In winter we have a lot of cold and rainy weather. We sit at home, turn on the radio or the TV and reach for some munchies. We seem to think that winter is a time to let go, to make food that is warming, filling and comforting. But we forget all about the calories until spring comes along and our summer wardrobe is uncomfortably tight. No matter how much you try to suck in that tummy in front of the mirror, the zips don't want to close anymore and you decide to buy new clothes...in a bigger size. Then you spend most of your money on slimming products. Do they really work? Today we are going to change all that. By spring your clothes should be nice and loose and you will be feeling and looking a lot better. It's time to beat the winter blues and bulges and we are going to do this by having a new look at cheap and simple foods that are nature's answer to the blues, the bulges and the sniffles and sneezes.
Summer is a time to get excited about slimming. Why are you talking about the bulges when we are trying to forget about them - at least, until summer when we feel like eating salads? For once, I am going against the conventional plan. Against all the habits and brainwashing that fools you into thinking you are not going to gain weight during winter. You don't need all that extra fat to keep warm - just put on a jersey. Or better still: have a vigorous workout, right now, even at home and you will soon be warm. Dance with the kids, sweep the floors, play nice lively music and shake yourself warm. Fattening food does not make you any warmer. Don't worry about the salads. We are going to get by with loads of veggies and we can stirfry them, make soups or, believe it or not, make hot salads.
Is it true that certain foods can work like anti - depressants? What is the connection between food and mood? Give us the good, the bad and the ugly! When levels of the hormone called seratonin are low, one tends to crave sugar and it's true, a moderate amount of sugar, taken for this reason will help you to beat the blues: providing that you actually have a genuine lack of sugar. After all the information I have given to you all about diabetes, you will know that the main problem is in having enough sugar but you lose your sensitivity to insulin that converts simple carbohydrates into a substances the body can use. Such people either lose their insulin sensitivity or they become glucose intolerant. This happens when you are not eating foods that help you to provide energy in other ways. The other problem is due to an over load of estrogen and this shuts down the thyroid gland. When this happens, the winter blues really hit you hard. You feel tired, you have cold hands and feet and you feel miserable. One way out is to stop eating the sugar (and the chocolates) when we are lonely, cold and depressed and to start eating regular nutritious meals. Otherwise, when we only eat the so- called comfort foods, we create the dreaded low blood sugar syndrome, where more and more sugar makes us feel worse and worse in the long term. A second option is to look at herbs that help to jazz up the thyroid gland, like kelp, vitamin B6, lecithin from soya beans and of course, iodine from seafoods.
How does the weather influence our moods and our hormones? More than we imagine. Especially us ladies because the levels of progesterone and estrogen circulate at different levels throughout the month. We all know the premenstrual flare- ups we have. When I look at the calendar, there is usually a good explanation for my floods of tears and fiery outbursts. A few days later it all washes over and it always coincides with my menstrual cycle! Now I just laugh. But not so my daughter, who gets continuous bouts of negativity and depression. She says she can't be premenstrual for 30 days a month! Let me explain: she moved to London and the continuous dark and wet weather made her feel very low. A typical case of the winter blues. A lack of sunlight causes a condition known as SAD or seasonally affected depression. She tried to beat the blues with food and more and more food but even regular visits to the gym and lots of kickboxing could not shake off the blues or the bulges. In the end, it was back to eating correctly and taking herbal supplements like St John's Wort.. Her estrogen levels had got to high and this is guaranteed to make you put on weight. Many natural health foods are rich in estrogen. Even our meat, especially chicken is spiked with estrogen. Animals reared for commercial use are given the hormone estrogen to fatten them up. Are you getting the message? We get extra estrogen from our food. Even innocent old fennel or adaptogenic herbs likedon Quai can make you bloat and swell and pick up weight. When your levels of estrogen are too high, you feel miserable and weepy, irritable and depressed. You gain weight, bloat up and swell, as if you are eating loads and loads of food. People like this say:"I just look at food and get fat."
But surely you only put on weight if you eat too many kilojules? Can we get fat from herbs and health foods? Are there other kilojule - free foods that can make us fat? Yes, it's unfair but the energy value of foods is no way to judge what is going to make you fat. Take black coffee and a sweetener: no kilojules, but straight on the hips! Coffee is an insulin stimulant, so on an empty stomach it makes you pump insulin and it lowers your blood sugar. The sweetener also irritates the pancreas, creating a further drop in blood sugar. Another problem is: eating foods that are incompatible with your blood group.We all know that popcorn is low in kilojules, but for the wrong blood group, it's a disaster food. If you are an O blood group, things like wheat, lentils and potatoes are very fattening.
