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So this post is all about helping you learn what mindful eating is all about and how it can help you keep your weight down.

But first, why am I talking about eating mindfully anyway?

Good question!

As a busy mumma, so often we eat for convenience rather than for nutrition. We eat for instant gratification, so we don’t pass out from hunger, rather than to really nourish ourselves as we know we should.

Can you imagine learning a new way of slow eating in which you actually get to experience the tastes and textures of your food rather than wolfing it down in a hurry or snacking on the go? And yes, this is possible even for a hectic mum-on-the-run!

I can help you to learn to slow down and eat mindfully! I can help you to see the food you eat as medicine that not only nourishes your whole system, but also tastes delicious!

So what is mindful eating?

Mindful eating means taking the time to honour your food by choosing high quality, chemical-free food, preparing it with care and eating it slowly and mindfully using your five senses to really enjoy it.

It means allocating quiet time to prepare and enjoy eating your meal without rushing or multitasking at the same time. And yes – this IS possible when you have kids!

Mindful eating is a way of saying to yourself: “I respect my body enough to be mindful of what I put into it and of the way I eat.”

Think of this type of eating as a meditation. It means choosing to be present with your food and the way you eat it

My clients find that eating mindfully helps to:
  • Sense intuitively when you are full
  • Gain way more satisfaction from eating
  • Develop a healthy relationship with food
  • See food as medicine
  • Discover new tastes and textures
  • Improve digestion (less gas and bloating)
  • Regulate bowel movement
  • Discover food sensitivities
  • Create healthy habits that enliven you

How will I know if it’s time for me to learn to eat mindfully?

Glad you asked! It’s time for you to practice mindful eating if you answer “YES” to any of these questions:
  • You get bloated after eating
  • You scoff down your food like there is no tomorrow
  • You eat just to feel full not to enjoy the tastes
  • You eat to numb out
  • You want to learn to enjoy healthy food
  • You feel bloated easily
  • You gain weight easily
  • You crave sugar or starchy foods
  • You have difficulty focusing or foggy brain
  • You feel lethargic after eating
  • You have allergies or hay fever
  • You feel addicted to eating foods that aren’t healthy for you but you can’t stop
  • You tend to gain weight easily, especially in your belly
  • You have extra kilos that won’t come off with diet and exercise

What do you do now?

In my health coaching practice, I help clients discover what triggers them to overeat or binge eat. Then I lead them through a step-by-step process to learn how to eat mindfully and to learn what to eat for their unique body type.

If you answered “YES” to any of the symptoms above, then click here now to schedule a time to talk with me about how you can learn to eat mindfully.

I’ll help you understand what’s blocking you from eating mindfully and I’ll show you how to get started.

To your health!

Hayley xx
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Category: Weight Loss
Eat Mindfully for Weight Loss with Hayley Stathis

Busy! Busy!

You’ve got so much to get done today. Up early, racing around getting yourself and perhaps your family all ready for the day ahead. You’re brushing your teeth as you check a message on your phone and look for clean socks.

No time for breakfast, you’ll have to grab a takeaway coffee and muffin to eat on the trip into work.

As the hectic day just keeps getting busier, you realise there’s no time for a lunch break again today. You’ll just have to eat at your desk/in the car/on the go again and keep working through.

Finally home and you sit down exhausted on the lounge to watch your favourite TV show and shovel in some dinner.

Does this sound familiar? Do you eat on the go like this most days?

If so, did you know that eating this way means you aren’t digesting your food properly or absorbing nutrients? And you may suffer from digestive symptoms like bloating, gas, constipation, heartburn or
reflux. If not now, then possibly down the track.

Plus, you are more likely to over-eat and gain weight.

YOUR BODY’S CONTROL CENTRE

Our nervous system controls much of the communication between our brain and our body, via the spinal cord and many nerves that run like a highway throughout our body.

Your nervous system has two states of being; ‘fight or flight’ or ‘rest and digest’.

When you are operating in ‘fight or flight’ mode, all your blood and energy is sent to the brain, heart and muscles so that you can either fight or run away from danger. Adrenalin is surging through your body making your heart beat faster, your mind is whirring and you are on high alert.

