A Word About Phone-Scamming the Elderly and De-stressing Me!

1069FBA1-3F3D-438F-B4F6-FBA06F8D5F13Just a quick post to say I’ll be away from my blog for a little while. I need some time out to straighten out the kinks in my body and spend some Me time. Real life is demanding more and more of my time and energy as my elderly mum needs more support.

An example: she was scammed on the phone on Monday afternoon. She gave her card details to someone who called her by name. She knew something was wrong but she became confused because he gave his first name as that of a cousin she had been worrying about. She was too embarrassed to tell me (it’s the second time it’s happened), and wanted to try to sort it out herself. Early next morning, she swallowed her pride and called me. She was really shaken up and could barely put a sentence together, she was so angry with herself.

 I literally spent the whole of yesterday on the phone or iPad sorting it out with her, the bank, the telephone company, keeping an eye on her bank account, moving the bulk of her money elsewhere, making her ex-directory and so on. My back is still screaming at me.

But so far, so good. I think she may have inadvertently prevented him from using her card: her sight isn’t good, especially in dim light, and I think she may have misread a number or two on the card.

B44F3FD6-CC3C-4B08-BCF6-5797D6A7131EThis was the closest I got to the welcome sun – through the kitchen window this morning – as today, I spent most of my time finding out about the cousin she has been worrying about, to try to put her mind at ease. At one point I had him talking on the iPad and her on my landline on speakerphone, trying to enable them to talk to each other while I interpreted: they are both 87 and very deaf, neither is tech-savvy, so you can imagine how that went!

So please warn your elderly relatives, or anyone actually, the lady at the bank said these people are very good at what they do and they can catch out the best of us.

B1A75EB8-482D-479D-B1D7-36ED53C16536I’m off to have some osteopathy, listen to some relaxation music, an audiobook, and enjoy some new juices that We Are Juice UK, have kindly sent me to try. It will also be a relief to take a break from the juicer! My husband is on mother-in-law watch for a couple of days while I get my breath back. I have scheduled some posts for the next few weeks.

This freezing weather will not be changing any time soon (we had snow again all day yesterday), so I will be hunkered down in bed with a couple of heated wheat-bags, two hot water bottles, woolly socks and a duvet I have to fight my way out of!

See you soon.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

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Monday Meditation: Time to Reflect, Give Thanks & Set Intentions

C8F8B40E-AE15-4D77-BD09-C6C1F10CC09EAs many have commented, the beginning of the new year is a time when many of us take a look at who we are and how our lives are panning out. We often don’t like what we see as our weaknesses or shortcomings and we decide on some resolutions in the hope of rectifying any flaws in our current lifestyle, character or appearance, in order to set our lives back on the track we mapped out.

I’m all in favour of periodic reassessment, but I think we can be too hard on ourselves. I think resolutions can be too hard and fast, too black and white, and can be a means of setting ourselves up to fail because they don’t take account of circumstances beyond our control and don’t allow us to take babysteps or even missteps. We can’t always live up to our own high expectations, and once we miss that gym session or we are pressed to have a celebratory glass of wine, or we can’t cope with the craving for bacon, that’s it, we’ve failed, so we may as well give up and revert to our previous lifestyle.

I do, however, like to reflect and take stock. To see what worked and what didn’t. To look at relationships and my part in them. To make adjustments. But also to give thanks and acknowledge my achievements. I try to learn a new skill every year: this year I took over my mum’s affairs, something I never thought I would manage, and added rock painting to my creative interests.

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I also like to express hopes and intentions, send healing thoughts out to the universe and ask for support, not just for myself, but for all those struggling in difficult times.

For many, the planet has seemed slightly off-kilter this past year, not just politically or economically, but, for those around me, health and welfare issues have dominated our concerns. For me, I know that this year will be a significant one concerning my elderly mum and also a much younger family member coping with a terrible disease. It is difficult to watch loved ones suffer and not be able to take away the pain and the confusion, restore the memories fast disappearing, or provide enough support for those doing the hands-on caring, and in particular for the children of a sick parent.

I have friends who are caring for 3 parents in various stages of dementia as well as serious physical conditions. They themselves are suffering physically from the exertions of lifting, cleaning, cooking, driving back and forth and being called out in the middle of the night, all while working full-time jobs and looking after their own children. My heart goes out to them and I feel bad that I can’t ease their burden. I worry about them.

I have to remind myself periodically that I do what I can. I am here to listen to their worries. I check up on them regularly.  I offer advice and information when I can see where something might help. I lend equipment to ease back pain. I give treats. And that’s all we can do: do what we can. If we all do what we are able, then that is all we can ask of ourselves and everyone will benefit.

