Changing My Health Direction

Change Your Health Direction is so much more than just simple weight loss or switching from smoking cigarettes to chewing gum. It’s about literally changing the direction in how you view health and how you’re going to get to where you want to be.

 
My journey started 5 years ago. Realistically it started YEARS before. I was always heavy. I started ‘gymming’ when I was 16 but nothing proper. I fell into the trap of ‘I’m going to the gym so I’m going to eat what I want’. This game was played for years until I saw the pictures go up of the New Years party we had reeling in 2013. I looked a state. Drunk. Grossly overweight. I’d a holiday coming up in September so wanted to use that as my focus. I got in touch with an Irish Personal Trainer who was just starting out, and who was looking to break into the online client business, so after a conversation, he took me on for a 12 programme. His name is Darren Farrell, and I haven’t looked back.

ross

Ross – Pharmacist Technician

He supplied me with workouts, nutrition and all the motivation. The pic on the right was me 12 weeks later in a water park. Going from 96kg-74kg, I’d so much more confidence, but much more drive. 5 years later, I’m a practicing Personal Trainer, putting people through their own fitness journeys while still working in LloydsPharmacy. I want people to start their journey with me, but small steps. Look at introducing supplements. Vit C, multivitamin, Omega 3s, probiotics… All these help. I can vouch for these products. I still use them. They’re just a part of my life after taking that step to include them.

 
Each person has it in themselves to be the change they want to be. Each person just needs to believe in that change.
 

Call into any of our 94 stores nationwide to sign up to our FREE 8 week Change Your Health Direction Programme today!

Barbecue Turkey Skewers with Tahini Dip

These Middle Eastern inspired turkey skewers are ideal for a summer barbecue or picnic, and can be packed into lunch boxes for a work week lunch served with grilled pitta breads, fresh leafy greens and gut-loving kimchi (fermented vegetables). The recipe makes between two and four servings as a light lunch or larger meal. Serving suggestions are optional of course so free to improvise. A big green salad, fresh hummus, and a bowl of tabbouleh (a herby salad made with bulgur wheat, tomatoes, lots of fresh mint and parsley) are great healthy options for a summer feast!

Serves: 2-4 | Cooking Time: 15 minutes | Rating: Simple

Nutrition: High Protein, Low Fat, Low Saturated Fat

Free From: Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Refined Sugar

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • Juice and rind of half a large lemon
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of dried or finely chopped oregano
  • A good pinch of sea salt
  • 3 large skinless turkey breasts cut into strips
  • 6 wooden or metal skewers

Tahini Dip

  • 2 tbsp light tahini
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Juice of 1 whole lemon
  • A good pinch of sea salt
  • 1 garlic clove peeled

To Serve:

Rocket leaves, diced cucumber, kimchi, grilled pitta pockets or flatbreads.

Method:

  1. If using wooden skewers, soak them in cool water whilst marinading the turkey (about 20 mins).
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, lemon rind, cumin, oregano and sea salt. Add the turkey strips and mix to combine. Cover and leave to marinate for at least 20 minutes (or overnight in the fridge).
  3. Preheat the grill or barbecue to a medium temperature. Remove the turkey from the marinade and thread onto the six skewers (you can discard the marinade).
  4. Place the skewers directly onto the barbecue grill and cook for about 8-10 minutes until cooked and slightly charred.
  5. To make the dip, put the tahini, water, lemon juice, salt and garlic into a small blender and pulse until combined (or whisk together with a fork, making sure to chop and crush the garlic into a paste with the back of a knife first). The dip should have a yogurt-like consistency.
  6. Transfer the dip to a bowl. Remove the turkey skewers from the grill and transfer to a plate lined with parchment.
  7. Serve with grilled pitta pockets or flatbreads (if coeliac or gluten-intolerant you can buy gluten free pittas in most supermarkets), piles of fresh rocket leaves, some fermented vegetables like kimchi or finely diced cucumber.

Nutrition Information

Created by: Pamela Ryan Qualified Nutritionist

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

Let us help you control those Bad Behaviours!

donal blog image

Donal – Pharmacist Aylesbury

The more i read from the latest research articles the more it seems that the old sayings we’ve heard repeated again and again about food, sleep and exercise are true. We should go to bed early, eat natural foods and exercise every day.

But often in the media we see people who break these rules idolised and celebrated. People who work around the clock, who party through the night, people who binge and diet in repeated cycles. These behaviours are enticing and misleading. Often we believe we can accomplish something greater, meet deadlines by pushing through walls of fatigue, or that we can make up for bad eating behaviours afterwards by upping our exercise regimen.

