Be a Healthier You

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“For me, once a binge is triggered and I take that first bite, I’m farther from stopping a binge than before I took the first bite. That first bite puts me into a frenzy and I forget all of my good intentions, aiming instead for a blissful food coma. That feeling of everything being better, calm, okay, safe and warm washes over me and I forget the guilt that will ensue for a few minutes.”

“As binge eaters, we tend to stuff it down with food. Then the binge upsets us and we feel guilt and shame. Those new emotions become a new event. That causes new eating behavior to cover the emotional overload and then we eat more. Once again the shame kicks in and we begin a spiral downward into a binge that leaves us feeling full of shame and remorse by the end.”


Check these out:

English: Oriental meatballs.

A great read if you’re struggling to understand why you eat the wrong things, or eat when you’re not hungry.


eat it upYou are what you eat.  Most of us have heard this reiterated since childhood.  We’ve probably put it to use ourselves, in an attempt to discourage “unhealthy” eating habits.

Why we eat, is just as important as what we eat. 

You are on your way home from work, which happens to be a 90 minute commute.  Today traffic is being rerouted, bypassing your exit.  Your little one should have been picked up 15 minutes ago, and the sitter wants to know “how much longer?”   Your eldest son has football practice, and is now contending with the sitter for you to pick up his call.  Your husband is also waiting to be heard, but his call gets dropped.  You finally make it off the expressway.  Your husband called back, and is on his way to the sitter.  Your son phones again–but this time it’s to tell you football practice is Thursday; today is Tuesday.  You…

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When you think of spinach it might just conjure up the image of a pipe-smoking, can-squeezing, partially tattooed sailor with bulging biceps..

Yep, I’m talking about childhood favourite Popeye!


Myth: Spinach gives you big muscle.

Fact or Fiction: Fact.

The science: A review of existing research into the effects of a chemical compound called ‘nitrate’ on human physiology has found that spinach can indeed help to enhance muscle growth (Weitzberg & Lundberg, 2011).  This review was investigated further by the above-named scientists, as part of a research team at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute. Through experimentation it was observed that nitrate ‘boosts the production of two proteins key to muscle strength’ (Hernandez et al, 2012). Great news for vegetarian bodybuilders!

So, do I need to down spinach Popeye-style?

Yes and no.

Nitrate is found in large concentrations in spinach, but can also be found in beetroot, lettuce, and chard. To achieve optimal results you would need to eat a small bag of spinach, or 2-3 beetroots over the course of a day.

So how about a combination of both and just on the days when you weight train (twice per week for me)?

Not only is this great news for those on a quest to improve health and fitness, it could also mean great medical advances too!

There is potential to improve recovery rates in surgical patients, and to increase functionality in individuals with muscle weakness and muscle disorders if a nitrate-rich diet is adopted.

What was once a fun cartoon playfully extolling the virtues of this unassuming green leaf could now become an iconic part of scientific history, playing a role in medical developments and exercise physiology.

Exciting, huh?

Here’s hoping this great research continues, and that real potential for improving conditions like Multiple Sclerosis and muscle atrophy is identified.


Weitzberg, E. & Lundberg, J.O. (2011) Dietary nitrate – a slow train coming. Journal of Physiology, V.589, Nov, pp.5333-5334.

Hernández, A., Schiffer, T.A.,  Ivarsson, N., Cheng, A.J., Bruton, J.D., Lundberg, J.O., Weitzberg, E. & Westerblad, H. (2012) Dietary nitrate increases tetanic [Ca2+]i and contractile force in mouse fast-twitch muscle. Journal of Physiology,V.590, I15, Aug, pp.3575–3583.

TOMORROW: Do bread crusts really make your hair curl?

Portrait of girl with curly hair

Almonds are all mine.


English: Linseed on the plate Suomi: Pellavans...

English: Linseed on the plate Suomi: Pellavansiemeniä lautasella (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Do you struggle to achieve your 2-3 weekly servings of oily fish? Are you vegan or vegetarian? Want to improve your mobility and oil up those joints? Or do you just fancy trying something new?

Welcome to the world of linseed! It is super versatile, can maximise flavour and texture, and can be picked up cheaply if you’re willing to shop around! One of its greatest selling points is that it only needs to be used in small quantities, making your money go a long way…

So, what is linseed?

