Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I spend a bit of time browsing the internet, my usual search tags being natural health, fitness, vegan, exercise, just to see what comes up.
Recently I found a great vegan blog on which I found a recipe for home made 'healthy' chocolate chips. The only ingredients were cocoa powder, carob powder, agave nectar, coconut oil and vanilla essence. I thought, I have everything in the cupboard! So I pretty much went straight to the kitchen to give it a go.
Instead of using carob I used organic raw cacao powder which is naturally sweeter than carob or normal cocoa powder (my agave and coconut oil happened to be organic too). Basically you mix all the ingredients together and then flatten it out and freeze it. Then you can cut the chocolate up into whatever size bits you want.
Let me tell you, it was fantastic. Even Josh was devouring it! And you don't need to feel as guilty as if you were eating a chocolate bar. If you have it in moderation you don't need to feel guilty at all! It was so easy as well.
I plan on making another batch and having a taste tester at work next Tuesday (our big discount day so it gets really busy).
If you want the recipe go here.
This is an unprofessional, unquality photo of how mine looked - you can still see the deliciousness though!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Looking After Your Biggest Organ.

When I was in my young teenage years getting all the unsightly skin problems normal teenagers do, it seemed like it was all about what product you were using on your face. Cleanser? Toner? Moisturiser? Night Cream? Blemish Control Gel? And if you didn't use them all then 'no wonder you have pimples!'

Now that makes me cringe. I've developed more ideas as to what makes 'healthy skin', and lathering your skin with chemicals twice a day isn't on the list. Good hygiene is important but to get great, healthy skin you need to work from the inside out.

Obviously hormones play the major role in acne during teenage years (and no blemish control stick will bring hormones under control). Teenagers with severe acne usually have an excess of androgen hormones, and an effective, natural androgen modulator is a combination of licorice and peony which you could get from anywhere with a herbal dispensary.

There are two main treatments for severe acne from GP's; Roaccutane and the pill (with included cyproterone acetate). Roaccutane is not something that I would ever want to ingest, one of those medications that falls into the category of their side effects being worse than what they were used to treat in the first place. None the less, I will say that it is effective.

In my opinion, you can control your skin (in teenage years and later on down the track) almost entirely with diet. Here are a few things from a naturopathic perspective to keep in mind when trying to achieve healthy looking skin:

-Keep a low GI diet. A low glycaemic index diet has been proven to reduce acne (even in teenagers with raging hormones).

-Drink 2L of water a day, helping to flush out potential toxins and to help your skin from drying out (also see below essential fatty acids).

-Consume antioxidants (like green tea, berries, sprouts). In your average 'night cream', they will usually put in some vitamin E as an antioxidant so they can claim anti-aging benefits. Antioxidants work just as well (even better) coming from the inside and will help to reduce wrinkle onset.

-Put some chlorophyll in your water - also great for eliminating toxins on a day to day basis.

-Don't eat greasy deep fried foods. Josh says that every time he eats KFC he will get a pimple, no exception. It's not really surprising, as eating oily foods will increase the amount of free fatty acids circulating the system (and subsequently coming out your sebaceous glands).

-Include essential fatty acids in your diet. Now this just gets confusing, because I just told you not to have oily foods, now I'm saying DO have oily foods. The difference is the type of oil. Really basically, if your sebaceous glands make sebum (the natural skin oil) with the type of oil that they get from say, deep fried foods, it can irritate the skin. If they produce the sebum with the type of oil they get from things like salmon, linseeds and olives, then it will have a calming effect on the skin. As a supplemental essential fatty acid I like Udo's 3-6-9 Blend.

-Get sweaty! Exercising (or alternatively, hanging out in a sauna a few times a week) is great for the skin because you sweat out all the toxins that can be held in the skin. But remember to drink extra water if you do this.

As far as using products goes, I always wash my face with a face washer, and about 3 times a week I use a natural cleanser on it. If I notice that I'm getting a bit of dry skin I'll also use a natural exfolliant. For moisturiser I use pure organic rose hip oil which I absolutely love, but I know that not everyone can get away with putting straight oil on their skin, it's just that mine tends towards dry rather than oily.

I would say that if you have 'problem skin' and followed everything I've mentioned above pretty strictly, I could almost guarantee you will see a difference in your skin.


Monday, May 23, 2011

I Can Smell Like Daisies If I Want To.

I was browsing the internet recently and found an interesting article on chemicals used in perfumes, which I found intriguing because it's something I don't normally think about, even though I use other natural hair and skincare. I don't wear perfume everyday (more like once a week). but when I do I spray without thinking.
Maybe it's because perfumes don't list their ingredients so it's 'out of sight out of mind'. Maybe it's because you very rarely see perfumes labelled 'natural ingredients', so there isn't an obvious choice between the two.

