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Health & Nutrition

cakes

I hope that after reading this article, you should make sugar your no. 1 enemy!

If you have been following my blog or instagram, you will know that I always do (or try to) eat well. Even on days when I couldn’t get my hands on a all rounded nutritious meal, I will supplement the intake with my nutrition shake – the most convenient measured nutrition. This makes sure I am well covered for all nutrition that is needed for my day.

Ever since I started on my nutrition shake (I will introduce this in another post shortly), I have hardly been ill. It wasn’t like that for me all the time. I had always been sickly when I was a kid, throat infections, fever, flu, coughs etc. However, these 2 years have seen a huge improvement in my health. I exercise hard, I eat well, I make sure I hydrate myself well. I have actually been able to stay away from flu and colds for a long while.

However, 3 weeks ago I had a bad bout of gastritis, or perhaps food poisoning, or gastroenteritis… The diagnosis was unclear, as I was away overseas and the doctor I consulted was called in to my hotel. I felt better in days with the prescribed medication, but those were just treating the awful symptoms I experienced. No confirmed diagnosis was available. The post recovery took weeks, longer than what I had expected. It went on with reduced appetite, frequent indigestion, and slight lactose intolerance. And because my appetite was affected, I succumbed to my awful cravings of bread, cakes, and sugared food!

And so, for the following two weeks, I have been eating badly. Real bad. The food that I would have are those high in its glycemic index – rice, noodles, pasta, bread, pastries etc.

Why am I not shocked? That I eventually came down with throat infection and sudden onset of fever. And I have every reason to blame that onto my ‘high sugar’ diet that I have been consuming for the past few weeks. 

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healthy breakfastLiving in a world of commercialism, the nutrition knowledge put forth to us could sometimes not be quite what it seems to be. The most misleading ploy is by putting a whole lot of processed food under the ‘health’ food section in the supermarket, thus ‘educating’ us on what we should be eating, and what we should not.

If you could just take time to rethink and research, you will realise many of the commonly mistaken as ‘healthy foods’ are actually doing us more harm than good. Do you remember this saying that the first meal of the day is the most important meal of your day? Breakfast provides fuel to kickstart your day after a night of rest and recovery. The food you consume first thing in the morning helps to raise the body’s energy level and restores the blood glucose level back to a normal range after a night of fasting.

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Super-FoodsIn our pursuit to looking beautiful, many women succumb to splendid outfits and lavish accessories to look our best. However, it becomes pointless if you do not take care of your health and general well-being. By eating badly, you are depriving yourself to be at your most beautiful and gorgeous.

I can never stress enough on the importance of eating right and well. It not only brings you good health, it also gives you a healthy natural radiance and abundance of energy for your daily activities. Eating right also reduces the effects of premature ageing.


Here I share my ‘all-time’ grocery shopping list. It may seem to be boring to eat the same few types of food all the time. Yet, how can we get enough of these ‘super foods‘ that supposedly brings you endless health benefits?

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Protein-foodsAs fitness enthusiasts, we all know the importance of protein in our diet to aid lean muscle building and repairing of damaged tissues and cells. Instead of piling on lots of meat and beans on your meal plate, the popularity of soluble powdered protein has increased over the recent years. Because of the convenience it brings for its users, having a protein powder that dissolves in water and mixes with almost anything is just so easy and appealing to us.

Weight Loss Shake - Protein Powder

I do take my protein shake together with a nutritional mix on a daily basis. I will share this on a subsequent article later on. Writing this article is to address the concern of the possibility of having too much of protein. In fact, we all know that too much of any one thing, is not necessarily good for our health.

Many athletes believe that consuming large amounts of protein will help to improve their performance. Engaging in strength and endurance training day in and out does require a fair amount of protein. This theory is true to a certain extent; but to consume too much will possibly result in a decrease in performance as well because other nutrients are then sacrificed.

