How to Adopt and Stick to a Healthy Diet and Lifestyle
Is it just me, or does it feel like there’s a new diet that rises through the ranks every week? From celery juice cleanses to the carnivore diet, each emerging diet promises boundless amounts of energy, pure happiness, immortality, quick weight loss and longevity. I don’t know about you, but I find it exhausting trying to keep up with what diet is trending, let alone following the diet.
Contrary to popular belief, eating a healthy diet should be easy, attainable and even enjoyable, which is crucial if you’re planning on doing it for the rest of your life. I mean, who wants to drink only celery juice for the rest of their life? Not me, that’s for sure!
Instead of restricting your favourite foods, let’s focus on eating and living in a way that brings nourishment and joy.
Here are my top tips for adopting and sticking to a healthy diet and lifestyle.
You can watch the video here or read more below and get my delicious Chocolate and Raspberry Smoothie Bowl recipe too.
Say Goodbye to Perfect
While I’m all for aiming high, let’s say goodbye to the word perfect. You’re never going to maintain perfection, and even if your diet is “perfect”, your mental health and social life will probably struggle as a result. Finding balance is the key, so I suggest mainly eating unprocessed and fresh foods and consuming treats in moderation.
It’s good to know the facts about which foods are good for you, but in a nutshell, when you’re looking to make healthy choices, a simple way to look at it is; aim to eat the rainbow, try and place a multitude of colours on your plate and opt for fresh over processed foods. If you do this, you’re doing really well!
I know what you’re thinking – if you can’t only eat chocolate and shouldn’t just drink raw kale juice, what can you eat? I encourage you to plan ahead and get organised by stocking your pantry, fridge and freezer with healthy choices so you always have a healthy option available.
You can get back to basics by keeping a supply of;
- Flavour providers like onions, garlic, tamari and tahini
- Grains and seeds like quinoa and brown rice
- Tinned fish
- Tinned tomatoes
- Pulses, lentils and beans
- Dressings, oils like olive and flaxseed and vinegars such as apple cider vinegar
- Seeds and nuts
- Natural sweeteners like raw honey
- Tomato paste, pesto and olives
- Cheeses and yoghurts
- Non-dairy milks like oat, almond and coconut, also can be kept in the pantry.
- Frozen vegetables like spinach and peas
- Frozen berries and bananas to pop into smoothie
Fill your diet with an abundance of vegetables and fruit, good-quality protein and healthy fats.
Next time you’re plating up, do so like this:
- Fill half of the plate with salad vegetables.
- Fill a quarter with protein, such as lean meat, fish or tofu.
- The other quarter may be carbohydrates such as sweet potato, potato, quinoa or rice.
- Add some healthy fats like avocado, seeds or nuts.
Protein is a secret ingredient
While we touched on protein before, I want to drive the point home: eat more of it. And before you start to worry about turning into a bodybuilder overnight by increasing your protein, don’t worry. Protein is the secret to maintaining a healthy body weight, but it also plays a significant role in hormone production and immune system support. Incorporate a serving of protein at every meal – you may like to try lean meat such as beef or pork, chicken, tofu, eggs, beans or legumes.
Learn how to pair simple flavours
Foods have different “flavour profiles”, which are semi-classifications of how they taste. You’ll find just a handful of these universal flavour profiles, such as sweet, salty, fatty and spicy, the Japanese have a favoruite called “unami” or savoury. In Ayurvedic philosophies, the sense of taste is a natural roadmap directed towards good nutrition and characterised by six individual tastes; sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent and pungent.
Some pairings just work, and I’ve featured six of the most common food-pairing combinations that go together effortlessly. Using these pairings as a guide, you can create simple, healthy meals all in the comfort of your own home.
- Sweet + Sour: Remember those sour gummy bears you use to enjoy as a kid? The concept of sweet and sour is one that Asian cuisines frequently employ, particularly in their sauces and soups. Try creating your own healthy sweet + sour snacks by drizzling apple cider vinegar over strawberries or squeezing lime juice over ripe pineapple. The sweetness of fruit helps to counter the bitterness and acidity of the vinegar and lime juice, which, if consumed by themselves, have the tendency to make us pull all sorts of unflattering faces.
