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‘Eat Your Greens!’ – the age old battle lives on…..

Getting greens into kids has always been a challenge. We all remember orders to ‘eat your greens’ from our mothers! It is even more of a challenge nowadays with all the alternatives that are available. Back in the day of the more traditional cooking of our mothers and grandmothers, the only challenge was getting the children to eat the greens on their plate, but nowadays there are multiple problems; in a lot of cases is the greens are not even being served up, if they are they may have been grown in nutrient depleted soil, have possibly travelled across the world or been sprayed within an inch of their lives with pesticides.

Green foods are some of the most beneficial we can eat when it comes to giving our bodies the nutrients it needs to function properly. Packed with the whole range of vitamins as well as, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. The benefits are endless; blood clotting, energy, vision, bone health, cholesterol, skin can all benefit from eating green veg. Easy to see why we need to be eating them every day in every meal. We only have to glance at the average Irish daily diet for many kids of breakfast cereal, ham sandwich, chicken goujons, sausages, chips, treats and it is easy to see how many kids are not eating any greens at all. The results are clear in ever rising list of symptoms we are seeing in kids today, like pale skin, lack of concentration, child obesity, behaviour issues, the list goes on. We are doing the next generation an injustice! Feeding today’s kids well and educating them in health and nutrition is the simplest, quickest, most cost effective way to turn our obesity and healthcare crises around.

Heres our top suggestions on how to get greens into kids? What to do with fussy eaters? And how to avoid those dreaded dinner rows!

Smoothies/Smoothie Bowls

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Smoothies are such a handy way to get veg into kids. A little of most leafy greens e.g. Spinach, lettuce, pak choi, kale can be added to a berry, banana smoothie and a little chunk of other veg like carrot, celery or peeled courgette usually goes unnoticed. Yes some of you will argue that it is better to eat the veg rather than blend it, but if it’s a choice between getting it into them or not this is a good option to get the nutrients into them. Start with a tiny bit and build it up from there!

Soups

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Soups are a great versatile way to vary your child’s diet. Whatever your child’s taste from tomato to creamy chicken there is room there to slip in a little veg without too much of a battle. Again start with getting them to like certain types and then add more and more veg each time. And remember a little of a lot of different veg is going to give your child the whole range of nutrients!

‘Hidden’ Sauces

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Sauces are a fantastic place to sneak in some hidden veg. Many kids enjoy saucy meals like Spag Bol or lasagne etc A Nutribullet or blender makes it so easy to blitz a little extra veg through your sauce, slipping it past your little angels lips without a complaint. A great tomato sauce can be made by sautéed onion, garlic, celery then add carrot, peeled courgette and fry further and then adding passata, seasoning, honey/ brown sugar to sweeten slightly, dash balsamic vinegar. Perfect for little ones! 

Veg sticks 

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Making raw veg sticks a staple at snack time can get kids picking away at veggies in no time. Even if they don’t eat them at first keep it up, you can pick away at them yourself or even  better if their friend is visiting they may partake, nothing better then seeing what their peers are doing and thinking ‘hmmm I might give that a go’. Remember if it’s not out on the table they are definitely not going to try it!

Adding to their favourites

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Focussing on what they like and adding to that is the best way to get them on side, so if they like a bolognese, try and add some veg to the sauce. If they like a sandwich maybe add lettuce or cucumber.

Education

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Simply explaining the benefits of certain foods to kids can get them interested. Especially if a child has certain health concerns, rather than getting into a row, simply explaining that trying certain foods could make them feel better, the whole food as medicine concept, can actually have good results, event if not right away after the idea has time to settle! 

8 a day

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Guidelines now show that we should be eating approx 8 a day of fruit and veg. That amount can feel like a bit of a challenge with kids but with a little bit of thought and planning it can be easily done. Handy tips with smallies are making fruit/ fruit salad a regular at breakfast time, making veg & fruit a part of snack time, having veg at lunch and dinner, having fruit as a treat or dessert, if eating out opting for veg instead of chips.

There are so many benefits to upping your veg intake, energy, skin, mood, digestion, behaviour, There’s no doubt more veg = a happier healthier child. I think we would all agree that is worth a little extra work & perseverance!

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

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Do you love savoury snacks? These are a tasty crunchy snack to have ready for those moments when you need it!

