Eat more plants for a happy, healthy life

Just as it’s important to build strong foundations to create a healthy business, so we need to build strong foundations, or pillars, for our personal health.

These health pillars relate to our physical health in both mind and body, and can also relate to spiritual and financial health.

Eating a diet rich in organic fruit and vegetables is great, but if at the same time you’re living unhealthy practices in mental health, spiralling into debt or stuck in a toxic relationship, then you aren’t going to achieve the vibrant health and vitality you dream of.

Food is not the enemy, but equally it isn’t the saviour. Clean food won’t instantly transform your life nor make the fat, inflammation or disease formed from years of destructive self talk disappear over night.

It’s time to think about food as just one part of a happy, energetic, harmonious life.

I’ve long held the mantra (and the hashtag) ‘Eat More Plants’, in fact, it was even the title of my very first recipe e-book back in 2015 as well as the name of the cooking class I taught at a local college.

To me, the essence of eating more plant-based foods revolves around nourishing your body at a cellular level, being more connected to nature and the seasons and filling your plate with a rainbow of foods created the way nature intended.

A whole food, plant based lifestyle means that we naturally consume far less processed and man-made foods (including junk food and snacks) as well as less sugar, less salt and less saturated fat than the standard British or American diet.

Eating this way means that you have to get back in the kitchen to wash, prepare and cook ingredients – which for many people is the one thing that sends them running straight back to the supermarket for ready meals or sauces in jars.

But one of the most important things I’ve realised over the years is that once you slow down and make time for home cooking, the more connected you feel to the food you eat and the greater the satisfaction in eating. This connection is heightened by more family meals around the table, children helping you cook and prepare food or even going foraging together or creating your own veggie patch in the garden.

It’s like a positive version of a catch 22. The more you slow down, the more relaxed and happy you feel and the lower the chance of stress eating, bingeing or grabbing that chocolate bar or bag of crisps from the petrol station or corner shop.

You’ve switched from running around at warp speed, unsuccessfully multi-tasking in every aspect of your life (we all know that when you try to spin too many plates they invariably fall and smash spectacularly at your feet), to slowing down to a pace where you have time to breathe.

To stop and smell the metaphorical roses.

To just be in the present moment.

To take that evening walk. To visit the friend. To take grandma out for Sunday tea.

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After a few months, your body catches up with your mind. You realise your sleep is better; no more staring at the ceiling at 3am or waking up with a feeling of dread hanging over you. Your body moves more freely; you sign up to the gym or a local exercise class or dip your toes in the sea. Your skin is brighter with less need for a mask of heavy make up – freeing up more time in the morning for reading, writing or creative passions. Your clothes fit better and you feel a sense of confidence return; perhaps you will join the dance class or dating site after all….

Eating (and enjoying) a plant-based lifestyle isn’t just about you though. It evokes a wider sense of community: a desire to meet other people following the same path, to share information and recipes or to swap home grown produce.

Helping the planet reverse the impact of catastrophic climate change is another crucial benefit of eating more plant based food and less meat, fish and dairy. If you’re interested in the statistics, just ask Google (or Ecosia – the eco-friendly search engine which plants trees as you search).

While switching your diet overnight is generally pretty difficult (particularly if you have a partner and children eating in the same house), there are many simple ways you can tip the balance in favour of plants. 

Here are some of my favourite top tips to help you to Eat More Plants:

  • Switch the balance of your current family favourites in favour of plants. Take out half the mince and add a can of brown lentils to a lasagne, shepherd’s pie or bolognese. Take out half the chicken or fish from a curry or stir fry and add more vegetables. Try courgette noodles instead of pasta with a home made tomato sauce blended with roasted vegetables (try carrots, onion, garlic, red pepper and tomatoes with fresh basil). Swap cheese sprinkled on hot dishes for toasted pine nuts or broken pieces of cashew nuts.
  • Try eating meat free one day a week. Or one meal a day every day. There are probably lots of meals you already enjoy that are either vegetarian or could be easily switched to plant based. Easy choices are pasta with tomato sauce, lentil or chick pea curry, mushroom risotto and bean chilli with potato wedges. There’s a global movement based around meat-free or meatless Monday – simply search for the hashtag across social media.
  • Learn something new. Learning is a huge part of human life. We’re constantly learning, growing and evolving in relationships, work, sport and creative pursuits. Learning how to cook, trying new recipes, joining an evening cooking class, watching a documentary, listening to podcasts, buying a book…. there are billions of bite sized pieces of information out there created by passionate, knowledgeable and artistic people.
  • Share information and resources. Once you’ve learnt something new, share it. Lend a book, write a blog, share a meal, comment on a social media post. If you have friends already embracing a plant-based (or vegan) lifestyle, ask them a few questions, invite them to eat with you, share their information with others if they’re running a plant-based food business or website.
  • As Brené Brown would probably say, ‘dare greatly’. Be confident and courageous and try something new in the kitchen. What’s the worst that could happen? If the food tastes really bad or you burn it it’ll end up in the bin and you’ll eat something else. But chances are, it’ll be edible – and better than that, it could be totally delicious! Explore, experiment and enjoy your new food adventures.

