Christmas Survival Guide

‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’ 

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‘ ‘tis the season to be jolly’

Wow, talk about high expectations!  The Christmas season puts a lot of stress and strain on us in so many different ways, financially, emotionally and physically.

I’d love to share my top tips to help you through this exciting, fun and festive time while keeping your sanity and waistline in check.

If you’ve been working hard to stay healthy you won’t want to go completely off the rails and spend the days feeling less than great.

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Big night out strategy:  there may be many of them, so it would be very easy to over-commit and over-indulge. We all want to enjoy the holidays and festivities at this time of year. Whether it’s one night out or a few, or just one big Christmas lunch these tips will help you to be mindful about your choices. 

On the day of the party keep it real, have a healthy breakfast and lunch. If you like to work out make time to fit in a session at some point during your day.

Have a healthy protein-based snack before you get there so you don’t arrive starving. 

If it’s the kind of party where everyone is contributing food, be the one to take a healthy dish.

When you make your food choices, survey all of the options first. Avoid highly processed foods. Choose protein and plant-based dishes.

If you’re at a buffet style event, don’t stand near the food table as it’s too tempting to keep munching!

Don’t drink your sugar intake.  Cocktails and mixers can be loaded with sugar.  Stick to single spirits and dilute with sparkling water.  Red wine in moderation. Alternate your alcoholic drinks with a glass of water

Ok now that’s my party survival guide but what about the rest of the crazy time?  Well I have a few other tips to keep you on the straight and narrow.

Meal plan: The process of meal planning really takes a lot of stress out of everyday life and can also save you time, money and food waste.  Over the Christmas period take a little time to plan your meals for the week ahead.  If you’re hosting a family meal this is especially important.  Write down what you will cook each day, write a grocery list for that plan and shop online or go to the store only once.

Take time out for you: self-care is an important part of daily life but at this time especially.  Think about what it is that gives you joy, helps you relax and unwind or recharges your batteries.  Is it reading a book alone over a good coffee, having a manicure or massage, a yoga class, a 10 minute meditation, going for a walk outside with a friend or alone?  It doesn’t have to cost money and could save your sanity!  Take out your diary and factor in some time for you, the same way as you would for any important commitment. 

To do List:  I’m a big believer in To Do lists and goals!  I’m sure you have a lot on your plate to get organized for Christmas and I recommend breaking it down into manageable chunks.  Think about what you have to achieve, and the timescales then break it down to a few manageable tasks each day.  That way everything isn’t left until the last minute causing unnecessary stress.

It’s ok to say NO!  You really can’t do everything.  Whether it be declining a party because you just have too many commitments that week or asking for help with Christmas gift shopping, card writing or food preparation.  Is there someone who can share your load?

Relax and enjoy, make mindful choices and have fun!

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My Bulletproof Upgrade

Today (Thursday 2nd August) I’m an upgraded version of myself thanks to a visit to the Bulletproof pop-up store in SoHo NYC. Anyone who knows me well knows I’m already pretty bulletproof!

So what is all of this Bulletproof talk anyway?! 

 

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Coffee:  Well let’s start with the coffee, because we should always start with coffee! Bulletproof coffee was pioneered by Dave Asprey, the founder of Bulletproof.  It is a combination of coffee, grass-fed butter and brain octane oil.  Coffee is a good source of antioxidants but not all coffee is created equally. The bulletproof coffee beans are very clean - farmed, screened and tested to be free of 27 toxins. Not your average high street chain coffee!

Grass-Fed Butter: contains vitamin K2 which helps push the calcium to your bones (not your arteries), and butyrate, a fatty acid that aids in digestion.

Brain Octane Oil: A brain boosting MCT oil extracted from coconut and totally flavourless. MCT oil helps the body burn fat and supports cognitive function.

 

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I always start my day with Bulletproof coffee and it has been part of my morning ritual for a long time now.  It makes me feel sharp and kickstarts digestion - a guaranteed clean start to the day in more ways than one!  It also suppresses appetite and keeps you full for hours

At the pop-up today they also had a range of cold brew coffee to taste.  The coffee comes in a one serving size tetra pack so it's handy for on the go.  There were four cold brew options, original, vanilla, collagen and mocha.  I loved the original and also thought the mocha was delicious in small amounts as it was pretty rich.   The vanilla and mocha are sweetened with monk fruit extract which won't raise your blood sugar and contains no carbs!

I picked up a few of these to keep at home as a nice little afternoon pick me up, for me half a serving over ice is perfect.  I love that they're not sweet compared to some other cold brew i've tried which were loaded wth sugar and sickly sweet.
 

The Oxygen Bar

Today I wanted to delve deeper into other elements of bio-hacking, a term used by Asprey to describe a process to enhance ones physical and mental performance.

After sampling a range of the cold brew coffees in store I moved on over to the Oxygen Bar. I was hooked up with a cannula to my personal supply of pure oxygen.  There was a range of essential oils to choose from to add to the oxygen and I chose to add an infusion of Frankincense. I relaxed there breathing naturally for 10-15 minutes and certainly felt grounded, relaxed and invigorated.

