Diet & Nutrition Archives - Awaken Your Health
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The Important Link Between Body and Mind

In today’s hectic, fast-paced world, it can sometimes be difficult to keep yourself calm and collected in the face of stress. Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to help your body naturally stay calm. Here at Awaken Your Health, we offer nutritionist services to our clients, helping you to make healthy choices to enable your body to perform at its optimal level. That includes making the right nutrition choices to help reducing stress. Often people gloss over the link between stomach and brain, but here’s a glimpse into how you can prime your diet for greater mental health:

Eat the Rainbow

Eating a wide diversity of colourful plant foods, rich in polyphenols and antioxidants, can boost focus by protecting cellular function and optimising blood flow to the brain. Aim for five or more cups of plant foods daily, predominantly vegetables, and add value and flavour to your meals by including herbs and spices. Try to increase the number of colours on your plate at each mealtime – diversity is the spice of life!

A Natural High

Whilst caffeine and other stimulants may give you a short-term boost of energy, relying on stimulants to function each day has an adverse effect on your blood sugar control, which may increase anxiety and irritability, not to mention impacting sleep quality. We often feel more exhausted than when we began as the effects of caffeine and other stimulants wear off. You are much better off relying on adequate hydration and a high-quality diet to sustain a calm and focused mind. Replace coffee with a couple of cups of quality green tea. This has been shown to produce a better ability to focus attention and to improve both speed and accuracy due to its l-theanine content.

Fishy Benefits

Omega-3-rich foods provide building block components that form a structural part of our brain matter. Including oily fish such as Australian sardines, wild salmon, ocean trout, oysters, mussels, and skipjack tuna aid mental performance and improve concentration and mood. Our founder, Tabitha McIntosh, recently contributed this last point to an article by Bupa Life Insurance: ‘How to Stay Calm: Wellness Experts Share Their Tips‘. Read it for more great advice on keeping calm throughout your day and life.

Take care of your diet and you’ll be doing wonders for your mind.

We are all about following a healthy diet, not just for the health benefits but for the mood benefits as well. Check out our latest feature in a Bupa Life Insurance article to learn all about how a balanced, nutritious diet can help you keep calm and reduce stress.


4 Sunday habits to spring clean your health

_d8a5469Spring has sprung – time to take advantage of the longer days and the sunshine, to develop some positive, supportive, healthy habits. We’ve pulled together here four Sunday habits to spring clean your health and ensure a productive week ahead.

1. Invest an hour getting organised

Although spending time on a Sunday reviewing your calendar and prioritising your tasks for the week ahead doesn’t sound like the sexiest weekend ritual, research has shown that taking a few moments to do this simple planning can help clear the mind and reduce worry. Knocking off some simple tasks, as well as doing a load of laundry and organising your work clothes for the week ahead, is a healthy habit that will create a more efficient working week. Done first thing, it will free up the rest of your day for complete R&R.

 2. Fill your plate with healthy food

It’s all too easy to skip breakfast on a lazy Sunday, and to hit the wine or beer early afternoon… We all know this impacts our food choices and vitality for the rest of the day. Consuming rich, heavy food and alcohol on a Sunday can sink you into a food coma that can carry over into your Monday, leaving you feeling lethargic. Start your day with a warm lemon water and be sure to fill your plate (or smoothie) with greens to keep well nourished and energised. Set yourself up for a working week of healthy lunches by cooking a large batch of soup, vegetable curry or roast vegetables on a Sunday afternoon.

If you’re exceptionally pushed for time during the week, organic delivery boxes from local companies can make your week that bit easier, and give you the confidence that you’re feeding your cells with clean, in–season, produce from nature’s bounty.

Here are some of our favourites:_d8a5552

Or you can visit our neighbours Wholefoods House on Queen St to pick up some seasonal, organic produce.

