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When does healthy eating become unhealthy?

Since realising I was gluten-intolerant I’ve become more conscious of everything I eat and truly believe that food is medicine.

In some sense, we really are what we eat. I have experienced first hand how changing to a gluten-free diet can be transformational. But lately I’ve become worried about some of the healthy eating advice being put out there, and thought I’d share with you my views on a healthy lifestyle.

Don’t cut out food

This seems to be a piece of advice that’s handed out very readily.

Get rid of dairy, don’t eat fat, abolish sugar from your diet. Each and every healthy eating guru seems to have a different stance about what’s poisoning our bodies. Who should we believe, and who should we follow?

I don’t cut anything out of my diet that isn’t directly linked to a health disposition. I don’t think it’s healthy or realistic. I don’t eat gluten due to health reasons and, apart from moral objections, I can’t see any other reason to never eat a particular food or food group again.

A healthy lifestyle is all about balance and knowledge. The more you understand what your body needs, the better you can feed it. Of course I don’t eat dairy in every meal and yes I try to steer away from refined sugars. But I’m aware of, and welcome, the health benefits that come from different types of food and eating them in moderation.

Vary your diet

This is something that actually makes me sad.

Food is so wonderful! There are countless cuisines across the world with exciting new flavors for us to try and to inspire our cooking. Fusions to be created, and flavor combinations to change your food world. So why, oh why, would you limit yourself to the same meals day in day out?

I’ve seen health advice that advocated having roughly 10 tried and tested healthy meals over a month repeatedly. Varying your diet is key to ensure you’re getting all the right nutrients and energy from your food. It allows you to dip in and out of different food groups and ensure you’re getting everything you need to stay healthy and happy. Don’t be afraid to be adventurous with your meal times – that’s part of the joy of eating and cooking.

No cheats or shortcuts

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been tempted by a regretful quick fix diet, or thought I’d found the secret to being healthy. But the fact is there are no shortcuts. There are no cheats. There’s no magic. This is an illusion conjured up by the weight loss industry.

Being healthy is a lifestyle, it’s not a diet. The goal of living healthily isn’t to be thin, it’s to feel nourished, energized and happy. If the dietary advice you’re following isn’t doing that, then it really isn’t worth it.

When do you think healthy eating becomes unhealthy? Let’s talk – tweet me!

How to Eat Healthily Whilst Travelling

Vacations are a time for relaxing, experiencing new cultures and getting away from your day-to-day life. Perhaps even escaping colder climes for some Winter sun.

You should return home feeling fresh, rejuvenated and educated; not exhausted and ballooned from eating terribly.

Only eating indulgently isn’t actually much of treat. It really takes a toll on your body and you could feel the repercussions for weeks. There are ways to ensure you have the best possible trip and feel great, without missing out on the good stuff.

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Plan ahead

Use forums, trip planners, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to ask questions. This is incredibly useful if, like me, you have dietary requirements that require even more thought. Being gluten-free, Vegan, Paleo or Vegetarian highlights the importance of planning even more!

Thankfully, due to a little thing known as the internet, the world is a much more connected place and people are very willing to help. You’ll find that if a restaurant is very accommodating to dietary needs and serves delicious food, it has excellent word of mouth – people want to shout about it as they had such a good experience there. Equally when you return home, you should do the same and help other wary travellers!

Pack snacks

Never leave the house without something to eat. I always travel with a combination of nuts, seeds, grapes, berries or dried fruits. Finding a local market and detouring to them before you make excursions is a must.

Being too hungry leads you to make bad decisions – an empty stomach equates to an empty head! Having snacks to tide you over may save you from opting for foods that induce sugar rush, or perhaps aren’t the best option for your gluten-free needs.

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Picnic basket    

Taking a picnic on a day trip is a fantastic was to enjoy your beautiful new surroundings and really get to know your temporary home.

Supermarkets have a lot more choice than restaurants. You can put together a healthy menu of all your favorite foods – it’s often a bit mis-matched and thrown together, but that really won’t matter. After those long walks you’ll just be desperate for some sustenance!

The healthier the picnic the more energy you’ll get from it, making your days longer and even more enjoyable.

The odd treat

There’s nothing wrong with allowing yourself a treat now and then. A couple per week is perfect, and will make it easier to maintain a healthy diet for the rest of your vacation because you won’t feel like you’re abstaining. That’s never a good feeling!

My favorite holiday treat was pistachio gelato in Portofino by the pool. It was the most amazing holiday – and such beautiful ice cream!

I’d love to hear about your travels. Get in touch on Facebook or Instagram.

Tips For The Newly Gluten-Intolerant

Going gluten-free can seem daunting. But don’t let it get you down – here are some first steps to ease you in.

There’s no getting around it, being a newly gluten-intolerant is intimidating. There’s suddenly a whole new culinary world to be introduced to, and the food you thought nourished you is in fact toxic. I understand.

Going gluten-free forced me to completely change the way I ate and cooked. It provided me with the challenge of re-working the recipes of the foods I loved into a new, healthier form. Since mastering my new lifestyle, I can safely say that going gluten-free has been an incredibly full and healing diet for me. Now I want to help you transform your life.

Know your condition

The first thing to do is educate yourself. Really research your condition, understand why your body is this way and the harm gluten has been inflicting on your life.  

