New Recipe: Wild Plum & Apricot Jam + Seasonal Summer Stone Fruits To Eat Right Now

Seasonal foods give us the exact nutrients we need at the exact right time. In Spring, bitter greens & digestion boosting herbs help us naturally cleanse & detoxify when it is most needed; Summer veg & berries are high in skin-protecting antioxidants.

Now we’re moving into Late Summer, which Traditional Chinese Medicine considers a season all of its own. Governed by the earth element & a time when we are advised to care for the stomach + spleen pairing of organs, it’s the season to find balance, come back to your roots and re-centre before cooler, darker Autumn & Winter.

Stone fruits are in season in Late Summer, & they hold big benefits according to eastern & western health systems. Apricots have been used for thousands of years to lower high blood pressure, reduce excessive thirst & reduce asthma symptoms. They’re great for the respiratory system- important before we move into Autumn.

Plums help rid the body of excess heat, improve digestion, regulate blood sugar levels, reduce stress & fatigue & enhance immune health. They’ve also been used as a healing and balancing food for thousands of years & are high in antioxidants.

Use plums, apricots, damsons, cherries or nectarines (many of these you can also forage now too!) & give this jam recipe to a try:

INGREDIENTS
(Makes 1 jam jar sized amount)

  • 4 apricots
  • 2 handfuls wild plums (also known as American plums)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Roughly 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp agar agar powder

    METHOD
  • Add fruits & water to a pan
  • Heat & simmer for 10 mins
  • Use a potato masher or rolling pin to mash the fruits. Add lemon juice & stir.
  • Add the agar agar and stir well to evenly distribute.
  • Continue to heat for 2 more minutes, then remove from the heat
  • If you want to sweeten it a little more, add honey or maple syrup when it has cooled enough to touch and stir through.
  • Leave to cool, then store in the fridge & consume within 2 weeks

Use this with sourdough, crackers & cheese 🧀, on top of yoghurt or porridge, or with my Nourishing Banana bread. Enjoy!

Which late summer seasonal fruits are you enjoying right now?

Balanced Bone Broth Rice

Bone broth is an incredible source of glycine, protein, amino acids, collagen, immune-boosting, digestion-enhancing, gut-healing and anxiety-lowering minerals. It’s one of the top things I LOVE my clients to try, and it’s something humans have been drinking for centuries.

The thing is, if it’s not in your routine, it can be easy to forget to drink your broth (first thing in the morning BEFORE coffee or last thing at night is generally where you’ll get the biggest benefits in my opinion). So if your bone broth is sitting in your fridge (or you just want more ways of getting it into your diet) my suggestion is to cook with it! 

Cooking rice in bone broth makes it absolutely delicious, nutrient-dense, balanced and better for the gut. Just add the broth in place of the water, simmer your rice, scoop off any froth that rises to the top & serve!

Leave your leftovers to cool, and when you eat them the next day they’ll have built up more resistant starch – a great food for the gut, a way to keep your blood sugar much more stable, improve elimination, and decrease intestinal cramping.

Here’s my simple recipe for making your rice more balanced and getting more from your bone broth. Use your regular bone broth recipe or my recipe HERE if you’ve never tried it before to get started on making your broth first. I also like Coombe Farm’s organic bone broth, or Take Stock.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup basmati rice (this recipe is for white basmati rice – if using brown, you’ll need to cook it for longer)
  • 1 + 1/2 cups bone broth + a little more if needed
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • small amount of butter for frying
  • Dried herbs (rosemary / oregano / basil / thyme)

METHOD

  • Heat the butter in a pan, then add the leek and fry until soft
  • Add the rice and stir for a few seconds
  • Add the bone broth and bring to a simmer (add more liquid if it soaks up before the rice is filly cooked)
  • Simmer for around 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked
  • Add the dried herbs at the last minute and stir through
  • Once cooked, take off the heat and serve!

