How to Stay Fit on a Summer Vacation

Today, I want to welcome and thank Peter, a beauty and fashion editor at HighStyleLife magazine in the UK, for doing up this amazing guest post for Beautiful Health. Peter is based in London, and occasionally in Brisbane, Australia and also works as a fashion stylist for many events around the UK and Australia.

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When it comes to the matters of getting in shape (or staying in shape) – there’s always a sense of urgency about it. We can’t really be sure why but the thing is, whenever the scale jumps to three, four pounds extra, we get a panic attack and decide there and then something must be changed about our daily routines. Talks of healthy diet are evoked, regular visits to the gym too, and of course – all other healthy habits are immediately called into practice.

Since you’ve nailed it all in time, and you’re just maintaining your goal weight, you are good to go. However, consider that you are about to go on a vacation, and you’ll probably be tempted to indulge in all kinds of gorgeously delicious and exotic sweets, drinks and foods you’ve never tried before. And sure, with all that – you’ll be at risk of gaining a few extra pounds… and we don’t want that now, do we?

Here’s how to keep yourself fit and still enjoy every single moment of your holiday:

Eat whatever you want…

…in moderation! Nobody expects you to say “no” to fresh baklavas or all the amazing Mediterranean food but, as long you are eating it smartly, you are okay. You won’t gain weight by eating one cake in five days, but you will if you eat five cakes in one day. Be smart, don’t let all the hard work go to waste.

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Party hard…

…but reduce alcohol and soda beverages to a minimum. Going to a foreign country and not experiencing their night life first hand is bizarre. Honestly, we’d never advise you against a good party, not in a million years. But… what we are strongly advocating is keeping yourself as far away from the alcohol as possible. Instead, hit the dance floor, sweat it out and it’ll be like squeezing in a workout while having an amazing time!

NOTE: What you should be drinking in liters is water! You already know that this magic drink is something to swear by. It’s keeping you hydrated, it’s keeping you full and you are feeling more and more energized with every new sip. So, drink up!

Don’t starve…

…rather, eat foods that are healthy, but keep you full. Going on vacation is the perfect opportunity to experiment with new types of veggies, fruits and extracts you haven’t tried before, so enjoy making your morning shakes and energy drinks. You can always mix up tastes you already like, so feel free to throw in some organic pea protein powder in your smoothie for taste, and combine it with the local’s recommended veggies for experience.

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Don’t join the local gym…

…but take a stroll down the beach every single day before bed or in the morning. If you are a runner, go for a morning run to kick start your metabolism and enjoy the wonderful seaside! Naturally, when you are on the beach, don’t focus on tanning – but swimming. Swimming is an amazing exercise that burns calories rapidly, gets your whole body in shape and is incredibly refreshing. Also you should consider yoga or pilates on the beach. It’s fun yet relaxing!

Sleep till late…

…but only if that means not waking up after 9am. Your body does need sleep to accumulate energy, so make sure you squeeze in at least six hours of sleep a night. You might want to challenge yourself and run on four hours or so (it does get tempting and we understand the urge to take all the new experiences in), but the more tired you are, the more food your body is going to need to keep you functioning. This will only lead to late night snacks, binge eating, romantic walks to the local food stands… ah, you know the drill.

Basically, it all comes down to self-control. Sure, 10 days of your life won’t change much overall, but they will have an impact on your body in the long run. So, be smart and careful about your choices, and you’ll keep that body banging!

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Cherries on Top: why you should eat more cherries

Image via Flickr: Pink Sherbet Photography

Image via Flickr: Pink Sherbet Photography

Recently, I have developed an addiction to cherries. I just can’t get enough of those delicious fruits. I would eat box after box if I could. My favourite way to eat them is with low fat natural yogurt and strawberries.

Because I’ve been eating them in large amounts, I decided to research the benefits cherries can have on my health. I was pleasantly surprised by what I discovered…

High in anti-oxidants: Cherries are high in anthocyanins, which are anti-oxidants commonly found in brightly-coloured fruits. These anti-oxidants lower the risk of heart disease and cancer while also promoting healthy skin and brain cells. They may also prevent dementia and memory-loss.