The Science behind Proteins

Proteins are large molecules consisting of one or more chains of amino acids. There are some 21 different types of amino acids that combine to make protein. These amino acids when absorbed, help to make up blood plasma, tissues, and muscles. They also activate the vitamins we ingest. Proteins also help to speed up body chemical reactions and regulate the breakdown of carbohydrates and fats used for giving energy.

As with any nutrient in our body, there is only so much our body can use at one time, and the extra gets stored as carbohydrates or fats! (OOPS!*) The recommended daily intake for protein is : 0.8g per kg of body weight. If you are physically active everyday, you may have a higher protein requirement as compared to one who isn’t. 1.2g per kg of body weight is a good gauge for those who wishes to monitor their intake. Till date no research has shown that taking more protein than the recommended can actually prove to be more beneficial. Calories are also essential to ‘fuel’ up your body to utilize the protein.

Harmful effects of excess amounts of protein

  • Dehydration – Excess amount of protein requires extra water to break down, which could lead to dehydration. (Read below)
  • Calcium Loss – Depending on the type of protein you take, a high protein intake generates large amount of acids, which will lead to urinary calcium loss, resulting in negative calcium balance.
  • Stress – Extra protein intake can actually add additional stress to your bodily system.

Too much protein cause a buildup of toxic ketones. Ketones can ‘overwork’ your kidneys  as they try to flush out these ketones from our body. The process in itself can cause a loss of water, which could put you at risk of dehydration, especially so if you exercise heavily. The water loss from your body often gets misread as weight loss, but this water loss is actually losing muscle mass and bone calcium.

Therefore, think again before cutting down on your carbohydrates and substituting with proteins. Drastically reducing your carbohydrates intake may prompt your body to fight back harder. It does not mean I am opposing protein shakes, but I could not stress more on the importance of using it CORRECTLY, and EFFECTIVELY. Diet can be a tricky topic but with proper knowledge, you will soon find a balance that is optimal for your ideal health and energy level. Protein is afterall essential to our body’s normal functions and a key building block for muscles, bones and cartilage.

Start counting your protein intake today. If you are eating more than what you need, decrease the amount because you do not want to live with a misconception that could ruin your health in the long run.

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being happyAre you comfortable in your own skin, by just being yourself? Do you need a lot of makeup before you step out in public? Do you need to put on your best outfit to feel empowered? Do you need lots of material stuff to make up for your feelings of personal inadequacy?

I was, before. Or probably worse. I could not feel comfortable with who I really was. Even with the newest outfit that I thought would make me look fabulous, didn’t give me that confidence. I was in the habit of constant denial and always worrying about how I think people would judge me.

If any of these sound like you, it’s time to relook into your life and make a total adjustment. Feelings of insufficiency will only give rise to growing materialistic craves, to make up for our ‘skin’ which we are not totally at ease with. I found my purpose, and I have reversed most of what had mattered to me before.

Read on, and follow these first few steps you need to start making that BIG transformation.

