How I lost over half a stone without trying!

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That’s a click bait title if ever there was one! It is, however, also true. I have lost over half a stone and over half a metre from only four measurement points on my body. On my upper arms, upper thighs, waist and hips. I look lean and fit. I feel great and my skin is glowing so much I scarcely need make-up. What is this miracle? Where can you buy it? YOU CAN’T! There’s the rub. I feel this way – and I feel great – because I took positive steps to revitalise my health.

Weight loss was a side-effect. I didn’t once try to lose weight. It was never a goal!

Furthermore, I don’t believe it should EVER be a goal. Once we start reducing and denying we set ourselves up for utter failure. Once we start proper healthy eating we gain. We gain vitality, positivity, self-esteem, we don’t lose anything. Who really needs that guilty self-loathing we secretly indulge in when we eat a second doughnut. Because they are there. We gain in physical benefits too, increased libido, energy levels and clearer, brighter skin.

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The looseness of the favourite jeans is but a by-product of eating what our body needs not what our minds convince us we want. Until we address that mindset of rewarding ourselves with unhealthy products which ultimately make us feel worse, then we can’t embrace the wonderful benefits of feeling really fabulous.

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I put it to you that unless you’ve tried it – you cannot possibly know how fantastic you could feel. The loss of some tummy fat is but a bonus! I cut alcohol, sugar, caffeine, animal products and gluten two months ago and have never looked back since. It’s not until you walk away from your habits completely that you can hope to break them. For life!

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Give me Strength!

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Soup. Hot soup. What could be more Autumnal than orange leaf coloured soup? Inspired by the beautiful trees this Autumn and by the fate of a young athlete, I made this soup.

It’s a soup for stamina, endurance and strength and who doesn’t need any of that?

One of the boys in my eldest’s class all through primary school is a promising cyclist and all round nice bloke. Only 16 and working so hard to achieve his goals. Cycling is a tough sport and utterly demanding of the body, the mind, the pocket (bikes are not cheap) and of time. A long ride takes all day to complete. There are just no quick fixes! The husband has cycled extensively, including the famous LeJog. End to end of Britain in ten days. No mean feat and keeping him fed was no picnic either. Literally. No picnic could ever feed an endurance cyclist.

Anyway, Joe’s bikes were nicked on his way to a race. Awful you say. It is, what’s worse, is that he had just secured a place on a British Training Youth development team and now has no bike to participate with. The local community has started a crowdfunding project to get Joe back where he belongs – in the saddle! If you can, please consider a small donation which can be made here. Please give what you can, your donation could make the difference in this young man’s career and he truly is most deserving of success!!

Anyway, this lightly spiced chickpea, spinach and sweet potato soup  is full of easily digested protein, required to repair and rebuild muscle tissues, is virtually fat free and full of vitamins, fibre and minerals which help to minimise fatigue and keep bones strong. Add into that stamina cocktail plenty beta-carotene to protect the immune system and you can train better and stronger. Providing you have a bike. See above!

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Recipe: Chickpea, Spinach and Sweet Potato Stamina Soup

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Chickpea, Spinach and Sweet Potato Stamina Soup

Chickpea, Spinach and Sweet Potato Stamina Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (dry fried and crushed in a mortar and pestle)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp mustard powder
  • 2 x 400g tinned chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)
  • 1 litre of vegetable bouillon
  • bag of fresh spinach leaves

Instructions

  1. Fry the onion until softened but not coloured
  2. Add the sweet potato, garlic and ginger, fry for a minute
  3. Add the spices and continue frying for 30 seconds, do not allow to burn
  4. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes and honey (if using), cook for another few minutes, stirring
  5. Add the stock and simmer for 10 minutes
  6. Puree in a blender or with a stick blender and pour back into the pan
  7. Add spinach and heat through
  8. (if your kids don't like spinach - or at least think they don't - you can blend after you've wilted the spinach down. They'll never know...)
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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2015/10/27/recipe-chickpea-spinach-and-sweet-potato-stamina-soup/

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Forget clean eating – Eat sexy!

