Benefits of eating seasonally

paleoeffect_seasonal_guideThe wonder of nature is that once we start following its rotation and synchronize our activities to the different energetic periods of various cycles, our lives start flowing with effortless ease. Once we collaborate with nature it will grant us great boons.

Cravings

Cravings can be good and bad, rising when the brain and the body are in need of nourishment of some sort. Bad cravings rise when we have fallen out of alignment with our routines. Incorrect eating habits can leave the body undernourished even if we have eaten a lot. A hefty lunch, eaten in haste can create a strong craving soon after eating because the digestive process has not started properly, is slow or stopped all together.

Cravings for sugar in the afternoon are a response to brain’s emergency need for fuel. The energy from sugar is released in the mouth but only lasts for a short period of time. Then craving after craving follows, leading to confused digestive rhythms.

The brain is nourished by food, by feelings and by emotions. Once there is undernourishment or malnourishment a craving rises and can be uncontrollable. The brain can translate foods as emotional comfort and vice versa by taking positive, loving thoughts and emotions for nourishment. Once we nourish our brains routinely with the correct kind of food and impressions we make sure our emotional life is kept in balance as well. With a well-nourished brain we are able to stay alert, concentrate and focus more easily as well as using our memories and imagination in a positive and creative way. But a tired brain deprived of nourishment responds first by expressing a craving.

A good craving arises when we follow seasonal dietary guidelines and maintain a daily routine that keeps our digestion, absorption and elimination under control. Once we have a good daily rhythm we start craving things only when we are hungry and our stomach is ready to start processing another load. Amazingly we also crave foods that are exactly in season. It will become hard or unsatisfying to eat kale in October and November because it would highly aggravate vata. Instead, the craving for kale is natural in spring, which is in season to pacify kapha. Then we can enjoy it to our heart’s content.

The taste sensation can be completely different from one season to another. Following what nature wants us to do and listening to our bodies needs doesn’t have to be hard at all. In winter we naturally gravitate towards warm and heavy soups and in summer we crave light salads. We find great satisfaction in filling the desires of the palate with exactly what we find in nature.

Acidity

The amount of acidic food eaten has dramatically increased in Western diets. The first and foremost reason for this is because of the quantities of white sugar and flour we consume. Secondly, we eat meat that has been reared by feeding the wrong kind of food. The meat of a cow that has been grown in a pasture eating grass is much less acidic than its industrially grown and fed counterpart.

Also, fruits and vegetables are different as regards acidity and alkalinity. Our diets should contain one third acidic foods and two-thirds alkaline foods. Eating a seasonal diet satisfies this need. Spring and summer diets are alkaline and an autumn and winter diet is acidic. Once we rotate seasonal food items on our plates we naturally keep this balance under control.

Ideal weight

Each individual has his or her ideal weight. Different body types naturally vary in their perfect balance of weight and height. Kapha people naturally tend to be more robust with thicker skin than vata people. Vatas are usually leaner and have thinner skin. Pitta people fall in the middle of these two and tend towards a medium sized body frame.

Following seasonal dietary guidelines is highly beneficial because our bodies naturally maintain a weight that benefits a long life, with good stamina to fight disease. Even though we might put weight on during winter, changing our diets to highly detoxifying and weight-decreasing spring diets will help us to get rid of the excess effortlessly. The spring diet will trigger the body to burn fat for energy. With this maneouver the body will be able to digest all the carbohydrates it is offered over summer.

Detoxing

Our bodies fall under the influence of toxins through two routes: internal and external. The external sources of toxins come mainly from food (industrial), household and beauty chemicals, radiation, plus industrial and vehicle pollution. The internal sources of toxins are faulty digestion and metabolism. Even if we lived in the cleanest part of the world and used no chemicals for cleaning ourselves and our environment, we would still fall prey to toxins – those created by a faulty digestive process.

Our digestive power varies according to the time of day and of season. It also varies depending on our eating habits. Sometimes we eat at the wrong time, or eat a lot in the evening and go to bed without having fully digested our food. There are many times in life when it’s not possible to follow nature’s guidance, for example when sickness or travel put our systems under pressure and slow down or speed up digestion to an abnormal level. As a consequence, food either stays in the gut too long or too little a time.

Whatever the reason for the accumulation of toxins, it is good to do a detox every so often. The good news is that by following an ayurvedic daily and seasonal routine of diet, the body does this naturally. The morning is dedicated to clearing slow and cold mucous collected during the night as well as to turning on the enzymes. They burn off undigested material from the stomach and gut, which are potential causes of toxins. Also, the body is set to burn fat for energy. This is really important because the toxins lodge in the fatty tissue and when we burn fat, we burn toxins.

