Healthy banana bread

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Not very popular where I come from, making cakes with things like banana and carrot is not something I did when growing up. Now that I have been living abroad for a while and I have been exposed to many other baking styles, carrot cake is absolute favourite cake.

Only a couple of years a loaf style cake caught my attention in a cafeteria, Banana bread said the sign. The bread part is a ruse, non english native speakers, it’s a proper cake. And a good one too! So I started to search for a good recipe and I ended up at the BBC good food site, which quite frankly has all the answers when it comes to culinary questions. I have since adapted it of course, to a sugar free wholegrain version that is a little bit healthier than the original and absolutely delicious.

This is my take on a traditional banana bread…

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Ingredients

  • 285g wholegrain spelt flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 110g butter or coconut or sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 200 gr birch sugar (xylitol)
  • 2 happy chicken organic eggs
  • 4 very ripe mashed bananas
  • 85ml buttermilk (works as normal milk with 1½ tsp of vinegar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

How to..

Preheat the oven to 180C. Mix he flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and birch sugar together until light and fluffy, bear in mind that if using xylitol this won’t happen as with sugar and it will keep being somewhat separated. Don’t worry, it will work out in the over when heated.

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Add the eggs one by one mixing well each before adding another, then the mashed bananas, buttermilk and vanilla extract to the butter and sweetener mixture and mix well. Fold in the flour mixture carefully.

Grease a 20cm long loaf tin and pour the cake mixture into it, then put in the oven and bake for about an hour, for the last 20 minutes you might need to cover it with tin foil to stop the cake from darkening in excess. Insert a pick in the middle to know if it’s properly cooked. It should come out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

If you like the bananas on top as decoration, cut one in half alongside and place before putting in the oven.

Enjoy!

Coconut Raspberry bowl

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Travelling means I am away from my kitchen so I haven’t been able to cook much at all, however before I left I made this very special cocobowl and I kept it for a rainy day.

Coconuts are an excellent for many reasons, everything about them is usable, you can eat the flesh and it’s filling and delicious, you can drink the water, full of electrolytes, use the oil to cook or in your skin or hair for hydration of nutrition and when there is nothing else to eat, you can use the shells to makes bowls or bikini tops (lol).

As a final giveaway, the coconut provides us with coconut flour which is absolutely fabulous to substitute regular flour with way more fibre than the regular wheat one and very low in carbs.

I (place big heart here) coconuts.

Peace & Love!

Fab & Healthy Rhubarb Crumble

 

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Crumbles are one of the easiest recipes to adapt to low carb and since they are mainly made of fruit, they respond very well to the change and you can barely tell the difference. In this case I have taken on the traditional rhubarb crumble and it has turned out delicious.

Can you believe that people in Spain have never heard of Rhubarb? A few years ago when I first tried to replicate this recipe, I struggled a lot to find it, I had to order it and it took a week to come. I started then to research why was that and apparently it is due to the fact that Spain has good weather and great soil. Ha!

According to my findings, rhubarb is a vegetable that grows in soils that are not great for other plants and they have enormous amounts of oxalic acid, which makes it potentially poisonous to humans, specially in summer and autumn when the concentration has become higher. Don’t worry though, the poison in the leaves, so as long as you stick to the stems, you should be fine.

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It is used in traditional Chinese medicine as a cure for constipation and it is also good for mouth sores although the acid content attacks the enamel so be careful with consuming it very often. Due to this content, it can block the iron absorption so bear that in mind when composing your menu, it may not be the best dessert for a lentil soup.

Made like this, the Rhubarb Crumble is Vegan, Gluten Free, Paleo friendly, low carb, has no added sugar and it is ok for diabetics. Perfect to have a sweet finish to your meal and super easy to make.

Ingredients (serves 4)

500 gr. rhubarb stems

1 tsp. ground ginger

2 tbsp. xylitol

For the crumble

80 gr. coconut oil or butter (if not vegan)

2 tbsp. coconut flour

1 tbsp. almond meal

1 tbsp. xylitol

How to…

Chop the rhubarb in 2 cm long pieces and heat up in a pan with the xylitol and the ginger until it is soft, about 8 minutes. Try for flavour, the rhubarb’s acidity varies and it could need more sweetener.

