Tag Archives: nutritionist

You CAN eat meat and be healthy (and lose weight!)

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Eating meat will clog your arteries, increase risk of cancer and type 2 diabetes, and take years off your life, isn’t that what we keep being told, and even more so today?

In recent years meat has become the most talked about and controversial thing when it comes to nutrition, with Netflix documentaries and warring nutritional theories becoming more and more prominent, it’s no wonder so many people are turn their back on meat or just downright confused about the whole thing.

As a species we’ve been eating meat since the beginning of our evolution, but today there are so many raging arguments about eating meat when it comes to things like the awful state of our nation’s health, the environmental impact of agriculture, and the unethical treatment of animals – and all of these arguments have become tangled up in a minefield of confusion!

If we want to live long, healthy lives, should we eat meat? How much is OK or should we completely scrap it? Should we consume ANY animal products at all?

While anti-meat advocates and scientists have tried to frighten us away from eating mean by linking it to things like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, research actually shows meat to be a nutrient-dense food that can actually help to prevent these diseases, as well as prevent nutritional deficiencies – as long as you focus on quality and eat it with plenty of plant foods and vegetables.

Plant-based diets should be the foundation of everyone’s diet, and quality meat and fish can also form part of the diet without being harmful in any way. The typical Western diet is made up of processed foods, processed meats, inflammatory omega 6 fats (vegetable and industrially processed rapeseed and sunflower oil, margarines, hydrogenated fats), plus plenty of sugar and refined carbs, whilst being low in vegetables and nutrient-dense fruits and other quality fibre.

I’m not saying that there are NO downsides to eating meat at all, but there are good scientific and health-related reasons to eat high-quality, organic, grass-fed, sustainably raised meat as part of an overall healthy diet.

Here are 7 points to help you make the most informed decision when it comes to eating meat:

1) Meat is the single best source of protein. I hear and read a lot of people saying that beans and pulses have a lot of protein, as well as things like pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and nuts. Well, they do, for plants. But firstly you’d have to consume a large amount of them in one sitting to get the optimal amount of protein required at each meal/across a day (ideally between 1.5 and 2g per kg of body weight per day), and secondly they lack a number of the critical amino acids, and we need ALL the amino acids, not just some of them, for good health. So, fulfilling your daily protein requirements with non-animal foods requires a fair amount of attention to detail, planning and effort – something that most people can’t manage. You have to eat three cups of beans with 100 grams of carbs to equal 6 ounces of animal protein (that contains zero carbs). And plant proteins contain very little leucine, the rate limiting amino acid needed to build muscle. Most of the plant-based protein sources are not ‘pure protein’ meaning they are also carbs e.g. beans and pulses like lentils, chickpeas, butter beans etc, or also fat e.g. nuts and nut butters. The older we get the more important dietary protein (we can lose as much as 3 to 5% of our muscle mass per decade after age 30) is in order for us to maintain our precious muscle tissue which means we maintain our health, strength, structure and prevent disease and ageing.

2) Meat was, and still is, unfairly demonised. Half a century ago it was discovered (in a flawed study) that saturated fat raises cholesterol levels and causes heart disease, and this led to the widespread demonisation of meat. We cut back on meat, opted for “lean” meat, and trimmed and skimmed all the fat off our meat. The thing is though that heart disease is a complex condition that doesn’t just involve high levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood, but also inflammation (from an array of other diet and lifestyle factors), blood sugar imbalances, triglycerides, and a lot of other factors. Also, the actual impact of saturated fat on cholesterol and heart disease isn’t that simple. Studies have actually found that the main source of saturated fat in meat, stearic acid, has no impact on our blood levels of cholesterol. What’s even more shocking is that eating saturated fat doesn’t raise blood levels of the saturated fats that cause heart disease. It’s actually refined carbs and starches, and sugar that actually raise your blood levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and the bad saturated fats.

3) Updated science research is still debating how much saturated fat is a “healthy” amount, and latest wisdom suggests that saturated fat is fairly neutral; i.e. it’s not harmful, but it’s not necessarily a superfood either. Saturated fat originally became demonised in the 60’s and 70’s after ONE research trial was done which concluded that saturated fat and cholesterol causes heart disease. We now know (although a lot of mainstream health organisations are not up to date) that this one piece of research was highly flawed.  The decision to demonize saturated fat then extended across ALL fats by the 80’s – leading to today’s (devastating) fear of such nutritious AND weight management foods like egg yolks, quality red meat, nuts, olive oil, butter and avocado.

