Sprucing up your Water: Part 1 (Cranberry & Vitamin C)

We all know how important it is to drink water – we’ve heard it a million times before! It’s good for your health, digestive system, skin, hair and so on. Yet, most of us still seem to struggle with getting our daily 6-8 glasses, and that’s not even enough if it’s hot weather and if you’re exercising!

Sure, you can also take in more water from fruits, vegetables and herbal teas, but how about making plain water a little bit more exciting?

One of my favourite ways is by adding Nature’s Best Cranberry Concentrate. I love this as not only does it make water taste better, but it also gives a good dose of Vitamin C and FOS (a natural substance that encourages growth of friendly bacteria in the gut to improve digestion).

Cranberry Water

Cranberry Water

Nature’s Best: First off, I have to say how great this company is. I’ve been ordering from them for years and have never been disappointed. They have a great array of products that are all safe, tested, and regulated accordingly. They have fantastic customer service and always answer any of my queries within a couple of hours.

Packaging: This product comes in a 100g tub that’s securely sealed. It’s labelling also contains all the information you’ll need on product info, use and ingredients. The powder itself is a deep pink powder that has a subtle smell of cranberry and cotton candy (that’s the FOS).

Use: The recommended daily dose of this is 5-10g which is about 1-2 heaped teaspoons. All that needs to be done is to sprinkle the powder into cold water or fruit juice, and then mixed well until properly dissolved. This is safe to take on a long term basis, however if you have any concerns or a specific medical condition, do speak to your doctor beforehand.

Taste: This adds a subtle cranberry taste to your water, however as this product does not contain any added sugar, there will not be any sweetness. That being said, it doesn’t taste sour at all.

Cranberry Water

Cranberry Water

Good Stuff: This is great as the subtle cranberry taste makes it’s more pleasurable to drink more water. Also, being high in Vitamin C (60mg per 5g) is another benefit! This is especially good to take during Winter months to help prevent a dreaded cold! This is also high in FOS which is derived from Chicory root. This naturally encourages the growth of friendly bacteria in the gut, which in turn, brings about better digestion.

Cost: One pot of this costs about €14. This lasts quite a long time for me, and considering the benefits it provides, it’s well worth it if you need a bit of help with drinking water.

Verdict: I really like this product. I like how, apart from adding a nice taste to my water, it also adds Vitamin C and FOS. Sure there are other things you can add, such as lemon that are cheaper and just as effective, however this is a nice change for me to try out every once in a while when I’m bored of other alternatives.

What do you do to make your water taste better?

Post-Detox Healthy Eating

January is known for detoxing, dieting and all good intentions to become healthier and fitter! However, despite all this, January is also the month where most good intentions are already destroyed and forgotten due to our perfectionist or all-or-nothing mindset.

Instead of trying to achieve the perfect eating plan (which is impossible in the long run), it would be better to stick to something slightly more lenient that will keep you going in the long run, rather than falling short by the beginning of the year.

Healthy eating habits

Developing healthy eating habits

Easier said than done though, and I have to admit, even though I knew this already, it did take me a very long time to accept this and put it into practice.

So, although I follow a quick detox to get my body to quickly rid itself of the effects of holiday indulgences, I then tend follow a more realistic plan to keep myself going in the right direction. The detox instantly makes me feel better and gets me back to my pre holiday weight, but then this keeps me on track in the ‘real world’.

This has worked very well for me, however may not necessarily be what is best for you, so do get professional advice if you have any medical issues if you decide to follow this.

First thing in the morning: 1 large glass of water (with some lemon if you wish) and a cup of herbal tea if I’m not running late for work.

Starting the day with a healthy breakfast

Starting the day with a healthy breakfast

Breakfast: 2 Weetabix with semi-skimmed milk. I love this as it really fills me up!

Don’t know about you, but I really dislike the original flavour, so I always stick to the Banana or Chocolate flavour. Has this interfered with my weight loss? Not at all. Firstly, it’s a good way to start the day if you want a healthy breakfast and love a sweet taste – for me, it’s like my indulgence of the day and stops me getting any cravings later on. Also, if you compare nutritional info of these and the original flavour you will realise that there’s not really such a big difference overall.

