My favourite apps for a healthy lifestyle

I’m one of those people who needs to keep a track of everything. I like to be organised and plan things in advance. When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, I use a few apps to help me and give me incentive. I would recommend them to anyone who wants to keep a track of their exercise, weight, and dietary intake amongst other health goals. This post will explain why I use these Apps for a healthy lifestyle and how they can help you with your goals as well.

This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure

Fitbit

This is an obvious first choice for me because I wear my Fitbit all day and night apart from showering and charging it up. It counts my steps, number of floors I’ve climbed, how many calories I’ve used, my heartrate and how many hours I sleep per night. I also use mine to track my calorie intake and my weight and water intake. Every week it sends me a summary of everything and gives me incentive to continue with my goals.

I do challenges every week with a group of other people and am in a few support groups such as the Healthy Eating forum. The most helpful aspect of the app is the calories in vs. calories out section. As long as my calorie intake is less than what I burn off every day with exercise, I’m on track to maintain a healthy weight. I also like the weight tracker where I can see graphs of my weight and fat percentage over time.

Fitbit App weight graph.  This is an App for a healthy lifestyle that I recommend.
Fitbit App weight graph. This is an App for a healthy lifestyle that I recommend.

Fitbit Macros graph.  Calories in vs Calories out.  These graphs on the Fitbit App help me to keep my food intake (calories in) lower than the energy I use up (calories out)
Fitbit Macros graph. Calories in vs Calories out.
These graphs on the Fitbit App help me to keep my food intake (calories in) lower than the energy I use up (calories out)

Samsung Health

I have a Samsung mobile phone which came with a free health tracker called Samsung Health. It is very much like the Fitbit App where it can track steps and exercise sessions, weight and sleep. The reason I like it is that the calorie intake section is better than the Fitbit App. While the Fitbit is more accurate in counting steps and sleep, the Samsung App. has an easier calorie counter to use.

It is possible to save numerous types of food in the data bank which makes it easier to track your diet as you go along. I generally eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch so it’s very easy to save a whole meal in the favourites section, or to work out how many calories are in a meal. Calorie counting is very tedious for most people but I find this App. makes it really easy for me to keep control of my eating. Keeping to 1500 – 1800 kCalories per day has been the way I’ve lost 17kg and been able to keep it off. The breakdown of my diet into macros (percentages of carbs, protein and fat) is very useful. It goes into further detail by telling me how my diet is in relation to vitamins and minerals.

Samsung Health App is another App I use for a healthy lifestyle.  This shows the Samsung Health Macros chart and my intake of vitamins and minerals.
Samsung Health App is another App I use for a healthy lifestyle.
This shows the Samsung Health Macros chart and my intake of vitamins and minerals.

Smiling Mind

I have been an insomniac for as long as I can remember. Doing shift work doesn’t help because I feel permanently jet lagged. Even with pretty strong sleeping pills I still have a lot of trouble sleeping. The Smiling Mind App. has been a Godsend to me because I’m usually lulled into sleep within minutes of listening to one of the sleep meditations. There are programs for Mindfulness, Stress reduction and improving relationships amongst other things. There are other Apps designed for meditation but this is the one I return to time and time again.

This is a screenshot of the Apps I use every day for tracking, inspiration and ideas.
This is a screenshot of the Apps I use every day for tracking, inspiration and ideas.

Clever Guts

If you’re a fan of Michael Mosley then this is the App. for you. My brother and I have both lost weight using his programs, my brother with Intermittent Fasting and me with The Clever Guts diet and Mediterranean Diet. There are recipes, videos and podcasts on this App.

Health Calculator

I use this App. to work out my BMI ( body mass index). There are also calculators for body fat, ideal weight and basal metabolic rate. I find that the body fat and ideal weight calculators aren’t very accurate but the BMI is easy to calculate using your weight and height. I use a website called calculator.net to calculate my body fat percentage, as I find this much more accurate. To compare, my body fat percentage is calculated as 35.55% on the App, and 28.5% on the website. The website uses gender, age, weight, height, neck size, waist size and hip size while the App only uses waist size and weight. That is why I prefer the website. It’s a handy App to use but I’d recommend only using the BMI calculator.

