Some tips for the new season from Nutritionist, Jayne Hopper

The first thing that ‘springs’ to mind when you think about spring is light. Lighter nights and lighter food with a lighter svelte figure, ready for your summer holiday. Eating less of the comforting stews you have become accustomed to whilst tucked away from the cold nights, and looking forward to more stir fry’s and salads to make us feel less sluggish, giving us an abundance of energy, right? Well, that’s the ideal scenario anyway. The reality is quite different, and you may now be feeling a little despondent as your (fully intentioned) new year resolutions disappeared after a few weeks.

So what’s the answer?

Ditch the new year resolutions and the fad diets and eat plenty of healthy foods. Here are a few tips that can help you through life to maintain a healthy happy weight:

1) Diet drinks. Unfortunately people think that if they forfeit a full fat soda drink for a sugar free alternative, they are helping their waist line. They are not. Diet drinks may not contain sugar but are usually packed with artificial sweeteners instead, which can still cause weight gain, and are also commonly associated with a whole host of other unwanted side effects. They also trick the body into thinking you are getting something sweet, then when the body does not receive this sugar, it craves more. Try swapping sugary drinks for pure fruit juice diluted with water, or better still, plain filtered water or herbal teas instead.

2) Use coconut oil for cooking. Vegetable oils and olive oil denature when heated up. This means that the molecules become rancid and form free radicals in the body which may cause cancer. If cooking on an extremely high heat, avocado oil is the best, but coconut oil is also good. If you don’t have either of these, you can use olive oil, cooking on a low heat with a splash of water, as this changes the molecule balance and makes it much healthier as it steam cooks with it. The healthiest methods of cooking are steaming, boiling and slow cooking.

3) Tell everyone your goal. Telling other people about your goals is a great way to help you stick to them. It adds another layer of commitment and makes it much more likely to happen. Writing a journal will also help. Seeing what you have eaten, written down at the end of the day can be an eye opener!

4) Small steps. Choose a small goal to start with and build slowly from there. Get some advice from a professional GP or nutritionist if you want to stop something altogether such as caffeine or alcohol (especially if you are a heavy drinker), but try not to give everything up at the same time. Cutting them out all together may leave you with migraines and seriously unbalanced moods.

5) Be careful of low fat foods. As you are probably aware, low fat foods are laden with sugar and/or artificial sweeteners to compensate for the lack of taste. Choose the full fat versions and just eat a bit less.

6) Detox. Doing a detox can give you the most amazing energy and a fabulous kickstart mentally and physically to a new way of eating. There are some great Detox’s out there that allow you to cut things out gradually whilst giving you supplements and diets to help you get through the 10 day to 2 week Detox (or how ever long you want to do them). There are some lovely Detox retreats such as Platinum Retreats in Sussex that can help you through a 5 day plan. If you are on any medication, and you are thinking of starting a Detox, please ensure you chat to a registered nutritional therapist first.

7) Eat regularly. Eat more vegetables to loose weight. If you are filling up on vegetables (7 portions a day minimum) you are less likely to feel hungry. Eat 3 meals a day with 2 healthy snacks. This is absolutely crucial when it comes to encouraging your body to let go of fat. Eating healthy snacks such as nuts and seeds, avocados and hummus with crudités are perfect and can help to reduce cravings for sugary drinks and snacks too. Also a good choice of snack are a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts, nut butter and oatcakes or even yoghurt (bio cultured with no added sugar) and some berries. It is important to eat healthy fat as they contain essential fats that help us to burn stored fat in the body. However, it is also good for the body to fast, therefore for once or twice a week (not consecutively), if you can let your body go for 16 hours without snacking, studies have proved that you will live longer. Try this; have your evening meal, then don’t eat anything at all until lunch the next day. If you do this for twice a week, think of how many calories you can save over the year!

8) Try yoga or meditation. In our fast-paced Western lifestyle it’s never been more important to plan in a regular time for deep relaxation practices. Chronic stress has become a major problem and often lies at the root of many common chronic diseases. And whilst heart pumping cardio workouts are great for you, it’s important to have a healthy balance that includes more relaxing types of exercise as well. Ensure you choose regular forms of relaxation such as yoga and mindfulness to help to keep you balanced, and minimise the negative effects of daily stress. There are lots of Apps out there that can help you relax and switch off before you go to bed such as Pziz, Andrew Johnson, Glenn Harold or Headspace that teaches you how to meditate.

9) Eat seasonal locally produced vegetables. I know I’m constantly reiterating this tip but it really is better for your health and the community, and the fresh, nutrient rich produce tastes so much better! They are packed full of vitamins, phytochemicals and minerals which are crucial for energy and vitality. Fibre rich, they help to keep the gut in good working order and encourage a regular bowel movement which will remove toxins. Get seasonal vegetables at your local farm shop or farmers market. The vegetables and fruit that are in season at the moment are: Asparagus, cauliflower, cucumber, Jersey Royal new potatoes, purple sprouting broccoli, radishes, Savoy cabbage, sorrel, spinach, spring greens, spring onion, watercress, and rhubarb.

10) Another great tip for hayfever sufferers is start taking a teaspoon of local honey daily (usually a month before your allergies start). This will prepare the body for the onslaught of local pollen, so much so that when the body first comes into contact with the pollen, usually in April, you will have less of a reaction. Other natural remedies are Pinebark, coating the insides of your nostrils with a natural nasal barrier like almond oil or Vaseline, eating bee pollen, butterbur, ginkgo biloba, liquorice root, drinking stinging nettle (foraged and made into a tea), quercetin or Perilla 6000. A tincture can be made of plantain, nettle, eyebright and mint from a herbalist or Neil’s yard. Cutting out dairy will prevent the build up of catarrh and therefore make a huge difference to the sniffles. If it gets too bad, stay inside or take yourself to the beach, being by the sea can be a huge relief.

Whatever you do over the spring period, take lots of walks, enjoy the daffodils, and be happy!

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