Baby, give it up (for Lent) and benefit your waistline

Healthy

Today is the first day of Lent and over the next 40 days you can lose a few lbs just by going without a tasty treat or two.

It does take willpower and it’s best not to keep the treats you have a knee weakness for in sight, but you can do it.

Healthy Food Guide nutritional expert Juliette Kellow gives some great insight into the lbs you could lose just by ditching a daily treat for 40 days. Here’s just a few examples…

Ditch it: two chocolate digestive biscuits and lose: 2lb

Ditch it: small bar of chocolate (50g) and lose: 3lb

Ditch it: large packet of crisps (50g) and lose: 3lb

Ditch it: large glass of dry white wine (250ml) and lose: 2lb

Ditch it: can of cola (330ml) and lose: 1.5lb

I’m really going for it this Lent and cutting out all sweet things and crisps too. If a few lbs fall off too, even better. Who’s joining me?

Put away your pout and eat some sprouts…

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It’s a divisive topic in most households – some of us (like me) are firmly in the I love sprouts group, yet others are strangely repulsed by these little green nutritional powerhouses.

Here’s why you should load up on sprouts on Christmas Day…

They’re packed with disease-fighting phytonutrients glucosinolates and anti-cancer properties including sulforaphane. Even the occasional serving can have significant benefits.

Sprouts also contain more vitamin C than broccoli or strawberries to give you a great immune boost to wave away festive colds.

Come on, what’s not to love?

Merry Christmas!

Christmas gift ideas with a health twist

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If you’re stuck for gift ideas and growing ever panicky with each ‘it’s…days to Christmas’ notification – relax for a moment, grab a cuppa and take a look at my top three wellbeing-inspired present suggestions…

SS13 Pastel Patent1 Healthy Back Bag – if your mum, sister or friend regularly complains about having back pain, this one strap bag, which is very kind to the spine, could be just what they need. HBBs are designed to distribute weight asymmetrically and contour to the spine, thus reducing stress on the neck and shoulders. They come in stacks of different colours and designs, from sporty to snazzy, with prices starting at £29. I’ve had one for a while now and they really are as good as they sound.

img_46801 Fitbag – it can be tricky to find the get-up-and-go to keep fit in the winter, no matter what recent research suggests. It’s cold, it’s dark and those two factors alone can be a big deterrent for some of us. The Fitbag is a tone-up-at-home kit with a difference. The bag contains six items: skipping rope, dumbbells, ab roller, resistance band, resistance tube and a thigh master. It also includes a detailed workout plan and costs £37.99. Fitbag live classes are also being introduced – simply turn up with your Fitbag and get into your first class for free.

lux_fruit_basket1M&S Luxury Fruit Basket – put down the box of chocolates you’ve earmarked for a loved one and give the gift of fresh and seasonal fruit instead. On average, we consume an astonishing 6,000 calories on Christmas Day alone. In addition, all our extra festive nibbles can add up to a weight gain of 5lb. You can choose from the luxury option (£39.50) or a traditional basket priced at £29.50. If your recipient has overdone it on the party food front (which most of us will), they could be very thankful for this healthy treat!

Main image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos

Anyone for a nutritional powerhouse ice lolly?

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Don’t they look tasty? These frozen kale smoothies on a stick have been highlighted as a key food trend by a panel of experts at this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show in New York. Kalelicious Smoothie Pops are the brainchild of Green Wave Smoothies and aim to provide a delicious and nutritious way to get your greens. These smoothie pops are made by a mum and daughter who were looking for healthy snack and dessert alternatives, so decided to make their own. They’re currently only available in the US, but could be making their way to the UK in the not-too-distant future if they are as popular as predicted. Fingers crossed…

Get heart healthy (and watch the salt)

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As it’s National Heart Month and I seem to be writing an awful lot about salt at the moment, I thought it was high time I whipped up a timely blog post on the topic.

Every day, 26 million of us are eating too much salt and as 75% of the salt we eat is already added to a variety of manufactured foods: we may be eating more than we realise.

The top salty food culprits are: cheese, certain breakfast cereals, processed meat (ham, bacon), stock cubes, sauces, gravy granules, bread, bread products, salted nuts and potato-based snacks.

A diet high in salt can cause high blood pressure (hypertension), which often has no symptoms. Hypertension affects one in three adults in the UK. If you have high blood pressure, this can increase the risk of stroke and heart problems developing.

Making small changes can help to lower blood pressure. Instead of adding salt when preparing meals, add flavour to food using herbs, spices, wine, vinegar, garlic, onion, lemon and lime juice. Reducing the number of processed foods and ready meals you eat will also help.

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

Natural wrinkle wonder: watercress

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If you thought watercress was simply an accompaniment to liven up an egg mayonnaise sandwich or to add some colour to your plate, think again. New research suggests watercress can not only improve your skin health, leading to fewer blemishes and less visible pores, it can also reduce the spread of wrinkles.

The Watercress Alliance asked a group of female volunteers to eat 80g of watercress every day for four weeks and make no other changes to their diet. The women had their faces photographed before and after using a special complexion-analysing system. 