Ingredients:

Chickpeas

Coconut oil

Cumin

Smoked paprika

Chilli

Salt & pepper

Method:

Add melted coconut oil and seasoning to the chickpeas, roast in a moderate oven until crispy!

Super Turkey Quinoa Bolognese

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This is a great dish for all the family, the perfect place to ‘hide’ some veg for fussy eaters and the quinoa makes a really nice alternative to your usual pasta!

Ingredients:

1 lb Mince turkey

Red pepper, Onion, Garlic, Carrot, Courgette

1 cup quinoa

Passata

Tomato Paste

Dash of honey

Dash of balsamic vinegar

Basil

Salt & Pepper

Method:

Saute the chopped veg in coconut oil. Add the turkey & fry for 5 mins, add passata, tomato paste, seasoning, basil, honey & balsamic and cook until cooked through. Pulse the mixture with a hand held blender until it is all a fine mince. Cook the quinoa, 1 part quinoa to 3 parts water. Add the turkey mix with the quinoa and mix well.

Nutrition & wellness coaching - Food intolerance

Navigating intolerances with kids

The world of nutrition can be an absolute minefield with kids, fussy eaters, treats, food myths, the media, all of which can leave us parents feeling totally bamboozled! Add to the mix a suspected food intolerance and we can be left totally stumped not knowing what to do! In a typical Irish child’s diet of cereal, ham sangers, yogurts, a dairy or wheat intolerance can feel like a serious hurdle. Many of us are dealng with kids with excema, bloating, digestion issues, ear nose and throat issues, behaviour problems, the list goes on. All of these conditions are on the rise in Ireland and its no wonder again when you think of the typical Irish lunch box for example. Maybe you suspect a food intolerance? Or simply are curious could reducing allergens improve certain symptoms. Here are some top tips to help you navigate your way through food intolerance in kids.

Identifying the culprit

A food intolerance test or appointment with a Nutritional Therapist would be recommended and can be very helpful. But maybe you have an inkling as to which food it might be? Generally dairy, wheat, gluten are a god place to start. An elimination diet of one food at a time can have dramatic results in some cases. The food in question needs to removed 100% for 3 weeks. So that means no exceptions, if you want to see results. You may notice an improvement in certain symptoms. At the end of the 3 weeks reintroduce the food for a day and see do symptoms reoccur.

Gut Support

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During the course of the elimination (and in general) it would be of great benefit to provide some on-going gut support. A good probiotic will help to repopulate beneficial bacteria in the gut. Stewed cooking apples is an easy one to get into smallies, the pectin found in it is great for healing the gut wall. Chicken stock (made from boiling up a chicken or chicken carcasse for 4 hours) is packed with amino acids with gut healing properties, adding this wherever you can like soups, stews, other dishes. Fermented foods and drinks in small amounts can work wonders at boosting good bacteria but these are more difficult to get into kids, a kefir or kombucha drink may be worth a try in small amounts.

Get Organised

Preparation and thinking ahead are going to be key here. Sending food with the child wherever they go, be it a friend’s house, party, etc. Trying to keep talk about the elimination to a minimum, so as not to make a big deal of it. Talking more about all the foods we can have over the 3 weeks, rather than all the foods that are not allowed. Of course a little explanation will be required but playing it down as much as possible. Even the child will see the benefits if some of symptoms disappear, which will motivate them to keep it up, in many cases.

Alternatives

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Breakfast can be the biggest hurdle with cereal and milk being the nation’s quick and handy go-to. Here are some nutritious dairy and gluten free brekkie alternatives to play around with:

Fruit Salad & coconut yogurt

GF Granola made with coconut oil & maple syrup served with nut milk

Banana, egg & gf oat pancakes with almond butter & chia jam or maple syrup, pecans & coconut yogurt

Oat bread (Loughbeg brand or homemade) with ghee/Pure spread & chia jam

Scrambled eggs with veg/gf oat bread

Smoothie bowl – fruit, veg, avocado & nut milk blitzed

Lunch/Dinner

A good way to make main meals cleaner and allergen free is by adding lots of veggies raw and cooked to the lunch and dinner table. Potatoes, brown rice, quinoa are good additions to add to meat/fish/eggs and veg. Salad is also a great versatile option, and a fun way to get kinds involved in the kitchen. Spiralising, grating, blitzing veg are great ways to fit more veg into a dish!

