I do not think that we talk often enough about rest and sleep and their connection with our general health and weight management. Not only that they are connected, but the way we eat, our nutrition, can also influence not only our weight management, which is not a big news to anyone, but it can also influence how well we sleep. It is called Sleep Nutrition.
An average adult should get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per day.
So, how well are you doing? Do you have difficulty falling asleep? Are you perhaps waking up a lot during the night and then finding it difficult to fall back to sleep? Are you waking up tired and feeling unsettled or irritable throughout the day?
If any of this is you, I hope this article will be able to shed a bit of light and, ultimately, help.
Here is one topic that is confusing the hell out of people. Fat in a diet.
Is fat bad? Should we have any fat in our diet? How much, if so? What kind of fat? What about keto diets? Etc.
We used to believe that fat is bad and diets should be low-fat… I know. I was there myself. Luckily, I had an awareness of protein and knew that cereals, bread, pastas are of no good to me, so I focused on protein and veg. And this worked really well. However, it WAS missing a healthy fat element and luckily science has moved on and with that, the way we now think of a properly balanced diet.
Low fat diet frenzy started in the 70s and it took decades before we realised that it was not fat, but sugar and simple carbohydrates, that are a true enemy. Many low-fat produce, like yoghurt as an example, were just added sugar to taste better. Same with baked goods: they reduced fat, whilst increasing sugar to compensate and sold us the notion that low fat was healthier. Think of muffins, cakes, etc.
Most of my health education was self-education and it started when I was a teenager. I have always enjoyed reading about health, especially vitamins & minerals and their impact on our health, which prompted my latest qualification as a Nutritional Therapist and why it felt so right, in the first place, to become a Herbalife Nutrition health coach nearly 15 years ago now. Because I understood the science already, I was open-minded to test the products and see the difference they possibly made. The rest is history.
Even as a teenager I used to make smoothies with any edible plant that was available in and around the house, together with fresh raw eggs from a local lady and soya milk I would drive for hours on my bike until I found one store that stocked it. Some teenagers smoked, I did this.
Weight management is a science. Beautiful science, that is. If you invest time in understanding it – managing your weight and your health becomes a game where you stand a chance winning it each time, for life.
Then, there are situations where you just might scratch your head, situations where it is not that simple and by the book, where you find yourself with an unexplained weight gain.
If you lack the knowledge of the basics, you will probably not find yourself in this article in case reasons for your weight gain are simply down to the lack of balance and frequency in your nutrition and diet.
If you eat more calories than what your body needs to function (more energy than you are burning), if your diet is out of balance (too many carbohydrates and too little proten) or if you suddenly cut back on exercise and continue eating the same amount as you did with exercise – of course you may gain weight! If your diet is not balanced, your body composition can be changing as well as you may be experiencing weight gain.
So, diet indeed is a major culprit.
However, if you’re doing everything the same as you normally do and your weight still goes up – then you may need to dig a little deeper why that is…
Metabolism is THE word. It is the reason why one person can eat like a growing teenager and not gain a pound, while another person’s every indulgence shows up on their waist.
What is Metabolism?
It is the name for the chemical processes by which our bodies convert food that we eat into the energy that we need to survive and function. It powers all our chemical processes from breathing to blinking.
The minimum amount of energy your body requires to carry out these chemical processes is called the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) or resting metabolic rate (RMR).
What determines our metabolic rate? Or what determines how effectively we burn the calories we consume into energy?
The aim is to burn all the food that we eat and not to have any excess, otherwise body will be storing it as fat and that is how we gain weight.
So, what determines how fast or slow the process happens is the combination of one’s body size, age, gender and genes. Of course, foods that we eat and drink will also effect the metabolism as some support it and some hinder the process.
While many of us can happily give up our fatty or sugary favourites, I find that certainly many of my clients find more difficult to give up alcohol, especially at weekends. It is built into our culture and it is a large part in how we enjoy time with friends and loved ones.