  • Have a vision of who and what you want to achieve. Do you want to break your bad eating habits? Or perhaps you want to look lean and strong. It could be as simple as wanting to look and feel younger. Set a target, and work towards it. Write it down somewhere where you can remind yourself everyday.
  • Identify your true character/personality. This is almost like creating an look for yourself. Are you sporty? Young and funky? Sophisticated and classy? Relaxed yet chic? Whichever it is, identify your true self. Know which look makes you feel the most comfortable in. Identify it and stick with that ‘theme’.
  • Make a list. In fact make two lists. One of your bad habits, and one of planned good habits you want to keep to. Brainstorm as many points as you can, and start by keeping off the bad, and keeping to two or three of the good a day. Slowly build up upon it. Try to focus on the positive!
  • Stop buying too many clothes. If you are a spendthrift, quit the habit of randomly buying fancy clothes. The true fact is when you are not feeling your best, nothing you wear will actually make you much (MUCH) better. Even if it does, the feeling is pretty short-lived. You will start to pinpoint your own flaws again. You get better value out of buying something that can inspire you to change for now.
  • Find a buddy. Or identify a goal. Look out for someone who can help to motivate you. Your best friend, your sister, or try some of the online fitness personalities. They look good, radiate goodness. This is what you need. You need a source of positive influence.
  • Identify your best asset. It could be your eyes, your arms, legs…Play it up. If it involves sifting through your wardrobe, pick only the best out of what’s available. Leave the rest out. You don’t want anything on you to deter your confidence and pull down your faith. You want to feel good today, and better tomorrow.
  • Book in for a good haircut. A fine haircut frames your face, and enhances your features. Get a cut that can be easily maintained, yet make you look a million bucks at any time of the day, without the fuss!
  • Invest in a pair of good kicks. A good pair of shoes give you the right support for a proper posture. A good posture is key to suggesting your level of confidence. Would you want to slouch if you can look hundred times better by standing tall and straight? Find shoes that can bring you walking around the globe yet not compromising on style and highly versatile to match any outfit that will bring out your true character.
  • Invest in one health product. Making transformational change is not easy if your health is working against you. Make an investment. Having spent money will create a sort of awareness for you. Trust me on this, buy a all-rounded nutrition powder, or herbal concentrates or cod-liver oil etc. Make it a habit to start on this product faithfully. It serves as a constant ‘reminder’ that you are on your way to rebuilding yourself. When you achieve discipline with one, you know you can start on others.
  • Eat healthy. Feeling good is tied largely to our diet. A well-balanced diet can actually alleviate our mood swings. A well nourished body reduces cravings, and cravings are not happy thoughts. You need to be well aware of what you put into your body and how they actually make you feel. If junk food makes you feel guilty after eating it, then it really isn’t worth it at all.
  • Get physically active. If you dislike exercising, you really should be starting it now. If you hate running, you really ought to be trying now. When I hate increasing the intensity on my treadmill or elliptical machine, all the more I go fiercer.  Exercising helps release endorphins which not only help with moods of depression, it actually makes you feel happy and accomplished. The fact that you are putting in effort to work a change in your life is enough to make you feel fulfilled. You may be whining and screaming in pain and agony at the start but its worthwhile.
  • Adjust your mindset. Believe in yourself. Believe in your ability. Believe in your faith. Your brain tells your body what to expect so long you can get the message across to your brain. Nothing is unachievable if you are committed to make the change. Believe you can and you are halfway there.

Real transformation happens when we have emotional and mental shifts in ourselves and these shifts change us physically from the inside out.

Many of us live our lives day in and out doing what’s best for others. Whatever age you are at now, it is never too late to make a change. You only live a day in everyday of your life ONCE. Why not give it the best it deserves? Nothing is easy, but….. (read on)

changing you

Good luck lovely ladies! 🙂

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Are you unhappy about your weight or your body shape? Whether you are thin, or plump, or untoned, or just simply not feeling your best even by putting on your best outfit, do take some time to read on. This article might just help you find back your ideal self!

Born and spent all my life in Singapore, I am shamefaced at how bad we Singaporeans eat. 80% of our food choices consist of more unhealthy (simple) carbohydrates than healthy proteins or vegetables. Not to even mention the oily, salty, lots of gravy, lots of seasoning added food out there to whet our appetite and probably resulting in us eating more than what we should actually consume.

Nutrition is a complex subject. Here, a picture probably speaks a thousand words in explaining what makes up a healthy meal portion.

Image

*Image Courtesy of Harvard School of Public Health

This is an ideal Plate Portion diagram. The biggest mistake commonly made with our diet is having too much of carbohydrates (stated as ‘Whole Grains’ in the chart), and too little of vegetables and fruits.

Replace starchy processed complex carbohydrates for natural ones :

Instead of having white bread, white rice, white pasta, cakes etc; opt for wholemeal bread, oats, nuts, brown rice, potatoes, beans etc.

Obtain natural simple carbohydrates from fruits :

fruit_diabetes1

Simple carbs are also known as sugar. Our body requires sugar (in the form of glucose) for readily available fuel for our brain and muscles. Having sweets, chocolates, cakes, pastries etc is very unhealthy. Choose from fruits and vegetables. They not only provide sugars but other important vitamins as well.