Snacks

There are so many snack options made up of fruit, veg, nuts, seeds, for example. See a list of ideas below:

Apple & Almond butter

Banana & peanut butter stacks

GF granola & coconut yogurt

Veg sticks and hummus

GF oat crackers & chicken

Fruit Date & Nut Balls

GF flapjacks

Homemade oaty chia cookies

Coconut yogurt & chia jam

Homemade popsicles

Nutrition & wellness coaching - lifestyle factors

Complete Health – more than just diet & exercise

When it comes to our health, we focus a lot on diet and exercise, very important factors of course! And it can be difficult to conquer these two alone in the world we live in today, with so much time pressure and all the processed nasty foods we are surrounded with, without adding anything else into the mix, but full health is about much more than just these two factors. But don’t worry!! The good news is, while you are busy trying to tweak your diet and fit that exercise into your already busy schedule, there are many little things you can be doing, daily habits that don’t take long, that can really impact your health and can even have a bearing on your eating and movement too.

Take a person who is eating really healthy and exercising 5 times a week, but still not feeling at optimal health. What other factors are at play? Stress, connection, relaxation, purpose, so many other elements you may not even think of have such a great impact on our health both physical and mental. Stress plays such a big part in our lives these days, our lives are busier than ever, rushing and racing and jam-packed schedules have become the norm. Sometimes the simplest change in your lifestyle can make all the difference, something really small that you may not even relate to ‘being healthy’ can have huge effect. Here are some tips on small changes that can bring big health benefits.

Slowing Down

We can all get caught up in the rat-race, trying to squeeze everything in, feeling there aren’t enough hours in the day. We can have a day so filled with things to do; work, family, social commitments, exercise, there is no time left to ‘just be’. Sometimes just rethinking the day and thinking ‘I don’t HAVE to do that today’ about one thing on the list, can take the pressure off and allow a little time for ourselves. We can all get caught up in the ‘I have to do’ or ‘I should do’ mentality, which is a stress on us whether we realise it or not. A little flexibility can go a long way. Every now and again simply deciding to leave the housework or the gym and have a cuppa with a friend or a leisurely mindful stroll instead, can be just what the doctor ordered.

When it comes to exercise, the likes of yoga or pilates are great exercise which give good results but are done in a slow relaxing way, great for body and mind. Many of us are exercising to lose weight, so the overall goal is to get ourselves healthier, but the process done in a certain way e.g. racing to the gym and putting our bodies through a gruelling workout every day, can be a major stressor on the body, and end up having the opposite effect on your health than you were aiming for. You may find that a regular yoga or pilates class could give as good results, so good for the whole body, stretching and toning and reducing your stress levels at the same time. Even if you just switched one workout in the week for this slower paced one it really is a win-win for body and mind!

Something you can easily do at home is to do a few simple stretches, when you find a quiet moment or even before you get out of bed in the morning or last thing at night, so good and nourishing for the body, increasing flexibility and releasing tension!  

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Connection

Interaction with other people is so important for our wellbeing. Making time to spend quality time with your loved ones is so good for the soul and is a wonderful stress reducer. A great conversation with a colleague or a good old laugh with a friend reduces cortisol levels and shifts your body into parasympathetic mode.

The type of people we surround ourselves with can make a great difference. Negative people can bring you right down and increase your stress levels. Spending time with upbeat friends with things in common or shared interests can give a great feeling of connection and bonding. There’s no better health boost than surrounding yourself with positive people, who make you laugh! A good rule of thumb – ‘spend time with people who give you a buzz’!  

We can often feel too tired to socialise, but it’s worth making the effort to get out and meet friends. It needn’t involve alcohol or a late night, even a cuppa or a meal, just the chance to have that time to sit, talk and laugh. Laughter is the best medicine!

Relaxation

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Many of us don’t put enough emphasis on relaxation. Whether it’s lack of time or feeling like we should be doing something else or even that we don’t deserve it, whatever the reason we all fall down in this area. We need to take some time doing nothing just relaxing to recharge the batteries and give our bodies a rest from our hectic lives. Simply sitting and reading a book, watching a movie, taking in a show or a good comedian, going to a spa or simply taking a nap. That physical ‘allowing yourself’ is a major thing, just listening to your body and giving it the break it needs. Be good to yourself!

