Meal Time: Conditioning Your Body to Quit Refined Carbs

You are what you eat.

Our body and mind are one continuous single unit. When you are in distress, or are in a period of time when you don’t feel the top, have you ever noticed the same goes for your digestions?

I’ve started to believe this might go both ways, as our physical bodies, our digestive system suffers, our mind in turns follow and becomes dazed and confused.

What is the difference between refined and natural sugar, you asked? Well while we know a little sugar isn’t going to give you cancer or have your body inflamed right away, refined sugar, in the midst of the refining process, tends to have stripped the nutrients of the original ingredients away. So you are left with mainly calories, your body’s fuel, but it provides no nutritional value. That means if your diet contains mainly of refined sugar (read: Also refined carbohydrates), you will have fuel to run the engine, but no nutrients to make sure your engine runs healthily. Moreover, fructose in refined sugars are treated as a toxin in the body and can only be broken down in the liver. This overloads the liver and the excess, untreated fructose get stored and triggers bodily inflammation and liver diseases.

I am on my third complete refined sugar cleanse, and in the past, whenever I mentioned it, people often commented that they wouldn’t be able to do it, that it would be impossible for them. So here I am, to show you, it is in fact very simple, and you don’t need to quit cold turkey and suffer from the sudden change of diet. And here’s my plans of attack (I will include my simple meal plan at the end of this post)

  1. Mental conditioning: Strict diet, short time
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    The most challenging I find is the starting of the process, most people frown even at the thought of having a long term no sugar diet, that sounds like no fun!
    What I find most helpful and manageable is to start with a strict limitation right from the start but begin with segments of short periods of time.What is short period of time? Say, this time around, I’ve started my diet with a 3-days castor oil cleanse, and that was my goal at the start. And by the end of the 3 days, if I felt fine with not having a lot of cravings, I extend it to one week, by the end of one week my body has started to adjust and felt a lot better with this new diet, I went onto extend it for a month, and by the end of the month, honestly I didn’t even want to eat any sweet things anymore.
    Starting with a short time but strict plan makes it possible to reach your goal. It gives you the rewarding feeling that you need to keep going. It’s a little bit like luring a small child into eating greens, first you start with a small portion, give it a reward, and increase the requirement gradually.


  2. Switching out the baddies with the goodies
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    Sugar is addicting, and for my fellow sugar junkies out there, quitting anything sweet all at once is not downright impossible, but pretty damn close.
    So allow your body to have the treat of your natural sugar of choice, say if you are crazy about milk chocolate, don’t go all dark/no chocolate straight away, opt for a replacement that resembles the taste. For example I don’t personally like eating candies very much but I am crazy about chocolate, ice cream and the occasional cake. Here are what I use to cheat my own brain into being satisfied:
    – Milk chocolate – Dried dates covered in cocoa powder/Raw chocolate mulberries
    – Ice cream – Frozen berries covered in heavy cream/replacement cream (add honey if you like) OR Nice cream (You have to try it)
    – Cakes, cookies – Opt for banana/maple syrup as replacement sweetener
    – Gummys – natural fruit bites /candies with stevia instead of refined sugar/Energy balls


  3. Find your choice of natural sugar
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    If you don’t like banana, you don’t like dates, the above probably won’t work very well for you. But sit, try, and ask yourself what are some sweet fruit that you like? Perhaps you like grapes, raisins, perhaps you like the taste of honey?Don’t give up as soon as one replacement doesn’t work for you, what we are doing here is not to have a total simulation of the food item that you normally eat, but a acceptable replacement that can trick our brain into accepting.


  4. Say yes to natural sugars, but limit the hours that you are allowed to
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    Being able to use replacement sugar doesn’t mean you should go nuts and eat as many as you want, fruit sugar and other natural sugar, though natural, consumed in large amount can still turn into excess energy, and these energy in turn gets stored and create the binding agent for inflammations.
    During the day, get your natural sugar hits as you need, but after dinner and night snack time, try not to eat any of it. If you are hungry and need something for your mouth, opt for the snack replacements that I mention in the last paragraph of this article.