90% experienced a difference in their skin and over 70% reported a change in the texture of their skin and a remarkable improvement in their wrinkles. Half of the women experienced reduced red and blotchy areas and 81% noticed their pores had become less noticeable.

Watercress is packed with antioxidants such as vitamins C, A and E, lutein, carotene, calcium and iron.

What’s more, watercress is currently in season and is readily available – hooray!

 

Image courtesy of Think Vegetables

Do you know where fruit and vegetables come from?

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If this question has you shrieking ‘of course I bloody do’, you may be surprised to read new research carried out by the Potato Council has revealed many of us have little to no idea.

2,000 adults were questioned as part of the research to celebrate the launch of a new potato classification system. The research revealed:

* Three out of ten adults cannot explain how potatoes are produced

* One in ten thinks tomatoes are harvested from the ground

* One in five believes melons grow on the earth and that parsnips thrive on trees

* One in 20 think a Granny Smith is a variety of potato

* 20% of the 2,000 adults surveyed had never heard of a King Edward or a Maris Piper

One in 20 adults also confessed to feeling embarrassed about their lack of knowledge, with a quarter admitting they regularly have no idea what to say when children ask where food comes from.

Caroline Evans from the Potato Council says: “Our research shows that some British adults need to brush up on their foodie knowledge.”

Quite…

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

Five reasons why we should eat more Marmite

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Apparently we all either love or hate Marmite. I don’t actually love or hate it, I’m very much in the ‘it’s okay but I don’t eat it very often’ camp.

My GP recommended I eat more Marmite to try and increase my iron levels, I’m prone to anaemia you see. This provided a catalyst for this post as I wondered what else Marmite can help with and as it is vegetarian-friendly too, it could be a good health boost for many of us. Here’s why…

1. Boosts brain power – as it’s rich in vitamin B12 and folic acid, Marmite can help to improve memory and focus.

2. Tackles anaemia – Marmite is not only a rich source of iron, it also contains iodine which helps our bodies to absorb iron.

3. Can help combat depression – a lack of B vitamins can lead to anxiety and depression. Marmite is loaded with B vitamins and could help to improve low mood.

4. Great hangover fix – we feel so rough after a night on the sauce as a result of our bodies lacking essential nutrients such as B vitamins. Marmite’s sodium content can also help to replenish lost salts.

5. Makes skin glow – vitamin B1, more commonly known as thiamin, helps our bodies to get the most out of the energy and nutrients in our food. This in turn helps our skin to look good. Marmite also contains riboflavin (vitamin B2) which is essential for healthy hair, skin and nails.

I’m making a pact to increase my weekly (currently non-existent) quota of Marmite, who’s with me?!

 

Image courtesy of Press Loft/Prezzybox.

Five ways to tackle your energy slumps

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2.16pm is the most common time for us to experience energy slumps according to research – at this time we are most likely to feel drained and unable to concentrate.

Find out how to beat your energy slumps.

1. Eat more protein – this provides our bodies with long-lasting energy and avoids blood sugar drops that can negatively affect our alertness. Tuck into: oatcakes, wholegrains, lean meat, low-fat dairy options and nuts at lunchtime.

2. Have a mid-afternoon snack – beware that energy boosts from sugar snacks wear off quickly. Opt for fresh fruit, dried fruit or nuts instead as these are a longer-lasting source of energy. If you’re desperate for a chocolate fix – have a couple of squares of good-for-you dark chocolate. I also recently tried a new juice-based organic energy drink, Scheckter’s Organic Energy Lite. It’s made from all natural and organic ingredients and was a perfect pick-me-up from a big energy slump after an early start.

3. Don’t skip meals – having long gaps between meals can cause blood sugar levels to drop – try and eat something every 2-3 hours.

4. Drink water – keep a filled bottle of water on your desk so you’re more likely to have a drink regularly. Water can help you to feel less sleepy and also boosts concentration.

5. Get outside at lunchtime – the fresh air will perk you up and help to improve your concentration when you return to work.

Bored at work? Beware of those calorific snack attacks

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Female office workers consume 650 to 750 calories in snacks each day, just under a third of their daily recommended calorie allowance, a new study has revealed. Wowzer.

The survey by My Voucher Codes, found 87% of female office workers snack at their desks, while 50% confessed to eating between 650 to 750 calories on snacks alone. 2% admitted they can eat up to 850 to 950 calories over a working day, almost half of the 2,000 calories women are advised to eat each day.

Boredom was the main reason stated for snacking at work, while others said they snack to be more sociable. Over two thirds of the female office workers surveyed felt they snack more at work than they do at home. Chocolate and biscuits were cited as most favourite snacks with fruit and crisps also polling highly too.

Having healthy snacks in and around the office can help. I try to keep away from an every-single-day chocolate fix by keeping fruit on hand and having a regular Graze box delivered. If you would like to try a free Graze box, simply visit the site and enter the following code: 92Z1VF5D. The treat’s on me!

 

Image courtesy of Press Loft/Treat Her