Sleep

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Getting enough sleep is paramount for good health. Lack of sleep can have a effect on our mood, stress levels, energy levels and even on what we eat. When we are tired chemicals are released making us crave carbs/sugar, making it more of a struggle to eat healthy.  When we are asleep is the time when the body does it repairing and regenerating. And the brain needs that time too, it actually shrinks at night and clears out plaque, so important for our health, the build up of this plaque in the brain has been associated with Alzheimers disease. 7-8 hours sleep is optimal, staying up too late or not getting enough hours of sleep can play havoc with our circadian rhythym, our internal clock, which regulates our 24 hour cycle of biological processes. Thats why everything seems better after a good sleep!

Purpose

Ikigai is a Japanese concept meaning “a reason for being”, it is very similar to the French phrase ‘raison d’etre’. Everyone, has an ikigai but finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self. Such a search is regarded as being very important, since it is believed that discovery of one’s ikigai brings satisfaction and meaning of life.

Finding our reason for being is not something that happens over night, but in small baby steps over months or years. A good start is simply listening to your body and following your heart every now and again, not always doing what you should be doing but what you would like to do. Taking up a new hobby, doing something spontaneous, or trying something you have always wanted to do. Take that time to allow you to be ‘you’, it will do wonders for your health, both mental and physical.

Setting goals is another way to instil some purpose into our lives. Goal setting is a powerful technique that gets you to visualise the end result and commit to that goal, the results are astounding in terms of productivity and achievement. Achieving ones goals can really boost confidence and self esteem, which is going to help our overall health.

Attitude

An attitude of gratitude is a serious health booster.  A good mantra is ‘talk more about your blessings than your problems’, this promotes positivity in yourself and those around you and the end result is a happier healthier you! A simple tip is – each night at bedtime take a minute to write down three things you are grateful for that happened today and also three things you aim to achieve tomorrow. It doesn’t matter how small! You will actually wake up in a better, more positive and motivated mood.

Mindfulness 

If you were to start one new thing today, let it be 5 mins of mindfulness or meditation. You will be amazed at how 5 mins (or even just 1 minute! Whatever you can manage) of uninterrupted sitting in silence, breathing, can change your whole mood and demeanour for the rest of the day. Stress levels decrease and the body is returned to parasympathetic nervous system, which means less stress hormones being released, which is going to have a huge impact on our physical health also, aswell as mental health.

So we must look at the full picture in order to achieve complete healthy. Nourishing the body with the appropriate food and movement and also nurturing ourselves with all of the above. 

Good Health!

treats

Treating Kids

As a Mum it seems to be a constant stream of ‘Can I have a treat?’ from the kids and who could blame them, surrounding by all those inviting chocolate bars and treats on display in every shop they go in to and with sugar being so addictive, it’s as if once they see it, that’s all they can think about and you’re the worst in the world for not allowing them to have it. It can be a struggle to try to keep them eating healthy!

Of course it’s difficult to leave treats out altogether, especially when you factor in external sources like grandparents, parties, play-dates etc, but applying an 80/20 rule can work really well to reduce the amount of treats they are getting, 80% of the time eating healthy and 20% of the time allowing treats. Mum might be buying ‘the odd treat’ during the week and Dad might be doing the same unbeknowns to each other, it can easily add up over the week, simply making a pact as parents that you will let their quota of junk come from uncontrollable external sources and when they are at home it’s healthier options, that alone can make all the difference.  Sometimes it is unavoidable, but in the situation for example where Granny is bringing a weekly packet of sweets, it may be possible to suggest a pack of stickers or match attacks or something instead.

Now all this doesn’t mean no treats at all, everyone needs a treat now and again even us grown ups, it’s just trying to incorporate healthier options. Some delicious treats can be created with the likes of nuts, dates, cacao, nut butter, dark chocolate, coconut products, dried fruit, seeds, berries, fruit, maple syrup/agave. It may take a little while to win them over but you can start slow making things they enjoy a little healthier over time, substituting in alternative better ingredients. As time goes on  their taste-buds change and you might find down the road when they do have some ‘junk’ they are not as interested in it as they used to be or that it makes them feel a bit icky.

Here’s some simple tips to make it easier when it comes to treating kids at home:

1.       Don’t keep junk in the house and then they can’t ask for it

2.       Keep a stock of healthy treats available, see recipes below or buy some in from your local health food store e.g. Nakd bars, Meridian bars, fruit winders. Even a simple fruit salad can be a nice treat!   

