Learn to listen to your body: What food cravings are telling you

I’ve learned that different food cravings pop up when your body is trying to signal to you that there is something that it needs.

The other day, I had a serious craving for ice-cream and I was curious to investigate a bit what cravings really meant as I am not the type of person with a big appetite. What I discovered was that there is a pretty surprising list of cravings and their real meanings. It’s sort of fascinating! It is also very helpful to see what your body really needs.

So here are some cravings below and what your body is really trying to tell you… (by the way, this is not a raw vegan point of view – I looked at it from a meat eater perspective too)

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If you’re craving sweets…
It means your body really needs chromium, carbon phosphorous, sulfur, and tryptophan. Get these by filling up on, fresh fruit, cheese and sweet potatoes when you have a sweet tooth. This craving may also mean you’re tired. Evaluate how much you’re sleeping lately if you find yourself wanting sweets. Instead of heading for the chocolate cake, take a nap if you can. Or, go for a walk to boost your energy levels.

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If you’re craving carbs…
It means your body needs nitrogen, which is found in high-protein foods like fish, meat, nuts, and beans. Eat a turkey burger, a handful of almonds, or a black beans (or corn, pico de gallo, guacamole, brown rice). You might also be craving carbs because you’re trying to cut them out of you diet completely. If this is the reason, make sure you’re eating every food group in moderation to prevent a big, unplanned carb-fest that will leave you feeling way worse than, say, a real sandwich.

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If you’re craving French fries, soda, cheese and pizza…
And other junk food, it means your body needs calcium and also fatty acids. Instead, make a salad with steamed broccoli, chicken, breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. It might not sound quite as good as those French fries at first, but it will leave you feeling way better, not to mention guilt-free. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and other joint problems. Reach also for raw walnuts, wild salmon, and flaxseed oil, and add ground flaxseeds to your diet.

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If you’re craving caffeine or red meat…
It means your body needs salt and iron. To get these nutrients the healthy way, eat lean meats like chicken or turkey, eggs, or black cherries, surprisingly. If you can, a great option here would be to make an omelette with turkey and veggies, with a handful of black cherries on the side. Craving caffeine can also mean you’re actually just really thirsty or dehydrated. Drink an entire glass of water before you reach for that second (or third) cup of coffee—you might realize you don’t even need it.

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If you’re craving salty foods…
It means your body needs chloride, which is essential in order for your body to maintain healthy digestion and keep your electrolyte levels in check. Avoid super salty junk food like potato chips and eat goat’s milk yogurt or fish instead. I would recommend making a tuna fish sandwich or salmon salad for lunch with goat’s yogurt as a snack the next time you have a salt craving.

I hope you also learned something new and interesting from these food facts. I certainly did. I’m definitely going to keep some almonds on hand for those guilty carb cravings…

When was the last time you felt gratitude for your Health?

10464181_10154310648300624_3889549413207100201_nWe live in this world where being wealthy, successful, beautiful, in the perfect romantic relationship/marriage and going in amazing/exotic places on vacation are the aspirational elements of life. These are the first things that go through most people’s mind when faced with a wish or desire: “I want to be successful!”; “I want to be rich!”; “I want to be skinny!”; “I want to look like a model”; “I want to meet the perfect man”; “I want to have a good job”…and so on. It all comes down to ” I want to be HAPPY”, and usual being happy is associated with being loved, rich, travel, be able to do your passions, have the dream job …

However, few people associate Happiness to also being Healthy, because for most…health is there…a given. l_97a43e90-146f-11e2-8023-9b3024d00006Few people wake up being thankful for the fact that yet another day has passed by and they are healthy, they can see, they can walk, they can breath. Ironical how the best gift life gave us which is also the prerequisite to do all those great things we dream of is perceived as the least important. It’s simple, we take it for granted. It’s there, but we don’t see it, because we haven’t lived without it. But when it leaves us…it sure hurts a lot!

