My New Weight Loss Plan

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Last year I was diagnosed as having a severe vitamin D deficiency. This is becoming an increasingly common issue for people in the UK as they are spending longer working indoors and not enough time outside. One of the steps I took to improve my vitamin D levels in addition to taking medication was to start walking. I walked miles each week and this resulted in me losing around 28 pounds and really toning up. Unfortunately, I have since put all this weight back on.

My car was stolen from outside my home last year. While you may assume that this resulted in me walking more, the opposite was true. I needed a car sooner than the insurance was going to pay out, so I worked lots of extra hours to pay for another car. This stopped me from walking back from the school run each day as I did not have the time. I had also intended to start swimming one morning a week once my youngest started at school. Again, I couldn’t do this because I didn’t have a car to get there.

One of the main reasons I have put on so much weight is that my partner moved in with me last year. He likes to treat me and is always bringing home boxes of chocolates and bottles of wine. This has contributed to me now being the largest I have ever been. Writing this food blog isn’t helping as I am making meals that I might not necessarily make so that I can add them to the blog. 

I am now taking action to lose the weight. First, I have told my partner to stop buying me treats. Second, I am going to add more healthy meals to the blog rather than ones that have rich and creamy sauces (although I do have a creamy and cheesy stuffed mushroom recipe that I am planning on adding later today!). 

The next thing is to get myself physically active again. The warmer months are arriving now, so walking home from the school run will be a pleasant start to my day. Now I have another car, I can also start going swimming once a week. I even bought myself a new swimming costume yesterday while I was visiting Southport for a spa day with my mum and sister. Hopefully, my new cozzie will inspire me to take the plunge and start swimming again. 

No doubt I will report in with my weight loss success or failure on The Fruity Tart at some point soon. I might even be brave enough to post some before and after pics!

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Can Following a Mediterranean Diet Reduce the Risk of Developing Dementia?

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Scientists have conducted many studies into whether there is a link between the diet you eat and the likelihood of you developing dementia. Some have even found that following specific diets may reduce the risk of suffering from this debilitating condition later in life. According to the Alzheimer’s society, the best diet to follow if you want to reduce the risk of suffering from dementia is a Mediterranean diet and evidence also shows that this diet also helps with reducing the risk of developing memory and thinking problems.

What is a Mediterranean Diet?

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Mediterranean diet is now a term used to describe a diet that is influenced by the ingredients traditionally used in the region surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. It is typically high in fruits and vegetables. Other food groups that are largely used in this type of diet are cereals and legumes. The diet includes a moderate consumption of dairy and oily fish, while it is low in meat content. Other foods that are rarely used are those that are high in sugar and saturated fat.

Studies into Mediterranean Diet and Dementia

There have been many studies into the benefits of a Mediterranean diet. One of the earlier studies was conducted in the 1960s and this showed that there were lower rates of heart attacks amongst men living in Mediterranean regions. Further studies have also shown links between following this diet and reduced rates of type 2 diabetes. In terms of dementia, studies began into links between this diet and a decreased risk of dementia when scientists learned that those who followed this diet experienced fewer problems with memory and thinking. Recently, more research was conducted to pull all the previous findings together to learn more about the potential link between following a Mediterranean diet and a lower risk of dementia development.

How Does a Mediterranean Diet Reduce the Risk of Dementia?

One reason it is believed that this diet can impact on the chances of developing dementia is that many of the foods eaten are high in antioxidants. These can help to protect brain cells against the damage caused by conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. The diet can also reduce the signs of inflammation and lower cholesterol levels. Both factors are proven to have an impact on memory and thinking. It is important to note that there have been some inconsistencies amongst the studies and it is possible that the reason people eating a Mediterranean diet have lower rates of dementia is simply as a result of this group of people living a generally healthier life.

Is Diet the Only Factor?

Of course, eating a Mediterranean diet alone will not reduce the risk of developing dementia as there are many other factors that are believed to contribute to the development of this condition. Some people are genetically predisposed to develop dementia and there is some evidence to suggest that you are more likely to develop dementia if someone else in your family has suffered from this condition. Lifestyle factors also play a part, so reducing alcohol intake, not smoking, and exercising regularly are all important steps to take to reduce the risk of developing dementia in the future.

