Top signs your blood sugar is imbalanced

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As a food consultant, private chef and qualified nutritionist, I know first hand how there’s many signs your blood sugar is imbalanced. These symptoms include:

You have excess belly fat (and struggle to lose it): Insulin resistance means that instead of being shuttled into your cells, glucose from carbs and sugar are stored as fat. This often shows up around the waist and can be difficult to lose. So if you are carrying weight around your tummy and wonder why this is, imbalanced blood sugars could well be the culprit here!

You constantly crave sugar and carbs: Your body wants energy and it wants it NOW. Sugar and carbohydrates are the fastest way to get a hit. A poor diet means you’re less satisfied between meals, which is why you always want to run to the vending machine at work or crave sugary treats in the evening! Those cravings are never satisfied, and you always seem to want more. What’s more, dessert is a daily need and this is a tell tale sign that your blood sugars are imbalanced.

It’s bad news when you miss a meal: One word here; hangry! Hungry + angry is a bad combination and don’t we all know it! If you work friends avoid you or your family hides (all because you’ve missed a meal and know what your mood will be like), think again! Mood swings and irritability are often caused by low blood sugar. You may also feel jittery or lightheaded if you haven’t eaten as well. This also leads to overeating, binge eating, and major carb cravings, and the cycle continues. And goes on and on, and on!!

You’re always tired and have low energy: Meals don’t make you feel energised? Still peeling yourself out of bed after a full-night’s sleep? If so, it’s time to take a look at what you’re eating and how well it’s balanced. A good meal should make you feel great.

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You have hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue, or another hormone imbalance: Chronically imbalanced blood sugar affects our stress hormones, too. Cortisol increases to help your body deal with the stress of high blood sugar, and ‘chronically elevated cortisol’ comes with its own cascade of health problems. Watch out!

You get colds easily: Poor diet and stress are often the underlying reasons why you’re the one stuck catching a cold every season. Whether it’s emotional, physical with elevated blood sugar and cortisol, our Vitamin C stores deplete under stress. If you aren’t getting enough Vitamin C through your diet, you are far more susceptible to getting sick.

You struggle to concentrate: This is yet another sign of low blood sugar. If brain fog rolls in and you have a hard time focusing on work, that’s when you know it’s been too long between meals. Alternatively, it could mean that the meal you did eat wasn’t well balanced with protein, fat, and fibre.

You have trouble falling or staying asleep: Eating too close to bed can affect your sleep quality. If blood sugar is high around bedtime, you’ll find it hard to fall asleep. Alternatively, if you’ve eaten too close to bedtime, once you finally digest your meal and insulin has done its job, blood sugar drops back down, and you’ll likely wake up as cortisol works to bring it back to a stable level.

You suffer from depression and/or anxiety: Blood sugar imbalances may not be the only contributor towards mental health issues, but they can exacerbate symptoms by affecting gut health and hormonal health. Your gut is where serotonin is produced, so if sugar is affecting the healthy bacteria in your gut, symptoms of depression and anxiety can become enhanced.

Still suffer with acne as an adult: Just as your microbiome is largely responsible for your mental health, it is also related to skin health. You may have noticed when you eat certain foods and they show up in some way on your face later on. Acne is a condition of inflammation, which occurs when sugar in your diet fuels the growth of yeast and bacteria in the gut.

Your blood tests show nutrient deficiencies: Your body uses up important nutrients to digest the food you eat. If the food you eat is devoid of nutrients (like many processed foods that are high in sugar and carbs), the ones you’re using to digest aren’t being replenished. There are too many ways nutrient deficiencies can manifest for me to list them here, but several are related to blood sugar regulation. More on that below.

You deal with embarrassing gas, uncomfortable bloating, and other digestive issues: A diet high in sugar affects your microbiome, meaning the healthy balance of bacteria in your gut. This can result in conditions like leaky gut, dysbiosis, and candida overgrowth. Additionally, if your gut isn’t functioning properly, food can take much longer to digest. This can cause odious gas and bloating as it sits in the stomach waiting to be processed.