We only start appreciating health when it starts to shutter or it becomes problematic. Then we think back, and all we wish for is one more day as a fully healthy person. Most of the things we do on a daily basis affect our healthy being, and more often than not we know it but we do not care either because we are young, or because we want to be beautiful, or because we do not really acknowledge it: we drink, we eat unhealthy, we stress, we smoke and so on. One day, these superficial decisions when we thought health was the least of our worries will come and bite us back.

No one is invincible, and under current living conditions in this world, no one stays healthy by practicing on the go, skinny bitch, fast food or stressful lifestyles. So, do something about it. Change at least one thing that you know hurts your body in one way or another.

Here are some suggestions. Just pick one every week to work on:

  • Go to the gym or start running
  • Wake up every day and be grateful for being healthy
  • Stop eating fast food or fried food
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Stop stressing about every little thing because things will be ok in the end
  • Sleep enough
  • If you have an office job, take frequent breaks, walk
  • Drink lots of water
  • Stop dieting!
  • Stop drinking sodas!
  • Quit smoking
  • Love and respect your health!
  • …and many more

    Next time you start complaining about the fact that you are not rich enough, happy enough, loved enough, lucky enough, think deeper! Are you healthy? Yes?! Then be grateful! You are lucky, you are blessed! If you are healthy, the rest can be solved one way or another!

    Start practicing gratefulness for your health every day and take care of your well-being before it is too late. It will also help on your positive thinking. Because when you feel your world is falling apart, you know you are at least healthy and it means a way more than you give it credit for!
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12 fruits and vegetables that help you stay both healthy and fit

Once with adopting a vegan lifestyle, I started being more interested in how to get the most healthy nutrients for my body. Therefore, I wanted to share with you 12 fruits and vegetables with “negative calories” that assure a healthy intake of vitamins and nutrients, but also keep you fit. “Negative calorie food” refers to that food which in order to  be digested by our body, it is consuming more calories than their caloric intake. For example, for the ingestion of 200 grams of food with negative calories, the body will have to use 300 calories to metabolize them. In this way you out deposit required 100 calories in addition to the 200 intake, thus favoring fat burning and weight loss.

Here’s my top 12 list of fruits and vegetables with healthy intake:

1. Avocadoimages (1)
Avocado is a more consistent fruit, baring 160 calories per 100g. Its metabolism requires more than 200 calories. Avocados contain good vegetable fats, useful in mobilizing fat from fat deposits. Without these vegetable fats is hard to mobilize stored fat because no biochemical stimulation occurs. Such good fats are also found in fish (salmon), seafood, and mango, melon, nuts, and sunflower seeds.

2&3. Strawberries and yellow melonimages (3)
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Strawberries are recognized for the small number of calories and their richness in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The melon is not only tasty, but also full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and a lot of water. It has few calories and it is very moisturizing and consumed together with strawberries assures a varied intake of vitamins, minerals and active substances that burn fat and maintain health. 

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Pumpkins are rich in water, minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, magnesium (very important to the daily functions of the body) as well as vitamins A, D, E and B. It has so few calories and the body consumes so much many more to metabolize it.

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Alongside strawberries, carrots are my favorite choice for an afternoon snack. Tasty, rich in beta carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, carrots are known as protectors of vision. All carrots nourish the skin, hair and nails, and also bare negative calories. I recommend the carrot apple juice and eating raw carrots, in order not to lose their properties. 

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Very rich in antioxidants, tomatoes burn fat and have negative calories, tone digestion, contain beta-carotene and prevent many diseases. Summer salads with tomatoes are ideal for diets, provided you do not put too much oil – go for balsamic vinegar instead! 

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Blueberries belong to the so-called “black” or “purple” foods. This category includes all those foods that are particularly high in the most powerful antioxidant: Resveratrol. They are also very rich in vitamins and minerals, and burn a lot of calories for metabolism. This category also includes blackberries, blueberries, plums, black grapes, eggplant, virtually all food in dark purple color precisely because of this powerful antioxidant which contains the pigment that colors them this way. 