Find the ‘greenest’ vegetables :

arugulaPROMO-shutterstock.com_

We have heard of ‘color plating’, and choose vegetables that are really green or colorful. The really colorful ones do contain more vitamins, minerals and fibres.  Choose from vegetables like broccoli, spinach, kale, capsicum etc. Mix them with slight starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, corn, pumpkins, root vegetables. Best to eat some of the greeny vegetables raw.

Good protein source for muscle building :

Protein sources are aplenty. We have animal protein (your regular meat, fish, eggs, dairy products) and plant protein (peas, beans, tofu, grains, nuts, cereals etc.) In healthy eating terms, you should aim to have more plant protein than meat protein. The latter is usually high in fat and cooked with lots of oil. Plant-based proteins are easier to digest and are low in fat and high in fibre.

Our body needs all the right nutrients to function at its optimum. 3 meals a day is essential. The more you wish to lose (or gain) weight, the more important it is for you to have your 3 meals a day. Instead of cutting out a meal, go for a smaller plate instead, bearing in mind to still keep the portions right.

Many of you may ask : Why do we need to eat especially to lose weight?

Regardless of whether you eat or not, your body still carries on functioning. The body is like a machine that does its work round the clock. Because we need food to burn to give us energy, starving yourself make your body work harder finding the ‘fuel’ to burn. It is important to keep your metabolism fired up with the right food at certain times of the day. Skipping meals make you hungrier later and that sets your body off to crave for sugary and fatty food as these provide a faster energy boost as compared to a steady energy releasing protein.

Skipping meals gave you an uneven distribution of calories.

When your body skips a meal, it results in a downtime where your body is not getting its ‘fuel’ supply to burn for energy. No one meal should be so insignificant that you skip it, because without calories to provide energy, your body starts to react badly by feeling fatigue, stress, mood swings etc.

Your body is not getting the energy it needs to function properly.

Because your body is not able to function properly, your daily activities suffer. Your productivity and output will decrease because your body reacts badly in any possible way you can think of. When you are working, you might not be able to focus. When you are engaging in any physical activity, you feel tired and lack of energy.

Create cravings which will foster bad eating habits.

Sugary or starchy foods are known to give you a quick energy boost. These includes biscults, chocolates, pizzas, noodles, rice, cakes, pastries etc. These carbohydrates give you a quick perk-me-up, but it dips really fast making you feel depleted and craving for more sweets. You probably end up feeling ‘full’ from all the unhealthy snacks and junk food.

Causes overeating without realizing it.

Your guilt may get to you after having all the snacks before, and when it comes to meal times you try to ingest a usual portion of your meal. In turn, you end up overeating and what the body does not absorbed properly turns into fats. Yuck!

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Now, if you know you have been eating unhealthy all these while, isn’t it a good time to start making a change? If you have a choice between fat, unhealthy, and feeling sickly all the time vs healthy, radiant, having bountiful energy, which would you choose?

Your health (and how you look) is ALWAYS your choice. Don’t give in to laziness or convenience.Let me know how you kickstart a good dieting habit!

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I had the chance to meet up with a wellness coach today. He is the one who has indirectly helped me to achieve what I have today (in terms of health and energy levels). I was given me a ‘health talk’ back then and the re-evaluation of my health got me to become more conscious of what is happening in my body. In turn, I purchased some of my health supplements through him.

Following that, for the next two years, I have been eating relatively healthy. I do not drink (unless over business meetings), I do not smoke. I do not do late nights. Very good!

I too, watch what I put into my mouth. I cut off deep-fried and oily food totally. I opt for healthy choices every meal. I drink lots of water in a day. I make sure I get my necessary nutrition everyday. And just a couple of months back, I started exercising. Not too late, always better than never. 🙂

I know everything that I should do to keep my body healthy. And I am pretty sure everyone has that basic concept of what healthy living is.

However, how difficult is it to lead a healthy lifestyle? What must you do, and where should you start?