If you’d like to buy my two original plant-based recipe e-books, click here for more details.

Lorraine xx

The Power of Human Connection

NEW! Listen to the audio version of this blog HERE.

Over the last three years my life (and business) has changed dramatically because of one thing:

Human Connection.

I’m not really sure if I’m an introverted extrovert or an extroverted introvert (and I hate labels anyway) but to be able to spend a high percentage of my time safely tucked away in my own home, free from the draining energy of crowds, toxic office culture and negative energy vampires means that I’m a happier, calmer and more creative person than ever before.

But, of course, it’s not particularly helpful to be at home alone when running your own small business, so I’ve found a way to form genuine connections and true friendships with incredible women across the globe.

Setting up one or two video calls each week with women who inspire and motivate me (and vice versa) is the perfect way to boost social connection and engage in powerful human conversations.

And human conversation is the key to successful sales according to my good friend Jules White, a British sales coach, motivational TEDx speaker, author of Live It, Love It, Sell It and podcast host of The Human Conversation. (She’s a busy girl!)

In her book, Jules talks about the role of empathy in sales conversations and how to create strong relationships built on integrity:

‘The beauty of relationships is they last longer than a single transaction, so by conducting yourself with integrity and empathy rather than focusing on ‘winning’ you’re likely to generate future business. Your client will come back to you when they need you, and they’ll recommend you to others. That’s the real win. This is human selling and human connection.’

I love Jules’ approach but I’m also acutely aware that many women will shy away from creating these deep connections because they feel threatened by other women. 

Why is that?

Some might say it’s a link back to ancestral times such as the Salem witch trials when women were forced to expose other women as witches in order to protect themselves and their families. Others might say it’s just in our biological nature or that it’s simply learned habits from the culture we live in today.

But…

Every week I hear stories in the online space of women copying other women’s work, branding, images or words, women tearing others down or using people to get to the top. Not only is it stressful for those incredible, hard-working women who’ve worked so hard to elevate their small business into the online space to help others, but it’s very sad for those women who believe that using and abusing really is the only way to get what they want. (Hint: It’s not!)

When women support each other, incredible things happen.

Yesterday, I had a deep conversation with Georgia Varjas, a motivational speaker, writer and mentor living in Spain, about why women feel threatened by other women. We covered all sorts of angles from confidence and insecurities to labelling and judgment. Georgia reminded me of a quote she used during her amazing talk at Helen Packham’s Entrepreneurial Leaders Live event in Brighton in June:

The tongue has no bones, yet it is strong enough to break a heart.’ (Anon)

Georgia very generously invited me into her creative process and book writing journey and shared her ideas for the theme, chapters and messages within and from our conversation we both went away feeling inspired, motivated and filled with creativity.

When you open up and allow other women into your life and feel confident and secure in who you are, then amazing things really do happen.

In addition to these social connections and genuine friendships being so powerful when it comes to raising your profile and supporting your business passions in the online space, it’s important to remember that relationships are a form of self-love and nourishment and have a profound impact on our health.

Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, says, ‘The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health … Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation.’

The message I’m sharing with you today is that building relationships on a solid foundation of integrity, kindness and love is vitally important for our health and our businesses.

I know that I couldn’t be where I am today without the love and support of so many incredible women. And I’m so grateful to each and every one of them.

Are you taking the time to build relationships?