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Raspberry is also part of the “black” or “purple” food – lighter in color though as being also rich in resveratrol – considered the most powerful antioxidant. Raspberries have a high content of vitamin C, and substances that lower blood sugar and high cholesterol. It also accelerates fat burning and improves skin beauty, thus having rejuvenating effects. 

9. Currantsdownload (7)

Currants also belong to the “purple foods”, regulate all functions of the digestive system, or fight against urinary disorders. They are strong in antioxidant sand accelerate fat burning. Recommended in any diet and match very well consumption together with the fruits in the same category: all berries. 

10. Mangoimages

Mango is rich in vitamins, minerals, and good quality fats that lower bad cholesterol and lipids, and restore balance in the body. They can be combined with raw nuts and seeds of every kind. It goes very well in combination with soy milk for a smoothie.

11. Apricotsdownload (5)

Apricots are negative in calories, rich in antioxidants, lowering bad cholesterol, helping in removing fat deposits and also aiding digestion and detoxification of the colon. 

12. Cucumbersdownload (1)

Cucumbers have very few calories because they have a very high water content. They contain nutrients that keep the skin, hair and nails beautiful, they burn fat, help the kidneys and improve digestion. They also contain large amounts of B vitamins, phosphorus, calcium, zinc and other minerals that help maintain a healthy diet. They are recommended to be eaten fresh & raw.

So, there it was, my top 12 favorite and negative calorie fruits and vegetables. They can be easily combined among each other in fresh juices or smoothies, or just eaten raw in fruit or vegetable salads sprinkled with balsamic vinegar or raw seeds. I believe it is important to include them in your daily diet one way or another, and results will show fast in your skin and energy level.

 

I felt in love with Bircher Muesli!

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Among all the cheese, fondue and the chocolate in Switzerland, there is one healthy thing I got hooked to: BIRCHER MUESLI – a healthy breakfast that honestly it is worth making at home and having every morning for a proper and healthy boost of energy. This breakfast option is gluten free if made with certified gluten-free oats.

So what is Bircher Muesli? It is a popular breakfast meal in Switzerland and parts of Germany and it is based on uncooked rolled oats and other products based on grain, fresh or dried fruits, nuts, soaked in milk or soy milk or plain yogurt or/and freshly squeezed fruit juice (depends on preference, on diet, on whether you are a vegetarian or not).

I honestly felt in love with its taste, and it goes perfectly with freshly squeezed orange juice and a hot cup of coffee in the morning. Takes me throughout the day until lunch time with no problems.

So, I wanted to share with you below the original Swiss recipe for Bircher Muesli that was developed around the turn of the century with my comments added. It’s a very tasty combination when made this way. You can prepare it in the evening for the next morning, or on Sundays and make a larger portion to last you a few mornings refrigerated of course. 

Morning preparation time: 5 minutes

Overnight soak possible: 6 hours

Ingredients:

  • rolled oats
  • water
  • soy milk or soy yogurt or goat yogurt or simple plain yogurt
  • a spoon of honey (depends on the quantity you are making) – optional of course
  • lemon or apple juice
  • apple, grated with the skin
  • hazelnuts or almonds, chopped

Optional to add:

  • A grated carrot, a sliced banana, sliced strawberries and orange sections to your oats.
  • Soften raisins with the oats.
  • Add pumpkin or sunflower seeds, dried goji berries, other rolled grains.

Preparation:

The original recipe is a mixture of raw foods developed around the turn of the 20th century by a Swiss physician named Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner. Dr. Bircher went against the accepted medical practice of the time of thoroughly cooking food, thought to be healthier, and introduced a small bowl full of rolled oats and raw apple as an appetizer before most meals.

Instructions

Mix the oats and water and let them soften overnight in the refrigerator.

I let them soften for a just few minutes. Oats do not need to be soaked for hours to make them digestible, although other grains do.