Leave leftovers to cool and enjoy the next day

Nourishing Banana Bread

Perfect for breakfast or an on-the-go snack, this recipe is nutrient-dense (a.k.a no ’empty’ calories and with lots of vitamin and minerals), and contains a great balance of carbs, fats, proteins and fibre to keep your blood sugar balanced. Easy to make and store in the fridge throughout the week, and delicious topped with butter, nut butter, homemade jam or greek yoghurt. Give this recipe a go and feel free to add in extras like more nuts and seeds, or even berries for different flavours. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ½ cup oats
  • 2 tbsp spelt or rye flour (or substitute for more oats or almond flour)
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tbsp flax
  • 2 tsp psyllium husk (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil or butter

METHOD

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C
  • Line or grease a loaf tin 
  • In a large bowl, mix together all dry ingredients to evenly distribute
  • Add the bananas, eggs, milk and vanilla to a blender and whizz
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl, add the coconut oil or butter and mix 
  • This is a good time to add any extra ingredients like nuts or seeds, cacao nibs or berried to the mixture
  • Pour the batter into the loaf tin
  • Bake for roughly 30-45 minutes
  • Check the loaf by inserting a knife or cocktail stick, and if it comes out clean you’ll know your banana bread is ready!
  • Either eat warm with a generous spread of butter, or leave to cool and cut a slice for breakfast the next day

ENJOY!

Detoxing Part 2: Toxic Skincare & Processed Food Ingredients To Avoid

If you read part 1 of this detox blog series, (go read it HERE if you haven’t yet), you’ll know that there’s a lot more to ‘detoxing’ than we’re lead to believe. The body is always detoxifying itself, breaking down potentially harmful bacteria and converting ‘toxins’ into non-toxic substances so they can be eliminated from the body through one of the many pathways of detoxification. 

In the last blog, we also covered how you can support your body’s natural ability to detox with simple, effective methods like sweating, ensuring you’re eliminating regularly and many more. As a bonus, you can also use practice dry body brushing with a soft bristle brush, which helps to stimulate the lymphatic system. Many people report feeling more energised, lighter, and that body brushing has aided their detox practices too. Read more on body brushing HERE, and get your body brush from Urban Veda HERE.

In this blog, we’ll look at some of the common yet incredibly unhealthy and toxic ingredients found in many skincare products and processed foods, and why it’s best to avoid them. These ingredients add to the ‘toxic load’ placed upon the body, meaning we have to put a lot more work into detoxing, and that the symptoms that can arise when detoxing can be more severe (nausea, skin breakouts, etc). These chemicals can also prevent the body from ridding itself of toxins naturally on a daily basis as it should do. The more knowledge you have about the ingredients in our food and skincare, the more empowered you are to make positive choices!

Why Do Products Contain Toxins? 

Not all skincare and processed foods contain harmful chemicals, but many of them do. They’re often used to help thicken and preserve things like moisturisers and body butters, as well as foods like ice cream, margarine, salad dressing, condiments, cakes and sweets, jams, powdered hot chocolates, and pretty much 95% of items in the supermarket… Skincare, deodorant, sun cream, eye drops, whitening toothpaste and makeup items can also contain heavy metals like aluminium (classes as a ‘light metal’), lead, arsenic, zinc, chromium, cadmium, mercury and more, used for colouring and other purposes. Whilst it may not seem that a little bit of sun cream or makeup would have much of an impact, it’s really important to remember two things:

  1. What goes on the skin gets absorbed in to the bloodstream
  2. The body accumulates toxins over a long period of time, collecting in the bones, liver, kidneys, brain and heart with potentially damaging effects. So even if something is small but applied every day (like concealer or lipstick) the levels of metals build up over time, and that’s when they can become a problem. Some people know instantly when an ingredient is an issue, as they’ll experience eczema, allergies and rashes, signalling something in their body isn’t happy about the product they’re using.  

Endocrine Disrupting Ingredients

Many skincare ingredients also contain endocrine disruptors, and as the name suggests, these ingredients can be harmful to hormones. These are the ingredients linked to estrogen dominance, which can cause blood sugar issues, poor metabolism, weight gain, anxiety, depression, increased PMS, headaches, irregular periods, and erectile dysfunction in men. Plastics can also disrupt hormones, and since many skincare products come in plastic containers and also contain microplastics, they can make their way into the body too. 

