Why ‘Dieting’ Has Become A Dirty Word

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Over 80% of us might have attempted a diet at some point or another, but three quarters of us were too embarrassed to admit that we’re dieting to our friends. While there was a time when following the latest fad diet and surviving on nothing but cabbage soup for weeks on end was deemed entirely logical if you want to shift the extra pounds you put on in December, these days we’re cutting out food groups under the guise of ‘mindful eating’ or ‘clean eating’. The ‘D’ word has become a dirty term that no one wants to use.

Despite the change in terminology, most of us fall off the healthy eating bandwagon within a few weeks and blame the allure of junk food, hunger pangs and comfort eating. ‘Regardless of how it is dressed up, the UK is currently filled with diets, and they can be effective in helping us achieve our weight goals,’ says Rob Rona, director of new markets, products and services at LighterLife Fast. ‘However, fad diets which cut out full food groups or significantly deplete key nutrients are unsustainable and can be unsafe.’

The idea of clean eating might seem appealing in the first few days of January, following a gluttonous festive season, but radical changes tend to lose steam as February nears – in fact, some research says it’s as quick as just 12 days. So, how can you improve your diet and stick to it? We’ve outlined the latest research and some straightforward advice to help you make an informed plan for 2019:

Start off small

Making dramatic changes can often leave you craving what you cut out within a couple of weeks. Instead, be practical and make small, achievable tweaks that are easy to implement. Take sugar for example. Recent headlines have highlighted that most of us are consuming far too much sugar, but going cold turkey straight away will leave you craving chocolate when the mid-afternoon slump hits. Look for low-sugar or no added sugar on food labels, swap white bread for wholemeal or granary, try eating two biscuits rather than three, and opt for fresh fruit rather than dried varieties.

When it comes to cutting back on sugar, it’s also worth considering taking a chromium supplement such as Optimized Chromium with Crominex 3+ from Life Extension, as this helps to maintain low blood sugar levels. Essentially, eating sugar causes a spike in your blood sugar levels, which eventually crashes and leaves you craving more sugar. Chromium helps to maintain a healthy glucose metabolism.

Do your research

Not every dietary decision is based the health benefits. It’s been reported that more of us are exploring veganism than ever before this January and the leafy diet is as beneficial for the environment as it is our health. That said, it is essential that you do your research. Cutting out animal by-products can leave you deficient in essential vitamins and minerals if you don’t ensure that you’re eating a balanced diet or incorporate supplements into your regimen.

Vitamin B12 isn’t available from plant-based foods, but it is essential for healthy digestion, circulation and energy levels. You’ll need to look for fortified foods, embrace Marmite, or opt for a supplement such as Methyl B-12 by Jarrow Formulas.

It’s about your mindset

MyFitnessPal has been championing this approach to food for years, but a recent study has called into question whether seeing the calorie content on food is beneficial. Measuring the brain response of both dieters and non-dieters when they looked at a range of food images, researchers found that both groups found food less appetising when they could see the calorie content. However, the study, which was published in Plos One, also revealed that seasoned dieters were more likely to engage the orbitofrontal cortex (decision-making section of their brain) when looking at food labels, regardless of whether the calorie content was shown, and tend to make healthier eating choices overall.

‘In order to motivate people to make healthier food choices, policy changes are needed that incorporate not only nutritional information, including calorie content, but also a public education component, which reinforces the long-term benefits of a healthy diet,’ says senior author of the study Kristina Rapuano.

 And if you really want to follow a particular diet…

Make sure it’s the Mediterranean diet. Yet again it was ranked the best diet of the year by U.S News’ panel of judges. With foods rich in omega 3 oils, healthy fats and anti-inflammatory ingredients, the Mediterranean diet offers a multitude of health benefits and you can even enjoy a glass of red wine with it. The judging panel stressed that it’s not a diet per-say, but rather an eating pattern and it’s up to you to determine how big your portions are.

