Posts from the ‘Healthy Body.. Healthy Mind’ Category

Are your hormones happy…?

Whether you are a women in their child baring years or beyond…. hormones basically are the key to how well we feel in our lives. They affect how our bodies react and how we behave at that crucial time of the month.


Like many health issues.. What you feed your body will directly affect how your bodies function and without knowing it we are fuelling unease and distress in our bodies.

A diet high in unhealthy fats, sugar and salt can lead to an unstable hormonal imbalance and being overweight, which as well as being detrimental to health, can result in decreased self esteem, poor mental performance, mood swings and depression.

It is not made easy for us to fathom how to look after ourselves best with the constant bombardment of confusing information we are presented with, including the low fat myth which led to an increased consumption of trans-fats, which we now know increased our risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Using artificial sweeteners have been found to be worse than sugar for diabetics.

Yo-yo dieting unstabalises our delicate hormonal balance and every time we head into yet another deprivation diet all we loose is bone density.

Confused? Here are my top food types, which are your hormones worst enemy in food terms.

  • Avoid Soy, even if you are not drinking soymilk or eating tofu, it is in almost everything. The problem with soy is that it block’s the iodine uptake in the body. With women, iodine is stored in the thyroid gland, the breasts and the ovaries. Iodine deficiency causes thyroid disorders, cysts in the breasts and ovaries, and breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
  • Avoid the fast track to happiness.. Carbohydrates.. they give you an instant lift because they trigger the release of serotonin. Carbs are a quick fix, but they do nothing to stimulate ongoing production of serotonin, they interfere with your metabolism and brain health. So avoid white flour,  cut out sugar and sweetened chocolate all together.


  • Cut out the coffee and tea .. Drink Green Tea or Rosehip tea instead. Many of us get trapped in the stimulant cycle, caffeine temporarily gives you a lift, but actually blunts valuable hormones in the long run. It elevates the stress hormone like adrenaline which can cause increased heart rate, blood pressure and suppression of the immune system. It also hinders the absorption of minerals in the kidneys including calcium and magnesium. Lower density bones are also related to caffeine.
  • Avoid soft fizzy drinks. Drink lots of water at least 8 glasses a day. Fizzy drinks are high-acid and low or zero calcium or nutritional content. Causing tooth decay and enamel erosion, osteoporosis and malnutrition. They contain empty calories and high caffeine content. Pregnant women can pass the stimulant onto their babies. Avoid at all costs! Make your own fruit water!
  • Avoid processed foods, anything that is canned and preserved..  meats such as ham, hot dogs, deli meats, pepperoni and bacon are a no-no. Ideally purchase sausages and organic meats from a local farmer who can tell you exactly what’s in their products. Avoid non-organic meats that might contain, bovine growth hormones, steroids and antibiotics. They wreak havoc with a women’s system. Look for organic where possible.
  • Cut back on alcohol..  Trends suggest that women are drinking greater amounts of alcohol with greater frequency. Changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle may also affect how a woman metabolises alcohol. Also women’s bodies process alcohol more slowly and can become addicted to alcohol more easily than men, drinking even moderately can be a slippery slope. This is especially true for older women. In fact about half of all cases of alcoholism in women begin after the age of 59. One drink for women has about twice the effect of one for a man.


For happy hormones and for body balance make these food choices.. SEARED TUNA SALAD copy

  • Eat protein.. turkey, fish, cottage cheese, nuts, cheese, eggs, and beans all contain generous levels tryptophan which is a large amino that converts to serotonin in the brain. But eating soley protein can cause problems in the brain, so consume with a bit of carbohydrate such as a scoop of brown rice, a handful of nuts or a few tablespoons of legumes. These complex carbs are essential to helping the brain process tryptophan in protein. Vegetables are also great and my preference.
  • Get plenty of eggs and dairy in your diet, and eat fish a few times a week. Good sources are wild salmon, mackerel and tuna. Vegheads can also nosh on avocadoes, nuts, flaxseed, vegetable oils (walnut, avocado, almond, flax and olive) and seeds.
  • Bin the biscuit tin, snack on raw nuts, add almonds and seeds. Soaking Almonds in water will make them more nutritious and brings out the natural sweet flavor. They become live foods as 30% of the oil content is removed, making them easier on the liver and digestion, with less calories.
  • Eat plenty of good fats. Low fat diets are probably the number one reason young and old women are having problems with their hormones. Hormones are made out of cholesterol. Good fats are butter, cream, egg yolks, fish, avocadoes, whole milk, coconut milk, coconut oil, avocado, palm oil and olive oil.
  • Take a good vitamin, mineral and fish oil supplement. I use Isagenix Essential Vitamin for Women and Product B which support telomeres which promote youthful ageing. Plus I take a their shakes for added nutrition and fast for a day once in a while which is a supportive way of cleansing impurities and toxins from my body. There are plenty of options on the market, but as with most things, you get what you pay for have a look at
  • Lean to cook from scratch..  and ditch the ready meals and fast food junk. Get a out a good basic cook book and learn the basics, so you can rustle up a nutritious stew, soup, omelette, stir fry (My No Fuss Suppers cook book s a good place to start ) 🙂


Change your lifestyle.. Make good habits.. They are as addictive as bad habits.. but much more rewarding!

