Simple Self-Care

We all know that our own self-care and wellness should be at the top of our priority list. However, how often is this actually the case? Many of us seem to believe that we have to seriously set time aside from our normal daily routine to embrace wellness practices – but this is simply not true!

It actually takes minimal effort to incorporate certain self-care activities into your schedule, and they will soon become second nature – requiring no forethought at all! When you reach this point you will notice that you are more likely to feel relaxed and focused during your days.

Breathing

Breathing is seriously under-rated as a tool for stress relief and can be used anywhere at any time to rebalance your thoughts and your emotions. A simple technique to start is to stop whatever it is that you are doing, close your eyes and begin breathing deeply and slowly. Count each breath in and try not to allow any thoughts, anxieties or feelings to enter your mind. At this moment, counting your breaths is the only thing that you need to concern yourself with and everything else can take a back seat. Try to reach at least 20 breaths each time you do this, and if you have the time then go on for longer! Even if you do not feel particularly stressed out then I suggest you do this several times a day.

Detox Digitally

You are probably already aware of how much stress your digital devices cause you. Constantly checking messages and scrolling through your various social media feeds can not only be quite time consuming, but also emotionally draining. If it’s not possible for you to go the day without your smart phone, then at least try to have extended periods away from it. Make sure you always turn it off before bedtime and do not take it to bed with you!

Ritual Teatime

Having a time set aside for drinking herbal tea and reflecting on your day is a great way to unwind and care for yourself in the evening. You can use this time to enjoy your favourite brew whilst you process the events of the day just passed. Turning this into a mini ceremony by yourself helps your mind to appreciate the importance of this time spent alone caring for yourself.

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

How to Handle Your Hormones

Mood swings can strike at any time and although there are certain common likely causes, it is something that can’t always be managed in the same way.

What Are Mood Swings

Your mood swings may be characterised by a variety of things, such as unexplained crying or unjustified irritability. It is important to remember that although your emotions may seem out of proportion, your feelings in each moment are still valid and true, and there is no need to beat yourself up about this!

Diet & Gut Health

A hormonal imbalance is a likely cause when it comes to mood swings, and this can be handled by addressing your lifestyle and making positive changes where necessary. This will largely be in relation to your diet. Your diet can impact your emotions in several ways, and it will also have an impact on the health of your gut. Your gut health is linked to your mood, and it is important to play close attention to this aspect of your overall health. The bacteria in your intestines will influence your hormones, and this of course will then impact your mood. So, a large presence of good bacteria will go a long way to helping!

Blood Sugar Levels

Keeping your blood sugar levels consistent is one of the best ways to keep your mood from fluctuating. You may think that skipping a meal will help you to lose weight, or save you time if you have a busy schedule. But doing so can actually wreak havoc with your hormones and leave you feeling annoyed, fatigued and generally unhappy. Fortunately, you can keep your blood sugar levels up by regularly eating nutritious foods, and avoiding processed foods and sugary snacks!

Sleep & Stress

In addition to your diet, certain lifestyle factors such as sleep will also influence your hormones and therefore your mood. When you do not get enough sleep your body will produce excess levels of cortisol – the stress hormone. This will put unnecessary stress on your adrenal glands, and can cause your serotonin levels to drop. Serotonin is super important for keeping your mood up, and you should always try to get between seven and eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. If you have trouble getting to sleep, or find that you are often waking in the night, then you may find some relief by drinking soothing herbal teas before you go to bed.

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

Eating for Younger Skin

The foods that we consume play a big part in how quickly we appear to age. This is due to a range of things, but the consumption of vitamins and minerals that protect the health of our skin is key. There are, of course, other ways that you can look after your skin. Always using sunscreen when you are going to be exposed to the sun, never smoking and being sure to moisturise frequently can help. However, it can be argued that there is no better way to protect your body and your skin then with a healthy diet!

If you are keen to embrace this concept but do not know where to start, then the following tips will help you on your journey to younger looker skin!