The DASH diet was a close second in the ranking, but again the diet that was originally developed to help lower blood pressure, is more of a pattern rather than a diet. It’s focused on the healthy foods that we all know we should be eating more of. including fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy and lean protein. It also encourages exercise.

Shabir And Trinny On Body Cleansing

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Shabir and Trinny were in the bathroom discussing the importance of body cleansing. While you might think drinking a green smoothie regularly is enough to detox your body, Shabir isn’t convinced. Here’s everything you need to know.

Why should you cleanse?

Everyday your body is exposed to thousands of toxins and chemicals from cleaning agents, personal care products, pollution et cetera. Toxins cause inflammation within your body, which slows everything down, scars your tissues and exacerbates ageing. While you body is constantly regulating itself and detoxing, the average human still stores over 700 toxins in their body at one time.

Where should you start?

Shabir recommends starting with your intestines. Most of us don’t eat enough fibre and as a result it takes us longer to digest the food and overtime this can cause constipation, bloating and gas. Your gut is supposed to absorb the nutrients from food and then expel the waste once or twice a day. However, our low fibre diets slow this process down, which can lead to fermentation in the gut and more toxins being created.

Eventually parasites start to feed off of the build-up of food in our intestines and excrete waste. It’s thought that you could have over 300 different parasite species in your body feeding off your vital nutrients, so taking steps to eliminate them is essential.

Your colon contains billions of bacteria to breakdown the food and send signals to your brain to say you’re hungry or full and they’re maintaining your immune system.

How do you cleanse your intestines?

There are different ways to cleanse your colon, including colonics, enemas and laxatives. There is also a supplement called Complete Fibre Cleanse, which is a blend of insoluble and soluble fibres to help reduce constipation and regulate your bowel movement. This not only cleanses your colon but helps cleanse the whole length of the intestines scraping the gut of plaque and lodged pathogens.

Fibre isn’t for everyone, especially if you battle with IBS, colitis or inflammatory bowel conditions because you’re adding bulk to what is already there. Instead, they would be better using a blend of vitamin C and magnesium, such as Effervescent Vitamin C Magnesium Crystals. This supplement cleanses the colon and replenishes these two vital nutrients.

How do you cleanse you liver?

Your liver is your second biggest organ (skin is the largest) and has over 300 functions to support your body. It is responsible for regulating, processing and breaking down the different substances in your body. It works closely with your gall bladder, which stores bile required to breakdown fats and eliminate toxins from your gut.

Your liver is the only organ which has the ability to regenerate, but it is bombarded with toxins on a daily basis which hinders this process. Most things in excess with affect your liver, including alcohol, carbs and protein. For example, your liver breaks down protein to release amino acids, however this process releases ammonia which is toxic to the liver.

If you want to support and cleanse your liver or you’re following a high protein diet, it would be prudent to take a supplement such as Milk Thistle Complex. This supplement contains the trinity of liver cleansing and supporting herbs; Milk thistle, Dandelion and Artichoke Milk Thistle all known for their varying roles in helping to protect the liver and enhancing its function.

Can you cleanse your intestines and liver together?

Yes, you can take both Complete Fibre Cleanse and Milk Thistle Complex at the same time. However if you want to do one at a time, Shabir recommends starting with your intestines.

How do you do a sugar detox?

There has been plenty of health warnings about the amount of sugar that we’re consuming in the news recently. Why is it considered toxic? When your body metabolises sugar it is converted into energy. Any leftovers are then converted into glycogen (stored energy) and fat pockets which get deposited around your body (usually in your mid-drift area).

When you burn sugar for energy you create AGEs, a by-product which destroys the proteins in your body. The metabolism of sugar impacts every single structure within the body from your eyes to your joints and it is vital that we try to keep our sugar intake under control.

The best way to ‘detox’ is to control your sugar levels. Chromium is one of the best ways to do this as it keeps your insulin levels balanced, which could potentially ease any cravings for sugar. Taking a chromium supplement, such as 7-Day Sugar Detox, is a good place to start as it comes with a helpful guide.

