Monday, 27 February 2017

Can’t sleep? Read this!

Sleep disturbances are one of the most common problems in Australia. Did you know that sleep disturbances affect 1 in 3 people?

So if you have trouble sleeping you are definitely not alone!

Insomnia can be defined as:

·      Difficulty getting to sleep
·      Staying asleep or
·      Having non restorative sleep despite having adequate opportunity for sleep
·      Together with associated impairment of daytime functioning
·      With symptoms being present for at least 4 weeks

Some risk factors for insomnia include:
·      Advancing age (45 years plus)
·      Overweight and obesity
·      Hormonal disturbances
·      Poor diet and lifestyle factors
·      Chronic disease
·      Mental health issues

Why is sleep so important?

During sleep there are many physiological processes that occur in the body. Both hormone production and cellular repair takes place. There is tissue growth and repair occurring, energy is restored and hormones are released. Poor sleep even disrupts cortisol and insulin production so insomnia can then trigger a stress response, increase sugar cravings and predispose you to metabolic syndrome.

So what can be done to ensure you are getting an adequate night sleep?

As a first line treatment there are several dietary and life style factors to consider.

1.     Avoid stimulants after 2pm. This includes caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, sugar and chocolate. As all of these substances are stimulating they stop the body from relaxing and make it nearly impossible to wind down.
2.      Turn off all technology at least 1 hour before bed. This includes your mobile phone, computer, TV or other personal devices. The blue light these devices emit disrupts the body’s natural production on melatonin- our sleep hormone.
3.     Make sure your bedroom is a peaceful sleeping environment. This means it should be pitch black, free from noise, comfortable in temperature, comfortable bed and pillow, free from disturbances from family members or pets. These eliminate outside causes of insomnia.
4.     Exercise regularly. Exercise is so great when it come to sleep promotion as it exhausts you both physically and mentally so you can easily fall asleep. It reduces your cortisol levels so that stress isn’t keeping you up at night. It also enables you to keep to a healthy weight eliminating obesity as a cause of insomnia.
5.     Exposure to natural light helps to enhance the body’s natural circadian rhythms. Try going outside first thing in the morning to get some sun and in the evening before bed to get some moonlight. This will allow your body to produce melatonin at the correct time.
6.     Use meditation or relaxation practices before bed. You may have been wondering when I mentioned to switch off you devices 1 hour before bed what you would do in this time? This is the time for relaxation, so take a bath, practice meditation or deep breathing or relax in bed listening to soothing music. This will calm your nervous system, relaxing your body so you can easily drift into sleep.
7.     Eat foods high in tryptophan, which support melatonin production in the body. These include turkey, chicken, lean red meat, pumpkin seeds, beans and hard cheeses.
8.     Use herbal support and supplementation to reduce stress, enhance relaxation and regulate your sleep/wake cycle. Some essential nutrients to promote sleep are magnesium and B vitamins. There are many herbs with different actions that can help with sleep. Different herbs will be effective for different people depending on the cause of insomnia. A few include:
·      Lavender- Calming on the nervous system
·      Kava- reduces stress and anxiety
·      Withania- calming on the nervous system, mood boosting and anti-anxiety
·      Valerian- regulates circadian rhythms
·      Hops- Helps maintain sleep in those with sleep maintenance issues.
·      Zizyphus- calming and cooling so helps when hot flushes are keeping you up at night.
·      Passionflower- calming on the central nervous system
·      California poppy- has a sedative quality and also helps to reduce pain if chronic pain is contributing to insomnia.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Why preconception care is so important.

Pregnancy and preconception is the most important time in your child’s life. It is the time of most rapid growth and development. As a mother you have a responsibility to put your child first and give them the best possible opportunity for a healthy and happy life and this begins even before conception.

I was shocked to hear one of my friends say to me that she expected falling pregnant to just be simple. That all she thought she needed to do was stop using protection and the rest would take care of itself.

As a health care practitioner who has also spent a lot of extra time doing research and further study into prenatal and pregnancy health this was completely alarming to me. Women do not seem to be educated about the importance of creating the best environment possible for their babies to thrive and have the best opportunity for a healthy life. Having a baby is the biggest decision in a person’s life. What people often don’t know is that this responsibility begins before the child is even conceived. You are carrying this individual inside of yourself, so if your body is not in the best possible state then you are not giving your child the best chance at health. This encompasses mental, physical and spiritual health.

Epigenetics is the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself. Nutrition has been shown to be so important when it comes to epigenetics in terms of which genes will be expressed in your child and could be to blame for many diseases manifesting.

Your child’s health framework for their entire future is being laid down in utero and as a mother only you have the power to change this for the better or for the worse. If you don’t want your child to suffer from health conditions present in your family; now, being before falling pregnant is the time to do something about it. It sounds overwhelming having to change your diet and lifestyle but these few years are really just a small dot in the timeline that is your life and the life of your child. A lifetime of health conditions that could have been avoided is much worse.

Preconception care should really start at least 6 months before you start trying to conceive. This is the amount of time the body needs to prepare itself for such a major task! Preconception care for Dad is also equally important and should begin a few months before trying to conceive as well. Don’t forget, it takes 2 to tango.

In these months of preparation you are:

1.     Ridding your body of any toxins and chemicals you may be storing in your bodily tissues.
2.     Making sure you are getting adequate nutrition through diet and supplementation. Building up your vitamin stores of those important vitamins and minerals needed during pregnancy.
3.     Learning stress management tech­niques and balancing stress hormones.
4.     Working on any health issues you have before it all becomes about the baby.

