Nutrition: The Secret to Eternal Youth

Just before Christmas and the onslaught of the silly season (read: overindulging season) I was invited to attend a Sunday afternoon healthy cooking class at The Underground Cookery School in East London. Open only to lifestyle bloggers and organised by simplyhealth, the event was designed to show people how to eat well, both nutritionally and deliciously. I couldn’t have been more excited. It was the perfect way to spend a cold Sunday lunchtime in December.

Before we got into the cooking class, we had an enlightening nutrition talk from Kate Cook (yes, the name was meant to be!). You may know Kate from television (she worked on ‘The Truth about Beauty‘ with Martine McCutcheon) or from one of her six books that she writes from her Harley Street practice, The Nutrition Coach. Her book ‘The Feel Good Factory’  is already on my Amazon wish list.

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Kate talked animatedly about how the secret to eternal youth is actually found in nutrition and not in a pill or the latest ‘superfood’ craze. It seems kale alone will not make you young and slim for life. She spoke about the Japanese community, where the average life expectancy is a staggering 81.5 and the one glaringly obvious difference between their lifestyle and ours is nutrition. You don’t see the average Londoner including seaweed in their daily diet. Maybe we should. And not just in our next spicy tuna roll. However, there is no need to be militant about nutrition and health. The Japanese have a balance and so should we.

Here are Kate’s ’7 Secrets to Eternal Youth’

1. Digestion and Fibre: This is so important! 80% of your energy comes from your gut. If it isn’t working properly, neither will you! Do not ignore any problems with your digestion.
2. Stress and its Impact: Cortisol is the stress hormone. It’s good to have for fight or flight mode but too much stops your gut from working properly. Stay calm and so will your digestion.
3. Antioxidants: Nature is our own larder. It protects us, we need to embrace herbs and spices as well as vegetables.
4. Water: Our bodies need alkaline not acid. Water counteracts the acidity in the body. Make sure you sip throughout the day, as opposed to glugging. You can drink too much though!
5. Detoxification: We have enzymes in the body that help us to detoxify naturally. This can be genetic, but don’t worry about following a detox diet. Your body knows how to do it already  - especially if you look after it most of the time.
6. Essential fats: We need fat in the brain. FYI, olive oil (omega 9) is not an essential fat. We are talking about nuts, avocado etc.
7. Balancing blood sugar: This is the foundation of your nutrition. It is so important to balance/control your blood sugar. Did you know that there are 9tsps of sugar in Lucozade drink? Probably. Did you know that there is the same in a smoothie?! A healthy smoothie can still create a sugar drop. You get an insulin rush after sugar intake and your blood sugar crashes as a result. Then you feel need to snack and have coffee etc to find some energy. If you avoid high sugar intake, you will avoid these insulin rushes and crashes.

How can you control your sugar intake?

With the Glycaemic Index (GI). Low GI foods make your body work harder to absorb them, which prevents the rush of insulin and the sugar is absorbed slowly, avoiding the crash. Examples of low GI foods are fibrous, textured foods like oatcakes and lentils. Sweet-tasting foods and light and fluffy things, such as rice cakes and ‘low calorie’ foods have a high burn rate and are not good for you. Make your body work harder with protein and natural goodness. The secret is the protein. Always eat breakfast and always have it with protein (eggs and salmon, not white cereal). Eat your fruit and fibre – don’t drink it from a juicer! You will not only gain short term benefits by eating this way (healthy skin and hair) but blood sugar levels also contribute to your health, many diseases can be traced back to poor control of the blood sugar, not just diabetes. Weight loss is also an obvious benefit. If your blood sugar is not balanced, then you will not sleep well and your middle will hold on to that imbalance. This is why they say that sleep affects diet and weight loss. Control your sugar intake and everything else will slot into place.

We have the power to change our destiny. You hold the key to your own future.

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Kate’s final piece of advice however was this: ‘Don’t ever let a nutritionist lead the menu. It will be disgusting. Let the cook do it!

To find out more about Kate, visit The Nutrition Coach London.
You can buy The “Feel Good Factory” on Healthy Living: Life-boosting, Stress-beating, Age-busting Ways to Total Health by Kate Cook here.

Stay tuned to part 2 of this write-up where I tell you all about the delicious food we cooked after Kate’s talk!