Add the yogurt/milk/soy milk (take your pick) and the lemon juice to the oats and stir.

Don’t add the lemon juice directly to the oats and milk because it will curdle. Sprinkle it over the apple, instead. You can add honey, agave nectar or Stevia, for a sweeter taste, avoiding sugar this way.

Add the grated apple – the must have ingredient, stir, sprinkle with raw chopped almonds or hazelnuts and there you go! It is done!

Try it out once when you feel inspired or bored. I am sure you will like it. Plus, it is a very healthy breakfast option. Enjoy! 🙂

My Break-up with Coke Zero/Light

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They say that after a break-up people improve their appearance and look better, probably having more time to dedicate to oneself or proving a point of what their ex missed out on or simply because it is time for a new better version of oneself.  Singlehood brings about new people in one’s life, new experiences, new challenges, so an improved self is a must-do.

Well, this is to share with you how my break-up with Coke Zero/Light changed me…for the good. It has been a very long-term relationship that we had. I believe more than 10 years. So, yeah, it has been hard to let go, but I knew it was a toxic relationship to me, and it would get me nowhere, so one day I said I must let go.

Actually, I tried throughout the years to give up Coke several times, but somehow I relapsed, always finding some good excuse: exams, workload, stress and so on. Exactly like a girl in need holding on to her boyfriend for no actual good reason that I could articulate. I think my friends knew I could almost endorse Coke :).

Then, in April last year I took the decision to follow a healthier lifestyle – move towards a vegan diet and healthy living. I did all that, and still the last toxic element in my diet was Coke Zero. I felt like a hypocrite for a while: talking about a vegan lifestyle, but ingesting tones of aspartame and toxins through Coke.

Yes, other Coke drinkers, as much as you would like to defend this drink, it is ultimately very unhealthy, and I will not go on and on why, just point out two main indicators (Google and valid research studies from reputable institutes can fill in the dots): aspartame & the “delicious” Coke bubbles (the acid and blotting they cause).

Now let me tell you what happened exactly once I reduced the amount of Coke I was drinking and then completely cut it off my diet (aspartame is addictive, thus phasing out the quantities is the best way to give up the toxic drink) – my body really started hydrating. I was drinking a lot of water before, but Coke is actually dehydrating, so my body was never fully healthy ingesting the full amount of water it needed. And this is what real uninterrupted HYDRATION brought about:

  • My skin got better – no more dryness, more elasticity
  • My face is glowing, my eyes look more rested and stand out even more
  • I never have a swollen face after sleep in the morning, because I have enough water in the body
  • My muscles shaped during my workouts faster (I can actually tell shapes of muscles on my body and believe me I work out like a healthy person, not like a manic), and my skin is more elastic
  • I feel lighter somehow, and weirdly enough slimmed down
  • I feel even more energetic – if that were possible in my case 🙂

It is amazing what proper hydration can do to your body and appearance. It is also amazing how we can ruin our appearance and health with bad stubborn habits.

So for those of you that are still hitched to Coke or any kind of soda, or actually if you over react with any drink or food (except water), rethink it a bit and see what long term implications it brings to your organism.

Choose a long term healthy living over a short term taste satisfaction! 🙂 And believe me, you can give up on any addiction with some determination and focus! 🙂

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Juices vs. Smoothies

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Juicing vs. Smoothies? Smoothies and juicing have been the hype lately with all these new blenders and juicers being manufactured. While both can be healthy and boost your fruit and vegetable intake, and are great for getting a variety of nutrients into your diet, one is the better choice.

That’s SMOOTHIES. Why? Juicing leaves behind a pulp – which contains fiber and nutrients that you end up tossing away, thus you lose most of the benefits of whole fruits and vegetables. Blending produce into a smoothie, however, preserves fiber and a smoothie can deliver an extra boost of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals because it often includes fruit skins and pith. If your smoothie includes yogurt or kefir, you get some calcium too. If your smoothie includes nuts and/or seeds, you get even more vitamins and minerals. If your smoothie includes supplements and super foods, the sky is the limit. Blending, however, introduces oxygen and sometimes heat, which will knock out a little vitamin C and some B vitamins. But no big deal really, as most of us get plenty of Vitamin C and produce isn’t a top source of the most sensitive B vitamins.