You have high cholesterol: Cholesterol is a good thing, but in the right amount. It protects our cells and acts as a gatekeeper, letting the good stuff in and keeping the bad stuff out. If we keep feeding ourselves “bad” stuff (processed, high-carb, high-sugar foods, etc.), more cholesterol is needed to protect the cell from it all, so it rises.

As an experienced food consultant and qualified nutritionist, I’m armed with the knowledge and experience needed to get you feeling fight fit again.

Auto-Immune Diets

Auto-immune diseases diagnoses are often given with no recommended treatments. But food can play a role in helping the body heal.

As a highly experienced food consultant focusing on nutrition and a passion for plant based diets, I’m here to help you on your journey in understanding the impact of the foods we eat if you suffer with auto-immune conditions.

Photo courtesy of Food Revolution

Photo courtesy of Food Revolution

In order to restore health and reduce inflammation, I’ve got some great ways of improving how you feel which I hope will give you a better understanding of your relationship with food. First things first, it should be noted that there’s various strategies out there surrounding what to eat if you suffer with an auto-immune disease. Here I cover a few examples.

Low-Carb Diets

Many people consider a diet with between 50-100 grams of carbs each day a low-carb diet. Some people have seen weight loss, effective against neurological disorders and even some cancers but what is the purpose of a low-carb diet? The main definition is if the number of carbs consumed is enough to put a person into ketosis; a process where the body relies on ketones and glucose to supply energy to the body which is achieved by eating less than 25 grams a day.

Candida and SCD Diet

Essentially this diet aims to get rid of foods that feed the overgrowth in the gut (such as starches). This also includes food which are in the auto-immune protocol such as sweet potatoes, milk, fruit, squash, tapioca, sweeteners and other foods. Why try this diet? This diet can help reduce symptoms for those experiencing overgrowths but cannot eliminate pathogens by themselves.

Low- FODMAP Diet

In a nutshell, this diet eliminates short-chain fermentable carbs that feed the overgrowth of bacteria in the gut. Those suffering with bloating, gas, constipation, IBS and diarrhoea all use this diet to get their issues under control.All high FODMAP foods are excluded for several weeks and then slowly reintroduced to see the body’s tolerance to each type.

GAPS Diet

Similar to the Candida and SCD diet, the GAPS diet incorporates specific pathogen approach, but doesn’t pinpoint allergens and gut nourishing nutrients. Foods include well cooked meat, vegetables, and broth until more foods are introduced across time. First up is ghee, dairy, egg yolks, nuts, probiotics, and fermented vegetables.

Photo courtesy of My Republica

Photo courtesy of My Republica

Food Lists

Fill up on these delicious goodies to help your auto-immune disease!

Fruit and Vegetables

  • Fruits and vegetables- the colourful versions!

  • Sea vegetables

  • All types of vegetables- a good variety

  • Turnips

  • Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and similar green leaf veggies.

Steer clear of:

  • Potatoes- sweet potatoes

  • Tomatoes

  • Hot Peppers

  • Eggplant/ Aubergine

  • Goji berries

  • Paprika

Protein

  • Fish and shellfish

  • Venison

  • Turkey, chicken and pheasant (not excess amounts)

  • Rabbit

  • Offal

  • Glycine-rich foods

  • Pork

  • Lamb

  • Beef and buffalo

  • Duck (in moderation)

Fats

  • Animal fats

  • Coconut

  • Fatty fish

  • Avocados

  • Olives

There’s plenty more foods you can enjoy and ones you should definitely avoid! Get in touch to discuss how I can help deliver delicious, nutritious food which will help with your auto-immune conditions. I look forward to working with you for a bright and fulfilling future in the world of food.

Plant Based Diets

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Vegan, Vegetarian, Flexitarian, Pescatarian & Macrobiotic DIETS

As a food consultant and nutritionist focusing on plant based diets, I’m delving into the world of all things foodie as I provide a simple low down on the various different types of plant based diets. Maybe you are already following one of them, or maybe you’re considering making a change to the way you approach food in your daily life? Whatever your reasons, I’m here to help you along your journey.