First of all, eating a variety of whole grain foods is a great way to increase the amount of nutrients that you consume. This does not have to be a difficult transition at all. Simply replace any refined grain products you eat, such as bread and pasta, with their whole grain counterparts. It always pays to really read the labels when you are choosing your whole grain foods. This is because some products are advertised as being whole grain even though they still contain a certain amount of refined grains.

Swapping your coffee for a green tea will boost the amount of skin-friendly antioxidants in your body. Peppermint tea is a particularly good choice and has been linked to younger looking skin. Including green juices is another fantastic way to go green. Shop around for a juicer and you can enjoy fresh green juices at home every day, even on a budget. Buying a variety of fruits and vegetables in bulk gives you the option to make up a huge batch of juice that can be stored in your freezer as individual portions. Simply take one from the freezer and place in your fridge each night and it will be ready for you in the morning!

Herbs and spices bring a burst of flavour to meals and they also contain their own range of vitamins and minerals. You can grow your own herbs at home in order to always have a supply to hand. Adding herbs and spices to your food is also a natural option for flavouring your food instead of adding salts and sauces, which can be detrimental to your health and your skin.

One of the best things you can do for the appearance of your skin when it comes to your diet, is to bin the processed, packaged foods. These foods are all too often crammed full of sugar and additives, neither of which are going to do your skin any favours. Fried foods are also big health offenders and could contain high levels of trans fats. Processed foods that are advertised as low calorie options are often high in sugar to compensate for the flavour. You are much better off sticking to a primarily plant-based diet that includes a selection of wholesome options. 

It is also important for the appearance of your skin that you stay hydrated throughout the day. The best indicator as to whether you are adequately hydrated is the colour of your urine – the lighter the better! Always drink water regularly throughout the day and keep a bottle with you when you go outside. 

To learn more about nutrition and how it can help you to look younger for longer, head to The Flexi Foodie Academy!

Plant Based Foods to Beat Anxiety

Anxiety is a worldwide problem and manifests in many different shapes and forms. It can range in seriousness from slightly inconvenient to completely debilitating and relief is sought in many different places. Approximately 40 million adults in the United States currently suffer, have suffered or will suffer from some form of anxiety disorder. This equates to over 18% of the population! That huge number demonstrates just how many of us are afflicted with this condition.

Many people immediately turn to medication to manage their anxiety but in some cases it can be addressed through diet and exercise. Medication can cause some unfavourable side effects so if it is possible to avoid it then it is always worth exploring alternative options. Additionally, medication often only masks the root of the anxiety and as soon as treatment stops the problem can resurface. Finding ways to naturally treat imbalances in the body is the optimum way to move towards better long term mental health.

So let’s take a look at the things you can aim to include in your diet to combat the causes and symptoms of anxiety.

Green tea is cheap, simple and delicious. It is generally calming for the mind and when consumed regularly can work to decrease anxiety overall. Some variations of green tea are believed to have a positive effect on cortisol production in terms of balancing levels of this stress hormone in the body.

Turmeric is an amazing spice, both in terms of colour and taste and is known to enhance your mood. This spice contains antioxidants called curcuminoids which has neuroprotective qualities. Studies into the effectiveness of turmeric to combat depression have yielded encouraging results.

Avocados are an all round super food and can be useful for tackling anxiety. They contain high levels of potassium which works to control blood pressure, which in turn can help to keep your mood balanced. Avocados also contain a wealth of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which help to keep your brain functioning as it should!

Finally, asparagus can also be consumed regularly in an effort to reduce feelings of anxiety. This is because it contains folic acid which is connected to the health of your neurological function. Impaired neurological function can be an underlying cause of anxiety and it is always worth making sure you get ample amounts of folic acid in your diet. As an added bonus, asparagus contains a small amount of potassium too, which as mentioned previously helps with that all important blood pressure!

