Category Archives: health

Guest post: Common Keto Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

I understand, it’s hard for you to gauge your progress when you’ve only followed the ketogenic diet for a week or two, or even a whole month. The magic happens internally, and the only way for you to record your progress is using the weighing scale or measuring parts of your body (and how you feel too, to an extent).

A lot of beginner’s screw things up at the beginning once they realize things aren’t as straightforward as it was thought to be.

Here are some common keto mistakes beginners make and how YOU should avoid them, so your keto journey doesn’t have to go through hiccups and you can maintain your ketosis stage.

Obsessing over the scale!!!

If you’re stepping on the scale when you wake up, before lunch, after lunch, and after dinner, then STOP! This obsession will only lead to disappointment. Your weight changes throughout the day, especially after meals.

When you’re frequently disappointed, you’ll start to self-doubt that may lead you to throwing in the towel.

Sure, you’re on a low-carb diet … But you really think your weight isn’t gonna change after a meal? Be reasonable!

Woman on weighing scale

Photo source: https://pixabay.com/ (Creative Commons license)

The best time to step on the scale is the morning when you wake up. If possible, every morning, around the same time for consistency. Keep it fair to yourself, and don’t fret too much about the digits on the scale! Write down what you see every morning for the next few weeks.

Once you see a pattern emerging, you’ll thank yourself for doing this.

Too much meat, bro

Yeap, too much protein can be counter-productive for you in a keto diet. When you’re in a low-carb diet, your liver can convert amino acids into glucose for energy, in a process called gluconeogenesis. Fancy, huh?

Remember, the point of entering ketosis is to prevent the body from using glucose as a main energy source. The protein you consume should only be enough to maintain muscle mass.

You should be keeping your daily protein intake below or at 1 gram of protein per day, per kg of body weight. So, if you weight 60 kilograms (133lbs.), keep your protein at 60 grams a day.

A good place to estimate your keto macronutrient needs that suit your goals is by using a keto macro calculator (like this one from Perfect Keto.)

The wrong mentality

A lot of people start with a diet to lose weight in a short period of time. It is possible, but you must be realistic.

An internet “guru” can claim that he lost 15 lbs within the first week of a diet he discovered (followed by a link to a course you have to buy), just as I can claim I have found the eternal cure to cancer. Don’t be fooled by these crazy marketing claims.

If done right, you can lose a lot of weight (2-10 lbs) within the first week, because your body loses WATER WEIGHT, not fat. And this too, depends on so many factors such as your metabolism, how active you are, and so on.

In the medium term, due expect weight loss of only 1-2lbs a week, and even a slower rate in the long term. You can’t get discouraged. Following a ketogenic diet is a lifestyle and a commitment in the long run. When you’re not there mentally, you’re gonna give in to sugar cravings and the hunger, which will kick you out off ketosis!

Taking the wrong types of fats/proteins

Keep your fats in check. Fats are a necessary part of a keto diet, but not all fats are good. Processed fats, such as hydrogenated oils and partially hydrogenated oils in junk food, fast food, and margarine should be avoided.

Avoid processed vegetable oils such as sunflower oil, corn oil, canola oil soybean oil, and a few others.

The best proteins to take on a Keto diet are plant-based proteins, not to say you can’t have animal meats, though. Too much fatty meat has been linked to heart diseases and high cholesterol levels. You should not follow a ketogenic diet just to lose weight, but to have a healthier life in the long run.

Keto protein supplements are a great way for you to meet your protein needs when it’s not convenient for you’re a strict-protein diet.

Take-Home Message

To every keto beginner out there, you need to have a lot of patience and commitment. Do your research, stick to your plan, be honest to yourself, and the results will come forth. As mentioned, you may lose a lot of weight initially, but don’t expect it to be like that the following weeks!

Guest post by Sarah Peterson
“Sarah is the Content Director at Perfect Keto, with a mission to help as many people as possible achieve optimal health and well-being.”

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Sweet Victory Products review and giveaway

For the last 2 or 3 years, I have become more aware of how bad sugar can be for us. It is known to be one of the worst foods for a variety of common diseases like arthritis, cancer and autism. I enjoy cakes and biscuits far too much to eliminate them, but I do try my best now to reduce my sugar intake. I’ve made a few little changes like always having fruit with my porridge instead of sugar and sometimes opting for something like a cheese scone or slice of fruit bread rather than cake.

So I was delighted when Sweet Victory Products contacted me to offer a free hamper of some of their products to review. They had seen my Zollipops review, which is one of the products they stock. Their aim is to help as many people as possible to change their relationship from High Sugar to Sugar-Free and healthier alternatives. This is exactly what I would like to do, if only I had the willpower.

Sweet Victory hamper

It didn’t take long for a beautifully packed basket to arrive which contained all the following goodies.
Virginias B-San white chocolate coated digestive biscuits no added sugars 130g
Diablo sugar free chocolate chip cake 230g
Jim Jams no added sugar milk chocolate spread 350g
Sweet Switch No added sugar Premium Belgian milk chocolate confetti 22g
Sugar free gummy sweets pick and mix 100g
Sugar free sweets pick and mix jar
2 sugar free cherry lollipops
2 Tplus+ immunitea vitamin tea orange and blueberry sachets
Cadbury highlights reduced sugar hot chocolate 11g
Cadbury highlights reduced sugar fudge flavour hot chocolate 11g

Sweet Victory hamper

So focussing on the individual products and starting with the digestive biscuits, which son2 was over the moon to see, as chocolate digestives are his all time favourite type of biscuit. I don’t think any of us had come across a white chocolate version previously. These contain zero sugar, and are sweetened with an ingredient I haven’t heard of called maltitol. We all enjoyed these. I haven’t done a direct price comparison on any of these products but I would certainly be happy to pay more for these sugar free digestives when I consider how quickly we get through a regular pack in our household.

