Outsmart Your Sweet Tooth

Too much sugar can increase your chances of heart disease, diabetes, tooth decay, high blood pressure and even upset your sleeping patterns. It can also cause added weight gain and be harmful to the gut microbiome, which affects everything from digestion to depression.

Next time a craving strikes you, squash it with these tips.

1. Keep meals regularly scheduled

The worst thing you can do is let yourself get so hungry that you lose all control over your next food choice. So plan ahead, make sure you are not skipping meals.

2. Keep you meals diverse

Often people crave sugar because of imbalanced meals.  Meals may lack fiber to keep you physically full or they can be low in protein to keep you satiated. Meals can also lack omega 3’s and micronutrients. All the macro- and micro- nutrients work together to keep your blood sugar stabilized and keep us satiated. this prevents sugar cravings. include more salad/ veg or green juices.

3. Eat naturally sweet snacks

When a craving hits, instead of running for the sweet drawer try something that will give you fuel. For example try making a trail mix with almonds, dried fruit, and a few cocoa nibs or see recipes here for date balls.

4. Get good quality sleep

It may seem unrelated to some, but the amount of sleep you get directly correlates with sugar cravings. We’ve all been there. You didn’t get a great night sleep, but you need to be productive the next day, so you depend on caffeine and sugar for a boost. It works in the short-term, but long-term it leads to a energy slumps and weight gain.

5. Keep hydrated

We often confuse our thirst for hunger, so before you grab the processed snack, drink a bottle of water, sparkling water or tea and see how you feel.

See our lovely recipes here for sugar free options

Food prevents disease

Perhaps more than anything else in our lives, the foods we regularly eat help determine whether or not we will become ill, or remain healthy into older age. Whether vegetables, fruit, meat, oils or grains, foods contain influential substances including antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, fiber and much more.

Some of the ways food prevents disease include:

Decreasing inflammation – Inflammation is the body’s attempt to heal itself after an injury, defend itself against foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria, and repair damaged tissue. Its job is to heal, but in many cases, it also contributes to chronic diseases.

  • Foods that decrease inflammation: tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collards, nuts like almonds and walnuts, fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines. fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges.

Balancing hormones – Abnormal changes to your hormones can lead to accelerated aging, diabetes, obesity, fatigue, depression, low mental capacity, reproductive problems, and an array of autoimmune diseases.

  • Foods that balance hormones: protein such as chicken, fish, eggs, healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avo, olive oil and green tea.

Balancing blood glucose levels – Poorly managed blood sugar levels can cause cravings, fatigue, neurological damage, mood disorders, hormonal imbalances, and more.

  • Foods that balance blood glucose: vegetables, melon or berries, higher-fiber foods: beans, brown rice, sweet potato, butternut and lean protein like chicken and fish.

Eliminating toxins – In modern society, we are bombarded by chemicals from our diet and environment. Toxicity contributes to inflammation, autoimmune diseases, infertility, hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, etc.

  • Foods that eliminate toxins: greens such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, green tea, beans 

Black Bean Brownies

My family LOVES brownies, so I decided to make them a “healthier” version of a brownie that tastes as DELICIOUS. Don’t believe me? 😊

Then try these Black bean brownies, the trick is to serve them first and then reveal the secret ingredient 🤫

Ingredients

– 1/2 cups black beans (drained and rinsed well)
– 2 tbsp cocoa powder
– 1/2 cup quick oats
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1/3 cup honey or agave
– 1/4 cup coconut oil
– 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
– 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 1/2 cup crushed almonds (more for presentation)
*you can add coconut, nuts, cacoa nibs etc.

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180’C.
2. Combine all ingredients, except the nuts in a blender, I used my nutribullet.
3. Once blended and smooth, stir in the crushed nuts. Then pour into a greased 8×8 pan.
4. Cook the brownies for 15-18 and then let it cool for 10 minutes before trying to cut it.

ENJOY 😉

Success Story- Lihana – “Its not a diet, its a lifestyle”

Lihana has done amazing in her weight loss journey following her personalized meal plan, she has been so positive and determined from the start, to take charge of her health. Lihana shares her journey and what she has learnt through this amazing and inspiring transformation!

Kirby: How much weight have you lost in total?
Lihana: I weighed 79.9kg when I came to you, I now weigh 71.7kg. A total of around 8.2kg in 4 months.

Kirby: What was the most difficult part of the diet plan?
Lihana: I am a mom of a 3 year old and it is so easy to lose yourself in motherhood, work and being a wife. I have tried all types of diets and nothing was sustainable. In my mind I was quite healthy but I came to the realization that I actually don’t eat a lot, but when I do I eat all the wrong types of food. The biggest challenge was the mindset change and to realise that this will not be a quick fix but a LIFESTYLE. I had to decide to do this for me and in that way I can be an example to my daughter, of how to be healthy and it does not have to cost you a fortune to cook nutritious meals.