I  will often hear people relate and discuss behaviours such as late night snacking, insatiable appetites and craving snacks, remarking on them as inexplicable and unavoidable. Night binging can leave a person with low energy levels the next day. People who regularly do this often have high insulin levels which can lead to diabetes and they find it difficult to exercise from fatigue and lack of sleep. Without knowing how our bodies work it can be difficult to understand where these cravings come from. Being now in my thirties some of these bad habits have already caught up with me and I see the effects of poor diet and snacking in my energy levels and some of my blood tests. Not a good scenario to be in at such a “young” age. LOL.

What I have found helpful in trying to control my own bad behaviours is an understanding of what exactly is going on in my body to drive these unhealthy habits I seem drawn to constantly repeat. In this blog I will briefly discuss one aspect of the body’s many mechanisms that control appetite, weight fluctuations and as researchers are currently finding out potentially a lot more.

Ghrelin is an appetite stimulating hormone released from the empty stomach. It signals our brain to encourage anticipatory and goal-directed behaviours. This basically means it makes us look out for our next meal, make us think about food and it affects what we crave in terms of sugar, fat, protein and carbohydrates. On its own ghrelin seems to direct us toward a more nutritious meal than we might choose without its influence. This might sound familiar if you think of what you crave when you are really hungry. Usually the ice cream, chocolate or biscuit treat (my personal favourites!) doesn’t seem sufficient and we actually want a heart slap up meal with more nutritious ingredients. This is actually a good effect of the hormone.

However studies have shown that as ghrelin levels rise, the amount of eating it encourages rises dramatically. This makes sense in the natural world. The longer the period between eating the more our body is going to want to stock up on energy the next time food is available. However this effect is contributing to our modern day obesity problem. We have such busy lives that people are often jumping from the bed out the door skipping what the old maxim calls the most important meal of the day. Breakfast. Breaking the fast.

As we sleep our bodies are stilling whirring away with countless processes like a laptop on standby. In fact the energy our body would use if we were to simply lie on the couch all day accounts for up to 60 to 70% of the energy we spend each day even when we move around and work as normal. That is why it is so important to supply your body with a source of healthy energy soon after waking up in the morning. Otherwise the body will demand an even greater meal off you later in the day.

Studies have shown that  ghrelin, the hunger hormone, will not be suppressed without a proper breakfast. People who skip breakfast think they are cutting out part of their day’s calorie intake but it is proven that those people eat more for lunch, dinner AND supper partly due to higher ghrelin levels the skipped breakfast causes.

Also sleep deprivation has been shown to increase cortisol (our stress hormone) and in doing so mimic starvation and hunger. Both stress and cortisol increase our hunger hormone ghrelin which increases our cravings and likelihood to overeat. Poor sleep is another of the factors linked to increasing obesity in Ireland.

There are several ways we can affect our ghrelin levels. One large egg provides varying amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals, high-quality protein, and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin yet regular consumption of eggs is still met with uncertainty. In the 1970s excess cholesterol in our blood was linked to a higher risk of heart disease. Many scientists assumed that eating high-cholesterol foods like butter, red meat and eggs must then be bad for our health. In fact sugar, trans fats or excessive saturated fat is more harmful to use and produces more cholesterol in our blood that dietary cholesterol.

In a study comparing eating eggs for breakfast versus a bowl of healthy oatmeal on the symptoms of heart disease (a change in the cholesterol and lipid balance in the body) there was not a huge difference between the two. The eggs did raise cholesterol levels somewhat compared to the oatmeal but not in an unhealthy amount and the sugar levels, liver function and fat levels in the body were the same. The eggs did seem to keep the person eating them fuller for a longer time than the porridge. I have tried alternating both porridge and a boiled egg into my breakfast regime and from my experience I can see how an egg can help space out meals across a day and prevent the urge to snack in between. But the benefits of porridge on health are also proven so if anything I would recommend fitting both into your morning diet if possible.

Being a daily porridge devourer I want to explain how it can benefit you. When food enters the stomach it lowers your ghrelin but it doesn’t stop you from eating. The signal for satiety and to stop eating is actually located twenty two feet or almost seven meters into the intestine! Naturally it takes time for food to travel this far. The Japanese have a saying which is “eat until you are 80% full” which is basically allowing your food time to reach this point. Alternatively trying to eat with chopsticks will get you there! The best way to get food moving faster through the intestine is through fiber.