In a bowl, mix the oil/butter, coconut flour, almond meal and xylitol and work with your hands until you get a crumbly texture.

Distribute the rhubarb in 4 small ramekins, top with the crumble and place in the oven for 15 minutes at 160 degrees. Check that the tops of the crumble and nice and golden and take out when they look ready. The coconut flour takes longer to change colour so bear that in mind.

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Serve with soy cream or coconut yogurt mixed with cream (to lighten up consistency) on the side, or if not vegan, with normal cream or low fat yogurt mixed with milk. The sauce should be a bit liquid so you can pour it over the crumble while it’s warm, it gives a nice sweet and cold contrast.

Some people eat it with custard or vanilla ice cream so… take your pick!

I decorated mine with flowers from my garden and mint leaves.

Enjoy!

Sunday Blues

Just wanted to share a picture with you, this is a blue smoothie, tinted with blue matcha and made of vanilla protein, frozen banana, blueberries and dragon fruit.

There is something about blue food… we are love a bit of quirky! Happy end of the week.

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Skinny Green Tea Cheesecake Recipe

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How is this even possible?  175 Calories per portion!! Wohooo!! Through the magic of low carb, birch sugar and low fat cream cheese. This recipe is not vegan, but there are some vegan adaptations that I will highlight, since it was not possible to me to get hold of coconut yogurt, I was unable to try it the vegan way. Some places are less supplied with these alternatives, unfortunately!

This is a traditional New York style cheesecake (baked) but with a twist, to please cheesecake lovers since a slice of this a day, if it fits your daily nutrition needs, wont jeopardise your weight loss efforts. It is also a great way to teach your children to cook and not be feeding them excessive sugar by the way.

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Instead of the traditional biscuits for the base, we are going to use a mixture of almond flour and coconut flour. Generally, low carb diets or keto substitute the flour with almond meal, I have swapped half of it for coconut flour because the later has an incredible nutritional profile if you are trying to lose weight or if you are sensitive to carbohydrates. It is incredibly high in fibre, it is literally pretty much the highest content on it. Pretty low in fat (surprisingly since all things coconut usually are very high in this macronutrient) and so it makes it our new best baking friend. It’s fine texture, no sugar, low carb, low fat, high fibre combo has made it a seriously good alternative for gluten free, paleo and general weight loss diets.

This cake’s flavour, as you can probably guess by the electric green colour is Matcha tea, but you can adjust the ingredients to your own tasting, I might try the peanut butter chocolate flavour next week, I will let you know how it goes.

It is very easy to make, and the only trick is to be accurate with the time, or have the eye to know when is time to take out of the oven!

This recipe provides per serving if cooked like explained below: 175 Calories, 9.7 gr. of Fat, 13.5 protein, 8.5 Carbs (of which net 3.5)

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Ingredients (serves 12)

For the filling

500 gr. Low fat cream cheese (or coconut yogurt)

2 tbsp matcha tea

2 eggs (or eggless substitute as per pack instructions)

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup xylitol (birch sugar)

For the crust

150 gr. Almond meal

2 tbsp. coconut flour

1 tbsp. xylitol (birch sugar) or your favourite sugar substitute

1 tbsp. butter or coconut oil

How to…

In a bowl, mix the crust ingredients and press down to form the base of your cake in a removable mold and bake in a pre heated oven (200 degrees) for 12 minutes. Let cool down completely.

In a large bowl mix the cream cheese with all the rest of the ingredientes, adding the eggs at the end, and saving one tbsp of matcha tea to decorate. Once the base is cold and solid, pour the mixture and bake at 180C for 30 to 45 minutes and this will depend on the depth of your mold. The deeper it is, the longer it will take. The key to knowing when it’s ready is to move the cake a little and when the centre wiggles a little, but it is firm for the rest, then it will be ready. Let sit in the oven with the door open for another 10 minutes and then let cool. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before eating and decorate with red berries and the rest of the matcha tea (you can use a shifter).

