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Hayley Stathis, Healthy Weight Loss Coach in Newcastle

Did you know that the absolute worst thing you can do to lose weight is to go on a diet?

Yep.

It’s soul-crushing. All that deprivation, calorie-counting, restrictive eating – and research shows that the diet mentality never works. Not long term, anyway.

So put down that expensive, heavily promoted protein shake and box of ‘weight loss’ bars. They ain’t gonna work a year from now. Sit back, relax, and read the rest of this article 😉

What is a ‘Diet Mentality’?

A ‘Diet Mentality’ is a particular belief system around food that can be very damaging. Behaviours such as restrictive eating, excessive exercise, all or nothing thinking, assigning food to ‘good’ and ‘bad’ lists and the self-loathing that happens when you’ve been ‘bad’… or feeling like you’ve failed or don’t have enough willpower.

 

Diets tend to force us to restrict our eating in extreme ways in order to lose weight. They tend to be short-term focused and don’t really teach you how to maintain the weight loss.

For example, what happens when you stop the diet and go back to your life? Well, countless studies show that most people end up piling the weight back on plus more. When you’ve put your body through an extreme calorie deficit it tends to fight back hard to regain what was lost (which is generally your muscle tissue, making you even hungrier until it’s back where it started).

And if you have a ‘diet mentality’ you probably feel like a failure when that happens.

The Great News

The great news is that by becoming aware of how engaged you are with Diet Mentality, you can facilitate a profound shift. The shift will happen when you’re ready for it! I hope by the end of this article you’ll at least have planted a seed.

This shift has been a key success factor for the hundreds of clients I’ve successfully worked with and had actually sped up their fat loss – and definitely improved their body confidence and their relationship with food.

Intuitive Eating

The complete opposite to Diet Mentality is the concept of Intuitive Eating, which Tribole and Resch define as follows: “Intuitive Eating is a dynamic mind-body integration of instinct, emotion, and rational thought. It is a personal process of honouring your health by paying attention to the messages of your body and meeting your physical and emotional needs. It is an inner journey of discovery that puts you front and centre; you are the expert of your own body…”

Intuitive eating is the end-goal I have for my clients. Thing is, sometimes they are so out of touch with their body, and their hormones like insulin, ghrelin and leptin are so haywire that I need to hold their hand a little at the beginning.

I show them the foods that are going to be most nourishing for them, based on blood markers and their current health status. I teach them how to eat in a balanced way throughout the day – and once they start to FEEL BETTER and can see that this wonderful way of eating is shifting fat like never before… then they begin to have a sense of what intuitive eating means for them. They can tweak, adapt and customise things to suit their own unique body.

It’s a beautiful thing to see :-)

What next?

My experience has shown me that while you don’t want to ‘diet’ you DO still need to make some changes to your food habits. It’s silly to think you can do the same things you’ve always done and expect different results, right? (thanks Einstein!)

It’s HOW you approach these changes that is key. Rather than coming from a place of deprivation (like when you’re on a diet) you can instead approach this as a complete re-learning of what to eat to feel your best. It’s a marathon for life, not a 1 minute sprint.

So rather than holding the mindset of  “I’m dieting to lose weight”, I encourage you instead to change your approach to “I’m learning new eating habits that are healthy & nourishing”.

The results can then be:

  • Enjoying the body size you know makes you feel best, and best represents who you are.
  • Living in a healthy body.
  • Feeling confident and appreciative of your precious physical self – daily!

At my newcastle nutrition clinic, The Well Clinic, we have a signature program that helps people finally learn what and how to eat to naturally lose fat and feel really good in themselves. It’s not a ‘diet’ and the program includes a whole set of online modules to help bring about intuitive eating.

Truly a Mind+Body Approach!

Learn more about the program HERE

Hayley xx
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Category: Featured

Is losing weight on your resolution list? If you’ve found dropping excess weight is more of a struggle than in the past, there might be more to the weight than that sneaky block of chocolate each week.