How To Reboot Your Motivation And Stick To Your Goals

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Last year, the social media network for athletes Strava pinpointed Friday 12th January as the day most people are likely to give up on their New Year’s resolution. Strava analysed over 31.5 million global January activities to pinpoint this specific date as ‘Quitters’ Day’. If the same can be said of this year, then we’ll all be pressing snooze and rolling over for an extra hour of sleep rather than hitting the treadmill.

But why is it so common to quit within less than two weeks? Well, it’s January and it’s likely that while you started the month with a fresh bout of positivity and determination, life’s day-to-day tasks and toils have ground you down. Here are the expert tips to reboot your motivation and willpower:

Be realistic

It can be tempting to be overly ambitious and set yourself life-changing goals. While they look good on paper, you run the risk of being part of the quitters gang on 12th January. ‘Set goals that are achievable and can be easily tracked,’ says Dr Zain Sikafi, CEO and Founder, Mynurva. ‘This will give you the satisfaction of being able to track your progress and can be a fantastic source of motivation as you monitor.’ Whether you use a fitness tracking app on your phone or write down your achievements in a daily or weekly journal, you’ll be surprised by how motivating it can be to see how much you’ve accomplished over time.

Focus on one goal at a time

While cutting out sugar and running home for work at least three times a week might seem perfectly plausible from the comfort of your sofa after a Netflix marathon, it will feel less so at 6.30pm on a Tuesday evening when it’s pitch black outside and the heavens have opened. Instead, embrace just one change. Try running home once a week or cut out your four o’clock Galaxy bar (we recommend replacing it with one teaspoon of Organic Maca Powder mixed with almond milk).

A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that we are more effective at focusing on one goal at a time and were less successful when we were juggling several.

Do your research

Going cold turkey on something during one of the coldest, darkest months of the year is hard, especially if it’s something you truly enjoy, such as a glass of red wine. It’s worth doing some research to see if there is anything to help ease the withdrawal. For example, if you usually go out on a Friday night, swap the pub for the cinema. If you’ve decided to give up sugar, stock up on Chromium Complex by Lamberts to help reduce the cravings. If you want to get fit and stick to your twice-weekly gym sessions, invest in a fitness band to monitor your improvement and to help set realistic goals. And, if your goal is to reduce your screen time for the foreseeable future, put the Screen Time app into action and shut down your social media at 9pm every night.

Enlist the help of friends

We’re less likely to give up if we’ve got the support of our friends. When it comes to fitness goals research has shown that not only are you more likely to workout, but you’ll put more effort in and exercise for longer. Scientists at the MIT Sloan School of Management went as far as to say exercise is ‘socially contagious’. If you can’t find a friend to workout with, try signing up to a class rather than hitting the gym solo.

Visualise your goal

Rhonda Byrne has made a fortune from The Secret for no reason. Visualising your goals is one of the best ways to keep you mentally motivated. When it’s losing weight giving up alcohol or finding a new job, creating a physical visualisation board of the end goal will help you achieve it.

The idea of visualising yourself in your goal was validated by psychologists at the University of Liege in Belgium. Experts found that creating ‘self-defining’ future memories really can have a positive impact on achieving your goals. So, if you take just one thing from this, make sure it’s the importance of maintaining a positive mental attitude.

January Newsletter

Janurary spelled with fruit and vegetables

Hello 2019, hello January and hello and welcome to the first newsletter of the year where we have several new launches to talk about. These include products from Garden of Wisdom (of course), Ameliorate and the Vitality Revealed range from Nannette de Gaspé. And then there are the new brands, The Truthbrush (anything with the word ‘truth’ in it is good with me) and Lebon Toothpaste.

Before we begin, I need to tell you that in many ways this is a continuation of the December newsletter (the VH Awards). Throughout I will be referring back to some of those awards as we stand together and share together. Further in the newsletter I will be writing about a ‘Token of Appreciation’ (TOA), but before we get there, there are a few TOA’s scattered around and it gives me the greatest pleasure to share these with you as we continue to keep it real.