Pinterest

While not strictly a health App, Pinterest is a great source of information. I can look up thousands of recipes, ideas on food prep, motivation for exercise and self care. It links to bloggers around the world who talk about a myriad of different topics from plant sources of protein to growing vegetables. I follow many different Pinterest boards focused on living a healthy lifestyle. They have opened my mind up to many different ways of thinking, especially about diet and self care. I doubt if I’ll ever buy another recipe book because I can find exactly the recipes I need on Pinterest.

A Pinterest search for healthy recipes.  I use Pinterest for ideas on healthy recipes and other health related information
A Pinterest search for healthy recipes. I use Pinterest for ideas on healthy recipes and other health related information

Allrecipes Dinner Spinner

Recipes have been created by many different contributors so there is a huge range of great recipes on this App. I can collate favourites and create a collection under different headings. I can also create a shopping list for the ingredients. It’s a handy App to use on the go. For example while I’m out shopping I can quickly look up the ingredients I need to make a particular recipe.

We use our phone continuously throughout the day so try using Apps to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle
We use our phone continuously throughout the day so try using Apps to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle

In summary, these are my favourite Apps that I use to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I would love to know if you find any of these Apps useful, or can suggest Apps that you use. If you enjoyed this article, you may also like to read:

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My Top Posts of 2019

My healthy lifestyle blog has been my biggest achievement this year (apart from losing 17kg!). I’ve really enjoyed writing about a topic that I’m passionate about. The hardest part is the self promotion which goes against my introverted nature but it’s vital to gain followers if I want people to read my articles. I would like to share my top posts 2019 with my readers.

MY TOP 9 POSTS of 2019


In order, they were:
1 How to make goals that will stick,
2 Why your waist measurement matters,
3 My Weight-loss Journey,
4 Slow and Steady wins the race,
5 13+ ways to get more colour in your diet,
6 Gifts that Inspire a Healthy Lifestyle,
7 How to keep on track with your health goals during the holiday season,
8 Just change one habit at a time and
9 Losing weight is a marathon not a sprint.

Read them now to gain some inspiration! Live your healthiest year in 2020.


Thanks to everyone who has read, followed, liked and shared my posts across WordPress, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter! I really appreciate your support and all the comments, likes and shares. It keeps me motivated to write more. Please let me know what your favourite article was.

A collage of the top posts of 2019 on the Midlifestylist blog.
The top posts on Midlifestylist.com for 2019
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How to Make Goals that Will Stick

This guide will give you examples of unattainable versus attainable goals. It will guide you to make goals that you will stick to and achieve. The key is to make the goals achievable so that you maintain motivation.

The first month of every year is commonly used to set some New Years’ Resolutions. We start the new year afresh with lofty plans to lose weight, get fit and give up smoking or other vices. But often these plans go out the window by the end of January, leaving us feeling defeated and a failure. This sets us up for failure and we often lack motivation to start a new goal for the rest of the year. How do we avoid this?

Set Goals that are Attainable

Many goals and resolutions fail because they are unrealistic, too broad, and unattainable. Let’s look at the goal “to lose weight” for example. Lose how much weight? By when – next week, next month, next year? How will you achieve it? None of those questions are answered in the broad statement “I will lose weight”. You need a plan, and to set a goal that is realistic.

An unrealistic goal would be to lose 20kg by March. You would be likely to start with enthusiasm, go on a fad diet and starve yourself. It will fail because diet regimes that lose weight quickly are too restrictive, cutting out important nutrients and are unable to be sustained long term. You’ll feel deprived, have cravings, and will want to “cheat” on your diet. As soon as you stop dieting, the weight will pile back on because your body has slowed its metabolism down to cope with the reduced number of calories. As soon as you plateau or fail to lose weight you’ll give up because it’s setting you up for failure by being too hard to stick to. This can be avoided if you set realistic goals.