How are we going to start with these changes to our diet to chase away the winter blues? I have included lists of a summary of the blood group diets for you, or you can down load them from: www.naturefresh.co.za, free of charge. This is the best foundation for you to beat the winter blues and bulges. Start by eating the foods that suit you! The diets have a proven track record and they have a success rate of 80%. If you still battle and need fine tuning consultl: Top Trim and see James Liddell: (021) 713 2295 cell 082 800 4493 The next step is to take slimming supplements: 1 Chromium Picolinate at least 200 microgrammes a day. This increases insulin sensitivity an dhelps to burn fat and turn it into muscle. It was popular and worked very well. It still does. Or take the simple one called GTF by vitaforce. 2 Calcium D pantothenate called Vitamin B6 is also useful in converting food into energy plus it helps the body to make cortisone, it boosts energy and is one of the greatest mood enhancers I know. And it's cheap- about R23! 3 The amino acid: L-carnitine is a great fat burner and is used in a lot of good commercial slimming formulations. 4 Kelp tablets by Bettaway, from the supermarket cost R7 and they will speed up your metabolism and thyroid gland. There are many fancy and expensive slimming products for sale - but for now we are going to concentrate on food.
How does eating correctly give us more energy and make us more resistant to colds and flu? Foods that are natural and healthy and full of nutrients do just that: they boost the immune system, cleanse the body of toxins and make you feel a lot more energetic. When we are no longer eating so many fats and starches and sugars (the white poisons) that clog up the body, the toxic load on our digestive systems is reduced dramatically and we get a lot of energy. Other foods are needed to boost brain energy, like fish, lean meat, skim milk and eggs. When we eat fresh fruit and vegetables instead of sweets and cakes we get more anti-oxidants into our systems and are thus better able to ward off little nasties like colds and flu. A healthy immune system is the key to feeling happy and carefree about diseases like cancer and aids. But it's hard work. Not just a case of having another serving of veggies whenever the mood takes you. We also need vast helping of fresh, clean air and exercise.
How about better looking, all round? What has food got to do with beauty? When you feel good, you look good. When you eat well, you feel good. You can go to the beauty counter and you can spend hundreds of Rand on nail, hair and skin treatments, but beauty does not come from a bottle. Nothing makes your cheeks pinker than parsley and molasses, because they correct the iron deficiency that makes you pale and anemic. Nothing gives you nice shiny thick hair like taking cod liver oil does. You don't have to take a spoonful, now we have capsules. Most people are taking cod liver oil for arthritis, but it gives you lovely skin and hair, it's a good brain booster and costs R14 per 100 capsules. Food can make you ugly or beautiful, depending on what you eat and how and when you eat it.
Do you have some suggestions for breakfast - the most important meal that we all try to ignore? No time, no appetite and: I can't afford health foods. We all have excuses, but we suffer most throughout the day when we ignore the need to break our fast (breakfast) sensibly. You have supper, you sleep and over fourteen hours later, you think you can rush off to work or school and thrive on a cup of coffee or a bowl of coco pops. blood sugar levels drop drastically in most people after two hours, let alone fourteen. Low blood sugar or hypoglycemia, as we call it, can do horrible things to your mood. You feel fuzzy and confused when your brain does not have enough glucose. You make mistakes and you get iritable. All because you are not eating an adequate breakfast.! Now in winter, you start to crave all the wrong things. Because you are cold and feel the need for comfort, you reach for doughnuts and koeksisters with your coffee. Then at lunch time you pack on an extra load of rice, more bread, a few more chips in your chip roll and by afternoon tea? Thank goodness, it's somebody's birthday and there's a slice of chocolate cake waiting for you. too late to say no and so you go home to mom's cooking, or worse still, takeaways from the instant junk food dispenser down the road. All because you did not have a good breakfast. So, rather: Prepare something to have for breakfast the night before: Soak your oats, with dried fruit and nuts, if you like muesli. Try cutting up pieces of fruit and cheese and have them with rye bread or biscuits. This is a portable breakfast and you can eat it on the way to work. Try punnets of youghurt, granola bars, bananas, apples, etc. But eat something!
Do we need to eat between meals? Surely we will be eating too much food? Ladies are at a disadvantage: our blood sugar levels drop after two hours. Men can last up to four hours. Observe the people around you and you will see them getting ratty by mid morning, by cake and coffee time. then they get a quick lift, and by lunchtime they are down again: all irritable ,fuzzy and incoherent. They will snap at you when you suggest they eat something. But not cake, sweets and so-called energy foods. You will then realize that it is protein that keeps the blood sugar going and not sugar. Eating between meals is not a problem. If you put out all the food you are going to eat in one day, and then divide it by six, you have: three main meals and three snacks. Thus you can eat something every few hours. Of course, I am talking about: fresh fruit and vegetables (organically grown, if possible) and lean meat, fish, and a little dairy if it is compatible witrh your blood group. When it comes to carbohydrates, we mean whole grains, the complex carbohydrates that supply the missing minerals, vitamins and trace elements. Whole wheat, barley and oats as well as soya products and ground up flax seeds are good examples of whole food complex carbohydrates.