3.       Make water their only drink option, this will reduce their sugar/sweetner intake which will lessen their sweet tooth

4.       Add a bowl/plate of fruit to the breakfast table every morning, a great way to get them into the habit of tasting natural sweetness.

5.       Have raw veg at lunch and dinner times, this will fill them up and adjust their taste-buds

6.       Treats are better eaten at the end of a meal, better on their teeth

7.       Sit down to eat together, slow down the whole process, they will stay full for longer

8.       Have set meal and snack times

9.       If they do get treats from Granny, that’s ok, maybe suggest having half now and half later or tomorrow

10.   Boost their nutrients and combat sugar with a healthy juice or smoothie, especially on a day of party etc where you know there will be junk

11.   Informing them and educating them is a great way to help them make their own decisions when they are out without you

12.   Teaching them how to make simple snacks/treats/meals is a great fun activity to do together and as they get older it can really empower them to make better food choices

For some healthy treat recipes check out the treats page: http://fooducation.ie/wp/category/fooducationrecipes/treatrecipes/

  

Nutrition and wellness coaching - fussy eaters

Worried about fussy eaters?

Dealing with fussy eaters can be very frustrating! Trying day in day out to get them to eat the meals you make, constant dinner battles, worrying about their nutrition and even feeling guilty, it’s not pleasant. Well don’t lose hope! The first thing to remember is there is a lot you can do with kids as regards nutrition, without even going near their food! Leading my example, surrounding them with positive influences and educating them in a fun way about nutrition can set a seed with them and get them thinking (even subconciously) about food and health and can lead to better decisions down the line. Heres our top tips for handling fussy eaters and your stress levels!

Lead by example

The absolute best way to convey any message to kids is by letting them see you do it yourself. So focus on your own food first and that change alone is going to be a great education for your kids. They want to be like you and do what you do, so even if its not an instant change it is definitely passing a good message on to them, even subconsciously.

Get them involved

Getting kids to help with the shoping, prepping, cooking, baking is a great way to get an interest up in them around food and cooking and it reduces the mystery and fear around it all. With no pressure on them to even taste if they dont want to, but just to get involved and it can be a fun family activity too. Making a game out of identifying different veg in the supermarket or simple tasks like peeling veg, kids will love taking part.

Country Markets

An outing to a country market can be a nice family activity for everyone and a great learning experience. There are markets running in most areas now one day or other in the week. This can be a great outing for all ages, with loads of great produce on offer, you can even talk to the producers, kids can really get a feel from where the food comes from and what is involved in producing it. Other options like local producers, farm shops and open veg gardens, usually welcome visitors and this can be a great place to get great quality food at good prices.

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Positive influences

Simple things like reading books about nutrition and health can be a fun activity to get kids thinking about food. There are loads of kids books out now. Also on TV or online now there are cartoons and on devices loads of kids apps. As they get a little older then there are any amount of interesting movies and documentaries that you can watch together. Even colouring pictures, games, quizzes, there is so much available online nowadays and these will all be instilling a positive message.

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Grow your own

A fantastic project to start with kids is to grow something yourselves. Anything at all, no matter how small the garden, even a pot of lettuce or parsley, they will be amazed to see it grow and they will be so proud to see something they grew from a seed going into dishes!

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Reading labels & other activities

An activity kids can find fun is comparing labels of products, purely for interest sake, they will be amazed to see one pack has more sugar than another for example. A good way to do it is to get products that they like and then a similar more healthy alternative and compare products, it can get a discussion going and you never know where that might lead! A simple sugar demo is another activity that is very visual and effective with kids. Simple lay out products on a table, check the label for sugar content (4g=1 tsp) and spoon out that amount of sigar in front of the product, different cereals, biscuits, yogurts work well.

Classes

A cooking class or grow your own veg class could be a fun kids or family activity. There are classes like these running all over the country, if you do a search online or ask in your local area or health shop. Grow HQ in Waterford is definitely worth a visit, they offer great classes and information and you could visit the cafe and veg gardens too!

Tips on actually getting them to eat:

Well this could be another blog of its own, but heres some helpful hints!

Quality – focus first on what they are actually willing to eat and try to improve the quality of that. So if its chicken nuggets, make your own. If its a ham sandwich, try better quality bread (even get them involved in making your own!), boil a ham and sqitch spreads back to plain old butter. Yogurts, switch to a good quality natural probiotic yogurt and add your own fruit or blitzed berries and as little sweetness as you can get away with, whittling it down as their taste buds adapt. The better quality produce is going to be higher in nutrients and less damaging to their gut and health.