Another World in Rwanda

Just before Christmas, I went on a semi-last-minute, semi-well-planned trip to Rwanda. Last minute, in that we booked our flights the day before after a small hold up at customs with the wheelchairs we were donating to the country with Walkabout Foundation, but well-planned in that everything else was set up to go.

wheelchairs children rwanda walkabout foundation

One of the most exciting things about working for an international charity is the travel. I get to go to some of the most exciting places and see some of the most amazing sights, most of which you would never see as a normal tourist. You meet the real people of the villages and you give them something that changes their lives forever. That’s truly seeing the real world – you could go to a five star resort with a great pool anywhere. You wouldn’t meet kids like this there either.

children in Rwanda little girl africa

We visited Kigali, Rwinkwavu, Kirehe and Butaro over the course of a week. Rwanda is a very rich and green landscape, the whole country is made up of people working the land. However, one of the things that struck me the most is that people are still cultivating the earth by hand, and the occasional hoe. The parents of the disabled children that I met work long hours picking and weeding one small area of land. With the entire world using machines, and before that animals, there must surely be a way to help and educate Rwanda so that they are able to be more efficient with their agriculture.

rwanda africa sunset

Rwanda was a place that struck me in more ways than one. Some parts of the trip were very hard – and very emotional – but that only serves to help you realise what a difference you can make in a world so far removed from your own. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to Rwanda in my life, but I do know that I’ll never forget it.

Happy 2014!

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Happy New Year! What are your New Year’s resolutions?

I don’t really make them, as I stress myself out when I don’t keep them! However, I do always like the idea of using the new year as a fresh start. I’m going to be continuing to focus on my own health and happiness, fix my finances and find more time to write.

How do you see 2014 panning out for you?

A Very Personalised Christmas

personalised christmas bauble

Ever since I was little, I have had visions of the perfect Christmas tree. Not just in terms of colour schemes, but in terms of building something special year on year. That’s how I envisioned our Christmas tree when my boyfriend and I moved into our flat earlier this year. Then, out of the blue, SpecialMoment.co.uk got in touch to offer me a personalised Christmas bauble for my new home!

personalised christmas bauble

christmas angel Rwanda Africa

Amazing! Year one sorted. I got this very pretty white ceramic ‘Merry Christmas’ bauble inscribed with ‘Our First Christmas 2013′. I also picked up these amazing handmade angels in Rwanda, which I also gifted to my friends, family and colleagues. What should I get next year?

modern christmas tree black silver red

Do you have any special Christmas traditions in your household?

The Good Life

I was recently sent this infographic from Holland & Barrett and I think that it is really telling of modern life. I found that I agreed with most points for the 20s-30s age bracket.

What do you identify with here?

Ahilya London

Last week I had the pleasure of being invited to a luxury pop up event in North London. Ahilya is a new luxury cashmere knitwear brand who recently launched online. They have chosen Walkabout Foundation as their charity partner and add £3 to every basket as a donation.

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The event was not only a very glamorous pop up store, but also offered free beauty treatments such as massages and reflexology. I was treated to a 30min massage, which was perfect after the frantic day that I’d had as well as for prepping me for the Thanksgiving meal that I was attending later that evening. Since I started a full-time job with a charity, I often don’t have the time to treat myself like this, so I really enjoyed it.

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I wish Ahilya all the best in their launch and also in their partnership with Walkabout. Thank you!

London is calling

London is Calling – An infographic by the team at Marriott London Hotels

After having lived in various countries such as Spain and Costa Rica, I can now say that I am proud to call London ‘home’. So many Londoners are actually ‘adopted’ from elsewhere and I’m one of them. Which is why it makes me sad to hear that one of London’s most iconic symbols, the red telephone booth, is in decline. There are currently less than 11,000 left in England, due to the onset of smart phones and the lack of need for phone boxes. I don’t think I have ever used a telephone booth, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like to see them in my neighbourhood. And I think that that’s how a lot of people feel. So when I heard about the ‘Adopt a Kiosk’ programme to help save them, I couldn’t help but share it. It’s not cheap though, so the programme works best as a community project as opposed to an individual one. But I really think that that’s the beauty of it.

Find out more here.

This Infographic was powered by Marriott.

Halloween Housewarming with Fireworks!

autumn halloween table decoration

Last night was a lot of fun. We finally got around to having a housewarming party, even though we moved in a couple of months ago. So we combined it with Halloween and Bonfire Night. A few friends came over and we enjoyed a few drinks and fireworks.

pumpkin face carvings

We woke up on Saturday morning, carved our pumpkin, popped to the Farmer’s Market in West Hampstead to buy cheese and bread and bought some fireworks (Sainsbury’s have the perfect ones for small gardens by the way – and they’re buy one, get one free!). I’ve always looked forward to hosting little parties with fun themes. I really enjoyed dressing up the table with autumnal touches like mini pumpkins and squashes. I can’t wait til Christmas now! Bring on the party season!

small fireworks in garden