Anti-inflammatory: Cherries inhibit enzymes in the body that cause muscle pain and therefore prevent inflammation. Studies show that they can act as a painkiller and have almost the same effectiveness as ibuprofen, which is very valuable to athletes who may suffer from post-exercise muscle pain. It is also good for those suffering from gout and arthritis.

Healthy Sleep: I’ve been sleeping like a log lately, and I was happy to discover that my love of cherries is the reason for this. Sour cherries contain the anti-oxidant melatonin which occurs naturally in the body to promote and regulate our sleep-patterns. No wonder I’ve been getting my eight hours so easily!

Lower Cholesterol: Cherries limit the uptake of fat into the body, controlling cholesterol levels of the blood. This makes them great for weight-loss and also promotes a healthy heart. They lower the levels of inflammation indicators in the blood, thereby lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

High in vitamins: Cherries are very high in vitamins A (great for healthy eyes), C (for a healthy immune system) and E (for beautiful skin) and also contain iron, magnesium and potassium. They are also an excellent source of fibre, which means they are great for digestion.

What an excellent snack to get addicted to!

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Your Shopping List for a Healthy Heart (with a delicious salmon and black bean recipe)

 

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Shopping for a balanced diet that’s right for you can be pretty confusing sometimes. As consumers, we receive so many mixed messages about what’s healthy and what’s not. Between ‘super-foods’, going organic, cutting down the carbs, and avoiding processed foods, it’s easy to lose faith in the advice we’re given – even the sound advice. Luckily, when it comes to fueling a healthy heart, there are some basic staples you know you can always turn to, that you can transform into delicious, creative meals.

Keep your Heart in Mind

We’ve all been hearing about Omega 3 for years, but the message remains true today. Omega 3 helps by managing your triglyceride levels, which can be harmful to your heart if they run too high. But with so many food tips on the go these days, it’s easy to miss out on the key sources of Omega 3 on your shopping list.

Here, I’ve broken down the key sources into fish, greens, beans and legumes, and oils. These should make up the basis of balanced shopping list. So as not to get caught up in the consumer crossfire, it’s good to plan ahead, and keep each of these key sources in mind when you put together your next shopping list.

Oily Fish: We’re not all born fish-lovers. Many of us were raised on a weekly fish intake of plain salmon and few boiled potatoes, so who can blame us? But oily fish such as tuna and mackerel are a great source of Omega 3. And if you stick with me, I’ll share a Mexican salmon recipe that just might have converted me to fish for life.

A great tip is to ask your local fishmonger how they would spruce up a recipe. Those of you in the west, if you haven’t paid a visit to Galway Bay Seafoods yet (just beyond the Harbour Hotel), then you’re in for a treat. They have a huge selection of seafood and a wonderful team of friendly experts, always happy to prepare your fish the way you like, and offer some sound recipe tips too. They even host cooking demonstrations if you’re really looking to be impressed.

Greens: The rumours were true. Green veggies, such as spinach and kale, are packed with alpha-lipoic acid which can help reduce triglycerides in your bloodstream by up to 60%. Not only this, but they are also low in calories. Unfortunately, certain fad diets over-rely on this fact, while ignoring the importance of healthy fats and fibres. Instead of going ‘all-salad’, consider adding greens to other meals: A handful spinach with your scrambled eggs, a boost of kale in your next smoothie, or some frozen peas in a Thai curry (tried and tested!).

Beans and Legumes: Beans are a great source of fibre, perfect for keeping you fuller longer, and keeping those sugar cravings at bay. When you think of black beans and lentils, some of you might lose interest at the thought of soaking them overnight. However, canned beans can be just as effective, can be stored for years, and better still, cooked in very little time.