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According to columnists, ‘clean eating’ is over. Did it ever really begin? How many people do you know who claimed to properly ‘eat clean?’ Another hashtag fad.

The problem with ‘clean’ eating is that to lapse invokes the opposite – dirty eating anyone? Seriously, the whole concept of ‘clean’ eating is dangerous. To try to religiously follow any sort of pure or ‘clean’ regime is virtually impossible and once we see our food in terms of opposites: good/bad, clean/dirty, pure/polluted etc, we’re actually at risk of jeopardising any sort of healthy relationship with food. Food should surely give you pleasure and be part of a reward system for your body and your mind. The obsession with clean eating beckons for those who fear the pollution of their body with any sort of contaminant. Starting to sound a bit obsessional yet? This is the realm of the orthorexic. The latest eating disorder to be awaiting classification into the psychologists bible – the DSM. Oh yes, clean eating is dangerous so I really do hope it is over.

I hope healthy, sensible food that tastes decent gets sexy next.

I’m happy to be the poster girl for that 🙂

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To kickstart the sexy eating plan try Barley Pot Recipe. It has has been adapted from a baby food recipe, believe it or not, and makes a huge pot, freezes well and can be thinned with additional bouillon to make a lovely barley broth for lunch the next day.

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Recipe: Barley Sex Pot

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Recipe: Barley Sex Pot

Recipe: Barley Sex Pot

Ingredients

  • 2 Tsp. olive oil
  • 4 Cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 4 Sticks of celery, sliced
  • 1 Tsp. paprika
  • 500ml vegetable bouillon
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 250g pearl barley, rinsed
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 parsnip, diced
  • 1 cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1 tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried rosemary

Instructions

  1. Heat oil and fry garlic, onion, carrot and celery for 5 mins
  2. add paprika and fry for a minute
  3. add everything else and simmer for 40 minutes or so until everything is tender

Notes

serve with rustic oatcakes and sprigs of rosemary to garnish if wished

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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2015/10/15/recipe-barley-pot/

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Eat yourself happier

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It’s been a very busy few weeks but I’ve been lucky enough to be outside enjoying our beautiful Autumn weather and some stunning scenery. I’m writing to you now with the scent of plums stewing in apple juice and cloves to go with my porridge. Autumn is truly a bountiful time!

We’ve all heard the adage “you are what you eat” but how many of us realise that the food we eat can impact upon our mental health, our wellbeing and our happiness?

Research is turning increasingly to the protective benefits of unprocessed, natural foods rich in nutrients to tackle a variety of mental health issues from depression to anxiety. Whilst the direct links between individual foods and their nutritional benefits to specifically ‘treat’ particular disorders is yet unclear (read more here) there are things we do know. Healthy brain functioning is supported by a fresh, natural diet, rich in vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, minerals such as Zinc and Iron and plant-based antioxidants. A varied diet of proteins, fruits, vegetables and as little processed, or chemically enhanced, foods as possible.

People who eat poor and unwholesome diets, which rely upon processed foods, are more likely to suffer depression than those who eat a healthier diet. You can, quite literally, eat yourself happier.

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One way to increase your intake of vital nutrients is to adapt your favourite and potentially unhealthy meals into something just as rewarding but a lot more nutritious. Take spaghetti carbonara for example. Fat laden and creamy with high salt levels due to the bacon, it’s a family favourite but it is far from a healthy option. If you like creamy pasta sauces though, try this recipe for Creamy lemon spaghetti. Cannellini beans are low-fat, high protein and rich in B vitamins to protect brain functioning AND reduce cholesterol. Courgettes have an extremely low calorific value, lots of fibre and are full of antioxidants which mop up harmful free-radicals and can factor in cancer prevention and peas are full of Vitamin A amongst other B vitamins and minerals.