Matcha Green Tea Cream Pots with Toasted Walnut Crumbs

This delicious dessert is the perfect healthy follow-up to any meal. It is an amazing combination of health boosting ingredients, such as the green matcha powder and the walnuts. Green matcha powder is rammed full of antioxidants and is cancer fighting whilst also being great for burning fat and boosting the metabolism. When you choose to eat raw, organic nuts, you really can’t go wrong in terms of doing good things for your overall health. Having said that, walnuts are one of the best choices you can make for all the amazing health properties they have. It is worth bearing in mind that the majority of the antioxidants in walnuts are found just under the waxy skin, so be sure not to remove it when you use them in the recipe. It does have a slightly bitter flavour but it’s not unpleasant and is well worth including in your dish.

To make three of these pots, find the following ingredients:

2 tsp. green matcha powder
250ml green tea
6 tbsp. maple syrup, honey or coconut nectar
100g toasted chopped walnut pieces
2 x 400ml tins of coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
1 tbsp. honey, maple syrup or coconut nectar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 bananas, peeled and sliced into 2cm rounds

To make the matcha sauce, put the green tea, 3 tbsp of coconut nectar and 1 tsp. of matcha in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 5-10 minutes until sauce is thickened a bit.

Then you can toast the chopped walnuts in a dry frying pan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. After these few minutes, you can remove them from heat and place in a bowl to cool.

To make the coconut cream, remove the tins from the fridge but be careful not to shake them. Open the tins and carefully scoop out the thickened cream off the top and place into a mixing bowl. Add the 1 tbsp. of coconut nectar and vanilla to the mixing bowl and beat well for 5 minutes until the cream is thick and fluffy.

In glass tumblers, layer the 2 tbsp. of the walnuts then drizzle with the matcha syrup, then top with a layer of coconut cream and enough bananas to cover the cream. You can then repeat the layers. Sprinkle the very top with more walnut crumbs and a drizzle of the matcha syrup. You can then enjoy immediately!

Win a Box of Teapigs Matcha Green Tea!

It’s competition time again and this month I’m excited to be giving away a box of teapigs Matcha Green Tea! As I’ve mentioned on my blog before, green tea is fantastic for health, especially when consumed on a regular basis! However Matcha green tea has many amazing benefits that other teas just can’t compete with! In fact, just one serving of matcha green tea has the equivalent benefits of 15 cups of standard green tea!

For starters it is incredibly high in antioxidants which are responsible for combating free radicals in the body. This battle against free radicals greatly helps to promote optimum health. Not only are antioxidants fantastic for our insides but they also keep our skin looking fresh and young! A cup of matcha green tea is one of the most effective ways to get a huge dose of these incredible enzymes into your system! In fact, matcha contains 70 times the amount of antioxidants as the same portion of orange juice as well as nine times the amount of a comparative portion of spinach! Add to that a whole host of Vitamins A, B and C!

In today’s hectic world, anything that encourages your body to relax can’t be a bad thing and enhancing feelings of calm is another great benefit of matcha. This type of green tea has been used throughout time by Buddhists and Daoists during meditation. The amino acid responsible for this sense of calm is called L-Theanine. This amino acid also helps to improve your memory, increase your concentration as well as boosting energy levels and endurance.

On top of all of these amazing advantages, research has also shown that matcha can increase your metabolic rate which in turn helps the body burn more fat than it usually would.

teapigs_matchaSounds amazing, right? So all you need to do to be in the running to get your hands on a free box is to follow me on Facebook,  Twitter & Instagram and also like this blog post! Make sure you do it before Thursday the 15th of May though because that’s when I’ll be choosing a winner. Sorry to anyone reading who lives outside of the UK but only UK residents are eligible to enter!

There are many other great types of tea available from teapigs so why not visit their homepage to sign up to their newsletter and receive their latest news and discounts straight to your inbox. You can also click here to connect with them on Facebook and Twitter!

Good luck!!