Here, I share with you 6 steps (JUST 6 STEPS) to a healthy you (GUARANTEED!) :

  • Eat well. (Get your basic nutrition right. Eating well involves complex food science and nutrition knowledge. The best way to start is to cut off sugary, oily, and processed food. Try to eat natural wholesome food as much as possible, and always opt for something that is a more ‘bland’ alternative.)

healthy salad

  • Sleep enough. (8 hrs is ideal. Get into a regular routine by trying to sleep at a certain fixed time every night. The best time to rest should preferably be before midnight.)

sleep well

  • Drink lots of water (8 glasses is what we know, however glass size differs. Ideally your body needs around 1.8 – 2.5 litres of water a day. Try the water intake calculator based on your weight here. )

drink water

  • Exercise. (Just getting your body to move as little as 15 mins a day will help. Daily running or brisk walking is a good exercise to start off with involving all parts of your body. It is said that just that little effort a day could possibly add years to your life!)

morning-exercise-3

  • Eat your breakfast. (Your first meal of the day couldn’t be more important. Read my previous post on the importance of breakfast here.)

healthy-breakfast-cereal-with-fresh-fruit_640x360

  • Think Healthy  (Thinking happy and positive thoughts forms a healthy mindset that gives you the awareness you need to do everything ‘healthier’.)

Happy-Woman

Simple, isn’t it? Just 6 steps to kickstart to a healthier lifestyle.

The key is to learn how to ‘fine-tune‘ your health. This means making small adjustments for optimal performance and results. The way to doing this for you is to set realistic goals. Start with a 1-3 day sugar-free diet, or choose to exercise for 3 times a week. Make small changes. Do what you think is possible to achieve but yet requires a little extra effort from your willpower.  You will soon realize that once your body is able to achieve the goals you set for the first 3 days or a week, your mental power will increase and that is when you can push yourself further to carry on the hard effort. No change is easy, and no change will allow you to stay put in your comfort zone. We are so attuned to the ‘easy way out’ that we succumb to our laziness and reluctance to change. Once you realize you are actually capable of doing it, that gives your more determination to carry on. Before you know it, you will be kicking off all the bad diet habits and basking in a wholesome lifestyle!

Buddy up with your best friend or your partner and chances are it will double the determination. We like to be given the lead. We like to be given goals to achieve. Have a companion to motivate you will help you see results faster!

For the benefit of your own health, start making a change today! Tell me how you start, and how well you keep to it! Remember, you are always able to do more than what your body thinks you can.

With love.

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Its been a while since the fad on raw food diet, but there are still many of us who remain skeptical to it, having reservations about the idea thinking our body may not adjust to it.

I caught a segment on my local tv today, and there we have a naturopath and nutritionist introducing the raw food diet (short RFD). Here’s a little bit of research I’ve done and would like to share with my readers, hopefully me and you girls out there can start a plan to work on this together.

Why eat raw food? 

Food is believed to retain most of its nutrients when it is uncooked. In a RFD, much as most of the food is eaten raw, heating is acceptable so long it is kept between 40-47 deg Celsius (104 – 118 deg. Fahrenheit). Cooking food is said to denature the enzymes found in natural food. These enzymes help us to digest food and to absorb the nutrients properly. If food is cooked, the enzymes will be lost, and thus this drives our body to work hard to produce more enzymes to aid digestion and absorption. In the long run, this cause digestive problems, nutrient deficiency, premature aging, and unhealthy weight gain.

Cooking also promotes the formation of potentially harmful compounds in food during high heat cooking, such as advanced glycation end products and heterocyclic amines.

To summarize the benefits (you probably only be looking at this section!)