4) Meat is a powerhouse of nutrients for us. Our only dietary source of vitamin B12 is animal protein, and B12 is an essential nutrient for health. We also get valuable minerals and other vitamins from meat, as well as enzymes that we need to access nutrients, essential amino acids, and cancer-fighting antioxidants like vitamin A, which cannot be obtained directly from vegetables (the vitamin A in vegetables, like carrots, is not the ‘active’/usable form of the nutrient). Vegans often become deficient in B12, iron, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin D, omega 3 fats and more. Yes, plant foods contain many of these nutrients, but they are just so much more bio-available in meat. Quality matters, and I am not referring to processed or low quality farms meats here.

5) Which brings me to the next point, that grass-fed meat is better. Grass-fed meat (as opposed to factory-farmed meat) contains much better types of fat than animals that are fed grains instead of grass. Grass-fed meat contains more omega-3s, fewer omega-6s (which can be a pro-inflammatory fat in excess), and more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which can boost metabolism and can be cancer-protective. Grass-fed meat also has higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. It is often more expensive than conventionally farmed cuts of meat but worth the extra if you can manage it. In my house we eat less red meat (about twice a week) and higher quality, and we spend the extra on better quality chicken and turkey, and just cut back elsewhere.

6) A plant-based diet is a must. A lot of people talk about a plant-based diet in terms of being vegan. But everyone’s diet should be based around plenty of plant foods, whether a meat eater, fish only, vegetarian, or vegan.  At least three-quarters of your plate should be made up of vegetables and the rest of quality complete protein (e.g. quality meat, fish or eggs). You can include some ‘starchy’ carbs as well preferably coming from root vegetables like sweet potato, baby new potato, carrots, beetroot, or from brown, red or black rice, quinoa, buckwheat and beans and legumes like chick peas, lentils, butter beans etc. About a palm size and thickness of meat added to meals that are mostly vegetables.

7) What about all the well-publicised scientific studies showing that meat eaters are in worse health than vegetarians and die sooner I hear you ask? Well, the findings may have something to do with which meat eaters are being studied. Studies show many people who eat a lot of meat (particularly processed meat) are likely to have unhealthy habits in general. They might weigh more, drink more, smoke more, eat a low amount if any vegetables, low fibre and good fats. They are also more likely to be more sedentary. So maybe it isn’t the meat that’s damaging carnivores’ health—maybe it’s everything else they are doing to damage their health. It’s not the meat; it’s what is contained in the rest of your diet. You can be a sickly, overweight vegan or a healthy, well-nourished carnivore.

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The dieting industry doesn’t know how to help you

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The UK’s £2 billion dieting industry likes to take credit for weight loss success and then blames the inevitable re-gain of the weight on the person’s ‘lack of willpower’ for not being able to stick to the (completely unsustainable) diet for life.

But, what really causes the re-gain in weight is the body trying to re-balance its energy system to support a metabolism that has been undernourished and unsupported for so long. The result of this is weight gain.

Then the person blames herself for not being able to do it when in actual fact you have done EVERYTHING the right way in terms of what you’ve been told. It’s just that your body has gone against what you’ve done/are doing because caloric restriction ISN’T how things are meant to be. The fact is that the body shouldn’t have been on the ‘diet’ in the first place. Your body shouldn’t be subjected to a low calorie diet for a prolonged amount of time. But the billion pound dieting industry would have us firmly believe otherwise.

When you restrict your daily calorie intake to numbers as low as 1200 your metabolism suffers as it doesn’t have the amount of energy it needs to carry out all of its chemical processes that keep your body and health thriving, this then leads to a slowing down of your metabolism.

If the dieting industry understood that increased hunger, decreased metabolism, and intense psychological distress are normal responses to quick ‘weight loss’ then the weight loss companies wouldn’t make the money they do. So its convenient for them not to know this about how the body works. Their ignorance (and hence the public’s ignorance) allows mainstream weight loss companies to make (a tonne of) money from a steady supply of repeat customers, plus lifetime customers, in a way that appears genuine.

But why do so many people put them themselves through these diets over and over again, usually for years? I was one of those people throughout my 20’s which is why I’m SO passionate about women understanding the truth about their body’s and their weight. We starve and restrict ourselves, go mad on the cardio machines at the gym, live with the low energy and feelings of hunger, only to see the weight come back once we stop the diet, and of course blame ourselves for the re-gain because we’re too weak to keep up with the diet.

Dieting teaches us to ignore our body’s hunger signals (we’re meant to be hungry on a diet right?); which leads most people to overeat when the opportunity comes along (e.g. presented with your favourite high carb, sugary or processed food). The long-term deprivation and restriction of these diets causes binge-eating behaviour in susceptible people (a lot of us), and then weight gain, which the diets were intended to cure!