When should we be eating our largest meal? Some say it should be during the middle of the day but this is not convenient for most of us because of our working hours. I say you should be eating six small meals a day. If you are used to a big evening meal do this: take your normal serving. Then take some of it and keep it to reheat for the next day"s lunch. It's that easy. We have too many excuses. If you really want to eat a lot at night, then eat a huge pile of green beans and a teaspoon of rice whith a little meat. the green beans require a lot of energy to be digested and they are one of the most slimming of all foods. If you have pineapple or paw paw for dessert, you are even better off, because these fruits contain digestive enzymes and you will digest meat a lot easier. Just a word or warning: paw paw or papaya, and pineapple are no good on their own for breakfast as on an empty stomach, they start to digest you! Add a cup of black coffee and you will be halucinating with hunger pangs. I have a quick bowl of Morevite (a cooked sorghum cereal, with added vitamins - R5 per kg at Pick 'n' Pay) and a spoon of molasses to start the day when I have to rush out early to do kickboxing. Afterwards, I compensate with a nice brunch with an egg and a slice or rye bread.
What about exercise - some of us crave exercise, whilst other people hate going to the gym? To get the most out of our exercise sessions, we need to burn fat and generate endorphins, those feel-good neurotransmitters. After 30minutes of strenuous exercise, your blood sugar drops. If you continue to exercise, the body gets the message to generate growth hormone. This sets off a fat burning sequence and you begin to burn fat. This is why little 10 minute sessions are not as beneficial as a good long, hard hour's workout. But do something, even if it is only a few minutes a day and then build up your fitness level. Do plenty of abdominal work, to burn up the bulges. Eat sensibly before training. No sugar or energy drinks. Stick to vitamins and amino acids that help to release growth hormones. Sugar blocks the release of growth hormone, so stay away from "energy" drinks. If you are unfit and run out of breath, you need to take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror. Exercise releases toxins into the bloodstream and you will begin to feel lousy, until you have cleaned out all the muck.
Winter sounds like a good time to do some spring-cleaning in the body. How about a de-tox? We get colds, have bad skin, put on weight and feel tired in direct proportion to the amount of toxins that build up in the body. When the system is cleared out of all unwanted particles of undigested food, chemicals and heavy metal particles, the body is free to function normally. All these substancs cause a build up of acids in the body. When our cells get too acidic, they become starved of oxygen and cells begin to weaken and become cancerous. The immune system breaks down and we fall prey to attacks from viruses and bacteria. Along come the winter colds and flu. We become feverish, lose our appetite and crave fruit juice and light meals. This is a natural detoxifying process and we always feel wonderful after a cold. But we continue to load up on all the wrong foods again and so we get more colds or the same cold drags on and on and develops into bronchitis. This is easily prevented. Once you can maintain a pH that is neutral to alkaline, you no longer get colds. That is why the old bicarb trick works. If you feel a cold coming on and you take a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda it quickly alkalizes the bloodstream. Taking regular doses of calcium and magnesium will also maintain your pH in the long term, if you are intolerant of bicarb. If you take bicarbonate of soda on a daily basis, it is important to have some form of potassium every day, like two teaspoons of blackstrap molasses or a pinch of cream of tartar. You can also use potassium chloride instead of salt. Most of our green, leafy vegetables help to make the body more alkaline whereas all the sugar, cookies and pasta make it acidic. When you want to go on a good de-tox programme, leave out the wheat and sugar, the tea and coffee, the rich foods and take time to make meals of mostly par-boiled green vegetables. Eat fruit when you want something sweet. Drink at least eight cups of herb tea or warm water instead of your usual Cokes and coffee and you will feel the difference: especially if you are taking extra calcium and magnesium and a lot of vitamins, cod liver oil and blackstrap molasses. The ultimate detoxyfying food, as fas as i an concerned is parsley. Eating a whole bunch of parsley every week will pump your system full of chlorophyll, anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals as well as enzymes. It works on the mucous lining of the digestive and respiratory tracts and gets rid of all the old stagnant, smelly waste that creates a cesspool of diseases and bad odours inside of you. No excuses, at R3 a bunch, it is the best cleanser we have!