Kirby: What was the easiest part of this journey?
Lihana: The easiest part was the weigh in sessions with you as the anticipation of your results can be quite exciting.

Kirby: Can you share some tips and give advice to others in your shoes, just starting the diet plan?
Lihana: Do not see it as a diet, this must be a lifestyle change. You must do it for yourself and you will not lose the weight in one week, you definitely did not pick the up weight overnight. ALWAYS remember where you started and that will make the end result so worth it. Every kg, cm and body fat % I lost was like a brick off my shoulders.

I feel great and I cant wait to cook myself healthy real food! I actually eat a lot these days but I love every meal. Stay true to yourself and don’t overthink it JUST DO IT! 🙂

I am so glad I got to meet Kirby from Alex Royal Dietetics. She has guided me and supported me all the way.

Success Story- Ismail shares his journey to weight loss

One of my most determined and motivated clients, Ismail, has done exceptionally in his weight loss journey following his meal plan, losing 47kg. He shares his journey and what he has learnt through this amazing and inspiring transformation!

 

Kirby: How much weight have you lost in total?

Ismail: I was at 164kg, my heaviest just before I came to see you. I am currently around 117kg and my aim is to get into the double figures soon.

Kirby: What was the most difficult part of the diet plan?

Ismail: When I came to you I was in the process of doing some soul searching and trying to understand where I wanted to be in terms of my weight. The difficult part was realizing what my bad habits were and sometimes still are, and to understand what the food does for me and to me. With the help of the consultations and knowledgeable advice you gave me – I started to understand the situation I was in and I could then reflect seriously on what I wanted from my life. The difficult parts were removing the years of bad eating habits and changing it into a healthier way of eating, this is still a learning curve for me. The discipline in learning how to cook nutritious meals for myself was key in breaking those old bad habits. I always remind myself to have more veggies and salad and to start filling my plate with those first! I found it difficult in the beginning to get into a regular routine of exercise and to maintain the momentum of working on my weight, staying on a good eating plan, and working on my emotional self in order to attain my goals.

Kirby: What was the easiest?

Ismail: The easiest part was coming to my consultations and feeling relaxed and knowing that this is my journey to many little goals during my weight loss.

Kirby: Can you share some tips and give advice to others in your shoes, just starting the diet plan?

Ismail: Sometimes the road ahead seems like a mountain, but by taking it one day and one meal at a time, is the first healing steps. Get to know yourself and to love yourself and make little changes to improve your health and weight.

Keep it up Ismail !!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple Crumble

All About the Whale Trail

I was fortunate enough to do one of the best hiking trails South Africa has to offer!

If you love hiking and appreciate the outdoors, then the Whale trail is a MUST. It is a five day, 56km slack-packing trail through the De Hoop Nature Reserve that introduces you to some of the most beautiful scenery along the Western Cape coastline. The route from Potberg mountain to Koppie Alleen includes five overnight stops. The distance to each overnight cabin differs each day from easy to strenuous and takes approximately 4-8 hours of hiking per day.

What added to the atmosphere was the fact that this hike could cater for up to 12 people sharing. I met some amazing people who joined me on this incredible experience. Knowing this, I would suggest if you planning on going, you need to book in advanced because of the space limitation.

In order to enjoy the full extend of this amazing adventure, one needs to take the true sense of mother nature into consideration! In saying that, you should not be squeamish when it comes to mice or crickets or other bugs, as you would expect being out in the wild! Being in the nature reserve, we had to adhere to letting them roam as free as they like without harming them, and leave the food pyramid to its own devices. Snakes were pretty common too, as we saw the infamous Cape Cobra as well as the Berg Adder which was both scary and amazing at the same time! At one point, I had a meeting with the one Cape Cobra as it decided it wanted to introduce itself across my path. Bird life is incredible, having had an opportunity to see the Fish eagle and our countries National bird. Overall, you can expect to be greeted with a vast range of wild life. Unfortunately we didn’t see any whales, as whale season ended in August/October.

What to eat

What made this hike even more enjoyable was that your food and clothes were transported to each hut which made exploring nature just that much easier and exciting as you only carry your day pack. When it comes to food, avoid things that needs refrigeration, so preparation is key, as only the first hut had a fridge available.

Make sure you carefully plan your meals and snacks, these are essential for keeping your energy levels up while hiking.