Ever notice how a plate of pasta or chips and cheeseburgers doesn’t always make you feel full? This is because fast food and processed cereals have had their fibre stripped away to improve taste and shelf life. They sit into your stomach instead of moving into the intestine where they should be signalling the brain that the stomach is full. Anything that speeds food transit through the gut will make you feel fuller faster and reduce hunger and the amount eaten. The insoluble fiber in porridge does this. Its soluble fiber also helps by forming a sticky gel that delays stomach emptying which makes you feel fuller faster. Processed foods and cereals contain little of these or have it artificially added back in which doesn’t seem to work as well as when it is in its original form.

There was a study I found interesting on how water, milk, a yogurt drink and fruit juice drunk either before or with a meal would affect appetite, satiety (feeling full after eating) and the amount of food eaten. Milk reduced the overall  food intake and appetite while increasing the satiety (feeling full after meal) compared to a sweetened yogurt or fruit drink. But in all cases drinking water meant the overall calorie intake was less before and after the meal. One esteemed dietician in America suggested keeping to milk, water and tea only as the beverages of choice and leaving the rest out of our diets. Sugary beverages and even fruit juice are thought to be unnecessary additions to our diet that we might be better avoiding. Fruit it appears is best eaten whole rather than juiced or pulverised into a smoothie. Also I will add in here that fructose which is known simply as sugar when it comes to talking about our modern processed foods does not affect ghrelin release unlike other carbohydrates and proteins which lower ghrelin levels. So sweets and sugary drinks in the morning will not reduce the amount of food you are likely to consume later for lunch and dinner compared to the egg and porridge discussed earlier.

Is it better to spread out calorie intake over a period rather than breaking the day into say three solid meal times? One study used liquid meals of protein, fat and carbohydrates taken in a single go versus splitting it up into five smaller portions taken every half hour to examine this idea. No difference was found in how the food was burnt off meaning that splitting meals up across the day has little effect on avoiding hunger later in the day or keeping up your energy. In fact where the food was consumed in a single go the people reported great and longer lasting fullness.

We often hear about losing weight by different approaches (intermittent or irregular dieting versus continuous dieting). A study tried to determine the effect of this on the body’s systems and discovered little difference in how the body was reacting to the weight loss. The people who achieved the same weight loss by dieting on and off seemed to be under no greater or lesser drive by their bodies to regain weight than those who had dieted in a more consistent manner. To me this study shows the power of habit. Studies have shown that consistent dieting has a greater chance of success but this study shows there is no biological measurement (in terms of hunger hormone, insulin levels) to account for it. Making lifestyle changes your everyday practice is the way to sustain weight loss because the likelihood that all lost weight will be regained is simply the reflection of how likely you are to return to old habits if you haven’t been practicing new ones.

So in summary breakfast is still the main meal of the day. Don’t skip it and try to have healthy oats and maybe an egg as a large part of it, though don’t forget your daily intake of whole fruit. We in LloydsPharmacy are here to support you in attaining a healthy lifestyle and so we can advise you on your diet, help motivate you and supply a range of products that will boost the positive changes you make in your daily life. Chromium is supposed to aid in reducing cravings by enhancing insulin function and effect in the body. Our pharmacies can supply this in more than one brand (Sona or Pharmanord). Products such as Miss Fit Skinny Tea and XLS Medical have proven popular among customers who are making healthy changes in their diets. We have Change Your Health Direction experts in each store so please pop in and tell us how you are doing and ask us how we can help.

 

 

Coconut Fish Fingers + Smashed Peas

This classic combination gets a healthy overhaul! Coconut, a hint of cayenne pepper, fresh lime, mint and sweet peas make for a light, summertime dish. Serve with a big salad of fresh leafy greens or stuff them inside wholegrain pitta breads for a great picnic lunch. We won’t mind if you add a little tomato ketchup on the side either!

Serves: 2 | Cooking Time: 25 minutes | Rating: Simple

Free From: gluten, wheat, cow’s dairy, refined sugar and meat

Ingredients:

  • 2 fresh cod fillets (about 250g – 300g)
  • 40g coconut flour, almond flour or gluten free plain flour
  • 1 large free-range egg
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • A good pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp Optima raw virgin coconut oil*
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 4-5 fresh mint leaves
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 2 tbsp water
  • A pinch of sea salt

To serve:

  • Fresh mixed leafy greens
  • A good quality natural tomato ketchup (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 C (400 F).
  2. Crack the egg into a small bowl and lightly beat. Lay out two small plates, one with the coconut flour and the other with the desiccated coconut.
  3. Slice the fish into finger-width strips.
  4. Coat the fish strips with the flour, dipping them into the egg and then coat them with the desiccated coconut.
  5. Lay each coated strip carefully onto a non-stick baking tray. Sprinkle the goujons with sea salt, cayenne pepper and drizzle over the coconut oil.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden.
  7. Meanwhile prepare the smashed peas. Place the peas into a large bowl and cover with boiling water until thawed. Drain in a sieve and plunge into cool water to stop the peas from losing their colour.
  8. Tip the peas into a blender or food processor. Add the mint leaves, water, lime juice and a pinch of sea salt. Pulse the peas a few times until crushed (you could also do this with a fork, just make sure to finely chop the mint leaves first).
  9. Transfer the smashed peas to a serving bowl. Remove the fish goujons from the oven and pile onto a serving dish with mixed leafy greens. Serve.