3. Add meaning

Doing something especially fulfilling and with purpose on a Sunday can make you approach Mondays with a much more positive outlook. We all have to get things done over the weekend, but scheduling a meaningful activity can recharge your mental and spiritual batteries. Attend a yoga class where you check in with yourself; connect with a friend or family member to help them out with a task; or go for a walk in nature. Approach Monday feeling full of gratitude, inspired accomplished.

4. Set yourself up for a good night’s sleep

A good night’s rest on Sunday is the best way to ease into the madness of Monday. It will improve your stress resilience, give you in a more optimistic outlook, and leave you feeling alert, focussed and ready to tackle a productive week. To get the most out of your sleep, try to leave at least 3 hours between your dinner meal and going to bed. Keep stimulants low, and minimise screen time from at least 2 hours prior to bed is key to quality sleep. You’ll also notice an improvement in your sleep quality after a decent amount of exercise during the day; preferably in the morning.

If you have any concerns with your sleep onset, sleep maintenance or sleep quality; or even just need some recipe and meal-planning inspiration, we are here to help!

Feel free to call us for a consultation on 02 8007 4275, or to find a consultation time that suits on our booking page here.


Are Perfectionism & Guilt Preventing You From Achieving Health Goals?

image 1When embarking on a new health journey we can often develop the mentality that we have to do it ‘perfectly’ or else we fail. As a Naturopath, and working clinically as a Naturopathic practitioner, it is clear that the more closely guidelines are followed – the better the outcomes. Howeverin today’s world of socialising, events & busy lifestyles, it is unrealistic to expect that you will change old habits overnight or follow your food goals 100% of the time without having slip-ups. Consistency is key – not perfection!

This is where our old friend guilt can show up. If we do slip-up, we often feel guilty, beat ourselves up and are more likely to overeat or binge on foods that are outside of food goals. The vicious negative cycle begins and suddenly eating becomes an emotional rollercoaster, stressful and unenjoyable. Its no wonder health can feel hard to some people.

Living a healthy & balanced lifestyle should bring a sense of joy, investment and self-love. Eating is one of life’s pleasurable activities and we are lucky enough to live in a country abundant in delicious, fresh produce. A crucial part of embarking on a health journey means embracing the positive changes you are making for your body, turning them into a lifestyle and allowing the space for slip-ups to occur – we are all human after all!

How can you move past guilt & perfectionism? 

If you do happen to fall off track, please don’t beat yourself up or feel guilty. Guilt does not serve you or your goals. Learn from it, look at your triggers and become aware of how things make your body feel. Direct your thoughts away from the guilty mental chatter and become aware of your body, this can help reduce any chance of binge eating. Do you feel lethargic, glum, uncomfortable, anxious, pain? Really become in tune with your body and make a choice to be friends with your body.

A slip-up certainly does not mean you have ruined your intention of becoming healthy. The best thing to do is to forgive yourself and recommit to eating well for the rest of the week.

Health is about progression – not perfection!


Simple Tips to Combat Overindulging & Indigestion this Christmas

christmas tree

Christmas is a time to be with your loved ones, play backyard cricket, eat (too much) good food & laugh. No matter how much you tell yourself you won’t overeat – many of us will find ourselves lining up for second or third servings or collapsing on the couch with full bellies. To avoid indigestion or that overwhelming sense of fullness this festive season, I have put together my top tips so you can have your cake and eat it too!

  • Consuming large amounts of liquids with meals floods the digestive system, leading to bloating & discomfort. Carbonated drinks are particularly aggravating if you are susceptible to bloating. Keep liquids 15 minutes apart from meals, or if you plan to enjoy a nice beverage with your Christmas lunch, do sip it slowly.
  • Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, or even some bitters to your water during the day to enhance digestion.
  • Take a gentle walk after a big meal to reduce bloating and indigestion.
  • Avoid indulging in heavy meals later in the evening. Going to bed with a full stomach can aggravate heartburn and led to an unsettling sleep. Particularly when combined with alcohol.
  • Herbal teateas are soothing and calming on the digestive tract after a day of indulging. Ginger, chamomile, fennel or peppermint to reduce bloating and relax spasm and cramps in the digestive tract.
  • If you know you’re going to eat more than usual, you may appreciate some extra herbal support such as Iberogast – a liquid herbal combination backed with plenty of scientific evidence and an excellent safety profile that you can easily fit into your handbag. Alternatively, try a good quality digestive enzyme capsule or tablet to optimise your chemical digestion and comfort.
  • Encompassing mindfulness & gratitude at meal times allows us to appreciate how lucky we are, it also helps us to feel aroused by the colours & smells of the meal before us. This effective tool stimulates the release of gastric secretions before food enters the stomach, and optimises chemical digestion to ensure maximum breakdown and absorption of nutrients.