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Protein Choc Pot Recipe

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Breakfast is a wonderful part of the day but sometimes is difficult to stick to healthy habits when one is half sleep with a toddler at his or her feet or simply rushing out the door to go to work or do the daily chores.

For me, the key to this is planning. I normally cook my breakfasts of Sunday for the entire week and leave them in the fridge all cute and ready to go.

In this case, I have created this scrumptious chocolate pot high in fibre, filling, super high in protein and low in fat, carbs and calories. It is also sugar free and gluten free, what a winner!

So simple to make as well!

Ingredients (per portion):

30 gr. Oat bran coarse texture

200 ml. unsweetened coconut milk

100 ml. coffee

1 tbsp pure unsweetened cocoa

1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder

How to…

Simply heat up the milk, add the coffee and mix in the cocoa and the protein powder. When there are no more lumps, add the oat bran and turn the heat off. Serve in pots and add some granola as decoration at serving time if you wish.

This will give you if the recipe is followed precisely around 210 calories, 16 carbs, 8 Fat, 15 Protein.

 

Miss Iceland & Healthy Vegan Melomakarona

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Today browsing through Facebook, I have found an article about Miss Iceland, apparently she has quit the Miss Grand International. Whatever ridiculous pageant this is, to tell a perfectly beautiful, slim woman to eat “water” for the finals, skip breakfast and have a salad for lunch, is plainly criminal.

In a world like the one we live in, acts like this should not go unpunished. Enough of this already. Her goodbye letter in social media says it all. She actually explains that her shoulders are bigger than some other participants because she was in her country’s athletic team. We should be encouraging this type of healthy beauty and not perpetuating anorexic stereotypes that only cause harm to our younger generations.

 

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I went out for dinner last night and I drank almost half a bottle of an excellent Spanish wine with my friend and hell of a lot of fresh bread, a bit of a cheese platter and we even shared dessert. We were so full we texted each other about it afterwards. Today I was probably a bit heavier than usual, but you know what? It was totally worth it. It was an awesome time, with a great friend and fantastic food. I am just as beautiful (or ugly) as I was yesterday, with or without the extra weight.

This web is about eating and keeping a healthy weight, but above all, it’s about understanding that there has to be a balance and life is meant to be enjoyed, and to have proof that there are big faceless organisations that work relentlessly to make women feel like s*** just because they are not in a catwalk  shape should be punished. For that, we have the Victoria’s secret Model show and that is more than enough.

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So today I was going to share with you a recipe of a not so skinny-me cookies and I think it is perfect considering the mood 😉 so go ahead and make a batch of these. The are not low fat, in fact they are quite high in it, but they are still pretty healthy. They are wholegrain, refined sugar free and plainly delicious. The are Greek and called Melomakarona. They are apparently eaten over xmas, so here we are starting the celebration early!

I looked for a recipe online and I made some adjustments to make a little less taxing on the hips. I hope you enjoy them, so far the feedback has been really positive from all the test subjects!

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Ingredients (makes 35 biscuits)

7/8 cups or 500 gr. wholegrain flour (I used Saracen wheat which is an ancient grain)

1 1/2 cup Olive oil 

3/4 cup xylitol

3/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup cognac or brandy

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

For the syrup:

2 cups water

2 cups honey

2 cups xylitol

1/2 a lemon juice

Crushed walnuts for decoration

How to make it…

It is actually pretty simple to make these cookies, mix all the dry ingredients shifting them so they mix throughout. In a large bowl, mix the oil with the orange juice, the xylitol, the cognac and mix well. Once the mixture is homogeneous start adding the flour little by little. It will start to be drier by the end and ready to be shaped into biscuits.

These are quite large, the are a bit elongated and fit in your closed fist.

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Set them on a baking parchment and bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 175C. They should be a bit cracked on the surface.

While they bake, you can bring to a boil in a saucer the honey, xylitol and water and let it boil for a couple of minutes, then add the juice of half a lemon.

When the biscuits come out of the oven, give them a short “bath” in the syrup in batches of 4 and let them absorb the juice over a cooling rack and then sprinkle with crushed walnuts for decoration.

