Who among us has not reached for that sneaky bar of chocolate for a quick energy boost when the mid afternoon slump hits.
Who can say that when energy levels dip that a sugary pick-me-up is not the snack of choice – simply because it’s there.
Or at school-pick up, have a packet of biscuits handy to reward kids for a hard day’s slog learning their ABC’s.
Well my advice to you is – think again!
Now I’m just as guilty as the next person for taking a dive into the biscuit tin and inhaling a long line of chocolate hobnobs when the going gets tough – or sometimes horsing my way though an entire block of chocolate in one sitting.
We all do it – and pig-outs are okay – it’s when it becomes part of a daily routine that you need to take a step away from the treat cupboard.
So why are we all getting so worked up about the sweet stuff?
Well, it comes as no surprise to know that if eaten in large quantities, it rots your teeth and makes you fat.
But what we are now learning is exactly how bad it is for us (about as bad as alcohol or tobacco) – and just as addictive.
And we are finally waking up to the fact that manufacturers have been sneaking it in everywhere.
It even lurks in what we might consider ‘healthy’ food choices – bran based breakfast cereal, tomato soup, baked beans.. the list continues.
So now we have an obesity crisis.
In Scotland one in three adults are now obese.
And the picture is even worse for future generations as figures show that last year there were 3,500 children who were clinically or severely obese when they started school in Primary one.
Jamie Oliver campaigned for a sugar tax
It’s not difficult to make sure you nibble a bit of raw food every day.
There’s no cooking or really much washing or chopping – just good old fashioned chomping.
That’s why I know that after you’ve read this post – you WILL increase the amount of raw food you eat – especially when I tell you that sinking your gnashers into a stick of carrot or nibbling on some nuts actually helps you lose weight.
Before I get to the science bit I thought I would list all the reasons why raw is good – just to really get you in the mood.
What is Raw?
Okay so this might sound a bit basic – but let’s look at what is considered ‘raw’ food.
Well anything frozen is on the list – but anything canned or pasteurized is not. Simple really.
Here is the science bit….
Raw food is fresh whole food that has not been refined, chemically processed, denatured or heated above 48 degrees C, so its nutritional content is preserved.
The major raw food groups include:
When we eat foods in their natural, uncooked state we receive all the vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and enzymes that good old Mother Nature intended us to eat.
In contrast, when we cook our foods we lose around 70 per cent of these essential nutrients.
Why Raw helps with weight loss
If you increase your raw food intake, then it will naturally reduce your craving for sugary food. Hence the weight loss bit.
Also many people notice their energy levels increasing when they eat raw – this is because your body doesn’t have to use so much energy digesting it.
Raw foods are hydrating
Eating lots of raw stuff can help with sluggishness, dry skin and false hunger that hits us when we don’t drink enough water.
Raw foods contain loads of fibre
Fibre is essential for sweeping the digestive tract of waste – which basically means ‘it keeps you regular.’
Many health problems such as gas and bloating can stem from poor digestion, but it can also cause other nasties such as irritable bowel syndrome, yeast infections, skin conditions such as acne and even colon cancer.
Raw foods contain phytonutrients
So what the hell are phytonutrients?
These are plant chemical compounds that act as anti-oxidants, immune boosters and hormone stabilizers and have huge health benefits, such as detoxifying the liver, preventing heart disease and cancer, and protecting our eyes from macular degeneration – so pretty important really.
A phytonutrient called Lycopene is found in red fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, watermelons, red bell peppers and papayas and has very powerful antioxidant properties.
Research suggests it is also effective in preventing cancers, especially prostate, lung and stomach cancer.
How Raw should you go?
Well you don’t need to be a vegan to enjoy the benefits of raw food.
The starting point is that any amount of raw food is beneficial.
But if you want to give your body that healthy kick start, aim for five portions of veg and three fruit a day.
A don’t forget to include essential fats in your diet – maybe a handful of nuts or some oily fish such as salmon.
Raw food tips and ideas
If you add a smoothie and a bowl of muesli with fruit and yoghurt to your breakfast menu and a salad with lunch and dinner – you’re already there.
There is also Raw Chocolate to nibble on – who knew – healthy chocolate!
