Friday 23 January 2015

Eat. Nourish. Glow. Book event.

Everyone who follows me on instagram and YouTube is probably aware that I have been turning to a few nutritional books since the beginning of the year. Partly due to rekindled interest in nutrition and partly due the fact that I became a little stuck in the convenience food trap and needed inspiration to get back in to the kitchen.

Eat Nourish Glow was purchased as part of me getting back on track and for recipe inspirations. Because you see when I was ordering this book for some reason in my head it was a recipe book. I've been eating well most of my life and while I am no nutritional expert, I read a lot and well let's face it I was snobbish enough to think I did not need any more advice. However when I opened the book, after the initial surprise about the format, I felt like fate had played a little trick on me. I sort of lost my way when it comes to food and maybe a few years ago Eat Nourish Glow wouldn't really have been relevant to me, at this moment in time it is an invaluable tool. I am about 2/3 through, I have been making sure that everything sinks in and rereading some of the chapters as I go along. Since the book is very new Amelia Freer has been doing a lot of events, one of which (in Whole Foods Kensington organised by Get the Gloss) I attended yesterday.

I bought two tickets which included food, refreshments and goodie bags for £10 plus processing fee (so about £11 each). My original choice of companion couldn't make it so Mr. RF was the stand in. As we arrived, Whole Foods Kensington vouchers to the value of £10 were handed out to every attendee (completely redeeming the price of the tickets). There was a wonderful spread of plant based foods including courgetti salad and watermelons which happen to be my favourites, green smoothies (the real deal not the full of fruit and a half a teaspoon of veg kind), coconut water, cucumber water and green tea. Around seven, when everyone settled down and had a chance to have their food, the main event started. It was almost like being on a talk show, were Susannah from Get the Gloss was asking Amelia different questions about the book itself and about different aspects of nutrition in general. At the end audience had a chance to ask questions of their own, before going down to the beauty section of the store where Amelia signed the books and goodie bags were handed out.

I really enjoyed the event, it was a great opportunity to meet the author in person and the down to earth, fact based approach that I could sense from the book was also present in the way that Amelia handles herself and the way she interacted with the audience. What I took away from it, is somewhat similar to the message in the book. The strongest message is to cook more, as when you cook yourself you are in control of what you put in your food, so no hidden surprises you might have missed because you didn't read the label properly. Having a balance is also important, she mentioned that getting an Omega 6 deficiency is extremely rare but the way it could happen is if you have too much Omega 3, what the body needs is a certain ratio between the two. So even though there are plenty of Omega 6 sources, and Omega 3 is the one that people tend to be deficient in, if you have gone on a bit of a health kick it's important not tip the scales the other way. All of us have different nutritional needs so there is only so far that general advice can go, it is very important to listen to your body, but the most important thing is having a healthy gut, because if it isn't the nutrients are probably not absorbing properly.

When it comes to supplements Amelia felt that it is very personal and while some supplements could be beneficial a lot of the cheaper varieties on the market don't do anything at all, this is an area where you get what you pay for and you really need to supplement according  to what your body is lacking and not the latest trend. When it comes to fruit 2-3 portions a day is all that is needed, and not to eat fruit by itself have it with other things, like part of a salad for lunch, or at the end of dinner, not as a stand alone snack (Amelia's approach to eating makes snacks obsolete altogether) to avoid the sugar spike. I also learnt that Amelia's favourite foods are avocados, broccoli and eggs. I found this event very beneficial, even though after reading most of the book a lot of what was talked about was familiar territory, it sort of helped to connect the dots and put everything in to perspective. I don't know if it was the green smoothie or feeling like I'm on the right track, but I had the best night sleep in three weeks.

 Of course we made use of the vouchers at the end of the night, and while we already have all the fruit and veg from Riverford, it was a great opportunity to stock up the cupboards. I am not sure if all the choices would be Amelia approved, but here is what we got: organic buckwheat, organic red lentils, organic brown rice, organic polenta, biona tomato juice, the chia co oats mixed berry, chi organic coconut oil, Richmond honey, dry chives, Dr Kargs organic crisp bread, organic black chia seeds, rude health sprouted oats, clear spring organic sencha loose green tea, rose buds loose tea.