Linseed, or flaxseed as it is often known, is a seed from the flax plant that can be eaten whole, and as an oil, but is most easily digestible when ground down to milled form. It is an excellent source of both fibre and the essential fatty acid Omega 3.

What is Omega 3 and why do we need it?

Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid that scientists believe helps to reduce the risk of developing heart disease. It is also recommended in pregnancy and while breastfeeding to help with the growth of the baby’s nervous system. It is most commonly found in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, and fresh tuna.

When we describe a nutrient as ‘essential’ we mean that the body cannot produce it itself and so it must be obtained from the diet. Many people find it easier to take supplements to achieve their Omega 3 requirements but taking fish oil supplements can put you at risk of developing liver damage because they contain high levels of vitamin A.

This is where our linseed comes in!

Each tablespoon of ground linseed/flaxseed contains almost 2g of Omega 3.

How can I realistically get linseed into my diet?

Well, there are many ways you can improve your Omega 3 intake with linseed:

  •  Add a teaspoon or two into your breakfast cereal
  •  Mix 1-2 tablespoons into your yogurt or smoothies (you won’t even know it’s there!!)
  • Sprinkle over salads for extra texture and colour
  • Stir into soups, stews, and sauces.
  • Combine with flour when making pancakes or baking bread and cakes
  • And my favourite: coat your meat or fish with milled linseed to create a breadcrumb-style crust!

Any more ideas or suggestions??


Piece ‘Oat-Cake Pizza

A healthy spin on the traditional pizza base (no oven required!):

  • 1 cup dried oats
  • 1/2 cup egg whites (you can also use 2 whole eggs)
  • 1 tablespoon milled linseed
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup water (approximate)
  1. Mix together in a bowl and let sit for 5 minutes while you prep some toppings*.
  2. Pour base mix into a lightly oiled pan over a medium heat, creating a circular (or heart!) shape as you go.
  3. Let the base set and then flip over to brown both sides.
  4. Add your toppings and cover – leave cooking over a low heat until the cheese melts.

If  you have a panini maker or sandwich toaster you could also make a square pizza on here – just don’t leave the lid down too long if you’re using cheese and be sure to apply a little oil to that lid!!

*Top with any combination of the following: salsa/pasta sauce/passata, pesto, sliced tomato, red onion, mushrooms, green/red capsicum, tuna, sliced hard boiled egg, sweetcorn, cooked chicken pieces, chopped ham, pineapple, any cheese esp. blue cheese or light mozzarella, and finish with fresh or dried herbs like basil and oregano. Or anything else you like really!

Serve and enjoy!

Banana Me Happy Cookies

(makes approx 12 cookies)

  • 1 medium-large banana
  • 1 cup dry oats
  • 1 tablespoon of milled linseed
  • handful of raisins or craisins (optional)
  1. Combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl with your hands.
  2. Create small patties and arrange on a baking tray.
  3. Pop in the oven for 15-20 mins at 350F.*

*Alternatively you can cook them in the microwave in just 1 minute!!! (warning: they won’t be super crunchy).

Allow to cool then serve and enjoy!

Can’t See Carbs Pancakes

(makes around 8 large, or 12 small pancakes)

  • 1 medium banana
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons of milled linseed
  1. Mash the banana with a fork, then beat in the eggs.
  2. Add in the linseed and give the mixture a good whisk.
  3. Heat a frying pan over a high heat, then turn down low.
  4. If you don’t have a non-stick pan simply use a little spray oil to prevent sticking.
  5. Pour in the mixture to make two medium sized or three small sized pancakes (per batch).

Serve and enjoy!

The best thing about this recipe is you can eat them all to yourself for under 300 calories!

I hope you enjoyed the article and please feel free to share your own recipes!!!

Do yDo you know your 5-a-days??ou really know what counts toward your 5-a-day??

There are a lot of misconceptions about portion size and qualifying foods, and many health manufacturers are capitalising on this confusion with carefully-placed, highly misleading marketing. Tut tut.

So, to clarify..