At the same time, body systems like digestion and reproduction ‘pause’ as these are not necessary for immediate survival. Even though the dangers of our caveman ancestors are no longer troubling us on a daily basis (thankfully, Sabre-toothed Tigers are extinct!) our nervous system has not changed much since primitive times.

Stressors like work deadlines, finances, exams, driving in traffic etc are still triggers that put us in ‘fight or flight’ mode. In ‘fight or flight’ mode you are not in the best state to digest your food.

There is a 2000% reduction in the amount of digestive enzymes secreted by the body when you are under stress, so if you eat when your nervous system is preparing for combat, you are more likely to suffer digestive symptoms like heartburn, indigestion, bloating, gas and either constipation or diarrhoea. Your body is not focusing on digesting food, so you won’t absorb as many nutrients from whatever you are eating.

EAT WHEN YOU ARE IN ‘REST & DIGEST’ MODE

Your body digests food best when the nervous system is in ‘rest and digest’ mode. This is when blood flow is going to the digestive tract, the mind is at peace, your heart rate is calm and you are focusing on your food.

MAKE TIME TO EAT

How hard would it really be if you took 10-15 minutes out of your day to stop and eat a meal? Is the whole world really going to fall to pieces if you take a break? Probably not. But if you don’t start to eat mindfully, YOU may fall to pieces!

Stopping what you are doing to sit down at the table to eat is so simple, and oh so important for digestive health. Don’t work on your computer, watch TV or drive when you are eating.

When you are eating, just eat!

So How Do You EAT MINDFULLY??

STEP 1: MEDITATE ON YOUR FOOD (as in think about it, don’t sit on it!)

Look at your food. Imagine how good it is going to taste. Think of all the wonderful nutrition inside every tasty bite. Picture all the lovely people who had to work to bring this food in front of you…
Smell it. Yes… put your nose near your meal and take a long, deep sniff. Breathe in those aromas.

You may be wondering why I’m asking you to meditate on your food (it’s not because deep down I’m a hippy).

It’s because this kicks off your Cephalic Phase of digestion. This is your brain realising that your body is about to eat something and it signals for your digestive juices to get going.

Your whole digestive tract prepares for the impending arrival of your meal. This then helps you digest your food.

STEP 2: CHEW YOUR FOOD

Were you ever told as a child to chew each mouthful 20 times before swallowing? There is some sense in that.

We have teeth because we need them to chew, grind, mush and pulverize our food before it enters our stomach. This is really important for good digestion and it is a step that is often missed.

Inhaling your food like a hungry Labrador means that it hits your stomach barely broken down, making your poor stomach work really hard to digest your food. Dogs have incredibly acidic stomach acid, so they can do this. But we humans can’t. We have those back molars for a reason and we need to use them!

I remember one of my nutrition professors telling a story about a cancer centre in Germany where the patients are put on a strict diet of literally bread and water while they are receiving treatment.

They are instructed to take a small bite of bread, a sip of water and then chew and chew until the mixture dissolves and all they are swallowing is liquid. It can take these patients more than an hour to eat their one slice of bread.  Still, because they have chewed their food so well, all the nutrition they could possibly derive from that bread has been absorbed!

So eat slowly. Chew your food. Allow the saliva to mix in with it and get it all nice and mushy before you swallow it.

I promise the side effects like zero heartburn, no more bloating, no more over-eating (because you are focusing on your food, your brain has time to realise it is full) will be worth it.

STEP 3: SAVOUR YOUR FOOD

While you are doing all that slow eating and chewing, take a moment to really taste your food. I mean, really taste the different flavours. Notice the saliva build up as you chew each mouthful. Explore its texture in your mouth. Move it around with your tongue. Feel it crush between your teeth and explode against the roof of your mouth.

Sexy, huh?

STEP 4: STOP BEFORE YOU ARE FULL

Unless this really is the last meal you will get before your 5 day trek through the Andes, it really is best to stop BEFORE you feel full.

Eating too much in one sitting puts a huge strain on your digestive system. There’s not enough stomach acid to break down your food, your stomach gets stretched and can’t work effectively and anything that cannot be made into energy gets stored as fat.

