Christmas is fast approaching! We’re pleased to share exciting news, a feature in Playtimes magazine that includes Health Nation’s expert tips on how to enjoy a healthy holiday, and advice to ensure the joyful season is stress-free!
We’re stoked to welcome Joe McLean, our first male Health Coach, to the team! With a BSc. in Exercise Nutrition and Health and an extended diploma in sports and health, Joe’s specialist areas include sports nutrition, nutrition and cardiovascular health, weight management, pregnancy & early life microbial exposure.
Joe is ready and waiting to help you realize your health and wellness goals! Contact him here.
The ultimate Christmas Gift
Some gifts are good for Christmas; others are great for a lifetime. Give your nearest and dearest a forever-gift this festive season: optimal health, happiness and balance.
If you’ve watched a loved one struggle with health issues, excess weight or unhealthy cravings, a consultation with one of our health coaches is THE perfect present to get them looking and feeling their best in 2018.
Contact us here to purchase a one-to-one tailored programme your loved ones will truly appreciate!
12 (Days of) Christmas rules to survive “The most wonderful stressful time of the year…”
It's that time of year again! T’is the season to be jolly! The Christmas trees are up, children are finishing off their notes to Santa, and loved ones across the globe are preparing to reconnect over a full-on festive feast.
Let’s be honest, though: the season isn’t all fun and games. End-of-year deadlines are looming, Christmas shopping is anything but relaxing (remember, we’ve got you covered on that front!), and spending time with ‘those’ relatives is the last thing you really want to do. Then there’s all the rich food, excess alcohol and the need for everything to be picture perfect. It’s no wonder some people rate Christmas as more stressful than moving house or being burgled!
Here’s our gift to you: twelve tips to help you leave the stress behind to not only survive but thrive during the festive season!
T’is the season for cranberries
We’ve got two delicious recipes to share with you in the lead up to Christmas. Both contain our all-time festive favourite: the cranberry.
Five times (yes five times!) the antioxidant capacity of broccoli, cranberries are brimming with nutrients. They counteract free radicals, support the body’s immune and detoxification systems, lower cholesterol and work hard in the fight against cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. According to research, three servings of cranberry juice per day can increase blood levels of antioxidants by up to 121%. Renowned for treating urinary infections, they also inhibit the growth of bacteria Helicobacter pylori in the digestive tract and fight viral infections and the flu.
Humble in size yet huge in flavour and benefits, cranberries are great for boosting your immune system when you’re partying away.
Throw them in smoothies and salads, use them to make salad dressings and sauces, or just eat them raw with nuts as a delicious and healthful snack. Try to buy organic where possible. When drinking juice ensure it is at least 20% undiluted and unsweetened. If you prefer it sweeter, add a drop of stevia to taste.
Cranberry Orange Relish with a Spice of Ginger
Based on recipe by Diane Morgan from Fine Cooking, modified by HN’s culinary expert, Yelena Zakharova.
This versatile relish is more tart than sweet and goes well with turkey, beef or chicken. Any leftovers can be used in muffins, stuffing, or breakfast. Healthy, delicious and nutritious, cranberries are full of anti-oxidants. So good, and so quick and easy-to-make!
Refreshing Leftovers Festive Salad
This is perfect when you want something light after indulging in the festive goodies but have leftovers to use up.
And that’s not all from our resident master-chef!
Health Nation in the News
This month, Playtimes magazine invited us to share our top tips to enjoy a healthy, happy winter holiday. Read it here!
From all of us at Health Nation, have a happy, healthy Christmas!
Health Nation wishes you all a happy and healthy Halloween! Before we dive in to the festivities, we thought you’d like to know where we’ve been hiding these past few months.
What’s new at Health Nation?
Well, for starters, the name! When we took over Nutrition Nation HK earlier this year, we realised we needed a name that would reflect our team’s core goal: to empower our clients to be their healthiest, happiest self. Diet and nutrition is only part of the puzzle. In order to fulfil our goal, we need to consider a person’s whole being – emotions, lifestyle habits, fitness, sleep, and so much more.
So, we’ve rebranded to reflect our offerings, hence our new name and logo. We’re currently working hard behind the scenes to bring you our new website packed full of health and wellness services, recipes, and tips to live the life you deserve.
We’re also pleased to welcome two wonderful additions to the Health Nation family:
Melanie Collins Moran is an integrative nutrition and holistic healing specialist. She is passionate about ‘living to thrive’ in a toxic world and believes the body has an innate ability to heal itself when given the right tools. When she’s not working (this busy mama is also a Primary School teacher!) she enjoys time in the kitchen cooking nutrition-packed delights for her young twins.
