Smoothies or Juice: What’s better?

With the popularity of new and improved blenders and juices exploding onto the market in recent years, many of you have been left confused about whether you should be juicing your fruit and veg or blending them into smoothies.  There are a few major differences between juicing and blending, and I’m going to summarise them here in this blog post for you.

Firstly, let’s talk about fibre.  Fibre can be described as the rough, fibrous part of fruits and vegetables, and as most of us know it is really important for our digestive health.  A diet high in fibre will usually improve your bowel regularity, reduce constipation and bloating, and has been linked to a lowered risk of bowel cancer.  Sounds pretty important, right?  When it comes to smoothies and juices, the main difference between the two is this:

Smoothies contain the fibre goodness from your fruit and veg – juices do not.

So when it comes to regular fibre intake and improving bowel regularity, smoothies are king.  You can also add extra fibre such as prunes or psyllium husks to your smoothies to really get those bowels moving.  

But sometimes when I have a vegetable juice I am running off to the toilet right away!  How does that work?  This is an important point.  When looking at fibre content only, smoothies come out on top.  But fresh juices can also help your bowels get moving by a few different mechanisms.  Usually, this effect on the bowels will be during a juice fast or cleanse, where your digestive system isn’t being bombarded with food and can focus on functioning the way it should.  Juice fasts are kind of like a ‘reset’ button for your digestive tract.  Juices are also pure fluids, which can help to soften the stool in the large bowel and allow it to move through the digestive tract to be eliminated.  

If you’ve been suffering from constipation for quite a while, juicing may actually be the best place to start for you.  

Ironically, too much fibre when you’re constipated can actually do more harm than good, by drying out and firming up the stool in your bowel (as if it wasn’t hard enough in the first place!).  So be careful of dosing up on heavy fibres when you’re needing to get your bowels moving – juices may be enough to gently nudge your digestion into action.

What about sugar content?  Well in terms of sugar content alone, if you were to juice and blend the exact same kind and amount of fruits and veg, you’d end up with the same sugar content (or close enough).  The thing to keep in mind is that when it comes to juice, you’re basically drinking sugar, water and vitamins and minerals.  In smoothies, you have fibre, which slows the absorption of sugars.  You can also add proteins and fats which also help to slow absorption of sugars.  So rather than just absorbing the sugars straight away (like you would from a juice) your body will slowly absorb the sugars.  This has a few effects:

  • it is much easier for your pancreas to keep up with the intake of sugars, so in this way it could be said to be “healthier”
  • slow absorption of sugars may help you avoid the ‘sugar crash’ or ‘sugar low’ later in the day, which can mean less cravings
  • when sugars are absorbed quickly, your body usually starts to store some of them as fat as a way of processing the influx of sugar; a slower absorption of sugar can help to reduce the amount of sugar your body chooses to store as body fat (to simplify, smoothies may be better for your waistline, depending on your metabolism and blood sugar levels)

So, which one is better for me? Juicing or blending?  There is no easy way to answer this question, to be honest.  Taking everything into account, my personal recommendation would be to have smoothies as a meal on their own, and use juices as a complement to a light meal where you are having some amount of protein, fibre and healthy fats.  And if you’re doing a detox, a combination of smoothies and juices is a great way to go – you’re getting the best of both worlds!

How to Successfully Create Change in Your Life

My belief is that you’re setting yourself up for failure if you try to overhaul your entire life at once.  It’s okay to go “cold turkey” on certain things, like giving up chocolate or alcohol, but completely changing everything about your eating habits, exercise routine and lifestyle is a huge task.  I like using real-life examples, so let me introduce you to Becky.

Before Becky was my client, she was an all-or-nothing type of person when it came to diet and exercise.  She would make a decision to become healthier and lose weight, and would attempt to go from her usual diet to a perfect diet overnight.  You might be able to relate to Becky’s attitude: she said that if she got $1 for every time she said “my diet starts tomorrow” she’d be a millionaire!  Becky was generally able to sustain her diet and lifestyle changes for a week, sometimes even more.  The issue came when she slipped up in one aspect of her “perfect” lifestyle plan, she would feel like a failure and give up on everything!  Just before Becky came to work with me, she had managed to keep up with her diet and exercise routine perfectly for 10 days, and on the 11th day she slept in and didn’t make it to the gym before work.  So what did she do?  Gave up on eating healthily altogether.  She felt as though there was no point in continuing because she’d already “stuffed up”.  She binged on junk foods all day on that 11th day, and told herself she’d start her diet again next week. 

Sound familiar?  Here’s what happened when Becky started working with me.

Becky came to me wanting to create a perfect plan to keep her perfectly motivated and help her achieve her perfect body in the perfect amount of time.  She was putting so much pressure on herself to achieve everything all at once, and had gotten stuck in a cycle of attempting diets and giving up as soon as one small thing went wrong.  I helped Becky understand that no one achieves anything overnight – change and progress takes time and practice.  So together, we decided on just one thing that Becky was going to change – and not tomorrow, not on Monday, but straight away!  She was going to avoid refined sugars.  No plan for exercise, or eating more protein, or limiting other types of carbohydrates.  For two weeks, Becky avoided all refined sugars and she came back to my clinic feeling absolutely amazing.  Two weeks was the longest period of time she had ever managed to stick to a dietary change!  So we ticked that one off, and set to work deciding what her next change could be.  She had started to lose weight, felt less bloated, had much more energy, and couldn’t wait to keep going on her health and weight loss journey.  