Mid-Morning: I always stick with a portion of fruit; my favourites are a banana, a grapefruit or 2 kiwis. Filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and water – these will keep you going till lunch time.

Lunch: I try keep it light and healthy, especially when at work as a large meal makes me sleepy! Generally I stick with a portion of lean protein (chicken, turkey) or fish (salmon, tuna) with some vegetables or salad.

Mid-Afternoon: Around this time I usually go for a low-sugar yoghurt or low-fat Greek yoghurt with a bit of honey. The protein in this keeps me full till the end of the work day and stops me from getting peckish before dinner time.

Dinner: Dinner is much like lunch, however maybe a slightly larger portion.

If protein and vegetables are too boring for you for both lunch and dinner, I would suggest supplementing with a hearty soup or a wrap, preferably during lunch time though.

Lean protein for a healthy dinner

Lean protein for a healthy dinner

Throughout the day: I can’t stress enough how important water is! As you probably all already know by now, drinking water flushes out toxins, which also improves the appearance of your skin, and also keeping hydrated prevents you from thinking you are actually hungry when you are really not. Apart from this, I also drinks tons of herbal tea (no sugar), which is great for getting in anti-oxidants!

In addition to all this, I try to exercise three times a week for an hour per session. This however, is entirely dependent on you. Keeping this going on the weekend is also the key to getting long term results – it’s hard I know, but can be done with a bit of planning I promise!

So there you have it! My post-holidays eating plan. This is working really well for me and I really hope it will give you good results should you wish to try it out. Let me know if you do 🙂

Post-Holidays Detox

Hey Everyone,

Happy New Year! Another year has come and gone, and with that we welcome the all-familiar new year resolutions! One thing I always start off the new year with is a cleanse to get me feeling better from the abuse of alcohol and excess food of the holidays. Cliché I know, but admit it – we all go through this!

The below is what I usually do for a couple days or so (approx. 5 days) to get all recharged and feeling healthy and energetic again. This may, or may not work for you, however in principle, this is quite a generic kind of cleanse that is healthy to do for a few days, given you do not have any health or medical issues.

All day: A good amount of water – at least 2-3 litres, in addition to herbal teas; about 4 cups a day. Green and white teas are best, and ideally with no sugar added! 😉

Breakfast: 1-2 large glasses of water with freshly squeezed lemon. This is perfect for cleansing and getting your metabolism up and running. This usually follows with 1 banana – a good source of energy and vitamin K (potassium), which is helpful in avoiding leg cramps which could occur when detoxing as you may lose body salts and minerals if also exercising.

Detoxing with lemon water

Detoxing with lemon water

Snack: More fruit! Nothing is more cleansing and healthy than this. I try to stick to citrus fruit – not only are these high in vitamin C, but they also contain a high amount of water which helps keep you full. My favourites are grapefruit, especially the pink ones, and pomelos or oranges if I feel like something a little sweeter. Kiwis are also another favourite. I have about 2 fruits mid-morning.

Lunch: A large bowl of home-made vegetable soup. This need not be boring! Actually it’s quite comforting to have during the cold months – if you can stay away from the hot crusty bread with butter though! 😉 I usually make a green vegetable soup (marrow, spinach, broccoli or pea) or an orange one (carrot or pumpkin).

In normal circumstances I’d include a stock cube and a bit of bacon, but as it’s a cleanse I try to do away with these. Sad, I know. However, I keep in mind this is for 5 days only.

Making easy-peasy detox vegetable soup:

  • Chop up and lightly fry 1 onion in a small amount of light cooking oil. This is where you could add about 2-3 slices of chopped back bacon if you wanted for added flavour.
  • Clean and chop up your vegetable of choice. How much you include obviously depends on you, however on average I’ll use say 1 ready supplied box of fresh carrots, or 6 large marrows, 250g frozen spinach/broccoli. You decide…
  • Then add just enough water to exactly cover the vegetables – not much more as it will be too watery.
  • Leave to boil and cook on a low heat for about 30 minutes.
  • Once cooled, liquidize to get a healthy thick, creamy vegetable soup.