Bur honestly, what ISN'T bad for you?? I feel like if we did absolutely everything 'right' our quality of life, whilst we'd be healthy and chemical free, would be impaired. Obviously we can't all live in grass huts and survive off whatever is growing or moving in the back yard.

So then you reach a point, where it gets to All the fun things in life vs being healthy and setting yourself up for reaching old age without having cancer or dementia or auto-immune diseases or anything else unsightly.

By now you might be thinking, holy moley it's only perfume!

But for me it's all about compromising. Where I can make something better in my life and not feel like I'm missing out, I will. Like using natural cleaning products. But when something I like has bad aspects (like perfume or nail polish, all the fun girly things), I figure that I've changed other things in my life enough that they can compensate for the bright red fingernails.


Friday, May 20, 2011


I am writing this blog in the last 1.5 hours of being a participant of Live Below the Line and living off $2 of food for 5 days. My diet has consisted of plain oats with water for breakfast, rice with sweet potato and a small apple for lunch, barley, lentils and split peas for dinner and 2 green teas a day. Surprisingly (for me) I haven't been hungry, but I have been craving so much junk food, not because I need it, but because... well... I'm actually not sure why, but I think it's because once you take something away from someone, even if they didn't really need it in the first place, it makes them want it more.

The food I've been eating has tasted really bland, and I find myself eating not for enjoyment but for satiety. That made me think how much I really centre my life around food (to which anyone who knows me well can attest) and eating for pleasure, so to speak.

I can't say that I've enjoyed the last 5 days, but I will say that it has taught me a lesson that I'm going to try to keep with me.

When eating meals alone, try to keep it simple, nutritious and well proportioned. Eat for the vitamins, minerals and energy. Save the extravagant meals for when you're dining out or having friends over for a meal.

Know when you are hungry and when you're eating just for the sake of it.

At 7pm, I will be allowed to again eat whatever I want, but instead of having a big feast (which I am tempted to do, trust me), I'm going to break my diet with a simple cup of tea and a biscuit. And then dinner. But I will be trying not to undo the focus that I've been able to have for the last 5 days.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Don't Worry, Be Happy.

I've always associated happiness with healthiness. This doesn't mean that if you're healthy, you're happy or vice versa, but that happiness is a component of being healthy. If I'm not happy, I don't feel like I'm healthy.

It comes down to more than that though. If you aren't happy (as in, happy in your current life, not hung up on jealousy, having a positive outlook...etc), it can influence you to make bad 'health' choices. We've all heard of comfort food, right?

Stress causes many health issues. On a larger scale, it can be attributed to quite serious conditions such as stomach ulcers and heart attacks. On a scale more close to home, it can cause headaches, fatigue, digestive symptoms (even symptoms similar to IBS) and a low-functioning immune system.

It's all very well to say stress causes all these things, but it's not like you can say 'avoid stress', like it's as easy as avoiding dairy or eggs.

We are all exposed to stress and stressful situations (for the moment I'm talking more mentally than physically). It isn't 'who has the least stressful life', it is 'who deals with their stress the best'?

Meditation can sound like a 'hippy word', but it can be as simple as being aware of your own thoughts and trying to channel them into calm, positive thoughts. When you find yourself obsessing and worrying over an assignment, an argument with someone or a deadline you need to reach, STOP. Take a deep breath. Ask yourself, 'what can I do about it?'. If the answer is nothing, then move on. What is the point of it taking up your time?

If you can think of something you can do to make the problem better, then do it! Work calmly towards your goal and know that you can achieve it. More ways of coping with stress can be found here, I would write about them but it's all been written before, by people who can tell you more than I can.

Enjoy yourself.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Helping You Help Yourself.

We are living in an age where we have the advantage of having access to lots (and lots and lots) of information. I've come across a lot of customers who have an issue, let's say IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), Google it, then come in with a big list of everything under sun that might help IBS symptoms and they want it all. Then it comes to quite a lot of (mostly unnecessary) money.
I've also had customers who have Googled their symptoms and have become quite panicked about what they may (or usually may not) have.
I'm not saying don't search for your own information. I'm saying take everything with a grain of salt (so to speak), and don't rely solely on what you find. Do your own research, then consult with someone who knows what they're talking about. Here are a few tips I'd give for people trying to self diagnose and prescribe.

1. If it's hard to get, it's for a reason.
I had a lady come in once for deer sinew because she read that it might help arthritis. No joke. Deer sinew. No I've never heard of it, I've never seen it in a shop, and my opinion is that if it really worked and was a sustainable form of medication then it would probably be readily available by now.