Becky’s small success and results from just one change gave her the momentum to continue making changes, one at a time, being gentle and compassionate towards herself the whole way through.  Becky continued on to change her exercise routine, increase her intake of vegetables and fresh fruit, and ultimately achieved her goal weight and created an easy, sustainable and healthy lifestyle that she loved.

So how do you achieve the same?  Start by changing just one thing.

What is one thing you can change to improve your health and happiness?  

Is it giving up soft drink or chocolate?

Is it drinking more water each day?

It is walking your dog once per week?

It is watching less tv?

This first “one thing” is different for everyone.  You might already have an idea of what it is that you want to change first, or you might need to think about it for a little while.

It’s really important that you’re taking baby steps towards your goal at this stage, not leaps and bounds.  Your goal for change also needs to be specific and achievable, in order to monitor your progress and ensure you are able to succeed.  Remember, your success from this one change is the momentum that will keep you going towards your ultimate goal: weight loss and better health.

Can you break your “one thing” done even smaller again?  Is it specific enough?  Does it feel achievable?  

Here’s some general guidelines to help make sure you are on track with.

  Give up soft drink, juice, alcohol, flavoured milks and drink nothing except water

  Swap my morning iced coffee for a glass of water

 

  Go to the gym five times next week

  Commit to Tuesday morning pilates class at 9.15am

 

  Give up junk food

  Give up deep-fried foods 

 

  Drink more water

  Drink my entire 1L water bottle every day

 

  Give up all sugars, sweeteners and fruit

  Avoid refined (white, processed) sugar

 

Your goals need to be specific to where you are at the moment, so if you’re currently suffering from severe sugar cravings and eating refined sugar daily, then perhaps you’re not ready to avoid it altogether and you need to start with just giving up your morning sweet biscuit.  Or if you’re already drinking 1L water every day, aim for 1.5L or 2L.  If you’re not exercising at all, don’t jump into exercising 5 days a week, but just start out slowly with one exercise commitment, and as you start to feel better, your energy increases and your motivation peaks, then you can begin to increase your exercise load.

And remember: you’re not looking for short-term solutions.  You’re creating a healthy lifestyle that is easy, sustainable and enjoyable.  A lifestyle that you can maintain for good, so you never have to go back to feeling the way you feel right now (or have felt in the past).  When I was struggling with my own weight loss journey, I remember having moments where I wished I could somehow imprint the way I felt in my lowest moments, so that they could spur me on to continue creating change.  The disgust, guilt and self-hate I felt after a binge would soon become a distant memory and I would fall victim to another binge session.  And if you focus on short-term change and return to your previous eating and lifestyle habits after this book, you’ll eventually find yourself right back where you started.

Athletes don’t work hard to attain a certain fitness level and then once they achieve it just stop – they keep going, and maintaining their fitness.  It’s not as much effort and hard work to maintain something as it is to achieve it, but it does require effort and mindfulness.  Being mindful that if you give up or let go of your goals, they’ll slip away.  And that maintaining your progress is a lot easier than giving up completely and having to start all over again.

Dannielle-Illingworth

The easiest way to meal prep for quick, healthy meals

Think of the words ‘meal prep’ and you likely conjure up images of 20 plastic containers filled with brown rice, baked chicken and steamed broccoli.  The Instagram world has played a large role in the popularity of ‘meal prep’, but it is also part of the reason why so many of my clients don’t do it themselves.  Balancing kids, work, the household, and everything else is hard enough – who has a spare four hours on Sundays to meal prep for the entire week?

Meal prep can seem a little overwhelming at first – where do you start? How many meals do you make? What if you don’t feel like eating that meal by the time Thursday comes around? Will it really last in the fridge for that long?  I’m going to answer all of those questions, and more, in this article. I totally get the overwhelm, because I’ve been there too! That’s why I’m sharing with you my approach to meal prep – it’s simple, it’s not time-consuming, and it’s definitely not boring.

Where do I start?

Well, that depends on where you’re at right now.  Do you prepare any meals in advance right now, or are you winging it as you go?  For some of my clients, meal prep actually begins with creating a weekly menu and doing the weekly grocery shop on a specific day each week.  You don’t have to start your menu on a Monday – if you have Fridays off work, why not do your groceries then and start your menu on a Friday night?  There’s no rules, and it’s important to create a system that works for you and your family.

I know that a lot of my clients worry that they won’t have enough variety if they have a set weekly menu, but I always encourage a flexible menu (and that’s what I do for hubby and I, too).  We have a rough idea of what we’ll eat each week, and if anything changes we adapt to it. For example, we might have dinner at my parents house one night, or go out on a weekend. If we’re not eating what I’ve bought and it won’t last, I pop it in the freezer and save it for next week.