Snack: Yes, more fruit! I usually go for something with a bit of a crunch to keep me full, so I tend to grab an apple or a pear here. Both contain pectin, which will keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Detox your body

Detox your body

Dinner: For the first two days I try to stick with the vegetable soup, however if this is just too difficult to do then just skip to my 3rd day dinner, which would be a serving of fish or lean poultry with a large serving of steamed or lightly cooked vegetables – anything goes, just no potatoes if possible.

I know this isn’t the most exciting of eating plans, however this is just what works best for me to get me back on track and feeling healthy and energetic again – besides it’s only for about 5 days. Adding exercise of course helps too! 🙂

Wondering what to do once this detox is over?

Double Chocolate Chip Protein Cookies

A couple of weeks ago I discovered this delicious product – Protein Cookies.

These are great if you want a sweet treat but don’t want to take in all the unhealthy stuff that a typical candy bar has. Obviously these also must be consumed in moderation as they still have a good number of calories, however as they are very high in protein they also fill you up and stabilise your blood sugar levels making you feel satisfied and not craving more.

Take a look at my previous article for more information on the nutritional benefits of these Protein Cookies. Here, I’ll be telling you all about this flavour: double chocolate chip – yum!

MyProtein Double Chocolate Cookie

MyProtein Double Chocolate Cookie – Packaging

Ok, so who doesn’t love chocolate? Well, some people do (how?!) but it’s safe to say the majority of us love it. This is a great alternative to chocolate, cookies or cake that are full of saturated fat, sugar and a high amount of unhealthy calories.

This is quite an indulgent treat as it tastes very much like a brownie – it’s rich, dense and has a delicious chocolatey flavour with yummy chocolate chip pieces. It’s soft and chewy too – great for zapping those chocolate cravings!

So if you’re like me and adore chocolate, this might really help you when a chocolate attack strikes. As it’s high in protein, it’s also very filling so it can also be taken as a snack or dessert as part of your calorie-controlled diet plan. It’s also good to take after an intense workout to fuel your muscles for recovery.

MyProtein Double Chocolate Cookie

MyProtein Double Chocolate Cookie

These can be bought from various places but I got them from MyProteinThey offer shipping worldwide and have a fantastic and very extensive product range that’s worth taking a look at.

Have you tired these? Have they helped with managing cravings?

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Getting Back on Track after a Binge

So you’ve had a couple of bad days. At first everything was fine. Then, before you knew it, you ate until you felt sick and/or drank a bit too much.

We all overdo it at times, whether you are a binger or not. That being said, the frequency at which this happens is more important here. Like in all circumstances, being aware of what you are doing is a first important step. By recognizing this, you will be taking the first necessary actions to being in control of such impulsive behaviours.

Unhealthy lifestyle

Unhealthy lifestyle

 

Once you have realised that you’re deep in binge mode, stop, think, and consider the following:

1. Forget, forgive and move on

What’s done is done. You cannot take it back so accept that you have abused your body with excess food/drink and forget about it. Please do not attempt to purge. Not only does this cause a lot of damage to your body, but it is extremely unhealthy and can result in a yo-yo effect of bingeing and purging. If you are already doing this then please seek medical help immediately. Also, the majority of calories consumed will already be absorbed so purging does not take back as much as you think it does.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. Be honest with yourself about the excesses and just move on from this. Tomorow is a new day.

 

2. Determine the cause or trigger

The root to solving anything is to determine the trigger. What caused you to over eat? When we over eat it is mostly due to emotions overriding our decision making. Did you have a bad day? Did some one say something to upset you? Are you stressed, overwhelmed or exhausted? Could it be you have severe PMS symptoms?

Take some time out to really think about what it is that got you started. No matter how small or insignificant it may seem, see the effect it had on you and make a commitment to be aware of this and identify it as a trigger.