Keeping it real is fundamental in all that we are and all that we do together. Together with Shabir, I absolutely pledge to keep it real throughout 2019. It will become evident what we are doing and why we are doing it over time. Let’s go: Read More…

2019 Resolutions And Solutions

Old typewriter close up with "New Year Chapter One" typed on paper

I always look forward to the start of a new year for that feeling of a clean slate it gives and the opportunity to do better and more. I have always loved making resolutions too, not unrealistic or unattainable ones that I have no intention of keeping, but personal goals and exciting plans that help me shape how I want the year to go.

Last year didn’t work out at all how I had planned and while I am still dealing with some of the health issues involved in that, I am now in a much better place and ready to take on 2019. When thinking about what I want my resolutions to be, I quickly realised that it was all about self-care and wellness, which makes sense considering how sick I have been.

One of the biggest things that went “wrong” last year was that I didn’t look after myself enough. I pushed and pushed until I couldn’t go any further and put off looking after myself because I didn’t prioritise my own wellbeing. This year I plan to do things completely differently. I have learned the hard way that health and wellness is a precious gift that needs to be nurtured and I plan to do just that.

Basically my goal is to simply get back on track — with my health, my life, my happiness and everything else that I abandoned over the past twelve months. Ultimately I just want to feel well again and repair the damage I did to myself, and these are the resolutions that I hope will help me do exactly that. I have kept them simple with no pressure inducing timelines and in a way, they are all linked. I have also included solutions so that my resolutions are more concrete and achievable, which I think will help me feel more capable of following through.

Hormone Balance

Resolution: As a woman in my thirties this is such an important component to overall good health. Having hormonal irregularities has affected so many areas of my life from the obvious menstrual cycle related issues, to the not so obvious ones like when I sleep and how long for, what I eat and how much of it and other issues I will talk more about soon.

Solution: Balancing your hormones can be tricky, so it’s extremely important to consult a doctor and get your levels checked. Once that’s done you can make a plan to get them in order and that can involve medication, supplements, food and exercise. For me, I will be keeping track of my blood sugar levels, (hopefully) sleeping more at night and introducing female health supportive supplements.

I am currently taking Endo Complex and Fertility from Wild Nutrition because both contain an excellent mix of ingredients essential for women’s health with the addition of hormone support through B6, N-Acetyl Cysteine and Cordyceps (Fertility), and oestrogen clearance (Endo Complex). I will also be eliminating or at the very least limiting my sugar and dairy intake as both affect my hormone levels.

I plan to get several checks throughout the year to track my progress so I can have a better understanding of what causes my hormonal fluctuations and then learn how to minimize and manage them going forward.

Skintelligence

Resolution: Skincare is my thing and looking after my skin is something I truly enjoy. Testing products, reading about ingredients and experimenting with new routines is not a chore to me and I love the process of it all. Last year unfortunately I used too much, tried too many things, played around too carelessly and my skin did not like that one bit. For 2019 I want to find a balance between enjoying all the new launches and putting my skin first.

Solution: Last year I started to be more thoughtful than ever when it comes to skincare. Excess was in and it just didn’t work for me. I became acutely aware of how damaging the need to have and try all the products can be for our skin and mental health and I did not want to be a part of it anymore. When I got sick I had virtually no time for new products let alone the ones I already had, but what I learned was that my skin was actually pretty okay with less — less products, less routines. It was all about finding the right ingredients for my skin and not over using them.

Thanks to the excellent Garden of Wisdom range I have been able to simplify my routine yet still see great results. In particular the PHA PlusMandelic Acid 10%Alpha Arbutin 2% and Kojic Acid 1% and 100% Prickly Pear Seed Oil have done so much for my skin, even without using them every day. That’s because instead of jumping on every new launch, I have focused on the ingredients that I know work well for my skin. Finding what works for you when it comes to skincare is definitely a journey that will take some time and experimentation, but it is worth it in the end.

