Vitamin D

Boost your vitamin D intake

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient. Research links it to numerous health benefits, such as better bone and a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and more.

In addition, it’s both a vitamin and a hormone that the body can produce from the sun. Despite our ability to get this vitamin from the sun and food sources, an estimated 40%-75% of people are deficient. This may be because the vitamin is not abundant in food sources, and getting sunlight isn’t always possible in certain climates. To combat this deficiency, I will outline the best sources for vitamin D in this blog.

The importance of vitamin D

Vitamin D is a powerhouse vitamin responsible for the functioning of many bodily systems. For example, it:

  • Protects the body from illness and infection and strengthens the immune system
  • Improves mood and has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression
  • Regulates calcium levels in the bloodstream and is essential to bone formation
  • Reduces inflammation and autoimmune response
  • Defends cells against cancer 
  • Together with calcium it can help prevent osteoporosis in older adults.

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency

A severe lack of vitamin D causes rickets, and this shows up in children as weakness in muscles, incorrect growth patterns, deformities in joints and pain in bones, but this is rare. Children who are deficient may also have sore and painful muscles and muscle weakness. The deficiency is not so obvious in adults . Signs and symptoms might include:

Lack of vitamin D is not always obvious. Signs and symptoms might include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Bone pain.
  • Muscle weakness, muscle aches, or muscle cramps.
  • Mood changes, like depression.

Who is more at risk of vitamin D deficiency?

If you are frail or housebound and do not get exposed to sunlight often, you can be more at risk of being vitamin D deficient. Similarly, individuals resident in care homes can be more at risk due to reduced exposure to sunlight.

People who wear clothes that cover most of the skin when outside are also at risk, as well as individuals with darker skin.

How to get more vitamin D in your diet

Sunlight

Sunlight is most likely the best way to get sufficient doses of vitamin D. How much sun exposure you need will vary according to sun strength, cloud cover, your skin colour, and even what your diet is like. But, as a reference, a light-skinned person typically needs 20-30 minutes of the midday sun to produce a sufficient amount daily. People with darker skin need more sun exposure to get the same amount—up to 2-2.5 hours.

Sun damage, sunburn and skin cancer are real concerns when it comes to sun exposure; sufficient sun exposure shouldn’t result in burning. People with light skin or those not used to being in the sun regularly should gradually work up to the recommended sun exposure.

Food sources 

  • Fortified foods such as soy milk, cow’s milk, cereals and orange juice
  • Fatty fish such as sardines, salmon, mackerel and tuna
  • Oysters and shrimp
  • Egg yolks 
  • Mushrooms
  • Cod liver oil

Supplements

If you’re not able to get enough vitamin D from your diet and sun exposure, a supplement may be the next best thing. There are two types of supplements: D2 and D3. D2 is found in yeasts and plants, and D3 is found in animal products. D3 is more effective at increasing Vitamin D blood levels; however, if you’re vegan or vegetarian, there are some great options out there. As a dietitian, I can recommend what dosage would work for you, but in general, up to 4,000 IU daily is recommended.

If you believe that you may have a Vitamin D deficiency, feel free to contact me. I offer testing to see if you are deficient. In addition, as a qualified dietician, I will help create a customised diet plan so you can get a sufficient amount of this essential nutrient. 

6 Summer Wellness Tips

I absolutely love summer! The warm, sunny weather and fresh seasonal produce are things I look forward to. While summer is a joyous time, the hotter weather can take a toll on our health: both physical and mental. Here are a few summer wellness tips to help you feel your very best this summer!

Summer wellness tip 1: Get enough vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that supports proper bodily functioning—everything from immunity to mood to defending cells against cancer. Although most of the nutrients our body needs are available via the food we eat, vitamin D is primarily obtained via sun exposure.

The first thing you can do to get more vitamin D is to spend some time outside, but don’t forget your sunscreen! 

Eat Vitamin D rich foods

You can also get vitamin foods rich in vitamin D, such as:

  • Vegetables: Especially Leafy greens and tomatoes 
  • Healthy fats rich in Omega-3s: Good sources include fish (like sardines and salmon), eggs, flaxseed and walnuts. 
  • Other healthy saturated fat: Fats like coconut oil, avocado oil and organic grass-fed butter
  • Antioxidant-rich foods: Beans, berries, nuts and green or black tea 

Summer wellness tip 2: Protect your skin when outdoors

Cover up

One of the best natural methods of sun care is to cover up your body. So, if you’re going to be in the sun for an extended period of time, it’s best to wear a hat, sunglasses and cover up your neck, shoulders, arms and any other part of your body that will get direct sunlight. Typical summer fabric has an SPF between 4 and 7. Generally, the tighter-knit the fabric, the higher the protection.