Try and try again – when introducing new foods, it can take up to 20 times trying something for a child to come around to it, sticker charts, little rewards can work really well to intice them to try, or they find Youtube clips on tasting foods, blindfold tasting etc very entertaining so maybe you could try an activity like that at home

Hidden goodies – a great way to boost nutrition, is in some food that they do actually like, start to ‘hide’ a small amount of something healthy, maybe blended veg or fruit or even bone broth, building it up very slowly, up are seriously boosting the nutritional value of the meal and their tastebuds will actually start to change over time. A tomato pasta sauce with a little hidden onion, garlic, courgette, pepper, carrot can give them a serious nutrient boost

Take your opportunity – we are all talk about mindful eating, not eating in front of screens etc but when it comes to very fussy kids this could actually work in your favour the odd time. Those moments when they are slightly zoned out watching TV slip a little bowl of chopped veg or fruit in front of them and you might be surprised they they might start munching when they are distracted!

Renaming – Homemade juices and smoothies are a great way to hide some goodies also, renaming a veg & strawberry smoothie with a (little avocado & coconut oil!) a ‘nice strawberry milkshake’, even the tiniest amounts of the good stuff you add in are going to have a benefit.

Good luck!

gut-health

Gut health – the basics

‘Gut’ is a real buzz word at the moment. There is so much information flying around it can be easy to get bamboozled and even the terminology can sound so complicated, it can be hard to get your head around it. But it need not be too difficult, hopefully this blog can simplify it for you.

Our gut is an extremely important part of our body for a number of reasons:

  • the gut holds trillions of bacteria, approx ten times more bacteria than cells, we are literally more bacteria than human
  • there are thousands of different types of bacteria, and the specific balance of them is very important for good health
  • our gut lining contains its own immune system, which can have an impact on the rest of the body
  • a gut-brain link is being widely researched in recent years

Our gut lining is made up of tight junctions which is built to let through only the tiniest particles and nutrients. So in an ideal world with nothing to irritate the gut lining and food being chewed sufficiently, the gut would work just fine. Unfortunately this doesn’t describe the modern world we live in. Todays busy lifestyle, means rushing our food, insufficient chewing and poor digestion. As well as a constant stream of toxins, alcohol, smoking, medications, antibiotics, stress all of which can have a detrimental effect on our gut lining.

With these factors weakening the gut wall, the once tight junctions begin to loosen, this is known as leaky gut or intestinal permeability. Chewing our food well is a very important part of digestion. Insufficiently chewing our food puts stress on the digestive system, adding to its workload and the result is that bigger particles of food than are desireable arrive in the gut. The loosened junctions then make it possible for these bigger food particles, as well as toxins and microbes to pass through the gut wall and these can cause inflammation in the body, due to an immune reaction being initiated. The immune system sees these particles as foreign invaders and starts to attack them. These particles can even get lodged in our tissues and then the immune systems starts to attack the tissue also, and this is where we get into the scary area of autoimmunity, the body attacking itself.

Maybe you have low energy or mood issues, food sensitivities or even food intolerances or  digestive issues. Poor gut health could be causing you problems! So what can be done? Well a great place to start is with gut repair and healing the gut wall.

Some very easy daily tips can really help:

  • start the day with a glass of lemon water with 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • make bone broth a part of your daily diet, a great habit to get into is to boil an organic chicken once a week, to keep you in bone broth all week long, add it to dishes or just have as is as a hot drink
  • stewed cooking apples with cinnamon are great for gut healing
  • add more veg and fruit to your diet, both cooked and raw
  • add a green juice to your daily routine (cabbage is great for gut healing if you could squeeze a little of that in!)
  • slow down your eating, chew each bite 20-30 times, remember your gut has no teeth!
  • try to reduce stress, especially around meal times, take a few dep breaths before eating
  • reduce snacking where possible, each 3 good meals and have a good break in between to give your digestion a break
  • reduce alcohol, caffeine and sugar as well as processed and fried foods
  • add fermented foods to your diet, saurkraut, kimchi, tempeh, miso, kombucha, kefir
  • use coconut oil as your cooking oil, it is much more stable at high temperatures and has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties
  • reduce allergens in your diet such as gluten, wheat and dairy. Listen to your body and if you feel something doesnt agree with you try elminating it for 3 weeks and see if you notice a difference off it, or on reintroduction

