Archive of ‘Nutrition’ category

Homemade Energy Bars

Happy Friday! To celebrate, I have a treat for you.

For those of you planning a hike for the weekend (like me!), or just need a little healthy power bar to munch on you might like to try whipping this up. I was surprised in how little time it took me to make this (and they taste delicious!).

Adapted from the Move Nourish Believe website, here’s my take on things:

Homemade Energy Bars

Makes 12; Prep time 15min (2hrs to refrigerate)

Energy BarYou’ll need:

1 cup almonds

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup dried cranberries

5-7 pitted dates

1/2 cup protein powder

2 tbsp. boiling water

handful of pepitas (to sprinkle over the top)

  • Place almonds and oats in a food processor/blender and blend until coarse crumb
  • Add protein powder, cranberries, and dates and blend again
  • If possible, while blending adding the boiling water, slowly, until the mixture is well incorporated. If, like me, this is too much for your little blender, transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir by hand
  • Press the dough into a lined slice tin and sprinkle pepitas over the tip, pressing lightly into mixture
  • Place in the fridge for 1-2hrs before slicing into bars

This is one method to try, but feel free to play around with it. Next time I might try and add some coconut oil instead of dates (I love the taste), some cacao powder (for a more chocolatey bite) or some chia seeds. This is a great way to use up leftovers and ensure a healthier snack than your refined sugar-fuelled store bought bars.

Go on, give it a try. Let me know how you go!

update: This photo is another sort I’ve tried; apricot and coconut…

Energy Balls

Continuing on the Sugar Trail…

It’s about time I gave you an update from my earlier Sugar, Sugar post. It’s been just shy of two months, the dictated time Sarah Wilson gives for a complete sugar-removal process.

Well, I’ve succeeded and failed, I’d like to think in equal measure, but we’ll see what you think.

For me, lessening sugar is a lifestyle choice. I don’t like the idea of a no-sugar binge, a “diet” to grab on to and remove at a moment’s notice. There is so much proof (as those of you who’ve read Sweet Poison will know) and the list of reasons against consuming sugar is growing as people lessen their hold on purely low-fat ideologies. For these reasons, it’s been enough of an incentive for me to lower my sugar intake.

The headaches were a killer. Did anyone else find this? It’s a side effect I hadn’t expected from cutting out sugar – worse even than caffeine-withdrawal. Dehydration may have influenced have been a factor (I know, I know), but there had to be more than that to account for the ear splitting headache that ravaged my eyes and head for two days. The good news? This entirely disappeared just as I was about to start shouting and pointing fingers…or close indeed to giving up. The discomfort passes, and when you stop living in that moment, it doesn’t seem so bad.

Throughout this process, I’ve learned things about myself, about the way I need to approach food. I’ve never been good at the all-or-nothing method. Sends me mad. I’ve been much better at the “eat-right-for-five-days-and-spoil-yourself-on-the-weekend” method of madness. And you know what? If I allow myself this mental process, on the weekend I don’t binge. If you’ve just spent five days eating well, congratulating yourself on your choices, then spending two days on a chocolate high holds no appeal. It does mean that dried fruit felt decadent…that discovering and trying chocolate with a ridiculously high cocoa level was interesting and not torture. It meant that every time I did have sugar, I noticed how sweet it was, and I allowed my body the decision (and my mind for that matter) whether I really, truly, liked it or not.

The answer, most of the time, was that I could live without sugar.

And that was the beautiful conclusion I’d come to and lived with for weeks… until I had visitors.

The joy of company, and other eating habits.

It’s a story title with a predictable ending and it’s seen me revert back to my old ways, consuming WAY too much sugar and feeling slightly green for it. But you know the good thing? I’m noticing. This is a huge tool for me in implementing change. If i can see, feel and experience a different in how life is, in how I’m thinking, sleeping etc, a long-lasting change is possible. I’ve noticed myself make active and relieved choices about lowering my sugar instead of feeling like I’m abandoning my favourite foods. Cutting out sugar completely allowed me to sense what my body needed. Eating sugar again has highlighted a blocker, a drowning of my own inner voice.

It may not be what the experts advocate, but for me, moderation and balance is key. It’s what keeps me sane, it’s what keeps me believing I can make changes for the long haul. So, while I can’t report that I stuck with the no-sugar crowd, I learnt a lot more about myself in the process. I think my “experiment” was a successful one, because it proved how much better I could feel and encouraged me to implement a longer-lasting change.

Back to being sugar-less. Hoorah!

What are your thoughts?

Sugar sugar…

Observation number 1: When you wake up constantly throughout the night, until you get to morning and your eyes feel like chunks of lead… something’s wrong

Observation number 2: When you start to despise the food that’s in front of you… something’s wrong

Observation number 3: When you are sitting on your floor, at 11:45pm eating celery and peanut butter after coming home from a show and you ask yourself would choosing the yoghurt have been less fattening?… something’s wrong.

Now, I’m not a super sleuth, and perhaps it should not have taken all three light-bulb moments to do something, but like many things in life, it did.

So I quit sugar.

I know, I know. Sounds big, eh? It also is, annoyingly coming into trend. It’s something I read about four years ago and didn’t follow it through. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested, my excuses at the time:

1. Sugar seemed to be in virtually everything. How was I to cut that out?! And I didn’t feel like I had the time (perhaps just the inclination) do to the hunting

2. I love to bake. And what?! I couldn’t bake?!!!

3. There were beautiful, tempting treats in the cupboard. Of course. Like that chocolate…

Ultimately, I just wasn’t ready. There are some things you really have to decide on your own to have the conviction to follow through with, and this is definitely one of them. The first light-bulb moment was a lengthy one… I was feeling constantly ill, my stomach was unsettled, I wasn’t sleeping properly and I had no energy to get through the day. I was having more and more sweet stuff to pull myself through and still I was falling asleep on the trains and struggling to keep my eyes open in my lunch breaks. Yes, I’m crazy busy, but this seemed a little extreme.