Of course, this applies to our new resolutions, our goals, as well. If we do what we can at this stage in our lives, and we do better as we move forward, then we should be proud of our efforts. As the tag line on my Home Page says: You did then what you knew how, when you know better, you do better. (Maya Angelou). There are bound to be times when Life conspires to make things extra tough and we weaken, but that’s ok, it’s human, it’s not a reason to give up. We reflect on what’s occurred, the possible reasons why, acknowledge them and begin again. No recriminations are necessary, just self-care and self-support.

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My Reboot Salad

Every Christmas and New Year, despite my confidence in my ability to stay on the healthy food wagon, I succumb. Not at Christmas, but at New Year. What happens is, we buy all sorts of foodstuffs we – and especially I – don’t normally consume, especially snacky things. We get them in for the teenagers in particular. We also try to find me some vegan equivalents of the foods they like: pizza, sausage rolls etc. I’m not tempted by the cake or biscuits or any sugary foods, it’s the savoury foods that get me every time. I don’t like eating them, but they are completely addictive for me. I can refrain from them all year round, they are not in the house. I rarely crave them. They make me feel heavy and uncomfortable, but once I have them, I have to have them again, and so it goes on until they are gone. I try to send much of what’s left over with them when they go home, but by then the damage is done. I put on weight easily, so by January, I am having trouble fitting into my jeans, I feel bloated and unhealthy. My energy levels have dropped.

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Supergreen Smoothie

It would be very easy to jump on the scales every morning and berate myself while comfort-eating the very things that have got me there. But I know this never works. I acknowledge what’s happened, that it is now an inevitable occurrence at this time of year. I sort out my cupboards, get rid of anything I don’t want to eat (some to the foodbank) and gradually steer myself back to what is normal for me. It’s not easy, I have always been a compulsive comfort-eater and I find January a particular challenge, having said goodbye to all my family for a while and facing the dark, cold days until the first signs of Spring. Changing my lifestyle has helped a great deal, and learning to be gentle on myself has also played a big part. (The Supergreen Smoothie recipe above will be in my next post).

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Election Day Special*

Starting a juice program, doing some work on past hurts, meditating and repeating affirmations, using aromatherapy oils and decluttering my home and my mind have all been beneficial to my health and wellbeing. You can read my story in the links below. Adopting an organic and vegan lifestyle, cutting down on plastic and waste also give me a sense of contributing to the welfare of the planet, of animals and those working with toxic products. I feel proud of my efforts.

We do what we can. Everyone has their line in the sand. If we all do a little bit, we will see positive change in our own lives and in those of the people that surround us. Hopefully, we will see positive change in the way we are governed and in attitudes towards this precious planet and to all its many and diverse inhabitants.

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Mango Chia Pudding**

For those of you trying to change to a more sustainable plantbased diet, looking for ways to improve health conditions or move about more, there are links below to posts that may help motivate or keep you on track.

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At this point, I’d like to acknowledge the fact that at some point over the Christmas period I reached over a thousand followers. I’m not sure how this has occurred, it’s a little overwhelming to be honest. I am very grateful that you all take the time to read and comment on my posts, and for the support you give me when I’m struggling with the stresses in my life.

***

Over the next couple of weeks, I shall be taking a break for some much-needed rest and back treatment. I have scheduled some Monday Meditatios for while I am away, but won’t be able to reply to your comments for a while. Thank you all for reading them, they have proved quite popular and I hope I’ll be able to go on more rambles and explorations as soon as the weather (and my back) improves.

Thank you all! Be kind to yourself: look after you body, it’s the only home you have.

PS These links should help keep you out of mischief and on track while I’m away, I shall be asking questions when I return, so make sure to do your homework 😉

About Me: From Vesta Curry to Vegan Sushi

My Road to Raw – Going Veggie

Raw Energy

Pears But No More Parsnips: In Which I Confront My Parsnip Phobia!

Juicing: How to Begin or Do As I Say, Not As I Did!

My Top 20 Tips for Juicing – updated to 25!

*Election Day Special Fruity Beetroot Juice

**Monday Meditation: Mango Chia Pudding or Sunshine in a Jar – no blender required (plus hidden smoothie recipe)

Invisible Disabilities Week – My Story

Taking a Break to Rest My Broken Body + Tips to Cope with Chronic Pain

How I Juiced My Skin Clear: A Rash Decision?

Jumpin’, Jivin’ an’ Jiggin’ About: Your Home As Your ‘Gym’!