Just A Few Skincare Ingredients To Avoid

  • Phalates
  • Parabens
  • Artifical Fragrance / Parfum
  • Toluene
  • PEG
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Formaldehyde
  • Oxybenzone
  • DEA
  • MEA
  • Mineral oil
  • Aluminium
  • Antimony
  • Argon
  • Arsenic
  • Beryllium
  • Bismuth 
  • Boron
  • Bromine

You’ll find more on the skincare ingredients to avoid HERE.

My favourite ‘clean beauty’ brands that don’t contain toxic ingredients include Burts Bees, Sukin, Inika Organic, True Botanicals, Urban Veda,and Anita Grant.  

When it comes to processed foods, it’s unfortunate that even the ‘health’ foods like plant milks, granolas and many vegan alternatives have many harmful ingredients. 

The Food Additives To Avoid:

  • MSG
  • E numbers
  • Artificial colouring
  • Artificial flavouring
  • Guar Gum
  • Emulsifiers
  • High-Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Carrageenan
  • Sodium Benzoate
  • Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners (these are potential neurotoxins and can damage brain function, as well as impacting mood and anxiety severely). 
  • Hydrogenated oils
  • Sodium nitrate
  • Sulphites (many people are sensitive to these – if you feel awful after drinking just a small amount of red wine, it’s likely you’re sensitive to sulphites)
  • Preservatives

You’ll find more on what to avoid in processed foods HERE and HERE.

Now, we live in a modern world where it’s almost inevitable we’re going to consume processed foods some of the time, whether it’s due to choice, limited availability or simply because maintaining rigid and restrictive rules around food can have negative mental health consequences. The answer to avoiding these potentially harmful ingredients then, is not to fear them, but to turn to real, whole, natural foods instead. Swap a processed energy bar for a banana and nut butter or trail mix, or a store-bought salad dressing for balsamic vinegar. Make your own granola, or buy from brands who don’t tend to add nasty additives like Deliciously Ella, Livia’s, and Eat Real. Swap recipes with friends, and learn to cook again so you can nourish yourself well.

For guidance on making your own snacks and healthy meals, or how to start detoxing, book a Whole-Health consultation with me. Get in touch HERE for more info and to book!  

I’d love to know – did you know about the chemicals hiding in food? Or the secret toxins in skincare and makeup? Which makeup brands do you love, and have you found a favourite recipe or brand for healthier snacking?

Detoxing: The Why, How & When

‘Doing a detox’ is a phrase many of us hear at various times throughout the year; the new year’s resolution, pre-holiday panic, or when we’re guilt-tripped into feeling as though we’ve over-indulged…. Detoxing is indeed a word we hear a lot, without necessarily knowing exactly what it means, or what it involves. Because of this, most of the time when we do try to detoxify ourselves, the results aren’t always optimal. Improper detoxing can result in headaches and nausea, skin breakouts, cravings, and can ultimately leave us feeling worse than we did before starting, so knowing how to do it if you choose is really important. 

Why Detox?

The world we live in today isn’t the one our bodies have evolved to cope with. We are constantly barraged by pollution, environmental toxins from off-gassing furniture and tap water, toxic cleaning products and skincare, artificial ingredients and so much more, not to mention the toxins we choose to imbibe, such as alcohol and various medicines. ‘Toxins’ are also things that aren’t physical, but emotional – like toxic relationships, and we’re also affected by toxins such as noise pollution and EMFs. 

As I mentioned, our bodies haven’t evolved to live with this burden of toxins upon us; Although humans have dealt with infections and disease since settling in communities and developing agriculture around 12,000 years ago, the pollution from vehicles and industries is a relatively recent phenomenon. Since the industrial revolution in the 1700-1800s, levels of environmental toxins have climbed higher and higher, and in 2012, global pollution exposure peaked. Reports suggest that if that level of pollution had been sustained, life expectancy would decrease by on average 2.6 years. The microcosm reflects the macrocosm, and so as the planet becomes sicker, so do we. 