Yelena Zakharova is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She is passionate about helping people learn to nourish themselves, find the right balance in life, make healthier choices and love themselves. Having watched her mother and grandmother make good, wholesome food from scratch, Yelena is a culinary goddess and hosts regular cooking classes.
They join our ever-growing team of health, life, nutrition, fitness and corporate wellness coaches.
Building our brand and team is not the only thing that’s kept us on our toes these last few months. Chrissy Denton, our senior nutritionist and fitness professional, shared her views with the South China Morning Post on a plant-based diet for high performance athletes. Check it out here: http://www.scmp.com/sport/other-sport/article/2104876/high-performance-athletes-shy-away-veganism-fear-low-protein
We’ve also been busy delivering corporate wellness talks including CLSA Supercharge your Brain, APG Working Well: Improving Efficiency and Focus; and Nutrition 101 for Freshfields. Research shows that a happy employee is a productive employee. If your company or firm would like to know more, drop us a line. We cover a wide range of topics including stress-management, work-life integration. weight loss and sugar cravings.
On that note, it’s Halloween! How do encourage our kids to have fun without the Halloweeen sugar fest? With the end-of-year mayhem pulling us in every which direction, what can we eat to stay grounded this Autumn? We’ve got you covered here!
Kids CAN have fun without all the candy this Halloween!
We are all mums at Health Nation, and I have to confess festivals like Halloween fill us with dread. It’s not the scary costumes or the ghoulish make-up that get us. It’s the massive sugar-load that sends shivers down our spines. Of course, we want our children to have fun but you can’t blame a health-savvy mum for getting squeamish at the site of nasties!
So, what can we do about it? Well, you could take a deep breath, plaster on a fake smile, and accept that this candy-craze will last for one night. Everything in moderation, right? Remind yourself - as you grit your teeth through the sugar high and ultimate crash that comes with bucket-loads of candy - that Halloween comes just once a year.
Or, you could take this opportunity to teach your child that it’s entirely possible to have heaps of fun without the sugar and candy-fest. Find a tribe of mums who feel the same way as you and who are on the trick and treat path that your kids will tread. Agree on some non-candy treats to hand out when the
doorbell chimes - mini bounce balls, yo-yos, pens, stickers and bubblepots, work a treat. You don’t need to spend a small fortune; if you are organised, you can start foraging the local markets for fun ideas. If you’re in the mood to be creative, you could prepare some novel tangerines using a black permanent pen to make a face.
And if you do want to indulge, here’s a recipe for delicious, healthier wine gums. The good news for busy parents is it only takes five minutes to combine ingredients and 15 minutes to set in the freezer.
Healthy Tangy Wine Gums
You will need a sweet mould for this. I picked mine up at City Super. Makes about 20 mini gums.
Variation: Instead of fresh juice and the essential oils you can use a cup of low sugar fruit juice – pomegranate or cherry, for example - to make different flavours.
1. Put all the ingredients bar the essential oils in a pan and heat till the entire gelatin has dissolved
2. Add the essential oils to the melted mix and pour into the mould
3. Place in the freezer for around 15 to 20 minutes to set
4. Once set, remove them from the mould, put in a container and keep in the fridge. (These last for a good 3 weeks but usually get devoured way before then!).
Foods that ground you
Autumn has arrived, and the busy back-to-school season that's quickly met with the hustle and bustle of the half-term holidays is now behind us and we are on our way to Halloween. This last part of the year flies by in a wink. Because of this, it can feel like a time where your out-of-control schedule is controlling you. You're pulled in many different directions, and you just want to sit down for a second to catch a break.
One of the beautiful things about nature is it knows. It knows how insane this time of year gets and exactly what we need to find our way back to balance and what we need from nature. So many grounding foods become available this season, and it's of our highest benefit to take advantage of them. These foods can ground us and help us to re-balance.
Here are a few of our favourites at Health Nation:
Pumpkin and squash
These are two traditional autumn foods, but they’re also exactly what we should be eating to ground ourselves. When you want some sweetness in your meal, these are the ideal way to achieve that and a much better alternative to chemical-laden artificially sweetened items. Use that pumpkin you carved out for Halloween to create a healthy meal with the next day. You’ll feel oh-so-healthy and grounded while enjoying a delicious pumpkin dish!
Vegetables that fall into this category are sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, turnips, garlic, and ginger. They add great flavor to your meal and will make you feel rooted and grounded. Interesting how that works, right? Foods that grow as roots in the ground are naturally rooting and grounding for us. Nature is amazing.