2. If you want to be frugal, be frugal.
If you don't want to pay money for a doctor, naturopath, dietitian etc then use the free ones. Health food shops will often have naturopaths (like me), pharmacies have pharmacists, you can call hotlines now that tell you if you should be worried. Use these as well as your own research.

3. Look at evidence based, reputable websites.

4. Don't watch A Current Affair or Today Tonight. If you see 'natural' medications/supplements on these shows, keep in mind it is a paid for advertisement. Not a news story. We always get a rush on things that have been advertised. Lately we've had one you might have heard of, called The Latin Seed (for weight loss). I agreed to an over-the-phone training, and it sounded like such a scam. We stocked it because people kept asking for it, but when directly asked I would tell customers to try something different, not wanting to recommend it and have bad repercussions as a naturopath. About 2 months later it was recalled because the statements they were claiming were not approved by the TGA and were found to be untrue.

5. Get a second opinion.
Like the lady who wanted the deer sinew, some people cannot be swayed from what they want to try. Just keep an open mind.

6. Know where your supplements/medication comes from.
This probably doesn't belong in this post, but I think people can forget sometimes what they are actually putting in their mouth. We source a lot from animals, and not always humanely. Sheep placenta tablets are popular in Asia for anti-aging. HRT (hormone replacement therapy) comes from the urine of pregnant horses. Glucosamine is from shellfish. To make emu oil (used for arthritis), emus have to die.


Friday, May 6, 2011

The Blacklist

This post is pretty much the opposite of Top Ten Healthfoods as now I'm going to write my 'blacklist'. Not necessarily foods, but things I really try to avoid. I'm usually not 100% successful in avoiding them completely but I do my best.

1. Artificial sweeteners
I would rather have the calories of normal sugar than ingest things like Equal and Sweet Low or whatever they're called. There's quite a lot of varying research in regards to cancer and artificial sweeteners, so some things will tell you they are safe and others will tell you the opposite. So to be safe, I don't touch them.

2. Cigarettes
Everything has already been said about this topic: get off the durries.

3. Caffeine loaded energy drinks
We're talking Mother, RedBull, V... that's all I can think of off the top of my head but there is so many more. There is a small place for them (like shift workers trying to stay awake) where their use isn't so bad. But they market towards young teenagers who really don't need them and drink them to excess. Like the 750ml can, sold in the drinks fridge with all the other single serve drinks, yet it says in small print on the back not to consume over 500ml a day.

4. Nutrigrain
Okay so Nutrigrain isn't that bad. What I don't like is how they market themselves as iron man food. It has a glycaemic index of 66 (which is moderate, bordering on high), so if eaten like it is supposed to be eaten, as a breakfast cereal, then how is that going to sustain any iron man for the day? They just get hungry again 20 minutes later.
I would use Nutrigrain like a lolly; it's high in sugar but it has got some nutrition to it like protein and iron.

5. Coke
Loaded with sugar. Erosive. Insanely fizzy. Nope.

6. Chewing gum
Again, not something that's really bad, but I just don't see any point to it. You start chewing, your stomach thinks there is some food coming so it starts secreting more acid, but nothing ever comes to neutralise the acid.

7. Glen 20 and the like
That ad makes me cringe, where the lady is spraying Glen20 all over everything. Germs are not necessarily the bad guys! But the ones who ARE the bad guys are going to be in that .1% that don't get killed by the spray, then because they don't have to fight against all the other germs you've just killed, they thrive. If you want to be hygienic, wash your hands.

8. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate and derivatives (SLS, SLES)
This is found in basically anything that is supposed to 'clean', from toothpaste to engine degreaser. I'm fairly sure the current, unbiased literature puts its safe use at around 1-2% (as an ingredient of something). Most commercial shampoos are around 20-30% SLS.

That's all I can think of for now, feel free to add any others you might think of.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Buff on a Budget

Josh (the partner), on reading my blog on motivation, came up with the idea that I 'coach' him into getting buff and blog about it. Killing two birds with one stone, he says.
So I say, 'that means you would have to do everything I say'. He pretty much agreed.

I'm not the most knowledgeable when it comes to personal training but seeing as that's what I want to do next then it will be good to get some practise. Buff on a Budget is a structure I've made up of 5 x 30 minute sessions a week, without buying weights or going to the gym or any fancy supplements (only whey protein concentrate powder).

Last night I took some measurements like biceps, forearms and manboobs and recorded them, so each fortnight we will re-measure and see if we've gotten anywhere.

Tonight was our first training session. It involved high intensity interval training (HIIT) using mountain climbers, burpees, and boxing bag (which we already had at home). We also did weighted sit ups, push ups, chair lifts and reverse crunches. The sit ups and push ups he did as many as he could in a minute, which was 16 and 12 respectively, so he obviously has a long way to go.

We'll keep you posted on progress!