Before we go any further, let me be very upfront. Wanting to lose weight needs to come from a place of BODY LOVE, not low self esteem. What that means is no deprivation diets, no punishing or excessive exercise and no self-loathing. Those things never work long term and they are damaging to both your physical and emotional health.

In my weight loss program, I work with clients on healthy lifestyle changes that bring lasting results. Instead of feeling like they’re starving all the time, they feel satisfied and have way more energy than ever before.

Now that’s all said, let’s look at some of the ways that weight gain can be a symptom of a problem, rather than just a problem in itself.

Weight Gain Is Like the Petrol Light in Your Car

I explain to my clients how symptoms are a little like the petrol light in your car. It comes on when you are low on fuel, to warn you and remind you to go fill up at the petrol bowser.

Think of times when you have had a headache… it could be a sign of something else. Maybe you are dehydrated, or your muscles are tight because of too much desk-sitting, or you are tired. The headache is the symptom, it’s the petrol light telling you to listen to your body. You could just stick some masking tape over the light so you can’t see it anymore (eg take a panadol) or you could work out what’s CAUSING the headache and fix that.

Sometimes, weight gain can be a symptom of something else. In fact, in my opinion, carrying excess weight is always a sign of a body out of balance. When you’re a healthy weight for your frame, it generally means that your body is healthier.

Again, this isn’t about dieting or being skinny – it’s about feeling vibrantly healthy and loving your body regardless of your dress size. Wanting to improve your health and feel comfortable in your skin is a good thing.

So, what are some of the main drivers of Weight Gain?

Weight gain and thyroid health

One of the main underlying causes of weight gain is thyroid function. The thyroid is like the master gland of your body, running your metabolism. If your thyroid isn’t happy, your weight could fluctuate rapidly – either up or down. It also impacts other hormones in your body as well as your mood. You might also experience symptoms such as:

  • Low energy
  • Low mood/depression
  • Intolerance to cold
  • Dry skin
  • Constipation
  • Sleep issues
  • Brain Fog

 

An underactive thyroid is something that is becoming more and more common. I see it daily in my practice, and actually have one myself (although she is functioning beautifully now, but that’s a whole other post!)

Thyroid issues tend to impact women at three key stages in life – Puberty, Pregnancy and Perimenopause.

If you’ve never had your Thyroid tested, and you have any of the above signs or symptoms, I highly encourage you to get a blood test. You need to check TSH, free T4, free T3 and Thyroid Antibodies at a bare minimum. Other tests that are helpful are Reverse T3, Iodine and Vitamin D. I think this is probably the most common panel I request in clinic!

Weight gain and stress

Everyone experiences some form of stress from time to time. But chronic stress can take its toll on your entire endocrine system, playing havoc with hormone levels.

Stress can deplete nutrients that are vital for energy and metabolism, like Magnesium, our B vitamins, Zinc and Vitamin C. Elevated stress hormone levels can also interact with thyroid function and sex hormone production. These factors all add up to difficulty with losing weight, and even weight gain.

I see this often with my clients who run their own businesses, work in demanding jobs or juggle work and family life (holy moly, isn’t that all of us these days?!)

Weight gain and hormone balance

Despite what many people assume, our sex hormones are not just about making babies. Balanced sex hormones play a supportive role with other factors such as bone density and skin health. They can also affect how we hold weight, particularly fatty tissue.

Different sex hormone imbalances can lead to weight gain, particularly high testosterone and high oestrogen. Yes, women need testosterone too… just is smaller amounts than men.

Signs of hormone imbalances can include:

  • Changes in body hair growth/distribution
  • Skin problems including dry skin and breakouts
  • Irregular or painful menstrual cycles, spotting between periods, tender breasts
  • Pre-menstrual symptoms such as mood swings and cravings

Weight gain and blood sugar regulation

Have you ever eaten a sweet treat, and had an almost instant rush? Then within the hour, you felt your energy drop back down? Or you feel sleepy after eating a meal? This is blood sugar regulation at work.

Blood sugar is your source of instant energy for things like exercise and even brain function. A steady level of blood sugar is best, as it keeps you going at a steady pace throughout the day. But problems with blood sugar regulation can lead to weight gain.

