Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Subtle but significant

I was in a yoga class today taught by an instructor who I can only describe as the Bruno of the yoga world.

It was unconventional to say the least and, whilst trying to follow the novel instruction of 'turn your vagina to the ceiling', I did wonder what I was doing there!

Still, despite not being the traditional yoga class I was after I left feeling taller, lighter and refreshed.

This isn't the first time I've thought 'is this really doing anything' during some of the pilates and yoga based classes I've been to! But this is just because the techniques involved are so much more subtle than a conventional weights workout, which makes them easy to dismiss.

I think the same may be true when it comes to healthy eating, people expect to have to make really radical changes to their diets and feel pretty deprived to see any results.

Infact some of the subtler changes can be pretty powerful and pretty easy to do. Here are a few of my favourites:

- drink a glass of water before each meal or snack, before you have a tea or coffee, before you go to bed and when you wake up, makes a huge difference to energy levels

- add some protein to every meal or snack, even a few nuts or a glass of soya milk can be enough to help balance your blood sugar and keep you feeling full

- swapping your sugary muesli or cereal for a non-sugar version is an easy way to make your breakfast low GI and keep you full for longer. If you need some extra sweetness add some chopped fruit (fresh or dried) and do the same with your porridge instead of adding sugar or honey.

- The same applies to fruit yoghurts which are full of sugar. Instead have natural yoghurt mixed with some fruit to sweeten it up. Avoiding sugar isn't just important for weight management, it's also key in the long run in avoiding diabetes, heart disease and digestive disorders.

- have a wheat-free roll with your soup rather than a white bread roll or make your lunchtime sandwich with wholemeal gluten free bread to avoid the post wheat snooze

- go to bed half an hour earlier during the week to feel mentally and physically refreshed and help keep bugs at bay

- switch to decaf tea or coffee or green tea for your afternoon drink to encourage restful sleep

- have a side salad along with your dinner everyday to up your intake of super nutritious greens

- cook with olive oil or coconut fat rather than butter and use a pure sunflower spread on your toast

- take five meditative breaths before you eat to switch your nervous system from the sympathetic (stressed) mode to parasympathetic (relaxed) this will allow proper digestion and absorption of nutrients and reduce stress-related symptoms such as bloating, wind or urgency

- leave a clear breath between each mouthful when eating to force you to slow down eating and chew properly to improve food breakdown

- go for a ten minute stroll after a meal to moderate insulin production

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