Apart from an obvious case where a person may be an addict, for vast amount of people alcohol has become a lot more than just an activity to partake when we are in social environment in order to perhaps celebrate something. Many use it to take an edge off a rough day, some do it almost on a daily basis. It has become a way of life. There is possibly even an emotion attached to it. Coming home from a hard day, pouring a large glass of Pinot Noir (or whatever your poison is) to sip whilst you are cooking your healthy dinner for your family or your partner, then another one over dinner and perhaps even one more as you snuggle up on the sofa to wind down. It s almost like a scene from a movie that glorifies this lifestyle. It may help you relax and you rely on alcohol to achieve that state.
This is only one of million other scenarios, however, one thing that strikes me regularly when starting a client on their nutrition plan is their excitement to change their diet and start their plan and then their equal reluctance to give up their drink. Sometimes the decision whether to go ahead with my coaching or not depends solely on how much their alcohol habit will be affected if they were to embark on a healthier & fitter self-betterment journey. It can easily sound like an addiction. And sometimes giving up alcohol is just one change too many they are not prepared to make.
Of course, it is OK not to be ready, it is our call when we are going to decide to change. And I am not in any way saying that alcohol should be avoided by absolutely everyone and at every circumstance. However, alcohol addiction is a reality for many. And obesity can be accelerated or even caused by alcohol, including many diseases. So, having any alcohol in a diet is a problem for many.
Thank you for clicking on this article as its title is everything but original. But, that does not make it less true. Actually, it is a huge deal!
Our life is truly a reflection of our habits at every level of our existence. We become what we think about because what we think about is what we will focus on and that will influence what action we take, which, ultimately, leads to a particular outcome (or outcomes for different areas of our life). Results, in one word.
Einstein’s famous definition of insanity is repeating the same actions over and over again and expecting different result. And, yet, that is exactly what majority of us do. We have around 60 000 thoughts every single day, take or add a few, and research suggests that 98% of those thoughts are exactly the same thoughts we have every single day. So, anyone wanting to change their life – what we need to change are habits and behaviours, which will influence our actions and the end result – our life.
Sounds simple, but we all know it is easier said that done. But at least we know that we got to change something. Because…
Change nothing – nothing changes.
Change a little – little changes.
Change a lot – a lot changes.
Habits come to mind as a logical one thing that we need to focus on changing. When it comes to health – habits are absolutely everything.
It is being said that it takes 21 days to change habits. But, science shows that this is a myth. Psychologists may agree that while it perhaps takes 21 days of consistent and conscientious effort to create a new habit, it takes far longer to break an existing habit. More recently, study of 96 people was published in The European Journal of Social Philosophy and it states that it took an average 66 days to form a habit, such as eating a healthy snack or exercising regularly. That is to reach the point of Automaticity. When we develop a new behaviour that we do automatically, like brushing teeth is. The point of unconscious competence.
They found that creating a new habit depends on type of behaviour we are trying to change, the person and the circumstances. It can also take anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit, which is an average of 66 days, but this highlights why it takes longer for some to adopt new habits.
I always talk to my client that after weight loss comes maintenance and research shows that maintenance is actually harder. Why? Because they have not yet reached the state of automaticity. They lost weight with my support, but those that take it for granted and have not fully committed to living a healthy, active lifestyle for life are the ones that will struggle to keep the weight off.
Herbalife Nutrition has been surprising me for over a decade now, since I became a coach in 2004, with its focus on progress and innovation. Our doctors and nutritional experts always seem to be at least one step ahead and yet, always careful not to play into the hype of things, which, without doubt, can leave us members in frustration. However, nothing is brough in or replaced before the science first checks in. And that takes time. And we can and should wait.
Our Formula 1, almost unchanged for nearly four decades, is such an advanced formula that it brought the company as the leader in weight management and meal replacement industry with 31% of the meal replacement worldwide market share. Which is massive.
Starting my day with anything else but Formula 1 is not an option for me and my family. My boys want it before bed time too. And when they come back from school. My husband goes away for a day or two without it and “I really missed having shake for breakfast!” he always says upon return. Because what is good – feels good. You know it. Your body knows it.
There is so much research on meal replacements and a role they play in an effective weight management. Independent clinical studies on Formula 1 show how combining F1 meal replacement with regular diet produced better weight loss and fat loss results than food diet alone. That is in line with the recent research on meal replacements, in general.