I’d love to know…

Lorraine xx

If you’re interested in anything or anyone I’ve mentioned above, here are the links:

Live It Love It, Sell It – book by Jules White

Jules White – Facebook group- ‘Live It Love It Sell It with Jules White’

Georgia Varjas ‘Slipping and Sliding on the Glass Ceiling’ – live talk from Entrepreneurial Leaders Live, June 2018

Georgia Varjas – Facebook Page ‘Step Up and Stand Out’

Helen Packham, leadership & Business Coach, TEDx speaker and creator of Entrepreneurial Leaders Live events

The Harvard Study of Adult Development

You don’t need to fix yourself

Instead of always trying to fix things, realise you deserve better.

Stop waiting for change. Make the change. Be the change.

You don’t need to FIX yourself. You are beautiful, loved and special just the way you are.

But you know something doesn’t feel right. Something is missing.

You blame your body.

You blame the food you eat.

You blame someone else for making you feel this way.

You blame the weather.

You blame a friend.

You blame the money.

You blame anyone or anything else for your feelings.

 

I used to do this. It was always someone else’s fault.

And then one day I woke up.

Well, it was more of a gradual awakening really.

I realised that I have complete and total responsibility for my own well-being. If I feel frustrated, sad, lonely, irritated, self-conscious, un-loved and un-special, then only I have the power to change that.

Every moment of every day, we have a choice.

And sometimes we’ll make the wrong choices – we are human after all.

I believe that even the wrong choices are the right ones because they give us a greater learning curve or send us on a journey to help us learn a specific lesson.

After all, we’ve all dated that guy we really shouldn’t have dated. We knew it wouldn’t work. We knew we’d get hurt. But we did it anyway.

And in dating the wrong guy it helped us reinforce exactly who the RIGHT guy is.

We’ve all done this with food too. Spent a whole holiday eating and drinking all the things we know our bodies can’t handle. But we’re ‘on holiday’, ‘life’s too short’, ‘everyone else does it so why shouldn’t I?’… Falling off the wagon can be a useful path too in learning exactly what does make our bodies feel really GOOD.

Remember that time you did that clean eating plan for a month? Remember how good you felt? Remember that time you had a personal trainer for six months and got the toned, fit body you dreamed of?

Take all those experiences and think about the times you felt REALLY GOOD in your life.

(And guess what? Some of those times when you were loving life may not have been your skinniest or when you were eating the ‘right’ food. It might have been when you just let go, embraced who you were and allowed experiences and love to take over!)

Grab some paper and a pen (or use your phone if you prefer) and write down:

1. The times in your life when you felt happiest. Include as much detail as possible. Where were you living, how old were you, what made you feel so happy/loved/special? What was your daily routine like? What kind of food did you eat? Did you do daily exercise? Were you learning a new skill? Who were you with? Try to bring the images to life with smells, colours, songs and words.

2. Now write down all the things that are good in your life NOW. Like a gratitude list if you like. All the things that make you happy and feel great.

3. What does your daily routine look like at the moment? Is that something that’s making you happy? Or is it causing you stress and fatigue? Write down all the good points of your daily routine; all the stuff you want to keep.

4. Now think about how you want to FEEL every day. Loved, nourished, special? Write a list of at least 10 words that describe how you wish to feel.

5. Next to each of those words, write down ways in which you can ensure that feeling happens every, single day. (Write in the present tense as if you’re already doing it)

E.g. I want to feel loved: I treat myself lovingly. I buy myself flowers. I wear my favourite colours. I wrap myself up in a warm blanket on the sofa. I spend time with my pets.

The final step is, of course, to take some action!

Ensure you treat yourself well every day so that you always feel loved/ special/ happy/ nourished/ appreciated …

Making a simple switch from a slice of toast and an instant coffee to making a fresh fruit smoothie or preparing a pretty oat bowl the night before will make so much difference to the start of your day.

Find the things that work for you, that fit in to your lifestyle/budget/family/values and that make you feel AMAZING!

Have a wonderful day!

Lorraine xx

Stop eating (and buying) so much!

If constantly consuming social media reduces our creativity, then does constantly consuming food reduce our ability to tune into our own bodies and understand what we really need?

Marketing and advertising have incredible power in our modern world. The images we see every day on advertisements seep into our minds so that when we’re ready to buy, certain brands or products are our first choice. Advertising (and culture) drives our purchasing habits. When you throw in a little perceived obsolescence, suddenly we’re buying, consuming and eating 24/7. For the younger generation, that’s all they’ve ever known.