- Salt + Fatty: This is a principle employed all too often by major fast-food chains. Think French fries, fried chicken, and sky-high beef burgers. The good news is that all unhealthy fast-food meals have a healthy variation. Try swapping your French fries for healthy sweet potato fries. Simply roast some sweet potatoes in a little olive oil and season with sea salt and your spices of choice, I particularly love cumin and paprika! Bake on low heat in the oven until crispy.
- Sweet + Fat: Chocolate croissants, French toast, French Fries dipped in soft serve does this sound familiar? Combining the luxurious, creamy texture of fatty foods with sweet flavours sends our taste buds straight to heaven. But this combination doesn’t necessarily have to be unhealthy, as all fats are not created equal. In fact, healthy fats are amongst some of the most nutritious foods you can eat. A healthy dessert version is chocolate mousse. All you need is half an avocado, a few cashews, some cacao powder, and a little natural sweetener such as honey to add sweetness. Simply blend in a high-speed blender and bombs away.
- Sweet + Spicy: Chili chocolate is just one example of a sweet and spicy flavour combination. A simple snack that takes only a few minutes to create and that exploits this unique flavour pairing is maple chili walnuts. Simply coat some walnuts in maple syrup, season with chili ps, don’t go too crazy! and roast them slightly on a sheet of baking paper in the oven on low heat until they turn golden brown and crunchy. These make great movie-snack replacements to sodium and butter-loaded popcorn.
- Sweet + Salty: You tend to see this pairing often in delicatessens. Cheese platters that contain dried fruits, prosciutto wrapped around rock melon are all delicious flavour pairings. I tend to employ this principle of food pairing often in my salads, like my lazy-person’s salad containing some fresh greens, lemon juice, tomatoes, olives and grapes. Dress with a little olive oil and sea salt and be transported to flavour paradise.
- Sweet + Savoury: Vegan raw desert recipes make great use of this principle. Think zucchini muffins, salted peanut butter fudge.
Bring movement into your routine
Being a glowing, healthy god/goddess isn’t just about what you’re eating; it’s also about how you’re moving. Try to bring movement into your routine daily as being active is so important for your health. I like incorporating a mix of mindful activities such as walking and yoga, resistance training like weights or Pilates and aerobic exercises such as fast walking, running, dancing, boxing or cycling. And yes, before you ask, dancing around the living room counts as aerobic exercise!
With summer just around the corner, make the most of the longer, sunnier days. Regular sun exposure is the most natural way to get vitamin D, which supports our immune system, nervous system, hormones, bones and teeth health. I recommend twenty minutes of sunshine daily.
I introduced a regular meditation practice into my routine last year and can honestly say it’s changed my life. Over time, regular meditation delivers improved focus and helps with adapting to stressful situations. For some of my clients, since introducing meditation, they’ve found that they’re less likely to reach for something sugary when they’re going through emotional turmoil and instead show themselves self-care. Try to include a daily five-minute meditation practice into your routine for a week and see how you feel. Why not try the meditation below, just scroll down for a meditation practice to help calm your nervous system and improve your mood.
Get a good sleep
Quality sleep will help you stabilise your energy throughout the day, which means you’ll be less likely to grab something sweet come 3 pm. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep a night in a cold, dark and quiet room.
If you're looking for a new summery recipe to add to your weekly repertoire, let this be it.
My Chocolate and Raspberry Smoothie Bowl
Why it’s good for you…
- Avocados are a prebiotic fruit with extra punch and they are a good source of fibre too.
- Cacao is a prebiotic that is rich in polyphenols.
- Firm bananas are a prebiotic with resistant starch helpful for gut health.
- Coconut can help small intestinal inflammation.
About the bowl:
No raspberry smoothie bowl can be made without raspberries! They’re high in antioxidants, low in sugar and delicious in taste. They also help sharpen the brain and boost our energy! While I’ve used fresh raspberries here, don’t underestimate the power of the frozen berry. I know their list of health benefits is as long as your arm, but you’ll often find me eating them simply because they taste so sweet and satisfying. Fresh berries are delicious, but if you know you have a busy week and may run the risk of wasting those sweet fruits, keeping frozen berries on hand avoids waste.