There’s already so much in the public domain about saving the planet and reducing external pollution, but there’s not much guidance when it comes to saving ourselves and reducing the pollution inside of us. Statistics show that even chemicals in tap water have probable links to high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer and pregnancy-induced hypertension, whilst common ingredients in skincare products like PUFAs, heavy metals, microplastics, and hormone disruptors like parabens have all been linked to types of cancer, fertility issues and problems that arise with elevated estrogen levels in both men and women. It’s important to remember that what goes on our skin is absorbed in to the bloodstream, which is why we’ll cover both the safest and most un-safe ingredients in skincare later in this blog series too. 

But Can We Actually ‘Detox’?

Yes. But it’s not quite that simple. The body is ‘detoxifying’ itself all the time – pathogens, bacteria and environmental toxins that get into the body are broken down and removed via the digestive system, liver, and kidneys, lungs and pathways of elimination. When we talk about ‘detoxing’ the liver, it’s not necessarily that we actually need to detoxify the liver specifically, but that certain foods, herbs and lifestyle practices can help aid the liver in breaking down toxins, and remove them from the body quicker. Herbs like coriander for example, can bind to toxic heavy metals like mercury and lead through a process known as chelation, and help remove these toxins from the body, reducing heavy metal toxicity, which can result in chronic illness and long-term issues. It’s also important to eat foods and herbs that support liver function, so that the liver can perform over 500 of its vital functions optimally, and prevent damaging the liver through excess alcohol consumption. 

Prevention Beats Cure

So, we know it’s important to detox, but jumping head-first into a green juice diet or purchasing a pack of (often completely ineffective) detoxing pills and powders isn’t the best place to start. If you already have a lot of toxins within you, trying to get rid of them all at once is likely to result in severe detox symptoms like nausea, headaches, skin breakouts and digestive issues. As with most things, prevention is much better than cure, so let’s look at how we can prevent accumulating more toxins and reduce the amount we’re exposed to, starting right now! 

We have several ‘detox pathways’ in the body that help remove toxins efficiently, so supporting these pathways can go a long way to supporting the body’s natural detox abilities. Remember, the body is always trying to detox itself, all we have to do is clear the way. 

  1. Sweat: Sweat can help rid the body of toxins, but not all of them. Engage in activities like sauna and exercise that helps you sweat, and be sure to re-hydrate with electrolytes afterwards. Whilst sweating is very important, many skincare products and anti-perspirants block pores and prevent sweating. Swap to a natural non-toxic deodorant without anti-perspirant (I’ve found that Native Unearthed or Nuud works best!) and definitely don’t buy any deodorants with aluminium, which has strong links to breast cancer. 
  2. Clean up your skincare: What we put on our skin is directly absorbed into the bloodstream. Even though we may not think of the skin as an organ, it is infact the largest organ we have, and is one of the ways toxins can become absorbed into the body. There are so many toxins in conventional skincare products, and many of these are highly damaging to the body. Even anti-ageing skincare products that contain PUFAs are linked to studies showing that they can actually increase the appearance of ageing when the skin is exposed to sunlight, because these chemical ingredients are completely alien to the body. For thousands of years, people have used natural ingredients like milk, honey, crushed berries and oils to moisturise the skin, without the need for synthetic chemicals. A natural oil like coconut oil is a perfect body moisturiser, whilst there are more and more chemical-free skincare products available today. Urban Veda are free from parabens, as well as being cruelty free and vegan too. 
  3. Eliminate Regularly: Constipation isn’t just uncomfortable, it’s preventing the body from ridding itself of unwanted wastes. If you feel you ‘go’ less than you should, add more healthy fats and oils and fibre to your diet to support elimination. Drinking enough water is also absolutely vital, as the kidneys play a role in ridding the body of toxins and sending them out via urine. 
  4. Breathe Well: One of the primary ways we either prevent or absorb toxins is with the way we breathe. The nose is perfectly designed to be on the front line of defence against pathogens and pollution; the tiny hairs trap pathogens, whilst the mucus that covers the nasal passage carries toxins down into the stomach, where acid breaks them down and sends them to be eliminated. Breathing through your nose also has a huge number of other benefits such as lowering blood pressure, reducing stress and anxiety, increasing cardiovascular health and so much more. Aim to breathe through your nose as much as you can, and build up to nasal breathing when exercising slowly and gradually. 
  5. Eat ‘Clean’: We’ll cover the ingredients to avoid and the most important foods to buy organic, but for now, think about reducing ultra-processed foods, additives, artificial colours and artificial ingredients – these are all chemicals that place a huge burden on the body and stop us from feeling our best. 