Naturally Fermented Foods
Raw sauerkraut is perfect to add some sourness to your autumn meals, while also strengthening your gut health. Fermented foods make your meals taste great, assist with grounding you, act as prebiotics, and feed all the good bacteria in your gut. Some other naturally fermented food items include kimchi, kefir, kombucha, and pickles, to name a few.
Add on the proteins
Finding healthy, high-quality protein sources will be of benefit to you this time of year. Proteins that come from high-quality foods give you the nutrients you need to build strong muscle while also feeling more grounded. We tend to crave more substantial meals this time of year due to their grounding effect. Hearty stews and soups are among the most popular food items this season, and that’s exactly why. Are there any plant-based proteins you have meant to experiment with in the kitchen? Now is a perfect time to be adventurous and try something new.
Aside from eating foods that naturally ground you, there are other ways you can enjoy feeling grounded. Being in nature has a natural grounding effect too. Take a walk outside as often as possible to breathe in the crisper air after the humid Hong Kong summer months and enjoy the change to cooler temperatures.
Breathing exercises help with feeling more grounded, so focus on your breathing throughout the day. Take note if you're breathing freely or holding your breath often. When you notice you're holding your breath, take a moment to practice a short breathing exercise: try breathing in through the nose for a count of 4, hold for a count of 7 and breathe out through your mouth for a count of 8. You’ll feel the tension releasing from your body.
From all of us at Health Nation: Happy Halloween!
The holiday season is fast approaching and I, for one, am looking forward to visiting my lovely family and friends in the UK.
Much as I love hopping on a plane to far-flung destinations, air travel doesn’t quite go hand-in-hand with health and hygiene. So, here are some tips that I’ve picked up along the way to make travelling by plane as stress-free and healthy as possible. By sharing them with you, I hope you arrive at your destination feeling fresh and raring to go!
Boost your immune system
Seven days before I head off for my holiday, I make a point of boosting my immune system with some extra Vitamin C, 1000mg of Vitamin A, and 40-50mg of Zinc. It gives my body the much-needed protection it needs, especially on the plane ride.
Blast those germs
Tell me I’m not the only one who does this! Once on board, I head to my seat armed with my trusted wipes and essential oils. I clean the armrests, seat belt areas, tray, movie screen and remote controls. Once I’m confident I’ve zapped as many pesky germs as possible, I sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
Lemon Oil smells good and works great. My all-time favourite, however, is Young Living’s Thieves Blend.
More essential oils
My mini selection of essential oils accompanies me on every single trip. Essential oils are a natural alternative to over-the-counter relief for all sorts of ailments including headaches, upset stomachs, and sleep deprivation. They are especially useful when you are travelling with young children.
Lavender, for example, is calming and relaxing. It helps to promote sleep, which is exactly what you need on a red eye flight. Place a couple of drops on your tissue and breathe in its soothing scent.
Peppermint oil and ginger oil help to calm motion sickness and bloating. Just rub a couple of drops in your tummy button or put one drop in some water and sip slowly. You don’t need much as the oils are super
strong – one drop of peppermint oil is equivalent to over 20 cups of peppermint tea! Peppermint is also great for in-flight headaches and to cool you down if you find yourself getting hot and bothered on the plane.
Rub a drop onto your forehead (be careful not to get into your eyes as it can sting) and a drop on the back of your neck.
A word of caution: I recommend using only high quality pure essential oils such as the ones by Young Living, which have been independently tested and are safe for ingesting. For young children, dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil (olive, coconut or almond oil are good options) and apply to the soles of the feet.
Tip: Young Living Oils can be purchased at i-Detox (visit i-detox.com for more information). Mention my name when you’re in there. It is cheaper to join and purchase online, especially in the long term. The lovely staff at i-Detox can help you out with setting up an account.
Eating and Snacking
Airplane food is typically calorie-rich, nutrition-poor and pretty unkind to our taste buds!
I limit the amount I consume on the plane, which means I don’t suffer from stomach discomfort or bloating. Before boarding, I enjoy a light and nutritious meal with protein to keep me full for a few hours and if I’m on an overnight flight, I skip the meal service, switch off and sleep instead.