Mane Attraction

Resolution: I really neglected my hair last year and this is something I want to change in 2019. At the beginning of the year I was just too busy to bother with it much and then since last summer I have been too sick to do anything beyond a perfunctory wash and air dry, which isn’t the best look for me (my hair is curly with some frizz). I have also experienced some shedding/thinning due to my illness and suddenly a lot more greys than I started the year with. I’m a Leo and the stereotype of my astrology sign loving their hair is somewhat true for me, so I want to start taking care of it again.

Solution: As many of you already know from personal experience, the launch of Ful.Vic Health was a big one and I have finally jumped on board. I just started using the shampooconditioner and mist, and I am in love. The range targets hair loss, shedding and thinning, as well as scalp support and follicle repair. This is exactly what I need and I have already started seeing a difference. With each wash I see less fall out and my hair is so much smoother and softer, even without using a hair dryer or straightener.

Hair care is definitely an inside-out job, so along with these topical products I will also start using the Elixir and making sure I’m getting enough scalp and hair supporting vitamins and minerals, which I should be thanks to the Wild Nutrition supplements. I might even treat myself to Hayo’u’s Beauty Restorer Comb as it is designed to promote healthy hair and reduce stress, and in my experience the two are linked – the more stressed I am, the more shedding I notice. I also plan to get my vitamin and mineral levels tested, so I can track the changes and any improvements myself.

Sleep Well

Resolution: Sleep is crucial for optimal health and fully functional living, and it is something I have been doing poorly the whole of last year. Continually having poor sleep has made dealing with an illness even more stressful and on top of that it sucked the joy out of things I used to love. I would find myself too tired to hang out with friends, falling asleep during movies or after reading a few paragraphs, and it just made me feel like I was dragging myself through each day like a zombie. I am the type of person who thrives on more sleep not less, so my plan is to make that a priority again.

Solution: What I have found is that getting a good night’s sleep is easier said than done. Even when I find myself exhausted and barely able to stay awake at 7 pm, once I am actually in bed and ready to sleep I can’t. I will be wide awake until 5 am and then absolutely shattered when my alarm goes off a few hours later.

Sleep is so important because it is the time when the body gets to rest, repair and restore itself, so without that most people won’t be able to feel their best. Knowing how essential sleep is to good health I plan to make my evenings more structured and deliberate. I will set a time to switch off from stimulating devices and begin a wind down routine that will help signal to my body that it’s time to sleep. For me this will include things like having a bath, wearing cosy pyjamas, reading a book and meditation.

I absolutely love listening to Soul Medicine before bed to help me relax and unwind and now that winter is officially here, it’s time to start using my beloved Space Masks again, which are brilliant for getting off to sleep quicker thanks to the soothing heat. Not only that, having my eyes covered means I’m less likely to be enticed by my phone whenever it vibrates or glows. De Mamiel also have a lovely sounding sleep range that I’m going to look in to and supplements like Magnolia Rhiodola and Magnesium have helped in the past, so I am taking those again.

Good sleep is a process and something that has to be learned and maintained, so achieving it is not something that will happen overnight, but if you can commit to a schedule of sleeping and waking and keeping your bedroom free of distractions, you will find that you will start to fall in to a natural pattern and when that happens it will be bliss. No more sleepless nights and exhausted days — just deep, restorative sleep that will help you feel and live better.

As you can see, my resolutions are pretty simple, but they are all linked. Improving my sleep will help with my hormones and balancing those will in turn help my hair and skin. The goal is to basically feel like myself again and that involves feeling good on the inside and out as well as finding my way back to joy. Self-care is important for mental and physical health and for me, that’s my aim for 2019 — looking after myself properly and committing to making my needs a priority. No matter what your resolutions for 2019 are, I hope they are ones that make you feel good and look forward to the year.

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

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I was never one of those kids who was afraid of the dark. I loved the cloak of invisibility that it gave me. And while there is nothing I love more than a bright, sunny day, I have become pretty obsessed with darkness over the years – not in an ominous way (as in ‘going over to the dark side’), but in terms of the important role it plays in my wellness.