Wednesday, 14th November is World Diabetes Day. As more and more people have diabetes and increasing amount of people are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and the fact that lifestyle plays a big part in disease development -while it is important to raise the awareness of the disease, it is also very important to talk about its prevention.
Personally, I have diabetes in the family. I grew up with both of my aunties, my mum’s two only sisters, being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. One died from it and the other died of cancer before diabetes could claim her too. In my opinion, based on what I recall, apart from following the treatment – neither of them really took necessary care when it came to changing their lifestyle. They both had a very sweet tooth. My mother, on the other hand, one that has always been more health conscious compared to her sisters, is nearly 80 now and I would be surprised if she ever develops the disease because of her balanced diet and healthy weight maintenance. Still, this topic feels like it is very close to home as I love and miss my aunties very much.
So, what is causing Diabetes and how can we prevent it?
I am sure you will agree with me that it is very possible to be very fit and yet to be very unhealthy. It is usually demonstrated in regular exercise and feeling strong and fit, however, having low energy levels, possibly suffering from an impaired digestion or skin problems or frequent colds or some other form of ailment or even disease, even having excess weight! You might be that person yourself or you might know someone who you even admire for being an example when it comes to their dedication to fitness, however, you can see they might not be eating great and are “getting away with a murder” when it comes to eating. Some people I know are exercising so they CAN “eat what they want”. Or can they, really? That is the question.
It is also a possibility to be very healthy with great energy levels and youthfulness because of an attention to a healthy diet, however, to struggle to run for three minutes or get up a few flights of stairs. I used to be this person after I had children and know the feeling very well. Exercise does burn extra calories, however, its role in weight management is actually minimal compared to its role in our overall health, ageing process and general strength and stamina.
So, I think many will agree with me when I say that our aim, ideally, might be to be both – healthy AND fit.
The question is – are You? And, if not, how do we achieve both?
I can tell you that there is a lot more to it than just diet and exercise, but they seem to be good places to start!
First pillar is Nutrition, of course. It is because, 80% of our health IS nutrition – what you eat and drink throughout the day because it does not matter how hard you work in the gym if you do not control what you put on your plate.
Your level of nutrition body gets will impact your mood as well as how your body functions. Ideally, we need to start seeing food as medicine. Because food CAN have that effect.
We ourselves are powerful beyond measure and it is equally incredible what our bodies can do when we give them the right nourishment and fuel that helps our cells thrive. Your nutrition is the first key to your healthy lifestyle and all the exercise in the world can not help you if you are not fuelling your cells right, in the right balance and frequency.
The latest research confirms that only 1 in 4 people, that is 25% of the population, across 15 European countries, considers nutrition when making their health choices. Malnutrition (poor diet that results in micro-nutrient deficiencies that lead to disease) is estimated to cost £19.6 billion in the UK annually where malnourished adults account for about 30% of hospital admissions. No wonder we have such shocking figures if only a few consider nutrition in the first place.
I think there is a lot more to it and certainly education plays a huge part.
We are all different and different diets work for different people (where by diet I mean – a way of life, what works the best for you), however, at least 80% are absolute fundamentals that work for all of us because, simply put, we are all members of the human race and body is the engine that is pretty standard for everyone – same rules apply for majority of us:
To function optimally, body needs protein, fibre, healthy fats, micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, etc) and water delivered each day in the right balance and frequency!
On top of all that, we need to eliminate foods that drain our cells, lower immunity, cause inflammation, make us age faster and, ultimately, cause the disease.
Second pillar is EXERCISE. It might be only 20% of your weight management efforts, however, benefits of exercise far exceed its benefits just for managing weight.
We are wired to move our bodies and what exercise does is quite astonishing. Exercise gives us energy, it releases dopamine which makes us feel better, happier, stronger; it releases serotonin which helps us feel more relaxed and it relieves stress, it helps neurogenesis or body to grow more brain cells; it accelerates learning and processing of information, makes us more alert, have more will power, makes us more motivated…
We are wired to move, all we lack is a habit of doing so intentionally, so, building exercise into our DAILY routine is an absolute game changer.