If you’re in an early morning rush (seriously, how does time go so quickly in the morning and so slowly during the early afternoon?!), you can actually make this smoothie in advance and freeze it in a muffin tray. When it’s go-time, take three out, whiz them in your high-speed blender and you’re ready to go!
While berries and chocolate are obviously a loved-up, winning combination (hello chocolate covered strawberries!), if you’re looking for more smoothie combinations, these are some of my other favourites:
Purple + crunch: frozen blueberry, spinach, banana and almond milk smoothie, topped with fresh berries and granola.
Mango + oats: gluten-free oats, coconut milk, banana, sea salt, chia and vanilla smoothie, topped with mango, cacao nibs and mint leaves (make the smoothie the night before for the oats to soak up the liquids and give the smoothie a lovely thick texture).
Matcha + pepitas: matcha tea powder, coconut milk, banana and mint smoothie, topped with pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sliced banana and cacao nibs.
Peanut butter + chocolate: banana, hazelnut, protein powder, cacao powder and almond milk smoothie, topped with hazelnuts, cacao nibs, pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and coconut flakes.
But really… if you had the choice to have chocolate for breakfast or not have chocolate for breakfast, which would you choose? To chocolate, or not to chocolate – that is the question!
The answer is chocolate. Always chocolate.
Chocolate and Raspberry Smoothie Bowl
- 2 frozen bananas
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled
- 125 g (41/2 oz/1 cup) raspberries
- 2 tablespoons cacao powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla powder
- 130 g (41/2 oz/1/2 cup) yoghurt
- 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) almond milk or milk of your choice
To top (your choice):
edible flowers, passionfruit, banana, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, almonds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), chia seeds, coconut flakes, cacao nibs, granola and/or peanut butter
Whiz all the ingredients except the toppings in a high-speed blender until smooth and creamy. The mixture should have a spoonable consistency.
Pour into two bowls and decorate with your chosen topping(s).
Healthy Drinks that are Good for Your Gut
When it comes to tending to our gut health, we all know the basics - eat fibre-rich foods, minimise refined sugar and stop with the alcohol. Yet, we seem to skip out on one of the most significant pieces of the gut health puzzle: water. Maintaining adequate hydration has a beneficial effect on the mucosal lining of the intestines and plays an integral role in sustaining a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut. There are even specific drinks that hydrate you and promote the growth of gut-friendly bacteria; that’s a win-win!
Below are eight of my favourite please-help-my-gut-health drinks to enjoy.
While water may seem like a bit of a bland drink, it’s a major component of every cell that lines your digestive tract and is required for those cells to function. Water keeps tissues in the digestive tract supple enough to allow food to pass through - while eating a diet rich in fibre is well and good; you may experience constipation if you’re not drinking enough water.
So, remember when you can, it’s important to drink up. Aim for around 30ml of water per kg of body weight daily, and add more if you’re sweating, exercising or breastfeeding.
- Chamomile Tea
It’s no secret that I have a thing for tea; not only does it rejuvenate my energy and bring comfort, but it can also soothe an irritated gut. Chamomile tea, in particular, can help settle the stomach due to its antispasmodic properties, meaning it can relax the stomach, eliminate gas and relieve intestinal irritation. Chamomile tea is an integral part of my night-time routine – I drink it after dinner to induce sleepiness and settle the stomach. For an alternative why not try Chamomile and Lavender Tea. The combination of these two delicate and calming herbs will settle your nervous system and relax your digestive system, especially if you’re feeling stressed or tense.
Chamomile and Lavender Tea
- 2 teaspoons lavender buds
- 2 teaspoons chamomile buds
- 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) boiling filtered water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Place the lavender and chamomile in a teapot. Pour over the water, then add
the lemon juice. Infuse for 10 minutes, then pour into mugs or glasses (or
strain it if you prefer) and serve.
- Ginger Tea
Ginger isn't only the name of one of the greatest spice girls; it’s also a delightful spice that’s excellent for digestion. Ginger root can help stimulate saliva flow, bile and gastric juice production, which can aid the digestion process. Ginger is also a natural treatment for nausea and indigestion. I recommend consuming ginger tea in between mealtimes.