Build up sun exposure

It’s also important to build up sun exposure slowly. So start off spending a few minutes outdoors and increase this gradually.

This gives your skin time to respond by producing more melanin, which will result in increased levels of sun protection. 

Wear an SPF sunscreen

An SPF number indicates how long the sun’s UV radiation would take to redden your skin. For instance, an SPF 30 sunscreen allows about 3 % of UVB rays to hit your skin, giving you 97% protection against UVB rays. Most dermatologists recommend using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

Summer wellness tip 3: Stay hydrated

Proper hydration is vital any time of year, especially since the human body is made up of two-thirds water, and we need it for all bodily functioning. Adequate hydration is especially important in the summertime sun and heat.

Water (in litre) to drink a day equals your weight (in kg) multiplied by 0.033. For example, a person that weighs 60 kg should drink about two litres of water every day. Remember to boost your water intake even more if you spend time in the heat—especially exercising or exerting yourself in the heat. 

Bonus tip: A simple tip to make staying hydrated easier is to use a healthy fruit infused water recipe. Many people find fruit infused water more enjoyable to sip on throughout the day, and the fruit provides some additional health benefits!

Summer wellness tip 4: Add more fresh fruits and veggies to your diet

No matter what season it is, it’s essential that we include enough fruits and vegetables in our diets. 

Eat a rainbow of colourful vegetables and fill half your plate with veggies. In addition, smoothies are a great way to incorporate more fruit into your diet.

Look out for these summer seasonal produces items:

Fruits: Apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, Cape gooseberries, cherries, coconuts, dates, grapefruit, guavas, lemons, limes, naartjies, nectarines, oranges, pawpaw or papaya, pears, pineapples, plums, strawberries, sweet melon, watermelon.

Vegetables: Asparagus, Brinjal (eggplant), baby marrows, beans, beetroot, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, corn, cucumber, kale spinach, leeks, lettuce, parsnips, potato, pumpkin, radishes, red onions, rhubarb, turnips, watercress.

Summer wellness tip 5: Develop an exercise routine

We all dream of having that summer-ready body that we can show off at the beach. Make this dream a reality by starting an exercise programme at home or at the gym. Start off with easier workouts and work your way up to more advanced exercises. Find an exercise buddy to make it more interesting and keep you motivated. 

Summer wellness tip 6: Practice self-care

These simple self-care tips can help you feel better physically, emotionally and mentally.

Create a spa environment: Using a face mask, taking a bubble bath, or doing a DIY mani/pedi are all affordable ways to help yourself feel cared for. 

Practice mindfulness: Try meditating or make a list of 10 things you are thankful for. Check out my article on Maintaining a Healthy Mind.

Get grooving to some jams: Make a feel-good playlist to brighten up your mood. 

Go road-tripping: Pull up a map and find a new area that you haven’t been to yet. 

Go for a stroll.: A long walk is a great way to clear your mind and enjoy a warm summer afternoon.

Check out your local farmer’s market. Take advantage of seasonal local vendors and their seasonal produce. Use your purchased items to cook up a storm! Check out some inspiration for creating summer dishes on my Instagram page.

Reconnect with someone. Call an old friend or family member for support or to simply get a good laugh! 

Dairy-free

A guide to going dairy-free

Many people are going dairy-free for a variety of reasons, including better health or to reduce their impact on the planet. Others are lactose intolerant, so avoiding milk is a must for them. One struggle people face when giving up dairy is how to replace everyday dairy products. In this article, I offer a guide to suitable dairy substitutes to help make the transition easier. 

The dietary benefits of going dairy-free

Some dairy substitutes have far fewer calories and less saturated fat than their animal alternatives, making them a good alternative to lose weight. Plant-based, unsweetened dairy also tends to be low in carbs. Be sure to check the nutrition facts and ingredients labels to make sure you are getting decent nutrition. Also, getting options with added sugars and other unwanted ingredients. 

Dairy-free Milk Alternatives

Oat Milk

Oat milk is a great source of fibre, and it’s high in vitamins like B12. It also has one of the most satisfying flavours, with a creamy texture that replicates the richness of cow’s milk.

Soy Milk

Soy milk is a staple around the world because it has a similar appearance, taste, mouthfeel and nutrition to animal milk. It’s a great source of potassium, proteins, and essential amino acids rarely found in plants. 

Almond Milk

Almond milk has a mild flavour that won’t stand out, and it’s low in sugar. It’s an excellent low-carb and low-calorie alternative.