Best time to do it is in the morning, very first thing! Why? Because of all of the above that I mentioned that happens almost instantly after exercise. Also, because if you don’t, you know it – the day takes over and you are less likely to find time for it later on. How difficult is it to make time for it by just getting up 30 minutes earlier. You are worth it!
If you can go out and exercise in the nature, in the fresh air, it is even more impactful as it can be almost as a form of meditation, but even if you exercise at home, you will be awake, feel strong and ready to face the day.
Also, when you build exercise into your routine and learn about nutrition and start making the right food choices – then you are setting yourself up for success.
Remember, you can be fit, but unhealthy… and you can be healthy, but unfit… The ultimate goal to a long-term overall health is being FIT & HEALTHY!
And we are not done, not yet.
Third pillar is REST.
Rest probably should have been first because it is after rest that we exercise and then feed our bodies. Body that is not rested is body that is not ready for anything. Good rest during the night regenerates our cells, repairs our muscle tissue, deep sleep rejuvenates our whole body.
If you have ever woken up not feeling rested enough, you know the feeling and can appreciate the importance of great rest.
If you have ever woken up feeling rested – you know that feeling too and how phenomenally it feels.
Sleep is a whole different topic, but best advice is to try to get 8 hours of sleep, avoid technology and LED lights 1-2 hours before bed time, as well as caffeine. Sleep in a dark and cool room.
All of those, and many more, help us rest during the night, however, there is another form of rest – relaxation during the day.
Allowing yourself time, even if it is 10-20 minutes to switch off, meditate, have a walk in the nature, clear your mind or even have a power nap that many successful people build into their daily schedule in order to freshen up and it helps them refocus.
There is a huge amount of evidence on the benefits of daily meditation on our well-being as well as productivity.
So, make sure you are not in your head and in all frenzy and activity all day long.
Forth pillar you might think is an unusual one, but it impacts our health massively – working on our HEALTH MINDSET. I am sure you have heard “80% nutrition, 20% exercise, 100% mindset!” Because we are creatures of habit and building healthy habits is built in the mind first! Everything starts with a thought and healthy starts from making a CHOICE to be healthy, every single day. And this, in my opinion, is indeed the pillar worth mentioning because it is exactly with mindset itself that most struggle with before they can achieve health or reach their health, wellness, fitness goals.
Once we choose to be healthy, we need to start working on building habits that support our healthy, active lifestyle so we can continue taking action and feeding our bodies with the right nutrition, exercising our body daily and giving it rest and relaxation it needs.
To build those habits, we need to invest time in surrounding ourselves with people, influences, education, support that will help us achieve that.
We need to keep feeding our healthy mindset with healthy thoughts so our healthy active lifestyle continues to manifest itself.
So, how do YOU support your mindset?
Remember that if people around you are unhealthy, there is a nearly 50% chance you will be too. So, you must surround yourself also with positive examples. Find a coach, find a running buddy, enrol yourself on to a health programme that fits your lifestyle and gets you the support and education you need, etc.
So, think about this for a moment:
Who are the people around you?
What have they got you thinking? Reading? Doing?
Who are you following on social media? I am serious here. Who are your influencers?
What are you reading, listening to, watching?
Where is all that leading you?
If you want to be healthy, but are following, as an example – deep-fried pizza recipes on social media, or slogans how life is too short and should be enjoyed without limit so you can eat what you want and when you want it… you get the picture… Well, clearly none of that is really helpful.
If you have higher health goals, then you need to set clear goals, design a plan, surround yourself with the right support, positive affirmations and, ultimately, take action.
Most importantly, keep educating yourself what healthy is and what it is not because, life is a lot more fun when we are not sick and when we have energy to face the day. Investment in our health is arguably the best investment you can make because life IS too short and it is worth and much easier living it in a healthy and fit body. Not because fit & healthy defines you and so does not the lack of it. But, because we are all worth living our best versions of ourselves – physically, mentally, spiritually.
I hope my four pillars gave you an insight into areas where you need to focus into making your health more balanced and health goals achievable. If you liked it, please share, because – sharing is caring. 🙂
My name is Sanela, I am a Nutritional Therapist & Herbalife Nutrition Health Coach and if you would like help with your weight management, energy, nutrition in general, please do reach out, I would love to help. I design a balanced nutrition plan with your lifestyle and body composition in mind that is based on balanced nutrition, regular activity, hydration and rest.