Unattainable vs. Attainable

Unattainable goalAttainable goalHow I will achieve it
lose 20 kg by Marchlose 3kg by March then reassess goalUse a smaller plate, cut out sugar in drinks, eat fruit instead of a muffin at morning tea
Get fit by walking 5km every dayStart by walking 2km daily and build it up to 5km by MarchWalk on my lunch break, park my car further away
Lose 20cm off my waistLose 3cm off my waist by Easter then reassess goalEat a salad at lunch instead of pasta, use the stairs at work instead of the lift
Join a gymSign up for a trial at a gym with no ongoing commitmentGo to a gym at least 3 times to see if it’s the right one for me before committing to it
Give up smokingCut down over 2 weeks then give up smokingUse nicotine replacement therapy, sign up to a Quit support service
Unattainable Goals vs Attainable Goals

The difference between unattainable goals and attainable goals is that you are cutting the goals down to achievable amounts, setting time frames, and planning out exactly how you will achieve them. You are setting yourself up to succeed by not biting off more than you can chew.

Achieving my Goal of Losing Weight

When I first started on the Get Healthy Program the amount of weight I needed to lose seemed like an unachievable goal. I was doubtful of being able to not only lose 10 or more kilograms, but also lose 10cm or more off my waist. My confidence was low, and I was skeptical of the program because I hadn’t succeeded on any program in the past. I could usually lose the weight easily but I always felt restricted on a diet and as soon as I went off it I packed the weight back on. My coach helped me to set small, realistic goals to achieve and as I reached each milestone, my confidence grew. I kept moving the goal posts and slowly I lost 5kg, 10kg, 15kg … eventually 17kg and it’s stayed off for over 6 months now.

More important to me was the goal of losing centimeters off my waist. My waist circumference was 105cm when I started which would predispose me to diabetes, heart disease and cancer. This concerned me more than anything. My goal was to get down to 88cm which would put me in a much healthier range but I was eventually to lose 20cm! By changing my diet to include more vegetables and less red meat and sugary food, I was able to achieve my goal.

Break Large Goals into Smaller Components

Realistic goals are ones you break down into smaller components. Start with small goals and as you reach them, set bigger goals. Your confidence will grow with each milestone, setting you up for success. Because you’re starting with small changes to your habits, you’re likely to incorporate them into your daily lifestyle. For example, parking further away and taking the stairs are easy ways to increase your step count whereas running 5km per day or joining a gym would be harder to incorporate into your life and your enthusiasm may soon die out with the sudden burst of energy when they cause muscle aches and pains.

Define Your Success

Define your success. What is the end goal and how will you know when you are there? My success was getting down to the weight that I am, and maintaining that weight-loss for 6 months or more. I will stay within 3 kg of this weight and not go up in size in my clothes.

What is your definition of success and how will you achieve it in 2020? It’s a new decade and a great starting point to setting some goals for yourself that are achievable.

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Festive Chocolate Chia Pudding Recipe

This is a special occasion chocolate chia pudding recipe that will fit in with your health goals and is easy to make. Chia is a grain that is healthy and nutritious. They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, iron and calcium. The recipe includes cacao powder, the unsweetened form of chocolate which is very nutritious. Without all the nasties like sugar and fat that are added to it to make milk chocolate, it has many health benefits. It can improve your memory, reduce heart disease, increase immunity and is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. You can find chia seeds and cacao powder in the health food section at the supermarket. I use almond milk for this recipe but you can substitute it for cows milk, soy milk or whichever milk you prefer.