Virginias B-San white chocolate coated digestive biscuits no added sugars

Next the cake. Once again sugar free and sweetened with maltitol and acesulfame K. I’ve not heard of this sweetener either. However I wished that I hadn’t looked at the ingredient list, as 16 E numbers sounded rather excessive. Luckily I didn’t look until after I had tried it. The boys enjoyed the cake, but I only thought it okay. Like many shop bought cakes, it tasted rather synthetic to me. I’m much more a fan of a homemade cake.

Diablo sugar free chocolate chip cake


And the chocolate spread. Jim Jams is a brand that I heard about earlier this year and have been unsuccessfully looking out for, so I was very interested to try this. Again this contains maltitol rather than sugar. Rather than just spreading it on toast, I decided this deserved a recipe.

Pain au Chocolat (Chocolate Croissants)

Ingredients (makes approx 4-5)

250g puff pastry
approx 75g Jim Jams chocolate spread

Method

Preheat fan oven to 200 deg C.
Grease baking sheet.
Roll out the pastry.
Cut pastry into similar sized rectangles.
Spread a length of chocolate spread along one edge of each rectangle.
Roll each rectangle up from that edge.
Place on baking sheet.
Cook on middle shelf of oven for about 10 minutes.
Remove from baking sheet immediately and place on cooling rack.
Serve either warm or cold.
Enjoy.

These were delicious warm. We all enjoyed them. For a store cupboard essential like chocolate spread, I definitely plan to switch to the Jim Jams brand in future.
Pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant)

And then there were four types of sweets. Firstly the Sweet Switch chocolate confetti which look very similar to smarties. The product name on the website indicates that these are made from premium Belgian milk chocolate, but this isn’t particularly promoted on the packet, with just a small mention of Sweet Switch address in Belgium. Tasty but again I wished I hadn’t looked at the packet, as I was confronted by 8 E-numbers. No added sugars, but more sweeteners that I hadn’t heard of – maltitol again plus sorbitol and steviol glycosides.

Sweet Switch No added sugar Premium Belgian milk chocolate confetti

And then the sugar free Gummy Pick & Mix Sweets with all our favourites like cola bottles. The packaging advises you to refer to their website for ingredients, but as it is a pick & mix product, you would need to look at each sweet type individually. I only looked at the cola bottle page, which does show that they contain pork gelatine, so I feel that this ought to be highlighted on the Pick & Mix webpage itself.

Sugar free gummy sweets pick and mix

Wow what a lot of different varieties of sweets in this pick and mix jar. Just looking at it brought back happy memories of visiting the local sweet shop as a child. And just think, these are all sugar free. There are a few familiar brands like Werthers and Mintoes, nether of which I realised did a sugar-free variant. But mostly just dip in for a tasty surprise. Again you would need to refer to individual sweet webpages for ingredients, but you can request for a particular sweet to be excluded. All of Sweet Victory weigh-out sweets can also be purchased in 100g increments. With Halloween round the corner, these would be fab for Trick or Treat.

Sugar free sweets pick and mix jar

And of course lollipops. I didn’t get to try these myself as there were only two and both boys wanted one. However they said they were good. These are sold in packs of 10. Again more unknown sweeteners on the ingredient list – acesulfame K again, plus sucralose and isomalt.

sugar free cherry lollipops

Next for a cup of tea. This was very pleasant and apparently contains an immune boosting blend of beneficial herbs, green tea, fruit and 50% RDA in 9 daily essential vitamins; Vitamin C echinacea and ginseng. I’ve never really thought about tea in the context of free-from but according to the website, this is gluten-free. So does that mean that some teas contain gluten? I never knew. This is sold in boxes of 15 sachets.

2 Tplus+ immunitea vitamin tea orange and blueberry sachets

And finally the hot chocolate. This is marketed as a low sugar product, rather than sugar-free and is something I have purchased previously. So I already knew that I liked both flavours. However I just scanned the barcode with my food scanner app and found that they still have 3g (original) or 3.4g (fudge) sugar in an 11g product. That is not really low sugar in my opinion.

Cadbury highlights reduced sugar fudge flavour hot chocolate

After sampling all the goodies, I had a look round their online store and can certainly see plenty of other tempting products, including some which would make lovely gifts. I think I would like to give the Xylitol a try, to see how that works in baking. And I also noticed that they stock Real Good Tomato Ketchup which is another product that I have previously reviewed. I have looked for this in vain at a couple of local branches of the Co-op, so very pleased to identify an online stockist.

And I was pleased to see that delivery costs are very reasonable, starting at £3.55 for second class. There is also a reward points scheme. I am definitely happy to recommend Sweet Victory Products.