To learn more about working with people with dementia, visit  https://www.createcare.co.uk/ and check out the range of courses available.

Source: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/info/20010/risk_factors_and_prevention/149/mediterranean_diet

7 Foods to Include in Your Diet for Radiant Skin

Anyone who is interested in health and beauty will know the importance of taking good care of their skin. There are plenty of products available on the market, each of which has a different role to play in good skin health. However, diet can play just as an important role in the health and appearance of your skin. A healthy balanced diet can have a significant impact on the health of your skin and whether or not it looks radiant. It is vital to make sure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals you need in your diet to maintain good skin health. If you want to make your skin healthier and appear more radiant, you should try including the following seven foods in your diet.

Leafy Greens

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Foods such as spinach and Brussel sprouts are high in alpha lipoic acid. This helps to protect against premature aging and keeps the skin tight and wrinkle-free.

Oily Fish

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Examples of oily fish include anchovies, sardines, and salmon. This fish contains dimethylaminoethanol which protects the skin, reduces the risk of premature aging, and strengthens cell membranes.

Eggs

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Eggs contain choline and lutein. These are both important nutrients in terms of skin health. Choline plays a role in keeping skin smooth and also regulates vitamin B levels. Vitamin is needed to keep skin smooth and firm. Lutein is an antioxidant that prevents skin damage and protects skin elasticity.

Blueberries

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Blueberries are full of antioxidants that will protect you against many diseases. An additional bonus is that the antioxidants will also make your skin more radiant.

Red Grapefruit

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Eating just one red grapefruit a day will give you your daily recommended dose of vitamin C, which is essential for good skin health.

Walnuts

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Your body needs omega-3 fatty acids but can’t produce it itself. Walnuts are a great source of these and it will keep your skin cell membranes strong and help them to retain moisture.

Tomatoes

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Tomatoes contain lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant. It can help to protect skin from the damage of UV rays and the effects of premature aging.

Written in response to the Daily Prompt ‘Radiant’ on The Daily Post.

Food News: The Growing Trend Towards Veganism

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More people than ever are deciding to follow a vegan diet. While for some, this is for ethical reasons, others are choosing to follow a plant-based diet as they believe it is beneficial to their health. There are also others who follow a temporary vegan diet as a way of cleansing their systems and those who continue to eat meat but are including more vegan dishes in their diet. This trend is also being followed by the food industry with vegan eating establishments popping up all over the world. 

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One such example of this is plant-based chef Matthew Kenney (pictured left) who has recently opened a vegan restaurant called ‘Alibi’ in the Ovolo Hotel in Sydney. Although many traditional Australian dishes are based on steak or seafood, the chef believes that his food can compete with these dishes and has described it as sexier. In fact, the famous chef believes that vegan lifestyles will become even more the norm in the future.

‘Alibi’ has a diverse menu that serves dishes including tacos, burgers, pizza, and lasagne. These dishes would usually contain meat and cheese, but Matthew Kenney has redesigned these meals so they are completely plant-based. He has even found a way to recreate cheese using ingredients including cashew nuts and sunflower seeds.

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The trend towards plant-based diets is also obvious in the number of celebrities who have now become vegan. Will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas (pictured right) announced in January that he had made the transition to veganism. He has credited following a vegan diet with his dramatic weight loss and improved health. 

 

Sources: 

https://www.plantbasednews.org/post/future-of-food-is-vegan-says-leading-chef

https://www.livekindly.co/will-i-am-credits-vegan-diet-improved-health-weight-loss/

 

Brits Told to Diet

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Obesity is increasingly becoming an issue in the UK and in other parts of the world. Being overweight can have a huge impact on health and can potentially lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. The obesity crisis is also putting a huge strain on the NHS. For this reason, top health officials are now saying that Brits need to go on a diet.

Last year, the government launched a sugar reduction programme that targeted nine different food groups that are considered unhealthy. This has led to the sugar drinks levy which will come into force in April 2018.

New measures put in place to reduce the number of unhealthy foods that Brits eat will specifically target 13 different food groups and will include processed meat, ready meals, takeaways, and pizzas. The aim is to cut the average calorie consumption of the British by 20% by 2024.

As part of this healthy eating campaign, the food industry is also being urged by the government to use healthier ingredients to help the public reduce their calorie intake.