Snacks

I wanted quick and easy snacks to keep me going throughout the hike which included:

  • A energy bar e.g. fututrelife lite – make sure that the sugar content is low
  • Nut butter/ nuts/ trail mix
  • 1-2 fruits (I always had fruit in my bag, I love my fruit and would always start off with a fruit)
  • Handful of mints
  • Biltong

Breakfast

  • Keep breakfast simple, you could have eggs, however I preferred a bowl of cooked oats topped with dried cranberries. This breakfast was quick, easy and kept me going for a couple hours.

Lunch/Dinner

  • I decided that the easiest thing to do was braai and have leftovers for lunch, which worked out quite well and saved a lot of time, this included:
    • Boiled baby potatoes and corn on the cob
    • Salad that was easy to travel with e.g. cucumber, cherry tomatoes, gherkins and onion etc.
    • And a variation of protein e.g. mostly chicken and some red meat, I prepacked the protein into vacuum sealed bags (this is key as your meat can go off by day 4-5) and kept it frozen in a mini cooler box that fitted in our portage.

I love my beans and fish, so it was a bit of a struggle having chicken and red meat everyday, so I quickly started craving fish. I promised myself to enjoy some lovely sashimi after and I have been eating fish everyday since!

What to pack

I found a check list to be quite helpful, as space is limited and you don’t want to forget your most important items:

  • Bed sheet
  • Sleeping bag
  • Hiking shoes
  • Water
  • Binoculars
  • Mask and snorkel
  • Matches
  • Torch
  • Hats
  • Sandals
  • Washing liquid and dish clothes + cutlery (it was provided
    but I packed in just in case)
  • Mosquito repellent or cream
  • Towel
  • Toilet paper (this was provided)
  • Small medical kit
  • Water boots
  • Clothes
  • Sunscreen (preferably higher than SPF 20)

MORE TIPS…

1.Use Ziplock bags

Pack dry food, like oats or trail mix, into ziplock bags. Ziplock bags work well and can double up as trash bags afterwards.2. Wear a hat

2. Wear a hat

It is important to bring a hat to keep your ears and face protected from the sun. The tops of your ears and back of your neck are highly susceptible to getting burned while on the trail, so either get some sunscreen and or wear a hat that keeps them covered, I used both.

3. Sunscreen

If it’s sunny outside and you’re hiking up a mountain with a cool breeze in your face, you probably won’t be able to tell that your ears and face are getting absolutely burned.  Get yourself some waterproof sunscreen (I recommend SPF 50) to cover up those ears, cheeks, and back of your neck.

4. Sunglasses

Sunglasses is a MUST, I used polarized sunglasses.

5. Cellphone

I would suggest you pack your phone away and enjoy nature, there is limited reception throughout the trail, so all we used our phones for was taking beautiful pictures of the scenery, also there is limited space to charge your phone at each hut depending on your group size. I would suggest bringing along a power bank if you have one.

6. Keep hydrated

Always make sure you are keeping well hydrated, we went through 2-3L water while hiking, we were lucky to have great sunny weather but you sweat a lot in this warm weather. Its a good idea to add re-hydrate to one of your water bottles to replenish your electrolytes.

The Ketogenic Diet: What its all about…

In case you missed Kirby’s interview on Heart Radio Station, see Q&A below…

What is a keto diet?

The keto diet is a very high fat (70-80% of total calories), extremely low carb (less than 80g but can be reduced to 20-30g per day), moderate protein diet.

What is ketosis?

The idea is that when you deprive your body especially your brain of its primary fuel source (carbohydrates -starchy veg, all grains, all sources of sugar or fruit) it forces the body to use an alternative fuel source, fat for energy instead. This causes the body to produce something called ketones. These are chemicals made by the liver that can be used by cells for energy. When you are in this state, it’s called being in ketosis.

Is a keto diet safe?

A ketogenic diet could be an interesting alternative to treat certain conditions, and may accelerate weight loss. But it is hard to follow and it can be heavy on red meat and other fatty, processed, and salty foods that are notoriously unhealthy. We also do not know much about its long-term effects, probably because it’s so hard to stick with that people can’t eat this way for a long time, so we need more evidence to fully understand long term effects.

How do you know when your body is in ketosis?

Once ketone levels in the blood rise to a certain point, which you can test with a urine dipstick. This also depends on how strict you limit your carbs as well as other factors: genetics, medical history, body composition, energy needs.

What foods can you eat on a keto diet?

A few examples include:

Fats- olive oil, coconut oil, grass fed butter, lard, some nuts and seeds, avo.

Veg- cruciferous, leafy greens, asparagus, cucumber, zucchini etc.

Protein- grass fed meat, poultry, eggs, bone broth, wild caught fish, organ meats, some full fat dairy.

Is a keto diet safe for the kidneys? -do you have an answer to this one?