Dairy-free yoghurt alternative

Coconut Yogurt

Coconut yoghurt is a rich treat that’s easy to find in supermarkets. Woolworths offers tasty coconut yoghurts. However, coconut milk isn’t a natural source of protein like cow’s milk. You can enhance this low protein alternative by adding high protein granola.

Butter Alternatives

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Butter and olive oil are remarkably interchangeable. Olive oil is also great for dipping, frying, dipping, basting and baking (except for recipes calling for cold butter).

It’s full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Diets high in monounsaturated fats are linked to a wide range of health benefits, including weight management, improved cholesterol, and lowered blood pressure.

Dairy-free cheese alternatives

Cashew Cheese

When you taste cashew cheese, you’ll find it hard to believe it comes from a tropical fruit. Although it contains little to no protein, it will still provide your cheesy fix and a small dose of plant-based nutrition. 

 

Nutritional yeast flakes

Nutritional yeast flakes are the standard go-to replacement for parmesan cheese. It has a sharp, distinct taste and a very satisfying cheesiness. In addition, it’s a significant source of some B-complex vitamins and contains trace amounts of other vitamins and minerals.

 Dairy-free Ice Cream Alternative

Bananas

 If you don’t want store-bought ice cream, then bananas are an excellent substitute. Simply blend some frozen bananas and customise them with fruits or other flavourings. Bananas are low fat, naturally sweet treat that’s high in vitamins. 

Nutritional considerations  

It’s important for everyone- vegetarians, vegans and meat-eaters to read up on nutrition to ensure their diet isn’t deficient in any vitamins or minerals. 

Although dairy products are rich in calcium, dairy is not the only source of calcium. Other excellent calcium sources include Leafy green vegetables, calcium-fortified soy milk and calcium-set tofu. 

If you’re unsure about what to eat while going dairy-free, book a consultation with me. Together we’ll plan a diet that suits your health and lifestyle needs. 

Plant-based meal plan to help you go dairy-free

Are you curious about going 100% plant-based but not sure where to start? Check out our Plant-Based Meal Plan Guide for vegan diets. This written guide provides step by step instructions for planning vegan meals to help you lose weight and improve your health. In addition, it contains nutritional information, useful kitchen hacks and 4 bonus recipes.

healthy eating this winter

Tips for healthy eating this winter

The importance of healthy eating this winter

With the colder winter weather comes colds, the flu, coughs, and for some, weight gain. For this reason, it’s important to stay on top of your diet and keep yourself well-nourished during winter. Sticking to healthy eating this winter won’t necessarily prevent you from picking up illnesses, but it can help maintain your immune system to protect you. Also, should you fall ill, a nutritious diet can help speed up your recovery.

In winter, it may seem harder to stick to heart-healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating lots of fruit and veg. The range of seasonal fruit and vegetables also declines at this time of year, and the weather can make going out less appealing. However, there are still many ways that you can look after your diet and your health. See my tips on how to get through a cold winter’s day without compromising your health.

Diet tips for healthy eating this winter

Try warm and hearty salads

Instead of eating your usual cold salad, top your favourite greens with roasted vegetables, toasted nuts, crispy chickpeas, or warm chicken or beef. The warmth of the food will satisfy your hunger, while feeding your body the nutrition it needs. Many winter vegetables, such as squash, cabbage, cauliflower, are also easier to digest when cooked.

Pack soups, stews and curries with vegetables

I love both plant-based and meat soups and stews; they’re flavourful and satisfying on their own, or they can be eaten with rice or whole-grain pasta. Although some cream-based soups can be loaded with calories and fat and calories, there are many healthy soup recipes that are easy to make. 

Add fruit for healthy seasonal desserts 

I would never tell anyone to give up dessert. That being said, dessert doesn’t always have to be a decadent brownie or rich chocolate cake. There are many delicious desserts you can make using seasonal fruits and vegetables. Since the fresh produce has so much flavour, you can decrease the amount of sugar and butter used as well. From pies to crumbles to cookies, the options are endless. You can use pumpkin, squash, apples, pears, and oranges for a nutritious twist on your favourite sweet treat. 

Eat more protein

You’re probably not going to be braaing outside during the winter, but you should still be eating lean proteins. Protein fills you up much faster than high carbs and sugary foods. You won’t be consuming as many calories if you stick with a high protein diet.

Using warming spices

We associate certain spices with winter: cinnamon, nutmeg, and paprika, for instance. These spices add warmth and depth to food and provide a delicious taste without adding on extra fat or calories. Spicy foods also heat you up from the inside. In addition, they offer winter-specific health benefits: if you get colds or sinus infections, spicy foods can help clear out your sinuses or relieve a stuffy nose. 