  5. Cutting refined grains
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    When I have stepped into phase 2 of the meal plan, I start cutting down refined grains as well. Refined grains like pasta, white rice in effect is one and the same as refined sugar. Over processed, low nutritional value, high on calories.
    One common thing people worry about cutting refined carbs is that they will get hungry. But in fact, you don’t need to cut all grains, only to choose the better grains.
    Instead of using white rice, I try using a blend of wild/brown rice, quinoa, millets, barley, bulgur. The bigger the variety you can find, the better really. The lesser processed grains contain more fiber, more nutrients. And it fills you up for longer.
    If you have a hard time adjusting to the new texture in the beginning, try starting with mixing a small portion of wild grains in your regular rice. Try mixing half plain pasta with half whole grain pasta. Instead of regular bread, try introducing Rye bread into your diet (Nordic style).


  6. Boost up your protein and vegetable intakes
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    And as we are cutting down our refined calories, we also need to start upping our protein intakes. Proteins is essential for building muscles and other structural components, to help your immune system AND it fills you up for much longer. 
    Start introducing more protein into your diet, instead of having pure crabs, put in perhaps a piece of chicken, salmon or white fishes. If you prefer veggie options opt in for the varies species of lentils, beans, chickpeas, tofu.
    Find the right amount of each of these that will fill you up, and notice the amount of hours that it will keep you full, and slowly adjust to having 20-30% proteins and mostly greens and healthy grains.


  7. For the snackers
    I’m a massive snacker, and not having snacks kills me. In fact back in school I was the designated candy carrier in the class, everybody knows they would be able to get some sweets out of me, should they ask. In my recent years I’d gone more into salty snacks and I particularly can’t live without having chips or something resembles chips at least once every other day.popcorn-snack-salty-food
    So cutting snacks was super hard, and it is always so incredibly tempting for me.
    My solution was nuts, soaked nuts in specific.
    If you are a little like me, a little fuzzed about texture of the food, soaked nut might be an option for you.
    I keep a jar of soaked almond in the fridge when I’m in the beginning phase of my diet change, and whenever I get incredible tempted, or get so hungry and I need a snack quick, I try to ease with with soaked nuts instead of processed carbs like chips or candy. Occasionally, I pop my own corn and drizzle it with salt, pepper or a little bit of olive oil.


  8. Cheat day
    Do I ever cheat, you ask? Yes I definitely do. But I tend to try to stay away from any cheat days in at least the first 3 weeks of my new diet. I would take the occasional ice cream and cake after that, but to be honest at that point on my diet, I didn’t even really like the sensation I get from eating sugar anymore, so the work is done on its own.

Meal Plan:

  • Phase I: Castor Oil Cleanse (3 – 7 days)
    DAY 1-2
    Breakfast: Yoghurt/Fruit
    Snack: Fruits (banana, grape, blue berries)
    Lunch: Kichari/Dahl
    Snack: Soaked nuts
    Dinner: Kichari/Dahl/Steam broccoli
    Snack: Frozen raspberry/blueberry with creamon top
    DAY 3
    Breakfast: 1 tsp Castor oil + Small cup Orange juice, mixed well
    Rest of day: Kichari/vegetable as I get hungry
  • Phase II: Cutting refined grains (10 – 20 days)
    VARIATION 1 (light > heavy)
    Breakfast: Yoghurt/fruit
    Snack: Fruits
    Lunch: Kichari/Miso zucchini noodles/Ryebread smørbrød/Quinoa salad
    Snack: Nuts/Chocolate dates/Banana cookies
    Dinner:Fish/Chicken/Mushroom/Tofu + veggies
    VARIATION 2 (heavy > light)
    Breakfast: Boiled egg/Fried egg/Chia pudding/Banana pancake
    Snack: Nuts/fruits/Homemade Kale chips
    Lunch: Fish/Chicken/Mushroom/Tofu + veggies
    Snack: Nuts/Homemade Kale chips
    Dinner: Soups/Soup with rice or zucchini noodles

I hope this gives you some inspiration and/or ideas, let me know how it goes with your diet, and how you feel with your new eating regime.