It’s good to check that you’ve got at least one or two cans in the cupboard before you head out for your weekly shop. Just be sure to stick to brands with no-added-sugar, to keep your triglycerides at bay.

Another Galwegian tip: If you can resist the temptation of the ‘Yummy Crêpes’ stand at the Saturday market, pay a visit to the kind folks at The Bean Tree who make some fantastic curries packed with heart-loving lentils and chickpeas.

Oils on the plate… Olive oil is a wonderfully diverse staple to have on your shopping list. It’s rich in monounsaturated fat, which helps to lower triglycerides and can be used in cooking, salads, and even replacing butter on bread for a rich Italian flavour which isn’t heavy on the heart. Other heart-helping oils include cold pressed oils, like canola, flaxseed, and soybean.

…and off the plate: Certain generations of readers will still squirm remembering their regular spoon of cod liver oil before bedtime (unless you’ve blocked out the memory – and I wouldn’t blame you!). Luckily, there are now many alternatives to the dreaded spoon!

Omega 3 supplements have come a long way in recent years, with easy-to-swallow capsules cutting out the fishy after-taste. Consider adding a little extra Omega 3 to your next shopping list. Incorporating one or two capsules with breakfast can be an easy way to give your heart a healthy start to the day.

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Hopefully keeping these staples in mind, you can be more heart-focused on the next weekly shop. With these staples in mind, you have the basics to get creative with some new recipe ideas. So if you’re a trademark foodie, you can still give your heart the diet it deserves without losing your chef reputation.

Here’s my quick and healthy Mexican salmon to get you started…

Healthy Baked Mexican Salmon and Black Beans for Two

Ingredients:

1 tsp of cumin

Handful of chopped fresh coriander (plus a little extra for garnishing)

Juice of 1 lemon

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 finely chopped tomatoes

1 finely chopped red chilli (remove seeds for milder taste)

2 tsp of olive oil

2 salmon fillets

1 400g can of black beans

2 generous handfuls of baby spinach leaves

2 lime wedges (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C
  2. Combine coriander, cumin, lemon juice, chilli, chopped tomato, and crushed garlic in a bowl
  3. Brush salmon fillets with a little oil and place on a tinfoil sheet, leaving enough on the edges to cover later
  4. Pour over the tomato mixture from the bowl, and spread generously on each fillet.
  5. Wrap around the tin foil from the sides and pack tightly.
  6. Cook for 20mins or until just cooked through
  7. Meanwhile, on the hob cook your black beans on a medium heat for about ten minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper. Give them a quick mash with a potato masher for that ‘refried’ effect.
  8. Lastly, wash your spinach leaves for the side salad and toss with a little oil
  9. To serve, place your baked salmon on a bed of coarsely mashed black beans, with spinach salad on the side. No need for a salad dressing- use the excess juice from the oven to pour over the salmon, beans, and salad. Top with a final garnish of coriander, and a lime wedge on the side.
  10. Instagram at the ready, and provecho!

Thanks so much to Julie Hough for this guest post. I can’t wait to try out the salmon recipe!

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7 Surprising Health Benefits of Tomato Ketchup

If you are looking for a healthy condiment to use for a variety of things, look no further than tomato ketchup. This was probably your favorite sauce when you were a child, but as an adult, you still want to incorporate it into your diet on a regular basis. Ketchup contains a unique mixture of nutrients that have a positive impact on your health.

Add some ketchup to your sandwiches, use it as your go-to dipping sauce or add it to other meals and dishes to ensure that you are getting a good amount in your normal diet.

Read the information on the infographic below to get more information about how tomato ketchup can help to improve your overall health.

7 Surprising Health Benefits of Tomato Ketchup

 

Courtesy of: Bestjuicerchoice.com.

Thanks to Julie Roy for sending this one in! I’m off to make some ketchup!

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The benefits of Coconut Oil

I’ve always loved coconut oil and regularly use it instead of a night-time moisturiser on my skin. I found it healed any leftover marks from blemishes and made my skin feel softer and more moisturised.