It may sound cliche, but knowledge is power. Knowledge will give you the confidence and courage to start making decisions and changing your diet.

Purge

Time to take action. Rid yourself of anything in the house that is now toxic to you. This is where all your research gets put into practice. Banish bad foods and bring in fresh, healthy and inspiring ingredients.

You may also have to replace or thoroughly clean utensils and kitchen items that may have been contaminated by gluten. Although this sounds extreme, it’s really crucial that you start afresh and begin healing your body.

Plan and document

This step is so vital, and something I still do to this day.

Get used to your new lifestyle by writing meal plans. This will help you introduce new recipes, keep track of new foods you’re enjoying and gives your new diet variety.

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Something to really avoid is eating the same meal over and over. It’s so discouraging and depletes any inspiration. Trying and learning new things gives you the excitement and encouragement to keep going. Keeping a gluten-free diary can also help this, linking how you feel mentally and physically to what you’re eating soon instills your culinary habits with a certain power and responsibility. Making this diary a blog would be a great help to you – and others – if you feel like sharing your story…

Utilize social media

I cannot describe how encouraging and supportive following like-minded people on Instagram can be. Simply logging on and glancing through your feed can provide you with an array of new recipes, tips, tricks and enlightenment.

Using your own social media can help you document, as well as take pride in your beautiful dishes. Simply knowing other people are doing the same is a great comfort and helps you feel less alone. The gluten-free community is a very welcoming one; you’ll soon find your favorite accounts that continually inspire you. It’s impossible to choose my favorites, but here’s a few who’ve inspired me:

@glutenfree.followme’s Jackie makes amazing treats as well as beautifully healthy dishes. A real balance of recipes making her perfect to follow.

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@henriettainman is a fantastic account to follow for baked goods. The idea of baking when you’re new to being gluten-free can be tricky, but Henrietta makes it oh so simple.

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@georgeats I love Georgia’s Instagram. She posts the greatest travel pictures, as well as beautiful food. She’s inspired me when I’m stuck for recipes on countless occasions.

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I’d love to hear from you if you’re just starting out on your gluten-free journey! Visit me on Facebook or Instagram.

A Model’s Guide To Guilt-Free Indulgences

Eating like a model isn’t rocket science, I promise.

So many people are looking for shortcuts to what they deem the “perfect” body. Models are often a point of reference, and as a model myself I can tell you that maintaining a body that fits into sample sizes takes work.

But as a chef, I can also tell you that acquiring some simple, mindful habits with regard to your nutrition will do wonders for your health and body shape without feeling like you’re restricting the joy that preparing and sharing food brings you.

Keep refined sugar at bay

Sweet treats are fine on occasion. It’s pretty obvious from my Instagram account that I’m a big fan of baking cakes and cookies, and I have no plans to banish them from my kitchen forever. But keep them as just that – a treat.

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Too much refined sugar in the diet not only incurs the obvious health risks like weight gain and a risk of diabetes, but it affects huge energy spikes and slumps throughout the day. It can interrupt your sleep and also has a numbing effect on your tastebuds if consumed in large, daily quantities.

So, sure. Do indulge in your favourite things. But do so sparingly to really savour your favourite treats.

Make whole food versions

I’ll bet that loads of your favourite things can actually be enjoyed as whole food versions. How’s that for a guilt-free indulgence?

Replacing processed flours with wholemeal versions, refined sugars with coconut sugar, vegetable oil with coconut oil and unhealthy binding agents with mashed banana or medjool dates can help eliminate the unhealthy bits of lots of treats, ensuring they have a far better effect on the body.

Just remember, too much of anything (even healthy stuff) isn’t good for you or your body shape, so exercise moderation.

Eat what works for you

I’m gluten-free because gluten just doesn’t work for me, and I came to it through Lyme disease. Some people are coeliac and others just find that too much over-refined flour upsets their systems. But cutting gluten out is only healthy for people who suffer those reactions.

Recent health movements have begun to demonise gluten, as well as dairy and meat, and whilst I wholeheartedly applaud the move towards whole food diets and eliminating things that you find hard to digest, I think it’s important to be mindful of what works for you.

gluten free cornbread caroline byron

Bread and milk, for example, have been eaten for hundreds of years. They have health properties that, if your body happily accepts them, you probably need. So unless you have a health or moral reason for cutting them out of your diet, just consume in moderation and enjoy them. You’ll avoid mineral deficiencies that can affect you day-to-day, not to mention make your life in general a little easier!

Fast food doesn’t have to mean fatty food

When we’re busy, it’s easy to turn to fast food. I’m a huge advocate for home-cooking, but a hectic schedule just doesn’t always allow it.

Try to make these occasions a guilt-free indulgence by choosing healthier dishes, or even visiting a health inspired restaurant, many of which are popping up in my hometown of New York.

Opt for dishes with lean proteins, salads and vegetables rather than those padded out with creamy, greasy sauces and a tonne of bread, rice or deep fried accompaniments. You’ll avoid that horrible, over-full slump at the end of the meal, get your daily dose of vitamins and still get to enjoy the fact that you haven’t been slaving over the stove.

Do you have any tips to make the most of guilt-free indulgences? Tweet me!