You really ought to stay in a hotel room with me, sometime, to fully understand my obsession with darkness. I travel with a roll of black gaffer tape, the better to ensure a good night’s sleep undisturbed by the cockpit’s-worth of blinking lights that many modern hotel rooms feature. My first task, on checking in (even before switching on the kettle and attacking the free shortbread), is to eliminate as many of those lights as possible with two neatly-snipped squares of gaffer tape. Message lights on phones. TV control lights. Aircon on/off lights. Charging electrical gadgets. And of course, the light ‘leaking’ through the edges of the curtains.

What I’ve discovered is that gaffer tape can also be lightly stuck to pretty much any wallpaper (well, I mightn’t try it on a gold hand-painted mural) without damaging it. So yes, I am that weird (maybe certifiable) creature who gaffer-tapes the edges of the curtains to the hotel room walls – the most extreme example of which was in a ‘presidential suite’ a hotel once upgraded me to when they’d lost my booking. Last done up in the Lyndon B. Johnson presidency, is my guess, it featured ‘shortie’ curtains that ran along the entire 10-metre window which I then taped every inch to the wall. Exactly what kind of bondage game housekeeping thought I’d been up to when the found the tape I’d peeled off in the morning and put it in the bin, I’ve no idea – but I did enjoy a really good night’s sleep. (Why don’t I just wear a sleep mask? Because – along with earplugs – I find them a bit claustrophobic. Fine on an aeroplane when there’s no alternative, but otherwise, a no-no for me.)

By now, you may well think I’m completely tonto. But in reality, light has a profound effect on sleep. I realise I’m an extreme example in terms of how even a small level of light affects me deeply, but it’s been scientifically observed that insufficient darkness throughout the night can lead to frequent, long periods of wakefulness. Of course, we’re increasingly aware of the impact of the blue light from our phones on sleep; I’ve written before about the fact that if I look at my phone (never mind computer) after about 8.30 pm, it’s the equivalent of drinking an espresso in terms of the effect on my slumber. But experts now agree that bedrooms should be as dark as possible – which includes (as we do at home) having blackout linings to curtains, and ensuring window coverings are fitted to avoid slivers of street light or early morning light from seeping in. (Ah, so that’s why the pelmet was invented…!)

According to Cheng Chi Lee, who studies circadian rhythms at University of Texas Medical School, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests we should seek out darkness for its surprising effects on health and behaviour. There’s one particularly fascinating study in which tamoxifen was used on cancer cells in mice. One control group was kept kept in cycles of 12 hours of light followed by 12 hours of complete darkness, while another the dark stage of the experiment was replaced with roughly the amount of light that might sneak under a hospital door. Even in such low levels, the cancer cells became resistant to the drug. And although this medical research was carried out on mice (and no, I’m not thrilled about that either), the scientists from Tulane University in New Orleans believe it could have implications for how cancer patients receive their treatment.

It’s well known that interfering with workers’ body clocks, meanwhile, can seriously impact on health. My hunch is that the winking lights in bedrooms and sleep environments will eventually be revealed to be more damaging than we currently understand. (But if you must have a clock with the time on? Make sure it has red digits, rather than blue or green; it’s been found to have the least impact on sleep.)

We were never built to live in such light environments as we enjoy now. For millions of years, people went to bed when it got dark and woke when it was light. Even now, when we’re lucky enough to find ourselves in nature, somewhere truly dark – and I support the Dark Skies movement, a campaign to eliminate light pollution – we feel connected to the universe in a way that feels truly primitive and (for me, at least) very, very grounding.

So while I’m eternally grateful to Thomas Edison for the invention of the light bulb – just miraculous, eh?! –it doesn’t surprise me at all to find that these unnatural, albeit low levels of night-time light may have impact on our wellbeing. If asked to make a list of our basic survival needs, food and water of course come top. Warmth, too. But I certainly know that darkness is essential for my quality of sleep, and my overall equilibrium. So if the Gaffer Tape Marketing Board is looking for a new ‘face’, I’m your woman.

Night, everyone. And lights out!