 

3. Don’t weigh yourself

You feel as though you’ve eaten the whole world. So, you go on the scale to see the damage done. Don’t! What will this solve? It will only make you feel worse! Anyway, the increase in weight will be mostly due to increase of food weight in your body as well as water retention from all the salt, sugar and fat you consumed. If this took place over just 1 or 2 days, and stopped there then not much will really convert to fat permanently, unless of course you end up doing this every weekend or couple of days!

As a rule of thumb, say to yourself that you require a good 7-10 days of clean eating to rid of the effects of 2-3 binge eating. Yes, that’s right.

 

Don't weigh yourself after overeating

Don’t weigh yourself after overeating

4. Don’t aim for perfection

It’s the same old story. ‘I’ll start again on Monday’, ‘I’ll begin my diet in the New Year’. Forget about it! Your new lifestyle starts now! That being said, do not put so much emphasis on this. Whilst having good intentions is admirable and being determined and driven to succeed is necessary, going full speed in the very beginning may leave you burnt out in a couple of days and back to your old eating habits and off again with the binges.

Focus on making better and healthier choices, and see this as a long term commitment. Yes, we have all heard this before, but that is because it works! So forget starvation/liquid/all-protein, no carb diets. Just it it simple and sensible.

 

5. Be prepared and plan ahead

One reason as to why we may over eat at times is due to the fact that we are very unprepared. Did you go 6 hours without eating anything? Well, no wonder you ate everything in sight! The longer we go without food, the lower our blood sugar levels fall. When we do finally eat, we take in more than we need as at that stage as our eyes will be bigger than our stomach! Also when we leave many hours in between meals, our body thinks that there is a famine approaching so when you do eat, most of it will be stored as fat for survival purposes. Not good in this day and age of digital-laziness!

Aim to eat every 3 hours to get your blood sugar levels stable, and get at least 7 hours sleep as not getting enough rest can also trigger a hormone imbalance and cause you to binge. Take a look at your weeks ahead and plan your 3 meals and 3 snacks daily. Write this down if need be and stick with it till you get on track again.

 

6. Go shopping

Now that you know what you will be eating on each day, go out and get some food shopping done. Don’t leave it until that day. For all you know you’ll be stuck on traffic or have to stay later in the office and arrive home in a bad mood and completely ravenous and end up eating loads of crap. Have your food ready available for the day and pre-cook it if need be. Having what you need, when you need it ready will be a major influencing factor in whether you succeed or not.

 

7. Do some exercise

You’ve binged, and you feel unhealthy and disgusting. Exercise is the last thing you feel like doing right? Understandable, but this will really give you a boost. When you exercise you are automatically more inclined to want to make healthier choices. Also, would you really want to indulge in a greasy pizza after a 40 minute training session? What a waste of time! We all know that exercise releases endorphins which make you feel good. So what are you waiting for? Just a 30 minute walk will make all the difference. If you can do more, then go ahead.

Exercise and Hydration

Exercise and Hydration

 

8. Hydrate yourself

Exercise is great as it gets you sweating and rid of toxins from your body. That being said, when detoxing, increasing your fluid intake is extremely important. By fluids we are taking about plain water here. A few cups of herbal tea are fine too, just try limit the caffeine if possible as this is very dehydrating. Drinking a good 3 litres of water ill help you in flushing out those nasty toxins you’ve accumulated and get you feeling healthier in no time.

Fed up of just water? Try adding some sliced lemon, lime or mint to it for added flavour. Include Aloe Vera in your water for super charged cleansing .

 

9. Look forward

You’ve accepted that you have over ate and realise that it’s not the end of the world.  You’ve hopefully identified what set you off and thought of an action plan to try prevent this from happening again. If it does, don’t worry. Behaviours can take months, even years to change. If the frequency lessens or the binge itself decreases then that’s already a step in the right direction.

Never underestimate the importance of planning ahead. Have your meals and snacks ready and take it one day at a time. You’re not training for a competition!