But looks like I need to do some research into sugar substitutes next. Find out a bit about maltitol, acesulfame K, sorbitol, steviol glycosides, sucralose and isomalt.

And I have an offer to pass on to my readers – 10% off your first order at Sweet Victory Products with discount code: YABM10

Plus I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a hamper of treats from Sweet Victory Products to one lucky winner. What a tempting prize bundle. Contents will be similar to those that I received.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear about your favourite reduced sugar treats.

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Disclosure. This post is a review of products I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.

Guest post: Coconut Oil – Miracle House Hold Remedy

Coconut oil has several uses that make it a super household item that you must always keep it in your home. It can be used in food for better health, in skin and hair care products and as a natural treatment for certain diseases in certain medicines. If you are unaware of benefits coconut oil, this blog is dedicated to you.

Coconut Oil and Weight Loss:

Coconut oil has magnificent health benefits for you. Coconut oil contains High-density lipoprotein cholesterol that is healthy cholesterol which helps in elimination of fat lipids from the body by carrying them to the liver. In addition to this, coconut oil has antimicrobial properties that fight against harmful microbes in your body and maintain the balance between healthy and unhealthy bacteria. This keeps your gut flora healthy and as a result, your digestive system improves. Similarly, there are two reasons behind weight gain either it is the weak immune system or weak digestive system. Taking coconut oil resolves both of these issues. In addition to this, the saturated fatty acid in coconut oil reduces your appetite naturally and helps to maintain sugar level. All these benefits aid in weight loss. You can cook your meal in coconut oil or just eat a tablespoon of coconut oil in the morning.

Coconut Oil and Hair Care:

Shampooing and conditioning are not all that your hair requires for thickness and shine. You owe to show some extra love to your hairs by taking advantage of nature’s gifts to keep your hairs healthy. One of these is coconut oil. Do you know why people living in Tropical coastal areas have thick and shiny hairs? The most suitable answer is that they use naturally extracted coconut oil on their hairs. Coconut oil contains a chain of fatty acids such as capric acid and lauric acid that behaves as an antifungal and anti-bacterial that kills the bacteria and detoxifies the scalp. In addition to this, Coconut oil also contains vitamin E that helps to protect the skin cells on the scalp, reduces oxidative stress in the scalp and improves blood flow which results in better hair health. According to Home Remedies for Life, Coconut oil is among best oils that can be used for better hair growth. However, using extra virgin coconut oil is a better option as compared to other commercially available coconut oil as they also contain mineral oils that reduce its efficiency.

Coconut Oil for Skin Care:

Coconut oil is one of the perfect moisturizers you can apply to your skin. As mentioned previously coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties, not only this it is also a natural coolant. Therefore, if coconut oil is applied to the skin it can help in reducing sunburn, itching or burning. In addition to this, the mono-saturated fats present in coconut oil promote collagen growth that makes the cell wall stronger and Vitamin K aids new cell production that helps in reducing stretch marks. Coconut oil can be used to get rid of skin conditions such as rashes or eczema as it fights against bacteria and nourishes your skin.

You can also use coconut oil to prevent bacteria enter your dead skin. Coconut oil also contains healing properties. You can apply it on wounds and the Multi-Chain fatty acids will boost up the healing process.

DIY Coconut Oil and Sugar Scrub:

Coconut oil is used in various skin care products however these products are filled with harsh chemicals. Therefore, we are sharing a recipe to make exfoliator at home. You will require:

  1. ½ cup of Sugar
  2. ½ cup of coconut oil
  3. Few drops of essential oil or Lemon juice.

Mix all the three ingredients and use once a week. Sugar granules will remove the dead skin that will help coconut oil penetrate in the skin easily which will nourish your skin. You can use this scrub on dark patches on your body to reduce them.

Coconut oil for Dental Health:

Oil pulling is a method used for dental health as coconut oil has antimicrobial properties performing oil pulling with coconut oil can help in preventing tooth decay and tooth loss. However, on the other hand, multi-chain fatty acids will make gum stronger that will result in less gum bleeding.

Coconut Oil as Makeup Remover:

You can use coconut oil as a makeup remover; it will also hydrate your skin and will keep it moisturized without any side effects.

Author Bio:

Jane Scott is currently working as a nutritionist at a renowned firm. With an experience of more than a decade, she is considered as a go-to person in her field of work. She also writes blogs for her website Home Remedies for Life.

Guest post by Jane Scott

An energy boost

I have just started a new job and there is lots to learn during the training period, which I find can be quite exhausting. Especially as I have to juggle it with family commitments.  Plus it is a shift role, so a mixture of early starts, late finishes plus night shifts again, which I’ve recently had a few months break from. So I was very pleased to be offered a free energy boosting goody pack from Pharmaton.

Energy boosting goodies

I received the following products.
75ml thisworks deep sleep pillow spray
Neom Energy Burst On the Go Mist
50g Nutriseed raw Maca powder
Boots £10 gift card (to purchase Pharmaton Vitality Capsules)

Pharmaton Vitality Capsules

So on my next shopping trip, I popped into Boots to buy a bottle of the Pharmaton Vitality Capsules. This contained 30 capsules, currently at an RRP of £9.49, for which the recommended dose is one tablet daily. I decided to take the full packet before telling you what I thought of them. The packet indicates that they are clinically proven against tiredness and lack of energy. Would I find that so?