Remember to have fun and enjoy the delicious festive foods with your loved ones. Christmas only comes around once per year so release the guilt and bring the joy back into eating!



The Key to Losing Weight & Maintaining it

weight loss

Embarking on a weight loss journey is an empowering time in a person’s life.  An opportunity to implement new, supportive practices that will eventually harden into habits. At Awaken Your Health, we know that making healthy and sustainable changes doesn’t have to be about deprivation, restriction, calorie counting, or fad diets. It’s about taking responsibility for your health, supporting your food relationship, knowing you deserve joy, and feeling your absolute best every single day!

Knowing the best methods to lose weight can be confusing. People can feel bombarded with information over-load baffled by fad diets, pills, potions and tricks – it’s no wonder it all feels ‘too hard’. So how do you know what’s right for you and the best way to achieve results? 

What’s Wrong with weight loss pills, tea’s & fad diets?

The main problem with fad diets is exactly that, they are a trend.  It is both unrealistic and unhealthy to maintain those diets (and their results) over the long term. Weight loss pills are another common approach taken to weight loss. They can be detrimental to your health and often even come with an array of nasty side effects such as heart palpations, insomnia and anxiety due to the high caffeine content. I’m sure many of you have seen weight loss teas advertised on social media and magazines? These too can be damaging to health due to their diuretic and/or laxative action that can lead to severe dehydration and dependence.

A Naturopathic Approach to Weight Loss

A naturopathic approach involves a full health assessment, where your current health status, diet and lifestyle are all taken into consideration. Health investigations may be suggested to identify hindering factors affecting your ability to lose weight. This holistic approach allows us to design an effective, tailored plan to suit your unique requirements. It provides you with the best possible chance of achieving your weight loss goals, and the right tools and education to maintain your amazing results!


Making small yet effective changes is the key to weight loss success. These 5 steps can benefit anyone looking to improve their health or lose weight. The best thing is that you can start them almost immediately.

Include 1 Healthy Fat with Each Meal

Good quality fats digests slowly, helping you feel fuller for longer and you eat less overall. Try including one of the following with each meal; olive oil, macadamia oil, coconut oil, nut butters, nuts and seeds, chia seeds, flaxseed/oil, oily fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines).

Always Pack Your Snacks

This is a big one if find yourself reaching for a chocolate bar at 3pm. Being prepared with a healthy snack is the key to avoid overeating and making poor choices. Always keep a range of balanced snacks on hand or in the desk at work – raw nuts, bliss balls, dried figs or prunes, boiled eggs, chia puddings, hummus or tahini and carrot sticks, fresh fruit or yoghurt pots are all great options. Don’t have time to prepare snacks? The next tip will help.

Set a Prep Day

I am a huge fan of locking in a ‘prep day’ once a week. There’s no need to give up the whole day, even just 1 hour is sufficient (providing you have the ingredients available in the kitchen). Prepare snacks in bulk, put the slow cooker on and freeze a few meals for lunch, do a sufficient food shop and stock your pantry with clean wholesome food for the week ahead.

Switch on Fat Burning Mode (your metabolism)

Our body’s metabolism dictates how we burn fat and produce muscle. Stimulate your fat-burning power by increasing these food sources; chilli, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, green tea and protein (eggs, lean meat, poultry, fish).