I’ve also used it as a hair mask when my hair felt dry and dead, and it restored life and softness, giving it a beautiful shine.

So when I found this infographic on coconut oil, I wasn’t surprised to see that the benefits stretch far beyond hair and beauty.

Coconut oil is one of the best oils for cooking as it doesn’t go rancid when heated, like many other oils do (including olive oil, believe it or not). Using coconut oil for cooking will provide you with the essential fatty acids and healthy saturated fats your body needs. These fats can actually help you manage your weight, boost your immune system and improve insulin sensitivity.

To top it off, the fat in coconut oil has no negative effect on cholesterol and may actually improve it, until other fats.

If you haven’t tried this oil yet, I highly recommend that you do.

The Amazing Benefits of Coconut Oil [INFOGRAPHIC]

Courtesy of Natural Healthy Concepts: The Amazing Benefits of Coconut Oil [INFOGRAPHIC]

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Beautiful Skin: 5 foods that will make you glow

We all want clear, healthy, beautiful skin. But sometimes it’s difficult. Products can dry our skin out, or chemicals can clog pores.

More importantly, what we eat often shows on our skin; it affects us from the inside out.

Unhealthy foods can cause breakouts, while healthy foods with high water content (such as fresh fruit or veg… or water itself) can give us that clear complexion we love.

Food is so important to our skin that I’ve decided to make a list of foods you should keep in your kitchen cupboard for healthy skin.

Almonds for beautiful skin

Almonds: These tasty little nuts provide tonnes of goodness for your skin. They are filled to bursting point with antioxidants, which will cleanse and eliminate toxins from your body, giving you that beautiful skin you long for.

They are also a great source of vitamin E. Many of us will rub vitamin E creams on our skin, which is great, but imagine having that vitamin E coming from the inside too – a double whammy of Vitamin E equals doubly beautiful skin!

Rubbing almond oil on your face can also reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines while also helping to cure acne or blackheads.

Almonds also cure constipation and ensure a healthy digestive system, which is essential for healthy, glowing, beautiful skin. You just can’t go wrong with almonds.

Avocado for beautiful skin

Avocado: This fruit is a natural way to replenish and nurture your body. It is filled with healthy fats, which are needed for soft and beautiful skin. Avocado oil has long been used in many of our beauty products, so why not try it in its purest form?

Avocados are full of vitamin A, which helps to remove dry and dead skin, and glutamine, which protects the skin from environmental damage.

Avocado oil is easily absorbed and is great for penetrating the deepest layers of skin, while stimulating the growth of new skin cells and improving circulation. The oil is also a great moisturiser and helps to soften the skin.

Avocado oil is also great as a sunscreen, face mask and even conditioner if mixed with the right ingredients. So you can use it on the surface of your skin, but eating it will also work on your skin from the inside.

Watermelon for beautiful skin

Watermelon: There is just so much this delicious fruit can do for beautiful skin. Let’s talk about eating it first. Watermelon is made up of mostly water (which is why it’s called “water”melon).

Water is essential for beautiful skin as it can flush out the toxins, leaving us with a clean, clear, beautiful complexion. It is recommended that we drink approximately two litres of water a day, but how many of us can actually do this?

Fortunately, a couple of slices of water melon can contribute to your daily intake, so there’s more water going in, but less of that glugging from a bottle or a glass. But that’s only one benefit of watermelon. There are tonnes more.

This tasty melon is bursting with antioxidants, such as vitamins A and C, which are powerful tools against signs of aging. Young-looking skin is beautiful skin, and watermelons can help you achieve this.

Watermelon is also a source of lycopene, which is a red pigment found in tomatoes and other red foods. This can help to protect your skin from the sun, by eliminating free radicals which cause damage to the skin.

Let’s move on to the next benefit of watermelon. Its high vitamin A content means this fruit is not only good for vision and healthy bones; it is also important for the health and vitality of your skin as it reduces the amount of oil secreted from the skin, while also reducing pore size.