The first 2 days didn’t go too well with me getting a bad headache overnight. The packet does warn that headaches may be a common side effect. But after that, things improved and although it is difficult to say with any certainty, I feel that overall I was probably more energised. During week 4, I did my first night shifts in several months, and I felt that my body adjusted back better afterwards.

Pharmaton Vitality Capsules

Pharmaton Vitality Capsules contain a special blend of vitamins and minerals, including the unique G115 ginseng extract. The idea is that they work with your body’s natural metabolism to relieve fatigue and restore vitality, and also help keep you stay mentally and physically alert. They can be taken every day for up to 12 weeks. (For the relief of temporary periods of fatigue. Always read the label).

And of course I tried out the other goodies too.

thisworks deep sleep pillow spray

The pillow spray is great. You just spray it on your pillow and the top end of your duvet. Then smell the delightful fragrance of lavender, vetivert and wild camomile as you drift off. Lavender is one of my favourite scents so this was perfect for me.

Neom Energy Burst On the Go Mist

The Neom mist has a lovely fragrance too and is 100% natural, but it comes in a very tiny bottle. I can’t see the size details on the packaging, but I’m guessing 5ml, so it won’t last me long. I’ve already used over half of it. Basically you spritz it above you or on your wrists, then supposedly breathe in through your nose for a count of 7 and out through your mouth for a count of 11. However I found that I couldn’t breathe for anything like this length, so I’m just doing it as slow as I can manage.

And finally the organic maca powder. I had never heard of maca, so I had to do some research. I found that the Incas have been cultivating it for 1000s of years in the high Peruvian Andes, boosting their energy at such a high altitude. More details on Wikipedia. The packet says to add 1-2 teaspoons to your smoothies, shakes, juices and healthy bakes. Well I decided to use it in my not quite so healthy chocolate cookie recipe.

Double choc chip cookies with maca

Double Choc Chip Cookies

Ingredients (makes about 13)

200g butter
200g plain flour
50g cocoa
1 heaped teasp maca powder
120g soft brown sugar
1 egg
few drops vanilla essence
1 tbsp milk
100g chocolate chips

Method

Preheat fan oven to 170 degree C.
Grease 2 baking trays.
Cream together the butter and sugar.
Beat in the egg.
Add the vanilla essence.
Sieve in the cocoa.
Add the maca powder.
Sieve in the flour.
Mix together.
Mix in the chocolate chips.
Mix in milk if mixture is too stiff.
Spoon balls of mixture onto the baking trays.
Bake in pre-heated oven for about 12 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack.
Serve and enjoy.

Double choc chip cookies with maca

Delicious. Everyone gave these the thumbs up.


And here are some more simple tips to help you make the most of your day and get your energy levels back.

  1. Stay Hydrated

It seems obvious but make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day. According to the Natural Hydration Council, dehydration can reduce the ability to concentrate and impact cognitive and physical performance. NHS choices recommend that you drink at least 1.2 litres of fluid a day which is roughly 6-8 glasses of water. The best way to remind yourself is to keep a glass or bottle on your desk and set yourself a target amount to drink by the end of the day.

  1. Eat right

Make sure that you eat the right foods at the right time. It is tempting to reach for high fat, high sugar products when you are tired but these will leave your energy levels crashing, making you feel irritable and still hungry. Keep a pot of nuts such as almonds or cashews at your desk for when you need an energy boost.

  1. Get a good sleep

According to the national Sleep Council, your bedroom should not be an extension of the house. So don’t use the bedroom to eat, watch TV, work or talk in – the bedroom should be used for sleeping. Plan a consistent sleeping schedule by trying to get the same amount of sleep every night and at similar times. Move all screens out of the bedroom and try to avoid staring a bright screen an hour before bed, as the light keeps your brain awake leaving you struggling to drift off.

  1. Move it

If you feel your concentration failing, don’t reach for another coffee or sugary snack – get moving! Even low intensity exercise like a brisk walk around the block at lunch can help reduce the feeling of fatigue.

I’d be interested to hear your top energy boosting tips.

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Disclosure. This post includes a review of products I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.

Guest post: Benefits of Portion Control

Overeating is a common habit these days. People don’t realize that they are overeating. Larger portions have more calories obviously and make you eat more. It causes problems like obesity, diabetes, etc. So, if you are looking for a healthy lifestyle, portion control should be a priority for you.

Practicing portion control can help you to be satisfied by eating less food, which is beneficial for you, both physically and financially.

Here are a few benefits of portions control that can encourage you.