Either way, enjoy your fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices and even nut butters in a homemade smoothie or juice. Start your mornings with a natural energy boost by juicing and/or blending a nutritious smoothie. For smoothies, I suggest buying a blender. 🙂

But… smoothie-lovers and juicer-lovers beware, though. Smoothies and juicing can easily turn into high-calorie, sugar-delivery devices if they include sweetened yogurt, sweetened juice, sorbet, frozen yogurt or ice cream (that’s called a milkshake!!!) and, sadly, many made-to-order and bottled smoothies and juices include these ingredients. That’s why it’s important to make and blend your own nutritious smoothie and juice your own juices at home with organic fruits and vegetables, raw super foods and natural wholesome ingredients.

Below are some nutritious smoothie and juicing recipes… 

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How I am preventing breast cancer with the right diet, exercise and love for myself…

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It is a true story, my story, and I decided to share it after a talk I had with a very good friend of mine. I think that it might encourage others to believe and do something about preventing cancer and maybe give hope to those that already suffer from this condition or have symptoms and are scared of what may follow.

It all started in end March 2013 when one dear family member was diagnosed with breast cancer. It raised a red flag for me that one day you can be super healthy and the next wake up and start a fight for your life. So, to help her and stand by her, I decided to go vegan, eventually getting raw vegan. And yes, I have written about this before, that it made me more energetic, more fresh and it has been a decision that helped my body in many ways.

What I did not know then, is that the vegan healthy lifestyle would also solve another problem I had and I was scared to investigate. For at least 3 years, I had this lump in my breast, but I never wanted to think it was serious. It got bigger in time and even my boyfriend made me promise I would check it out. I did not want to, because I just did not want to think of it. Then came this news, with my dear someone…and still I was scared to go and check it out. I think I thought it would just go away…even though by its size it was a bit unrealistic it would.

Someone told me that developing cancer is also strongly connected besides a high level of stress, to not loving your body enough, so in addition to going vegan in March, I decided to love myself more. I have always been a perfectionist, so I was always very critical of myself, my body. Thus, I learned to loosen up a bit, embrace who I am, love every part of my body and feel proud of it and this included my breasts. I started loving my flaws and changed my perspective as seeing them making me unique and who I am. I never saw my breasts as flaws, but I remember that I was ashamed of them in school when they started growing and I hid them for a while, then I always wanted they would be perfect – you know like you see in magazines the women with implants, but I failed to see their beauty as in the fact that they were natural no matter how many boyfriends told me that :). A first step to change this was to look in the mirror when I woke up and realize I am beautiful with some flaws that made me special, my body is beautiful and this is a wonderful day to be healthy and alive, so I should cherish it. So, here I stand today, with a different view about myself, loving and accepting myself more exactly how I am, loving my flaws (but I call them now characteristics:)), on a healthy vegan diet, and exercising at least 3 times per week to freshen up my brain into thinking in the right direction.

And I tell you all these because after 8 months…I recently noticed that my big lump in my breast vanished away… I was amazed and I realized that all those things that people preach about alternative treatments to cancer, the right mind set getting you through this condition are true, and not just motivational speeches.

It is encouraging at least to know that we can prevent our body from getting sick through loving it and that means offering it the right nutrients and also love for ourselves.

I really believe we have the power to change anything if we really want to and we have all we need in our willpower and nature around. I wish more people would take their diet, importance of exercising and thoughts about themselves more seriously. I think this would make a better world for all of us, a healthier one and a happier one for that matter.

So EAT RIGHT, your body deserves it! EXERCISE, it boosts up your mood! LOVE YOURSELF, you are beautiful!