Drink More Water and Tea

During the winter months, it’s important to stay hydrated. Drink more water to avoid dehydration. 

While it’s cold, you may crave coffee even more because it helps keep you warm. Instead of choosing caffeine-rich beverages, consider drinking caffeine-free alternatives such as rooibos tea and lemon and ginger tea. Drinking tea not only keeps you warm but it has been linked to preventing some illnesses, building immunity and stimulating metabolism.

Healthy eating during this winter: customized diet plan

Sticking to a winter diet can be quite challenging, but a customized diet plan designed by a dietitian can help. If you’re keen on getting a comprehensive diet plan for winter, contact me. I can help you with a winter diet to suit your health and lifestyle needs. 

 

A low-carb diet: The pros and cons

A low-carb diet: The pros and cons

Low-carb diets such as the Keto Diet seems to be all the rage right now. To carb or not to carb? Many people ask me this question at my practice. There’s so much conflicting information about carbohydrates, so I want to clear the confusion with some science-backed evidence. In this blog, I will evaluate the pros and cons of following a low-carb diet, so you can make an informed decision.

What is a low-carb diet?

A low-carb is a diet that gets relatively high energy from fat and protein and low energy from carbohydrates. A low-carb diet provides only 50 to 130g of carbohydrates per day. In a Ketogenic diet, you will take a maximum of 50g of carbohydrates per day- this is extremely low. 

For comparison: the average adult woman eats about 225g of carbohydrates per day, and this is a normal amount.

The pros of a low-carb diet

  • You can still eat great tasting high-fat and healthy foods in moderation, such as butter, cream, mayonnaise, cheese, steaks etc.
  • Proteins can make you feel fuller for longer.
  • Low-carb diets may result in weight loss due to the way in which water is stored alongside carbohydrate stores.
  • Some studies show an improvement in insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control.
  • Some studies show an improvement in cholesterol levels but, only when saturated fat is also restricted.

 The cons of a low-carb diet

  • Carbs are found in many different kinds of foods. These foods include cereal, and even some fruits, vegetables and dairy products. Eliminating or limiting these food groups in order to reduce the total amount of carbohydrate may result in less intake of key vitamins and minerals.
  • A lack of carbohydrates can affect your concentration and mood.
  • Muscle loss can occur as the body looks to use protein for fuel.
  • Fewer carbs can lead to reduced exercise tolerance (from reduced glycogen stores in the muscles)
  • Low carbohydrate diets are usually low in fibre and antioxidants, which may increase your risk of certain cancers.
  • Low carbohydrate diets that advocate high protein can cause damage to your bones and kidneys. 

 

To carb or not to carb?

At the end of the day, it all boils down to controlling the number of calories that you consume, whether these come from carbohydrates, protein or fats. 

An ‘all-or-nothing’ approach to carbohydrates tends to be difficult to maintain long-term. Controlled portions of carbohydrates, proteins and fats are the best way to follow a balanced diet. 

For most people, this means moderately reducing carbohydrates. As a rule of thumb, a portion of carb-rich foods is about the size of your fist. Include healthier carb options, such as wholegrain cereals and bread, beans and legumes, fruits and vegetables, and unsweetened low-fat dairy products. These foods will make you feel full without adding unwanted calories. The end result will be healthy and long-term weight loss. 

Also, choose foods that have a lower energy density. These are unprocessed foods that contain lots of vitamins and minerals and are low in calories, fats and sugars.

Pro Tip: Always consult a Doctor or Dietician before starting a new diet

Deciding whether to go on a low-carb diet is a difficult decision that requires a lot of thought. My advice is to seek the help of a registered Dietitian or Doctor to help you make an informed decision about whether a low-carb diet is a right choice for your specific nutrition and health needs. If you need help choosing the correct diet for your needs, contact me, so we can set up a nutrition plan that works for you. 

fermented foods

The lowdown on fermented foods

There’s no denying that considering one’s gut health is highly important when it comes to healthy eating. Many everyday day foods are good for gut health. These foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish and extra virgin olive. However, there is another category of foods that can promote gut health: fermented foods. 

Humans have enjoyed fermented foods—from wine, beer, and vinegar to pickles, olives, yoghurt, and cheese—for millennia. Before using fridges, people used fermenting to preserve foods. But can fermented foods make your gut healthier? The short answer is yes. In this blog, I will break down the evidence to support this theory. 

What are fermented foods?

Fermented foods go through a process called “Lacto fermentation”, where natural bacteria feeds on the starches and sugars in the food to create lactic acid. 

For vegetables, they soak in their own juice or saltwater, allowing bacteria to grow. This bacteria eats the sugar in the vegetables, creating lactic acid. The end result is a fermented product that has a tart and slightly acidic taste. The fermentation process preserves the food and its nutrients. It also creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics.