Identically, spring season is the part of the year when the body is willing to dispel toxins. The power of detoxing is strong if we treat our bodies accordingly. The spring diet is full of detoxifying alkaline food items like leafy greens: high in chlorophyll, they scrape and clean the gut and nourish the good bacteria to do their work. Also, springtime is the period when we should increase the use of spices and herbs in our kitchen as they easily manipulate the digestive and metabolic powers. Digestive spices such as turmeric, pepper, ginger, parsley, rosemary and chilli are all very familiar to us.

Ideally there would be no need to go on a specific detox if we just followed the daily and seasonal routines for the most part in our lives. Then the body will burn the fat that contains toxins and keep our digestive power strong so that any other toxins that enter the system are dealt with efficiently and eliminated without causing havoc.

Budget

One of the great benefits of a seasonal diet is that it is cheap. Being in season, these food items are cheaper than those grown artificially in the wrong season or brought to the supermarket from a great distance. We can perhaps grow food ourselves in our gardens or terraces, or go to gather nature’s resources straight from the source. Mushrooms, berries and wild herbs like dandelion are all there to be collected in abundance, given the right season. They can be made into preserves or dried and enjoyed at a later stage.

The benefits of the daily and seasonal routines are multiple. Once the wheel starts turning and we find synergy between nature and our individual tendencies and behavioural patterns, the effort to stay healthy and strong is minimal.

Following nature’s way is to follow our true purpose of living. Once we find it, the path opens up clearly in front of us and choices that take us in the right direction become natural. We start naturally rejecting what is harmful and gracefully lean towards the healthier options in life.

Oh So London visit

We had lovely Lucy McGuire from Oh So London website visiting us. The visit was followed  by a lovely article on us in this website which you can read here.

During her visit she made this little video clip of me talking about spiritual healing. Come in and watch it here.

Garden herbs for this season

Chopped flat leaf parsleyNature is very clever in keeping us healthy. Our digestive power varies according to the digestibility of the foods of the season. In autumn and winter our digestive power usually gets a bit stronger in response to the seasonal produce. The harvest is quite hard to digest and also a bit mucous forming. This is fine as the body and mind enjoy rich and nutritious meals in order to cope with winter.

Because of the digestive fire getting stronger it is advisable to keep it burning on a steady flame by nourishing it with mild spices. Strong ones like chilli can get the flame too high. Problems of overheat like acidity are then common especially because this season’s food is naturally acidic. Grains, pulses and nuts are all acidic to some degree. This season is also when meat can be eaten (by the ones who choose to eat it) and it is also acidic in quality.

To spice my autumn food up I personally prefer garden herbs. Parsley, coriander, sage, rosemary and thyme are my favourites. I picked up a tip from Jamie Oliver and freeze the fresh ones I buy and use as much as I need at one go and always have fresh ones at hand, even in winter. I use plenty of them in chicken stock, in roast veggies, pasta sauces and, of course, my favourite coriander, parsley and mint chutney. Here’ the recipe. It is excellent with dals and curries. Also yummy on toast bread.

2 bunches      coriander

1 bunch          parsley

½ bunch        mint

2                      garlic

1”                    ginger

½-1                 Lemon juice

2 cups            Sunflower oil

Rock salt

Chop fresh herbs and mix them with the grated garlic and ginger. Add lemon juice, sunflower oil and finally salt to taste.

 

Five things to remember when doing a detox

detoxFive things to remember when doing a detox

  1. Check out your mindset
    • Before you go on a detox you should understand clearly your motivation. For example, if you are doing a detox with weight loss in mind, because you feel criticized, you are very likely to fail because the reason for your detox comes from the outside. Make sure you are 100% committed to your detox for reasons of better health and clarity of mind. Never go on a detox under pressure
  2. Choose detox according to your needs
    • Everyone is an individual and the kind of detox to go on is to be chosen accordingly. The first thing to understand is whether fasting is needed. Certain body types should not fast, even when detoxing. It is perfectly possible without depriving oneself of food. For example, maple syrup, lemon juice and cayenne pepper detox is a very harsh fasting detox and should not be taken on by people with strong, fast or erratic digestive systems and especially not in autumn and winter. Seasons are also to be taken into account.  Juicing is ok in summer but not in winter. When you start your detox is of great importance
  3. Relaxation
    • Your body is the strongest healer and cleanser. It does not do that if it is under stress. Toxins lodge in the fatty tissue. Under stress the first thing the body wants to do is to withhold fat
  4. Do a no 2 every day
    • It is important to eliminate every day, preferably in the morning. If you do not eliminate toxins will start creating inside of you. And that is exactly what you are trying to avoid
  5. Stay positive and motivated
    • If you are struggling with your detox you are under stress. If the occasional feeling of hunger does not bother you too much and you can concentrate on doing things instead of thinking of food you are in a good place. If you are not obsessively pacing around the fridge thinking whether you should open it or not you should consider changing tactics
  6. Sip hot water
    • Sips of hot water make the enzymes thrive. Enzymes are responsible for digestion and metabolism. You want them to work to their best ability to break down the mucous and toxins in your body. Avoid cold water in large quantities at one go. It will slow down the enzyme function and increase mucous