We’re so used to having the ability to eat at any time of day or night – thanks mainly to fridges and freezers – that the idea of not eating for a few hours draws many people into stockpiling food ‘just in case’.

But do we really need to consume as much food as we’re led to believe?

You and I both know the answer to that one, yet we continue consuming.

While I was writing some notes for this blog, the word GREED kept popping into my head and spilling out onto paper.

Greed can be defined as an intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food; a desire to possess more than one needs.

What images does greed bring up for you?

I think back to the times I’ve watched people in buffet restaurants pile up their plates with mountains of food and stuff their faces. It made me feel sick so many times but it’s only now I realise that it wasn’t actually about the food or some strange phobia of watching people eat.

The nausea I felt was a nudge from the universe to keep me heading in this direction; a sign that I was following the right path.

It’s a journey that has brought me to this place, today, in an era of consumerism and massive environmental issues, so that I can share my knowledge and experiences with others and play a small part in creating change.

In hindsight, it’s no surprise that I was drawn to vegetarianism in my early teens and that I’ve since stopped eating meat, dairy, processed foods, gluten, refined sugar and alcohol. It’s a lifestyle of physical, emotional and spiritual health that awakens my soul with every breath.

If you feel you’re ready to jump off the consumerism train and live a lifestyle that will benefit your personal health and the future of our planet, here are some simple steps to begin incorporating into your life:

  • Practice moderation and self-restraint. Before you buy (or eat) anything, ask yourself, ‘Do I really need this? Will this benefit my life in some way? How will I dispose of the packaging or the product after use?’
  • Reduce your consumption of meat. There is plenty of scientific research that can show you how processed meats play a part in cancer. Plus, in terms of environmental effects, every kilo of beef produced requires over 15,000 litres of water compared to 1600 litres for 1kg of cereals and just over 300 litres for 1kg vegetables. We could eradicate mass starvation and water shortage simply by producing less meat and growing more plant-based produce (and sharing it more equally).
  • Reduce your consumption of dairy produce. Casein, the main protein in milk, has been linked to cancer. The China Study by Dr T. Colin Campbell is a great book to read to educate yourself about meat, dairy and plant-based diets. In addition to the worrying aspect of disease, there’s a compassionate element to reducing your dairy intake. Millions of male baby calves are taken from their mothers at just a few hours old and slaughtered. The reason? To keep the cow producing milk. These calves are born and bred with the sole purpose of keeping mum constantly lactating to fuel the modern world’s desire for milk, cheese and cheap chocolate. I wish I’d had access to this knowledge thirty years ago as I know I would have bypassed the whole vegetarian part of my life and switched straight to a vegan diet. Plus, there are so many dairy-free alternatives now. I remember a time when soy milk tasted pretty bad and soy yogurts were packed with sugar and had a strange consistency. Now you can even get vegan Ben & Jerry’s ice cream – what’s not to love?!
  • Learn to cook. Seriously. Stop using the ‘I can’t cook’ or ‘I don’t have time’ excuses! Get in the kitchen and learn how to peel and chop vegetables. Learn how to soak and cook beans and lentils. Learn how to create incredible salad dressings and vibrant pasta sauces. Learn how to make sweet treats with oats, dates and cacao powder to reduce your need for processed cookies and cakes. Get a recipe book, sign up for a course, join an online group – just do something every day to boost your skills. Plus, being able to put a meal together with basic plant-based ingredients will boost your health and your bank balance!
  • Eat mindfully and share food with others. Put down your phone, turn off the TV, eat dinner with family or friends and share stories over dinner. Have a glass of water with your meals instead of fizzy drinks or alcohol. (Pure, fresh pressed fruit or vegetable juice is great too, especially if you have low iron levels or are under eighteen.) Chew your food well and put down your cutlery between every few mouthfuls. Who else remembers their grandma saying you should ‘chew your food twenty times’? She was probably right….

I’d love to know where are you on your food journey right now…

Does greed make your stomach flip?

Does consumerism make you want to put your credit card away and go for a walk in nature instead?

Are you ready to step sideways and forge your own path ahead?

Get in touch and let me know!

Lorraine xx