  1. Digestion Improvement:
    Portion Control can help you improve your digestion and metabolism by not overeating with lots of food in every meal. It will assist in weight-loss as well because your portions will be smaller and the ingestion will be able to take place smoothly.
  2. Helps in Managing Calorie Intake:
    To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. When you are practicing portion control, you would want to eat something that would keep you full for some time since the portions are small.
    Bulking your meals with vegetables, oats, and fruits is one of the easiest ways to manage portion control because they fill you up and are calorie free!
    A proper amount of healthy food will supply your body with essential elements without eating extra.
    Practicing portion control will help in managing calorie intake and it also helps in maintaining blood glucose control. It is well-noted fact that increase in our waist size is directly proportional to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is closely related to diabetes.
  3. Money Saving:
    It’s pretty evident that when you eat smaller portions, you tend to spend less money. You also save money that you spend on junk food because when you practice portion control, you plan to eat healthy food to keep you full instead of junk food, that makes you crave for more and adds to binge-eating.
  4. Increase in Your Satiety:
    It might sound strange but it is a fact, eating less makes you feel full. When you eat less, your stomach shrinks with time, and the feeling of satiety comes quick. Thus you prevent overeating.
  5. Increased Energy:
    Research says that eating smaller portions boosts people’s energy and productivity. Eating irregular meals can lead to problematic issues like a feeling of depleted energy and irregular eating habits. Having increased strength will also help you engage in physical activity, which is essential for good health.
  6. Helps Fight Illness:
    Smaller meals that are taken throughout the day help fight certain illnesses. Eating smaller portions with healthy ingredients give a better regulation of blood glucose levels and is linked to reducing cholesterol and chances of diabetes.

AUTHOR BIO:
Michelle Hannan is a nutritionist, and she’s on a mission to give you all the information you need to lose weight successfully. She also blogs regularly at https://www.hcgdietinfo.net/

Michelle Hannan

Guest post by Michelle Hannon

Guest post: How Yoga, Meditation benefit the Mind and Body

We as humans have come a long way and if you will ask me that whether we are happy about it or not, I will have a mixed answer. The modernity has brought us ease and comfort, but it has also brought the fierce competition with it that do not let us relax entirely. The thought of what will come next is almost destroying the inner peace of one’s self.

To say that a car ride is not what we want would be absolutely wrong but a small walk to the nearby mart or the bar with the company you like or even alone can do wonders to you internally and externally both. But somehow, in all the luxuries and races we have forced ourselves in; we are forgetting that the inner peace is more than you need for a better life.

One of the most significant and brightest person that ever lived once said that.
A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the constant pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness. – Albert Einstein

For many of us the comfort lies in the luxuries, that the future will bring with the efforts we will put today, but what will happen to the peace we need today, ever thought about that? I have so many things that can be a suitable answer to this question, but yoga or meditation has been proven to be the best solution up till now.

According to several types of research, taking out some time for yourself and shutting down the world has proven to be effective for you not just mentally but physically too.

  • BENEFITS TO THE BODY

Yoga has been in practice since a human cannot imagine but with every passing time, the popularity of this method of relaxation and reducing weight is being known to everyone. Celebrities around the world are going crazy over yoga as it does so much in so little time.

Following are the benefits that yoga, meditation holds for our body.

  1. Better health
  2. Flexibility
  3. Better diet
  4. Reduces back pain
  5. Cures the hangover
  6. Better cardiovascular health
  7. Improves digestion
  • BENEFITS TO THE MIND

According to a research conducted by Dr. Cahn, if people allow themselves a session of yoga on a daily basis, they can rid of the anxiety and depression they are going through, and for better results, a vegetarian diet can be opted.

Many psychiatrists even ask their patients to meditate every day even if it is in the comfort of their bedroom and not with a professional.

Meditation is considered as a religious act in some religions. Like, in Christianity, the practice is not common in every school of thought but the tradition of desert fathers from the early times who use to isolate themselves individually or in groups, used to pray (spoken or sung) in synchronized breathing, is now a practice of some schools. In Islam, Muslims consider their daily prayer as a form of meditation as they spend that time alone with their God. In Hinduism and Buddhism, the pundits and Buddhists meditate for years for spirituality.

Following are the benefits that yoga, meditation holds for the mind.

  1. Stress management
  2. Emotional health
  3. Better sleep
  4. Mood booster
  5. Clears your mind

Author bio: Michelle Hannan is a nutritionist, and she’s on a mission to give you all the information you need to lose weight successfully. She also blogs regularly at https://www.hcgdietinfo.net/

Michelle Hannan

Guest post by Michelle Hannon

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Self care for pain relief plus giveaway

Between work and family, I have a busy lifestyle with not much “me” time squeezed in, so I was pleased to be offered a free self-care package from Combogesic.

The package included the following goodies aimed at helping me to relax, unwind, and relieve stress – the perfect combination for a much needed self-care routine from my hectic schedule.

Spa at Home Candle (cedarwood & vetivert)
Bath Bomb
Tea Tree moisturising Korean face mask
Boots £10 gift card

Self care from Combogesic

Whether you struggle to overcome back pain, headaches, period pain or muscular pain, here is some expert advice from GP Dr Dawn Harper on effective pain relief and self-care techniques to help ease the symptoms:

BACK PAIN:It might seem obvious but poor posture is one of the most common causes of back pain. That said, most of us don’t know what good posture is or how to correct bad posture. Over time bad posture generates an increasing amount of pressure on your back which can lead to persistent aches and pains. The trick is to try and not stay in the same position for too long.  Whether you’re sat in a chair at home or at your desk in the office, it’s important to keep re-positioning yourself, taking frequent breaks and moving around to prevent your back becoming stiff.”

HEADACHES:Dehydration is a common trigger for migraines.  With busy lives, it can be difficult to remember to keep drinking fluids, so try drinking a glass after every bathroom break as a regular prompt.  Drinking between two and two and half litres a day might help reduce the frequency, severity and duration of your migraine attacks.