Finally, watermelon juice can be used as a natural beauty product, instead of the expensive products you buy in shops. It can be used in home made face masks by mixing it with honey for dry skin, or witch hazel for oily skin.

The pure juice can be used as a natural toner which will remove traces of cleanser while also exfoliating, lightning and tightening your skin. Phew! With all those benefits, I bet you’re wondering why you don’t have a watermelon in your kitchen right now!

Coconuts for beautiful skin

Coconut and Coconut Oil: If you want soft and beautiful skin, then coconut should definitely be on your shopping list.

Bursting with antioxidants, coconut helps slow down the aging process by reducing wrinkles and softening the skin. Coconuts are filled with Vitamins C and B2, promoting healthy eyes.

It is also pumping with iron, which encourages strong blood production. A good blood supply equals glowing, beautiful skin, as oxygen is circulated throughout the body.

Coconut oil is also the perfect moisturiser for all skin types. It is especially great for dry skin and aging skin as it softens the complexion, reduces wrinkles and makes you look refreshed and wide-awake.

It is also perfect for many skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis. I’ve always found it great for healing scars.

Coconut oil, like avocado oil, is used in so many beauty products. But why buy the product when you can buy it pure and natural, for pure and naturally beautiful skin?

Honey for beautiful skin

Honey: For centuries, honey has been used as a natural beauty product. Ancient beauties such as Cleopatra bathed in honey and milk to make their skin soft and beautiful. But before I get onto honey as a natural beauty product, let’s talk about how eating honey can benefit your skin.

Honey is filled with those antioxidants I talked about earlier, and as I mentioned, these are great for slowing down the aging process. By eating honey, you’ll add extra antioxidants, which will help with the skin.

But honey is more often used outside the body, as a beauty product. There are so many things you can do with honey. Applying it to the skin will allow the antioxidants to reduce wrinkles while also softening the skin and giving it a healthy glow. Honey also has the ability to absorb and retain moisture, which is why it is a popular ingredient in many cosmetic products.

Honey can be used as a toner if mixed with cucumber or apple. Mix it with oats or almonds to make a homemade face scrub, or add to soap for a more natural cleanser.

Rub some honey on half a lemon before applying to the face and leaving as a mask for 5 minutes for glowing, beautiful skin. The possibilities with honey are endless and I’d be here all day if I were to detail each and every one of them to you.

For now though, I’m off to the supermarket to get all of the above foods. They’re tasty and they’ll help me to get beautiful skin!

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7 reasons you may be feeling hungry

Hunger can sometimes creep up on us at unexpected times. If you’ve eaten a big meal less than an hour ago, you couldn’t possibly be hungry again, could you? Yet there are times throughout the day when we start to feel the munchies creep in. A chocolate bar or piece of cake or seven would go down lovely. Or a second lunch.

But believe it or not, feeling hungry doesn’t always mean you’re hungry. There are several other reasons you may feel hungry, so next time you feel like nibbling, consider these seven things before you reach for the snacks.

Hungry for comfort food

Emotion: How we feel can often trigger the urge to eat. When we’re happy, we like to celebrate with food. When we’re sad, we may think the sweet taste of chocolate, or the greasy deliciousness of a bag of chips will cheer us up. When we’re angry, we might find the action of chewing soothing and calming. If we feel stressed, we might want to make ourselves feel better by packing in the calories.

Whatever the emotion, we start to associate it with eating. But we all know that doesn’t change the emotion that initially triggered the hunger. We gobble down the carbs and take in an unnecessary amount of calories and gain nothing from the experience at all, except maybe a few unwanted pounds. So what can we do?

Try chewing a piece of sugar-free gum. The action of chewing is often all you need to curb your cravings. And if that’s not a good enough reason, there are no calories in gum, so you’re curbing the craving and avoiding the aforementioned ‘unnecessary calories’and ‘unwanted pounds’.

