Healthy Living & IBS

Healthy Living & IBS

Healthy Living & IBS

You are what you eat – right?

Well… partly – but there’s so much more to it than that!

When it comes to healthy living (IBS or not), I like to focus on 5 key foundational elements with my clients.

And (shock, horror) only one of them is nutrition!

While nutrition is often the biggest piece of the puzzle, there are other areas that you absolutely need to look at as well, otherwise you’re probably undermining all your efforts in the kitchen.

By taking positive action in each of these five foundational areas, the halo effect on the rest of your life can really be profound.

These are the places where one change can easily blossom effortlessly in to more change, and before you know it your entire lifestyle has been overhauled for the better!

 

What is IBS?

What is IBS?

What is IBS?

Do you have IBS?

Odds are, even if you don’t, then you know someone who does. There are estimates that up to even 1 in 5 people may suffer from it!

It’s also highly likely that if someone you know has IBS they just aren’t talking about it. The symptoms are really something people like to discuss about openly and can make sufferers feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. 

Irritable bowel syndrome can greatly impact the person’s daily activities and quality of life. There’s a lot of stress and uncertainty around where and when they may experience a flare-up of symptoms. 

So they definitely need an extra dose of understanding and empathy!

 

5 hacks to get more veggies into your diet

5 hacks to get more veggies into your diet

5 hacks to get more veggies into your diet

If you’re new around here, you might not already know this, but I am seriously obsessed with helping you try and increase your vegetable intake every day. This is something that is so important to our overall health as vegetables are full of vital vitamins and minerals and are a great source of fiber.

Studies have shown that the average person is just not hitting their goal intake, whether that’s in terms of total vegetables or in terms of these vitamins, minerals, or fiber.

In my journey towards healing my gut and dealing with my various triggers of irritable bowel syndrome, making sure that I was getting lots of fresh vegetables into my diet was really a defining factor in the change process that I went through.

Vegetables are one of the foundational aspects of health (read the blog post here). In fact, they are cornerstone piece of the puzzle! This is usually the number one thing that I start working with my clients on because it can have a halo effect across all different areas. This essentially means that as you work on consistently hitting your vegetable intake, this positive habit helps feed and grow other positive changes in your life. Just like how a stone thrown into the pond creates a ripple effect outwards, so too can the seemingly small action of increasing your vegetable consumption!

 

One of the biggest changes that I made to my habits to ensure that I’m hitting that daily veggie intake, is really trying to always include a source at breakfast. Traditionally, breakfasts don’t tend to be a place where we include vegetables as most of us tend to prefer the sweet over the savoury. (I’m definitely included in that too!)

But what if I told you, you can still have your sweet breakfast and sneak those veggies in?

In today’s blog post, I’m going to go through five of my favourite hacks for how you can sneak vegetables into your diet. Either these will be ways to hide them in places you wouldn’t guess they are, or just easy and quick ways to prepare them so that you have some no-hassle go-to’s to use whenever you need a veggie boost!

Veggie hack #1: Veggies in your porridge

Stick with me on this one! It might sound a little bit strange, but you can actually add a lot of veggies into your porridge, and you wouldn’t even know that they’re there. 

One of my favourite ways to do this is to simply grate up some zucchini and mix it in with the oats. You’ll be decreasing the total amount of oats you would normally use to account for the added zucchini. For example, if you would normally do ½ cup of oats for porridge, try decreasing this to ¼ to 1/3 of a cup and instead adding about 1/3 to ½ of a zucchini grated.

If the green in your porridge is a turn-off first thing in the morning, then peel the zucchini first. The white flesh will be barely noticeable in your final porridge bowl!

You can also switch it up and try out other veggie combinations! For example, mixing in some grated carrots for sort of carrot cake type porridge bowl. Or perhaps some mashed pumpkin or butternut squash (or even sweet potato).

These would all make fantastic additions to your bowl of porridge and you’ll be getting a serving of veggies in first thing in the morning! You’ll be starting the day already ahead of the curve.

Try these recipes:

Veggie hack #2: Veggies in your smoothie

This is not the most revolutionary concept, but you can very easily get an additional serving or even two of veggies in your morning smoothie. And it doesn’t need to be the stereotypical green smoothie either!

Again, it’s all about playing around with combinations. You have two main types of veggie smoothies: the veggie is the star type, and the “I didn’t know there were veggies in there” type!

For a veggie is the star type, you want to play up the natural flavour of the vegetable. Using carrots or pumpkin you could create a smoothie flavour similar to a cake or muffin by combining these with warming spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.

If you’re trying to hide the vegetables, then it is even easier. Most of your greens (spinach, kale, etc.) will be hidden by any fruit you use. But you can also sneak in some steamed (and frozen) zucchini or cauliflower without much impact on taste and they also tend to give a creamy texture to the smoothie!