Foetal exposure to stress, toxins, under nutrition and obesity have been shown to play a role in the development of many common chronic diseases. This is why being prepared and making sure you and your partner are in the best health possible is so important.

Your health care practitioner can create a preconception plan specifically suited to you and your family.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

How to beat Mondayitis!

I truly believe that if you start your day off in the right way, then the rest of the day is much more likely to be successful. The way you begin your day maps out how the rest of your day will pan out. If you snooze until the last minute, telling yourself how tired you are and that the last thing you feel like doing is getting up and going to work, you then frantically jump out of bed and rush to get out the door, grabbing a coffee on the way and arriving at work a mixture between your half asleep self and your stressed/ rushing self you surely are not setting yourself up for the best day possible. You have already had a lot of negative self-talk, you have already started off being stressed before even getting to work and you surely haven’t provided your mind or body with adequate nutrition to get you through the day.

As my dad always preaches, Tom Ferry (Motivational speaker and real estate coach) always says that to be a successfully person you must have an exceptional morning routine (and unfortunately this half asleep rush out the door is not what he would call an EXCEPTIONAL morning routine).

So this I suppose is not just my tips for beating Mondayitis but actually my tips for staying positive, energetic and successful everyday. Monday just seems to be the day people struggle most.

1. Start your day with some positive self-talk. Get into the habit of shutting off the ‘I cant be bothered to go to work’, ‘I’m tired and just want to stay in bed’, ‘I wish it was still the weekend’ jibber jabber. First of all this is simply not productive, it puts you in a bad mood from the get go and secondly if you really hate your job that much maybe you should actually start looking for something that would make you feel more excited and fulfilled. I mean this is what you spend the majority of your time doing so if it truly is making you miserable then start looking for something that wont. However, if you are just in the habit of this negative self-talk lets swap it out for some positive affirmations. Once your alarm goes off, GET UP! Choose an affirmation or two that resonate with you and go say them aloud in the mirror. Here are a few examples of my favourite affirmations. You can use these or create your own.

‘I am totally calm’
‘I love myself deeply and unconditionally’
 ‘The future is good. I look towards it with hope and happiness’
 ‘My self esteem is high because I honour who I am’
‘Amazing opportunities exist for me in every aspect of my life’
‘I am excited about today’
‘I am a powerful creator. I create the life I want’

2. Make yourself a hot water with 1-teaspoon apple cider vinegar or the juice of half a lemon. This drink had first thing in the morning helps to kick-start you digestive system and metabolism. If the sun is out try going outside and appreciating the beauty of nature, soaking up some vitamin D for the 5 minutes it takes to have this drink. This is one of my favourite morning rituals, which always leaves me feeling so at peace and ready for my day. 

3. Make sure you have a nutritious breakfast. I won’t go on the usual ‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ rant but I certainly know from personal experience the difference I feel within myself if I have a healthy, well-balanced breakfast compared to either skipping breakfast or having something naughty. Some healthy breakfast suggestions include:
·       Porridge with banana, nuts and seeds and a sprinkle of cinnamon
·       Chia pudding made the night before with berries and yogurt
·       Toast with almond butter
·       Omelette with spinach, avocado and tomato
·       Smoothie with 1 banana, handful berries, green veggies or a green powder blend or fresh greens, 1 tablespoon of LSA mix (linseed, sunflower seeds and almonds), scoop of protein powder or handful of nuts, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and almond or coconut milk.
·       2 eggs scrambled with a side of mushrooms and avocado

4. Certain supplements can help provide you with energy for the day. My top recommendation for a morning supplement that will give you some energy, support your nervous system so you don’t feel as stressed throughout the day and help you concentrate and perform to your best ability at work is a Vitamin B complex. Getting some good quality B vitamins can be a lifesaver if you live a busy lifestyle (as most of us do). Only disclaimer is that they will make your urine a fluorescent yellow so don’t freak out! If the B’s don’t give you all the energy you need a CoQ10 supplement can also be a good companion when it comes to energy production.

5. If you don’t have a job that demands you to be there super early then getting some movement into your day first thing is one of the best ways to wake yourself up, to feel energised and positive. Exercise is one of the best ways in general to improve energy and positivity levels, so getting moving first thing in the morning definitely kick starts your day in the right direction. This can be whatever suits you. I like to do some yoga, particularly sun salutations first thing, also going for a walk or a run or even just some skipping in your living room to get your heart rate up.

If you create an exceptional morning routine that really suits you, nourishes your mind, body and spirit it will definitively get you off to the best possible start to your day and week. You will wake up excited to get moving as the start of your day is simply you doing some things that you love and that you know will leave you feeling great.

If you already have a morning routine that’s working for you I would love to hear what it is!

Dionne xx

Monday, 6 February 2017

Healthier and dairy free caramel sauce

I was so impressed by how this healthier caramel sauce turned out that I just have to share!


½ cup coconut sugar
1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons water
½ tablespoon lemon juice
pinch of salt

In a small pot mix coconut sugar, water and lemon juice. Bring to the boil.

Once boiling add the coconut milk, salt and vanilla.

Allow to simmer for about 15 minutes stirring until the liquid becomes thick and dark.

Once it has thickened remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Place in the fridge in an air tight container. For best results leave in the fridge overnight and then enjoy!

Dairy free caramel sauce