I believe that health is our greatest wealth and state where happiness resides, so wishing you to be healthy and happy, always!
If your idea of losing weight is still stuck on the old-fashioned calorie control approach – think again! Or worse – if you rely on your will power – think even harder (that is an exhaustive topic in its own right)!
Weight loss science has long evolved and weight loss has become what it always should have been – a lot more than a number on your scales, for sure. World is slowly realising that successful weight management starts from within… from nourishing your body as well as mind. By being kinder to yourself from the thoughts and beliefs you have about yourself to being kinder to your body by giving it the nourishment in the right balance so it can thrive instead of being deprived.
We are finally learning, or at least appreciate that we need to educate ourselves, about our bodies and how it functions so that we can eat for health and longevity and, with that, believe it or not, weight management sorts out itself. These days, we can literally abandon the scales knowing that we are good! Good for our body’s health and that shape is nicely coming along too.
How about that for body positivity! Loving our bodies just the way they are whilst we are building them healthier and better so this vessel can serve us well in whatever our purpose in life is – to raise a healthy, happy family or change the world – which is, kind of, the same thing, don’t you think?
By focusing on what IS – we only perpetuate its existence. Focus on health and becoming the best vision of you – you may be surprised how far THAT takes you instead of being obsesses with the number on the scales!
If you are not there yet and feel you are somehow behind this attitude towards your own health and wellness, don’t worry. It is never too late to start the journey the right way. Perhaps, keeping on reading for starters…
So, how do you get from that place of feeling heavy, lethargic, knowing you are not taking good care of yourself to actually not only losing weight, but also having energy, feeling good about yourself, having spring in your step?
The answer is as simple as – to make your wellness goals a reality – nutrition is the key and, more importantly, eating to balance your hormones related to weight management and metabolism. In the process, it is about repairing diet-related inflammation that exists in the body. Quality over quantity, right? Equally, quality of food is not measured in calories, but what it does within the body – does it feed & nourish your cells or does it damage them.
When our hormones are unbalanced – we age faster, develop disease as well as put on weight as they play a critical role in how body gets energy from the foods that we eat, which is known as metabolism.
Back in 2004, a year after my first pregnancy, I took what I can only describe as a leap of faith, by embarking on my very first, and luckily last, weight loss journey. Since then, my focus has shifted on long-term health and becoming a better version of myself over the years. Healthier and happier version of me. However, I did not even understand at a time that weight loss is such a big thing for so many people and that choices are so vast that can truly leave a person lost in confusion as well as despair. These days, I imagine it to be even harder for the person looking to improve their health or better manage their weight. The moment you open up your email or social media account – you are overwhelmed with health messages, recipes, different diets being promoted from all kinds of experts and influencers in health industry.
I am one of them. Well, who knew that out of my first and very positive weight loss experience, passion was born and so was my calling. Because one thing I knew was that I felt better, not just for the weight I lost, but for the energy & confidence I gained as well as incredible satisfaction from helping others has given me. With all that, there is also a constant need to remain a student myself as well as educate others on the latest in nutrition and health as, not only through solutions that we offer, but through the education – we can make this world a better, healthier place. Because knowledge is power. Always.
If you are one of those looking for help and not sure where to start, let me give you a few pointers what to look for, so you can make the right choice, the one that is sustainable long-term, rather than go astray or run around in circles. If you are no stranger to dieting, I am sure you have, at some point perhaps, started a diet or an exercise regime but never got the shape and result you wanted, felt hungry or deprived, lonely, lacked energy or motivation to keep going?
The world we live in today is so different to the world we lived in a decade ago. You just take Social Media as one example. It was almost non-existent ten years ago or certainly it did not exist in the same capacity it does today. I am daily overwhelmed and inundated with messages, articles, opinions, research, etc thrown at me. I am assuming many feel like this. Some of this information is truly great, some not so much. “Not so much” stuff does not always bother me, but, today, I saw something that, instead of ignoring, I thought of using as an opportunity to throw a different light at it as it is health related and a subject close to my heart.