Increase NEAT 

NEAT stands for (non-exercising activity thermogenesis), it is the energy expended for all physical activities that is not sleeping, eating or sport-like exercise – think of it as moving more and sitting less! Increasing regular movements into your day has the ability to increase your metabolic rate and burn more fat. This step is crucial for those who spend long hours sedentary for work or traveling in the car. Examples include typing, walking to work, taking the stairs, carrying your groceries, fidgeting, dancing, gardening, cleaning, housework, try doing squats or calf raises whilst brushing your teeth – it all adds up!


5 ideas to boost your daily vegetable intake


Start with breakfast

Breakfast is a fantastic way to knock off a few of your ‘daily serves’. Cook up 2 eggs and serve them with 1-2 cups of vegetables. Our favourites are baby spinach, asparagus, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, avocado, green beans, and kale. You can cook them all up in the same pan – easy!

Supercharge Your Smoothie

Smoothies are another easy option to increase your vegetables intake. We will be sharing our favourite smoothie recipes in the upcoming Spring newsletter, they taste delicious and are loaded with goodness! Remember if your adding leafy greens to your smoothie, don’t forget to rotate them to ensure you get a variety of nutrients. Spirulina, chlorella, wheat grass, barley grass, and even baby spinach & cucumber are other options to increase your nutrient intake.

Snack on it

Chop up some vegetable sticks and enjoy them with a good quality dip such as hummus, tatziki, or green tahini. You can mix your vegetables up with raw capsicum, cucumber, carrot, celery, cauliflower and broccoli sticks.

Top it Off

Top of your meals with a generous handful of fresh herbs, they are still ‘green’s, and add a boost of flavour to your meals. Parsley on your soup, coriander on your curry, or rosemary on your roast veg (yum).

Juice it

Good old vegetable juices are an excellent way to increase your nutrient intake. Remember the key here is for the juice to include mainly vegetables and 1-2 pieces of fruit max.

Mix it Up

Potato chips can easily be swapped for sweet potato or kale chips. Home roasted, covered in a good oil like virgin olive oil or coconut oil. Think colour with your roast or baked veg – the more colour, the higher the nutrient density!


For further help, please book in to see us for a consultation.


Eating more Legumes – Some recipe ideas

Lentils are a great source of vegetarian protein with low-to-negligible fat. They are also a fabulous source of dietary fibre. Generally, one cup of cooked lentils provides you with 5-10g of dietary fibre. Substituting meat dishes with a dish of legumes & whole grains once or twice a week can improve your health.
A high fibre diet prevents constipation, haemorrhoids and diverticular disease and may be protective against bowel polyps and cancer. A high fibre diet is also associated with a lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, obesity and diabetes. Foods high in fibre tend to be low in GI (glycemic index) and so are well suited to weight loss and diabetic diets. (see
Lentils are generally good with extra virgin olive oil; onion; garlic; carrot; celery; tomato; spinach; sage; parsley; thyme; coriander; bay leaf; saffron; lamb; beef; chorizo sausage; chutney; brown/basmati rice and all flat breads. Try experimenting with international dishes (such as Indian and MiddleEeastern).

Canned lentils are fine to use when they have been drained and rinsed. To reduce gas when cooking with dried beans/lentils, soak the beans for 18 hours (to remove a large percentage of the oligosaccharides which ferment in the colon to produce gas). Throw away the water and then cook with fresh water.

Below are three delicious and simple recipes for you to try at home.
For more ideas, see my recipes section or

Red Lentil and Salmon Burgers – Makes 8-10 patties

1 can of red lentils (drained and rinsed)
1 210g can of red salmon (drained)
1 medium sweet potato
1 medium Spanish onion (the purple ones)
1 bunch fresh coriander (chopped finely)
1 egg
½ a cup of wholemeal bread crumbs
1-2 teaspoons of curry powder
Pinch of salt and pepper
Some wholemeal bread-rolls, tomato, lettuce and sweet chilli sauce to serve!
What to do:

Wash the sweet potato and onion and wrap them in alfoil. Put them in the oven to roast at 250 degrees for one hour. After one hour, test with a skewer to see if soft. If skewer goes through, take out and let cool.
When they are cool, take the skin of them and chop them up. Place into a large mixing bowl and mash.
Add finely chopped coriander, raw egg, drained red salmon, drained and rinsed red lentils and curry powder. Mix well.
Add bread-crumbs to the wet mix. This will dry it out a little and help it to stick together. Mix very well.
Heat a frying pan on low to medium heat with some olive oil or canola oil.
Take handfuls of the mixture (btwn size of a tennis ball and a golf ball) and place into hot frying pan.
Lightly brown the patties (1-2 mins on each side) so they are warm through. You don’t need to cook them, just heat and brown them.
Serve hot or cold in a wholemeal roll or on a sandwich with lettuce, tomato, avocado, tahini +/- sweet chilli sauce.

Curried Lentil Soup (Dahl) – Serves 6

1 Onion chopped
3 Garlic cloves crushed
1 tsp Coriander ground
1 tsp Cumin ground
2 tsp Curry Powder (adjust to taste requirements)
1 tsp Turmeric ground
1 tbsp Ginger freshly grated
4-6 cans Red or Brown Lentils (drained and rinsed)
2 med Carrots and 3 celery sticks (cut into large chunky pieces)
3 small Zucchini (cut into large chunky pieces)
½ small Cauliflower
2 cans of diced Tomatoes
1 bunch of fresh coriander finely chopped
1L of water or stock liquid (the more water you add, the more ‘soupy’ it will be&hellipWinking
What to do:

Sauté the Onions, carrots and celery in a little water in a large heavy based saucepan.
When soft add the Garlic, then the Coriander, Cumin, Turmeric, Ginger and Curry Powder. Mix through well and cook off the spices. Do not burn.
Add the Lentils and enough water or stock to cover.
Cover with lid and simmer, checking constantly to see if there is enough liquid – adding extra water as required.
When the lentils are cooked, add the Zucchini, Cauliflower, Tomatoes and Tamari. Simmer until vegetables are cooked.
Check for flavour and add a small amount of Vegetable Salt or Tamari and more Curry Powder if required.
Serve with Yoghurt, fresh Coriander, Chutney, Papadams and brown rice.
Pumpkin and Chickpea Hot Pot

Pumpkin and Chickpea Hot Pot – Serves 6

½ cup Chickpeas (soaked overnight)
2 Kg Butternut Pumpkin (cubed 3cm)
1 medium Parsnip or sweet potato (cubed)
1 Red Capsicum (cut in 2cm squares)
1 Onion (sliced in 8 wedges)
2 small Zucchini (cut into chunks)
1/2 Cauliflower (in florets)
1 tsp. Coriander
1 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Turmeric
1x375gm tin Tomatoes (organic, crushed)
4 tbsp. Tomato Paste (organic)
½ cup Water
2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
2 handfuls Fresh Coriander (chopped)
What to do:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius.
Cook chickpeas in rapidly boiling water for 1 hour.
Lightly steam cauliflower.
Mix spices together. Sprinkle spices over onion and roast.
Roast on separate trays – butternut and parsnip till just cooked. Roast Capsicum and Zucchini together till just done.
Mix tomatoes together with tomato paste, water and Braggs to make tomato sauce.
Lightly toss together the roasted vegetables, cauliflower, chickpeas and the tomato sauce and place into a casserole or baking dish.
Lower oven temperature to 160c and gently heat hotpot in oven with lid on.
Once the dish is hot, stir in fresh coriander and check seasonings. Serve with rice for a wonder winter meal.
Enjoy & be well!


The Importance of Nutrition

Every day you make choices about food, and these choices have a direct impact on the health of your body. Diet has a profound influence on your short and long term health, and can contribute to the onset, prevention and management of many chronic diseases. Nutrition is the study of how food nourishes the body. The nutrients on food become the building blocks of our cells, hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters, organs and body systems. Nutrients are also necessary for the growth and repair of the body, and are absolutely fundamental to the maintenance of homeostasis or ‘healthy-harmony’.