Monday 19 January 2015

Viridian Clear Skin

This post is about my personal experience with supplements, please use common sense and consult a healthcare professional if you need advice as I am not qualified to do so.

I am no stranger to break-outs and less than perfect skin. I was lucky enough to have access to a wonderful dermatologist when I was 18. He always emphasised the importance of diet and the right vitamins. Topical treatments that he prescribed where a mixture of conventional salicylic based concoctions, but also included clay masks and washing my face with chamomile tea. While my skin has gotten much better with his help, to the point that I felt that it was ok, I would still get hormonal spots from time to time. My skin has been it's best with no outbreaks for the past year or so, which I contribute greatly to both my skincare and the food that I eat. I am still prone to blackheads, but you know if you stare long enough in the mirror you are bound to find imperfections.

In the few months run up to Christmas however, my diet has become a bit of a shambles, I was cooking less, eating more take out and I could see that my skin wasn't happy because the little white heads started to appear. About that time I got contacted by Viridian to see if I wanted to try something from their range, I new exactly what I needed, the Clear Skin Complex*. I heard great things about this supplement from Mayah (Call it Vanity), and given that my skin was not thrilled with me it was the perfect opportunity to test it out. I was pleasantly surprised to find Organic Clear Skin Omega Oil* as part of the parcel. Without wasting any time I devised a little trial strategy. First of all I wanted to see what the Clear Skin Complex* capsules could do by themselves (2 weeks seemed like an appropriate time line), and then I would add the Omega Oil* since it is advised to take the two alongside each other. Also to make sure that my skin isn't looking better due to beauty products, I had a very basic routine of face wash, oil and aloe vera spray as toner. I put my Yuli elixir and my masks, scrubs and spot treatment on the shelf.

The Clear Skin Complex* is a bottle of 60 vegetarian capsules that contain a probiotic blend, burdock root, gotu kola, beta-carotene and zinc amongst other things. The directions on the bottle are to take two capsules daily with food, I found that my stomach best handled it with a lunch or dinner meal (I would eat half of my meal, take the capsules and then eat the rest), and I also needed to make sure there were no hot liquids involved for about an hour otherwise I would feel gassy. However once I figured this out it was smooth sailing, after the two weeks the little pesky white heads stopped appearing and over all my skin tone seemed fresher somehow. At this point I introduced the Clear Skin Omega Oil*. This is a mixture of Organic oils of Golden Flaxseed, Perilla Seed, Avocado, Pumpkin, Rosehip seed, Argan, Sea Buckthorn, Pomegranate seed, Blackcurrant seed and Elderberry seed. As a supplement you take 2-3 teaspoons with food (could be in your salad, smoothie, soup, or just take from the spoon). What is great about this blend is that it has a great balance of omegas, with a higher percentage of Omega 3. Omega fatty acids aid in healthy oil production, being a building block for well hydrated skin with fewer blackheads. I can most certainly report that after taking both the oil and capsules, my skin is clearer. On this blog when I speak about spots I tend to talk about my face, but while I have found facial break-outs to be largely under control, tiny spots on my shoulders have just sort of become a permanent fixture, however an unexpected thing happened after taking these supplements for a month, they are very much gone.

I see supplements as a helping hand, not something to be used permanently but from time to time when the need arises. They are not a substitute for a good diet, but when you are changing your diet already, they can give your skin and body a little boost. While I hope to never need The Clear Skin Complex* capsules again, I now know that they can be relied on. The Clear skin Omega oil* on the other hand I can see being a great help with balancing my oily skin from the inside, something that I could implement every few months.

I am really happy to add Viridian to a small group of supplements that actually worked for me, because there have been far too many in the past that made no noticeable difference at all. Some of the profit from every bottle of Viridian helps to generate funds for a selection of charities. To encourage recycling, if you return an empty Viridian bottle to a health food store where you bought it, you will receive 25p refund, and they will recycle it.