Down the line if you wanted to do further investigations into your gut health a Nutritional Therapist can arrange a Comprehensive Diagnostic Stool Analysis, which can tell us so much about whats going on in the gut in terms of the balance of bacteria and even infection

Great books to inform yourself further are ‘Eat Dirt’ by Dr Josh Axe, ‘Gut’ by Giulia Enders, ‘Healthy Gut, Happy You’ by Jennifer Albuqurque, ‘Brain Maker’ by David Perlmutter, ‘The G Plan Diet’ by Amanda Hamilton and ‘10% Human’ by Alanna Collen

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Good Health!

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Get the kids into the kitchen

Kids love nothing more than getting involved, getting their hands dirty and doing an activity together with siblings or parents. Sometimes they may need a little nudge, with all the distractions available these days, but once you get started they love it and the love tasting thre results even more!

This is such a great way to get kids learning about food and even to get fusy eaters to try new foods. Having some input into the recipe and the making of the food really empowers kids and makes them feel very grown up.

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With 1 in 4 kids overweight or obese, we really need to get down to their level and start showing them basic kitchen skills and teaching them about food from an early age, if they are to have a hope of a healthy adult life.

So some very easy options for you to start off with! All of these are no-bake so you dont have to worry!

Treat Balls

Soak 2 handfuls of dates in  2 tbsp boiling water. Blend 100g nuts, pecans and almonds go down well with kids. Seperately blend the dates & water into a paste. In a bowl mix dates, nuts, 4 tbsp cacao powder, a little honey or maple syrup to taste. You can play around with it, maybe they would like to add raisans or other dried fruit. Have fun then shaping them into balls and rolling in cacao, coconut or ground almonds. They’ll love getting their hands dirty!

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Smoothies and Smoothie bowls

Kids love making smoothies. Lay out lots of fruit and veg, nut/goats milk, coconut water and give them the freedom to choose what they want to put in. Try out different combinations. Make one yourself also and show them that things like a little carrots, lettuce, peeled courgette, celery, beetroot don’t actually make that much difference to the taste (try them individually at first and celery and beetroot just a small chunk at first!) If you want to get adventurous, add in avocado, nuts, seeds, milled flax or chia.

For a smoothie bowl simply add less liquid, so its good and thick and eat out of a bowl rather than drinking it. This can be a great alternative to a breakfast cereal. Top with nuts, seeds, raisians, whatever you like.

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No bake granola bars

Blend 100g nuts and 100g seeds, to a rough mix rather than a fine powder (or go with finer if you want to hide them!). Melt 3 tbsp almond butter and 3 tbsp coconut oil and then blend with a banana. Handful of gluten free oats (optional). Blend 2 handfuls of soaked dates to a paste. Mix nuts, seeds, dates, almond butter, coconut oil, dates and banana. They’ll love mixing this gloupy mess and licking the spoon! Press into a shallow tray/dish and refridgerate. You can tp with a little dark choc if you like. Once chilled cut into bars and store in a lunch box, if you can keep them that long!

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Simple chocolate dipping bowl

Cocktail sticks, fruit and dark chocolate, this is the easiest crowd pleaser around! Prepare chunks of fruit, kids can get to work on peeling bananas picking off grapes, washing thr fruit, etc, while you do the chopping. Melt a bar of dark chocolate in the microwave, taking care not to burn, or over a banemarie (pot of boiling water on the hob!). Add a touch of honey or coconut oil to taste if its too bitter. Set up the fruit around the bowl of chocolate, give every one a cocktail stick or fork and dig in! This one doesn’t last too long!!

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Fruit Stacks

These are great little snacks. Simply slice banana, apple of pear and stack with a nut butter spread between each slice. Top with a little chopped nuts, chia seeds or sesame seeds. Berries work great too. Fill raspberries with almond butter or strawberries topped with a little coconut cream are great! Great fun playing around with different combinations!

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Nicecream

Banana based icecream is a great one if you have any dairy intolerance in the house. But regardless this is a tasty easy to make icecream substitute that the kids will love! Chop banana and freeze. Blend from frozen, adding whatever flavour you prefer, vailla extract, fresh strawberry or cacao powder. Sweeten as you need with a little good quality local honey or maple syrup.