Detox usually requires some strength of mind because you will have to say no to a number of things you might have been used to indulge in. During a cleansing program your mind should stay alert and positive with increased levels of energy. If you start feeling tired, faint, can’t sleep, have mood swings and almost uncontrollable cravings you are not in the right path of clearing out toxins. In the worst case you might even be getting more toxic. If nothing moves inside of you and your mind is feeling negative you have chosen the wrong detox and/or time.

 

Nutritional confusion

Dieting confusionI recently sat down with Angie Greaves from Magic Radio and Feeling Fab website to have a proper chat about nutrition. She finally said it in a nutshell: “There is a total nutritional confusion”. I couldn’t agree more. We are so bombarded by the media with all sorts of facts about the good and the bad of our diets that no-one really knows what is right and what is wrong any more.

Let me tell you what is wrong first of all: there is no one piece of advice that is good for everyone. We have to come to an understanding that every one of us in the universe is a uniquely built being and responds differently to every variety of food, food supplements, activities and stressors from the environment. A jog might be beneficial for people with good stamina but not for someone who hasn’t been jogging for a long time. An apple a day might keep the doctor away from someone who doesn’t get an acid attack right after eating it. Different sorts of vitamins of might benefit you or not. It depends how you digest what you take in.

I have a number of clients coming for a health consultation who tell me that there is nothing wrong with their diets and that what they eat is said to be healthy and with a high nutritional content. Still they complain they can’t lose weight, they feel tired or have problems of different sorts, ranging from digestive issues and skin complaints to headaches and sleeplessness, to name a few.

Here lies another core problem behind our dietary confusion. We don’t know anymore how to consume our food. It isn’t enough to know the nutritional contents of your smoothie. If you have it at the wrong time of the day, combined it with the wrong foods and perhaps eaten on the go, you are not likely to get many benefits from it. On the contrary, bloating, gas, cramps and unexplained pains become an unwelcome but familiar presence in your life. When you know all the simple things about correct eating you will be able to enjoy proper tasty food, not have uncontrollable cravings and have your body return to its ideal weight without too much effort.

And what lies behind it? That’s the Feeling Fab that Angie is talking about. When we feel good and relaxed our bodies are able to heal themselves. Most importantly, our minds are able to make decisions on our health that are conducive to stability, wellbeing and happiness. What this means, is that it is all in our minds. And believe it or not, your diet has much to do with your mindset.

Life – Light – Love

Cooling summer drink

Ingredients for cooling summer drinkSweet bitter and astringent are the tastes that pacify pitta energy, the one governing in the warmest third of the year. The summer heat is best pacified by what the nature provides in harvest at the moment and the tastes mentioned earlier are present in this produce. A great cooling summer fruit is pomegranate. Add some of its seeds to your salads and squeeze some fresh fruit out of it. We here in the shop also have pomegranate juice and a pomegranate molasses, all great additions to your summer kitchen. A great cooling summer juice to cool you down is

1 part pomegranate juice

1 part aloe vera juice

1 part cucumber

Fresh mint

Mix together in a mixer and enjoy, preferably room temperature or without ice. Anything cold slows down your digestion and creates sluggishness and mucous in your digestive system. Also, cold drinks do not quench your thirst well but are likely to increase mucous, which easily creates when you have e.g. an unnamed black fizzy drink. Highly sugary drinks generally are not good to drink for thirst so between an occasional juice like the above, drink plenty of warm or room temperature water and enjoy the sun!

Rules for sensible eating

sheknowsHave you ever noticed that after finishing a plate of food you actually didn’t taste much of what you ate? Did it go down with such speed and volume that the only thing to stop you eating more was the stomach stretching to levels that started hurting? Yes, I’ve done that too. Many times. What used to happen after hurrying back home from work with an empty stomach is not something I want to share here, but my point is that when stressed, you make wrong decisions. This is the number one rule of sensible eating: you should be relaxed when you start your meal.