 

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The benefits of O2 are:

  • detoxifies blood,
  • increases circulation
  • strengthens the immune system
  • heightens concentration and alertness
  • helps improve relaxation and sleep
  • relieves headaches and hangovers

One of these at home would definitely help me get through the summer holidays with my 3 and 6 year old boys!

 

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Vibe Plate

Next up was the Vibe plate and after my pure oxygen hit I felt relaxed and invigorated enough to embarrass myself a little!
Vibe is a vibrating plate which claims to

  • reduce recovery time after exercise
  • strengthen muscles and bones
  • improve mental acuity and flexibility.

It felt pretty strange at first and more intense than I’d anticipated, but I had fun, did a few stretches, downward dogs and had a giggle with the guys doing push ups on the vibes next to me!

 

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Today’s experience was a big deal for me as I'm passionate about Bulletproof and all that the brand stands for. 

My little day trip today ticked many boxes, great coffee, alone time, time to read my book on the train, meeting new people and having great inspiring conversations. I had fun and I laughed.... all great medicine. I would urge you to pop in to the store for a visit but unfortunately today was the last day. 

However, maybe you'd like to make a simple change to your daily routine and try a bulletproof coffee, I highly recommend the upgrade!

My Big FAT Obsession!

It’s true, I’m totally obsessed with fat and have been for a very long time.
In my twenties, my obsession wasn’t a good one, fuelled by all the media surrounding low-fat products as healthy choices. I thought all fat was bad and was on a mission to eliminate it from my diet carefully controlling every meal and snack.
I’m happy to say that now my relationship with fat is a very healthy and well informed one.

Fat is such a big and controversial topic and my aim is to share a few little facts to help you on your way to having a better relationship with fat too. Fat is not the enemy and simply eating fat does not make us fat!

It turns out a lot of the claims connecting fat and heart issues were all built on bad science and a poor understanding of calories.  Now that studies have proven that the links between fat and various health issues have been proven inaccurate.

Read on to learn more about the good and bad fats.

The Bad

Canola oil is the big bad guy and it’s everywhere and in everything! Over 90% of canola oil is genetically modified: it is a refined oil (think bleaching and deodorizing!) which is often partially hydrogenated to increase its stability, but this has negative health effects.  If you use it in your kitchen, bin it now.  There are much healthier options that you can switch to. You should also read the ingredients of any packaged foods you buy to avoid this.

 

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Low fat products as a rule should be avoided and this includes low fat milk and all low fat dairy products.  They have undergone an industrial process to remove the fat and replace it with sugar.  They are not a health food, it’s all marketing!

The Good

Extra virgin olive oil should be a staple in your kitchen. I use it liberally on my salads and to sauté vegetables at a low heat. This is a staple in the Mediterranean diet which is one of the healthy diets in the world with the lowest rates of heart disease.

Coconut oil has been a hot topic for a while and I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re confused as to whether or not it’s healthy!  Coconut oil has many health benefits but like all good fats should be consumed as part of an overall healthy diet.  Cultures with 60% of their diet as coconut oil have no heart disease. I love coconut oil and put it in my family’s smoothies every morning. 


Butter has been demonised in the past and for a long time people replaced it with margarine and low fat spreads thinking they were making the heart healthy choice. But now butter has made a comeback as a healthy fat and the benefits of butter are becoming more widely known.  The omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in butter help your brain function properly and butter is rich in fat-soluble vitamins and trace minerals. Because of its low burning temperature, butter is not good for cooking at high temperatures (but it’s great for melting over your broccoli!).  Always choose organic grass-fed butter, Kerry Gold Irish butter is my personal favourite. A little bit of butter is good and it’s delicious!!

MCT oil is a saturated fat derived from coconut oil.  It boosts metabolism, reverses insulin resistance and improves cognitive function.  You want to know more??!!  This warrants a whole separate blog which is coming soon!

Avocados are the perfect food to protect and enhance your brain.  They are also rich in vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant that may help to reduce free radical damage and slow the aging process.  They provide twice the amount of potassium as a banana.  Potassium works with sodium to regulate blood pressure and is essential for vascular health.  Potassium is also good to combat a hangover!Oh, and did I mention they’re delicious?!  I keep a stash of chopped and frozen avocado in the freezer to add to smoothies which makes them thick and creamy and the good fat keeps us all full and happy.  Of course, smashed avocado on toast with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of chilli flakes is heaven (but choose your bread carefully).

 

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Nuts and seeds are packed with protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals.  They are a source of good fats which help to reduce your appetite.  One or two handfuls a day as snack or sprinkled over a salad is a great way to include them in your diet.  Many health studies have shown great benefits of eating nuts including reduced risk for coronary disease.I always carry a pot of mixed nuts in my bag as a go to snack for me and my kids when we’re out and about.

Salmon when it’s wild caught (definitely not farmed), is packed with vitamins and minerals and has a very high omega 3 content, making it one of the world’s healthiest foods! It’s packed with omega 3 fatty acids which our bodies need but can’t make.  Omega rich foods are shown to increase brain and memory function among a whole host of other health benefits.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little snippet, it is by no way comprehensive as I’m trying not to overwhelm you with too many details.  Contact me if you’d like to learn more.