Green Tea

Tea is unarguably one of the most popular hot beverages enjoyed around the world. If you’re making the choice to drink green tea for the health benefits, then, with so many varieties, flavours and ways of making it, it’s often difficult to know what the best options are. All green tea is derived from a plant and is a fantastic source of antioxidants, not to mention many other nutritious properties.

green-tea-grassrootsandgrains8There is such a massive selection of green tea brands to choose from and different companies often place emphasis on various health benefits. The most popular beliefs of drinking this kind of tea are firstly, that the high levels of antioxidants will help protect the body against many different forms of cancer. In addition to this, it is also suggested that green tea can reduce the risk of suffering a heart attack and improve cardiovascular health in general. Also, research has suggested that regularly drinking green tea will help keep many degenerative diseases at bay.

green-tea-grassrootsandgrains10It has also been suggested that green tea can improve your body’s capabilities of burning fat for fuel during exercise which inevitably leads to increased endurance. To some extent, it is also possible that green tea can also help protect against ultraviolet rays by aiding your body’s natural protection.

green-tea-grassrootsandgrains

Different versions of the drink obviously vary in nutritional value depending on the ingredients they contain. Here are a few of the best to look out for!

Lotus Root

Lotus root is traditionally used more in tea in Eastern countries and in fact is also used in many meals as well. It is an herbaceous, perennial plant that grows in special ponds and is rich in multiple minerals, vitamins and phyto-nutrients. It is also a great source of fibre which, as you may already know, can help reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels as well as relieving constipation. Drinking green tea with lotus in it is an excellent idea if you’re looking for a simple way to boost your vitamin C levels. Just 100g of lotus root contains over 70% of your recommended daily allowance of this vitamin! Iron, magnesium, zinc, copper and manganese can also be found in lotus and including this type of green tea in your daily diet will be of great benefit to your body.

green-tea-grassrootsandgrains7

Sencha

Sencha is the favourite hot beverage of green tea drinkers in Japan. Sencha tea is made with young leaves from the Camellia Sinesis plant, those of which are steamed prior to use to reduce the bitter flavour and retain the green colour. Sencha tea has a sweet aroma and can often have a grassy or seaweed-like taste. As with other types of green tea, sencha has high antioxidant properties and is generally thought to lower bad cholesterol levels whilst aiding the production of good cholesterol.

green-tea-grassrootsandgrains2

Matcha

The health benefits of matcha are thought to be comparatively much greater than many other green teas. It is revered by many as a fat-burning, cancer combatant that is jam packed full of essential minerals and antioxidants. To feel the full fantastic effects of matcha, you can also eat the entire leaf! When you make a cup of any kind of green tea, only a fraction of the nutrition is infused into the water; with so much goodness in a cup already, imagine the benefits of consuming the whole thing! Studies suggest that drinking one cup of matcha tea is approximately ten times better nutritionally than drinking any other type of green tea so, for a real health kick, this is the hot drink for you! With such an impressive amount of naturally occurring health boosters, your immune system, brain function and overall general health could soon start to experience the positive effects.

As well as these amazing specialised types of tea, there are also the more commercially available types that are flavoured with things like nettle, lemongrass and violet. These kinds of hot beverages are still great for your body and the effects of consuming the added flavourings will still be apparent. For example, nettle tea has diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties as well as being a brilliant source of calcium, phosphates and several vitamins. Sufferers of arthritis may find relief in drinking nettle tea and it can also be useful in treating allergies.

green-tea-grassrootsandgrains5

green-tea-grassrootsandgrains3

green-tea-grassrootsandgrains6

Similarly, lemongrass has mild sedative effects when used in tea and can therefore be very relaxing. There has been extensive testing into the cancer fighting properties of lemongrass and it is proposed that the component within it that creates the aroma actually kills cancerous cells. Lemongrass green tea is frequently used as a remedy for digestion problems and to relieve the symptoms of a cold.

Hopefully by now you can see why green tea should be regularly guzzled! Experiment with different flavours and brands to find your favourites and try not to limit yourself to just one or two! Remember though, drinking hot beverages can occasionally encourage the occurrence of esophageal cancer, so give your tea a few minutes to cool down before you enjoy both the taste and health benefits.

Check out my Facebook page for more lifestyle and dietary tips!