‘What Do You Eat If You Can’t Have Anything Naughty?’ – What Vegans Eat

Veganuary

Monday Meditation: Mindfulness and Rock Painting

Painted Christmas Card Rocks & Taking A Break

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Monday Meditation: A Much-Needed Day Off

I find coming up with a suitably interesting title the most difficult part of writing a blogpost and today’s is no exception because I’m actually writing it on Sunday and it’s about *my* Sunday, which I’ve grabbed hold of with both hands and declared My Day Off!

imageI am sitting at my dining table, drinking my Morning Glory juice* and with Agnes Obel playing gently in the background. It is 10.30 in the morning and I have the house to myself. For an hour, I have just been sitting, doing nothing. Watching the carefree clouds careering across a balmy blue sky, the trees bending in the wind. My husband is on an extended bike-ride with the club (Storm Brian is about to hit with full force in about an hour, but nothing gets in the way of a planned bike ride!) Apart from Agnes’ dulcet tones and gentle piano, I can hear a pin drop and I love it. Recent weeks have been filled with activity, phonecalls and visits, this peace is so welcome and I am going to make the most of it.

Some of you will know that I’ve been spending a lot of time taking over my 87 year old mum’s affairs and every day of the last 3 weeks has been spent doing things on her behalf: sorting out her files (years of them), talking to energy, phone and water companies – I was especially pleased with myself for getting £160 off her energy bill by switching to a diferent tariff; registering Power of Attorney with her bank, which required two visits of two hours each on very cold windy days to a branch half an hour’s drive away. Most of my time, however, has been spent finding sheltered accommodation nearby and persuading the authorities to put her on their waiting list, providing relevant documentation, making many phonecalls and bringing her to our house to look at the housing scheme, a major feat as she has always refused to discuss moving anywhere. Her intention has always been to remain in her bungalow 2 hours’ drive away until she no longer has breath in her body.

I have made Skype calls to my brothers to keep them up to date and yesterday my sister-in-law paid a visit on her way back from cleaning and clearing Mum’s house in preparation for her eventual move. We spent time bringing each other up to date and we took her to see the houses, which, reassuringly, she thought were perfect for Mum. Both my brothers and my other sister-in-law are on board with my plans and that is such a relief.

After decades of receiving care for my own health problems** I am gradually becoming a caregiver for my mum, and I can already feel myself slipping slowly away in the process. Every waking – and often sleeping – moment is taken up thinking about her needs and wondering if I’m doing the right thing, if we’re going to get her moved in time, while she’s still able to have some independence and mobility – her greatest fear is being placed in a care home.

29935696_UnknownBut for now, I can breathe again, for a little while. I can be me again, for a little while. I can play relaxing music that only I enjoy. Later, if I feel so inclined, I can play loud, raucous music that I can sing along to at the top of my voice.  I can write, uninterrupted by requests to find keys, wallet, phone, sort out a social media issue (husband) and so far the phone hasn’t rung – Mum can ring up to 5 times a day if she is stressed, asking the same questions. I can do some painting. I can go for a walk.  I can make an indulgent raw chocolate smoothie (recipe next week). I don’t have to shout to be heard (Mum is very deaf). I don’t have to repeat myself over and over. I don’t have to use my voice at all.

For now, the sun is shining. It gives me energy. It gives me hope. It gives me warmth.

I am grateful to still have my mum. She helped us so much when the children were young and I had serious health problems. I am trying to repay all that time she gave up when we needed it. My dad died 31 years ago and left a huge hole in my life, she is alone with no family around her and all her friends gone. But I am also grateful to have this time to be myself. I know others who are further along in their elder care journey and I know how exhausting it will be once she’s here. My husband especially will be kept busy. So, for now we are making the most of our available free time. Because we will need to keep ourselves fit and healthy so that we can make her life easier and ensure that she has a longer, healthier and happier life here than she would isolated and bored where she is. Because that’s what we’ve promised her. And I always keep my promises.

*7 Juice Recipes

**Invisible Disabilities Week – My Story

**Monday Meditation: Osteopathy, Rest & Recuperation in Nature

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Taking a Break to Rest My Broken Body + Tips to Cope with Chronic Pain

IMG_9015As many of you know, I recently injured my back again being much too optimistic about how far I could walk. This is an ongoing problem I have had all my adult life since lifting an overloaded case of albums (as in LPs), along with subsequent whiplash injuries, surgery and medieval torture!

Periodically, I need to have osteopathy and rest up for some time. I’ve been struggling this last few weeks, so I am taking some time off to have some treatment and give my body a break. It’s been a physically demanding few months with all the house refurbishment and family birthdays, not to mention 7 weeks of watching sweaty men in lycra, cycling Les Tours de France, Spain and Britain! I need to take better care of myself.

Pain Awareness Month – a personal reflection on Chronic Pain (but don’t worry, this isn’t a moanfest and I suggest tips to help cope!)