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Cultivating Self Love

I'm sure we all had that moment when we feel as though we have committing ourselves into too much, we threw ourselves into things too quickly and deeply, and ended up feeling as though we don't have enough time, we don't have enough energy. I'm sure we have all felt it before, we aim to please so hard, we end up sacrificing our own happiness.

Do we love ourselves? How much do we love ourselves? How do we love ourselves more?

 

Here are some of the things I do to remind myself to stay right in the center, and not allowing my innit pursue to pleasing others and archiving some career/physical goal to get in the way of letting myself be happy:

* This is a new series of blog where instead of rambling on, I'll share some tips and ideas on what you can do as well, to get a healthier and better mental and physical health.

 

 

1. Meditation

Our mind is so used to having stimulations all the time, to a point that it is obsessed with it. Perhaps you have tried being so restless being idle; perhaps you have caught yourself closing an app and immediately opening it again.

2. NOURISHMENT

Movement is medicine. We all know that - if you don't have a physical practice of any modality, it may be a good idea to start one now. It doesn't have to be yoga, perhaps for you it is running, perhaps for you it is hula hopping. Start from a small dose of movement to condition your muscularskeletal body into being lubricated, being smooth again. 

3. SPACE

Get your own sacred, personal, non-doing space. 

Dedicate time in your daily routine to have 10 minutes of doing nothingness. No looking at the phone, no being on the computer, no cooking, talking, planning. Try to sit somewhere that you feel safe and undisturbed, and observe.

4. Go Upside Down

At the very beginning of me teaching yoga I was so nervous every time. One trick that I learned was to do a Downward facing dog before going into class. 

5. Decide your anchor

It has long been discussed that minerals are energetically aiding us. I have numerous palm stones and tumble stones, whether or not the stones has energetic properties, I am not going to discuss here, but what I find very useful is the shear act of palming an object, in my case, a mineral stone.

I hope no matter which ones draw to you more, you will find a little something that helps. 

Let me know what you would like me to write about by commenting below, or sending me a message at info@yogawithsandy.dk. Have a wonderful day.

Home made tofu and soya milk

When I was small my mum used to make her own soya milk. I never understood. Soya milk is cheap where I am from, and widely available.

Living in Scandinavia has triggered my wish to have more soya products, the silky, sold everywhere tofu, the tofu skins, the tofudella. And tofus are expensive here, boy oh boy are they expensive.

So I decided to go on my venture to make my own tofu.

The adventure started with my finding the soya beans. Believe it or not, soya beans are not so easily found in supermarkets here, at least I never personally was able to find them. So I ordered my soya online, borrowed a big pot from my in-laws. And I was ready to go.

Before we start the recipe, I have to say making tofu or soya milk is a messy process. I had soya piece everywhere in the kitchen. And because of my lack of proper pressing equipment, my tofus were falling apart in the edges a little bit.

But hey, I tried and I liked the trying.

Here’s what I needed:

  • 1 kg of soya, soaked over night
  • Close to 3 litres of water
  • Lemon juice, 150 ml
  • Cheese cloth
  • Sieve
  • Big ol’ pot (I had one but it would have been better to have two)

What I did was:

  • First I soaked the beans overnight, taking out the bad looking one

  • Rinse and cover beans with enough water, blend. I blended everything until smooth, added the remaining water and proceeded to bring the pot on the stove

  • I then boiled the mixture over high heat with a constant stir until it comes to a boil
  • The mixture is to simmer for another 20 minute once it’s boiling. You need to keep stirring the whole time. Boiling soya mixture is a tricky business and it burns and boil over very easily.
  • After 20 minutes of boil I take my pot off and let it cool. Let the mixture cool considerably before you proceed
  • I grabbed a cheese cloth (use a sieve if you have one, I didn’t and regretted greatly) and filter out the fibers of the soya bean from the mixture. Dont throw these away, they are called okra and is a good replacement to meat. Season well and fry as replacement to minced meat.
  • When I got my soya milk I take some out for drinking and return the rest onto the stove to boil again
  • When the soya milk has started to smoke up, not quite bubbling I took the heat off (remember to still keep stirring the whole time)
  • Then I put my prepared lemon juice in , stir well and let it sit