In case you want to make these vegan or totally non sugar skip the honey and just use more fruit juice and reduce the syrup a bit more to make it more dense.

Just so you know, xylitol is a natural sugar, it comes from birch. It has some real benefits for the health to the point of being used as medicine. It also prevents tooth decay and it is good for diabetes since it doesn’t cause a rise in Glycemic index (blood sugar). It is also quite pricey but an excellent sugar substitute.

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Lowest Fat Superfoods: Mussels

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A lot of people are dont like seafood. This generally happens in areas with no sea shore where the access to them is generally not so easy and they are not part of the traditional way of eating. Big Mistake!

It also normally means that they are quite expensive since they are not readily available and if you haven’t seen them in your family as a standard food while growing up, the changes that you would consider eaten them when you are older is less.

Travelling is great to open your eyes to new foods, some are good and some are not so good. The first time I ate pizza I think I must have been 10 or 12 years old!! I had Thai food first time 5 years ago and for a while there I didn’t like peppers or aubergine.

We all go through bad food stages, especially when we are in our early teens, “don’t like this don’t like that” generally the no-go foods are the ones our mums say are healthy. I think it is the rebellious spirit manifesting itself. Fish and broccoli generally fall under this category, and mussels do as well. They are ugly little things, you have to admit, and they smell really strong of sea water when they are uncooked, and I get that it is not everybody’s piece of cake.

One the things we can do to try mussels without having to go through the pain of preparing them is to order them when we are eating out. They come in a pot, already made and they provide long entertainment through the meal, with plenty of opportunities for chatting.

The reason why it is worth giving them a go is because as most seafood, they are almost purely protein and they are incredibly nutrient rich.

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They provide a very good amount of B12 vitamin (340% of your daily recommended intake) in only a 80gr portion, but they are also rich in the other B vitamins group.They are also an important source of: Vitamin C, Folic Acid, Iron, phosphorus, manganese, selenium and zinc.  Selenium plays a very important role in your thyroid function and manganese is involved in bone structure and the metabolism of energy.

When it comes to protein, around 15 mussels provide you with the same amount of protein that a 170 gr steak of beef, with a much lower fat content, so if you are trying to lose weight, mussels are the way to go. The have less than 2% of fat and it is all Omega 3, which helps protect your heart and arteries.

If this was not reason enough, they are a really high in Iodine which keeps your nails and hair strong and shiny! So what is there not to like about them??

I encourage you to try them if you haven’t done and expand your food horizons. Your waistline will thank you and your general health too.

If I have convince you, here is a little recipe, super easy, that you can do in less than 15 minutes!

 

Ingredients (serves 2):

750gr of mussels with their shells

2 garlic cloves

1 stalk of celery

1 bunch of fresh parsley

½ a small glass of white wine

Extra virgin olive oil

 

In a high pot (you will need the space) heat up one tablespoon of olive oil. Peel the garlic and mash it and chop the celery stick in small slices. Chop the parsley and when the oil is hot, add the garlic and celery. Add most of the parsley but reserve a little bit to garnish at the end.

The mussels should be clean (they sell them clean too, so that would help) and drained from all liquid. The best way to keep them is in water with some salt in the fridge and cook them in the 24 to 48h after buying them. When you are ready to cook them, drain them from the water and add them to the pot. Put the lid on!! This is very important because the mussels cook in the hot steam, and the lid will make the open easier and cook faster, leave them there for 2 to 5 minutes until open, add the white wine and let it boil for another couple of minutes.

Taste the flavour, but they should be salty enough as it is.

Serve immediately in the same pot (if it’s nice) or in a deep serving tray that allows the sauce to come with them garnished with the rest of the parsley, and set a bowl next to you for the empty shells.

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Enjoy!

 

190 Calorie Super Smoothie

FullSizeRender (2)I have been bad.. really bad, and Christmas hasn’t even started! I have been travelling a lot for work and this normally means total nutrition chaos.

I am sure it has happened to you, it is normal. The moment you step out of your routine, and you don’t get access to the food you normally eat, or a kitchen, it spirals out of control and from one little spoonful of chocolate pudding we end up ordering our own dessert at every meal.