NutritionInformation

Created by: Pamela Ryan Qualified Nutritionist

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Available in LloydsPharmacy Stores

We’re here to help you Change Your Health Direction

Laura Dowling by City Headshots Dublin

Laura – Pharmacist, Stillorgan

May is here, bringing with it the official beginning of summer (and the launch of our FREE 8 Week Change Your Health Direction Programme). May is the month when we traditionally start to plan our summer holidays and mentally prepare for the ‘bikini body big reveal’. We naturally consume less calories as the weather warms up and many people take up some form of outdoor exercise because it is just EASIER to do so with the brighter, longer days.

It is so important to take a proactive approach to our health but it is also very easy to jump on the fad diet band wagon to lose weight. I always tell my clients that losing the pounds steadily over several weeks is preferable and much healthier than dropping half a stone in a week only to pile it all back on once the holidays come. Nowadays there is so much information out there and so many different people (some of whom are entirely under qualified to be giving advice) that one can feel overwhelmed when it comes to deciding which plan to follow.

I was raised, and am raising my own children with the mindset ‘everything in moderation’. It is impossible to stick to many of the current popular diets for prolonged periods of time and enjoy a decent work-life balance. People then have an overwhelming sense of guilt when they ‘fall off the wagon’ and this only reinforces their bad relationship with food.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying a 99 on a hot sunny day- just ask for a children’s size! Even ‘healthy’ foods, if eaten in copious amounts can pile on the pounds. A teaspoon of Meridian cashew nut butter for example in porridge, natural yoghurt or spread on wholemeal bread is a delicious, nutrient dense snack and a staple snack in my house.  However, if you are shoveling tablespoons of the stuff into your mouth you WILL put on weight!

I am a big fan of taking high quality nutritional supplements to give yourself that extra boost that you might need energy-wise, especially if you are exercising more. Nutritional supplements, as well as helping you to achieve a healthy heart, bones, skin, hair and nails can also help to sustain energy levels and contribute to a restful night’s sleep. Revive Active is an Irish supplement, produced in Galway, that I recommend regularly in my practice. Quinton Cell Nutrition is another high-quality product that gives your body’s cells all the trace elements that they need to keep your body working optimally. People can really benefit from taking vitamin and mineral supplements when taken as part of a balanced diet.

The NUA Naturals range is another Irish brand with many organic superfood products that are nutrient dense and easy to add to baking, smoothies and cooking. I love their organic cacao which makes a much healthier  alternative to traditional hot chocolate. My kids love it too! Ashwagandha powder, known as ‘the Indian ginseng’ has been used for centuries in India where it is thought to relieve anxiety and periods of stress and fatigue. The NUA naturals version can be added to warm milk and honey as a night cap.

If you are unsure about which products to take to help you to achieve your health goals or if you need any dietary or exercise advice, your local LloydsPharmacy is a wealth of knowledge. There are Pharmacists and health coaches on hand seven days a week to answer your questions and give you the professional advice that will help to guide you on your Change Your Health Direction journey. Come on in, we are waiting for you!

Summer Vegetable Frittata

This frittata recipe is both a nutritious family favourite and easy to prepare. It stores incredibly well in the fridge so you can enjoy it during the week for lunch. I’m using some of the most delicious summer vegetables, asparagus and peas. There are so many benefits to eating in season from fresh and cheaper vegetables to supporting local Irish producers. Seasonal eating also provides variety throughout the year, so you benefit from a wide range of nutrients delivered as nature intended!