Types of fermented foods

Kimchi

Kimchi is a popular dish in Korea, which is essentially fermented cabbage. Some people also make kimchi from other vegetables, such as radishes.

Tempeh

Tempeh is made from fermenting soybeans. The soybeans are then pressed into a compact cake. It is a high-protein meat substitute that is firm, but chewy. You can bake it, steam or sauté it before adding it to dishes.

Natto

Natto is a staple probiotic in traditional Japanese cuisine. Like tempeh, it uses fermented soybeans. It has a very strong flavour and slippery texture.

Kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented tea that’s tart, fizzy, and flavourful. It contains either black or green tea and contains potent health-promoting properties.

Miso

Miso is a common seasoning used in Japanese cuisine. It is made by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji, a type of fungus.

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is a popular condiment that consists of shredded cabbage fermented by lactic acid bacteria. It’s low in calories and contains plenty of vitamin C, vitamin K and fibre, and vitamin K. 

Probiotic yoghurt

Probiotic yoghurt is made by fermenting milk with lactic acid bacteria. It’s high in many important nutrients, including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin, and vitamin B12. 

Kefir

Kefir is a milk drink that you make with yeast fermentation and bacteria. Also, the beverage is tangy and thick and tastes like yoghurt.

The Benefits of fermented foods

Fermented foods contain probiotics for better gut health

Fermented foods can improve gut health due to the beneficial bacteria they contain. Kefir and Kombucha, in particular, helps balance out the good and bad bacteria in your digestive system and can aid digestion.

Boosts Your Immune System

The bacteria found in your gut have a significant impact on your immune system. Due to their high probiotic content, fermented foods can boost your immune system and reduce your risk of infections like the common cold. 

Absorbs food better

The improved balance of gut bacteria and digestive enzymes ensure you’re absorbing as many nutrients as possible. Eating a varied diet and absorbing key nutrients properly will be a great boost for your overall gut health.

Preserves food easily

As hard as we might try, we all end up finding some rotten vegetables in our fridge every so often. Luckily, fermented foods last much longer, since the fermentation process prevents foods from going off. This means you can store foods for much longer without losing any nutrients. 

Where to find fermented foods

I get most of my fermented food products from Jacksons Real Food Market and Eatery in Bryanston. Their Kimchi is my favourite! Also, check out your local supermarkets and health stores for fermented products. 

If you’re struggling with your gut health, contact me. I work with Viome to offer you Gut Intelligence Testing. Gut Intelligence Testing analyses the gut to understand how certain changes in diet can lead to better overall health. In addition, Gut Testing reveals what foods and supplements are ideal for you. 

Tips for a successful meat-free Monday

Tips for a successful meat-free Monday

Meat-free Monday is a movement to eliminate meat from your diet for one a week. Eliminating has many benefits for your health, wallet and the environment. When you replace meat with veggies, you save quite a bit on grocery items, and Meat-free Mondays reduce your carbon footprint.

Even if you typically eat animal products, going meat-free just one day every week can have a positive impact on your health, wellbeing and the environment.

Let me show you how easily it can be done.

Plan your meat-free Monday ahead of time

Find some recipes that look good to you; go ahead and plan away. For detailed and scrumptious vegetarian and vegan meals, I’ve got you covered with my Plant-Based Meal Plan Guide

Be sure to stock your pantry – have vegetarian-friendly items on hand like veggie stock or broth, organic canned beans, whole grains, and nuts and seeds. 

Another great tip is to take a trip to your local farmers market. It’s virtually impossible to walk through a farmers market and not feel inspired to whip up some veggie-based dishes. 

Do some simple protein swops

You’re probably worried that the texture of vegetables just wouldn’t stand up to that of meat. Don’t be too quick to judge. Mushrooms are wonderfully meaty, and lentils mimic minced meat almost identically. There are lots of other vegetables that can take the place of meat and still satisfy your taste buds, such as lentils, beans, and brinjal. Learning how to use these veggies can help you attain that meaty texture you crave.

If you’re eating a dish that incorporates vegetables, be sure to use a variety of different kinds, so you don’t even realize that the meat is missing. For example, rather than making a chicken pot pie, make a veggie pot pie with squash, potatoes, beans, carrots, celery and any other ingredient you desire. All of these veggies have different textures when they’re cooked, so you won’t feel as if you’re just eating spoonfuls of vegetables.

Use lots of seasonings 

To bump up the flavour, you can use the same spice mixes on vegetables that you would usually use on meat. Poultry and meat seasonings are marketed for use on chicken and meat, but guess what? Many of them are actually vegan. There is generally no actual poultry in poultry seasoning or any steak in steak seasoning. However, check the labels just to be sure. 