It can also be a chicken-or-egg scenario between blood sugar levels and weight gain, as weight gain can lead to issues such as insulin resistance, but insulin resistance makes it harder to lose or even maintain weight. Insulin is our ‘fat storage hormone’ and elevated insulin levels also block us from losing fat. So if what and when we eat causes elevated insulin levels, we are never going to lose weight, no matter what we do! (That’s why in my weight loss program, one of the key things I teach you is what, when and how to eat in order to keep blood sugar stable and insulin levels low.)

Blood sugar dysregulation may have no obvious symptoms. But you may notice things like:

  • Feeling hungry even after a meal – needing to snack
  • Craving sweets
  • Getting ‘hangry’ (feeling irritable when you need to eat)
  • More frequent urination that is not related to fluid intake
  • Fatigue
  • Increased thirst for no apparent reason

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The good news is that all of these factors can be supported with proper nutrition and lifestyle advice that is tailored to your specific needs.

If you’re ready to explore healthy weight loss, book in a FREE 15 minute chat with me and we can talk about what might be holding you back from feeling vibrantly healthy. You can click here to book:

Book a Free Chat Now

 

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Category: Featured
newcastle nutritionist hayley stathis

Looking for an affordable way to make sure you’re getting plenty of nutrition and variety in your diet? Following a seasonal approach might be for you – and can actually save you money!

What is seasonal eating?

Put simply, eating seasonally means focusing on foods that grow naturally in the season that you’re in right now. Here in Australia, that’s Spring right now!

Seasonal eating used to be all that we had available to us. But as technology has advanced, we are able to import food from other countries. We can even force food to grow outside of its growing season.

We can also do crazy things to store and preserve food well beyond when it was harvested.

Season Eating’s Many Benefits

Seasonal food is tastier

Ever tried a tomato in winter? It’s watery and pale. Whereas summer tomatoes are bright red and juicy.

When food is grown in its natural season, it is more likely to get the conditions it likes best. The amount of water, the temperature and the sun exposure that a plant likes can vary – just like us humans! But when it gets the right conditions, it will contain plenty of nutrients – AND more flavour.

It contains nutrients specific to the season

Have you ever noticed that summertime’s tropical fruits have a lot of water content? This high water content helps to keep you hydrated during the hotter weather. On the other hand, citrus fruits contain vitamins and antioxidants that support immunity during the winter. Isn’t nature clever?

You’re supporting local growers and economies

Seasonal food generally comes from a local area, or at least within the same country. By choosing to buy cherries in summer instead of winter (when they are imported from the US), you are supporting the local economy.

How to get more seasonal food into the diet

Are you sold on the perks of a more seasonal approach to food? Let’s look at a few ways to get more seasonal options into your daily diet.

Shop at farmers markets

The popularity of local food means that farmers markets are available in most areas. Because farmers are bringing fresh produce in, they will be offering seasonal options. The best part is, it often makes it more affordable, even if the produce is organic or biodynamic.

Farmers markets are not necessarily regulated, so make sure you ask the stallholders where they are based.

At the Newcastle City Farmer’s Markets, many stallholders display signs to show where their produce is from, whether it has Organic Certification or is Pesticide-free. And if there’s no sign, you can always just ask.

Here’s the website for the Sunday Farmer’s Markets (see you there!): https://newcastlecityfarmersmarket.com.au/

Look for produce that’s more affordable

If you don’t have a local farmers market, or just don’t have time, you don’t have to miss out. Even the supermarket will stock seasonal options. The key here is to look for the cheaper produce that is usually at the front of the section. For example, a $2 mango is more likely to be in season than a $6 mango.

Take a Handy Seasonal Guide Shopping with you

Australian Organic has a monthly list of Seasonal produce you can download to make shopping trips easier. Check it out here: https://www.organicschools.com.au/canteen/whats-season/

Grow your own!

