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Lydia's '30 Days to Healthy Living' journey...

As a type 1 diabetic it's comes quite naturally for me to avoid sugary foods and drinks when I can, though I do believe 'everything in moderation' and it's important to treat myself on occasion too - chocolate is my weakness after all!

I'm not a believer of restricting myself of anything and I am a big foodie! However I have gradually learnt and accepted that certain foods make me feel better than other foods and some foods (often with hidden sugars) are a hindrance to my energy levels, weight maintenance, stable blood sugar levels and general feeling of being satisfied post-meal. I can still feel hungry or dissatisfied after eating after a whole pizza but a lean chicken breast, some veggies and a sweet potato or a Thai green curry made from scratch and I feel 100% full! Sound familiar?

There are so many delicious healthy recipes out there and I have a whole shelf in my kitchen devoted to my favourite recipe books - however sometimes you find yourself sticking to the same old meal plan. Also, like many of you, lockdown has brought many challenges and with a new routine and increased stress levels it has made it harder at times to stay on top of health and made it easier to pick up bad habits, such as eating the less healthy foods, eating late at night and snacking mindlessly - which can be tricky to reverse!

At times when I was feeling out of my comfort zone or if my body was tired from teaching more classes and on top of that being confined to staying at home with a lack of routine, I found myself grazing throughout the day and eating way more than my body needed - only to feel bloated and lethargic after. I was often choosing foods which were high in fats or sugars so were easy to over indulge in too - 'once you pop, you just can't stop' as they's so true!

Being an active person some might say you can get away with it - but when those habits become regular, it does take its toll and for me it really affects my energy levels, mood, sleep, sugars and general wellbeing. If I don't feel good inside my body then I definitely don't feel good on the outside either.

That's why I chose to take on the '30 days to healthy living' challenge for the second time. I benefitted so much from it just before Christmas that I felt like it was time to do it again and reset my mind and body to help me get back on track and feel healthier again.

The programme has so many benefits from helping you to un-do habits and pick up new healthier ones, for example replacing my morning milky coffee or afternoon slump snacking with a 'fizz stick'. A refreshing fruit flavoured bubbly drink that helps promote alertness, enhance cognitive performance and reduce fatigue. I felt good for fuelling my body with a drink that contains antioxidants, vitamins and chromium, to help boost energy. I also increased protein and fibre into my diet so I was feeling fuller for longer after meals and followed a recipe plan so I knew what to prep and enjoyed the process of cooking new healthy meat and vegan recipes.

One of the guidelines is to leave it 4 hours between meals and to have dinner at least 3 hours before going to bed. This made a big difference to my quality of sleep and also allowed for my insulin to work properly so I went to bed and woke up with a good blood sugar level... snacking before bed was one of my bad habits I picked up and meant I was waking up with higher sugars as our metabolism slows down at night. This timing also allowed for my body to fast for longer overnight, a better way to fat burn and process meals.

Aside from better sleep and feeling more in control of my diet I enjoyed feeling more energised, less bloated and generally better off for this more strategic way of eating and fuelling my body! I was enjoying experimenting with pink, purple, green smoothie bowls, which not only look beautiful(!) but taste so delicious and are full of plant based protein (fruit and veggie powder), vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and pre and probiotics which allow for better digestion all day and you get to tick off your 5 a day every day without fail! I loved putting a handful of spinach into my smoothies everyday alongside berries, healthy fats such as nuts or avocado and dairy-free milk (almond, coconut or just water) and the flavours were all varied - I couldn't wait for the next one.

I made vegan bolognese, coconut fish curry, Mexican fajitas, cottage pie, energy balls, sweet potato brownies ...the list goes on! These may or may not sound appealing but I loved them all and the process of trying new healthy recipes which were all low GI, dairy free, gluten ands wheat free. The stricter guidelines made it simple to follow and helped me stay on track and focused, there was always an alternative for something I fancied if it wasn't on the allowed list!

It your someone who is looking to improve your nutrition, un-do some bad habits or lose a bit of excess weight then I'd highly recommend this programme!

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