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Chocolate Bark

Another quick and easy one, simply melt dark chocolate and add whatever takes your fancy, chopped nuts, seeds, chia, dried fruit, fresh fruit, anything. Lay flat on greaseproof paper and refridgerate. Once chilled, crack into sections and enjoy!!

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Down the line if you want to start getting more adventurouror as they are getting older and are able for more, the possibilites are endless:

  • Oat Cookies are a great one, just a one bowl mix, make a log, chop into cookies and lay on the tray
  • Healthy Buns are the same, bung the mix in the food processoror Nutri Bullet and into the muffin tin
  • Buckwheat Pancakes are a real winner, again make the mix in the Nutribullet or blender, add some extras at the last minute like raisans, blueberries or dark choc chips and into the frying pan, supervising of course!
  • Helping to prepare the dinner, prepping veg etc if they are old enough to use a sharp knife!
  • Making salads, using a grater is a handy way, or a grater in a food processor can be so quick and. Grated beetroot, carrot and apple goes down very well with smallies!
  • Play around with making dressings can be good too, all you need is a jar with a lid, 3 parts extra virgin olive oil to 1 part apple cider vinegar, and then whatever else you want to add e.g. honey/maple, tamari/soya sauce, salt & pepper, herbs, spices, coconut milk, tahini, lemon, lime, orange. Experiment!

Have Fun!

 

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Look after your liver, so it can look after you

The liver is the powerhouse of the body, responsible for cleaning up all toxins in our bodies. It has a serious workload with all the toxins surrounding us in this modern day ‘toxic soup’ that we are living in. The air we breathe, the food we eat, the cosmetics we put on our skin, or products we use to clean our homes, alcohol, smoking, all of these cause toxins in the body, that must go through the liver to be detoxified.

For good health it is essential that these toxins be eliminated. An overtaxed liver leaves toxins accumulating or being recirculated back around the body leaving us feeling, looking and even smelling toxic. Skin problems, mood issues, body odour, low energy, so many symptoms can be attributed to a sluggish or overloaded liver.

The good news is there are some very simple ways to make sure you are giving your liver the support it needs, through the foods you are eating.

Brassicas

The green cruciferous veg family know as the brassicas provide the liver with many of the nutrients that it needs to work efficiently. The likes of cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli added to your daily diet can make a big difference.

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Sulfur foods

Onions, garlic, leeks are all high in sulphur I find Green Saffron curries a great way to fit lots of these in as one curry might have 5 onions and 6 garlic cloves. Or soups also are a great place to pack lots of these in. Garlic is great raw too, if you can add more in at the end of cooking to get the real benefit. Eggs are also a great sulphur rich food.

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Beetroot

Beets are extremely high in antioxidants, which benefit liver health. Pectin particulary helps clean up the toxins the liver has removed, helping them to be flushed out of the body instead of being reabsorbed into the body. Eating beetroot raw is the most beneficial, grating it into a salad works really well.

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Glutathione

Glutathione is the most powerful internal antioxidant and liver protector. It supports the livers detoxification pathways. Easy ways to get it through your diet are with a nice organic lean protein, or even a good quality whey protein can be great too added to a morning smoothie.

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Fibre

Eating fibre helps our bodys to eliminate the toxins that the liver has cleaned up, by going to the toilet regularly. Increase fibre easily by eating more veg and fruit and wholegrains daily, to ensure you are eliminating all that you should be out of your body.

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Reducing your toxic load can take pressure off the liver, see some ways below:

Cutting down on sugar, caffeine, alcohol & processed foods
Change to more natural cleaning products like eCover
Opt for more natural cosmetics like Antipodes, Burts Bees, Dr Hauschka
Reduce smoking, drugs and medications, where possible
Buy organic wherever possible

Aiding the body in detoxification can be done with the following:

Sweat a little through exercise, at the point where you start to sweat the toxins are being released from the fat tissue, try to wash the sweat off with a natural soap as soon as possible
Use a sauna, stay in just until you start to sweat and shower straight away after
Have an epsom salts bath, this has double benefits as it helps with detoxifying while at the same time putting magnesium into the body.

Other simple daily tips to boost detoxification are the following:

Start every morning with a glass of warm lemon water
Incorporate a green juice into your daily routine
Increase your intake of Herbal teas like Dandelion or green tea
Drink plenty of filtered water

Good luck and good health!