One of your 5-a-day weighs around 70-80g of fruit or veg – that could be 3 tablespoon of peas, a handful of grapes, or a medium sized apple. Or it could be a combination of all three! Ideally, you are looking for 3 vegetables and 2 fruits, or 4 vegetables and 1 fruit. This is because vegetables tend to be lower in sugar, and contain a more complex range of vitamins and minerals.

It is good to eat as many different coloured fruits and vegetables as you can each day, to get the best possible chance of meeting vitamin and mineral needs.  If you ate more than 80g of one particular food item that would still only count as one serving, because you are not achieving the range of vitamins and minerals you would get from eating three different fruit and veg.

So, just eating four cherry tomatoes will not count as one serving, that will count as 1/2, but if you also eat a satsuma you have achieved 1 of your 5-a-day, and a broader intake of nutrients!!

Combining foods is a great way to eat the rainbow!

Each of these counts as 1 of your 5-a-day:

  • 1 medium sized carrot
  • 15g of raisins (matchbox sized)
  • 1/2 pepper (capsicum)
  • 3 tablespoons of corn
  • 2 kiwis, plums, or satsumas (any combination)
  • 150ml orange juice
  • 4 closed-cup mushrooms

Ways to buy:

Buying fresh fruits and veggies can be expensive, so the next time you go food shopping consider purchasing other forms including canned*, frozen and dried**.

*When buying canned fruit try to buy the kind in natural fruit juices, rather than syrup. And with canned vegetables take the ‘no added salt’ option!

**Be cautious with dried fruits – the drying process concentrates the sugar content resulting in a higher calorie value per gram so you only need 15g of raisins, or 3 dried apricots, to achieve one serving.

Juices and smoothies:

150ml of unsweeted 100% pure juice (from concentrate is fine) also counts as 1 serving, as does the same volume of fruit smoothie HOWEVER no matter how much juice you drink in whatever number of combinations it will only ever count as one serving. That is because the juicing process eliminates the precious fibre you find in the skin of fruits and vegetables, as well as destroying many of the minerals found in the skin of root vegetables!

Cooking ideas:

Now, if you use tomato-based sauces for pastas, casseroles etc you will also be achieving 1 of your 5-a-day! Just be sure to check the sugar content on the label before diving into buying pre-made sauces. It is often cheaper and easier to make your own tomato sauce using passata or chopped tomatoes and some mixed herbs. You can freeze any excess too!

Additionally you can sneak extra veggies into many meals simply by cutting them up smaller or blending them to make a sauce. Good ones to use are: tomatoes, carrots, spinach, peas, corn, and mushrooms. This is particularly helpful when cooking for fussy eaters.

Mushrooms also make a great substitute for meat when money is running low, or you feel like a day off the chicken! They contain lots of vital minerals as well as protein and fibre, and are very low in calories. Portobello mushrooms stuffed with a little cream cheese and spring onions are really delicious. Top with some ground linseed for added Omega 3! More on linseed here:

Check out my recipes for ideas on how to use ripe bananas to make delicious, healthy desserts!!

What other ways can I get my 5-a-day?

Beans and pulses (such as lentils) also contribute to your 5-a-day, but only one serving can come from this food group, as they are not as nutrient-rich as fruit and veg. So, eating 3 tablespoons of lentils and 3 tablespoons of kidney beans would still only give you 1 of your 5, but you could combine the two to give you more variety i.e. 2 tablespoons of beans and 1 tablespoon of lentils!

Finally, onto potatoes..

Sweet potatoes and yams DO contribute towards your 5-a-day because they contain lots of great vitamins and minerals. Find more details here:

White potatoes DO NOT count toward your 5-a-day because they are primarily made up of starchy carbohydrates and are high in calories. As they are eaten in such great quantities in the Western diet other vegetables are more valuable for improving your health.

There is nothing wrong with eating white potatoes, so long as you keep them as a carbohydrate source in your diet. If you do consume lots of potatoes be sure to keep the skins on whenever possible to preserve the lovely fibre, B vitamins, and potassium.

I hope this has been insightful for you.

Happy munching!

Any questions or comments…?

You can find more information here:

Recovery Runs – New to me!!

This was really interesting reading for me as I have never explored the idea of recovery runs, and am not great at giving myself rest days.

Knowing that any run helps to build fitness, no matter how short or slow, makes me feel much better about those days when I’ve taken it a bit easier.

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