As the title of the article suggests, it is indeed about “clean eating”. Because, while I thought I heard it all, I was amused, to say the least, to read how one “TV dietitian”, names need not to be mentioned, called clean eating as “unhealthy, another diet and bullshit”, pardon HER French. Well, her 65 thousand (plus 2000 extra since yesterday) followers loved her for it. I can see the appeal, audience loves when we dare, even swear and throw bombastic claims. Everyone has their audience. However, I can not agree any less and I thought it warrants writing why that is and why you shouldn’t agree either…
Firstly, what is Clean Eating?
Well, clear definitions vary and so do opinions on whether certain foods should be part of it, but, in a nutshell – it is a balanced diet that focuses on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, protein and it is a diet that eliminates processed foods. I think it is logical and something we have always known to be good for us, however, we have just now given it a name. Mediterranean Diet is probably the closest to clean eating we can think of. Which, in my opinion, is not really a diet, but a way of life for many people and they are better for it.
My 45th birthday is in any day now and, although it is not one of those “round number” birthdays, I feel to be right in the middle of somewhere or something. Perhaps because I really see myself reaching 90, more so than reaching 100 (or shall I dream bigger?) Perhaps, there is some shift happening as I do feel like being at a cross-roads right now.
So, I borrowed an idea from a friend – to write to my younger self. Why? Because it could be a useful way of release, self-forgiveness, reflection, way to help myself move on from anything in the past that still may have a hold on me, to cherish that child in me… and, who knows, perhaps some insight might be useful to someone else too.
You may wonder why would anyone openly want to share such personal and possibly even vulnerable stuff, however, the idea is hardly new and has been used forever as a way to connect, with ourselves and others. When I am open for deep reflection – the insights are enriching and give strength. When shared, the feeling is amplified. And I am certainly inspired by those who have courage to do the same. We all seek human connection and it is exactly through stories that we connect.
I looked forward to doing it for myself for some time now and it has proven to be a very powerful exercise right before the day I was born, 45 years ago in, what truly was to me, the land of milk and honey. I feel lighter and unburdened.
As my second 90 day challenge is about to finish, of course I am inspired to share my insights this time too. Many times down the line I thought I made a mistake for joining as I already got to my goal in the first challenge and I doubted that I will have the same resolve as I did in the first wave from January until April this year. Almost 90 days later, I am so very glad I did.
What was my goal? Mainly maintenance. I think I secretly wished to be ready for The Next Level, but, I knew, while I had such strong resolve in the first wave, this time I was not as hungry for results as I already got the result that satisfied me. It is true when they say – the biggest enemy of great is good. And sometimes, good will just have to be good enough, as long as the purpose remains to be happy, healthy and strong.
I believe this topic is long overdue as the Hot British Summer just keeps on giving, however, who knew! I do hope it is not too late for the advice and that we keep being blessed with this glorious weather (that we are so not used to). When we prayed for summer in the winter months (for the past few decades at least), I do not think anyone expected our wish to be granted in such abundance this year. My husband would say – be careful what you wish for. Now, many complain that it is too hot, however, let’s all admit – there is something rather refreshing waking up to a warm, sunny morning; it makes you want to wake up early and seize the day. I have been watering the plants at 7AM most mornings and that, in itself, has been refreshing and wonderful. Connection with nature from the word Go.
Back to our subject, when weather is hot, there are few things we need to bear in mind in order to keep our body well nourished and energised.
Not sure if you heard it – it has been all over the news… The government has issued a 33 page document in an effort to tackle childhood obesity as it is one of the biggest problems that the UK and many developed countries are facing right now. Nearly a quarter of children in England are obese or overweight by the time they start primary school aged five and this raises to one-third of children who are obese or overweight by the time they leave primary school at the age of 11.
Obese children usually turn out to be obese or overweight teenagers, which can lead them into adulthood also as obese or overweight. Not only that this puts a huge burden on the economy as, statistically, obese and overweight people need more health care (because of obesity related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, just to name major three), but also health of our children determines their opportunities in life, their level of confidence and generally quality of life. Every child deserves the best opportunity in life, I am sure you will agree.