Vegan

Veganism is a type of vegetarian diet that excludes meat, eggs, dairy products and all other animal-derived ingredients. Many vegans also do not eat foods that are processed using animal products, such as refined white sugar and some wines. The term vegan refers to either a person who follows this way of eating, or to the diet itself. The word vegan can be an adjective used to describe a food item, as in, “This curry is veganor, it can be used as a noun, as in, “Vegans like cakes, too.”

Vegans do not eat meat of any kind and also do not eat eggs, dairy products, or processed foods containing these or other animal-derived ingredients such as gelatin (as opposed who vegetarians, who typically eat dairy products and eggs). Many vegans also refrain from eating foods that are made using animal products that may not contain animal products in the finished process, such as sugar and some wines. There is some debate as to whether certain foods, such as honey, fit into a vegan diet.

Image from Rise of the Vegan

Image from Rise of the Vegan

Vegetarian

When most people think of vegetarians, they think of lacto-ovo-vegetarians: People who do not eat beef, pork, poultry, fish, shellfish, insects or animal flesh of any kind, but do eat eggs and dairy products are lacto-ovo vegetarians (“lacto” comes from the Latin for milk, and “ovo” for egg). This is the most common type of vegetarian.

Lacto-vegetarian is used to describe a type of vegetarian who does not eat eggs, but does eat dairy products.

Ovo-vegetarian refers to people who do not eat meat or dairy products but do eat eggs.

Lacto-ovo vegetarian, that is, a vegetarian who eats both eggs and dairy products, is the most common kind of vegetarian.

Image from The Conversation

Image from The Conversation

Flexitarian

“Flexitarian” is a term recently coined to describe those who eat a mostly vegetarian diet, but occasionally eat meat. Many people who call themselves “flexitarian” or “semi-vegetarian” have given up red meat for health reasons while others, for environmental reasons, only eat free-range or organic animals and animal products.

Flexitarian is about adding new foods to your diet as opposed to excluding any, which can be extremely beneficial for health. These plant-based foods include lentils, beans, peas, nuts and seeds, all excellent in protein!

Image from BBC Good Food

Image from BBC Good Food

Microbiotic

The macrobiotic diet, revered by some for its healthy and healing qualities, includes unprocessed vegan foods, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and allows the occasional consumption of fish. Sugar and refined oils are avoided. Perhaps the most unique qualifier of the macrobiotic diet is its emphasis on the consumption of Asian vegetables, and sea vegetables, such as seaweed.

Image from BBC Good Food

Image from BBC Good Food

Pescatarian

The word “pescatarian” is used to describe those who steer clear from eating all meat and animal flesh with the exception of fish. Although the word is not commonly used, more and more people are adopting this kind of diet, usually for health reasons or as a stepping stone to a fully vegetarian diet.

Image from Bio TRUST

Image from Bio TRUST

Chemo Aftercare

As you get over your battle with the big C, you may be concerned about the possible side effects of chemotherapy; you are not alone. Many people worry about how chemotherapy will affect their bodies, but there are things you can do to stay healthy and reduce these issues.

Ensure you get all the vitamins, minerals and nutritional goodness from your food with a balanced diet

Ensure you get all the vitamins, minerals and nutritional goodness from your food with a balanced diet

Chemotherapy can change the way your body uses food. Eating well can make you feel better and keep you strong for the remainder of your treatments. Different types of nutrition can help with various parts of chemotherapy.

As a food consultant specialising in plant based diets working across the UK and around the globe (mainly the USA, Europe and UAE), I am here to help you on your road to recovery through the right types of food.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more, feel free to get in touch, I’m here to help. In the meantime, feel free to take a look at how each type of food can help you stay healthy.

Proteins help repair your body tissues and keep your immune system strong. As such, protein is especially important for those who are battling cancer. With this in mind, it is important to improve your protein intake to better meet the increased demands that your body requires while on chemo, radiation and/or immuno-therapies.

Here I advocate for a plant-based diet. This does not necessarily mean vegetarian, but it does reduce our reliance on meat and animal based products. The reason is because large intakes of animal products and red meat may result in elevations in a hormone, called IGF-1 that leads to inflammation.

Vegetarian proteins are hands-down the healthiest and least expensive sources. of protein.

