! Make sure you’re eating probiotic rich fermented foods and getting a healthy dose of prebiotic fibre.

To learn more about foods and nutrients to reduce stress hormone levels, contact Kate for a free 15 minute consultation.

Lifestyle techniques to lower cortisol

It’s not just food, but there are things you can do with your time that can lower cortisol.

Reduce your stress with mindfulness. Many studies show that reducing stressful thoughts and worry reduces cortisol.

Get enough exercise (but don’t overdo it). While intense exercise increases cortisol levels temporarily, it can reduce overall cortisol levels.

Get enough sleep!

Getting adequate sleep is way too underrated. Sleep reduces cortisol levels and also helps improve your overall health in so many ways.

Relax and have fun. Things like deep breathing, massages, and listening to relaxing music all reduce cortisol.

Be social and bust loneliness. Would you believe me if I told you that science has shown health risks from social isolation and loneliness? It’s true! Maintaining good relationships and spending time with people you like and who support you is key.

Conclusion

Too much of the stress hormone cortisol can have several negative impacts on your health. There are many proven ways of how to lower stress hormone levels naturally.

In terms of foods and nutrients, have less sugar and caffeine. And have more water, fruit, tea, dark chocolate, probiotics, and prebiotics.

Lifestyle factors are huge when it comes to cortisol. To lower yours, exercise (but not too much), get more sleep, relax, and have more fun.

In the comments below, let me know your favourite ways to bust the stress hormone cortisol!

Recipe (High fibre prebiotic): De-Stressing Chocolate Pudding

Serves 6

3 ripe avocados

¼ cup cacao powder (unsweetened)

¼ cup maple syrup

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 dash salt

Instructions

Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Try adding a pinch of cinnamon for a deeper flavour.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/ways-to-lower-cortisol/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-cortisol

https://authoritynutrition.com/16-ways-relieve-stress-anxiety/

https://www.thepaleomom.com/managing-stress/

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response

How To Keep Your Blood Sugar Level Stable

Oh, the words “blood sugar level.” 

Does it conjure up visions of restrictive eating, diabetes medications, or insulin injections? 

Blood sugar is the measure of the amount of sugar in your blood. You need the right balance of sugar in your blood to fuel your brain and muscles. 

The thing is, it can fluctuate. A lot. 

This fluctuation is the natural balance between things that increase it; and things that decrease it. When you eat food with sugars or starches (“carbs”), then your digestive system absorbs sugar into your blood. When carbs are ingested and broken down into simple sugars, your body keeps blood sugar levels stable by secreting insulin. Insulin allows excess sugar to get it out of your bloodstream and into your muscle cells and other tissues for energy.

Many people with ME/CFS have a blood sugar imbalance that is leading to symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, dizziness and sugar cravings. When I was ill with my CFS and went to see a Naturopathic Nutritionist, her test revealed that I was on the edge of being diabetic! I was able to balance my blood sugar level with nutrition.

Why keep my blood sugar stable? 

Your body wants your blood sugar to be at an optimal level. It should be high enough, so you’re not light-headed, fatigued, and irritable. It should be low enough that your body isn’t scrambling to remove excess from the blood. 

When blood sugar is too low, this is referred to as “hypoglycaemia.” 

When blood sugar is too high, it is referred to as hyperglycaemia.  Prolonged periods of elevated blood sugar levels (chronic hyperglycaemia) can lead to “insulin resistance.”  

Insulin resistance is when your cells are just so bored of the excess insulin that they start ignoring (resisting) it, and that keeps your blood sugar levels too high. 

Insulin resistance and chronic hyperglycaemia can eventually lead to diabetes type 2. 

So let’s look at how you can optimise your food and lifestyle to keep your blood sugar stable. 

Foods for stable blood sugar 

The simplest thing to do to balance your blood sugar is to reduce the number of refined sugars and starches you eat.  To do this, you can start by dumping sweet drinks and having smaller portions of dessert. 

Eating more fibre is helpful too. Fibre helps to slow down the amount of sugar absorbed from your meal; it reduces the “spike” in your blood sugar level.  Fibre is found in wholegrain, plant-based foods (as long as they are eaten in their natural state, processing foods removed fibre).  Eating nuts, seeds, and whole fruits and veggies (not juiced) is a great way to increase your fibre intake.  

Also eating protein and healthy fat foods which break down slowly and don’t cause blood sugar spikes. Foods like meat, fish, eggs, tofu, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.

FUN FACT: Cinnamon has been shown to help cells increase insulin sensitivity. Not to mention it’s a delicious spice that can be used in place of sugar. (HINT: It’s in the recipe below) 

To learn more about how to use foods and supplements to balance your blood sugar level, contact Kate for a free 15 minute discovery call.

Lifestyle tips for stable blood sugar 

Exercise also helps to improve your insulin sensitivity; this means that your cells don’t ignore insulin’s call to get excess sugar out of the blood.  Not to mention, when you exercise, your muscles are using up that sugar they absorbed from your blood. But you already knew that exercise is healthy, didn’t you? 

Would you believe that stress affects your blood sugar levels? Yup! Stress hormones increase your blood sugar levels. If you think about the “fight or flight” stress response, what fuel do your brain and muscles need to “fight” or “flee”? Sugar! When you are stressed signals are sent to release stored forms of sugar back into the bloodstream, increasing blood sugar levels.  So, try to reduce the stress you’re under and manage it more effectively. Simple lifestyle tips are regular meditation, deep breathing, or gentle movement. 

Sleep goes hand-in-hand with stress. When you don’t get enough quality sleep, you tend to release stress hormones, have a higher appetite, and even get sugar cravings. Sleep is crucial, often overlooked, factor when it comes to keeping your blood sugar stable. Make sleep more of a priority – it will do your blood sugar (and the rest of your physical and mental health) good. 

Conclusion 

Your body is on a constant 24-hour quest to keep your blood sugar stable. The body has mechanisms in place to do this, but those mechanisms can get tired (resistant).  Long-term blood sugar issues can spell trouble. 

There are many nutrition and lifestyle approaches you can take to help keep your blood sugar stable. Minimising excessive refined sugars, and eating more fibre, exercising, reducing stress, and improving sleep are all key to having stable blood sugar (and overall good health). 

Recipe (blood sugar balancing): Cinnamon Apples 

Serves 4 

Ingredients

2 apples, chopped 

1 tbsp coconut oil

½ tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon

⅛ tsp sea salt

¼ tsp vanilla extract 

Instructions

Place chopped apples into a small saucepan with 2 tbsp water. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. After about 5 minutes the apples will become slightly soft, and water will be absorbed. 

Add 1 tbsp coconut oil. Stir apples and oil together.  

Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so. 

Add cinnamon, salt, and vanilla. Stir well. 

Cook for another few minutes, stirring until the apples reach your desired softness! 

Serve and enjoy! 

Tip: Keeping the peel on increases the fibre, which is even better for stabilising your blood sugar. 

References: 

https://authoritynutrition.com/15-ways-to-lower-blood-sugar/
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/research-review-blood-sugar