 

Try these recipes:

Veggie hack #3: Replace noodles with vegetables

You might have already seen zucchini making the rounds on social media as a substitute for pasta, but there are actually so many other veggie noodle combinations that make great pasta alternatives.

You can invest in a tool that “spiralizes” your veggies for you into various shapes of noodles, but if you just want to get started you can use a simple vegetable peeler to create long ribbons. This way you can test out the idea without immediately making an investment in another kitchen tool. (Although the spiralizers do give you more flexibility in noodle shape and takes much less time!)

Some examples of veggies you can make noodles out of:

  • Zucchini
  • Carrot (try and find as thick carrots as possible)
  • (Sweet) potato
  • Butternut squash
  • Broccoli steam
  • Kohlrabi
  • Celeriac
  • Turnip

Use the veggie noodles in any way that you would normally use pasta, whether that’s just for a simple spaghetti and meatballs, or as noodles in a stir-fry. Create thin slices of veggies like zucchini or eggplant to substitute for lasagne noodles, or thinly slice sweet potato for your own version of toast or even nachos!

Be creative and try remaking some of your favourite classics with veggie noodles.

Try these recipes:

Veggie hack #4: Veggie Rice

Similar to the veggie noodles, veggie rice can be a great swap in many dishes where you were using rice before.

The easiest way to make it, if you are using a vegetable that you can also make noodle out of, is to start with that step first. Then take your vegetable noodles, a portion at a time, and pulse in a food processor or blender just a couple times until you have a rice-like consistency.

Alternatively, if you are using broccoli or cauliflower, you can just cut these into florets and pulse in small batches in the food processor or blender. The small batches are key here to ensure you get the rice consistency and don’t end up with mashed cauliflower!

And just to note, you want to be doing this with the veggies in their raw form, before cooking.

The veggie rice doesn’t need to be boiled like your standard rice. Just use a pan or wok with a bit of cooking oil, (I like coconut oil for this), and stir regularly until softened. If needed, add a tablespoon or two of water to help get things going.

Flavour it like you would with normal rice; for example, a bit of coconut cream and lime is great with coconut rice for an Asian inspired dish.

 

Try these recipes:

Veggie hack #5: My favourite & easiest way to prepare veggies

Getting extra veggies into your diet is not just about finding places to hide them or swap them. Being conscious of them in your food is an important step, along with developing a taste for them. Vegetables, cooked properly, are far from bland and boring! But, unfortunately, we have often been brought up eating overcooked, sad veggies or have learned (incorrectly) that they take a lot of effort to prepare.

My favourite way for preparing veggies with maximum flavour and minimal effort is to create a sheet pan meal:

  • Preheat the oven to 175C/350F
  • Wash, peel (if necessary), and roughly chop into similar size cubes a variety of different veggies
  • Scatter across the sheet pan (a full pan would probably provide you around 4 servings)
  • Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and ground pepper, and any other spices you enjoy
  • Across the top of the veggies, lay chicken thighs or chicken legs. They can also be spices with the seasoning you’ve chosen.
  • Bake everything in the oven until the chicken is done and the veggies are tender.
  • Enjoy!

The best thing about this meal is that the juices will come out of the chicken and get soaked into the cooking vegetables, adding an even deeper layer of flavour.

When choosing veggies, try and pick ones with similar cooking times. I’ll combine ones like zucchini and eggplants, or an assortment of root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, sweet potato, beets, etc.). If you chop them into similar sizes you should end up with a uniform cook.

And there you have it!

Those are my top five veggie hacks. Hopefully this is gives you some inspiration into ways to get even more vegetables into your diet.

If you struggle to be consistent with vegetables, head over here to check out my free five-day challenge to kickstart your vegetable habit.

As I’ve mentioned, it is so important to our overall health that we are consuming a variety of fresh vegetables every day; they are vital to our vitamin and mineral intake as well as having enough daily fiber. But even knowing this, so many of us are failing to get in those servings of veggies!

Start taking action and work towards a solid foundation of health. Sign-up for the free challenge and start immediately!

Organic versus Conventional Produce

Organic versus Conventional Produce

Organic versus Conventional Produce

First of all, what do these terms actually mean?

Organic refers to the method of farming that is being used. When it comes to produce, these agricultural practices are aimed at improving soil and water quality, reducing pollution, and promoting a self-sustaining cycle of resources on a farm. Compared to conventional farming, certain practices are not permitted for organic produce, like using synthetic fertilizers or sewage sludge, using synthetic pesticides, irradiation, or genetic engineering. (1)

There are a few natural pesticides and a few synthetic pesticides that have been approved for organic agriculture. In the EU there are 385 approved substances for conventional agriculture and only 26 for organic.