Look forward to the next day ahead, keep your head up and remember this:

Living a healthy lifestyle

Living a healthy lifestyle

 

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Protein Cookies

We all crave a cookie or a sweet treat once in a while right?

It is always really so sinful? Eating sugary treats occasionally and in moderation is not a bad thing, however the simple sugars found in such treats make your blood sugar levels spike up and then come crashing down, which only makes you want more and more. Also, let’s not forget about all the saturated fats and empty calories that are present in such snacks.

So when was the last time you had just one cookie?

If you are one of the few people that can just stop at one, that’s really something to rejoice about. Well done! Sadly, however, the majority of us seem to struggle with this. This is not to say that such people lack will-power or are weak; it is the effect that the quickly-absorbed sugar has on us as it rapidly enters our bloodstream. This is why we hear about combining simple sugars with proteins – it slows down the absorption of the food in our bodies and makes us less likely to binge. So instead of eating white crackers on their own (simple carbs), you pair them up with some cream cheese (dairy) and ham (protein).

This is where protein cookies come in the picture. As a former sugar addict, I am now more able to manage my cravings, and this is not due to increased discipline, but rather, a healthier approach to food management and exercise.

Today, I’ll be letting you know all about MyProtein Cookies that I came across on www.lookfantastic.com** (These can also be purchased directly from MyProtein ). I believe that every once in a while it is ok to indulge, and sticking to 100% healthy and natural alternatives like fruit may not always be satisfying.

Being a lover of cookies, but also my health and waistline, I decided to give these a go and see what result I would get. For my first try, I opted for the White Chocolate Almond flavour. There’s also Double Chocolate, Chocolate Orange and Chocolate Mint. Yum!

Packaging: 12 sachets of 75g cookies each in a sturdy cardboard box as seen below. These arrived quite fast (about 5 days) and were packaged securely.

Protein Cookies

MyProtein Cookie – Packaging

Protein Cookies

MyProtein Cookie – White Chocolate Almond Flavour

Smell: A pleasant and subtle smell of vanilla and cookie dough.

Texture: Very soft; in fact these cookies cannot be broken, but rather they are easily bent. That being said they are not crumbly.

Taste (White Chocolate Almond Flavour): Overall quite good. They didn’t have that distinct whey-powdery taste that you get with most protein bar snacks. They have a slight chewiness to them, but not too much as they melt in your mouth relatively fast. That being said the white chocolate is a bit faint, probably due to the almond flavour, which is the only thing I am not too keen on. The almond is a bit overpowering and is an almond essence flavour and not a natural one at all.

Nutritional Information: At 317 calories a piece these are quite hefty! However they are 75g which is quite large. Depending on whether this is a meal replacement, a substantial snack or an indulgent treat, it’s your call to make on how to consume this. If I am desperate for something sweet then half a cookie is usually enough for me, however if I am rushing and don’t have time for a proper snack then I will take a whole one. Fit it in with your daily calories.

Also one cookie has a whopping 37.5g of protein. That’s nearly double a 24oz rib eye steak with nearly half the calories*! Worth taking if you want to fill up fast. (*Source: Wikipedia: Steak Nutritional Facts)

However, do not let the term protein cookies fool you. This does not mean that the cookie just has no carbohydrates; it simply implies that there is a high amount of protein. Carbohydrates are still present with 19.55g per cookie. For the size of the cookie, that’s quite a reasonable amount.

Cost: At €22.84 a pack, I wouldn’t say it’s a cheap product, however when it comes to whey protein snacks, it is quite normal as generally these seem to be anywhere between €1-€2 a bar. So at €1.90 each (keep in mind that shipping is included in the price), it’s relatively ok. Obviously this depends on how often you go through a pack!

Verdict: I like these a lot. The taste is good, only downside being the strong almond essence taste of this particular flavour. I’ll definitely be trying out the other flavours though. They do the job of satisfying my sweet craving without making me go crazy for more. One does the trick! Filling and satisfying, a good buy for me.

Other Uses: These need not only be taken to reduce sweet cravings but also are a good way of increasing your daily protein intake or taken after a workout for recovery.