 

How many meals do I make?

For me, it was really important that I started small when I first tried to prepare my meals in advance.  It was way too overwhelming trying to make 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 7 dinners all at once. So when you’re starting out, stop and ask yourself this question: What part of the day is it hardest for me to make healthy choices?

If you tend to get a croissant on the way to work every day, then meal prepping a few breakfast meals would be the best place to start.  If you’re more prone to getting takeout for dinner, then preparing dinner meals in advance would be ideal. If you’re someone who eats well all day and then succumbs to that darn chocolate craving every night, then preparing some raw cacao bliss balls or other healthy sweet treat is the best meal prep you can do for yourself.  You see what I’m getting at?

There’s no hard and fast rule, but starting with the meal (or snack) you struggle with the most is the perfect starting place.

 

What if I don’t feel like eating the same meal all week?

Lady, I hear you!  I love eating delicious meals, but I also love me a bit of variety too.  I couldn’t think of anything more boring than eating brown rice, baked chicken and steamed broccoli for lunch and dinner seven days a week.  Making meals that excite your taste buds is definitely important, and if variety is important to you then definitely mix it up.

As an example of how I keep things interesting and different, a few weeks ago I made my homemade pasta sauce on a Monday morning, and added heaps more veggies when I roasted the tomatoes – so all the nutrition was already in the sauce.  Then Monday night all I had to do was cook some mince, heat the sauce and boil gluten-free pasta. Voila, dinner done! I had enough sauce for two meals, but hubby and I didn’t feel like the same thing again.  So I made a lasagne on Tuesday night with zucchini and spinach layers, and the leftover mince and sauce from the previous night.

Meal prep doesn’t mean having the same meal over and over and over again until you can’t stand the sight of it.  It’s just a matter of being a little more organised with your eating, and making things super simple for yourself whenever you can.

 

Will it last in the fridge?

You’d be surprised at how well things last in the fridge.  Things like salads can go a bit wilted, but I’ve got a great option for meal prepping salads in my free ebook (see below).

Always use your common sense with meals, and follow expiry dates on meats of course.  And if you have any doubts, your freezer is your new best friend. Defrost meals as you need them.

Let’s simplify meal prep.

First step is: identify the part of your day or week where you’re not staying consistent with your health eating, and start there.  Prepare breakfasts, lunches, dinners or snacks that will help to keep you on track throughout the week. My free ebook ‘A Naturopath’s Guide to Simple, Easy Meal Prep’ is filled with high protein, high fibre recipes that can be prepared in advance, or made in under 10 minutes.

Once you’ve got that one covered, you can start to branch out a little bit.  Slow cookers are great because you can choose meals that require very little prep, and then just turn it on and let it do it’s thing.  You might like to try simple things like having brown rice or quinoa cooked and ready to go, or preparing something like my homemade pasta sauce in advance for a couple of different meals that week.

If you’re absolutely loving the meal prep and you want to start doing it for more meals in your day, go for it!  But remember, it’s about small steps at a time. At the first sign of overwhelm, stop, breathe and reset. Are you starting too big?  Can you simplify, and start smaller?

 

If you’re stressed about meal prep and it’s your least favourite part of the week, then you’re totally missing the point.  

 

Meal prep should be about making things easier for you, not harder.  Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and do it in a way that fits your life and your family.  And definitely, definitely don’t compare yourself to the Insta-models who prep 21 meals on a Sunday.

 

Okay, that all sounds great, but what am I supposed to be meal prepping?

I hear ya, and I’ve got you covered.  I’ve put together a free ebook for you, with 18 of my favourite high protein, high fibre recipes that you can prepare in advance, or in under 10 minutes.  You can download the ebook below for instant access to the recipes, and get started on your meal prep journey whenever you like, in your own way.

 

 

Remember, simple is best and overwhelm is not your friend.  When you find a way to meal prep that feels good for you, it’ll absolutely change your week.

 

Lots of meal-prepping love,

danni-illingworth

 

Dannielle-Illingworth

Rice Cooker Fried Rice

rice-cooker-fried-rice

It doesn’t get much easier that making fried rice in your rice cooker, right?  This recipe is pretty basic, and you can add whatever protein you like to it – scramble some eggs and add those in, or sauté some mushrooms and mix them through once the rice is done.  Either way, it’s delicious! And so bloody easy 😊

 

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup each of: corn, peas, chopped broccoli and carrot (can use frozen or fresh)
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Method:

  1. With rice cooker on high, cook oil, garlic and onion in rice cooker for 2-3 minutes until onion is softened.  Add salt and pepper and brown rice, and stir through.
  2. Add vegetable stock liquid and water, and all vegetables.
  3. Stir, cover and all rice cooker to cook as per usual.
  4. Stir through the soy sauce and any extra protein you want to add (eggs, mushrooms, etc) and serve!

 

Note: the rice cookers tend to get hot around the edges, so be careful not to grip edges when stirring