For more healthy recipes have a look at my previous post – where I tell you how to make Ginger Energy Bites and Chia Pudding
If you want any advice or a tailor-made diet plan you can email me, Nutritious Lolly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Coriander – the marmite of spicesCoriander – you either love it or hate it and personally I love it. The spicy leave is used all over the world as a garnish but in this form you tend to miss out on the all the nutritional benefits that is has to offer. In a ground form coriander is great for digestion, skin inflammation, lowering blood pressure and it even has anti-histamine properties to fight allergies!
CuminRemember those little black insect-like seeds you used to take out of curries? They’re cumin seeds. Back then you may not have given them a chance, but, trust me, they taste pretty good and if you look past their appearance the benefits are substantial. It’s a great way to boost your immune system, help you sleep and even reduce the chance of hypoglycemia in diabetes sufferers.
TurmericA spice used in most curries and has been called ‘the most powerful spice for fighting and potentially reversing disease’. Turmeric has more benefits than I could list.From being taken as an alternative to painkillers to being used as an anti-inflammatory. Turmeric is also well known for its anti-depressant properties.
ChilliSomething many people won’t know is that chillies are great for weight loss. The heat that you feel after eating a chilli takes energy from your body to produce, the more energy used the more calories burned. They’re also great for clearing congestion if you’re feeling a bit stuffy, especially with winter well and truly here.
CinnamonThe health benefits of cinnamon can be linked to its antibacterial, antifungal and anticlotting properties. It’s rich in essential minerals such as iron and calcium. It can be great for those who need to lower their cholesterol levels and aid those who suffer from type 2 diabetes, as it can control blood sugars.
FenugreekFrom soothing sore throats to reducing your risk of heart disease fenugreek is a great spice to add to any meal but it’s especially good in curry. It also works wonders for those ladies who are going through the change of life (menopause) as it is known for reducing symptoms such as mood swings and cramps.
ClovesCloves are filled with vitamins. Vitamins that can help the preservation of bone density and antioxidants that can help protect your liver from the effects of free radicals. They are also being studied for their properties that could help control lung cancer in the early stages. All that from a small clove, amazing.
Black pepperBlack pepper is great for your stomach. It increases the amount of hydrochloric acid produced to aid digestion and it’s also great for weight loss as it breaks down fat
CardamomCardamom is great for your body and your teeth. It’s known for its dental disease prevention properties. Feeling nauseated or suffer from vomiting? It also works a treat if you need to settle your stomach.
Why eating fat makes you thin
Eating foods high in fat has long been associated with weight gain – but that actually couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, eating the right type of fats can actually help you lose weight.
Of course stuffing yourself with chips, burgers and ice cream won’t do your waist line any favours, but one category of fats, called Essential Fats, are a vital part of a balanced diet and an important tool for weight loss too.
These good fats are found in foods such as fish, including salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel and shellfish.
They are also in flaxseed, hemp oil, soya oil, rapeseed oil coconut oil and milk, olives and olive oil, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, nuts, walnuts, leafy vegetables as well as avocados.
Foods high in essential fats
Essential fats also help your body feel fuller for longer – meaning you are less likely to reach for the biscuit tin in-between meals.
They are also vital for maintaining a healthy immune system, help regulate blood pressure, the nervous system, help with blood clotting as well as regulating your hormones.
These good guys also make sure you have healthy hair and skin and even keep every cell in your body running efficiently – which can often stave off the more serious diseases such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis or any other auto-immune disease.
This group of fats are considered ‘essential’ because our bodies can’t make them from scratch and can only get them from the food we put in our mouths.
Two essential fatty acids, called linoleic and alpha-linoleic, are used to build specialised fats called Omega-3 and Omega-6.
Warning signs that your body is lacking in Essential Fats
These include poor skin and hair quality, wounds that won’t heal properly, poor resistance to infections, inflammatory diseases like eczema, asthma, psoriasis, arthritis, circulatory disorders, hormone imbalances, depression, anxiety and mood swings
Want to know more? Have a look at:
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp of ground coriander
1 tbsp of ground cumin
8 ripe hass avocados
3 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
juice of 3 lemons
2 tbsp freshly chopped chives
salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl combine the red onion, coriander and cumin.
Add the avocados to the bowl and mash well with a fork until smooth.
Add the chillies, lemon and season generously with salt and pepper, and mix well.
Sprinkle with the chopped chives and serve.