Some homemade spice mix ideas: Combine sage, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, celery seed, allspice, and black pepper to make your own ‘poultry’ seasoning. Blend chilli powder, paprika, oregano, cumin, coriander, mustard powder, brown sugar, salt, and pepper to create your own ‘steak’ seasoning. 

Use flavourful veggie or vegan broths

A good broth, or stock, is the foundation of so many tasty vegan recipes. For example, using broth as the base for soups, rice, and quinoa dishes really improves the flavour.

You can make your own simple broth at home with celery, onion, carrot, thyme, garlic, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. If you’re looking for a shortcut, the grocery shop has plenty of vegetable and vegan stocks for you to choose from. 

Final tip

The best advice I have is to not over-complicate your dishes. Stick with something simple you already know and build your meal from there.

Recipe ideas for meat-free Monday

You can find some of these delicious recipes and more in my Plant-based with Meal Plan Guide. If you’re looking for fresh new plant-based recipes, then this guide is perfect for you.

The meal plan includes a guided weekly dinner meal plan for a month as well as nutritional information, useful kitchen hacks and 4 Bonus Recipes! Check it out here.

 

[Contact me to find out more]

'S.M.A.R.T' New Year's resolutions for a healthier you

‘S.M.A.R.T’ New Year’s resolutions for a healthier you

With 2021 in full swing, many of us are setting goals and making New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions related to leading healthier lifestyles are often at the top of the list, with popular choices including losing weight, eating healthier and exercising more regularly. 

 Unfortunately, very few people actually stick to their New Year’s resolutions. So, why the low success rate? 

 Well, New Year’s resolutions and goals are often vague and may involve unrealistic expectations. Also, many people undertake resolutions without a proper plan in place. Luckily, with proper planning, you can be well on your way to achieving your ultimate goal. 

In this blog, I will show you how to successfully achieve your New Year’s resolutions, using the S.M.A.R.T goals method. S.M.A.R.T stands for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound, i.e. (S.M.AR.T)

Start with your intention for New Year’s Resolutions

 When setting goals, it’s best to start with outlining your intention. This involves identifying a problem that needs fixing and resolving to do something about it. 

When you do this, it’s important to remember that resolutions should be about your life, health and happiness. Often, our goals are influenced by family, friends or societal norms. Though our personal desire and goals and desires may also align with what our loved ones want for us, it’s important to stay in touch with our own aspirations and reasons for setting (and working towards) resolutions. 

Setting S.M.A.R.T. New Year’s Resolutions

Once you’ve identified your intentions, you can start framing your goals into the S.M.A.R.T format—goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-oriented. 

Here’s how you can break down your S.M.A.R.T goals:

Specific

A good goal is very specific. It maps out what you want to achieve, and the steps needed to get there. It is usually easier to achieve a specific goal compared to a vague one. This is because when a goal is specific, it leaves little wiggle room: you either did it or you didn’t. Setting clear goals holds us more accountable for our actions, and accountability is key when it comes to achieving goals. 

To help you create clearly defined and specific goals, answer the following questions

  • What specifically do I want to achieve this year?
  • By when do I want to accomplish this resolution?
  • Who is involved in this goal?
  • Where will this activity take place?
  • Why is this resolution important to me?

For example, “I want to exercise more” isn’t very specific and may feel unmanageable over time. To avoid confusion, use the 5 W’s to narrow your focus. The resolution “I want to go to the gym at least four times every week starting on 15 January 2021, for six months” is more detailed and defined, and will help you take actionable steps toward reaching the goal.

Measurable

When your goal has a measurable unit, it is easier to track and determine progress. Applying a measurable unit will also let you know when you have succeeded in reaching your goal. For example, you can take a goal like “I will lose weight” and improve it by adding a measurement, so your goal will be something like ” I will lose 5 kgs.”

Consider asking yourself these questions to make your goals more measurable: 

  • What milestones can I measure along the way?
  • How will I know when my goal is achieved?

Attainable

While many of us would love to achieve the impossible, it is important to set a goal that can actually be achieved. Feel free to challenge yourself, but remember to still keep your goal possible. If you set an ambitious goal, be sure to break it down into smaller, more attainable milestones. 

For example, if your ultimate goal is to lose 12kgs in 2021, you can set smaller goals, such as losing 1 kg every month. 

 It is also important to anticipate limitations and constraints that may impact your ability to achieve your goal. Account for these possible requirements or obstacles by planning how you will meet or overcome them. 

