Beauty comes from within, so every beauty regime should start with a nutritious diet. RESCU caught up with certified Holistic Health Coach, Hatha Yoga Teacher, whole-foods chef and author Lee Holmes for her top tips on how to maintain optimum health.
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RESCU: What made you decide to give your diet an overhaul?
Lee Holmes: I was suffering from a non-specific auto immune problem and fibromyalgia which is a rheumatic condition very similar to arthritis, whereby it causes wide spread muscle and soft tissue pain throughout the body and extreme fatigue. I gave my diet an overhaul so I could see whether I could use food as medicine to heal myself and I discovered a new way of eating that achieved really great results. I then created my website so I could share my recipe creations with others.
RESCU: Tell us a little about how our diet can make us more beautiful
Lee Holmes: I believe that foods play a large part in how you feel and when you feel good you tend to look good on the outside as well. What you put into your body certainly shows on the outside for example eating a diet which includes fresh and unprocessed foods and steering clear of too much alcohol, sugar, processed foods and coffee you’ll really start to notice that your skin is looking more radiant, your hair is thicker and shinier and your eyes look more clear, the best thing about eating real foods is that you’ll have more energy and vitality as well. There are so many beneficial vitamins and minerals and anti-oxidants in every day foods that you can really benefit from internally and externally as well. Eat Yourself Beautiful is not about having perfect features, on the contrary, it’s about looking after yourself through a good diet and also having a positive relationship with food. I believe that looking good on the outside is more about the way you feel about yourself inside, so being more mindful about what you are eating and how you are treating your body is a big part of being beautiful.
RESCU: What foods do you always keep in the cupboard?
– Spinach: It’s bursting with health benefits, it contains many phytonutrients and antioxidants, including vitamins K, C and E, folate, iron and carotenoids.
– Sardines: They’re high in omega-3 fatty acids, they contain almost no mercury and are loaded with minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
– Garlic: Because it promotes the growth of white blood cells, the body’s natural germ fighters. Both fresh and dried garlic have been shown to lower harmful LDL cholesterol and high blood pressure.
RESCU: When it comes to feeding your family, what are the negotiables and where can we be a little more lenient with their diets? We know how hard it can be to steer them away from sugar at parties!
Lee Holmes: Feeding the family can be a real chore if everything wants something different and you have a houseful of fussy eaters. Some negotiables are getting the family to eat slightly healthier versions of yummy meals, for example the family can still indulge in pizza, just maybe sneak in a few veggies in the topping or make the base with almond meal. I think it’s important to follow the 80/20 rule, eat well 80% of the time and indulge 20% of the time otherwise you can develop an unhealthy relationship with food if your diet is too clean. If you’re going for chocolate look for over 70% cacao or try and swap out a healthy version of a treat you like. You don’t have to abstain from it altogether sometimes it’s healthy to indulge.
I have a few tips on how to make healthier versions of family meals in my Supercharged Food for Kids e-book. For example making popsicles and mini frozen treats as a healthier alternative to supermarket ice cream. Kids absolutely love icy treats. All you need to do is fill a popsicle/icy pole mould with blended fruit and coconut milk. Freeze concoctions in smaller portions by using your everyday ice cube mould, and present them to your kids as ‘ice lollies’. They won’t even notice the difference between your homemade goods and the chemically laden icy poles at the corner store. I;ve got a lot of healthy party food ideas in there too.
RESCU: Give us three health myths you find yourself constantly busting
1. That low fat food is healthy– it’s often loaded with sugar and additives and chemicals to enhance the taste.
2. That eggs are bad for you. Eggs are a true beauty food and a great source of iron that will help you skin glow and prevent dark circles around the eyes. They are also fantastic for promoting luscious shiny hair because of the biotin that they contain. Egg yolks are an especially good source of choline, a B-vitamin that plays important roles in everything from neurotransmitter production to detoxification to maintenance of healthy cells.
3. That all fats are bad for you. Not all fats are bad for you. In my book I talk about which fats to eat and which ones to avoid. Good fats such as extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil are the best ways to achieve beautiful and radiant skin. Fats provide energy and are essential for cell rejuvenation and hormone production. They also help us assimilate vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fat is essential in converting carotene to vitamin A, and is vital for many other processes within a healthy body.
RESCU: Total diet overhauls can be incredibly hard — what top three tips would you give someone who wants to clean up their diet, but is struggling to make the necessary changes?
Lee Holmes: Before I mention the tips I would say that you need to go gently with yourself and make changes in your own time as everyone is different and there is no one size fits all approach to food. Supercharged food isn’t about totally overhauling your diet. It’s about making small changes every day that work for you and finding the foods that feed you.