A diet high in pesticide residues has been linked to a higher instance of cancer as well as fertility problems. A study conducted in Sweden showed that people eating a conventional versus organic diet, were exposed to 70x more pesticide residues. (2)

Is organic produce more nutritious?

In terms of nutrition, the scientific evidence is still largely inconclusive. The nutrient content in produce can vary greatly based on where and how it is being grown, the nutrients available in the soil, and that doesn’t even take into account conventional versus organic.

Several studies have shown that organic produce generally contains more antioxidants than its conventionally grown counterparts, as well as some micronutrients like vitamin C, zinc, and iron. Because organic produce can’t rely on pesticides to protect themselves, they do tend to grow a stronger internal defence system – hence the higher levels of antioxidants!

Organic produce has also been shown to have lower levels of nitrates. A diet high in nitrates has been linked to an increased risk of some cancers. However, the benefit of eating fruits and vegetables greatly outweighs the nitrate concerns.

What if I can’t afford organic?

While overall it’s fair to say that buying organic is better for our bodies and the environment than conventional, sometimes it’s not possible either for accessibility or budget reasons. But there’s a great way to decide what produce should get priority over others.

The Environmental Working Group out of the United States regularly releases a round-up of the most and least pesticide contaminated produce. Their “Clean Fifteen” is the least contaminated produce which you should be OK buying conventionally. The “Dirty Dozen” is the produce with the most pesticides that you should try to buy organic as often as possible. (3)

The 2019 “Dirty Dozen” is:

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Potatoes

And the 2019 “Clean Fifteen” is:

  • Avocados
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapples
  • Frozen sweet peas
  • Onions
  • Papayas
  • Eggplants
  • Asparagus
  • Kiwis
  • Cabbages
  • Cauliflower
  • Cantaloupes
  • Broccoli
  • Mushrooms
  • Honeydew melons

(1) https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/organic-food/art-20043880

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5658984/

(3) https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php

Why you probably need to eat more veggies

Why you probably need to eat more veggies

Why you probably need to eat more veggies

Vegetables are pretty much the only part of our diet that have never really come under question from a nutritional standpoint. Everyone more or less unanimously agrees that they are an essential part of a healthy diet.

Veggies are an amazing source of essential vitamins and minerals, are a great source of fiber which is important for our digestive health, and also contain a variety of phytonutrients that contain anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and other disease fighting properties.

Vitamins & Minerals

While many of the vitamins & minerals you find in veggies can also be obtained elsewhere, there is no other source that offers such bang for your buck. That is to say, you get an incredible number of these vitamins and minerals for a relatively low amount of calories. In fact this is one of the most trickiest combinations to create with today’s modern diet – getting the required amounts of vitamins and minerals into your diet without over consuming the number of calories your body requires. If you’re not eating enough veggies, then the chance is high that you aren’t hitting the requirements your body needs.

Our body relies on vitamins and minerals for a whole variety of different functions, from energy production to our nervous system and immune system, and we need to obtain them from our food. Not all vitamins and minerals can be stored by the body, which is why it’s important to be consistently consuming vegetables to keep our needs met.

The main vitamins and minerals you’ll receive from vegetables are: vitamin A (as its precursor, beta-carotene), vitamin C, the B vitamins (except B12), vitamin K, calcium, chromium, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and sulphur.

Phytonutrients

Phytonutrients can only be found by consuming plants, and these compounds are what give fruits and veggies their vibrant colours. By figuratively “eating the rainbow” when it comes to veggies, you’re ensuring you get a wide variety of these health protecting nutrients!

So far there have been more than 5000 phytonutrients identified, but scientists are still working to figure out exactly what role they play in our health. What has been seen already is that individual phytonutrients themselves don’t have such a strong effect on our body, but multiple in unison do, as it occurs in nature, which is why it’s much more important to eat vegetables in their whole form rather than using supplements.

Phytonutrients aren’t considered essential, unlike vitamins and minerals, but their health protecting abilities make them an important component of our diet. They have antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, help reduce inflammation, protect our immune system, help prevent chronic diseases, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

A wide variety of vegetables across different vegetable families is also important, as phytonutrients within families tend to be fairly similar. Research has shown that a wide variety of many different phytonutrients is more important that a large quantity of only a few.

Fiber

Vegetables and other plant-based foods are our bodies’ main source of fiber. Having sufficient fiber in your diet is essential for ensuring your digestive system health. It makes sure everything keeps moving through our system, provides a source of nutrition for the beneficial bacteria in our gut, and stimulates the growth and maintenance of these beneficial bacteria. Different types of fiber feed different types of bacteria, so again variety is the name of the game.

Read more about the importance of fiber here.

So how many veggies do you actually need to eat?

Recommendations can vary from country to country base on their individual nutrition guidelines. Many recommendations now focus on a plate-based approach, which generally means ensuring that at least 50% of your plate is made up of vegetables.

