Hidden Horrors and Fabulous Favourites

img_4690 Hidden Horrors

  1. Bottled Smoothies

So, I am a big fan of smoothies but I never ever buy them pre made out of a bottle. Why? They are jam packed full with sugar. Some smoothie brands have a whopping 57 grams of sugar in a 450ml bottle vs Coke which has 44 grams in comparison. Shocking hey! I am not saying that therefore Coke is better for you, it’s not. At least a bottled smoothie contains some nutritional benefits but in a world where we are already consuming too much sugar in our daily diets, just be aware that by adding these pre-made smoothies to your diet you are actually adding to your daily sugar intake quite significantly. So next time you grab that ‘healthy’ on the go, off the shelf smoothie, think again. The same goes for energy bars and sports drink fyi ;).

As I said, I do love smoothies however I personally would never chose a smoothie over a meal. They are just great though if you are in a rush or need to take something with you to have quickly later in a jam packed day. Be careful what you add though. Want to know how to build the most perfect, balanced healthy smoothie? Click here to go to my ‘how to build a better smoothie’ guide.

2. Gluten Free Products

Gluten free products have now gone mainstream and companies are cashing in on the ‘gluten free’ craze to the point where you can now go just about anywhere and see gluten free alternatives on the menu from bread to pasta to cakes and so on. I feel like people are buying gluten free bread for example as a healthy alternative. However, because it is gluten free it is does not necessarily mean that it is a healthier alternative to a whole wheat freshly baked loaf. For some people wheat is simply toxic, if you have celiacs for example. Wheat can be bloating for those that are intolerant to it due the fact it increases the permeability of the membrane in the stomach lining which can lead to leaky gut (a condition where the little holes in the gut lining open allowing toxins, incompletely digested food waste, fats etc to pass into the blood stream). However, this is not life threatening in mild cases and just basically makes you feel a bit sluggish.  So, it is important to listen to your body, if bread makes you feel sluggish then don’t eat it or eat much less of it. Eat everything in moderation and be careful not to over eat any food groups but in my opinion it is not wise to cut out any food group without good reason, i.e. unless you are allergic. Ok so why not replace bread with a gluten free option? Because, gluten free doesn’t = healthy. These alternatives often contain things like: soy, gluten free grains (corn, oat, rice, quinoa and amaranth), sugar and vegetable oils… all of which can also have bloating effects and can contribute to leaky gut.

3. Fat Free Foods

Often people go for Fat Free foods thinking that these are a healthier alternative, this is simply not the case. So, I would avoid these at all costs! Did you know, when a fat is removed from a product, usually the sodium and sugar content goes up (not to mention the chemical and thickener content). These things are are actually far worse for you than fat. Also, fat is actually good for you! It helps your body to function properly by aiding the regulation of hormones, increases the absorption of vitamins and minerals and also helps us to know we’re full so we don’t over eat. Our bodies use the fat we eat as energy and so it is an incredible important part of our diets and illuminating would not be a healthy thing to do. Just be careful what types of fats you are consuming though. Saturated fats aren’t good for the body however unsaturated fats such a omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil and flax) are a good source of fat along with avocados, nuts, nut butters and coconut products.

4. Isolated muscle movements

Ok, so I am a Pilates teacher and I, of course love Pilates. Why do I love Pilates though? Pilates is a workout that combines the mind with the body and also works every muscle in the body in a functional way. We flow through movements, elongate tight muscle groups and strengthen weaker muscle groups whilst maintaining a lengthened spine. This results in a body that can move efficiently and is strong but supple too. So, it is no surprise that I am not a fan of gym type machines that isolate particular muscle groups. My number 1 pet peeve? The hip abductor machines! After injuring my hip when I was a dancer, I was told to use this to machine to strengthen my gluts with the promise that by doing this my hip problems would go away. So, me being me, religiously used these machines. Not only was it mind numbingly boring, it did nothing to help my hip injury. Why? Well not only is it the most awkward piece of gym equipment ever but our inner and outer thighs were designed to support motion and not be used alone. The sitting position of these too can also lead to lower back and more hip problems. Save yourself the pain (and the boredom) I say. Forget the isolated gym machines and instead do something functional like: Pilates, Yoga or functional strength training such as curtsy lunges, press ups and squats. Also, a good quality HIT (high intensity training) workout is great for your cardio workout. See why below in my ‘fabulous favourites’ list.

HIT PilatesFabulous Favourites

  1. HIT – High Intensity Training

Recently I have started a HIT Pilates class. The reason for this is because there are some incredible proven benefits from doing just 15 minutes of intense exercise as opposed to slogging away at the gym for hours, or pounding the pavements running for miles. I love teaching HIT Pilates because it combines the heart pumping benefits of cardio and the strengthening, toning, focused elements of Pilates. On ‘Trust Me I’m A Doctor’ on the BBC recently they did a study on HIT workouts and they proved that in just 4 weeks people taking up HIT style workouts showed a 17% increase in their fitness and a 16% average drop in their blood pressure. Dr Beth Phillips says, ‘we think it’s because you get improved vascular function, so your vessels become more adept at responding to stimulus, and therefore they lower your blood pressure because the resistance in your blood vessels becomes much less.’ Hooray, so this means goodbye to long tedious workouts and hello to a quick fat burning fun workout class that does have proven results. Catch my class every Tuesday night at 5.45-6.30pm at Yellowave in Brighton.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

Each morning when I wake up I have a lemon tea with a few drops of apple cider vinegar. Also, I occasionally will add a few drops to my salad. Having done this myself for some time now I do really feel the benefits. So, why is having small amounts of apple cider vinegar each day so good?

  • It can help lower blood glucose levels – even better if you are type II diabetic. But, diabetic or not having a few drops of ACV before a meal helps to regulate the insuilin/glucose spike after a meal.
  • Alkalising for the system. So a great morning wake up before you hit those acid forming coffees. It’s super refreshing too. Remember a few drops is key.
  • ACV keeps you regular as long as it contains the ‘mother’ (strands of protein, enzymes and good bacteria), which help to keep your digestive system running smoothly

Just make sure that you are not having this pure though. Always dilute it with a suitable amount of water or just add a few drops to your salad/salad dressing.

3. Carbs!

There is a common misconception that eating carbs is unhealthy and will make you fat. This simply isn’t the case. Your body needs carbohydrates especially after exercise. In fact after a workout a carbohydrate and protein based meal is just what your body needs. Sure, if you eat too many carb0hydrates they could lead to weight gain, but then so could eating too much of anything. So here are 6 great reasons to eat carbs:

  • They do actually make you feel good. They release a hormone called serotonin, which is a feel good hormone. So there is a reason why you crave a comforting bowl of pasta (fresh pasta never the dried or gluten free stuff) on those ‘bleurgh’ days, it’s because your body actually needs it.
  • Many carbohydrates contain fibre, which is great for your guts.
  • Carbs are good for your heart, again due to them being rich in fibre (beans, oats, brown rice, bulgar, quinoa) they help to lower ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and increase ‘good’ HDL cholesterol.
  • By eating marco nutrients such as carbs, fats and proteins at the right time you can actually burn fat and trim your waist line. Carbs and proteins after exercise and healthy fats and proteins during non exercise periods helps to burn fat and increase toning.
  • Eating “slow-release” carbohydrates (brown rice, quinoa, oats) don’t spike blood sugar levels like refined carbs (white bread, white pasta) do. Insulin plays a role in signaling your body to store fat, having lower levels may help you burn fat.