What and how you eat is incredibly important and often how is even more important than what. Even the healthiest foods can become toxic if you eat them in a wrong way, be that too much, too fast or eaten in a wrong combination. If you have a plateful of raw spinach that you firstly don’t want to eat because it has no salt or butter on it, your salivary glands don’t excrete enough saliva. Your digestive power goes down when you have no appetite for what’s on your plate. Then, the enzymes in your stomach do not work well because you haven’t secreted enough saliva, and whatever happens thereafter in your gut is not something to brag about (but it has something to do with toxins). So this then is rule number two of sensible eating: make sure your food is appetising.

You also have to make sure you have understood if your need to eat is because you are actually hungry and not just because you have an appetite. Rule number three consists of making sure you don’t eat before you’ve digested your previous meal. There is however (& hooray), a trick you can try to test this. When you get a craving have half a glass of warm water. If this makes you burp, you have not fully digested yet and should wait until the previous meal has left the bottom of your stomach.

These are a few helpful practical tips for your everyday life. If you are interested in knowing more, come for a health consultation at our centre. When you book, remember to mention this article and you’ll get a 15% discount on your first session, or if you prefer to book online, simply use the promocode “toxinfree”.

Soupy chicken stock

chicken soupSoupy chicken stock

Cold ankles, hair messed up by the wind and feeling disoriented, coming home after a stressful day at work. Is there a better remedy than a warming chicken soup? I can’t find anything nicer than sitting down by the table and blowing in the hot bowl of self made chicken soup. It is so fragrant and comforting and so easy to make. Although it takes a bit of time it is so well worth it.  I rarely use measurements and this is the best recipe for that as you just play it by ear and learn by doing changing the recipe every time to your liking. Here it goes:

4 organic chicken carcasses

You should get these for free from your butchers, yay!

2 potatoes

2 carrots

2 onions

(other veggies of your liking e.g. other root vegetables and celery)

Half a blub of garlic (5-6 cloves)

2l water

Garden herbs – Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme of course….

Salt

Pepper

 

Place the carcasses, roughly chopped vegetables and cloves of garlic on an oven tray and bake until golden brown in colour in about 175 degrees. Once done, transfer them to a big pot and cover with water. Bring to boil and simmer for two hours with a lid on. Remember to add the rest of the ingredients as well! With the lid the idea is not to let the water evaporate too much but to get that intense flavour a stock should have.

When done, pour through a big sieve. Recover all the succulent meat and discard the bones, skin and cartilage. If you want your stock to be more soupy, like I love it, pass the rest of the mixture of vegetables and herbs through the sieve so you get a nice smooth mash you can mix in with the stock later. As for now, let the stock rest and cool down. You’ll notice that the fat will settle on the top and if you put it in a cool place for a while it will solidify on the surface. Then it is easy to peel off and discard.

Once you’ve taken the fat off you can mix the mash and meat off the bone to it and either enjoy the whole 2l of soupy stock or make smaller portions and freeze them for later. It is perfect food when coming home and not having time or energy to cook. Put a portion in a pot, let it melt on a fire, enjoy like that or even add rice or pasta, some olive oil and parmesan cheese… yum yum. I’ve said it all.

 

P.s. I also use it as a base for Tom Kha, the Thai soup I love the most.

 

 

 

Everyday yamas and niyamas – Tapas

kedgeree

Kedgeree – the detox food par excellence

I’m on my umpteenth detox. It is obviously an ayurvedic detox as during the years of my own experience and observation of my clients it has proved its efficacy.

Detox for me is an excellent way of reminding me to practice tapas, “self-discipline”. God knows how I fail in this on a daily basis. Caught up between different jobs and my child it is easy to slip, look for an easy solution for relaxation (Wine… me…? Yes, please) or giving that morning yoga practice a miss (the warm and soft bed in the morning is just a hint more attractive than my yoga mat).

Tapas, self-discipline, is a way of kindling internal fire to burn away negativities. An ayurvedic detox is a way to burn away toxins form the body that have a negative impact both on the body and the mind. Committing to a detox program really is tapas. I could say detox is a kind of practice in my yoga path as well. To practice yoga you need to have discipline and commitment. It all ties up together well.

The important part of going on something you need more power of mind than usual is to have a right attitude towards it. If renouncing on, say, your holy trinity (mine is blue cheese, walnuts and onion chutney) is going to be a too much of a struggle you will find yourself craving, stressing and failing. A correct mindset will help in the moments of temptation and make them even less frequent.

I remember when I tried to lose weight for all the wrong reasons all I could do is obsess about food. The stress I created made it even harder to lose fat and of course I failed. Failure lead to lower self-esteem and that to binge eating. Once self-loathing became overpowering I had to start on another diet. And here the circle completed itself.

Once you set your mind to it, do it for the right reasons, have faith, patience and confidence you will have good results. Discipline becomes a way of self-development, a great challenge to reach a higher state of consciousness.