Chocolate Chia Pudding Recipe

vegetarian, vegan skill level: easy

Prep. time 15 mins. Resting time 4 hours Calories: 191kcal

Ingredients (per person)

  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Mix the chia seeds and milk together in a bowl
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well
  3. Let the chia seed mixture sit for 15 minutes until it thickens. Stir again.
  4. Pour into decorative glasses, e.g. parfait glasses
  5. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving
  6. Top with your favourite berries, cherries or fruit.

NUTRITION INFORMATION

  • Calories 191kcal
  • Carbohydrates 16g
  • Protein 8g
  • Fat 11g
  • Saturated fat 3g
  • Cholesterol 12mg
  • Sodium 56mg
  • Potassium 259mg
  • Fiber 8g
  • Sugar 6g
  • Vitamin A 4%
  • Calcium 28.9%
  • Iron 10.3%

IDEAS FOR TOPPINGS:

  • Cherries
  • Berries
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Apricots
  • Kiwifruit
  • Passionfruit
  • Purees or sauces made from fruit and/or berries
  • Nut butters
  • Dried fruit
  • Cacao nibs or a sprinkling of cacao powder
  • Spices
  • Shredded coconut
  • Candied ginger
  • Muesli or granola
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Creme Fraiche or whipped cream
  • chocolate nibs, sauce or flakes
This is a special occasion chocolate chia pudding recipe that will fit in with your health goals and is easy to make.  Serve in attractive glasses or bowls and decorate with fruit and nuts
Healthy Chocolate Chia Puddings
This is a special occasion chocolate chia pudding recipe that will fit in with your health goals and is easy to make. Serve in attractive glasses or bowls and decorate with fruit and nuts

Images: Left – Christina Henry; Right Bottom – David Disponett, Pexels; Right Top – Pixabay, Pexels

For special occasions you can make the chocolate chia pudding in a martini glass, parfait glass or glass bowl. Decorate with fresh cherries, nuts, strawberries and mint leaves. Dessert doesn’t have to be unhealthy – you can still have a treat while maintaining your healthy diet.

Chocolate Chia Pudding Recipe

Festive Chocolate Chia Pudding Recipe

midlifestylist
This is a special occasion chia pudding that will fit in with your health goals and is easy to make. Chia is a grain that is healthy and nutritious. They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, iron and calcium. The recipe includes cacao powder, the unsweetened form of chocolate which is very nutritious. Without all the nasties like sugar and fat that are added to it to make milk chocolate, it has many health benefits. It can improve your memory, reduce heart disease, increase immunity and is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. You can find chia seeds and cacao powder in the health food section at the supermarket. I use almond milk for this recipe but you can substitute it for cows milk, soy milk or whichever milk you prefer. Vegetarian, Vegan. Skill level: easy
Prep Time 15 mins
Resting time in refridgerator 4 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 15 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings 1
Calories 191 kcal

Equipment

  • Bowl
  • Serving Dish

Ingredients
  

INGREDIENTS [PER PERSON]

  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Mix the chia seeds and milk together in a bowl
  • Add the remaining ingredients and stir well
  • Let the chia seed mixture sit for 15 minutes until it thickens. Stir again.
  • Pour into decorative glasses, e.g. parfait glasses
  • Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving
  • Top with your favourite berries, cherries or fruit.

Notes

NUTRITION INFORMATION:
Calories 191kcal;
Carbohydrates 16g;
Protein 8g;
Fat 11g;
Saturated fat 3g;
Cholesterol 12mg;
Sodium 56mg;
Potassium 259mg;
Fiber 8g;
Sugar 6g;
Vitamin A 4%;
Calcium 28.9%;
Iron 10.3%
Chocolate Chia Pudding Recipe
Festive Chocolate Chia Pudding Recipe – a healthy indulgent dessert
IDEAS FOR TOPPINGS:
Cherries;
Berries;
Mango;
Pineapple;
Peaches;
Nectarines;
Apricots;
Kiwifruit;
Passionfruit;
Purees or sauces made from fruit and/or berries;
Nut butters;
Dried fruit;
Cacao nibs or a sprinkling of cacao powder;
Spices;
Shredded coconut;
Candied ginger;
Muesli or granola;
Nuts and seeds;
Creme Fraiche or whipped cream;
chocolate nibs, sauce or flakes
Keyword Dessert, Easy, Healthy, Vegan, Vegetarian