A spokesperson for Public Health England has said that Britain needs to go on a diet as both adults and children are consuming too many calories and this is the cause of the high rate of obesity in the UK.

These recent measures are part of an ongoing governmental campaign in the UK to improve the overall health of UK citizens and reduce the strain on the NHS. Strategies used so far have included raising awareness of healthy eating through marketing materials and via direct advice from healthcare workers. Children are also being targeted with healthy eating programmes in schools.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-43201586

Sorting Out My Vitamin D Deficiency

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A couple of years ago, I was suffering from health problems and visited my doctor. One of the many tests he ordered was a blood test to check my levels of vitamin D. I was found to have a significantly low level of vitamin D in my body. This accounted for many of my symptoms, including fatigue, joint pain, skin rashes, blurred vision, and depression.

The doctor prescribed me with a high dose of vitamin D supplements. However, I also discussed with him the steps I could take to improve my vitamin D levels myself. The main source of vitamin D is sunshine and this explains why it is often referred to as the sunshine vitamin. I was spending hours sitting at the computer working as a freelance copywriter, so it was no surprise when he told me I needed to spend more time outdoors. From that point on, I started going for three or four long walks a week.

Although vitamin D is not found in many foods, there are some good sources of this vitamin and diet really does make a difference. Some of the foods that contain vitamin D are orange juice, fortified cereals, egg yolks, and oily fish, such as tuna steaks. I started to include these in my diet as much as possible. These are all foods that I started to include in my diet. 

Through a combination of supplements, dietary changes, and spending time outdoors walking all made a big difference. In just two months, my vitamin D levels had raised significantly. My energy levels increased, I suffered less with joint pain, and my moods were improved. A further bonus was that I lost weight and toned up from all that walking. 

Unfortunately, I have slipped back into bad habits. I am back spending too long at my computer and snacking while working instead of eating proper meals during the day. As a result, my vitamin D levels are low again.

At least now, I know what I can do to make the change. I need to resume my walking regime and start eating breakfast again. Hopefully, I can get my health back on track. 

 

Cooking Tips for Students on a Budget

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When people leave home to become a student, it is the start of a new chapter of their lives. Along with the freedom and independence come additional responsibilities which require the development of new life skills. Two such skills are cooking and budgeting. The majority of students will have limited funds and will need to cover bills in their new accommodation as well as making sure they eat a healthy and nutritious diet. To achieve this on such limited funds can be tricky, but it is manageable with a little thought and planning into shopping and the preparation of food. Here are some ideas of some staple foods that every student should buy and some ideas for student meals on a budget.

Pulses

These are a much cheaper source of protein than meat. They can be used to make vegetarian alternatives to meals or to bulk up a meal if only a small amount of meat can be afforded. Chilli con Carne is one such meal where meat can be entirely replaced, or kidney beans and haricot (or baked) beans can be used to bulk up the meal using only a small amount of minced meat.  Beans on toast are also a really quick snack or meal to eat that is cheap and packed with nutrients. Opt for tins with low salt and sugar content.

Rice

Rice is usually really cheap to buy and you can buy it in large bags to store for long periods of time, thus avoiding wasting money and food. You can use rice as a side dish to accompany another item, such as a curry, or to create a dish on its own. Adding spices, small amounts of meat or fish and as many vegetables as you like are quick, easy, cheap and tasty ways to use rice. Rice is also an ingredient that you can experiment with a little as it will absorb the flavors of the other ingredients with which it is served.

Pasta

Similarly, pasta is inexpensive and you can but it in large quantities that store for long periods of time. There are countless ways of serving pasta.  One really easy and cheap option is to simply add a tomato sauce to the pasta.  You can do this either by using a jar of pasta sauce or making a homemade sauce using fresh tomatoes and some herbs. A simple ratatouille added to the pasta is another option for a cheap, tasty and nutritious dish. There are many variations of this but frying courgette, tomatoes and peppers together is really easy even for an amateur cook. Other options with pasta include tuna pasta bake, pasta carbonara (adding cheese, ham and mushrooms) or spaghetti bolognese. 

Experiment

Finally, the best advice that can be given to a student is to experiment with the food you create. Buy lots of things that store well and try out different combinations of ingredients together. Keep a stock of dried herbs and spices in the cupboard so you can get experimental with flavours in your cooking.