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Recipe: Creamy Lemon Spaghetti

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Creamy Lemon Spaghetti

Creamy Lemon Spaghetti

Ingredients

  • 500g of tagliatelle. Use fresh egg pasta or there are often flavoured tagliatelle options available in spinach or garlic natural flavours.
  • 1 chopped onion
  • Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 courgettes, topped and tailed and either grated or cut into ribbons with a peeler
  • 200g frozen peas
  • 2 tins of cannellini beans, drained
  • 100ml reduced-fat crème fraiche
  • grated zest of a lemon or two (try to make sure they are unwaxed otherwise use juice instead of zest. Ain't no one got time for eating grated lemon wax...)
  • Tbsp lemon juice
  • 50g parmesan, grated (optional)

Instructions

  1. Fry the onion until softened
  2. Add the courgettes, peas and beans, warm through
  3. Cook the tagliatelle according to packet instructions
  4. Stir the crème fraiche into the vegetable mixture with the lemon zest (if using) and juice
  5. Add the cooked, drained pasta and toss together
  6. Season and serve with parmesan if using

Notes

Much lower in fat and salt than creamy sauces like carbonara yet still with that deliciously creamy texture and flavour. My youngest's friend says this is the best pasta sauce she has ever tasted. can't argue with that recommendation!!

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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2015/10/13/recipe-creamy-lemon-spaghetti/

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What your slimming club doesn’t tell you…

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I’m continually surprised by the conversations I hear in supermarkets. I have to stuff my fist into my mouth to stop me approaching complete strangers and telling them “there’s another way to go.” Watching women (it is always women that I see) piling the Weight Watchers meals into their trolley and with them, presumably, hope that this time it will work. I do know that diets can be effective. In the short term. The diet industry is that, an industry, a capitalist enterprise. They want your repeat business.

A closer investigation into the products that are being piled into trolleys nationwide is alarming.  Do you put sugar in your home-made chilli? Pick up a jar of Weight Watchers chilli sauce for example and you will find an array of thickeners (modified maize starch – MMS) and sugars. Why is there sugar in chilli? Because it has been reduced in fat. We need the artificial thickeners and sweeteners to suspend flavour and release it more slowly. The job that fat does naturally. Remove the fat and the taste, the flavour will hit your tongue in one blast and it won’t be good. the chemicals and additives and sugars are to disguise that flavour hit. Fat is being sold as ‘bad’ but the sugar they are sneaking into your diet is just as damaging, in fact, more so. At least there are healthy fats, there are no healthy sugars in terms of blood sugar management. Sugar is not your friend.

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Slimming World is no better, their recommended Muller light yoghurt has MMS as its second ingredient closely followed by sugar. You get the impression from their manual that this is a ‘good’ and ‘syn’ free food so you can eat plenty of it. So that’s lots of additives and sugar. Still sounding like an ideal choice for someone trying to lose weight? Sugar has little fibre which means your body cannot slow down the extraction of glucose. This speeded up process means that your body will react by over producing insulin and your blood glucose levels will rocket. Anything that goes up also comes back down. You hit a sugar crash and guess what? That ‘slimmer’ yoghurt has left you craving a biscuit or 5 come break time. Your body is effectively driven by the need to restore a glucose equilibrium.

You misattribute this to hunger, or lack of will power but it actually just a physiological reaction to the nonsense that slimming clubs tout as ‘safe’ and ‘healthy.’

That the products are crammed full of unnecessary ingredients is bad enough, what about encouraging body positivity? Where are the efforts to encourage self-acceptance? Standing on scales publically is a humiliation where only the slimmer can succeed. Only those who are less than they were last week can feel they have achieved anything. Why are we encouraging people to be less? To take up less space in the World? What message does that create? Many people struggling with weight issues have complex relationships with food and with themselves. Digits on a scale do not address these issues nor do they encourage the individual to embrace a healthier lifestyle per se or increase their sense of self-worth. The focus is upon loss and not gain.

Don’t let the system persuade you that you need to be less. You need to be more. More healthy, more in control of making sensible food choices and properly informed about the ingredients you are consuming and the effects they have upon your body. Be more not less!

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