Plus, on a metaphysical level, overeating is kinda saying to yourself and the universe,

‘I don’t have enough’
or ‘I am never satisfied’

– not really going to bring you the best in life.

The Japanese have a beautiful way of saying this.
They say, “hara hachi bu”
translated to “eat until you are eight parts (out of ten) full”.

STEP 5: SHARE A MEAL

As much as you can, eat with people you love (or at least those you get along with!) We are inherently social beings and cultures from the dawn of time have shared meals together.

Sitting with another person or a group of people to all eat together just feels right, doesn’t it? Friends, family, work colleagues, fellow students – whoever it is, make sure that you enjoy some conversation with your meal from time to time. This means that if you are at work, you need to leave your desk and go sit someplace else to eat your food. Just don’t talk shop while you eat as this will likely put you into ‘fight or flight’ mode pretty quick!

Maybe, while you are sharing your meal you could tell your fellow diners how to ‘eat mindfully for better digestion and easy weight loss’

Just don’t talk with your mouth full!

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Category: Weight Loss
5 Steps to a Super Healthy & Satisfying Lunchtime Salad

Do you think salads are bowls of ‘rabbit food’ and that they won’t satisfy your lunch-time hunger? Do you feel hungry minutes after finishing a salad? Have you even got this far, or did you see the word ‘salad’ in the heading and stop reading right there?!

If I’ve still got your attention… please read on and let me show you how to make yourself a salad that packs such nutritional punch it’ll have you powering through your afternoon. So much so that your boss will give you a promotion, a pay-rise and take you out to dinner*

(*this bit about the boss may not actually happen, but you get my point).

When I started coaching clients on healthy eating in my clinic, I’d get such forlorn faces looking back at me whenever I suggested a salad for lunch instead of the sandwich, burger or noodle box they grabbed from the café near the office.

I couldn’t understand it. I LOVE salads and just didn’t see why they thought I was depriving them of a yummy lunch. Salads are powerhouses of yumminess!

Then, one day I asked one of my clients what she thought I meant by ‘salad’. She rolled her eyes and replied, “you know, cos lettuce, tomato and cucumber”.

That’s NOT a salad, people. That’s a garnish!

I could now see though why so many people have no respect for salad. So, here it is….

How to turn your Lunchtime Salads from ‘boring-bland’ to ‘nutrient-rich delish’ in 5 simple steps!

1. Choose your GREENS

Green leafy veggies are the ‘base’ of your salad. They are SO much more than that, though. Green leafies provide you with magnesium which will help increase your energy levels, lower your stress levels and keep your blood sugar nice and stable for the day (no more 3pm sugar cravings).

GREENS to choose from: Baby Spinach leaves, Rocket, Kale (steam or pan-fry this first if you have low thyroid), watercress, endive, boo choy… really, the list is endless.

2. Choose your MIN 3 VEGGIES

We all need to get more vegetables into our diets. They’re packed full of vitamins and phytochemicals (plant chemicals) that help our body cope with the stresses of modern-day living. I always tell my clients to ‘eat like a rainbow’ so go for different coloured vegetables in order to get a wide range of nutrients.

MIN 3 VEGGIES to choose from: This list could go on for days. Really, it is only limited by your imagination (and what is in season or leftover from dinner the night before!) Some of my favourites include: Roast pumpkin, Roast sweet potato, Green beans (raw or steamed), tomato, cherry tomatoes, snow peas, capsicum, mushroom, beetroot, squash, steamed broccoli, onion, peas, fennel, carrots….

3. Choose your PROTEIN

Protein is the key to a salad that satisfies. It keeps you feeling full through the afternoon, aids weight loss, stops those sugar cravings etc etc.

PROTEIN to choose from: Salmon or Tuna (try to get sustainably fished sources if you’re going with tins), Chicken, Beef, Lamb, 2 hard boiled eggs, Lentils, Quinoa, Chickpeas, Tempeh, feta cheese, cottage cheese…

4. Choose your FATS

To really satisfy your hunger, you need to include some good healthy fats. These fuel your brain and help your nervous system cope with the rest of the day. We are too scared of fats these days… but our bodies are designed to eat it. Choose the right fats from the list below and you’ll be sweet (not fat!).