It might not be feasible for you to grow ALL of your own food. But you can start off small with a handful of your favourite herbs and greens. As we head into the warmer months, herbs and leafy vegetables are an easy option to grow on a balcony or a sunny windowsill. Drop into your local nursery to get some advice if you’re unsure. Try to buy Organic seeds too, to help minimise your exposure to pesticides.

Read Food labels

Seasonal food is often local food, particularly when it comes to fruit that spoils easily. Have a look at the label on your fruit punnets and see where it is grown. If it’s listed as grown in NSW, go for it! Just remember to slice up your strawberries.

 

A seasonal diet approach is a great start towards a healthier relationship with food. For more personalised support, book a session with me.

Book Online

References

None

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Category: Featured
Why Water is the Key to More Energy

Feeling Fatigued? Why You Should Reach For Water Before Coffee!

If you’re struggling with energy levels throughout your day, you might find some handy hints in this article. Most people only think about food when it comes to nutrition – but did you know that water is actually more essential than any of the nutrients we find in food?

And… I just found out how to calculate how much water YOU need… so read on to find out!

Why is water so important?

Without water, your body wouldn’t be able to function. Water plays a role in nearly every process within your body, either directly or indirectly. You’re made up of about 60% water – men and infants have a little more, whereas women and people with a high body fat percentage have a little less. You will find water in your intracellular and extracellular fluids, plasma, organs, spine and digestive tract.

Water is needed for actions including:

  • Maintaining body temperature
  • Forming a barrier in the skin to protect against foreign bodies
  • Brain function
  • Digestion of food
  • Excreting waste through urine, sweat and faeces
  • Supporting a healthy metabolic rate (key for weight loss and energy!)
  • Increasing satiety levels

Without enough water in the body, we become dehydrated. Even a little bit can make a big difference. Research has shown that 1-3% dehydration can impact on processes such as brain function, memory, energy and mood – so if you’re struggling with fatigue it could be that you’re dehydrated!

 So How much water should you drink?

Different people have different needs for water, depending on their body composition, exercise level, medication use and other lifestyle factors. Even the weather can influence how much you should be drinking.

Government recommendations are around 2.1-2.6L of fluid per day. But if you’re not drinking water much, it’s best to start slowly and work your way up.

If you’re exercising, you’ll want to add 1-2 cups of water for every 30 min of exercise you do. If the temperature is over 30 degrees C, add an extra 2 cups per day.

When I did my training to become a Metabolic Balance Coach, I was trained in this simple equation to work out exactly how much water YOU need:

Your daily water requirement = 35ml per kilo of body weight.

So if you weigh 80kg, then you need at least 2.8L of water every day. More if you’re exercising, as mentioned above.

Weight Loss Tip: Interestingly, not getting enough water can block fat burning. So if you’re like many of my clients and need to release weight, then make sure you drink your required amount of H2O! As your weight decreases, you can drink less.

 How to boost your water intake

Now that you know how important hydration is for more energy, how can you get enough? Here are some simple tips to get more water into your day.

Make drinking more fun

Many people find plain water a bit boring. But if that’s the case, you can make it more interesting and still reap the benefits. As the weather warms up, you can add fresh or frozen fruit and herbs to your water. Berries, citrus, mint and rosemary are some refreshing options to start. When the temperature drops, find some herbal teas you enjoy to replace plain water.

If you’re out at a social event and want an alternative for soft drinks, grab some sparkling water. Many supermarkets now have flavoured options – just make sure there’s no added sugars.

Eat your water

You don’t have to rely on your water bottle for all of your hydration needs. There are plenty of high-water foods around, especially as the warmer months bring tropical produce back!

Stock up on:

  • Melons
  • Berries
  • Peaches
  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Green leafy veggies
  • Broccoli

Create a habit

The easiest way to incorporate a new habit is to tie it to a current one. This goes for drinking water as well. You could try drinking a glass of water after brushing your teeth or when you go to make a cup of coffee. If you check your emails regularly, have a few mouthfuls every time your inbox loads up, or before you compose a new email.

Figure out what you do at least 4-5 times each day and make those the times that you drink a glass of water.