Beans and lentils- Legumes are powerhouses of nutrition, indeed that we simply just do not eat enough of! They're healthy for our guts, reduce risk of chronic disease, promote healthy weight, maintain energy and heart health. 

Nuts and seeds- Nuts and seeds are not only healthy sources of good protein, but they're also loaded with essential minerals and healthy fats. Don’t forget because they are so nutrient-dense, you only need a small portion. Loaded with fibre, antioxidants and phytochemicals, nuts and seeds are so simple to add to every day dishes. But that’s not it, they can help to reduce heart disease risk and also reduce inflammation too!

Meat- For those meat lovers out there, when purchasing meat, try to find ethically-sourced, humanely-raised, 100 percent grass-fed or at least pasture-raised beef. Also, be conscious of portion size. If you are struggling, talk to your local butchers; what animals eat affect the quality of their meat.  Alternatively, get in touch and I’ll be happy to offer a personal chef service to suit your individual needs.

Also, processed meats should be avoided as much as possible since they have been announced to be carcinogenic per the World Health Organisation.  What’s more, they are loaded with preservatives which are not necessary to your diet so steer clear of these!

Other sources include dairy products as well as fish. Fish and seafood are good sources of protein and are typically low in fat. While slightly higher in fat than other varieties, salmon packs in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids which can reduce joint stiffness and inflammation.

Eating during treatment can be incredibly difficult. Some cancer patients suffer from taste changes, food aversions, nausea and odour sensitivities. If it's hard to eat natural sources of protein, you may opt for protein powders. This is fine to help supplement the diet. Here I generally recommend protein powders that do not have a lot of added ingredients. You don't need lots of added vitamins, minerals and amino acids. You don't need anything marketed to body-builders either.

Opt for vegan protein sources, like pea or hemp protein, or try whey protein, which is usually also lactose-free. Go for unflavored powders or try a bone broth. While not loaded with protein necessarily, one client of mine claimed my homemade broths had super-healing properties like collagen. Bone broth can also be hydrating and tasty so what’s there not to love?

Healthy fats, like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, help you keep up your energy levels.

Water is the body’s natural first aid. It keeps all of your vital vitamins and minerals in balance, and it keeps every cell in your body functioning properly.

Vitamins and minerals are found in many healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. If your food intake has been altered, get in touch to discuss ways to get a balanced diet back.

Got a question or need some help in creating nutritional yet tasty post cancer treatment dishes? Get in touch to find out more. Alternatively, if you are interested in following a plant based diet and would like to explore this more, feel free to pop me an email and I’ll be in touch very soon!

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Guatemalan Tamales

Tamales are typical of Guatemalan cuisine and are essentially flavorful mixes of dough, meat, and sauces steamed in large leaves. They are perfect for food on the go as they are delicious and easy to transport. What’s more, making tamales is a fantastic way to bond with your loved ones, and even if you don’t make the full recipe, it’s a delicious dish regardless!

History

At the core of the Mayan diet; tamales have a deep history. Tamales were the fuel for their warriors and travellers; they provided food for weeks on the go. When the Spanish came to Guatemala, they introduced new flavours to the region, inspiring a mix of New World and Old World ingredients that are incorporated into tamales found in Guatemala today.

Amazingly, evidence points to tamales being consumed by the ancient Aztec and Mayan cultures. The earliest tamales were simple, made with beans and squash and roasted over a fire. When Europeans brought other ingredients such as chicken, pork, olives, raisins, and other foods to the New World, the tamales became more elaborate and varied.

As with every dish there is numerous versions of Guatemalan tamales. The differences can be found in the size, the leaves used for steaming, flavours of sweet or savoury, and the ingredients of the dough (or masa). 