  • To beat any moody blues…. EXCERCISE it keeps your spirited lifted and your mind healthy and active. Get yourself moving and motivated at the gym or invest in a personal trainer a couple of times to get you going… Swim in the sea, run through the woods, join a dance class, take up marital arts, walk and play with the dog, do Pilates or yoga.  But do something you love! 15-20 minuts of exercise every day will naturaly release feel-good hormones are that are so vital for staying calm and happy.
  • AVOID STRESS.. A high stress lifestyle coupled with erratic eating habits can wreak havoc on a women’s delicate hormonal balance. So keep stress levels low.. smile, laugh often and create a mood board for your dreams and wishes. Set goals and do things you love to do, painting, pot holing, seeing your friends, watching a funny or feel good movie. Even a daily meditation or yoga can release tension and stress and send the the hormone serotonin to the brain.
  • GET ENOUGH SLEEP.. lack of sleep swings the hormones into over-drive. Try to get at least 8 hours sleep every night. Women’s sleep loss has been linked to increased appetite, impaired memory, feelings of anger and hostility. Women who toss and turn have higher levels than men of C-reactive protein and other signs linked to high blood pressure and heart disease.
  • ….. and finally.. LET THE SUNSHINE IN.. giving a women’s body a healthy dose of full spectrum sunlight can help stabilize hormones. A walk in the sunshine will lift your mood too!  Or if you are in a colder climate invest in a Light Box..the bright light on the retina sends nerve signals to parts of the brain, affecting the levels of mood-enhancing chemicals and hormones.

Eating Well for a Good Nights Rest

Healthy Body.. Healthy Mind 

Being a food stylist and cookery writer for the last 19 years, I have battled with the daily onslaught of delicoius delights.. and I’m not one to turn down food… I LOVE IT!  So going on a nutritional cleanse has been quite a challenge, but surprisingly successful.  I have been able to enjoy food at the same time as detoxing and dropping kilos…. RESULT! Being tempted daily on photo shoots by mounds of delicious, enticing goodies, that HAVE to be tasted and nibbled has resulted in a rather chaotic yo-yoing of blood sugar highs and lows, the side effects of that kind of chaotic diet is unbalanced nervous system, poor sleep, afternoon tiredness, irritability, hormonal chaos and weight gain.

A bit of food deprivation has done me the world of good, it wasn’t long before I began to experience restful sleep and then started noticing a heightened sense of taste and smell as well as energy and stamina. As my body was clearing out the toxins from my body,  my senses began to become sensitive, and flavours jumped out at me like never before. Apparently it takes 14 days for the taste buds to renew, so now I find anything vaguely sweet is just TOO sweet! In fact by being prescriptive with the amount of food I ate it  has refreshed my creative vibe around cooking and creating recipes.

Gradually I have been weaned off my daily 2-3 coffee addiction and now enjoy green tea when I like, which is full of antioxidants and seems to satisfy the urge for caffeine. However and this is a big However… I don’t agree in complete deprivation…. so a couple of times a week I treat myself, and how I DO appreciate that flat white and sliver of cake! I used to skip breakfast or finish off my sons porridge from the pan, then constantly nibble/test/lick the spoon of something at work throughout the day and then treat myself with cake or chocolate at 4 O’clock which relieved the tiredness slump for a short period before I headed for a full stop.

On this programme I’m allowed to enjoy a sensible and delicious lunch, and I appreciate every mouthful and I savour every single flavour and texture. I eat slower too… which I’m sure has something to do with the balancing and cleansing effect of the vitamins and minerals that I’m taking.

The side effects of this cleanse has been significant, as well as loosing weight, I’m sleeping better, I’m calmer and nicer to my family, I’m  clearer thinking, less rushed and more productive at work! I’m generally a whole lot happier with being me!

My friend Nicola Sinclair who is also a food stylist and fellow mum at my son’s school, introduced me first to the programme when she was doing it with her 14 year old daughter, who has teenage skin. They both have had incredible results, Nicola gained her pre wedding weight and her daughters skin cleared. With our shared passion for all things foodie, healthy bodies and minds, we were urged by friends to combine our knowledge and create Healthy Food Lovers Forum where we meet every couple of weeks and share our mind and body food recipes in our new facebook page…Healthy Recipes for Food Lovers

In the meantime here is a recipe that is perfect for the a cleansing lunch and good nights sleep.