Simply put – dieting is insane, and yo-yo/repeat dieting even more insane! Yet so many women are doing it, over and over, going back to the diets that ‘work’ for them ‘whenever they need to lose weight’, which again is madness! For a ‘diet’ to have been successful you would never re-gain the weight lost. Diets are not sustainable and therefore neither are your results.

In 2018 I want to help as many women as possible to learn the RIGHT way to lose body fat and KEEP IT OFF.

I want all women to understand that weight loss is not something separate from their health and how their body functions as a whole. Health and balanced hormones = fat loss and ideal body weight.

So many women go to the gym and put their body’s through punishing workouts and in most cases it’s a LOT of cardio based sessions and so called ‘HIIT’ classes. They’re also punishing their bodies with low calorie diets, juice fasts, low fat and going too low carb.

But if we can just take a step back and look at this from the outside for a minute – why on earth would your body respond positively to this??

Your metabolism is made up of all of your organs (liver, kidneys, lungs, heart, gut, muscles, brain) and if they don’t get the right amount of energy (calories) from the right kinds of foods why would they work for you? How can they thrive on your behalf? They can’t, and eventually after a while of restricting foods and calories and battering it at the spin classes, ‘HIIT’ or ‘shred’ classes, it’s going to start slowing down and pushing back against all that you’re doing to it. The result is low energy, unhappy hormones, digestive issues, fat gain, trouble sleeping, and more.

So please, in 2018, stop punishing your amazing and precious body and start loving and nourishing it. Exercise because it feels good and moves your body or makes you strong, NOT to work off last nights dinner or the donut you had at work.

Ask yourself how can I eat and move today in a way that nourishes my body and all its amazing organs (your metabolism)? How can I train/move/exercise today to bring about a positive hormonal response in my body and build muscle mass (which is what supports metabolism to thrive and burn fat)? Some days that might be walking and nothing else because you might not have slept well the night before (if you want to train hard you need to sleep well), some days it might be yoga and another day it might be a good quality resistance training session (where you push or lift weights ????️‍♂️ that are heavier than your handbag!).

I love you and your body, and you should love you and your body too ????????

Struggle with binges or overeating? Part 2

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In my first installment on binge eating I talked about the most common reason that I see for binge eating, which is….not eating enough food across the day and week. So many women are still following outdated low calorie diets and doing tonnes of cardio in the gym each week. Their daily calorie intake is just falling too short and by the end of the day, week or month (whenever it is for you) this leads to binge eating simply because you are hungry.

When your metabolism doesn’t get enough energy (calories, from the right places) it starts to crave energy-dense food and when you get your hands on it you eat the lot. This is normal physiology, nothing to beat yourself up about. All you’re doing wring is starving yourself. So the first place to start if this is YOUR issue is to start increasing the amount of food you eat each day by adding in more good fats and quality protein.

Today I want to address some of the emotional reasons behind binge-like eating behaviour.

Being aware of your emotional triggers is KEY and the first place to start if you want to address it.

It might be loneliness, anger, frustration, a stress response, sadness, or other. We all have different emotions to different situations and handle them differently.

Sometimes binge eating is fulfilling a particular human need that isn’t being met, the most common ones being love and connection, which is a basic but strong human need.

Start by identifying YOUR emotional trigger, for example is it boredom or loneliness? Are you using certain foods to fill a void?

Once you’ve identified the emotional trigger then start to think about what else you can do to fulfill that need or fill that void.

Before I met my partner I lived alone, which I absolutely loved and didn’t actually want to change, but from time to time I could feel a little isolated because my sister and her children, whom I’m extremely close to live in Ireland, my Dad is a couple of hours away, and we lost my amazing Mum in 2011. So some lonely Saturday nights I could easily find comfort in a giant bag of crisps and whatever else I fancied. But if I just called them on Skype for a chat and a laugh the cravings I THOUGHT I was having dissipated. Other times I would go for a good workout, go for a walk, have a relaxing bath, listen to music, or listen to a podcast or powerful self-development audiobook. By the time I was done I my mind had usually diverted away from the need to binge and I was instead preparing a nourishing balanced meal for myself.

A client of mine, during one of our coaching sessions, identified that she immediately reaches for the office biscuit tin whenever she’s just had a challenging conversation with a difficult colleague in her high-pressured job. As soon as she recognized this she was able to stop herself in her tracks and think about what she was doing. The next time she found herself reaching for the biscuits she made a deal with herself that she would first go for a walk outside then come back in and if she still wanted a biscuit she could have one. She didn’t still want the biscuit when she got back, and this was the case 99% of the time going forward.