A Naturopathic Nutritionist may define Health as:

“A fully integrated state in which all bodily, mental and spiritual functions are operating in an optimum manner and are harmoniously co-ordinated.; the natural defence systems are operating completely; the nutrient intake is complete and balanced; the mind is free from tensions, repressions, conflicts; the spirit is active, awake and co-ordinates the body-mind within the mighty laws of nature.”

Relatively few people are truly healthy: many exist in a substandard state, reflecting that it is our lifestyles, eating habits, excesses and stresses that bring us into a state of imbalance. Many factors have a negative impact on our access to nutrients within our foods, such as changes in farming methods, depleted soils, processing, food storage, micro waving, eating-on-the-run, poor digestion and assimilation, caffeine/alcohol/nicotine intake, and the list continues!

state of balance, supporting you to achieve and maintain optimum health.


Food for Thought

Food is one of life’s greatest sources of pleasure, and eating the right kind of foods and preparing them in the healthiest possible way is essential to wellbeing. It is all too easy to resort to heavily processed, nutrient poor, calorie dense ‘convenience’ foods within our hectic lifestyles. These foods are often loaded with unhealthy fats, added sugars and salt, and an array of other unwanted substances.

As health professionals become more aware of scientifically proven links between diet and disease, it is becoming increasingly imperative that we consider the quality of the foods we are ingesting: if you have a well-nourished body, you will not only cope better with all aspects of daily life, but will improve your resistance to disease and automatically reduce your stress levels.

Improve the quality of your foods

Improving the quality of fuels we put into our system is all about getting back to basics and eating food as close to how nature intended, ie. The less wrapping, the better! It’s about eating fresh, minimally processed foods with an abundance of colourful fruit and veggies, whole grains, legumes, and small servings of raw nuts and seeds, small deep-sea fish and lean, organic red meat, with a focus on variety for maximal nutrient and phytochemical intake.

Nutrient content aside, please consider the vitality in the foods we ingest, and how this life force may be passed onto us when we choose live foods such as fresh and raw fruit and veggies, sprouts and fresh culinary herbs! Including a weekly organic F&V shop or delivery has the triple advantage of minimising pesticide exposure, improving mineral content of foods from richer soils, and supporting earth-aware, sustainable farming methods. In addition to this, most people can taste the richer flavours, and organic foods offer increased vitality and energy to us.

Simpler cooking methods such as lightly steaming or a quick stir-fry are optimal cooking methods, so as not to overcook or destroy water soluble vitamins, enzymes & phytochemicals in the foods. Including good quality fats (omega 3 & omega 6’s) and minimising saturated fats and trans-fatty-acids from animal products and pastries/cakes/biscuits is also a key factor in improving the quality of our food intakes.

What is a “perfect” diet?

The perfect balance in diet is unique for each person. To find balance, it is important to know ones own individual needs, the properties of foods, the best preparation methods, and to choose a broad range of high quality foods. When a good attitude and ample exercise are combined, one finds no limit to total health: healthy body, healthy mind and healthy spirit.

It is recommended that roughly 30% of our total energy intake comes from fat: which on average translates to 55-85g/day. More importantly than amount of fat, however, is the type of fat we ingest. Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids (polyunsaturated fats) are known as Essential Fatty Acids because they are essential to the health of every cell in our body.

Omega 3’s are found in oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, salmon and trout; in flaxseed oil and meal, & in walnuts. Omega 6’s are found in nuts and seeds and their oils. Monounsaturated Fatty acids such as in olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds are always best raw, and extra-virgin olive oil is great for cooking due to it’s stability.

Other types of fats such as Saturated fats from animal sources should be minimised, including fats from red meat, poultry, full cream milk & yoghurt, cheese, butter, cream etc. Trans Fatty Acids should be avoided where possible, ie from cakes, pastries, biscuits, croissants.