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Gifts that Inspire a Healthy Lifestyle

With the Christmas season rapidly approaching, attention has turned towards gift giving. After a year where health has been the focus of our attention, it is only natural that we would want to buy gifts that inspire a healthy lifestyle for our loved ones. Health is the one thing money can’t buy, but if we live a healthy lifestyle our well-being will improve.

This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure

When my husband and I met we were both in our 40’s and each had a house full of furniture. We had enough “stuff”. Our presents to each other are usually “experiences” rather than more “stuff”. For example, a sunset boat cruise with dinner, a weekend away, or a fishing charter trip. One of my favourite gifts was a day at a spa for pampering. We’ve also bought each other concert and theater tickets, a snorkeling trip and a whale watching boat cruise.

At the top of my wish list this year is a gift voucher for massages which I have regularly for my back pain. The gift of quality time together is priceless to me, as our time together is limited by our work hours – my husband regularly works away from home, and I do shift work. Having said that, it is still nice to receive a gift sometimes and why not give someone a gift that can inspire a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ideas for gifts for your loved ones.

FITNESS AND WELL-BEING GIFTS:

  • gift certificate for massages
  • sports shoes
  • exercise equipment e.g. hand weights (see my article The Best Workout Gear to Use at Home for some great ideas)
  • Hamper with beauty products, (ensure the moisturiser is sun friendly).
  • yoga mat
  • fitness tracker e.g. Fitbit
  • Air purifier
  • Workout gear and Sportswear: You feel better working out in comfortable clothes so a voucher to a sportswear shop like Lorna Jane, Nike or Rebel Sport allows them to buy workout gear that fits properly.
  • 10 visit pass for a gym
  • water filter

SUMMER GIFTS:

Gifts that inspire a healthy lifestyle in the Summer include:

  • pool toys e.g. beach ball,
  • beach games e.g. Volleyball,
  • surfboard, body board or stand-up paddle board
  • beach towel
  • Sun hat, beach bag
  • sunscreen
  • Picnic set

WINTER GIFTS:

Gifts that your loved ones will love in the cooler months include:

  • mittens, gloves, scarf,
  • other outer wear to encourage outdoor activities
  • beauty products including Chapstick, moisturiser, body butter
  • indoor fitness equipment -e.g. yoga mat
  • mountain bike
  • hiking shoes,
  • skis, sled

GIFTS FOR ADVENTURE LOVERS AND ADRENALINE JUNKIES:

Let your imagine go wild when selecting gifts for adventure lovers and adrenaline junkies. They would be up for sky diving or bungee jumping. Safer choices of gifts would include:

  • Voucher for an indoor climbing venue
  • camping equipment
  • theme park tickets
  • surfing lessons
  • boxing gloves and boxing bag

GIFTS THAT INSPIRE A HEALTHY DIET

To Inspire a HEALTHY DIET, some ideas for gifts are:

I’d love to hear if you use any of these gift ideas! Please let me know by commenting below. If you enjoyed this, you may want to read:

Image credits: Free photo 83062876 © creativecommonsstockphotos – Dreamstime.com

Buy gifts that inspire a healthy lifestyle for your loved ones this Christmas.
Buy gifts that inspire a healthy lifestyle for your loved ones this Christmas.
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My Weight-loss Journey

My weight loss journey has been a battle over the years. The urge to start writing this blog was because I finally succeeded in losing weight and keeping it off. The difference this time is that my weight didn’t bounce straight back up when I completed the program I was on. I’ve always been interested in promoting a healthy lifestyle through my nursing career. Now I want to help other people towards health through this medium. My weight is now in the healthy range for my age, and I plan to stay at this weight.