You can make goals attainable by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is my goal realistic for my finances and schedule?
  • Is my goal achievable with the resources that I have?
  • What are some potential barriers to meeting my goal, and how can I overcome them?

Relevant

This goes back to your intentions and picking goals that are truly valuable to you. Set goals that reflect what you want, who you’d like to be or become. Be as clear as you can on why you want to work toward this goal. Your goal should be challenging and big enough to inspire and motivate you. 

 Answer these guiding questions to see if your goals are relevant:

  • Why is my goal important to me? How is it significant to my life?
  • Does my goal align with my other goals? 

Time-oriented

An effective goal should be time-limited. Giving yourself a time frame for when you would like to achieve your goal will motivate you.

Using dates or events as milestones to check-in on progress can be helpful by keeping you focused and enthusiastic.   

Set your goal with a deadline and create a calendar leading up to it with all the steps you need to achieve your goal. Consider your milestones and track your progress daily.

 Ask yourself the following questions:

  • When should I start and complete my goal?
  • What can I get started with today?
  • What should I do on a day-to-day, week-to-week or month-to-month basis?

Sample New Year’s resolutions

Here are some traditional resolutions made “S.M.A.R.T.”

 Traditional resolution: I will lose weight.

SMART resolution: I will lose 12kgs by 1 April, by reducing my calorie intake by 500 calories per day and exercising 4 days per week. 

Traditional resolution: I will exercise more. 

SMART resolution: I will run for 40 minutes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the park in my neighbourhood, from January December. 

Traditional resolution: I will eat more healthy foods. 

SMART resolution: I will eat 5 fruits and vegetables every day for the next two weeks.

The bottom line when setting New Year’s Resolutions

 Remember, resolutions aren’t about trying to do everything at once, but rather taking small steps towards a big change. 

Check-in at each milestone so you can evaluate and track your progress. If you have met your initial goal, acknowledge and celebrate that accomplishment. 

If you’re not where you set out to be after your check-in, that is perfectly okay. Don’t get discouraged- use the time to reflect on why you got off track and make some adjustments to your S.MA.R.T plan to get back on the path to success. 

 For more tips on how to get healthier this year, contact me for a consultation. 

Why would I need a genetic test?

Why would I need a genetic test?

Why would I need a genetic test?

Genetic testing has been around since the 1950s but only in the area of chromosome counting to detect genetic disorders at birth. Since then it has expanded throughout the years to newborn screening, diagnostic testing, carrier testing, preimplantation genetic disorders, prenatal diagnosis,
predictive and presymptomatic testing, pharmacogenomics, nutrigenomics.

Nutrigenomic testing is the science of studying the relationship between the humane genome, nutrition, and health and will be discussed further in this article. This area of genetic testing is still relatively new but it lays the foundation of truly personalised nutrition.

Who will benefit from Nutrigenomic testing?

Any individual wanting treatment, lifestyle, and disease prevention tailored appropriately for their unique needs will benefit. Nutrigenomics can give you insight into how best to manage your weight with interventions unique to you that impact metabolism, absorption, and storage of fats and carbohydrates.

It can also give you insight into the potential risk of lifestyle disease and how to best prevent them from happening, enhance your performance in sport and take care of your health in a way that is personalised and precise. A few areas that these tests look at including Cardiovascular health, Glucose and insulin balance, Risk for blood clotting, Bone, collagen and joint health, brain health, Sex hormone balance and Detoxification, inflammation, and oxidative stress to name a few.

My husband’s genetic report

I’m going you use my husband’s report as an example to share how this has been of benefit for him and why I love to use these tests in my practice.

*Important to note that the type of genes tested are what we call low penetrance genes which means that is not indefinite that you will develop a certain disease no matter any changes that you make but that you can prevent these lifestyle diseases through changing your habits.

We found that he has a risk for Cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline as well as insufficiencies in how he is able to detoxify. His highest priority is inflammation and oxidative stress, we also found out that he is caffeine sensitive but he already knew this from personal experience.

Now that we know this information what do we do about it… For him, the risk of cognitive decline is very scary but we are putting a few interventions in place to help prevent this from happening, for example, assessing his sugar intake, focus on eating lots of plants and all the colors of the rainbow from fruit and vegetables and most importantly work on his inflammation which your brain does not like to have to hang around… We have introduced specific supplements to his routine such as omega 3, Vitamin D, and Phosphatidylcholine as well as regular exercise… Your brain loves to exercise.

We have recently adopted a plant-based way of eating and he has found a lot of improvement with regards to his inflammation in eating this way. It is definitely a mind shift as we are Afrikaans and grew up eating lots of meat and braai meat every weekend with family and friends.