It should be, if done correctly as you are not increasing your protein at all. The concern is more the liver, heart and arteries.

Is ketosis safe for diabetics?

Ketosis has been shown to improve blood sugar control in patients with type 2 diabetes at least in the short term. *no long term studies have concluded this, more research is required.

What can you drink on the keto diet?

  • Water
  • Unsweetened coffee+tea
  • Bone broth
  • Bullet proof coffee
  • Kombucha
  • Kefir

Fasting Mimicking Diet… to fast or not to fast?

Fasting has been on everyone’s ‘to try’ list, probably just below Banting. But how healthy is fasting really? Before hitting you with the good stuff, it is important to be aware that there are many different ways in which one can fast.

The various fasting types:

  1. Time Restricted Feeding (TRF): TRF is when food is ingested in a certain period of time during the day and the person refrains from eating for the other part of the day.
  2. Intermittent fasting/Alternate day fasting: Fasting on less than 500 calories for women or less than 600 calories for men for two non-consecutive days a week.
  3. Short term fasting: <3 consecutive days
  4. Prolonged term fasting (also referred to as the Fasting Mimicking Diet): fasting with food for 4-7 days

Each type of fast has its benefits but only the prolonged fasting causes changes on a cellular level.

Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD)

The FMD, designed by Professor Valter Longo at the Longevity Institute of the University of Southern California is a controlled fast (this is important to note!) that lasts anywhere from 4-7 days. The FMD is a calorie restricted (ranging from about 1100kCal to 750kCal as the fast goes on), plant-based diet.

FMD improves levels of:

  • Fasting glucose
  • C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation
  • Insulin-like growth factor 1, a marker associated with increased mortality and DNA damage in cells
  • Stem cells and regenerative markers

And has been proven to promote longevity, overall health, and reduce excess fat. Sounds good right? This type of fasting is fairly new but so far has seen amazing outcomes. Research has shown that doing a FMD once monthly will reprogram the body into a regenerating and rejuvenating mode, resulting in long-term reduction of IGF-1, glucose and markers of inflammation and aging (only in subjects with high levels of these markers).

If your goal is purely weight loss, this might not be the diet for you but in terms of the benefits, it is worth looking into.

NOTE: FMD is a controlled diet and shouldn’t be attempted without the guidance of a health care practitioner.

 

Breast Cancer, our Genes and Diet

October is Breast Cancer awareness month and there is no doubt that you have seen a parade of lovely women wearing a little pink ribbon at some point throughout the past 4 weeks. According to the latest research, breast cancer has the highest incidence in South African women. Knowing it can affect you, your mom, your sister or your friend makes it vastly important to be aware of what can increase your risk of developing breast cancer and knowing how to screen yourself properly.

Do our genes impact our risk of developing breast cancer?

Up to 10% of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary. Most inherited cases of breast cancer are associated with two abnormal genes: BRCA1 (BReast CAncer gene one) and BRCA2 (BReast CAncer gene two). Everyone has these genes and their function is to repair cell damage and keep breast and ovarian cells growing normally. If these genes have mutations or abnormalities, your risk of developing breast cancer increases.

It is important to note that having an abnormal BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 doesn’t mean you WILL develop breast cancer. There are many other genes that come into play as well as diet, lifestyle, environmental toxins, stress and previous trauma. If you are thinking of having your genes tested, it is highly recommended to see a genetic counselor before.

Can our diet protect us from developing breast cancer?

A diet rich in vitamin D, anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory foods can have a protective effect. The avoidance of saturated fats, refined carbohydrates and sugars will also impact your overall health. There is more to it than the types of food you are choosing to eat; it is also important to avoid processed foods, pesticides, braai’d or barbecued meats and anything cured or smoked.

Fruits, vegetables, grains, eggs, fish, chicken, lean meats and healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds will ensure you are getting in a variety of nutrients allowing your immune system to function on all cylinders.

Do environmental factors play a role?

The reality is, women tend to be more overweight than ever before, oral contraceptives are seen to be the norm, we live a sedentary lifestyle indoors getting minimal sun exposure (and thus, too little Vitamin D), smoking is a go-to for teens, stress levels are soaring while sleep is non-existent, and the food we are eating has become even more processed and sugar-laden. All these factors increase our chances of developing not only breast cancer, but a host of different diseases.

These problems sound easy to fix yet health is still not a priority for many. Download the Breast Cancer Organisation’s Think Pink, Live Green document on 31 risk-reducing steps you can put it action today.

How to do a breast self-exam:

Click here to learn how to examine your own breasts. Early detection is vital. If you want to know more about gene testing – read our Gene Testing FAQ blog.

Book your appointment for gene testing now