Recipe

On a recent trip to Los Angeles a dear friend taught me this amazing recipe! This recipe makes 50 tamales, so you have plenty of delicious food to share with your loved ones…

Ingredients and Method

Part 1- Sauce

  • 2 bunches of coriander

  • 3 fresh by leaves

  • X2 pasilla chilli

  • 8 large red tomatoes

  • 1 ½ celery stalks

  • ¼ one large onion

  • X2 California chilli pods- deseeded

  • 1 red bell pepper

Method

  • Put all the ingredients in a pan cover with water cook for 45 min

  • Blend it when cooked

  • Add chicken stock powder

  • Put banana leaf into boiling water 15 min on each side  to soften them to fold easier

  • When they ready, cut into squares and set aside

Part 2- Sauce

  • Pumpkin seeds 120g

  • Sesame seeds 120g

  • Roast on oven tray

  • Add half of the roasted seeds in the blender

  • Half of the tomato mix above

  • 1-2 cups chicken stock

  • Cinnamon stick

  • Annatto/achiote 1 tbsp (Annatto is an orange-red condiment and food coloring derived from the seeds of the achiote tree (Bixa orellana) native to tropical regions from Mexico to Brazil.

  • 2 cloves

  • 1 tsp black pepper

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • 1 tsp meat seasoning

  • 2 tbsp chicken stock

  • 1 tsp salt

Method

  • Blend the ingredients well

  • In a pan add 2oz butter add the blended ingredients to butter in pan and cook down/reduce

  • Towards the end 1 tbsp  chicken stock

  • 1 tsp salt

  • Cook for further 15 minutes then take off heat

  • Add chicken bouillon towards the end

  • 1 cup of veg oil in sauce when cooking

  • 50 pcs aluminium foil cut into 10 x10 inch rectangles

Assembly

  • Cut foil into squares same size as banana leaf

  • Place the square of banana leaf, washed hard spine removed and cut into 10x 10 inch rectangles- onto foil

  • Put one large spoon of rice on the leaf it serves as a base

  • Onto of the rice place chicken and sauce on-top /can put the chicken pieces in sauce before or shred it whichever you prefer

  • Garnish with peppers and raisins and prune are optional

  • Fold the top edge of the banana leaf down over the filling.

  • Bring the bottom edge of the banana leaf up over this.then fold in both sides to make a rectangular package. (Be careful not to wrap it too tightly or the filling will squeeze out.)

  • Flip the package over so it is seam side down.

  • Finally, place them in a pan with a colander so they can be steamed.

6 Superfoods to try in 2019

Superfoods are on the rise. They have boomed in popularity and are leading the way in the latest trend to sweep the UK and the globe. With the New Year in full swing, I’ve created a countdown to 6 of the top superfoods to try in 2019. They are all delicious and nutritional that you’ll feel amazing for adding these into your diet.

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Fiddleheads

Appearing once a year around Spring, Fiddleheads are the edible, coiled-up leaves of young ostrich fern plants. As their name suggests, they resemble the scroll of a beautiful violin. Fiddleheads have long been a delicacy of choice in the northeastern regions of North America from Maine to Canada, where they naturally sprout.

Pichuberry

Resembling a gooseberry, the pichuberry is being billed as a superfood. The Pichuberry has become popular throughout the world, and has many alternate names. It is commonly referred to as a gooseberry, golden berry, Peruvian cherry, and ground berry. It has many health benefits; it’s one of the most abundant sources of vitamin C available among all fruits and plants. Its vitamin C levels reach as much as 20 times of that in an orange! It is also a powerful antioxidant and is effective in boosting immunity while restoring vitality. No wonder the Incas were so strong!

Beluga Lentils

Less common than red, yellow and green lentils, Beluga lentils are a type of small, black lentil, which get their name from their resemblance to Beluga caviar. Grown in the cool, dry climates of Canada and America’s northern plain, Beluga lentils have a delicate taste and are fantastic at absorbing other flavours. What’s more, Beluga lentils are high in dietary fibre and folates. Unlike green lentils, they possess anthocyanins – the same powerful antioxidant found in dark berries like blueberries and blackberries. These antioxidants are great at preventing damage to cells by free-radicals.

Za’ atar

Za’ atar is a herb and a spice blend of ground sumac and toasted sesame seeds. It is a relative of the oregano family and native to the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean regions. The blends vary from region to region, but, generally, the flavour is nutty and herbal.