We have to support his liver by reducing alcohol and caffeine intake and giving his liver the right nutrients to function appropriately like your cruciferous vegetables and again lots of color in his diet from plants. There are specific nutrients that will be of great benefit to him like sulforaphane which is the active ingredient in broccoli.

The information in these tests is not supposed to scare you but empower you to make specific diet and lifestyle changes that are personalised to you to help prevent and better manage your health.

“Genetic testing doesn’t tell you how you are going to die, it tells you how you are going to live and that’s a very important step for all of us in gaining back control of our health.” Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D., FACN

mental health awareness

How to maintain a healthy mind.

In these unprecedented times, improving and maintaining your mental health should be a priority. As Lockdown progresses, you may start to develop negative thinking patterns as you find yourself becoming more and more tired and frustrated. These negative thinking patterns tend to cause conditions like anxiety and depression to worsen, which means that recognising and preventing negative thoughts is critical to sustaining a healthy mind.

There are a few strategies you can implement to identify your triggers and help you train your brain to maintain positivity. 

Are you having negative thoughts?

Identifying negative thoughts can be tricky – but realising that specific thoughts are harmful or unhealthy is the first step to changing them. Thoughts that consistently lower your self-esteem or cause you to doubt your worth aren’t healthy – especially if you find your mind replaying them several times a day, creating a pattern of negative thinking. 

Here are some patterns you should look out for:

  • Personalisation: Believing that you are the cause of adverse situations. 
  • Magnification: Exaggerating situations in your mind until they seem helpless.
  • Overgeneralisation: Designating the feelings of previous negative experiences to all similar experiences.
  • Emotional Reasoning: Making decisions and assumptions based on your feelings at the moment, rather than the facts.
  • Black-and-White Thinking: Your thinking jumps from one extreme to the next, with no middle ground.

How to stay positive:

Retraining your mind to avoid these negative thought traps isn’t too difficult, as long as you are consistent in your training. Try to implement one of the following strategies every day, and document your positive and negative thoughts to see how you’re improving.

Personal Mantras:

Repeating affirmation statements helps to steer your mind away from negative thoughts. Your mantra could be a phrase that motivates and encourages you and repeating it consistently when you’re experiencing negative thoughts will help you feel better. It especially helps if you believe what you’re saying.

Happy Scrapbook:

Keeping a scrapbook of all of the positive thoughts, happy memories, and overall positive aspects of your life can become a great mood booster in times of stress and anxiety. Bring it out when you’re feeling down, and it’ll help break you out of a negative thinking pattern. 

Kindness:

A recent study concluded that performing acts of kindness improves your overall mood and mental state. It also improves your self-esteem and makes you feel more valuable. Contributing to positive change in your community will help you create a positive difference in your mind.

Redesign!

Colours, textures and the ambience of spaces all affect your mental state. If you’re in an area that’s dark and gloomy, you’ll find yourself drifting to that mind space more frequently. Add a little bit of colour to your environment, move some furniture and find ornamental items to inspire you.

Create a Routine:

Structuring your days to include self-care activities and positive changes will help to keep you on track. Find a way to add time for things you’ve always wanted to do – like learning a new language or taking up a new hobby. The internet has millions of online classes and guides to help you learn.

Check-in with yourself

Monitoring and revising is key to the success of any ongoing project, so creating a system to be able to check-in with yourself is vital to developing a long-term change in your mental wellbeing. 

Journaling is a powerful method of keeping track of your mental wellbeing.

Start by making a note of any negative thoughts you have and jotting down the causes, effects and strategies you implemented to stop them. As you progress, you’ll start identifying patterns in your thinking, and you’ll be able to act proactively to stop negative thoughts. 

You’ll be able to avoid triggers more effectively and understand which situations could affect your mental wellbeing. 

Food for Thought

I recently wrote a piece for Trove Wellness on the topic of eating to support and enhance your mental health:

“Many foods can increase our mental health and should be strategically included in our diets to assist with alertness, memory and mood. This is especially critical now because of the fear and anxiety which is induced by the lockdown. Prioritize your mental health and mind, we are shaped by our thoughts and the happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.”

To read my full article and see which foods I recommend, click this link

Get Started!

Negative thoughts happen to everyone. It’s an unfortunate part of life. 

When your negative thoughts start impacting your perception of yourself and the world around you, they create unnecessary stress and anxiety. When your negative thoughts are consistent and unyielding, they could cause you to become exhausted, depressed, unmotivated, frustrated and angry. 

Replacing negative thought patterns with positive ones seems easy enough, but you do need to be consistent. Try implementing some of these strategies into your daily routine to help counteract the cycle and maintain a positive, healthy mindset.