Check back soon for the skincare and food ingredients to avoid, the best foods to buy organic, how to set up a healthy home, how to support liver health and much more on how to detox! Let me know how you support your body’s detox pathways, or how I can help you get started.

Butternut Squash & Yellow Mung Dal (+Spelt Flour Chapatis)

Dal is a wonderfully wholesome, balancing dish full of plant-based protein and minerals like magnesium and zinc and lots of fibre. As we transition from Winter to Spring, this is a great time to start bringing in more naturally detoxifying, alkalinising plant-based meals to help you feel lighter and brighter as the days get lighter and brighter too.

Serves 4 with leftovers 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup slit yellow mung beans
  • 1 butternut squash 
  • 1 leek
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil or ghee
  • ½ tsp each: fennel seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, nigella seeds
  • Pinch of salt 
  • Optional: 4 strips wakame seaweed for added iodine for thyroid health and metabolism

Method

  • Soak the mung beans overnight 
  • When you’re ready to cook, heat the coconut oil or ghee in a large, heavy-bottomed pan
  • Chop the leek and garlic, then sauté for a couple of minutes
  • Add the spices and stir well for another couple of minutes
  • Chop the butternut squash into cubes, then add to the pot, stir and cook for 5 minutes
  • Rinse the split yellow mung beans, then add to the pot with the 6 cups of water
  • Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer, and add the seaweed
  • Simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the mung beans and squash have softened (you may need to add more water, so check regularly)
  • Just before serving, make the spelt chapatis (instructions below)
  • Serve with chapatis and salad, any leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days

Spelt Flour Chapatis

Spelt is an ‘ancient grain’ and is more easily digestible than many other grains and flours, as well as being high in fiber and protein, and contains magnesium, iron and zinc. These chapatis work well with lots of different meals and are so quick and easy to make. They’re also a perfect alternative to shop-bought, naan or wraps. 

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp flour per person + a little more for rolling
  • Pinch of good quality salt
  • 1 tbsp water 
  • (+ any other herbs you’d like to add to the dough)

Method

  • Mix the ingredients to create a dough
  • Knead about 20 times
  • Place a frying pan over medium heat – do not add any oil
  • Take a piece of dough just bigger than a golf ball, and roll out on a lightly floured surface until paper-thin
  • Dry-fry in the pan for a minute or so each side until slightly brown
  • Take the pan off the heat, and put the chapati directly on to the flame for about 5-10 second each side to puff up
  • Transfer to a plate and repeat until you run out of dough
  • For extra deliciousness, brush a little butter onto each chapati whilst still warm

Squash & Kale Stew + Halloumi ‘Croutons’


Whilst we’re still embracing Winter comfort foods, THIS is a warming, nourishing dish to help bring you right back to your centre & give you a dose of seasonal goodness. Full of vitamins A, B6, C, anti inflammatory and blood sugar balancing goodness – vegetables (actually, squash is technically a fruit…) that grow close to the ground are also ‘grounding’ for us too, so try the recipe if this sounds like something you need!

INGREDIENTS 
– 1 small squash
– 4 large handfuls kale
– 1/2 can coconut milk (I like Suma’s organic coconut milk)
– 2 cups stock
– 2 cloves garlic
– 1 leek or onion 
– 1 tsp ghee or coconut oil 
– 1/2 tsp garam masala
– 1/4 tsp paprika

For the halloumi croutons 
– 1 small pack halloumi
– Seeds from the squash 
– Dried herbs like oregano or zataar 

METHOD
– Heat the ghee / oil in a large pan
– Chop the garlic and onion / leek, then sauté for a few minutes 
– Chop the squash into small chunks (save the seeds!), then add to the pan and stir well
– Add the spices & cook for 5-10 mins, stirring often
– Add the stock, bring to a simmer, then add the coconut milk & kale and leave on a low simmer for about 20 mins or until the squash has softened 
– MEANWHILE – heat the oven to 200C, slice the halloumi into cubes, scatter over the seeds, herbs and a tiny bit of oil
– Cook for about 15 mins (whilst the squash is cooking) 
– Once everything is ready, serve the stew topped with the halloumi and a buttery slice of sourdough on the side if you like 
Enjoy!