Another thing to ask yourself if your binge eating is fulfilling a need that isn’t being met is how can you change your life so that need starts being met in real terms? Sometimes we simply can’t change our circumstances but in some cases we can, if we think hard enough about it there IS a few things we can make happen or change that will improve our situation and remove the need for emotional eating.

So, identify the underlying reason for your binges;

  • Do you eat enough protein and good fats across the day and get ENOUGH calories in? (Click here to read my blog on calories)
  • What is your emotional trigger/s?
  • What need isn’t being met in your life?
  • What else can you do to meet that need that doesn’t involve food or drink?
  • Is there an emotion that you’re trying to suppress with the food you want in that moment? You may not be aware of this at the time but if you can try to sit with your emotion for a while and let it come to the surface, and express itself (e.g. in the form of a long old sob) then you may just find you no long need or want that particular food anymore because all you were trying to do with it in the first place is suppress the scary unwanted emotions. Instead, let the emotions come, sit with them and let them pass through.

Sit down and make a list of things that make you happy and lift your spirits, however big or small. From there see if you can start to incorporate more of this into your daily life, coupled with eating ENOUGH food by way of quality protein, good fats and fibre, and see if this changes your binge episodes for the better.

JOIN THE PRIVATE FACEBOOK COMMUNITY! It’s a group of fabulous women who share similar goals for their health, weight and lives. We support and lift each other up, and I’m in the group doing regular live educational sessions to help guide you through long term habit changes when it comes to your nutrition and lifestyle. Click here to join us!

With love

Francesca

Struggle with binges or overeating? Part 1

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Often find yourself bingeing on certain foods? Feel like you have a problem with overeating? This is so common and you’re definitely NOT alone.

Do you have an episode and then get angry with yourself for ‘ruining all your hard work’ and beat yourself up about it? Maybe you punish yourself but skipping the next meal or eating nothing but green leaves the next day?

I know this feeling all too well. In my 20’s I was a big binger! I’d have a few days or weeks of ‘being good’ only to eventually end up all out bingeing on what I call my ‘trigger foods’. My trigger foods back then were cookies (Maryland to be exact) Bakewell tarts and crisps, any crisps at all and the saltier the better!

I’d feel AWFUL about myself afterwards and vowed to ‘get back on the saddle’ ‘tomorrow’ or ‘on Monday’.

Sound like you?

I now know and understand that the only reason I had these binge episodes was because I was restricting my calories too low. I simply wasn’t giving my body the nutrients and energy (calories) to match its output throughout the days and weeks. The result was that ‘starvation mode’ kicked in.

What happens in ‘starvation mode’? We look for the most calorie-dense and palatable (tasty) foods we can find and we eat LOTS of it!

This is a normal evolutionary response by the way. We beat ourselves up for being ‘weak’ or having ‘no willpower’ when all we’re doing is responding to our environment correctly. 

Throughout my 20’s I was eating a very low number of calories in aid to lose weight (something I was trying to do for YEARS). Then, whether later in the day or later in the week, my body screamed at me and said EAT WOMAN!! But of course I didn’t know this, and instead of changing the way I approached eating and calories I just grabbed the packet of cookies and/or crisps and ate the whole lot. Then beat myself up for days, eat a low calorie diet for as long as I could, until the same thing happened again. I was stuck in this cycle for years.

What I now know is that it WASN’T MY FAULT, that I wasn’t ‘bad’, ‘weak willed’ or ‘naturally a fat girl’.

Your body has a built in evolutionary response to calorie restriction – and that’s to eat everything in sight/your favourite sweet tasting or calorie dense foods when food intake is low. This stems from our caveman days when we would be foraging for food and when we came across calorific foods we would stock up in case we didn’t get fed again for a while, as there wasn’t a constant supply of food available to us back then.

So, when you have a binge episode you are not weak, bad or wrong. You are just YOU and you are responding perfectly normally to simply not eating enough food across the day or week!

1200 calories per day is TOO LOW! This is NOT helpful number of calories to be eating, not for weight loss and not for anything. Soon enough your metabolism will kick in and tell you off – usually in the form of a binge once you get hold of your favourite foods.

So ask yourself this…are you eating enough food across a day and across each week? Are you having optimal amounts of protein, good fats, QUALITY carbs (refined carbs encourage binge episodes too), enough fibre, good hydration…?? Really, are you? My guess is probably not. I’m guessing the balance is off somewhere. That you might be restricting calories through the week in a bid to ‘be good’ and lose a couple of pounds and then you end up starved by the end of the day, week or month (whatever the time frame is for your body).

Am I right?

Have a think and if this resonates with you I’d love to hear from you and find out what changes you plan to make to help yourself.