Remind yourself

Sometimes, we need someone to push us until we get into a habit. In that case, it’s time to set up some reminders. You can simply set alarms on your phone throughout the day. There are plenty of apps out there that track water, from general diet trackers to specific water trackers.

If you aren’t into tech, you can get water bottles with measures on the side to remind you visually. I love this one here from Healthish: https://healthish.com/products/wb-1

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Drinking enough water is just one piece of the puzzle. If you’re feeling tired all the time, have foggy thinking, struggle to lose weight or have ‘hormones gone haywire’, book in a session with me!

Book an Appointment Here

 

References

Metheny, N., & Metheny, N. M. (2011). Fluid and electrolyte balance. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22190027

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21736786

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4207053/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22576040

https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/water

 

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Category: Featured
www.hayleystathis.com.au

Anyone who has tossed and turned in bed even for one night understands how debilitating a night of poor sleep can be. We really need to have our 7-9 hours of restful sleep every night in order for our bodies to rest and repair and without it we can quickly become ill.

 

After all, sleep deprivation is used as a torture technique! Any parents out there in internet-land know what I’m saying?

When helping improve someone’s sleep, I like to take a three-phase approach – with improvements often seen after only the first one or two phases.

1. Improve your ‘Sleep Hygeine’

What I mean by this is work on kicking any habits you may have that interfere with getting a good night’s sleep. You then replace these snooze-barriers with healthier sleep habits, resulting in better rest almost instantly for most people.

Here’s how you do it:

CUT OUT CAFFEINE

(or at least significantly reduce it if you’re a coffee fiend!)
Caffeine can have a pronounced effect on sleep, causing insomnia and restlessness. In addition to coffee, tea and soft drinks look for hidden sources of caffeine such as chocolate. One lovely cup of (organic) coffee or caffeinated tea in the morning is generally not a problem; it’s when you’re consuming it throughout the day (and in particular in the afternoon) that it can affect sleep. Same goes for that row of chocolate after dinner.

Try herbal teas like chamomile, lemon balm, passionflower or valerian instead as these help induce sleep.

WATCH THE SWEET STUFF

Too much sugar before bed can cause uneven blood sugar levels and the drop later in the evening can wake you up. It is important to have your blood glucose tested if you think this may be the reason you are waking through the night, just to be safe. B vitamins, chromium and Magnesium can help improve sugar metabolism. You could also try having a small, protein-rich snack before bed.

EAT SLEEPY FOOD

L-tryptophan is an amino acid that your body needs in order to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for maintaining a proper sleep cycle. Foods high in L-tryptophan that would make a great sleep-inducing dinner include fish (salmon, tuna, halibut, sardines and cod contain the most), poultry, nuts and seeds and legumes.

See – all the foods your naturopath tells you to eat!

LIGHTS OUT

Our human brains are wired to start producing sleep hormones once the sun goes down, so our modern lives with artificial lights from televisions, smartphones, laptops and clock radios can really mess with our wiring.

Bright lights and stimulation like this INCREASE cortisol and BLOCK melatonin – which means we are left wide awake feeling stressed!

Same goes for video games. Kids and Teens should not be allowed to play video games of an evening, let alone late into the night. It’s going to mess with the wiring of their brains and nervous systems, keeping them in the fight or flight response. They need their sleep even more than us adults as they are growing.

Half an hour before bed, turn off the TV and put all your gadgets down! Have a relaxing bath by candlelight, listen to some peaceful music, do some gentle yoga or meditation or chat to your partner or family. I like to only turn on lamps of an evening at home (or candles) – I don’t use the bright overhead lights at all. It creates a nice ambience and sets the scene for a restful night’s sleep.

If you must work late at night on your computer, try some blue-light blocking glasses (you can find them online) so that your brain has half a chance of producing some Melatonin.

GET OILY

The scent of the essential oil of Lavender has long been used as a folk remedy to help people fall asleep. Research is starting to confirm lavender’s sedative qualities. It’s been found to lengthen total sleep time, increase deep sleep, and make people feel refreshed in the morning. It appears to work better for women, possibly because women tend to have a more acute sense of smell.