FATS to choose from: Avocado, sunflower seeds, pepitas, pine nuts, crushed walnuts, any other fave nuts, cheese, organic butter…

5. Choose your HOMEMADE DRESSING

Learning a few simple homemade dressings can really put some delicious flavour into your salads and tie them together. Store bought dressings tend to be really high in preservatives, sugar and industrialised oils (in there to prolong shelf life, but not your life!)

  1. Simple Oil & Vinegar Dressing: 1 dessert spoon olive oil, capful of apple cider or balsamic vinegar (or fresh lemon juice), sea salt, black pepper
  2. Tahini dressing: 1 tablespoon tahini, juice of half a lemon, sea salt, black pepper
  3. Yoghurt dressing: 1 tablespoon yoghurt, juice of half a lemon, sea salt, black pepper, chopped mint to taste

SALAD UPGRADES: add in these healthy starchy carbs if you feel you need a little more energy to get you through the afternoon (if you’re trying to lose weight, best to leave these out for the moment).

  • Chickpeas and other legumes
  • Root veggies like carrot, sweet potato, pumpkin
  • Slice of sourdough or gluten-free toast (or your bread of choice)
  • Rice cakes with tahini or hommus spread

Well, there you have it.

How could anyone now say salads are just rabbit food?

They are a MEAL, and a damn healthy, delicious and satisfying one too! Happy salad-ing! Be sure to share your favourite salad combo in the comments below. And if you have any dressings you love, please share these too!

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Category: Recipes
HayleyStathis.com.au - Eating Well. Does it mean you have to deny yourself of everything except lettuce and never look a piece of chocolate in the eye again? Am I going to tell you to become a vegan and grow sprouts on all your windowsills?

So you might have stumbled across my blog and you’re looking for ways to feel better, eat better, lose weight… And you may be just a little fearful of what type of food advice a naturopath & nutritionist like me may give you.

What is eating WELL, anyway? What does that mean?

Does it mean you have to deny yourself of everything except lettuce and never look a piece of chocolate in the eye again? Am I going to tell you to become a vegan and grow sprouts on all your windowsills?

Fear not! Let me show you up front the way I roll, the way of eating that I advocate, the foods that I salivate over and that I know have the research and years of human use to support their health benefits.

Here is a sample day from a good naturopathic diet:
(homegrown sprouts optional!)

On rising: One glass of room temperature filtered water with a squeeze of lemon or teaspoon of organic apple cider vinegar – to kick start your digestion.

Breakfast: Organic egg omelette packed full of veggies, or natural yoghurt with nuts, berries and seeds. (You can even have one small organic coffee, preferably made with freshly ground beans and enjoyed)!

Snack: A handful of almonds with berries or an apple

Lunch: Rainbow salad with grated raw beetroot, carrot, cucumber, pepitas, avocado with a tahini, lemon and olive oil dressing. Served with grilled fish or chicken. Go crazy, and have a dollop of hommus or tzatziki if you want. And if you’re super hungry, add in baked sweet potato or a slice of gluten free toast with butter or olive oil. Nom nom nom!

Snack: boiled egg or avocado on rice cakes with salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt.

Dinner: Lamb or fish stir fry with loads of veggies, tamari soy sauce, honey and fresh coriander, served with basmati rice.

After dinner: cup of peppermint tea and a square of organic dark chocolate.

If you ate like this for just one day, I reckon you would quickly see just how delicious real food can be! There is so much good stuff (proteins, fats, complex carbs, vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals) in this day that you’ll be buzzing with energy.

Go on, give it a try! Come ON! It’s just ONE DAY!

Comment below on how you felt eating like your naturopath told you…

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Category: Eating philosophy
What is leaky gut? It may well be the underlying cause of many illnesses... - Blog post by Hayley Stathis, Nutritionist and Naturopath (image shows leaking bucket)

Ever get bloated after certain foods, need to pass wind in the most embarrassing public places, or have bowel movements that raise eyebrows (your own, that is!) Or do you suffer from eczema, aching joints, allergies, headaches, have anxiety…

Have you ever thought that you may have a leaky gut?

A what?!