Recipe: Blood Orange, Sesame & Almond Loaf Cake


It’s blood orange season, and whilst they’re not totally native to the UK, oranges have been imported to Britain since the 15th century, so I’ll take that…

As we’re in the second half of winter, vitamin C is still really important, and there aren’t many natural sources of it around right now. Vitamin C is vital for the immune system, for helping form collagen & healing the body’s tissues. The almonds in this recipe are full of vitamin E, which is a key nutrient for regulating the menstrual cycle, supporting fertility, reducing inflammation & skin irritation too. Sesame seeds are very high in calcium, and are great for building ‘ojas’ or ‘vital essence’ & inner strength. 

Above all – this is an upside down cake with whole, real, healthy (and naturally gluten free) ingredients to bring you a bit of sunshine in Winter. Here’s the recipe:

INGREDIENTS 
– 2 blood oranges 
– 5 heaped tbsp ground almonds
– 2 tbsp buckwheat flour (or sub for more almonds)
– 2 eggs
– 5 tbsp olive oil
– 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
– 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar 
– 1 tsp vanilla extract 
– 2 tbsp sesame seeds 
– 2 tbsp milk of choice 
– Sweetener: choose from 3 tbsp maple syrup, 1 tbsp stevia or 5 soaked and blended dates.

METHOD
– Add the oranges whole to a pan, cover with water and simmer for 45 mins 
– Grease a baking tin with butter, then add all ingredients other than the oranges and milk to a large bowl & mix
– After 45 mins, remove the oranges carefully and leave to cool a little.
– Preheat the oven to 140C
– Cut 3 thin slices and add to the bottom of the baking tin (they’ll be the ‘decoration’ on top at the end)
– Add the rest of the orange to a blender with the milk, whizz, then add to the bowl of other ingredients 
– Mix, then pour into the baking tin and bake for roughly 45 mins, or until you can stick a toothpick or knife through and it comes out clean
– Remove from the oven and leave to cool
– Flip the cake out and present upside down so you can see the orange slices.
– I love popping a slice in the toaster and spreading a little butter on top

Are you using blood oranges this season? What are you making with them?

Using The Principles Of ‘Hygge’ To Help Us Slow Down In January

The first week back to work, school and ‘normal’ life after Christmas can be a bit of a shock to the system. Especially if the festive period was busy for you, it’s common to feel stressed and tired in January, which is why this isn’t the best month for making New Years resolutions! As we enter the second week back, how are you feeling?

If we look at the laws of nature instead of the calendar on the wall, we notice that ‘new year’ doesn’t happen on January 1st, it happens at the beginning of Spring, when the plants and animals start to emerge and ‘spring’ back into life again. In the middle of Winter in January, this is still the time to slow down, turn inward and look after yourself – it’s not the time to dive head-first into a harsh diet or ‘cleanse’…

The principles of ‘Hygge’ (referring to a sense of cosiness and contentment) can teach us how to navigate the last half of Winter with more wellbeing, so if you want to live in alignment with what your body really wants instead of what media advertisements are telling us we want right now, read my latest blog for Yoogamatters.com on how to live with more Hygge this January!

Simple Strategies For More Motivated Mornings

If you want to adopt positive, healthy new year habits this January, the challenge often lies not in the action itself, but in the motivation to do it. Whether you want to start running, practicing yoga more often, eating healthily or engaging in creative activities each day, the mindset we approach these habits with determines whether they become a habit or not. You may have heard ‘it takes 21 days to form a habit’, however this isn’t necessarily true… We’re all very different, and studies show that to form the exact same habit, it can take different people anywhere between 18 and 254 days to successfully crate it (so if you’re having trouble sticking to your new routine after a week of trying, keep it up!). 

To help create healthy habits, there are endless tips and tricks to try, but one of the most important things is creating a motivated mindset that actually makes us want to carry out the habit in the first place, and to maintain it over a sustained period of time. Increasing your levels of motivation has a lot to do with one specific neurotransmitter; dopamine. In this short blog, you’ll learn several ways to increase your dopamine levels to help you feel more motivated to stick to your new healthy habits. Read on to find out more!