1. Flavour up your dishes. Adding a variety of herbs and spices to your pantry will not only pump up the flavour of your favourite meals, but will provide powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. Turmeric in particular has been recognised by scientists to hold incredible anti-inflammatory effects due to its active ingredient; curcumin. Recent studies signify that the curcumin found in turmeric increases LDL receptor expression. Poor LDL receptor activity can leave LDL particles open and vulnerable to oxidisation from inflammatory responses including the presence of AGE’s, leading to a range of chronic diseases. Turmeric has the ability to protect fats against oxidisation during the cooking process, as well as shielding the body against oxidative stress once the cooked meal has been consumed. Turmeric can be bought fresh, or dried in the form of a powder, and is a perfect ingredient to add to soups, curries, and Indian style dishes.
2. Make breakfast the most powerful meal of your day: Instead of your packaged cereal, add a handful of walnuts, almonds and brazil nuts, flaxseed, chia seeds and almond milk and top it off with a handful of berries. Eating a variety of different coloured berries will expose your cells to the multitude of different antioxidants that they all have to offer. Add different varieties of fresh organic berries to breakfasts or simply as a snack to detoxify the kidneys, cleanse the blood, and pack a giant antioxidant punch that’ll delay the ageing process and decrease inflammation.
3. Do swap outs. Say no to unhealthy spreads and margarines and instead use real butter, avocado or nut butters and indulge in good fats. Omega-3 fats help reduce inflammation in the body, which researchers have touted to be a driving force behind chronic disease. Their studies reveal that Omega 3 fatty acids promote healthy levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, support normal blood pressure and help maintain healthy circulation and blood vessels. Sources of omega-3s include fish oil from salmon, tuna, halibut, mackerel, sardines, herring and other cold-water species. Omega-3s are responsible for skin repair, moisture content and skin elasticity. The EFA’s found in cold water fish have also been found to reduce ageing in the skin by offering protection against the damaging radiation emitted from the sun, as well as offering a range of anti-inflammatory benefits that help keep the complexion clear of skin disorders that can age and cause permanent damage to skin tissue.
RESCU: There’s been a big push towards juices and smoothies in the last few years — are they really all that? If so, why?
Lee Holmes: Some are all that and some are not so much! It really depends on how they are made, if you go overboard on fruit then that’s a heap of sugar going directly into your system, not to mention adding sugary frozen yogurt and a dollop of honey, and lots of people tend to add synthetic protein powders and soy products. I prefer to leave most fruits out of my smoothies apart from berries. My juicer comes in handy, particularly in the mornings when I make a nutritious green smoothie on the run I call it my cocktail of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients and enzymes that will be able to penetrate my bloodstream within minutes. The reason I prefer green juices is because they cleanse, purify and oxygenate the blood; increasing circulation and flushing harmful toxins from your organs. When you’re making your green juice adding herbs such as parsley and coriander will really supercharge your juice’s detoxification capabilities. Coriander binds with heavy metals; releasing them from the body and parsley contains potent amounts of chlorophyll which is known for cleansing the entire system, including the skin. I like to base my green juice on less bitter greens like cucumber and celery, and then add a little lemon or lime to the juice or add coconut water will help give you a sweeter flavour.
RESCU: We’re always hearing about new superfoods, but so often these are expensive and hard to get a hold of. Which superfoods for health and beauty won’t break the bank?
Lee Holmes: A superfood doesn’t have to be hand-picked by natives in the wilds of the Congo or come from the far corners of a tropical rain forest or have a strange name like camu camu or macca powder for it to be effective. I believe in adding everyday flavoursome foods such as garlic, onions, olive oil, lemons, tomatoes, nuts, wild salmon, spinach and kale to your menus and create delicious feasts which not only taste amazing but will also be providing you with long term health benefits.
RESCU: Do you have any advice for how to avoid nasties when eating out?
Lee Holmes: When you are eating out, don’t be afraid to ask what is in certain dishes, if you’re out at Thai you can ask for the meal to be served without MSG or palm sugar, I have found that most of the time restaurants are very accommodating especially if you have certain dietary restrictions.
RESCU: And finally, what does your day on a plate look like?
Lee Holmes: It looks very green and supercharged!
I start the day with a green smoothie and a supercharged breakfast bar with flaxseed sunflower and almond, or if I’m feeling hungry I’ll have a bowl of cranberry and walnut granola with almond milk or my favourite smashed sardines with avocado on chia and flaxseed loaf. I love tea so I’ll also have a dandy tea or licorice tea.
At lunch time I usually had left-overs from the night before or a soup or salad with sardines or salmon.
For dinner I indulge in Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Mash or slow cooked lamb shanks or Supercharged Lasagne.
If I’m hungry throughout the day I’ll snack on Seanuts or kale chips or home made chocolate.
As you can see I don’t go hungry!
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