The problem with these binge eating comes mainly when we are following a restrictive diet the rest of the time, a bit of cake is worse for someone on an Atkins or ketogenic diet that for someone that is just overeating but eats a varied diet, it leads to the yoyo effect, and worse than that, it leads to your metabolism becoming “reinforced” against such behaviour. This means that the more times you try and fail a restrictive diet, the less effect it will have, so all that suffering for nothing!!

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Unfortunately, that is life. You get social, you have friends, you have a celebratory meal… that is all well and good, the key is to practice balance!! If you know you are going to have a big dinner, I suggest a really healthy breakfast followed by a light lunch and light afternoon snack, it would be terrible to get to that dinner to hungry and eat enough to give you a tummy ache! Then the next morning, leave the leftovers for someone else and stick to some fat free yogurt and fruits!!

I have never too keen on social media but about a month ago, I opened an Instagram account, I am not 80 years old, I am just a bit too busy for that!! But since I do love photography and food I thought it could be fun (you can follow me if you want for daily foodinspiration and nutritional advice at cook_yourself_slim) Anyway so in Instagram, I found the smoothie bowl fever. All those pieces of art that look sooo pretty and sooo delicious!! I couldn’t just not do anything about it!

The problem I saw with many of them is that they were very calorie and carb heavy, full of “natural” goodness but not good for someone trying to shred some fat (like me) so I looked for the lightest, most nutritional alternative available, and I am LOVING the results.

I have to confess that I will have this breakfast for dinner tonight as part of my post Spanish food overload last week, as a detox.

 

This smoothies are dead easy to make and quick too.

Take note!!

 

Ingredients:

1 pot of fat free Greek yogurt (I use Fage, 170gr and the best protein profile out there)

½ a cup of frozen blueberries

½ cup of frozen strawberries

A pinch of non-caloric sweetener

100 ml of milk (I use soy milk but you take your pick)

½ banana

1 tbsp. sliced toasted almonds.

 

Literally put everything in a blender, blend, and pour in a bowl. Add ½ a banana and some toasted sliced almonds as decoration, some chia seeds for extra protein if you wish and enjoy.

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It tastes like ice cream!!!

And it has around 190 calories, which is pretty impressive for something that tastes sooo good.

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You can change the toppings according to your personal preferences and whatever fruit you have laying around.

 

I am on holidays from tomorrow, so I might leave you alone for a while, but I will come back with a post xmas exercise and detox diet for the new year resolutions.

Stay tuned!!

Bulimia & Other diets

Eating-Disorders

I haven’t posted for a few days because I have been travelling, specifically to Tokyo and the time difference and the workload haven’t allowed me to dedicate the time I wanted to my side activities like this blog, which I love to write. So sorry everyone!

Those of you who have ever flown long haul probably know that there are very few things to do on a plane, and one of them is watching movies. Since I don’t get much spare time to watch anything on my daily life, I always take this chances to catch-up with all the films I have missed in the last months.

One of the movies I watched on the way back was Amy, a documentary about the life and tragic death of the British Singer Amy Winehouse, you probably know the story as I did (unless you have watched the documentary) a young Jewish girl with a great talent for singing and song writing, out of a lower class suburb in north London made it to stardom only to fall into a deep hole of drug and alcohol abuse that lead to her dead at the age of 27. Sad story, not the first one of this kind, the 27 club is a highly populated one, filled with some unforgettable figures from the music scene since the 60s.

 

The reason why I am mentioning it, is that actually, Amy did not overdose, she died of alcohol poisoning on a very weakened body. This weakened body was in such state because she had been suffering from bulimia from the age of 15, a condition that went untreated and everybody in her environment overlooked as the least of her problems, but that did cause in the end her death. Looking for some information about this subject, I found one of the best articles I have read about eating disorders using this documentary and this particular case as an example. For those of you who might be interested, this is the link to it:untitled

http://pitchfork.com/thepitch/861-we-need-to-talk-about-amy-winehouses-eating-disorder-and-its-role-in-her-death

 

I will not go in depth into this issue because the article featured if you follow the link already said it all better than I ever could, I would like instead to talk about the part of the education and the family support of Amy Winehouse (or the lack of it) that led to her holding on to her eating disorder and how this situation is much more common that we think, with thousands of women and some men falling at a very young age into this trap.