The good thing about lavender is that it begins to work quickly. Try putting a lavender sachet under your pillow or place one to two drops of lavender essential oil in a handkerchief. Or add several drops of lavender oil to a bath — the drop in body temperature after a warm bath also helps with sleep. Other aromatherapy oils believed to help with sleep are chamomile and ylang ylang.

2. Deal with daily stress and anxiety

If the above tips haven’t quite got you blissfully snoozing between the sheets, we may need to up the ante a bit.

One of the most common causes of insomnia is stress throughout the day. Our subconscious mind is very powerful and daily anxieties can keep us awake in the night. By supporting yourself during the day with specific herbal medicines and nutrition (plus things like exercise and meditation), you may find that your sleep improves dramatically.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

GET ALL ZEN

There are some wonderful online resources for meditation – and many of them don’t follow the ‘zen monk’ style having you sitting uncomfortably on the floor for hours at a time. Try to find a guided meditation download that you can do each day (even just for 2 minutes, seriously that can be all you need!) and you’ll quickly see the benefits of slowing your mind on a regular basis.

Yoga is my form of meditation – it’s a moving meditation where the physical poses help to quiet the mind (you’re so focused on getting the pose right – or not falling over – that you find your mind calms naturally).

Again, there are some wonderful online yoga classes if you can’t find a local one to suit your schedule. Try yogagholics.com.au as they have a 10 day free trial and then it’s only $12 month for unlimited classes – and it’s Australian, run by a nice guy.

MOVE IT

You’ve likely already heard that exercise is beneficial for stress reduction and a happier mood. Ensuring that you move your body most days will help to work off stressful energy and bring your body and mind into balance.

Seriously, if you don’t want to start moving your body more then just stop reading here. You can’t out-supplement a bad diet & lifestyle – these things are the core to good health and better sleep and they are NON-NEGOTIABLE!

As a side note, daily movement will also help your… ahem, daily movements. So if your digestion is a little sluggish, then go do some exercise!

MEGA MAGNESIUM

Magnesium is a natural sedative and is a beautiful supplement for anxiety and stress. Sometimes, it is the only thing needed to improve sleep. Deficiency of magnesium can result in difficulty sleeping, constipation, muscle tremors or cramps, anxiety, irritability, and pain. It has also been used for people with restless leg syndrome for its role in muscle relaxation.

When we are stressed, our body quickly uses up our magnesium stores, so it is a vicious cycle that can result in further deficiency.

Foods rich in magnesium are dark leafy green vegetables, cacao, almonds, legumes and seeds, cashews, blackstrap molasses and brewer’s yeast.

There are some terrific magnesium supplements on the market too – the best absorbed are those bound to proteins (as in amino acid chelates) and tissue salts.

VITAMIN C

In an anxious and stressed state our adrenal glands take quite a hiding and need to be nurtured. Vitamin C is found in highest concentration in the adrenals and it fast becomes depleted if we’re constantly in ‘fight or flight’ mode. It’s one of the reasons stress can lead to more frequent colds and flus.

A good vitamin C will have flavanoids to aid absorption. Start with food sources including berries (such as blueberries, acai, goji, raspberries), citrus fruits and rosehip.

3. Natural Sleep Remedies

If all else fails, or if you’re just desperate to get some rest, there are some wonderful herbal medicines for sleep. They don’t leave people groggy the next morning like synthetic sleeping pills and instead you wake up refreshed and energized, as they are nurturing for the nervous system.

Passionflower is a mild sedative that works well alongside other herbs like Zizyphus, Lavender, Hops and Skullcap in a sleep mix. Withania is specific for people who wake through the night and cannot go back to sleep – it’s great for sleep maintenance.

Try these herbs first as herbal teas, to make a lovely nightcap! You could add in some Lemon Balm and Licorice for a nice flavour (and both these herbs also have calming, de-stressing effects).