I provide coffee morning workshops, kitchen detox and my personal health coaching program. Please email me at leanne@mygoodnesshealthcoaching.com

I’d love to hear from you!

Leanne

My Cacao Green Smoothie Bowl and How it all Began!

Hi!  I’m very excited to be sitting down and writing my first blog for My Goodness Health & Lifestyle Coaching!  

Since having my children I have gone through much soul searching (and google searching!) to figure out what I wanted to do with my life aside from being a mother and wife.  

I knew I wanted to do something relating to health and nutrition and that’s when I discovered Health Coaching and enrolled with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) who are the world leaders in educating Integrative Nutrition Health Coaches.

I worked hard and was extremely committed throughout my year of studies as I passionately enjoyed everything I was learning.

In March this year, I graduated and was very fortunate to travel to Miami and attend IIN’s annual conference for Health Coaches.  I had such an amazing time meeting like-minded people who shared my passion for wellness and making a difference in the world.  I listened to some world-class speakers and was inspired to take the big step to set up my own coaching business.  And here I am!

While in Miami I sought out some amazing cafes and restaurants and as a vegetarian was so happy to find many vegetarian and vegan restaurants.  


Plant House Cafe

Plant House Cafe

On my first day (after a couple of hours lounging by the pool) I had lunch at Plant House in 1 Hotel South Beach and it was so good I went back the following day for breakfast after a very long walk along the beach.

I chose a Cacao Green Smoothie Bowl which was topped with spirulina granola and enjoyed it with my iphone turned off so I could be completely present and absorb the ocean view and savour every delicious mouthful!  I decided that this was something I needed to reinvent when I got back home so that the Miami vibes could live on!

As a IIN Health coach one of my main goals is to educate people on the benefits of good fats and the demon that is sugar!  I have adapted the recipe from Plant House and made my own version of the Cacao Green smoothie bowl which is packed with brain boosting fat and I promise it won’t make you fat!

I have shared my recipe below but here is the low down on some of the great fats in this smoothie and why you shouldn’t be afraid to load up.

Avocados are the perfect food to protect and enhance your brain.  They are also rich in vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant that may help to reduce free radical damage and slow the aging process.  They contain pigments which can boost your brains processing speed and which rely on an abundance of healthy fats to be absorbed.

They provide twice the amount of potassium as a banana.  Potassium works with sodium to regulate blood pressure and is essential for vascular health.

One whole avocado contains 12 grams of fibre which feeds the good bacteria in your gut, reducing inflammation, and boosting growth factors in the brain!

I have a true love for avocado and add half to most of my meals.  

Avocados are on the list of the ‘Clean Fifteen’ which is a list of foods published by the Environmental Working Group that are least likely to be contaminated with pesticide residue.  Therefore, you do not need to buy organic, my family eat so many avocados that If I bought organic I would blow my grocery budget!  

Cashew or almond butter

Almond skins have been shown to have a prebiotic effect, this mean that they feed the good bacteria in your gut.  They are a rich source of polyphenols – plant defense compounds that provide an antioxidant effect to both you and to your gut bacteria.  And, almonds are a powerful source of fat-soluble antioxidant vitamin E. More brain fuel for you!

Cashews are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which include vitamin E, K and B6, along with minerals like copper, phosphorous, zinc, magnesium, iron and selenium, all of which are important for maintaining good bodily function.

Research shows that eating more nuts can lower your risk for cardiovascular disease.  This may occur by reducing blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels.  Nuts are naturally cholesterol-free and contain good amounts of heart-healthy fats, fibre, and protein.

Other vitamins and minerals in nuts, like potassium, vitamin E and B6, and folic acid also help to fight heart disease.

When buying a nut butter always read the ingredients to be sure it only contains nuts, you do not want to buy anything with added oil, salt or sugar.

Many vitamins are fat soluble and need to be consumed along with good fat to get the full benefits.

RECIPE

Cacao Green Smoothie / Bowl 

Serves 2

Prep Time: 5 min

1 banana

½ avocado

2 handfuls organic baby spinach

2 tablespoons raw cacao powder

2 tablespoons cashew nut butter

2 teaspoons of spirulina

1 teaspoon cinnamon 

2 cups of almond milk (adjust liquid to desired consistency)

 

Optional

2 scoops of vanilla protein powder (I like Garden of Life)

 

METHOD

  1. Place everything in a high speed blender and mix until smooth.  If making a smoothie bowl the consistency should be thick and spoonable!
  2. For a smoothie bowl, split between two bowls and sprinkle with toppings like nuts and seeds for crunch and protein.  I like to use my homemade muesli which is basically nuts and seeds toasted in coconut oil and cinnamon.  

I have hosted coffee morning workshops with the theme ‘Eating Good Fats’ and served this smoothie bowl.  It is a true winner!!

If you’re interested in personal health coaching or coming to a future workshop then pop on over to the ‘Contact Me’ page and say hello!  

 
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