Hungry because of exhaustion

ExhaustionIf we don’t sleep well, our bodies will crave energy. When this happens, it’s too easy to reach for the carbs and sugary foods to give ourselves that energy boost. But in giving in to the urge we are filling our bodies with carbs we don’e need. Also, a sugar-high is usually followed by that rapid fall in energy levels, leaving you feeling even more tired than before, which makes you want to reach for the snacks again. It’s a vicious cycle.

And who knows what all the greasy, sugary snacks could be doing to your skin in the meantime?

Instead of eating, you should wake yourself up with some exercise, like a brisk walk or a cycle. The fresh air and oxygen supply will have you feeling more energetic. At least then you can plan to get to bed earlier next time so you can avoid the exhaustion munchies.

Hungry

All worked out: An intense workout can leave your body feeling drained. In these cases, you’ll often feel like you could eat a cheeseburger or a full steak dinner. But eating so many calories means all your hard work was for nothing. The reason you can crave these foods after an intense workout is because exercise depletes the body of protein, and protein is an essential nutrient when building muscle or toning up.

But instead of heading to McDonalds, or the nearest steakhouse, you could drink a glass of milk. A large glass of milk contains around 80 calories and enough protein to keep you going until your next meal. Alternatively you could drink a protein shake.

party food

At a party: It’s difficult to resist the urge to graze at a party, even if you’ve had a healthy, satisfying meal an hour or so earlier. At a party, food is laid out, neatly displayed, cooked by friends or family members. It’s colourful, it’s tasty, it smells delicious. Cakes, sweets, greasy snacks; all in small sizes that trick you into thinking you’re not eating much. But big calories can come in small snacks.

It can be tough when everyone around you is eating, and watching others chew can give you the urge to fill a plate and start nibbling too. The hardest part is standing there doing nothing while everyone is keeping their hands busy by eating. But all hope is not lost. Instead of grazing at the food table, move to the opposite side of the room. Have a drink so your hands are full. Chat with friends to keep your mouth busy. It’s that simple.

Hungry or bored?

Boredom: You have nothing to do. Maybe it’s raining outside. Perhaps you’re fed up of work or study. So the only thing you can do is explore the fridge, right? Let’s see… yogurt, fruit, salad. Boring. Ah, here we go: a leftover slice of chocolate cake. That’ll do nicely. Or not.

We’ve all had moments where the exploration of the kitchen cupboards seems like more fun than whatever it was we were bored of. This goes back to the comfort eating. Boredom requires something fun and pleasurable and much of the time we find comfort in calories. But what you really need is the comfort without the food. Why not invite a friend out for a walk? Getting out of the house and into the fresh air will also get you away from the fridge.

Oh and you should get rid of that chocolate cake to avoid future temptations.

Hungry procrastination

Procrastineating: We’ve all done this. We have an assignment due for work or college. There’s that exam coming up. The kitchen needs to be cleaned. The dog needs to be washed. We’ll get around to it… tomorrow. Right now we’ll take some time out to make ourselves a delicious sandwich.

There are so many popular ways to procrastinate. Scrolling through Facebook, refreshing the page, and scrolling to see if there’s anything new is one of my own procrastination habits. But there are many people who will eat as a form of procrastination. You can’t write an assignment if you’ve got a sandwich in your hands, right?

But by eating that sandwich, you’re not going to get that assignment done either. Why not chew some gum to satisfy the urge to eat? Or go for a walk, get some fresh air and then get that damn work done!

Thirsty not hungry

Thirst: When we’re thirsty, our brain gets a message that is almost identical to that of hunger. For this reason, we often mistake thirst for hunger and are therefore more likely to reach for the snacks than the bottle of water.

If you’ve had a big meal recently and start to feel peckish, drink a glass of water and then wait ten minutes; the hunger should disappear. If not, you’re probably hungry.

There are several other reasons you may feel hungry, but the ones listed above are ones you’re probably most familiar with. So if you feel like nibbling between meals, consider the above reasons. If none of them apply, then you’re probably hungry and should grab a sandwich.

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