Kiwicha

Kiwicha, also known as amaranth or “mini quinoa” is a small pseudo cereal noted for its dense nutritional content.  It’s been farmed in Peru and other areas of South America for over 4,000 years and was widely used as a subsistence crop before the Spanish conquest. Kiwicha is also commonly used to prepare turrones, a popular treat made of popped kiwicha and molasses, chicha (kiwicha beer) as well as pilaf, hot cereal, snack bars and granola. Some more unique usages for popped kiwicha include its usage as a breading for meat and meat alternatives but also as filler in items like meat loaf and various quick breads and candies.

Adzuki Beans

Dried beans are often a staple in the diet of many vegetarians, and studies show that beans like the adzuki may be a main reason so many health benefits are associated with this way of eating. With their high mix of protein and fiber, adzuki beans are great for helping manage normal blood sugars. Not only are adzuki beans tasty, but they’re also loaded with disease-fighting and health-promoting antioxidants.  They can also help with weight management, a healthy heart and great if you’re looking to add more muscle.

Fruity Gelatin Shots

When collagen is processed, it becomes a flavourless, colourless substance called gelatin. After it cools it has a jelly like texture. If you are suffering from a sports injury or an athlete looking to improve your performance or prevent injury, these delicious fruity gelatin shots could be just the ticket!

Benefits

  • For athletes, fruity gelatin shots (when snacked on pre-exercise) can help improve performance and prevent injury

  • Fruity gelatine shots contain amino acids which are essential for the proper functioning of various organs as well as providing energy.

  • Gelatin shots are ideal for easing joint pain

  • They can help to improve sleep quality

  • Helps to aid weight loss

  • Can help with aiding digestive function

  • Helps control blood sugars

  • Assists with maintaining healthy bones

Ingredients

  •  Gelatine powder sachets 10g 

  • 300ml Mango/strawberry/ pomegranate /guava juice (Chosen juice must have no acid as it will break the gelatin down)

  • Other alternatives include coconut water or rose water/ orange blossom water to create unique flavours

 Method

1.     Heat 125ml of juice until it begins to bubble

2.     Add 10g of gelatine

3.     Whisk until dissolved

4.     Remove from the heat

5.     Add the remaining juice into the mix

6.     Whisk thoroughly

7.     Pour until moulds, roughly 100g shots

8.     Refrigerate overnight

Important Information

  • To be eaten first thing in the morning on an empty stomach

  • Daily dose 150-200g per day

 

Halima's Bone Broth

Inspired by a Pro Footballer struggling with regenerative issues, I created this bone broth recipe to help ease some of the pain and discomfort.

Why bone broth is fantastic for you

  • It’s better than expensive botox

  • It contains minerals and nutrients galore!

  • It makes skin plump and supple

  • Reduces cellulite

  • Helps to cushion joints

  • Provides healing for the digestive tract

  • Ideal for athletes as it’s a great way to refuel post game or activity.

Ingredients

Step 1-2

  • Veal bones 3.3kg

  • Beef ox tail 2.8kg

  • Vinegar

  • Water

Step 3-5

  • 1x bunch of celery with leaves

  • 4x large red onions

  • 5x carrots

  • 4x bulbs of garlic

  • 2x large leeks

Step 6

  •  10x black peppercorns

  • 4x bay leaves

  • 5x litres of water

Method

1.     Soak veal bones and beef oxtail in water and vinegar for 2 hours. (Vinegar helps to pull the nutrients out of the bones)

2.     Drain and then roast the bones on high heat

3.     Prep vegetables into chunky pieces, wash thoroughly (especially leeks to get rid of mud)

4.     Add vegetables to roasted bones

5.     Roast together well

6.     Add peppercorns, bay leaves and water

7.     Simmer and cook on low for 48-72 hours

8.     Skim the broth as its cooking to remove impurities and excess fat.

9.     After 72 hours, strain the broth with a large colander and remove the bones and vegetables. Strain the liquid through a muslin cloth for a second time to remove small bones and any other bits and pieces from the cooking process

Hints and Tips

  • You can use the meaty bits again for other recipes such as a chunkier stew style broth. (Stage 9)

  • Use ice cube trays to pour the broth into and freeze to use at your convenience.

  • The broth will keep up to five days in fridge.

  • Bone broth should gel when cooled; this is a sign that it has plenty of great collagen and gelatin which is beneficial to health.