PERIOD PAIN:A light, circular massage around your lower abdomen can help reduce pain.  Alternatively, try some stretches aimed at easing the pain.  For instance, lie on your back with your legs straight out, bend one knee and pull it up to your chin. Hug your knee with both hands and hold the position, then repeat on the other side.”

MUSCULAR PAIN:Use a foam roller, you often see these at the gym, but they can easily be used at home and are very affordable. A foam roller is what can only be described as a padded log. You use it by laying the roller underneath the sore or tender muscle and you simply roll on top of it, allowing the pad to press against the sore or tender muscle. The rolling movement is good for local blood circulation and applies pressure, helping reduce muscle stiffness.

I do always try to drink plenty of water, but I don’t think I manage as much as 2 litres. I had better try harder, as I’ve always suffered from lots of headaches. And I know I’m guilty as regards posture, since after a day at work mainly on screens, my favourite form of relaxation is sitting with my laptop, writing a blog post.

But a foam roller is something I must get myself. I’ve been having physio recently, due to tearing a muscle in my foot and it is something that my physiotherapist has particularly recommended. Pity there wasn’t one included in my self care package along with the other goodies.

I really must focus more on taking time to look after myself, from the inside, out!

Combogesic pain relief

And if you do need some pain relief, then Combogesic is an innovative pain relief product that combines paracetamol and ibuprofen into one convenient tablet, to deliver over 30% more pain relief than taking either ingredient on their own.

Furthermore, its double action formula works faster than the maximum dose of over the counter ibuprofen alone. Combogesic has a much simpler dosing routine, requiring consumers to take 1-2 tablets up to 3 times a day. Visit www.combogesic.co.uk to find out more.

Combogesic comes in packs of 16s (RRP £3.99) and is available to purchase at the pharmacy counter in Boots.

You may see a review here from my other half, when he tried Combogesic last year.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a self care goody bundle to one lucky winner. It will be fairly similar to the goodies that I received, although the face mask and candle may possibly be different brands. What a nice pampering prize.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d be interested to hear your top tips for self care and pain relief.

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Disclosure. This post mentions products I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.

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A Perfect Bedtime Routine

Up until the end of last year, I was working shifts including a block of 7 nights every 6 weeks, so my body clock tended to be all over the place. Since then, even though I’ve been trying to maintain a reasonably regular bedtime routine, I’ve struggled to get to sleep and frequently wake at least once during the night. Then come morning, I’m grumpy because I still feel tired. So I was very pleased to be offered a free sleep goody pack from Nytol.

#SayGoodnytol goodie bundle

I received the following products.
Lifebee Wake Up Light alarm clock
50ml Nytol Anti-Snoring throat spray
Boots £10 gift card (to purchase Nytol Herbal Simply Sleep One-a-Night tablets)
Eye mask

So I popped along to Boots to buy a packet of the Nytol Herbal Simply Sleep One-a-Night. This consisted of 21 tablets, currently at an RRP of £5.99, for which the recommended dose is one tablet, 30 – 60 minutes before bedtime. The tablets contain Valerian root extract, traditionally used for decades to induce sleep and promote calmness. The packet does warn you that as the effects may not occur immediately, the tablets should be taken continuously for 2-4 weeks. I decided to take the full packet before telling you what I thought of them.

Nytol Herbal Simply Sleep One-A-Night

I hadn’t heard of Valerian root and my initial reaction on opening the packet was that I didn’t particular like the smell of the tablets. But no problem, swallow it quickly. The first two nights that I took them coincided with particularly bad headaches and unfortunately they didn’t help me to sleep better. But after that, things improved significantly and I found I was soon sleeping through the night without waking. What a bonus. However I don’t want to take sleeping tablets on a regular basis, so I was pleased to note that Nytol products are aimed at relieving temporary sleep disturbances and helping you get back into a healthy sleeping rhythm.

One of the other things that can bug me when I’m struggling to sleep, is if my partner is snoring away. It just makes it so much harder for me to get to sleep. Luckily he doesn’t snore every night. So when I saw the Anti-Snoring throat spray, I asked him to test it out, but sadly he refused, so I can’t comment on how effective that is. However a 50ml pack is available from pharmacies and grocery stores with an RRP of £12.99 currently.

Both these Nytol products are only suitable for those aged over 18 years.

Lifebee Wake Up Light alarm clock

And finally I must tell you about the Lifebee Wake Up Light alarm clock. I was surprised that I had to install batteries (not included) but apparently this is just for a backup power source in case the electricity is down. However what was slightly more disappointing  was that its power adaptor was missing. Luckily it also came with a USB cable, so I have been using that instead. The Lifebee has both a sunrise wake up light simulation and a sunset light, with a choice of 6 different nature sounds or radio for the alarm. It also has a full spectrum of colour choices for the light. I tried them all, but settled on the basic white as my preferred choice. I do like these type of products. We already have a Lumie Bodyclock which I mentioned on my blog last year, so this one will now be going in my son’s room.


6 things to do in the 30 minutes before bed to help get a better night’s sleep.

With a constant bombardment of emails, texts and social media alerts via our mobile devices keeping us plugged in for longer, the Nytol sleep study (carried out in December 2017) reveals that nearly half of us admit that we now have no bedtime routine at all, or that our current routines could be improved significantly.