*PR sample, all opinions are my own based on personal experience, I value the integrity of this blog very much and would never post something that I did not believe.

Tuesday 6 January 2015

In pursuit of enlightenment...

There seems to be a lot of pressure on the first post of the year, be it real or imaginary, it is there in the back of my mind, in the words of every blogger righting about their resolutions, hopes and changes that they are bringing to their blogs. You see New Year's resolutions is not something that I make, never have and I don't see a reason to start now. It is not that I am not resolute to make my life better, or am resistant to change, not at all. Every year I make a wish as the clock strikes twelve, drinking my glass of champagne as per family tradition. To me each New year is always full of mystery, possibility and is a time for hopes and dreams. New Year's resolutions on the other hand feel like military objectives, that somehow are supposed to bring about a happier healthier you.

But I guess like everyone else around this time of year, I feel the need to start a fresh, to bring back the focus to the things that are truly important to me. While my focus on nutrition and yoga is nothing new, I have been looking through my collection of books for inspiration and to refresh my memory. I practise with a wonderful instructor yet when I saw Yoga for Real Life in a book shop it just drew my attention. This book is about Kundalini yoga with a selection of exercises that vary in there intensity. However this is not really a simple how to exercise book, it is a window into a certain lifestyle, with sections on creativity and approaching stressful situations, and even juice and smoothie recipes. I don't think this is a book for everyone but I really enjoy it, I may not follow the advice to the letter but I love re-discovering all the wisdom and cherry picking things that I can incorporate in my own everyday life.

It is almost a habit now that when I pick up a book I also have a cup of tea waiting on the side. When pondering your future through someone else's writing, any regular brew just seems inappropriate, mundane in the view of the questions presented. A delicate tisane that creates inner harmony and balance, while nourishing your body from within is more befitting of the occasion. De Mamiel Beauty tisane is one such delicate blend, always makes me feel at peace and comfortable, quits my thoughts so I know that any decision that I am making is not just spur of the moment, it is well considered and has real substance.

Every new year brings a myriad of possibilities, but it also another year of experience behind one's shoulders, a year left behind that brought you closer to your goals, or maybe not. We all probably had to ponder a question of who do you want to be when you grow up? Well I have to say I still don't know an answer to that. You see I may be grown up in years but I rarely feel like a grown up. My focus can be scattered and I often have too many conflicting ideas. But the worst thing of all is the fear of going after something that I truly want. You see if you don't try you can't succeed, but you also can't fail. Self doubt is hard to beat by yourself, add to this monthly bills, security of a job that was only meant to be temporary and there you are plodding along, living a perfectly good life but completely loosing the sight of what it was you wanted to achieve. Holiday Cactus Flower Elixir is a rather unique potion that helps you let go of the daily grind just long enough to be able to ask those bigger questions. What is that legacy that you want to leave behind? The sweet berry nectar taste makes this elixir a pleasure to use, and I actually look forward to the next five drops under the tongue. I start feeling different after about a week or so, like I have a new focus and a certain calm that comes from being certain that yes you are on the right path, maybe not out of the woods but you are no longer lost, and the woods are not a scary place but full of wonder.

Aromatherapy has become a huge part of my life in the last few years and I love discovering new blends, they help my mind focus, feel more at ease in times of stress and make me feel more prepared to ask difficult questions of myself (you see calling out others out on what they do wrong is not that hard, but admitting to my own fears and procrastinations is rather unpleasant). Aster + Bay sacred incense oil is perfect for increasing meditative state and relieving anxiety. The scent is clean, earthy and a little bit herbal. A perfect companion to a restorative yoga practise, or any time when a little peace and quiet is in order. Badger cheerful mind balm is my most trusted daily companion. It gives me strength to carry on during the days when all I want to do is quit, the sweet orange and peppermint brighten my thoughts and put me in a better frame of mind.

Enlightenment is a tricky thing, you can not truly find it within oneself, but without knowing oneself it can not be truly found. Sometimes I think it is like a unicorn, a mythical creature, I may never find it, maybe it doesn't really exist, and in the end, does it really matter since it is all about the journey?