If you need something stronger, get in touch with me and we can look further into what’s going on for you. As a clinical naturopath and nutritionist in Newcastle, I help uncover the underlying cause for your poor sleep. Sometimes hormonal influences can affect sleep, as can imbalances with our neurotransmitters. We can come up with a plan to get you making zzzzzzzz in no time!

For a FREE 15 minute Sleep Strategy Session, call the clinic on (02) 4965 4881 and make a time to chat.

 

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Category: Featured Sleep
hayleystathis.com.au

When you wake up in the morning, do you feel refreshed from another wonderful night’s sleep?

No? Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day?

Then you need to read this blog post because I have some great tips (and an amazing recipe) for you!

The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing.

Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we’re just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it.

Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind.

And I feel like so many of you ‘know’ this – but perhaps don’t fully appreciate just how important sleep is to your overall health and wellbeing.

People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation. And don’t forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills.

Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? (Gasp!)

I see so many of my clients exercising like demons and eating well, but because they’re surviving on 6 hours of sleep, they aren’t seeing any results.

Knowing this, it’s easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:

  • To restore our body and mind. Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” while we sleep.
  • To improve our brain’s ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity”. Dreams are a huge part of this, being our subconscious mind’s way of processing through our day.
  • To conserve some energy so we’re not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.

Do you know how much sleep adults need? It’s less than your growing kids need but you may be surprised that it’s recommended that all adults get 7 – 9 hours a night. You probably know yourself what your magic number is… for me, it’s 8 hours. A night or two on less is manageable, but I’m not my best without that 8 hours of Z-time.

So how many hours of sleep do you get each night? Don’t worry if it’s less than 8, I have you covered with a bunch of actionable tips below!

Tips for better sleep

  • The biggest tip is definitely to try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule. Make it a priority and you’re more likely to achieve it. This means doing all you can to get that 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Seven. Days. A. Week! Sleep experts say that going to bed and waking up at around the same time every day (weekends included) is best. Obviously, there’s some flexibility here – I work out 3 mornings a week so I am up at 5:20am… so those nights I make sure I am in bed a little earlier and I also try to trade sleep ins with hubby on the weekend (best happy marriage advice right there!)
  • Balance your blood sugar throughout the day. You know, eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fibre). Choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavoured snack). Make sure you’re getting some protein every time you eat. I have lots of other blog posts on nutrition and healthy diets – so check out HERE and HERE for more advice.
  • During the day get some sunshine and exercise. These things tell your body it’s daytime; time for being productive, active and alert. By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.
  • Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12pm. Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it’s the “added” sugar we’re minimising. Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be come evening. (HINT: I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!)
  • Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before you go to bed (that is 8 – 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off). This would include dimming your artificial lights, turning off the TV, laptop, phone etc and perhaps reading an (actual, not “e”) book or having a bath. Those bright lights mess with our sleep hormone, Melatonin, and make our brains think it’s still daytime. I really doubt people had as much sleep troubles before electricity was invented!

There are 5 key pillars to health… and while we are all unique beings, these still apply to EVERYONE! And it’s these 5 pillars that, as a Clinical Nutritionist & Naturopath here in Newcastle, I am helping you with.

You’ve likely guessed that SLEEP is one of these pillars. If you’re not sleeping well, alarm bells go off in my brain and I make sure we fix that asap!! Often, I’ll send people off with a plan (and natural medicines) to get them having a rejuvenating 8 hours of quality sleep EVERY NIGHT so they wake feeling refreshed and amazing. Then, once the sleep is sorted, we work on all the other stuff – which has often improved just because they are now sleeping so well!

 

So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?

 

Recipe (for your afternoon “coffee break” also yummy as an after-dinner cuppa):

Caffeine-Free Chai Latte

Serves 1-2

  • 1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)
  • 2 cups of boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred)
  • 2 dates (optional)

Cover the teabag and dates (if using) with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for a few minutes.

Discard the tea bag & place tea, soaked dates, tahini & almond butter into a blender.

Blend until creamy.

Serve and Enjoy!

Tip: You can try this with other nut or seed butters to see which flavour combination you like the best. Cashew butter anyone?

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