Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why Diets Don’t Work

When I see somebody on a low-calorie diet and a strict exercise regime, I want to look them in the eyes and shout, “Stop! You’re wasting your time!”

Crash dieting may help you dramatically lose weight in a short period of time. But fad diets starve your body of essential nutrients good for your health. You are sacrificing nutrition and good health for weight loss.

What’s more people who achieve dramatic weight loss by cutting too many calories typically gain back most or all of the weight as they cannot stick to these diets. For some people yo-yo dieting is the norm. You gain some weight, you spend a couple of weeks working hard to reduce it, you go back to your normal habits and when you regain those couple of pounds, you just diet again.

The following diet and exercise comments set off alarm bells in my head:
  •       “I’m working out every day now”
  •       “I skip lunches”
  •       “I’ll have a donut instead of my lunch”
  •       “I eat less than 1200 calories a day”
  •        “I’ve cut out carbs”
  •        “I can’t go out for a meal as I’m on a diet”

The reason that I’m wary of such comments is because a) they are unhealthy habits or b) these habits cannot be sustained long-term.

I believe that you are far better off adopting healthy habits that you can stick to. Make small gradual changes to your diet and exercise routine that can be sustained. This is better for your body and you are gaining healthy habits that will help you stay in shape forever. Here are my tips:
  •       Aim to lose no more than 1 or 2 pounds a week
  •       Eat fruit and vegetables as snacks rather than cookies and chips
  •       Eat salad without dressing
  •      Cook in olive oil and cut down on consumption of butter
  •      Substitute milk for cream
  •      Scale-back on desserts
  •       Avoid fast-food restaurants
  •       Eat more fish
  •       Eat whole-grain bread instead of white bread
  •       Eat small portions
  •       Make exercise a part of your life
  •       Make exercise fun – do what you enjoy!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Feed Your Hair

My mum can determine my iron levels simply by looking at my hair. If my hair looks thin at the top, she suspects that I am anemic – and she is usually right!

Iron is a vital component of a healthy hair diet as it helps red blood cells carry oxygen to the hair follicles.

Here are my top three iron-rich food groups:
-    Meat: beef, lamb, chicken, and animal livers
-    Green leafy vegetables: spinach and broccoli
-    Whole wheat: bread and rice

Remember you must pair up foods containing iron with vitamin C as vitamin C helps absorb the iron. So cook your meat with tomatoes, add mandarins to your spinach salad, and drink fruit juice with your toast.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Aim to Exercise Twice a Week for 30 Minutes.

So we're supposed to exercise five times a week for 30 minutes, but I honestly don't remember the last time I managed to do that. Busy schedules and a lack of motivation prevent me from exercising anywhere near as much as I am supposed to. So what do I do about this?

I set myself an easy, but attainable goal, each week. That is, I plan to exercise just twice a week but I plan to do that EVERY week. Some weeks are busier than others, sometimes the weather is grey and I don’t feel like working out, and sometimes I am away on vacation. But no matter what, two half an hour sessions for the good of my health are just as important as everything else in my life. So I get up half an hour earlier than usual on a Saturday and one day of the week and I pack in a thirty minutes workout session. I do this at the start of the day before  other things can get in the way and while my energy levels are high.

At times, I get over enthusiastic with my fitness regime and I start working out every day, but usually, this is something I cannot stick to. So why not set myself goals that I can achieve and sustain long term!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book Review: "Food Rules: An Eater's Manual" by Michael Pollan

When I first heard Michael Pollan speak on radio, I knew that his philosophy of food was something I had been in search of for a long time. His motto is "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." And his book, “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual,” provides easy-to-follow steps to support a simple, healthy and natural diet. This book is a must-read if your diet consists of fast-food, frozen meals and few vegetables. Here are my favorite five rules from his book:

  • Avoid food products that have more than 5 ingredients
  • Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce
  • Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle
  • Treat treats as treats
  • Eat animals that have themselves eaten well.
I like Pollan's rules as guidelines for a nutritious and healthy diet and this is particularly important in today's world. While many people try to be healthy, weight loss is the key for most women and many of these women are misguided about healthy eating habits by following bad diets which offer quick weight loss at the expense of good health. So I have come up with a few suggestions of food rules for dieters:
  • Don’t go for long periods without eating – that way your body holds on to its fat reserves and your metabolism slows down.
  • Don’t eliminate whole food groups – many diets, such as Atkins, Paleo etc., exclude certain food groups, in particular, carbohydrates. But every food group has its own function and benefits. The key is to have a balanced diet and to eat everything in moderation.
  • Drink water – avoid sugary, caffeinated, and diet drinks.
  • Feed your cravings – Pollan says himself “break the rules once in a while,” and when you really fancy something, go for it, otherwise, you will crave it even more and when you finally give in, you will indulge more!

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Healthy Breakfast Suggestion: Granola and Fresh Fruit

I'm a strong believer in breakfast being the most important meal of the day and this breakfast option is a great way to kick off the day. It is a good way of getting part of your daily intake of fruit and is rich in nuts which are a good source of protein. Enjoy!

  • Place in a cereal bowl half a cup of blueberries, half a banana, a few pieces of pineapple and a peach (or other fruits of your choice)
  • Add 2 tbsp yogurt
  • Add 1 tbsp honey 
  • Top with 3/4 cup granola (recipe below).

Granola recipe:


    4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
    2 cups sliced almonds
    1 cup chopped pecans
    1 cup chopped walnuts
    3/4 cup olive oil
    1/2 cup honey


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Toss the oats and nuts together in a large bowl. Place oil and honey in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Pour the liquids over the oat mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until all the oats and nuts are coated. Pour onto a 13 by 18 by 1-inch sheet pan. Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even, golden brown, about 25 minutes.
Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Place in an air-tight container. It will keep for a good few weeks.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Under Eye Circles

After years of experimenting and research I have come to learn that under eye circles are mostly a genetic condition and if they are in your genes, you cannot totally eliminate them.If you too suffer from dark under eye circles, you might have experimented with expensive creams claiming to treat and make under eye circles disappear. However, to your dismay, they most probably did not solve the problem. But here are a few ways I have learned to keep them at bay:

For me the most important and effective way to treat dark under eye circles is to get a good night’s rest. Aim to get more than 7.5 hours continuous sleep if possible. You’ll see that the more you sleep, the lighter your circles.

A balanced diet, rich in fruit, vegetables and fiber, with lots of water, will give you more radiant skin. Also, make sure your iron level is good as I find that anemia worsens dark circles.

Since you cannot eliminate most dark circles, find a good concealer to cover them up with.
Product recommendation: Christian Dior’s Skinflash 03

Moisturizer/Under Eye Cream
Keeping the area around your eyes well moisturized can prevent itchy, dry skin which can cause redness or make your eyes look dull and tired

Home Remedies
Here are a few inexpensive treatments you can try to improve the skin area around your eyes and make it look fresher.
  • Cold tea bags - soak used tea bags in water and refrigerate. Apply to eyes for 5-10 minutes.
  • Rose water massage – wet a cotton wool bud with rose water and massage gently around the eye area for about 5 minutes.
  • Almond oil and honey before bed – apply a mixture of honey and almond oil to your under eyes before going to sleep.
  • Cucumber slices – place cool cucumber slices on your under eyes for 5-10 minutes.