Tag Archives: chocolate

5 Mood Boosting Foods to keep you smiling this winter!

With the autumnal season at full peak and the cold of winter knocking on the door, it’s easy to become a victim of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – also known as the “winter blues”. The lack of natural light is the cause, recognised as an official medical condition that affects up to 2 million people in the UK each year. By kick-starting the right hormones there are few simple ways that you keep the blues at bay – starting with the food that we eat.

Nutritionists regularly recommend slow release complex carbohydrates as the go to food when you’re feeling low. The complex sugars find their way into your bloodstream gradually, helping to keep your body alert for longer. Complex carbohydrates also help to create serotonin (the mood boosting chemical) by helping to transport trytophan (the relaxation chemical) to the brain. It’s all part of food science, but it’s a lot simpler than it sounds.

Here are the Healthy Hideout’s top 5 mood boosting foods to help keep you smiling this Winter:

Greek Yoghurt

When calcium levels drop in the body, you can quickly become irritable and even depressed. Prevent this by introducing greek yoghurt into diet, as it’s packed with calcium and a high degree of healthy fats proven to help reduce stress levels. Greek yoghurt isn’t heat treated like most of the common sources of dairy that we eat day to day, so it still contains essential healthy bacteria aiding intestinal health. There’s no better start to your morning routine than a bowl a oats topped with a handful of fresh fruit and a tablespoon of Greek yoghurt. For added sweetness, add a teaspoon of organic forest honey – perfect winter morning fuel!

Coconut

This exotic hard shelled dry drupe contains medium-chain triglyceride’s (MCT) that help to boost energy levels and general brain activity. Regular consumption can have a profound effect on those that find themselves feeling tired more easily.  If you can’t get hold of fresh coconut, why not look at trying coconut butter which is available from most health food stores – perfect on rye toast for a quick boost! If your out and about you may have noticed the wealth of coconut snacks and health drinks – another great energy fix.

Asparagus

Widely available from most supermarkets, these spear shaped stalk like vegetables are a great source of folate and tryptophan. Folate helps the brain produce serotonin whilst tryptopahn helps to aid in relaxation and promote a positive mood state. Asparagus can be particularly effective when eaten alongside a slow release carbohydrate, aiding the release into the body. Try to keep your asparagus recipes as simple as possible – tossing in olive oil, lemon and garlic before grilling is a great place to start.

Oily Fish

Packed with omega oils and essential fatty acids, fish has been proven to aid better moods and maintain high levels of mental health. The powerful combination of tryptophan, omega essential oils and energy boosting protein make fish an essential meal choice for anybody this winter. Wild Alaskan Salmon contains high levels of rich omega 3 fats, and the potent antioxidant astaxanthin – the natural mood lifter. The high nutritional value of fish make it an ideal meal choice for anyone – make it part of your diet this winter.

Dark Chocolate

Yes you read that correctly – we’re promoting chocolate to be part of your healthy diet this winter. Shouldn’t really be too hard should it? The moreish, satisfying flavour of chocolate can quickly boost anybody’s mood no matter how down their feeling. The science behind it demonstrates that chocolate is high in phenylethylamine, which is responsible for inducing a sense of elation when consumed. Blood sugar levels are sure to rise, causing your pulse to quicken and pupils to dilate. Dark chocolate containing at least 70% cocoa can have numerous health benefits, including a positive boost in your mood. Give yourself a little treat when your feeling the winter blues!

Snacking this Christmas

Nutritionists have told us for many years that the best way to eat is to eat a little, often. The problem with this philosophy is that we have become a snacking nation. It also seems that we ignore the part that says a “little” and only focus on the part that says to eat often! Furthermore, it seems that we are snacking on junk foods like crisps, chocolate, biscuits and other foods high in calories instead of healthy foods like fruit!

Snacking on Cheez It Crackers

Snacking - Should I keep eating those Cheez It Crackers?

Professor Stephen Atkin, head of diabetes and metabolism at Hull York Medical School says “For many, snacking is a major cause of weight gain”. Professor Naveed Sattar from metabolic medicine at Glasgow university says, “Snacking gives us extra calories and the fact is, extra calories make us fat”. Apart from the extra calories we are eating it also seems that eating throughout the day counteracts our bodies ability to burn off fat. Professor Atkin adds, “In my view, the ideal would be not to snack at all. It’s normal to feel hungry before a meal”.

The science says that when we eat our body releases insulin to help carry sugar into the cells to burn as energy. The energy from this sugar will keep our body going for about 3 hours at which point it will have to use our fat stores. Professor Atkin explains that if we can last 4-5 hours between meals then our body will have used all the energy from the carbohydrates we have eaten. At this point the body can then start the metabolisation of the fat stores to get more energy. Snacking through the day also means a consistently higher level of blood sugars and fat which can put more stress on organs such as your liver and pancreas.

It also seems that snacking may be bad for our teeth! When we eat fruit or something sugary the pH in our mouths become more acidic and remains in this acidic state for about 20 minutes. This is the time when decay and erosion occurs. Snacking will cause this cycle to happen more often!

If you must snack then try following these helpful ideas:

  • PLAN – Take a healthy snack to work with you so you don’t buy something unhealthy from a vending machine.
  • CHANGE – Slowly change your snacking habits to include healthy options instead of biscuits, chocolates and cakes.
  • NO DISTRACTIONS – Eating snacks while doing something else can mean you unknowingly eat more calories.
  • REDUCE SNACKING – Try and go for 4-5 hours without snacking between two of your main meals.

Tell us about your snacking habits.

Chocolate Saunas in Slovenia

A chocolate sauna?  This doesn’t make any sense if you’re thinking about a sauna that is made out of chocolate as many people do. When I first heard about chocolate saunas I envisioned a sauna made out of chocolate, full of an intoxicating chocolate aroma, with the inner walls melting slowly, caving in as the heat softened the delicious structure. In a perfect world a chocolate lover would have all saunas made out of chocolate, but you’ll just have to settle for second best: Covering your body in chocolate.  That’s right, sauna enthusiasts and novices alike have been experiencing the wonderful delight of covering their bodies in chocolate, and entering in and sitting back in a hot traditional sauna. The heat of the sauna starts to melt the chocolate which is coated on the body, which slowly drips off.

Simultaneously, the body sweats as it’s heated, allowing the invigorating benefits of the chocolate to penetrate the pores.

The Atlantis water park, which has 16 pools, slides, wave machines, underground caves, whirlpool, geysers, relaxation areas and 15 saunas say that the chocolate contains no sugar, is 70% cocoa and is full of nutrients which will make the body feel wonderful. The experience of a chocolate sauna would certainly be a memory that would stay with you forever, if not for it’s invigorating rush, then for its unique novelty.

So where can you find one? Chocolate saunas can be found at the Atlantis, which is in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. The chocolate sauna isn’t the only appeal of Ljubljana, which offers an array of wonderful sights and attractions, including a festive Christmas market in December.

If you like mud masks, body scrubs and luxurious spa treatments, maybe you should add this to your ‘To try’ list. What are you waiting for?