Here are some of my ‘go to’ snacks for when I do get peckish:
· Hard boiled eggs in their shells, as a good source of protein
· Fresh berries such as strawberries and blueberries, which travel better than raspberries. Cherries and grapes are good too though it’s best to limit grapes due to their high sugar content
· Nuts and seeds. To create a delicious trail mix for children, add in some dried fruit. We love goji berries for their sweetness and antioxidants
· Apples, as they are or ready sliced. Whilst I’m not a fan of plastic, for lightness and convenience, wrapping apples in a sandwich will help them to last longer
· Carrots, celery sticks, sugar snap peas, edamame and radishes are great choices to snack on and team them with
· Nut butter! I love the convenience of mini sachets. Check out Artisana’s raw almond, pecan and cashew butter sachets at Just Green stores. Hummus is also a delicious option
· Kale chips
· Protein and/or greens powder. Some brands come in single portion sizes, which are great for travel. I love NuZest vegetable protein shake sachets, which come in different flavours – strawberry, vanilla, cappuccino and chocolate. They can be found at IMI. Go Green sachets are good too for your veggie intake. They can be found at Just Green and other health food stores too. If you can’t get your hands on sachets, simply decant into a small container. I usually add take my empty green smoothie shaker on board. When I fancy a smoothie-fix, I throw in my powder, fill it up with water, give it a shake, and knock it back
· Oatcakes and rice cakes. They’re healthier than crisps and other crackers and are nice with nut butters and hummus too
It’s important to drink loads on the flight to avoid dehydration. And no, sorry, I don’t mean alcohol! I usually take an empty glass bottle with me, fill it up with water once I get past security, and add a couple of lemon oil drops to it. It’s a delicious, refreshing and cleansing drink to sip throughout the journey.
You could even make a game out of this. If you are travelling with young children, each family member can take a bottle of water with them. (I like the glass bottles covered in protective rubber that are available at i-Detox. Not only are they kinder to the environment, they’re safer too for this purpose. Essential oils can break plastic down, which we definitely don’t want!) Put four rubber bands around each bottle. Each time a bottle is emptied and refilled a rubber band is removed. Make it a competition to see who gets rid of all their rubber bands first.
I have found the most wonderful Sleep Master eye mask. Check it out on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Sleep-Master-smblu01-Mask/dp/B0015NZ6FK. I love its luxurious silk feel and the fact that it covers my ears.
I also take a light scarf or wrap and tend to wind that around my mouth and nose with a few drops of lavender and thieves oil on it when I settle down to sleep on the plane and will usually keep that wrapped around me for most of the journey. It’s soothing and I like to think it acts as an extra layer of protection against germs.
I always have a natural lip balm to stop my lips from drying out and a tiny container filled with coconut oil to moisturize my face during the flight.
Finally, when I’m bored of the movie channel, I read a good book on my Kindle or listen to soothing music.
Almost there! After a long-haul flight, Cedarwood and Peppermint essential oils are my go-to pick-me-ups guaranteed to clear any lingering grogginess. A sniff of the bottle or a couple of dabs on my forehead are enough to get me feeling fresh. Oh, and a dab of peppermint oil on your finger and placed on the roof of your mouth helps to banish traveller’s breath!
If you’re staying in Hong Kong or heading out, we wish you all a fun and fabulous summer break. Stay healthy, be happy, and enjoy the holiday.
The time has come to move on to our next adventure. This summer, my family and I will move back to Europe, Lyon in France.
Before I say goodbye, I’d like to thank all my wonderful clients and partners for your support over the years. It has been a pleasure to work with you all.
You’ll be pleased to know that Nutrition Nation HK will continue its good work with wellness ambassador Alison Middleton at the helm. As an accredited health coach, a student at the School of Applied Functional Medicine, and a soon-to-be qualified hypnotherapist. Alison is as passionate about health, nutrition and wellbeing as I am.
Some might know Alison as the founder of AM1Health where she shares tips for overcoming health and life challenges based on her own experiences in her blog. Others may recognise her from the Double A Health Team YouTube series and workshops where together with her 11-year old son, Alex, she endeavours to educate and inspire children to live healthier, happier lives. Or, you may have crossed paths with Alison in her capacity as a HR, training and development professional with a long history of designing and implementing highly impactful corporate wellness programmes.
She is joined by Anita Au, business partner and company secretary. With a background in finance and, more recently, church management and administration, Anita will be the business and finance brains to the business. She has 3 children and lives in Discovery Bay.
I have no doubt that Alison and Anita’s combined experience, expertise, and enthusiasm will take Nutrition Nation HK from strength to strength.
Alison and Anita are excited to be leading the Nutrition Nation team and to working with you all. They will be making the most of the summer break to get up to speed and to meet everyone. Watch this space for new and exciting updates.
Once again, I’d like to thank you for your contribution to Nutrition Nation’s journey!
Tanja, Alison, Anita and the team at Nutrition Nation HK!