So, this must be a step in the great direction, although, in my opinion, what is being proposed should be seen as just that – one little step in the right direction. See it for yourself…
Focus on calories
As overweight or obese children are consuming over 500 extra calories a day, emphasis has been put to find ways to reduce calorie consumption, which is in a form of an initiative to list calories on menus in restaurants, cafe, take aways. This sounds good, however, if a child wants a pizza and dessert and nothing else (which, by default, always has the highest calories) – what is the parent to do? These calorie listings are, of course, not for the children, but for the adults themselves, parents, to make an informed choice and whether it will actually help a child choose a lower calorie option – is another matter.
Reducing sugar, of course, should be at a very heart of any adult’s or child’s health efforts. Government has challenged food industry to reduce the sugar content in their foods and drinks by 20% by 2020, with a 5% target in the very first year. If a 330ml bottle of a sugary drink has, on average, 40 grams of sugar, the plan is to reduce it to 32 grams. I am sorry, but whilst every little gram less helps – 32 grams is still way too high. The same goes for cereals and other foods and drinks frequently bought by children.
Advertising and Promotion
Of course, then we have to look at all the factors that influence our food choices. So, the proposal is to introduce 9PM watershed on TV for advertising junk food geared towards children. Problem again is – how many children do go to bed before 9PM? (Apparently over 1 million children are still watching TV after 9PM)
What is also proposed is that food companies and supermarkets will not be able to display tempting, sugary sweets at the checkout or advertise multi-buy offers. I think this is a great part of the plan as it will, at least, stop some impulse buys. Disappointing thing may be the lack of incentive to encourage deals on fresh produce as price matters to many, if not most.
Education is the Future
The above are major few take aways from the legislation that we need to know about.
But, how do we get children to naturally choose what is good for them? That, I believe, starts from home. It is parents that need an education and change in their own lifestyle before we can expect them to pass it on to their children. Obesity runs in the families only because of the same habits that members of one family adopt. And habits indeed can last a lifetime. I remember when Jamie Oliver tried to make school dinners healthier and more balanced – how much resistance there was from the parents themselves. Because they did not know any better themselves. It shocked me every time I saw them angry whilst dropping a portion of “fish & chips” across the school fence to their child who refused to eat a healthy, balanced meal. But, I understood. They simply did not know any better. Period. Most probably, their parents did not either. How can we expect a child to know any better then?
My children are a testament that it all starts from home. They are no strangers to a ocassional bag of crisps or a biscuit or even a fruit drink. But those are not found in our fridge or cupboard all the time. They are occasional. Fruit is always available in the house and, being a health coach with an access to knowledge & information and nutritional solutions for a healthy, balanced breakfast and snacks – that is what they grew up with. There is no tooth decays, no sicknesses, no excess weight of anyone in our household. We speak to our boys of healthy choices. They question things themselves. “Mum, doesn’s that have sugar?”
I believe also that it will take many generations before both adults and children are conscious about their health. Perhaps, this government initiative is just a stepping stone in the right direction despite that fact that it is as flawed as it sounds. Perhaps this is the best they can do as food industry is a giant and they are not happy right now even with these minimal changes they have been asked to adhere to. I hope it is not just to make us all quiet and content that at least something is done. I hope not. Afterall, the future of our economy depends on it as obesity has a potential to bankrupt it.
I am very happy to be in the health & nutrition industry and we need more health coaches to work in their communities making a difference. I believe, while Government can continue with their legislations, it is our work on the ground that involves education and helping people with their health and nutrition and getting them more active that will have the most powerful ripple effect on how overall habits are changing and, with that, also our attitudes toward health and what is good for us and our children.
If you would like to see how balanced your diet is, Online Wellness Evaluation Health Check is a quick way to see how well you as well as your family may be doing. There is no obligation, it is a free service and it can greatly help with educating you what might be missing in your diet right now or identify challenges and how to solve them. Just this knowledge can have a ripple effect on the changes you make for the entire family.
For those of you who would wish to work with me and find out how you can even change the health of a few people around you, I am always looking for more Health Coaches who would aspire to be agents of positive change in their community.