Generally the guidelines suggest around  5-8 servings per day of fruit and vegetables, even up to 10 (with a strong emphasis on vegetables). One serving is roughly ½ cup of cooked veggies or around 80-90 grams. Raw leafy greens would be 2 cups for one serving.

Ready to boost your vegetable consumption?

Join the free 5 day challenge to kick start your new habit!

Foods to Boost Digestion Naturally

Foods to Boost Digestion Naturally

Foods to Boost Digestion Naturally

Food is so much more than fuel – it can be a powerful tool to use for ensuring your body is running as it should and is in proper balance.

If you’re struggling with digestive issues, like:

  • Feeling excessively full after a meal
  • Acid reflux or heartburn
  • Burping
  • Bloating / Cramps
  • Gas
  • Constipation / Diarrhea

Looking to your diet may give you some relief.

Starting with food as a tool is an easier and cheaper way than immediately reaching for the supplements, so read on for some great additions to your diet that could just make all the difference!

Lemon or Apple Cider Vinegar with water

We need those digestive juices going in order to properly break down our food in the stomach! Drinking 1-2 tablespoons (15-30mL) of fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar diluted in a glass of water prior to a meal can help the stomach kick-off this process. Try it out before larger meals and see if it starts to make a difference! However, this is not for you if you struggle with acid reflex or heartburn as it could cause additional irritation / damage to existing sensitive areas.

Beets or Beet Juice

Beet are rich in a compound called betaine, which improves our stomach acid levels. It’s often added to supplements contained HCl (stomach acid), but you can get some naturally just by adding some beets into your meal or having some beet juice! If you’re new to eating beets, don’t be alarmed, but it does naturally colour your stool – nothing to be afraid of!

Papaya & Pineapple

Both these tropical fruits contain enzymes that we can use in our own digestive system. These proteolytic enzymes are crucial for the proper digestion of protein (among other functions). The enzymes in the fruit, papain and bromelain, aren’t exactly the same as what our body produces, but they can function in the same way. These two fruits are the most common sources, but you can also get proteolytic enzymes from: asparagus, ginger, kefir, kimchi, kiwifruit, sauerkraut, and yogurt.

Artichoke

Artichoke can help improve bile production by the liver. The liver is where the bile is produced, then it is passed on to the gallbladder, which is triggered during digestion to secret the bile into our small intestines. There it emulsifies the fats we have eaten and helps ensure we are digesting them properly.

Turmeric

This golden spice has become increasingly popular over the last few years, and helping your digestion can be added to the list of positive benefits! In addition to its antioxidant properties, it can help promote the secretion of your digestive juices, and may improve gallbladder function. It may also help with symptoms like heartburn, gastric pain, burping, and gas.

(Check out my recipe for a Golden Turmeric Latte!)

Capsaicin

Capsaicin is the hot/spicy component of hot peppers and may help protect the stomach lining. However you should avoid it is your are already struggling with stomach inflammation or acid reflux / heartburn.

Ginger

Ginger is already fairly well-known for it’s anti-nausea properties (I know I took it in copious amounts as a car-sick suffering child!). It can also help protect the digestive tract like turmeric and capsaicin.

Digestive Teas

Teas can be such an amazing way to take advantage of different plant’s positive properties. Enjoy a tea after a meal from one of the substances above, like turmeric or ginger, for digestive benefits. Or try chamomile that can also be anti-inflammatory and sooth heartburn or irritation of the digestive tract. Tea containing fennel seeds can also be very helpful (they are usually included in any “digestive blend” teas). Fennel seeds help the muscles of the digestive tract relax and can reduce gas, bloating, and cramps.

Fermented foods

A great source of probiotics, fermented foods help ensure that your gut has the right balance of bacteria and promotes good bacteria while inhibiting the bad. They will help boost your immune system (did you know 97% of your immune system is in the gut!?) and your resistance to infection. These are foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, or other fermented veggies, kombucha, kefir, yogurt, miso, and tempeh.

Fibre

Making sure you get enough fibre is vital to ensuring your digestive system is function properly – especially in terms of keeping everything moving in an orderly fashion! Adults need 25-30g of fibre (or more!) per day, and many are just not getting enough. Whole fruits and veggies contain fibre (make sure you keep the skins on for the extra boost – especially with potatoes!). You can also get fibre from nuts and seeds, whole grains, and lentils / legumes.

(Read more about fibre here!)

 

Digestive struggles?

Getting an outside opinion can always help us see things that we’re missing! Sign-up for a free breakthrough session to chat about how we can work together to boost your digestion.

Healthfully Heather (eenmanszaak)
Company Number / VAT: 0694867319
Oordegemstraat 8, 9520 Sint-Lievens-Houtem, Belgie
hello@healthfullyheather.com
+32 (0)486.38.47.49

© 2019 Healthfully Heather
Designed by Brooke Lawson