Yes, while it may sound a little strange, a ‘Leaky Gut’ is totally a thing! Technically speaking, it’s a hyperpermeable intestinal membrane often coupled with dysbiosis, but Leaky Gut really just rolls off the tongue better, don’t you think?

In fact, a Leaky Gut may well be the underlying cause of many illnesses including IBS, eczema, hayfever, sinusitis, anxiety and even rheumatoid arthritis. And it certainly contributes to a whole range of symptoms, not all of them necessarily in your digestive tract.

So what is ‘Leaky Gut’?

When we talk about ‘leaky gut’, we are referring mostly to your small intestine. Your small intestine is a very long ‘tube-shaped’ organ that has the important job of absorbing nutrients from your food into your bloodstream.

Think of your intestinal wall as being like a flyscreen, where tiny nutrients can pass through the holes, but larger, undigested food, bacteria and toxins cannot. This is one way that our ‘gut’ acts as part of our immune system – the intestinal flyscreen prevents unwanted substances from entering the body.

In a nutshell, Leaky Gut is when your flyscreen is damaged and has big holes in it. This means that all these unwanted substances can now pass through into your bloodstream.

This is bad news.

These large molecules of undigested food, toxins and bacteria enter the blood and trigger a big immune response and inflammation. This then causes a range of symptoms to develop including bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea, food intolerances, eczema, psoriasis, anxiety, fatigue…. the list goes on. Gut permeability has even been found in more serious conditions like inflammatory joint disease and most autoimmune disorders.

You probably find that you develop intolerances to foods you’ve previously enjoyed – all because your immune system now considers these large particles of food that got through the flyscreen as allergens. These foods will probably come up on a food intolerance test, when really what we should be thinking about testing is the health of you ‘gut flyscreen’.

This is a really big point I’d like to emphasise – the problem is often not the food – you are merely reacting to it because you have Leaky Gut.

As well as the flyscreen damage, a leaky gut is also to do with an imbalance of gut flora.

Our digestive tract is home to billions and billions of mostly happy little bacteria that live in balance with us every day. In fact, these little critters live on our skin, in our nose, ears, mouths and other (ahem!) orifices. These tiny guys outnumber our own human cells ten to one (yes, you may have already heard that we are actually more bacteria than human!)

Before you run off for the antibacterial spray, just wait up! When we have healthy gut flora (or ‘microbiome’ as is the new buzz word) it’s actually a good thing. Because they help us in so many ways!

Allow me to list a few:
  • They help us digest our food and remove wastes
  • They form part of our immune system
  • They make vitamins for us including Vitamin K and some B vitamins
  • They keep pathogenic organisms (bad guys) at bay by not giving them any room to live
  • They help repair the lining of our gut wall (you know, that flyscreen)
How does the gut become ‘leaky’?

Many medications including ibuprofen, paracetemol and the Oral Contraceptive Pill can damage the lining of your digestive tract.

Antibiotics can destroy some of your beneficial gut bacteria (who help keep your flyscreen healthy), while excess alcohol and processed foods all contribute to an imbalance in your gut flora. Eating too much gluten can be a cause for many people.

Infections can imbalance the flora in your gut and when the balance is tipped in favour of the bad guys, the flyscreen suffers.

Stress, too little sleep, eating too quickly, eating gluten, too much caffeine, lots of alcohol (sorry!), ingesting chemicals like pesticides… there are many factors that may lead to a leaky gut.

How do you fix a Leaky Gut?

The good news is that given the right attention your gut has an amazing ability to heal. The cells that line our intestines are similar to our skin cells, in that they shed regularly and are replaced with new healthy cells. So avoiding any triggers and causative factors (the list of things that I outlined above) is vital when you are healing your Leaky Gut.

There are also lots of wonderful plant extracts, foods and supplements that can help speed things up and also manage some of your symptoms.

Fixing a leaky gut does take time, generally around 3-12 months, but the results are well worth it.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog post: ‘How to heal your Leaky Gut.’ Let me know in the comments below if you think you may have a Leaky Gut – and anyone who has successfully fixed their flyscreen, please share your wisdom below, you may help someone!

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Category: Digestive health
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