Kefir is a nutrient-dense fermented milk product that’s thick and creamy in texture. Kefir is made of kefir grains, but if you’re gluten free, fear not; Kefir grains aren’t grains but rather tiny structures that house bacteria and yeast, that work wonders on your digestive system. Kefir can support our body’s natural liver detoxification process and can ease digestion. You can find kefir made of cow, goat or coconut milk and it’s available now in major supermarkets.
While broth may not initially seem like it fits on this list of gut health drinks, have I led you astray before? Bone broth has been used for centuries as a digestive tonic, helping heal and seal the lining of the digestive tract while reducing gastrointestinal inflammation. It even contains glutamine, which helps maintain the functioning of the intestinal wall. Plus, it’s a great low-calorie, high-protein drink that can support healthy weight loss or maintenance.
Fermented foods are an excellent way to boost your gut health when your gut is strong and ready, and kombucha is one of my favourites. Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that’s perfect for the soft drink addict because of its fizziness. I see kombucha as a tonic rather than a yummy beverage (though it is that, too).
Aside from colonising the gut with friendly bacteria, kombucha is a potent immune system enhancer that can reduce bacterial overgrowth, bring mental clarity, and even stabilise moods. Homemade kombucha is best as some supermarket versions are ladened with added sugar.
- Turmeric Toddy
One drink I’ll forever bring out any time of the year is my turmeric toddy. This spicy anti-inflammatory drink contains turmeric, ginger and black pepper. While turmeric contains curcumin, which helps reduce inflammation and pain, ginger can be used to relieve gas and nausea. If you’re concerned that this sounds more curry than drink, I’ve got you. Cinnamon is another powerful spice in this mix that adds a subtle sweetness. These spices, when combined with cashew or coconut milk, make a delicious gut-healing remedy.
- 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) oat, almond or coconut milk
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- pinch of vanilla powder
- pinch of freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp raw honey
- 2 star anise (optional)
Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat for 2–3 minutes or until just warmed. Add the spices, ginger, vanilla and pepper, and then stir to remove any lumps.
Remove from the heat and pour through a fine sieve to remove the grated ginger. Add the sweetener and enjoy warm.
Kvass is a little like kombucha’s cultured older cousin. It’s traditional, fermented and designed to enhance digestion and boost immunity.
Move over Coca-Cola; this kvass is an excellent alternative to your regular soft drink. My Mango and Ginger Kvass is a probiotic-rich drink that’s sweet and tart in all the right places. You can vary the flavour using different fruits, such as apples, berries and pineapples. Bottoms up!
Mango and Ginger Kvass
Makes about 500ml (17fl oz) or 2 cups
- 2 ripe mangoes, peeled and chopped
- 5 cm (1 inch) knob of fresh ginger, grated
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
- culture starter (optional, if using tap water; check the packet instructions for the recommended quantity to use)
- filtered water, to almost fill the jar
Place the mango and ginger in a sterilised 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cup) mason jar and drizzle in the honey. Add the starter culture if using.
Pour enough filtered water into the jar to cover the mixture but leaving about 2.5 cm (1 inch) of breathing space at the top of the jar to allow the pressure to build.
Cover the jar with plastic wrap, then screw the lid on tightly. Leave to sit on the counter for two days, shaking the jar periodically.
After 24–48 hours, you should notice some bubbles. After 24 hours, you can ‘burp’ your brew by opening the lid carefully and then retightening it. This will allow carbon dioxide to be released, so you don’t have an explosion!
On day two, check your fruit to ensure it is bubbling. It should taste slightly tangy.
Strain the fruit, pour the kvass into a sterilised glass bottle and store in the fridge. It will keep for 3–4 days.
Most fruits can be left to ferment for up to 7 days, but some fruits such as banana, mango and papaya can be ready in 2 days. It’s best not to over-ferment them, as they can become very sour.
Barclays Mindful Meditation with Lee
Hello my friends from Barclays, its Lee here.
It’s wonderful to be able to bring you a relaxing meditation that you can listen to that will help calm your nervous system and improve your mood.
Just stick with me as I guide you through a powerful mindful meditation, I promise you’ll leave feeling more focused, present and ready to take on whatever the day may bring.
Sit back and get nice and comfortable and be prepared for a lovely mindful experience.