This is Pain Awareness Month and boy, have I been aware of pain 😉 Chronic pain is a widespread but often invisible disorder, it interferes with every part of your life and affects those around you as well as those in pain. It affects mood, mobility, the ability to work or create, family relations – I have missed so many important family events, often having to let people down at the last minute – and you can lose friends very quickly.

img_6480It is difficult for people, especially the medical profession and often some family members, to understand why one day, or even hour, you can do something, but the next day it is completely impossible; why – even though you’re smiling – you are still in deep, often agonising pain. In this photo, I had had no sleep for a couple of nights due to deep persistent pain, but I was up on Christmas morning ready to join in the family gift-swap.

You are often damned if you do and damned if you don’t: over the years, I have been regularly taken to task for not trying hard enough, then berated for trying too hard and making things worse! It can be impossible to find the right balance.

I have had to spend long periods of time in bed – I’m talking months and even years at a time – unable to look after my children, but I have had people say to me: ‘you’re in the right place’, when it’s cold or wet, or ‘I wish I could lie in bed all day and not have to go to work!’ Don’t say it!

Natural Therapies

Doctors can only offer me prescriptions for pills that don’t work and make things worse with their side effects. So I choose natural therapies like craniosacral osteopathy for realignment (a gentle form, not the bone-crunching type!), music and aromatherapy oils for relaxation and meditation, herbal remedies for inflammation, homeopathic gel for bruised muscles, audiobooks for stimulation, heat pads for spasms and poor circulation, Rescue Remedy for shock and stress – and my diet helps. It includes copious amounts of raw chocolate! And laughter really is the best medicine.

(Raw cacao is a mood booster and anti-inflammatory and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise;-) It contains 40 times more antioxidants than blueberries, is a rich source of magnesium which is heart-healthy, helps relax muscles and prevent depression; it contains more calcium than cow’s milk, iron, zinc, B vitamins, omega oils and protein. And it tastes amazing).*

Gratitude

The regular giving of thanks helps prevent and reduce the onset of depression when dealing with chronic pain. Starting a gratitude journal when severely depressed saved my life. Knowing you have to write something down at the end of the day makes you look for the positive and helps to change your mindset. Nowadays, I don’t need to write it out but I express my appreciation every day, even for the little things, especially for the little things. And even when at my worst physically, I still try to perform random acts of kindness.

Thinking of others, looking outwards instead of always looking inwards at my pain, helps me cope. It is partly why I began this blog, to pass on what I have learned and researched in the realm of diet, health and wellbeing, in the hope that someone reading it might be helped just a little bit to improve their lifestyle, their health and their outlook and enjoy a happier, healthier life.

Juicing for Health

IMG_8106Juicing and adopting a vegan diet eased my aches and pains by reducing inflammation, removing extra weight from my joints, resetting my hormones, calming and relaxing me, providing energy and a positive outlook – you can read about my first juice fast and the positive effects on my health here: Juicing: How to Begin or Do As I Say, Not As I Did!

Keep Calm, Plants Have Protein!

Altering my diet has improved so many health issues: since changing to a plant-based diet I no longer use an inhaler or have asthma attacks; losing the extra weight reduced the pressure in my spine, improved my mobility, brought my cholesterol levels to normal and improved my digestion. Pain causes tension, which impedes digestion. In addition, years of pain medication has damaged my stomach lining. Dietary changes also helped cure a sudden-onset itchy scaly rash that almost drove me mad. (see How I Juiced My Skin Clear).

(There are several posts in the menu about the nutritional and environmental benefits of adopting a vegan diet).**

IMG_3797Looking and feeling better does have its drawbacks however! People sometimes think that because I look healthy, smile, study, make cards and write a health and wellness blog, everything is hunky dory in the pain department. Sometimes it is hard not to feel a bit of a fraud when I see myself through other people’s eyes. The more I do the more I am expected to do, my health improvements tend to be taken somewhat for granted. I, however, appreciate every little thing I can do, but I do have a tendency to get over-confident and my body will soon let me know how it feels about that!

I’ll be signing off on Tuesday, 12th September but I have scheduled some posts for while I’m away to keep you on the straight and narrow, so don’t be off bingeing on doughnuts and chips just because I have my back turned!

A Bientôt!

See also Brigid’s excellent and positive post on coping with Fibromyalgia & Chronic Illness, also using natural methods.

*My favourite raw chocolate is from the award-winning The Raw Chocolate Company It’s vegan, gluten-free, organic and Fairtrade.

**Some posts about changing to a plantbased diet:

Veganuary

Veganuary – results

Where Do I Get My Protein on a Vegan Diet?

Where Do I Get My Calcium On A Vegan Diet?

Environmental Benefits of Adopting a Vegan/Vegetarian Diet

Where Do I Get Iron on a Vegan Diet?