I was painfully thin as a child. I didn’t start to gain weight until after having children in my mid 20’s. My weight was still within a normal range until my 40’s. Medications, health issues and grieving all contributed to weight gain. This weight gain escalated after menopause. The battle to remain a healthy weight intensified with chronic back pain and a congenital heart defect.

My Previous Attempts at Weight Loss Were Unsuccessful

Fad diets, especially elimination diets, aren’t successful in the long run because you start craving all the things you can’t have. Whenever I’ve tried a “diet” such as Weight Watchers or Lite n Easy, I’ve been able to lose the weight easily enough. But I’ve always craved things and felt really restricted. So as soon as I stop the diet I put on all the weight plus more! By being able to control my own diet in a healthy way, my efforts to lose weight have succeeded.

Adjusting My Diet Led to Success

The program I was on taught me how to choose food that is lower in calories while being nutritious and filling. This new way allows me to choose my own food so I don’t have to eat food I don’t like. I don’t restrict myself to eating only low fat, low carbohydrate, or low calorie and I don’t give up whole food groups like a lot of diets do. I automatically pick food that fills me up and doesn’t have too many calories, like a big salad. Extra flavour and texture is included like feta cheese, olives, snow peas and roast beetroot, so it’s interesting to my palate. The beauty of it is that you can choose what you like. If you don’t like olives but you love nuts, you can swap them out.

My weight loss journey - Before photo was  taken in Rome in June 2018.  The after photo was taken in November 2019 after I lost 17kg
My weight loss journey – Before photo was taken in Rome in June 2018.
The after photo was taken in November 2019 after I lost 17kg

A few weekends ago I packed up a large box of clothes that I no longer fit. Some of them are brand new because I had bought a lot of clothes thinking I would get to a certain weight and that would be it, but I just kept on losing weight. During this weight loss journey I’ve gone down about 3 sizes. It starts to get expensive when you have to replace your whole wardrobe twice in a year! But I am proud of what I’ve achieved and I do feel much better at this weight.

Why do I feel weird when people compliment me on my weight loss?


I don’t like getting all that attention, but people are constantly telling me I’ve lost more weight. Even though I’ve been pretty steady for the last few months. They ask how I did it and probably expect me to name a fad diet or gastric bypass or something. When I told them I count calories and cut my portions down they seem disappointed! I think people want to know that there is a foolproof way, or an easy way to lose weight.

My weight loss journey.  Before photo was taken in October 2018 when I weighed 83.5kg.  The after photo was taken in October 2019 when I weighed 66.1kg
My weight loss journey. Before photo was taken in October 2018 when I weighed 83.5kg.
The after photo was taken in October 2019 when I weighed 66.1kg

I Want to Inspire Other People to Live a Healthy Lifestyle

Because I have had a history of yo-yo weight since I was in my 20’s, it is now my goal to help other people to achieve the success I have had. My weight loss journey is the drive behind me starting this blog, so that I can help other people to live a healthy lifestyle in their 40’s, 50’s and beyond. It is not a “diet”, but it is a change towards living your best life with a little advice on how to achieve it. I don’t have all the answers, but I may be able to help in some way.

What I won’t be able to help you with is information on beauty products, anti aging treatments such as fillers and injectables, and supplements designed for weight loss. I’m no expert on fitness and exercise regimes either. There are lots of other people who are! As I have said before, I did not go to a gym. My sole exercise is walking the dogs nearly every day.

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How to Keep on track with your health goals during holiday season

One of the hardest times to keep on track with our health goals is during the holiday season – Christmas and New Year, up to Australia Day at the end of January and even up to Easter. In the US and Canada, Thanksgiving Day in November is the start of the holiday season. Summer in the Southern Hemisphere is a time of beach, school holidays, barbecues and celebrations, while winter in the Northern Hemisphere is a time for hearty meals, staying indoors in front of the fire and eggnog!