  • Cooking kills food. Most nutrients will be dead in cooked food.
  • Cooking kills enzymes in the food. Enzymes help our body to break down the nutrients.
  • Energy boost, its said that it gives you energy for a longer period of time.
  • Boost bowel movements. High fibre food helps regulate your bowel movements.Getting waste out of your body fast and frequent should only be good.
  • No controlled portions, as you hardly feel really full eating raw food. Its the carbs that make us feel full fast.
  • It helps you sleep better. As with any well balanced and healthy body, you work better, and you sleep better too.
  • Some said going on raw food makes them think and concentrate better.
  • Clearer skin. When you have a healthier body system, your skin benefits too.
  • Cleaner kitchens! Yes, you reduce on cooking and hence lesser clean ups!

rawfoodpyramid

Follow the Raw Food Pyramid as a guide to the proportions of the meal. Load up on “Eat Generously” and go low on “Eat Sparingly” foods.

 What types of food for RFD?

  • Green leafy vegetables – green leafy ones preferred. Hybrid vegetables (ie. beets, carrots, potatoes etc) should be avoided.
  • Fruits – tomatoes, cucumbers etc. Avoid seedless hybrid fruit.
  • Fats – Plant fruit that contains fat. (ie. avocados, olives, nuts etc)
  • Dairy Products – These should be raw (ie. raw milk, cheese made from raw milk etc)
  • Protein – Meat that are eaten raw (ie.sashimi, ceviche (raw fish), or carpaccio (raw meat))
  • Avoid food that could be grown with pesticides, additives, food color or dyes. Best recommended organic food range.

Transitional Strategy

This should be the most important part of the article. Most of us will find it hard to switch fully to a RFD, but the key is always adjustment. Start off with one meal a day, and gradually incorporate that into all our meals.

  1. For meat lovers, switch beef to pork, then to chicken, then to fish. This is a gradual but excellent way to let go of animal foods.
  2. Cooked food should be eaten in the evening. Try to combine this with salad or some fresh fruit-vegetable juice will be good.
  3. Starchy food should preferably be sweet fruits or roots (ie. sweet potatoes, yams etc)

Be easy and not too hard on yourself. Remember, your body sends out signals when it has problems adjusting to it. Look out for these signals.Try to keep to raw and organic food as much as possible, and try not to break the chain. It may seem tough at a start, but with discipline and faith, it should work well.

Here’s my salad for the day. Haven’t had one for a long time, with a little cheating of a small meat portion as I need my meaty proteins from all the exercising.

salad

Are you a raw food junkie? If not, are you ready to start your journey? Share with us how yours went, if you have already done so.

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We have heard lots of emphasis on breakfast being the most important meal of the day. To stay slim you need a good full breakfast? What is the science behind this saying?

Breakfast literally means to break the fast your body is in from the previous night of sleep. Imagine not eating for 8 hours in a row in day time – not quite possible as we keep burning calories from movement. Food is energy and fuel for our body and without the right food and nutrition, we probably end up with low energy levels or fighting off an unusual headache.

It is proven that eating a healthy wholesome breakfast helps to increase your metabolic rate and it kicks your body to start the gear, preparing it for the long day ahead. If you didn’t have breakfast,  your body doesn’t process the next meal as quickly and it will try to hold on whatever nutrients it hold. If lunch is your first meal of the day, it will  just hold on to the lunch instead of digesting it for energy gain.

Researches have shown that for people who usually skip breakfast, weight loss will become harder and tend to put on weight easily. Reason being, when your body doesn’t get the right nutrition to start off the day, it tends to crave for other food substitutes for energy. This often include the junk food and unhealthy snacks which are high in fats (for energy) and sugars. The tendency to eat more than your usual the next chance there is food is also higher. That explains how all the cravings come about when you do not have a healthy breakfast that gives your body just the right nutrition it needs.

My motto when it comes to eating : Nothing too much, nothing too little. Just the right amount.

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A really simple breakfast with frozen spinach flower and tofu mixed into egg. Fast to prepare and high in protein. Perfect for those gym days!

Some recommendations :

  1. Oats / Granola
  2. Multigrain Cereals
  3. Nuts
  4. Yoghurt
  5. Power Fruits
  6. Eggs
  7. Vegetables

Get creative! Breakfast can be fast yet nutritious!

What are some of your breakfast choices?

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