Plant Powered New Year

Please Note: these are my personal thoughts based on experience and research. Please see a doctor before reducing or stopping medication or beginning a juice-cleanse for the first time.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Jason Vale’s 5lbs in 5 Days Big Juice Challenge With Free Recipes & Support!

imageFrom the 4th – 8th September 2017, Jason Vale (aka the the Juicemaster) is holding a free Big Juice Challenge using his 5lbs in 5 Days programme, which is available free if you join up via Big Juice Challenge (the photo is just for illustration, you don’t get physical products, it’s all online).

You will receive free shopping lists, juice recipes, coaching videos and can join in with his Facebook group to ask questions, compare results and so on. Jason is very hands on with his support and encouragement, filming daily videos, answering questions, reading out progress tweets etc. And it’s all FREE! (If this one’s a little too short notice, he does them about 3 or 4 times a year, so watch out for the next one).

(If you want more information and support, you can buy an inexpensive app and/or the book, which is great for getting into the whys and wherefores of juicing for health, how the food and diet industries work and is an easy, often humorous read to keep you on the straight and narrow).

What’s more, the Retro Cold Press Juicer is currently on offer with £100 off the RRP.

I have done this challenge and several of his others many times, in fact I’ve just completed this one a little early as it conflicts with family birthdays. I’ve experienced many improvements in several health issues (read about my first juicing experiences  Juicing: How to Begin or Do As I Say, Not As I Did! ).

My weight levelled out soon after I began juicing nearly 4 years ago and varies by about 5lbs depending on the season, how many birthday celebrations we’ve had etc. I don’t do much exercise due to a back injury, but I still manage to lose 4-5 lbs each time.

For me, the weight loss is incidental, it keeps me where I’m healthiest, but more importantly, the week of juices and blends helps reset my body, calms me down, forces me to take a break and take care of myself and to reassess my lifestyle. I do these programmes about 3 or 4 times a year, once each season basically. The rest of the time I have at least one juice a day and eat healthily and yes I still do have treats.

For those unsure about whether you can make it through 5 days of juicing, this is what you have to look forward to on Day Three:

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Berry Banana Crunch! It is one of the most delicious blended juices and one of the most popular. It comprises 2 apples, juiced, blended with 1/2 a banana, 2 handfuls of mixed berries (fresh or frozen), 2 Tbsps live yogurt, 1 Tbsp mixed seeds, ice cubes. What’s not to like!

If anyone asks you where your protein/calcium/fibre/fats etc. are on a juice ‘diet’ ‘cleanse’  whatever, here it is:

This smoothie has it all: protein, potassium, calcium, magnesium, probiotics, b vitamins, antioxidants, fibre, healthy omega oils and so much more.

There’s a Sweet Beet Smoothie on the fifth day too which also has berries in it, Turbo with a Kick! on the first day is one of my favourite juices, it has pineapple and ginger in it which gives it a zing. It’s not all kale and spinach – though there is a fair amount! – all the juices are carefully balanced for nutrients and flavour especially to appeal to beginners.

I am a long term juicer, so I don’t have quite so much fruit in my juices now, the idea is to ease back over time as you get used to it.

I’ve compiled a list of links to my posts which provide information and support for juicing newbies, beginning with juicers and blenders and on to tips for juicing success, find them in Juicing Posts: Advice, Reviews, Tips & Tricks in the Menu at the top of this post. I also have posts where you can follow my progress through a 5lbs in 5 Days programme and also a SuperJuiceMe! 14 day challenge – again, you’ll find them in the Menu.

Here are just a few that might help:

My Top 20 Tips for Juicing – updated to 25!

Are You in Need of a Juice Boost?

What To Do If You Feel Hungry on a Juice Plan or Don’t Need To Lose a Lot of Weight

 Which Juicer? – Where to Begin?

Juicemaster Retro Super Fast Juicer: Review

Super Juicing: I Feel Good! Now What? 11 Tips on How To Maintain Your Juicy Success

Also, Aldi frequently have well-reviewed juicers on special offer, a good buy for a beginner.

All information in these posts is for guidance only and based on my own experience or research. Please consult a doctor before embarking on a juice programme, especially if doing so for the first time, and do your own research.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Election Day Special Fruity Beetroot Juice

With apologies to From Pyrenees to Pennines who also used this title today, I had this in mind when I got up this morning:

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Juice: Beetroot, Apple, Pear, Carrot, Lemon, Cucumber, Romaine Leaves and blend with Frozen Cherries, Mixed Berries, Banana & hemp seeds. And if that doesn’t cover the full gamut of the electoral spectrum, I don’t know what does!

Here in the UK, it’s General Election Day. Universal suffrage was a hard fought right, don’t waste it.

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Wherever your political loyalties lie

GO OUT & VOTE!!!