 

Bulimia and Anorexia are the extreme psychological conditions, the end game that can start with any of the other diets that are out there that could actually also be considered eating disorders because they, well, “disorder” our eating. You name it, the intermittent fasting, the juice detox, the Atkins method, the paleo method, the Dukan diet, the zone, weight watchers, low carb, low fat, the cayenne pepper and syrup diet… the list is endless and all of them have something in common, they work when followed, they don’t when not.

The problem is that these are all based on extreme restrictions or suppressions of entire food groups leaving our bodies shaking.

 

Simples!!

It is amazing to read on press continuous claims saying things like “traditional diets” don’t work, we must find another way to tackle weight loss since obesity has become the new plague of our time. In this article in particular they were talking about genetically tailored diets, the new hive, trying to find a new personalised diet that will once and for all adjust our food intakes to keep us healthy and slim. Sounds like a miracle? Yet the problem is that genetically we will probably not be supposed to eat doughnuts all day long.

It is a great idea in principle to use our genetic imprint to achieve the best possible nutritional plan and use it to create our diet. A lot of people will be willing to spend a lot of money in something like this, and it might be really useful for us to get a diet profile from our childhoods to learn to eat according to our body’s specific needs but it will not give us a free pass to eat whatever we want, potentially chocolate will still be off limits for 98% of the people if your gold is trying to stay fit and healthy. It should be something to be consumed occasionally. Traditional diets say so, and genetically tailored made ones will say exactly the same thing. Though luck!!

 

What the media seems to fail to explain when they say “ Traditional Diets” fail, is that it is not the diet that actually fails, but the dieters. Let me explain this, if you are overweight buy a significant amount of kilos, let’s say 15 for the sake of discussion, how did you get there? Did they appear in your belly and hips overnight? Most probably not. They are the result a of a lifetime of nutritional errors and a bad diet (as in how you eat every day) and a lack of an active lifestyle (namely sports) that has taken you to this point. If you change your diet in order to lose weight, and you manage to lose 12 kilos, and then you go back to your sedentary pre diet eating habits, guess what, your 12 kilos will come back with them and probably will bring friends!! It is the law of nature, old habits, old body!!

The key to a successful weight loss, whichever diet you choose, is to make it a lifestyle, lifetime long sustainable change. It doesn’t make any sense to put your body in a state of deprivation, which could potentially compromise your metabolism not to mention your mental stability. Some of the well-known effects of a low carb diet sustained in time can be lack of energy apathy and depression, intermittent fasting can lead to drowsiness, but the worst is the feeling that you cannot eat something, because this is exactly what you will be longing for all day long.

So back to your diet, and the weight you have lost and the hunger you have developed for the things that you haven’t been eating… what happens? Well you start eating everything and bang, the dreaded yo yo effect will come and kick you in the ass. Metaphorically and physically.

The more restrictive your diet is the worse will be the bounce effect to normal. If you are not prepared to life on a low carb diet the rest of your life, simply do not start a low carb diet.

Each person is different, in this, the media and papers are correct, and there is not one correct nutritional approach that fits all. Each one of us needs to take a long honest look at one selves and make a commitment to our diet for the rest of our lives. Am I going to be a low carb? Am I going to be a low fat? Am I going to fast? Or am I going to eat less amount of food, try to keep the fat and carbs under control and increase my physical activity?? Whatever you think it will work for you in the LONG TERM is the answer to you.

Finally I would like to also put out there, that having some flesh over the bone is totally healthy and beautiful. As long as you have an active lifestyle and your BMI is between 20 and 25 you are a healthy individual. The rest is AESTHETICS, and they are not necessary. So if you think or think that you are a bit chubby, but you are healthy, and you struggle to diet and you start and finish a fad diet every week, please do yourself a favour and stop!! Accept who you are and accept the beauty of your body and enjoy the food you love, because if you want to lose weight you need to love being skinny more than you love chocolate ice cream.

And Chocolate ice cream is amazing 😉