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self care 101

5th March 2018 by Jess

If you're feeling run down this February it might be time to take a pause and indulge in some TLC.

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Food can have such a powerful affect on our health, positive and negative. Our thoughts, immune system, and every one of our bodily functions requires nutrients to fuel these processes.

Jess, graze nutritionist

We call our health challenges “symptoms” but another way of describing them could be “messages”. What if that low mood, feeling tired or unexplained headache were your body’s way of telling you to slow down, get more sleep, or that our adrenal glands were in need of some tlc?

What if the unexplained weight gain that you might have experienced over these past few months were your body’s way of flagging up that your hormones are out of balance or your liver's unhappy? What if your splitting nails, dull hair or bloating was your body’s way of saying your digestive system needs some support - be it due to a lack of good bacteria or a food intolerance?

Each of these “symptoms” is just our body trying to communicate with us; without these signs, we’d be none the wiser. What we CAN do is listen to our body and alter the way we fuel our bodies so we can nourish our body to feel our best.

Here are 3 ways to nourish your body into feeling good this winter.

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liquids

Liquids are an easy and convenient way to increase the the nutrient density of your diet.

One of the obvious winter favourites is soup. It makes a delicious lunch or a convenient and nourishing snack. Green soups, Asian-style broths, a classic vegetable soup and of course organic chicken soup are all great options, but one way to supercharge them is to use bone broth, made from organic bones, as the base.

Opt for a supercharged smoothie. Add blueberries, raspberries or blackcurrants — all great sources of the essential immune booster, vitamin C. Making a morning smoothie means you start your day with a few nutritional boosts. However, you may notice as the temperature cools, your desire for warm food increases, so soups might be your go-to during the cooler months.

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SLEEP

A lack of sleep can increase inflammation, which in turn is a risk factor for type-2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and poor digestive health. Not to mention what it does to your mood and appetite (hello, 10am coffee and pastry and coffee and 3pm chocolate bar!)

Whilst this second tip isn’t ‘foodie’ as such, what you eat or drink will affect your sleep.

Typically sleep problems fall into two categories: trouble getting to sleep and trouble staying asleep. Here are three foodie things you can do to enhance your ability to fall and stay asleep:

  1. Meal size - Pay attention to whether you sleep better when you have a smaller meal for dinner and try omitting spicy food in the evenings and eating smaller portions. Eating a heavy, rich meal late at night takes longer to digest, so your body is busy with the digestive process and indigestion, rather than relaxing and helping you to get to sleep. Try eating smaller portions.

  2. Alcohol - Alcohol is another substance to be mindful of. It tends to make you feel sleepy but often results in a 2-3am wake up call, disrupting some of the deepest sleep stages you will have through the night. Alcohol disrupts REM (rapid eye movement) sleep which is the fourth part of our sleep cycle and when critical repair work is done inside our body. _Try abstaining from alcohol for a period of time. _

  3. Caffeine - If you consume caffeine, keep consumption to a minimum (stick to one coffee if you can) and remember that caffeine can stay in the body for around eight hours. _Try to avoid drinking it after midday at the latest. _

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MOVE

If physical exercise were a pill, everyone would take it! When you look at the list of benefits attributed to regular movement it would be astonishing to find anything that even came close to what movement imparts. From a decreased risk of many cancers, to improved heart health and increased longevity – the list literally goes on and on. And that’s not even getting started on the positive effects it has on mood, energy, clarity of thought, even libido.

When it comes to movement, one of the most important things that people fail to understand is that everybody is different; a type of exercise that works for one person may not work for you, both from an enjoyment perspective as well as the health benefits it shares.

Foodie-wise, make sure you’re replenishing your body adequately throughout the day to ensure you’re getting in the right blend of nutrition to power your workout.

If you don't nourish your body around your workouts then you'll likely feel depleted energetically and emotionally which will have a negative effect on your health, rather than the desired and deserved positive one.

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By Jess, graze nutritionist.

Our nutritionist extraordinaire, Jess trained at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition and is a registered practitioner with the British Association for Applied Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She's the creator of our health badges, to help you choose the snacks and boxes that are right for you. Check out everything from Jess on our blog, with recipes and tricks to help you keep making better choices, or go to Jess's blog at jessipes.co.uk for even more.

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