There are people waiting in polling stations to collect your vote, who have been up since 5am and won’t get home much before midnight – my husband is one of them – so don’t leave them sitting there twiddling their thumbs:

GO ON, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR??!!

(Does this count as subliminal advertising?)

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Copyright: Chris McGowan

What To Do If You Feel Hungry on a Juice Plan or Don’t Need To Lose a Lot of Weight

imageThis morning I was asked by Siobhan of Paris Here And There if there is anything she can do to avoid the hunger pangs on a juicing program and also to prevent her losing weight unnecessarily.

If you read my post yesterday, you’ll know that next Monday I am joining Jason Vale’s ‘Big January Clean-Up’ which involves doing the first 14 days of his 28 day SuperJuiceMe! plan (there is still time to sign up via the Juicemaster website, all coaching videos, shopping lists, recipes are free).

First, let me explain about hunger pangs.

It is normal to feel hunger in the first 3 days of a juice plan.

More often than not these are withdrawal pangs, not genuine hunger. Your body is getting everything it needs from the nutritionally balanced juices, blends and smoothies. What it is not getting is the caffeine, sugar, alcohol and hopefully nicotine it has become dependent upon and it is shouting at you very loudly about this restriction, as with any withdrawal from addictive substances.

And let’s make no bones about it: all these substances are addictive. Sugar has the same effect on the brain as crack cocaine and heroin!

Here are some tips and advice:

1. The way to reduce these withdrawal symptoms (headaches, cravings) is to taper off and finally quit in the 2 weeks before a juice-only program.

2. Once you begin the plan, keep well-hydrated, using herbal and fruit teas, warm water with a slice of lemon, as well as plain water; rest – go for walks in the fresh air, do yoga, rather than sessions at the gym – and watch or read inspiring films and books to keep you motivated. (See the suggested list at the end).

3. If you genuinely feel hungry, you can’t sleep for tummy rumbles etc. there are emergency rations you can turn to (see later).

4. The point of the plan is to give your digestive system a rest and allow your body to repair, renew and rest, so try to resist for the first 3 days.

5. Keep yourself occupied so you’re not thinking about food all the time.

6. Have your juices ready and don’t wait until you’re desperate before having them, then you won’t be tempted to grab a sugary snack or bag of crisps. Also, sip your juices slowly through a straw.

7. Try to find a juice buddy. If this is your first time, support is vital and you can either persuade a friend or family member to join you or find amazing support on Jason Vale’s Facebook page, where you can ask questions and get advice, or on Twitter/Instagram.

8. Keep reminding yourself why you’re doing it. Read up on the health benefits of juicing and arm yourself to fend off all the doubters and sceptics who will try to undermine your resolve.

9. Don’t be put off, the results will speak for themselves and will silence the naysayers.

10. Over 25 people, including some who tried to put me off, started juicing after they saw the amazing results from my first plan.

*

For those who don’t want or need to lose a lot of weight:

When I did the last 14 day juice challenge, I didn’t need to lose weight but this time after a cold, too much comfort food and lots of family visits/festive food I could do with it!

However, there are those who just want the re-energising health benefits or want to clear up their skin or reduce aches and pains and who have no wish or need to lose weight. I have compiled a list of things you can do if you fall into these categories.

You may still lose some weight just by the fact that you have cut out a lot of snacks and high fat/sugary foods during your juice plan, but you will slowly regain what you need when your body readjusts to what is normal eating for you.

You will generally only lose the weight you need to lose. 

I do these juice challenges 4 times a year. My first 2 times I lost  2 1/2 stones (35lbs) altogether. Now, I lose about 5 lbs as I don’t need to lose any more.

And for those who really do suffer genuine hunger pangs, there are things you can eat to alleviate them, but only in a dire emergency!

Tips for emergency rations or to prevent unwanted weight loss:

1. To allay hunger pangs or to avoid a big weight loss, stick to plant foods and oils as your emergency rations. You can add an extra juice, or a tsp of flax oil or coconut oil to a glass of juice.

2. To prevent digestive issues, I reiterate: stay away from processed and sugary foods, meat and dairy, coffee and alcohol.

3. Half a ripe avocado either on its own in the evening with lemon juice and cracked black pepper or blended into a couple of juices a day (1/4 at a time) will usually do the trick. It is normal to feel hungry in the first 2 to 3 days but then your body adjusts.

4. Hunger and thirst can be confused. More often than not, it is hydration you need rather than food. Again, keep hydrated using herbal and fruit teas as well as plenty of water.

5. You can add a tablespoon of ground organic linseeds (or other seeds) to your juices (this also helps if you have any problems with constipation).

6. Half a very ripe banana in the evening can also help.

7. If out and about and the avocados and banana are not an option, a healthy version of a fruit bar can help, but make sure it does not contain refined sugar, dairy or other additives, just pure fruit and nuts.