  • As your soya milk starts processing it will turn to look something like this.
  • I then carefully not breaking the piece transferred the mixture to a mold lined with triple layered cheese cloth. I used a plastic box that comes with grapes here. But it is better if you have one of those tofu moods. You need a box like shape that’s deep and with drainage holes underneath.
  • After I transferred the liquid to a good height. I folded the clothes over and place heavy object on top. Now my mistake was not having an exact size object to weight so the pressure was uneven. I also didn’t use heavy enough press in the beginning so it took me a while to form the tofu into the right shape.
  • Let pressed until the texture is desirable (between 20 – 40 minutes)
  • Soak tofu in salted water and refridgate up to 4 days

This was a messy project but it was also my first try. The result is very creamy soya milk and not very firm tofu.


Work and play

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This is me, having taught my 07.00 am class, making my breakfast. This Wednesday is set out to be an exceptionally long day. Morning class, work on website, meeting and studio errands and two more classes in the evening. My day today starts from 06.00 until 20.30 when I finish the last class.

Yet this is me, between my responsibilities, making myself and hubby some banana pancakes.

Life is activities. No matter how passive one is, one always would like some degree of activity.

But life is also about balance, working and being in activity all day for some of us is stressful. So in the midst of all this, do you take some time in between, and do something that is fun and nurturing for yourself?

My choice of this day is a low carbs banana pancake. Does it taste good? Does banana and egg ever taste not good to you?

And here the very simple, 5 minutes recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 riped banana
  • 2 eggs
  • Cinnamon powder
  • Coconut oil
  • Option to add whole wheat flour

Steps:

  1. Mash banana with a fork
  2. Beat eggs
  3. Mix the two together, beat in cinnamon powder, one table spoon of coconut oil. And option to add in 1.5 table spoons of whole wheat flour
  4. Let mixture sit
  5. Heat a small pan, add coconut oil or butter
  6. Fry small, flat scoops of mixture on the pan. Fry for approx. 2 minutes each or until golden brown
  7. Add your condiment and enjoy 👍

Treat of the day 

This is me, soaking in a foot bath, after a long working day.

Every since my deadly week of Easter teaching that sets the record of 19 classes a week, I’ve been allowing myself to take up to 3 classes a day. And with the hard wood flooring, walking off the mats around class, me being a little bit of a wuss, my feet hurts after these 3 classes days.

Ever had one of those incidents where you focus so intensely, you forget your own physical state? Well while I’m walking around making sure people are focusing on their own body, most of the time I forget about my own.

The good thing though, is I get to get a little treat of foot bathing. Foot bath has long been considered an effective remedy in the Chinese medicine. It is thought to increase blood and chi flow through infusing the bathing water with herbal medicine, and letting it seep through the major meridian points located at the bottom of your feet. In traditional Chinese medicine, your feet are very important, much like a tree, our torso is the trunk of the tree and our feet are the roots of the tree. How does the tree get healthy if not for healthy roots?

On top of that, it is just a really good reason to get this treat of the day anyway.

No added sugar banana cookies

It’s been a month since I am off sugar. Do I crave snacks? Heck yeah!

Every Monday at my danish class, sitting and being mentally challenged, I crave that beautiful, juicy, chocolaty muffin that sell at the cafeteria. And it is so very close by.

I do eat sweet things, just not refined or manufactured sugar, and most of the store bought snacks just cannot pass my test.

So I went, heck, I’m gonna make my own snack.

The recipe is simple:

  • 3 riped banana, mashed
  • Oat (or I used musli)
  • Cinnamon powder
  • Chopped dates
  • 1 table spoon of Coconut oil

I did followed a recipe very loosely but ditched most of the measurements. As I was eyeing it out, the only important things as far as measurements are:

  • Slightly more banana than oats
  • More dates > sweeter. Mind you date has a large amount of natural sugar in. So I put only a few of them in my batch.

Instructions:

  • Mash banana, mix all the ingredients, adjust portions as you go
  • Let it sit for 20 minutes
  • Spoon mixture on lined baking tray into small scoops, flattern as necessary
  • Bake in preheated oven at 175 C
  • Check cookies are golden brown and not moist
  • Put it in your mouth and enjoy!