As a result, many of us have inadequate psychological recovery and go to bed with racing, muddled minds. Statistics show that 38% of people say they lie awake at night fretting about their worries and almost a third confess that a lack of sleep has caused them to fall asleep at work the next day.

With almost 1 in 5 people admitting they feel tired everyday due to a lack of sleep, Dr Neil Stanley shares the six things you should do in the 30 minutes before bed to help you re-establish a good sleep routine:

  • 30 minutes. Use that last half hour to prepare for sleep and start by completing any final tasks for the day. Send that last email, pay that gas bill you’ve been meaning to pay all day and try and put aside any cares and concerns you have. Write down your worries and your to do list for tomorrow and then that’s it. Research conducted by Baylor University in Texas discovered that people who took 5 minutes to write down their to do lists before bed found it easier to drop off to sleep.
  • 25 minutes. Reduce your exposure to blue light – blue light is known to suppress the release of melatonin, which is the body’s signal that it is time for sleep. Therefore, using screens before bed will disrupt sleep. Research shows that nearly 1 in 5 of us check social media before going to be so try and put your phone, laptop or tablet down, and if you need to use your phone for your morning alarm then turn it over, or pop it in your bedside drawer to avoid being disturbed. However, it is not just blue light that can affect our sleep, it has been shown that even ‘paper white’ screens can also be disturbing, so avoid light levels above a normal lightbulb.
  • 20 minutes. Do brush your teeth and remove your make-up well in advance of getting in to bed, so that you are not left feeling alert at the time you want to be relaxing into bed. This can also act as a cue that the body should be preparing itself for sleep.
  • 15 minutes. Take a 5-minute hot shower. Not only is this relaxing, but by heating the periphery of our body it actually helps us cool down. This is important because in order to get good sleep we need to lose about 1oC of body temperature. Only 12% of people have a bath or a shower before they go to sleep so give it a go and see if it makes a difference.
  • 10 minutes. Conclude any activities you need to do before getting in to bed, such as visiting the bathroom so that you’re not having to get in and out of bed to run to the toilet. A staggering 42% of people say they don’t get enough sleep because they need the toilet in the night so make this one of the last things you do before bed.
  • 5 minutes. Bed means sleep and at the end of the 30 minutes it is time for bed – no more chatting to your partner or scrolling through Facebook! The bed should be for sleeping only and so when you get into it, it should be with the sole purpose of going to sleep and nothing else.

Dr Neil Stanley is an independent freelance sleep expert and has been involved in sleep research for more than 35 years. He started his career at the Neurosciences Division of the R.A.F. Institute of Aviation Medicine then moved to the Human Psychopharmacology Research Unit (HPRU), part of the University of Surrey, and in 1993 was the Director of Sleep Research and created and ran a 24 bed sleep laboratory designed for clinical trials. In 2004 he received a PhD from the University of Surrey on the basis of my published works and has published 38 peer-review papers on various aspects of sleep research and psychopharmacology. He does not endorse any brands.

I shall have to try these suggestions, as I’m particularly guilty of using screens before bedtime. Do let me know if you give them a go too. And I’d love to hear your sleep tips.

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Disclosure. This post mentions products I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.

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Naipo Seat Cushion with Cooling and Heating

Regular followers of my blog may remember that last year I reviewed a Naipo Shiatsu Neck and Shoulder Massager. Well Naipo have now sent me another of their products free to review.

Naipo Seat Cushion with Cooling and Heating

This time I received a Seat Cushion with Cooling and Heating. It did have someone’s return slip inside, but all perfect as far as I could see. Not quite the Shiatsu Neck and Full Back Massage Seat Cushion from my Naipo Christmas wish list but never mind.

Naipo Seat Cushion with Cooling and Heating

This product is very versatile as to where it can be used, coming with both a car adaptor and an ordinary 3-pin plug. I tried it in the car, on an office chair and on a lounge chair. It has 2 elastic straps on the back to secure in place if required. The mains cable is less than 2 metres long, so depending on the arrangement of your furniture, you may possibly need to plug into an extension cable.

Naipo Seat Cushion with Cooling and Heating

It has 2 adjacent buttons on the side of the seat for heating and cooling. So firstly the heating functionality – press the red heating button once for the stronger setting, a second time for the weaker setting and a third time to switch off. Or it will automatically turn off after 30 minutes, but I found that I could switch it straight back on again. Not sure how easy it would be to do this whilst actually driving. It takes about 3 minutes to fully heat and then you can get nice and toasty warm in cold weather, with the heat coming out of both seat and back mesh areas between the leather sides. I loved this cosy feeling, especially as I’ve never owned a car with heated seats.

Naipo Seat Cushion with Cooling and Heating

And the blue cooling button works on the same principle of once for the stronger setting, twice for the weaker setting and three times to switch off. It is noisier in cooling mode than for heating, but not unduly so. The cooling fan is situated underneath the front of the seat and I did find this slightly uncomfortable on my legs in the car, but fine on all the chairs I tried indoors. There is also a pocket at the front, but in my opinion, this is only useful to store the cable and adaptors when the seat is not in use, as I found it got rather in the way when sitting down.

Another potential issue that I noticed in the car is that the cable only comes out of the right-hand side of the seat. Therefore as a driver in the UK, I had to carefully run the cable under the cushion towards the centrally situated cigarette lighter socket, to avoid the possibility of getting feet tangled in it whilst driving. Perhaps they could tweak the design slightly to have a cable hole at both sides that the user could choose between.