8. My go-to emergency ration is one of Jason’s ‘Juice in a Bar’ snacks. These really do replace a juice if you need to and are very filling.  Usually, I can manage only half.

9. You could add a higher calorie vegetable to your juices like sweet potato – I use these often in my own juices (usually to replace parsnips!)

10. Whatever you decide, always chew slowly and thoroughly, otherwise your tummy will object if it is already adapting to the juice program.

Bonus tip: Try adding some good quality pea or hemp protein powder to some of your juices to stave off the hunger and give your juices some extra oomph!

Most of all, remember that if you have to miss a juice or you do feel the need for extras, it doesn’t mean you have failed and you have to give up! Just pick up where you left off. You will still gain the benefits. Even if you just have one juice a day and cut down or cut out the processed, sugary stuff, you will feel more energy, your skin, hair and nails will benefit and if you need to lose some weight, then this will help.

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I hope I have covered everything. If you have any other questions please ask in the comments and I will try to address them in another post. You may find the answers already in the Juicing Tips section of the Menu.

Finally, a list of films, books and websites for motivation and support.

These websites are excellent for books, articles, recipes, information, support

Juicemaster I recommend all of Jason’s books for their down-to-earth, lighthearted style in explaining how food works, how the food and pharma industries work, how juicing works.

Reboot with Joe Cross Aussie Joe is inspirational for his own journey, documented in his film Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. He also does guided reboots and his website has a wealth of information and advice.

The Natural Juice Junkie Neil is a leading Britsh juice exponent and lifestyle coach. His articles are informative, short and easy to read. He also does guided juice challenges.

My Goodness Recipes (Hanna and Jason Vale both rid themselves of the terrible symptoms of psoriasis through juicing and offer free plans on their websites)

SuperJuiceMe! The Documentary  Jason Vale took 8 volunteers with 22 different diseases, some life-threatening, which were not improving with allopathic (conventional) treatment, some very overweight, others not. He put them on a juicing regimen of fruit and vegetables for 28 days. This documentary follows their path and I defy you to watch and not reach for the tissues then quickly determine to make some changes to your lifestyle.

Food Matters TV From 11th January, 2017 you can watch both the Food Matters and Hungry for Change films free for 5 days via this website. The Food Matters team have an excellent website bringing regular articles on current health topics and research as well as healthy recipes and tips for an all round healthier lifestyle, including environmental changes.

My Post How I Juiced My Skin Clear: A Rash Decision?

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Are You in Need of a Juice Boost?

I am!

Are you feeling heavy and sluggish, is your skin dull and dry? Are your hormones all over the place?

The seemingly endless Thanksgiving/Divali/Christmas/Hannuka/New Year season of festive food can leave us feeling tired and unhealthy, while the long dark days of cold and damp weather can mean not so much fresh air and exercise resulting in being a few pounds overweight. Centrally heated homes and offices make our skin dull and dry, our airways stuffy and our lungs prone to inflammation and infections. (This last is true of air-conditioning, too, for those of you in warmer climates).

Next week, I am joining Jason Vale’s Big January Clean-Up to clear out the rubbish and reset my body, to help it through these months of colds, coughs and central heating.

I will be doing the first 14 days of his 28 Day SuperJuiceMe! plan followed by 7 days of his SuperFastFood book/app, both of which I’ve done before and I felt completely re-energised afterwards.

I have to make a few adjustments to some of the juices as I am allergic to pineapple and lime, but I replace them with mango, papaya and lemon.

Here are some links to preparing for a juice challenge, to help choose a juicer and to Jason’s website where you can obtain details of the free plan – there is still time to sign up for free daily coaching videos, free shopping list and daily emails with all the recipes:

Jason’s Free Big January Clean-Up

Which Juicer? – Where to Begin

My Top 20 Tips for Juicing – updated to 25!

Preparing to be SuperJuiced!

Preparing to be SuperJuiced Part 2

Juicing: How to Begin or Do As I Say, Not As I Did!

The Juice Junkie’s 5 Ways To Prepare For a Juice Cleanse

Start’s Monday, 9th January, 2017!

You don’t have to do the full 2 weeks, you could do a 3 day quickie or a 5 day pick-me-up, so long as you prepare and follow up with a plant-based diet so as not to put a strain on your digestive system during or after the challenge.

Remember, this is my personal experience.

Always check with your doctor before doing a prolonged juicing regime, especially if you’re on medication – some are more supportive than others.

It helps to find friends or online group support. I found my support on Twitter, but Jason has a facebook page where you can get all the advice and support you need, as does The Natural Juice Junkie.

Ps I really recommend watching Jason’s documentary SuperJuiceMe! Free on YouTube. It is one of the most inspiring films you will ever watch.