So I pulled out the book I’d been thinking about sporadically for a few months: Sweet Poison by David Gillespie. I’d read it for the first time four years ago…it didn’t stick then, but maybe now? I was compelled to try enough that I’d brought it with me to England from Australia.

Now, I haven’t re-read all of it, and he explains it in much more depth than I will here, but in a nutshell: fructose, half of the duo that make up sugar is not recognised by the body, still, it undergoes the same process converting to fat that fats and carbohydrates do. In a healthy, functioning body, fats and carbohydrate consumption is regulated because our body knows when we’ve had enough. In fact, we’re all really supposed to be healthy, slender people. Fructose is the thing that’s heating up the obesity epidemic. Now these are large sweeping statements, and I promise to go into a little bit more detail further down the road, but for now let’s just say it’s a good thing to eat healthy fats (in moderation of course) that fill you up than sugary emptiness fat-inducing fructose. Did I convince you?

Now, if I can tell you a little bit about what I’ve been thinking…

Dancers are always conscious of their body. The more you dance, the more in tune you become until you’re a well-oiled machine of internal consciousness. Movement-wise we respect, use and grow with this function that allows us to becomes better movers. The fat and muscle on our body – our body’s actual composition – doesn’t get this same royal treatment. Weight is a thing that fluctuates… and it should in small doses because the body is a living, breathing, functioning thing. Instead of getting scared at measurements, it would do us well to listen to out bodies and act accordingly. If this is true and fructose is actually impossible for me to correlate with what my body’s doing, then why am I having it?

These arguments in my head take me back to my childhood when mum used to stop me adding the whole amount of sugar in a recipe to things (thanks mum!), or stopped me having the overly sugared cereal… (she knew what she was doing…)…

This is not going to become a foodie’s blog, there’s enough of those out there, and many far better than mine would ever be. This is just me conveying a little about what I’m up to and (though I hate to admit it) something small to make me accountable. It’s also a shout out to dancers (and non dancers alike). There is so much misconstrued information out there, I want to share in my findings.

I’ve been off sugar two days so far, and even in that time I can say that I’ve finally slept through my first full night in weeks and woke up without having to pry my eyes open. I did not fall asleep in public transport and felt strong enough to say no to sugary substances at work I was not-too-long-ago loathe to part with.

Hmm… It’s a new adventure. Hopefully it’ll help. Let’s see, shall we?

Have you heard of this no sugar idea?

Have you tried it yourself?

Did it work?

Related Posts: Let’s Talk About…Eating

Let’s Talk About… Eating.

Dance has, for many years, had strong associations with eating disorders. It’s something everyone seemed to know about and no-one was able to talk about. These dancers didn’t need help, they were doing what was required to succeed in a highly difficult, aesthetic based industry.

I applaud Royal Ballet’s artistic director Monica Mason for highlighting “What we are looking for is a healthy, talented, gifted individual” commenting that in and ideal world, dancers would be able to recognise eating problems themselves and be less secretive and ashamed about it.

Still, I don’t know whether this problem is as open-aired as what we currently believe. I believe the problem is exacerbated in early learning, propagating at smaller dance schools before the dancer can even reach a professional sector. By the time this awareness surfaces, it is often too late. It’s true that many tertiary institutions now harbor many programs that recognise and treat students who struggle with this issue, but I think the message needs to be stronger to resonate further down the learning line, re-establishing what dancers can do to get the body they desire without taking extreme measures.

Even now, around my peers, there are offhanded comments about body image, weight and “preparing for performance”. The implications are still on starvation and managing a “diet” rather than looking at overall lifestyle choices that can contribute to long term gain. I’m not exempt from this thinking myself. It’s the only short term solution I have that seems go get results quickly, albeit in an unhealthy manner. My knowledge, and my belief in building a long term, healthy lifestyle is the only thing that rally’s against these thoughts.

I’m heartened to seem many shapes and sizes turn up to auditions, but still, frustratingly, it’s a single type of body that seems to succeed, and it has everything to do with genetics.

Part of the problem may be in the wording. In everything we read, a lifestyle for longevity is promoted has the tagline “healthy”. Yes, a perfectly good word, but perhaps what they don’t realise is that in the dance world, “healthy” is synonymous with “fat”. This is an awful, incorrect association, but to drive dancers to look after themselves, we need to consider new buzz words and a new way to consider this information.

If things are truly changing, we need to not just identify the problem, we need to implement positive ideologies much earlier and promote what it is dancers can do to attain the body they truly desire without the psychological damage or confusion. We’ve come a long way from Balanchine grooming his principal dancers by giving them an apple for dinner, but we’ve still romanticised this idea of starvation as key.

Those who attended the Dance UK conference was applauding the inclusion of the topic of eating disorders, seeing the wave of positive change to talk about the issue. I hope this continues. I hope what they propose is true and this is something we can talk about – and not just as professionals. I hope this enters the early dance education world, so our young dancers can grow up to be healthy and happy – knowing that a dancer’s body is a finely tuned instrument that takes rigorous training, but they don’t need to live on air to achieve it.