There are numerous foods that contain specific substances that enhance sleep. This salad contains quite a few of them! This is a perfectly balanced lunch that is easy and quick to put together, little cooking, just a bit of chopping and under 600 calories, which includes a slice of Rye bread toast.

Serves 2

532 Calories per serving

185g canned tuna in olive oil

squeeze of 1/2 lemon or lime

handful of fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, mint, coriander dill or chives

salt and ground black pepper

200g can of kidney beans, salt and sugar free

10 spears cooked asparagus or broccoli

1/2 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped

2 cups baby spinach

1 tbsp sesame seeds

serve with 2 slices of Rye Bread Toast

Bring all your ingredients together.

Slice or flake the tuna into a bowl and cover with the oil, lemon or lime juice and chopped herbs, leave to marinate for 10 minutes.

Season with salt and ground black pepper.

Meanwhile, rinse the kidney beans under running water and drain them well and tip into a mixing bowl, lightly crush with a fork.

Bring a small pan of water to the boil and cook the asparagus or broccoli for 5 minutes, then drain and add to the kidney beans.

Add the remaining ingredients; chopped tomatoes, avocado, spinach and toss through the marinated tuna flakes along with the dressing.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with toast. Enjoy in the sun if you can with a glass of chilled water with a squeeze of lemon.

What’s in a Salad?

Here is the reason why this salad is so good for you… 


Tuna is one of the most nutritious foods full of omega-3 and EFA’s to support the nervous system. A great source of protein, benefiting insomniacs by helping to balance blood-sugar levels and providing important B vitamins to support the nervous system and combat stress.

Avocado is another super food, bursting with B group vitamins, excellent source of good fat and helps control blood pressure and nervous system, but beware they can contain up to 400 calories, so go easy. Spread it like butter on warm toast for yum factor!

Asparagus – Rich in vitaminB  to relax the mind after a busy day and also contains inulin, which has insulin- like properties to encourage good blood-sugar management.

Kidney Beans – One of the most abundant sources of calcium from a vegetarian source, they have a low glycemic index (they release sugars slowly) and reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol, factors that often contribute to sleep problems.

Sesame seeds – are high in zinc, calcium, magnesium and are wonderful nutrients for coping with stress and encouraging restful sleep. Chew well to release the nutrients.

Spinach – Eaten raw, spinach is one of the few vegetables that contains enzyme Q10; it is also full of iron, folic acid, B vitamins, calcium and magnesium which all contribute to great sleep.

Broccoli – is another superfood for its potential role in cancer protection and its other antioxidant properties, it also contains iron and abundant Vitamin C which ensures good oxygen flow to the brain.

Rye Bread – Rye is rich in minerals particulary magnesium and absorption can be improved with eaten with Vitamin D rich foods such as Tuna or sardines.


Get a Good Nights Sleep

Having recognised that there seems to be a common complaint of sleep deprivation and tiredness from many of my  friends who are busy mothers and are constantly juggling, I have focused this week on foods that promote a good nights sleep.

Along with avoiding stress, hormonal disruption, toxicity and emotional issues. The first and easiest thing to deal with for a goods nights sleep is to eliminate coffee and alcohol from your diet. Harsh but true.. read on!

Sleep for Coffee Addicts

Anyone with sleep problems should avoid caffeine altogether, or at least limit their intake to one cup of tea or coffee in the early part of the day. Decaffeinated coffee is not always the answer, as coffee acts as a diuretic and, although you may drift off to sleep naturally, the urge to pee may wake you up repeatedly during the night. Gradually cut down if you are more than three a day. Supplement your coffee craving with Green Tea, and watch out for many carbonated drinks and over the counter medicines for colds which may contain caffeine.

Sleep for Sauv Blanc Lovers 

Alcohol is a simple sugar, which raises blood-sugar levels quickly, resulting in a sharper than usual blood-sugar drop during the night. When blood-sugar levels are low, stored glucose is released from the muscles and liver to maintain equilibrium, and more food is required to sustain the glucose production. We experience this as hunger which in turn interrupts our sleep pattern. The same effect is often noticed when a high-sugar food is eaten late in the evening.

Avoid alcohol on week nights, and limit yourself to one glass, instead of the bottle at weekends! If you are looking for a non fattening drink – try a small dash of vodka with soda water and fresh lime juice in a long glass with ice.  This is much less fattening than wine and eating a little protein such as cottage cheese or cube of hard cheese and half an apple with slow down the glucose release promoting a deeper sleep.

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