Jason Vale’s Free SuperJuiceMe! documentary

Good Luck and Good Health! Cheers!

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Copyright: Chris McGowan

Zingy Kale Salad Juice

Are you ready to ditch the festive food yet and get healthy again? 

I am.

Food is a real problem for me when all the family get together. My juicing routine is interrupted and meals take so much time and preparation that I end up compromising and eating things I know are going to leave me feeling uncomfortable if not in great pain.

Yesterday was one of those days.

With a houseful of meat-loving teenagers, there are only so many times you can get away with vegan nut roast or pizza, fruit salad, and raw chocolate treats, before you have a mutiny on your hands. So yesterday, their final lunch was fish and chips from the local chip shop! There was no time for juicing or making salads as they were on a tight timetable for their journey home. I ended up having a few chips, my first potatoes of any kind for 18 months. They were crisp and freshly made and tasted good with Himalayan pink salt. I ate them slowly and mindfully. I asked them to be kind.

Those few chips caused me so much heartburn and acid reflux, I was in pain all night and had no sleep! What’s more, the skin on the back of my hand began to itch (see How I Juiced My Skin Clear: A Rash Decision?).

This morning, I decided that was it. Back on the juice.

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This is one of my husband’s concoctions. It’s a throwback to summer days in the garden. Sometimes you have to take a deep breath, hold your nose and cross your fingers, but this turned out really well!

Wash all the ingredients, keep the peel on unless you’re using a waxed lemon, in which case pare it very thinly to leave as much pith as possible, this is where the micro-nutrients live and we need them in the juice. It helps the kale to go through the juicer more easily if you chop it roughly and feed it through in scrunched-up batches between apple and cucumber. Feed the lemon in with another item and leave the celery to last if your juicer doesn’t cope with it too well.

This juice has protein, antioxidants, B vitamins, healthy omega fats, electrolytes, fibre and is hydrating and good for your skin.

Ingredients

Large handful of Kale

2 Apples

Half an unwaxed Lemon with peel

3″ Cucumber

1 Stalk of Celery

Handful of Green Beans

1/4 of Avocado

Wash and juice everything except the avocado which is blended into the juice.

(Begin with apple and end with apple for best results).

You can chop and freeze the remainder of the avocado to use for future blended juices or in guacamole etc.

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Juicing in the garden during the late summer while hb mends bikes – it’s his thing. It’s very messy and that’s as close as he gets!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Christmas Catch-up

I realised today that I’ve been putting quite a few photos on Instagram and Facebook that you haven’t been privy to unless you specifically check out the feed on my home page. So I thought I’d do a slide show to let you see what’s been going on here in the days leading up to Christmas visits.

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Lots of juicing and smoothie making of course, making Christmas tags from last year’s cards, our first full frost a couple of weeks ago which explains the standing jeans – my husband decided that as it was a sunny morning he would hang out his work jeans to ‘dry’! He told them to wipe their feet before they came in!

Christmas doesn’t really begin for me until I’ve watched at least one of the following: It’s A Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street – I saw both of them last week!

Have any of you had romanesco? It’s like a green cauliflower. When we cut it in half it struck me that it looked just like a Christmas tree! I posted a photo of it to my family with the caption ‘trees up!’

The bracelets are from a Bolivian charity  beyondBeanie which helps artisan predominantly single mums sell their creations and the proceeds go to help street children and orphans. Each category of their wares goes to fund a different scheme. These bracelets provide toothbrushes and toothpaste for the children as part of a dental health programme. Young people love them. They are well made and waterproof so you don’t have to keep taking them off when you shower or wash up. They make shawls, mittens and beanies too.

Currently, they have a 25% discount offer on their website.

As you can see, my Raw Chocolate Company cupboard has been restocked! We are about to have ravenous teenagers descend on us and the first thing they do is check out the kitchen before retreating to their room. We don’t see them again until they surface for more food!

I was a little worried we wouldn’t have any foliage to speak of this year as our neighbour got a little over-enthusiastic pruning our shared holly tree a while back,  which is usually covered in berries. What you can see in the slideshow is the sum total of what was available, about 4 or 5 twigs. It’s augmented with laurel, buddleia and hydrangea seedheads, ivy, rosemary, mahonia and lleylandii.

The bird in the tree is a robin that was trilling its heart out this afternoon in the sunshine. It was beautiful. There’s a pair of them that are so sociable. I love watching them.

That’s it – oh, and my gorgeous little grandchildren gave me an early Christmas gift: I have my first full-on cold for 3 years!  I fought it stoically for 2 weeks, but my exhausted body ran up the white flag this week! I apologise for all the forests of tissues I’m currently using up.

Stay healthy!

Copyright: Chris McGowan