Get your FREE Ultimate Snack Guide and start preventing binges and over eating NOW! Click here to get your free pdf guide which I’ve put together especially for women like us. 

With love

Francesca

What do YOU believe is possible?

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One of the biggest things that holds a person back from achieving their goal is their belief about themselves and what is possible for THEM v’s what they believe is only possible for other people.

We all have a ‘story’ that we believe about ourselves and about what is possible for us to achieve, and its this ‘story’ that can make or break your success with any goal.

Let’s say for example that your story is that YOU’RE just not meant to be slim or have the shape you want, and that being in good shape is for other women but not YOU. Or that you would never be able to run your own business and work for yourself, that’s only for other people, who have more of this or less of that etc. etc.

With the wrong story/set of beliefs the action will never get taken, or you might start to take action but soon enough that action will stop. 

People with a fat loss goal are usually looking for the perfect ‘strategy’ or ‘plan’ to follow, that will get them the results they want. But the BIG step they’re missing out here is checking in with themselves on their ‘story’/ set of beliefs about themselves, to make sure the story is an empowering one that will allow them to STICK TO THE PLAN! Simply jumping ahead to the action stage stage without working on your stories will only end up in you falling flat on your face a few weeks or months in to the plan. The key lies in addressing your beliefs/your story, changing that story and ONLY THEN embarking on a plan (of course this does need to be the RIGHT type of plan though!)

So, you first need to become the person you need to be in order to achieve the results you want to achieve. This means changing your identity, because the identity you currently hold isn’t in alignment with what you want for yourself. I had to do this and can firmly say that I have become the person I need to be, in order to FEEL the way I want to feel and be the weight I want to be. It doesn’t happen overnight and it takes a lot of consistent practice but if you REALLY want it you can have it. 

E.g. ‘I want to be slim and in shape and healthy and active…etc.’ – BUT you’re not living a naturally active life, you hate healthy food, you hate exercising, you don’t value or prioritise your sleep and most importantly you don’t believe that being in amazing shape AND maintaining it for life is possible for YOU. 

This person WON’T achieve her weight loss goal and no amount of weight loss plans will fix this.

If you don’t believe something is possible for you then you will subconsciously sabotage yourself along the way to stop it from happening. Your inner self starts to see results and feels uncomfortable with the change that it doesn’t actually believe SHOULD happen for them, so it sabotages your progress to get you back to your old comfortable habits again where it feels safe.

The typical dieting mentality is that results are only temporary and the weight WILL come back but we just keep doing various diets to get rid of it again. That we need to diet again and again throughout life to keep slim. That weight loss (results) should happen fast. That we shouldn’t eat much food and we should exercise loads.

So we subconsciously believe that re-gaining the weight is inevitable and therefore hold ourselves back from trying to achieve it in a slow but SUSTAINABLE way, because we’re programmed to believe that isn’t possible, plus we like to stick with old familiar behaviours. If results are slow we get frustrated and revert back to old habits and say ‘the diet didn’t work’ or ‘I am bad at losing weight and meant to be big’.

“Losing weight is hard for me”

No, weight loss is hard for people who don’t first work on their identity and beliefs BEFORE following the strategy/plan.

What’s YOUR belief about what fat loss really is, and what YOU can achieve? Truly deeply what do you believe? If you don’t truly believe that what you’re going for is possible for you then you won’t get there.

So first work on your beliefs, your story. Create a powerful and vivid vision of yourself and your life as if you have already achieved your goal, and then create a list (about 10) of ‘I Am’ statements and positive affirmations from this vision that you repeat daily, and start to truly believe.

Only then will the right action get taken and the results come.

Who are you when you’ve achieved the goal?

What does your day look like?

What things do you do for fun and relaxation?

How do you behave?

How do you talk about and to yourself?

Who do you spend time with and who do you NOT spend time with?

What’s your emotional state like?

What do you focus on? E.g. are you focusing on what’s lacking v’s what’s you already have are are?

What do you think of yourself and love about yourself?

Write your answers to the above questions in a notebook and then create some powerful ‘I Am’ statements from it, such as:

  • “I am not able to lose weight” becomes “I am fully able to lose weight when I work on what I believe is possible and have the right plan”
  • “I am too old to lose weight and have the body I want” becomes “I am young enough to achieve what I want”
  • “I am not good enough” becomes “I am always good enough”
  • “I am not as good as” becomes “I am as good as”
  • “I am fat” becomes “I am fit and healthy and working towards being even more so”

Etc. etc.

Go forth and change your beliefs and stories to ones that empower you to start living in alignment with your goals…with all the love and support,

Francesca

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