Naipo Seat Cushion with Cooling and Heating

And if you really want to take it off the chair and put away whilst not in use, then it simply folds in two.

Naipo Seat Cushion with Cooling and Heating

Less easy to test how effective the cooling mode is wicking sweat away at this time of year, so I shall need to give you an update in the summer. However the user manual does warn you that it may fade or breakdown if left exposed to sunlight, so I wouldn’t recommend keeping it in-situ on the car seat.

In particular, I plan to test it wearing shorts to see how comfortable it is next to skin. Luckily I have fabric seats in my car, as I know how red-hot some car seats can get when parked in the sun.

The manual also warns the following people to consult their doctor before use.
– Women who are pregnant
– Patients with osteoporosis
– Patients with sensory disturbance
– Patients with anaemia

This seat cushion is available on Amazon currently retailing at £49.99. Good value for a very useful product in my opinion.

Here is son1 feeling a bit camera-shy whilst testing it out. He liked it too.

Naipo Seat Cushion with Cooling and Heating

Plus I have a special offer to share with my readers. 10% off a Naipo Seat Cushion with Cooling and Heating when you use the code FTVYNB8A at checkout. Code expires 15/04/18.

You can take a look at the full product range on Naipo website here: https://www.naipocare.com/. I’d love to hear which products take your fancy.

And where do you think I’ve been sitting whilst writing this blog post? Getting all warm and cosy on my Naipo cushion of course.

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Disclosure. This post is a review of a product I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.

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Guest post: Top Tips to Help Your Kids to Sleep Through the Night

Getting kids to sleep at sensible times can be a right chore, my nieces and nephews constantly protest with ‘Oh but one more episode pleeaassee!’ and whilst they do eventually do what they’re told, mornings are another story. How on earth kids can be alert at silly o’clock, I will never know! Although some parents dread bedtime…routine needs to be encouraged to help reduce odd sleeping patterns, so their bodies get the proper rest they need. So, as we enter the time of year where it gets lighter earlier, here are some useful tips to get your little ones sleeping sound at and to a suitable time!

Reduce Activity Before Bed

Let's play

Photo Credit: Unsplash

It’s common for children to wind down during the evening by watching TV on the sofa or playing on the computer, however this could be what is preventing them from getting some quality shut eye. Melatonin is a hormone which makes you sleepy and less alert, however the blue and white light that gadget screens emit tricks the brain into thinking its day time. Therefore, it is recommended that screens are avoided at least an hour before bedtime. Instead, why not encourage reading? This is a fabulous way to destress little ones and calm them before bed and ensuring they sleep for longer. Yet Another Blogging Mummy has reviewed some great books with her children here if you need inspiration.

Furthermore, if they lay awake at night there are also some things you could be doing to help them become sleepy. For example, place glow in the dark stars on the ceiling for them to count when laying in bed. Much like counting sheep, this should have them sleepy in no time!

Create the Right Sleeping Environment

sleeping child

Photo Credit: Unsplash

If there are too many distractions in a child’s room, this could be another reason why they aren’t able to go back to sleep when they wake in the morning or even get to sleep in the first place. Try to limit the number of things in your little one’s room and take out all technology! This way they will be discouraged from getting out of bed and playing with their toys at night or in the morning.

Routines can also be ‘tweaked’ to help your child adjust to an earlier bedtime, especially when we will be getting lighter evenings with daylight saving happening on 25th March.  I read a great tip from fellow blogger Vic Welton recently advising you to bring your child’s bedtime routine forward by 10 minutes each day. It’s not a huge difference but will help to gradually get them used to a bedtime where it’s perhaps lighter than they have been used to.

Also, consider comfort. Little ones might not be able to tell you if they are too hot, their room is too bright, or their mattress is uncomfortable. 100% Cotton bedsheets are the best option for keeping cool in summer and when choosing a mattress it is important that children sleep with their spine and bones aligned to reduce fidgeting. Ensure the space is properly dark with appropriate blinds or black out curtains so the sunshine, if we ever get it in England, doesn’t encourage an early riser!

There are many great nightlights which can help to teach your child when it is OK to get up. For example, the Gro Clock has a light up sun emblem which only shows at a pre-set time.

Increase Daytime Activities

sun light

Photo Credit: Unsplash

The more daylight your child can take in during the day the better as this will help produce more melatonin throughout the night. Much like cutting screen-time an hour before bedtime, it is recommended that energy drinks and other forms of caffeine should be avoided during the afternoon and evening time. This way your little one might be able to sleep easier and deeper.

Encourage outdoor activities to get them exercising too, maybe a trip to the park or how about a bicycle ride? In Brighton, we have an undercliff where you can walk from the Marina to Ovingdean where you can have a nice cup of tea or an ice cream on a sunny day… definitely an incentive for the little ones! Plus, the sea air has so many health benefits which is great for the whole family.

Sleep is super important for growth and general health for those of all ages, so ensure your little ones are getting that quality shut eye after long day! Do you have any other tips and tricks that could help encourage a good night sleep for kids? Please share in the comments!

Guest post by Nathalie Martin – blogger at http://www.helpimgettingmarried.com

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