What is dopamine?

Our mood levels are mostly determined by four primary neurotransmitters; dopamine, noradrenaline, adrenaline and serotonin. An imbalance in these neurotransmitters can lead to lethargy, anxiety or depression, which is why it’s so important to understand how we can influence these chemicals naturally, so you can be empowered to care for your own wellbeing without the side effects of mood-altering medications. 

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of alertness, drive creativity, curiosity and motivation. Most people think of dopamine as the chemical released when we want ‘more’ of something such as chocolate or sugar, but there’s much more to it than that. Dopamine helps us feel expansive and extroverted enough to explore the world around us, to move our bodies and learn new things. It gives us the motivation to take on challenges and helps us feel driven to carry out those healthy new year habits. Low levels of dopamine are linked to depression, addiction, and even Parkinson’s disease. In general, a lack of dopamine can make you feel low, apathetic, and unable to concentrate. All of those states make it very difficult to adopt healthy habits and stick to them – especially in mid-January, in Winter when it’s cold and dark…

How To Increase Your Dopamine Levels

The first thing to note is that increasing dopamine should happen in the morning, or from 0 – 8 hours after waking up. In this period of time, dopamine is naturally increased, as are healthy levels of cortisol (often thought of as the ‘stress hormone’ but which is very important in order for helping us get up and out of bed in the morning ). In order to support and increase these levels of dopamine for more motivation, creativity, focus and alertness, we need to do one, two or all of the following:

  • View morning sunlight outside for a minimum of 10 minutes: This could look like stepping out into your garden or balcony, going for a morning walk or opening the windows. This is also a vital step for balancing our circadian rhythms and will thus help you get to sleep a lot easier at night.
  • Exercise: a jog, brisk walk, energising yoga practice, dancing, rebounding or a gym session can all help increase your dopamine levels.
  • Cold exposure: A cold shower or wild swim releases adrenaline and dopamine, and is becoming an incredibly popular way to improve many people’s mental health. Even better if you can do this in a group.
  • Coffee: Wait around 90 minutes after waking to drink your coffee, in order not to disrupt cortisol levels, and when you drink your coffee, add a healthy fat such as organic cream or coconut oil, in order to protect the stomach lining, give your brain a big boost of energy, and balance hormones. A tsp of lion’s mane is also an incredible way to enhance your morning brain power. (Use the code ENY10 for 10% off yours at Enrichd Superfoods. )
  • Intermittent fasting: This has been shown to increase levels of dopamine, so if your body is happy to skip breakfast, you might want to practice intermittent fasting as a health protocol. A word of warning to women, though: we should really only fast for a maximum of 12 hours, and skipping breakfast can quickly lead to disrupted hormones, so perhaps choose the option below..
  • Tyrosine-Rich Foods: Tyrosine is an amino acids that acts as a precursor for dopamine (meaning it helps create and trigger this neurotransmitter). Foods rich in tyrosine include Beef, fish, chicken, dairy, bananas, pumpkin seeds, wild rice, tuna, salmon, and eggs have a good amount too, so try adding a few of these ingredients to your breakfast. Amino acid supplements can also provide you with some of this nutrient, especially if your diet is plant-based and you’re not able to naturally eat many tyrosine-rich foods. (use the code EMMA10 for 10% off your amino acids supplements HERE).

So if your mornings could use a little more motivation, try adopting one, two or all of these dopamine-boosting tips! Research also shows that when we interact with someone we love, we also release dopamine, so try going for your morning jog with a loved one, or sharing breakfast together.

A final tip to help set you up for healthy new year habits is to visualise what you want to do. The night before, visualise yourself doing your healthy morning routine and your new habits, and you’ll be wiring your brain in a way that makes it much more likely and much easier for you to carry out those positive actions. 

Good luck!

To kick your new year off in a positive way, book a health and wellbeing consultation, where you’ll receive unique and personalised lifestyle, nutrition, exercise, self-care and mindset guidance, and much more! Receive 10% off when booking a one-off session or 6 weeks coaching in January 2022. Click here for more information.