Until next time, wishing you a happy and healthy day!
I am a firm believer in making breakfasts the most essential part of our daily routine and where we make a start when trying to change our lifestyle. And once we have this healthy habit sorted – of not just having A breakfast as part of our daily routine, but THE breakfast – the right kind of breakfast – then we build the rest of the good habits on top of it, one by one.
With chronic diseases on the rise, the United Nations, the World Health Organisation and Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have finally recognised the importance of breakfast as a healthy behaviour that is one of the key factors in reducing health diseases across Europe.
“As a former teacher, I can spot straight away who’s awake and alert and who’s tired and distracted. And in my experience, one of the biggest factors that determines success in the classroom is so simple and so often overlooked: having breakfast every morning.”, says Jean-Claude Gonon, Secretary-General of the European Association of Teachers (AEDE).
World Health Organization (WHO) stated:
“A regular breakfast is part of a healthy diet, which in turn has traditionally been considered an important factor in a healthy lifestyle. Breakfast contributes to the quality and quantity of a person’s daily dietary intake, and breakfast-skipping has been linked to inadequate dietary nutrition in several studies. Breakfast-skipping also influences cognition and learning and consequently may impact on adolescents’ capacity to take advantage of learning opportunities provided by schools and families.”
But breakfast isn’t just important for children and young people. Making sure we eat breakfast in the morning is just as important for adults too.
“Missing breakfast has been associated with several other health-compromising behaviours, such as higher levels of smoking, alcohol and drug use and more sedentary lifestyles. Breakfast skipping has also been linked with the increased consumption of snacks low in fibre and high in fat later in the day and an increased risk of obesity.”, World Health Organisation.
Achievement of any goals in our lives come down to our mindset. Health goals included. I have been working on this article a while, bit by bit, until it came together. It is a message to those who perhaps struggle at this point in time with their health and choices they make. I have seen a lot of struggle and I wish to tell you that you are not alone and there is hope.
If it was enough to just be told to “eat healthy”, advice we are given all the time (ambiguous as it is as it means different things to different people), everyone would be at their ideal weight and peak health. No, it is not easy, because it is a science and we are only human, so, try to feel less frustration and let’s focus on what we can do. We all know we should choose, buy, eat healthier foods, however, unhealthy options can have such huge grip on us, until unhealthy habits are all we have. No wonder food gives us such anxiety.
Part of it, to a certain extent, is not necessarily even our fault. Do you know that the food companies employ food scientists who design foods with the exact ratio of fat, sugar and salt that gets us to the so-called “bliss point”? It is a point at which foods have such an appeal that we are begging for more. Foods with too much salt will cause us crave foods with sugar as body is seeking balance. And vice versa. Simple carbohydrates will make us crave just more of the same.
So, that is one issue and “easily” taken care of when we just decide not to touch foods we know are not good for us. Think cakes, biscuits, chocolate, sweets, crisps, ice cream, etc… Easy peasy, right? Well, it is not. It is much easier said than done because foods with a “bliss point” can make a food addict out of us. Sugar addiction is real. But so is smoking and there are people who decide to stop, smoke their final cigarette and never smoke again.
You may have heard already that our digestive health is our second brain and what goes on in the gut is responsible for 80% of our immunity. Small Intestine is where the majority of digestion and absorption of nutrients takes place. As our body is exposed to toxins in everyday life, such as smoking, alcohol, medications, stress, pollution, chlorine and many more, maintaining healthy digestion helps body eliminate them from the body. Without gut’s ability to neutralise and eliminate toxins from the body – weight loss is impaired and, as a result, we can experience a weight gain, as just one of the “side effects”.
One-third of the UK population regularly suffers from digestive illnesses such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), constipation, diarrhoea, stomach-aches, nausea and sickness and cancers of the digestive tract are the largest cancer killer, actually 23% of all UK cancer mortalities. So, with that in mind, our Digestive System does deserve special attention as it must be one of the most important parts of our entire body. Hippocrates famous quote still very much rings true today: “
“Death sits in the bowels. Bad digestion is the root of all evil!” (400 BC)
So, taking care of our digestion becomes an essential part of a healthy body and efficient weight management and here is why and how…