Serves: 4 | Cooking Time: 20 minutes | Rating: Simple

Free From: gluten, wheat, cow’s dairy, refined sugar and meat

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons Optima raw virgin coconut oil*
  • 1 shallot, peeled and finely diced (about 1 ounce)
  • 250g asparagus spears, trimmed (about 200g trimmed)
  • 130g fresh or frozen peas
  • 100g feta cheese
  • 8 whole free-range eggs (medium size)
  • A pinch of sea salt flakes
  • A good pinch of freshly ground black peppercorns
  • To serve: leafy greens such as rocket, watercress, baby spinach, lambs lettuce

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 C (390 F). Crack 8 whole eggs into a bowl, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  2. Heat 1 teaspoon of coconut oil on a griddle pan and add the trimmed asparagus spears. Fry on a medium heat until slightly charred (about 3-5 minutes). Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
  3. Heat the remaining oil in a deep cast iron (ovenproof, non-stick) skillet over a medium heat and and add the finely diced shallots. Fry gently to soften before adding the peas (no need to defrost frozen peas if using).
  4. Arrange the asparagus spears on top of the pea and shallot mixture and crumble over half of the feta cheese.
  5. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the top of the vegetables and cook over a medium heat until the mixture begins to ‘catch’ the edges of the pan.
  6. Crumble over the remaining feta cheese and transfer the pan to the oven. Cook for 8-10 minutes (fan ovens will take less time – approx. 8 minutes).
  7. The frittata is ready when the centre of the mixture jiggles very slightly to touch. The residual heat will continue to cook the eggs.
  8. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Transfer to plates and serve with seasonal leafy greens such as rocket or watercress.

Nutrition Information

Created by: Pamela Ryan Qualified Nutritionist

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Available in LloydsPharmacy Stores

Beef + Mushroom Celeriac Lasagne – Main

The final recipe in the Lloyds Pharmacy Change Your Health Direction program is a vegetable and protein packed twist on a traditional lasagne. For lasagne sheets I use finely sliced rounds of celeriac.  It’s a little ugly….a bit knobbly and odd shaped but it’s what’s inside that counts…lots of fibre and antioxidant vitamins.  I’m using beef mince for the ragu sauce, but this can be replaced with lamb or 2 cans of puy lentils if you’re plant-based. Good quality beef is rich in protein, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, niacin, Vitamin B6 and selenium. Even so, you won’t lose out if you use lentils as they are one of the best sources of plant-based protein, fiber, folate and iron.

Serves 6

Dairy Free | Gluten Free | Grain Free | Vegetarian Options

Ingredients

For the Ragu

  • 500g lean minced beef (for vegetarian option use 2 cups of cooked puy or beluga lentils)
  • 1 tbsp Optima raw organic coconut oil*
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato passata
  • 250ml beef stock (or mushroom stock)

For the Creamed Mushrooms  

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil*
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 200ml oat or almond cream

Celeriac ‘Lasagne’ Sheets

Celeriac x1 whole, peeled and sliced into very fine round pieces with a good knife of mandolin.

Spinach Layer: 300g spinach leaves (remove the stalks, chop finely and add them to your ragu… no waste!)

To Serve:  2-3 handfuls of rocket, 5-6 small vine tomatoes finely sliced

Instructions:

This is a lot easier than it might look. You can prepare and assemble this dish the night before and store in the fridge. It also freezes quite well and you can cook from frozen if time isn’t on your side.

  1. Preheat your oven to 160C.
  2. Start with the Ragu.
  3. Season the beef mince. Melt the coconut oil in a heavy casserole or skillet. Add the beef and cook until brown all over. Transfer to a place and set aside.
  4. In the same pan, add the onion, celery and garlic. Sauté over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until soft.
  5. Return the beef to the pan. Add the sage and bay leaves and cook for a few minutes before adding the tomatoes and beef stock. Cook gently for 20 minutes. If the sauce gets too thick, add more water.
  6. In a separate pan melt a little coconut oil and tip the sliced mushrooms, crushed garlic and thyme into the pan.
  7. Sauté for 10 minutes and then add the oat cream. Simmer gently for 10 minutes and season with black pepper and a pinch of sea salt.
  8. Whilst the ragu and mushrooms are cooking. Prepare the lasagne sheets. Peel the celeriac and use a sharp knife to slice into very-fine circular ‘sheets’. Set aside.
  9. Wash and dry the spinach. Remove the stalks, chop finely and toss into the ragu.

Assembly:

  1. Melt some coconut oil and use a pastry brush to spread it onto an oven proof dish.
  2. Start by layering the celeriac sheets in one layer onto the base. Top with half the ragu mixture, then a layer of spinach and pour over half of the creamed mushrooms.
  3. Add another layer of celeriac, ragu, spinach and creamed mushrooms (in that order). Finish with sliced tomatoes (optional) and some freshly grated parmesan (or vegan alternative such as cashew cheese).
  4. Transfer to an oven and cook for about 45 minutes until bubbling.
  5. Remove from the oven and top with freshly ground black pepper and rocket leaves. Serve!
NUTRITION INFORMATION (approx. per serving)
Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugars Fibre
351 20.5g 21.5g 19.4g 10.4g 6g

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Available in LloydsPharmacy Stores