**I purchased these from this website as I have been buying from them for years and have always been very satisfied with their service. They have a great product range and I always receive my packages relatively fast. As a bonus, their customer care is fantastic. MyProtein also offer international delivery so it’s definitely worth looking into as they have a very extensive product range.

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Cleansing with Aloe Vera Juice

Hello Everyone,

We’ve all heard of cleansing our bodies before. The different amount of concoctions and methods available are just endless and this can make it seem like quite a daunting thing to do. Yet, cleansing need not be complicated or a time consuming affair and can easily fit in with your daily routine if need be. Just by adding a few teaspoons of pure Aloe Vera Juice in your daily water consumption is a great way to get started. You may also try adding sliced lemon.

Overall, when it comes to health products, the simpler they are, the better. Take a look at the ingredients list. Is it full of words you can’t pronounce? Chances are then it’s highly likely that it’s full of stuff you shouldn’t be consuming in the first place. Keep things simple and pure as possible.

Pure Aloe Vera Juice (not to be confused with the ready mixed sweet Aloe Vera drinks found in most supermarkets that are full of empty calories, sugar and additives) is great for so many different reasons when it comes to your health and can easily be found from any health food store. Below are some of the benefits:

  • Cleansing & Detoxing: A natural and gentle way of detoxing as it is cleansing and contains numerous essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Improves Digestion:  Aloe Vera naturally eases your digestive system thereby helping to improve regularity.
  • Boosts the Immune System: Due to the anti oxidants it contains, it helps to fight off free radials found in the body, thereby strengthening your body as a whole.
  • Alkalises your Body: This is so beneficial as maintaining an environment that is alkaline is an important step in keeping diseases and illnesses at bay as these thrive in acidic environments.
  • Aids in Weight Loss: A natural diuretic that helps to eliminate toxins and improve regularity may also bring about with it a slight increase in weight loss. This also aids in reducing water retention.

There are other benefits that come along with drinking Aloe Vera, however these are the main ones that convinced me to give it a go. I was also quite curious to see what effect it would have on me if I actually drank it, as I had already heard a lot about the benefits of applying it directly on the skin for burns. So, I decided to give it a go:

  • Packaging: A standard 200ml green bottle with a screw lid at the top. This is just the one I used – there are loads available on the market. Just take a look at the ingredients list to see what exactly you’re getting.
ESI Aloe Vera Juice

ESI Aloe Vera Juice

Use: 25ml (1 cap full), 4 times a day. This can be quite strong if you are not accustomed to the taste so just start off with less and build up slowly.

Smell: Ok, I have to admit, the smell is not great. That being said, this can easily be avoided by not smelling the liquid straight from the bottle. Just pour, drink and keep in mind you’re doing this for you health – see the bigger picture!

Taste: Not the most pleasant of tastes but that is just the natural taste of Aloe Vera itself and I promise it does get better with time. Start off by just adding 1 teaspoon in a 200ml glass of water. Once you get accustomed to that, slowly increase the quantity per glass if you wish. See what works best for you.

Cost: This bottle is about €10.80 which may seem a bit expensive, however, given that only small quantities of the product is needed daily, it does last for quite a long time (approx. 6-8 weeks). So keeping this in mind and the benefits you get from it, I’d give this a thumbs up.

A word of caution: Yes this is a natural product, however nothing is without side effects. Firstly, always follow the correct dosage and carry out further research or get professional advice if in doubt or if you are taking any medication. As it can behave like a mild diuretic, one may experience an electrolyte imbalance if taken in excess. Do not consume if pregnant or breastfeeding.

Verdict: Aloe Vera may not taste incredible, yet it is a product that I continue to buy repeatedly. If taken with a good amount of water (2-3 litres) throughout the day, I notice that my digestive system improves considerably, which in turn, is detoxifying and cleansing my body naturally. It might make you need to urinate more than usual, but that’s good news: your body is eliminating toxins. A great product that I will keep continuing to buy.

What do you do to detox sensibly?

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