It has to be the most challenging time of the year for people trying to keep to their health goals. This post will discuss some of the ways you can manage temptations during special events. It will also help you to prepare some strategies before the holiday season.

A collage of tempting, unhealthy food that people may face over the holiday season.  Pancakes and icecream, fried  food, alcohol and large servings of Chinese food
So many temptations during holidays and celebrations. A collage of tempting, unhealthy food that people may face over the holiday season. Pancakes and icecream, fried food, alcohol and large servings of Chinese food

How to Manage Temptations at Events

If you are having a celebratory meal or gathering of any kind, inevitably the menu includes food that is high in calories and alcohol, and wouldn’t be normally in your day to day diet. Some suggestions to deal with these situations are:

  • Take your own platter with healthy food to share. This is my number one way of dealing with these situations! Try using my recipes for a savoury and sweet grazing platter – or combine both for a really interesting platter
  • Eat a small portion of the food on offer
  • Drink water in between each alcoholic drink
  • Take your own beverages
  • If you don’t want to drink alcohol but feel pressured to, order a drink that looks like an alcoholic drink e.g. mocktail, lemon lime and bitters or soda water. I’m a fan of Kombucha which is really refreshing and doesn’t include many calories.
  • Drink less high calorie alcoholic drinks like a wine spritzer or vodka and soda water. There are low carbohydrate beers and diet mixers as well
  • Order a salad with the dressing on the side. Salads are often covered in dressing in restaurants and that is where all the calories are
  • Many restaurants list how many calories or kilojoules are in their food. Some of them even publish it online so you can research the venue before you go.
  • Don’t go to an event with an empty stomach
  • Don’t order a 3 course meal. Just a main meal is usually ample. My husband and I share an appetiser or dessert if we really feel like another course
  • Don’t stand near the buffet! Take a small plateful and walk away
  • Space out your meal. Give your body time to feel full. Only eat until you start to feel the signals that you’ve had enough
  • Having said that, if I know that I’m about to blow my calorie allowance for the day, I plan for it in advance and eat lightly for the rest of the day. A small breakfast and a salad for lunch counterbalances a blow-out for tea.
  • Learn to be assertive and say “no thank you” when offered food. This was always a challenge to me but I’m getting better at asserting myself
  • Accept that some situations are going to be out of your control. If you’re eating to plan during the rest of the week a day of overeating is not going to affect you long term.
  • Enjoy that blow-out meal! You deserve it.
  • Don’t neglect your exercise regime during holiday periods. You will feel so much better if you exercise on days that you’re consuming a large number of calories. Even a walk in the morning before an event will help
  • Try to make celebrations around activities rather than just feasting and getting drunk. Do something active like a picnic at the beach or a bush-walk. Even active party games can take the focus off eating and drinking. Have a game of cricket after Christmas lunch!

How to Keep On Track With Your Health Goals During Holidays and Special Occasions.  Shows a group of people at a party
How to Keep On Track With Your Health Goals During Holidays and Special Occasions.

I hope these suggestions will help you to keep on track with your health goals during the holiday season. The most important thing is to prepare beforehand. Acknowledge that sometimes eating unhealthy food can’t be avoided. In that case, enjoy the meal and get back on track the next day.

Survival guide for the Holiday Season

This is perhaps the busiest time of the year for most people.  Stress starts to build as we head towards the major events of the year.  This year has already been stressful for most people so the holiday season will leave us even more frazzled.  

Even if you love all the celebrations, the added toll you put on your body with parties will lead to fatigue.  Many people end up stressed and broke at the end of the holiday – they feel like they need a holiday to get over the holidays!

Think of all the upcoming events you and your family will have in the next few weeks and months:

  • School – Exams, Graduation, Formal and then Back to School;
  • Work – Completing projects, End of Year Parties.  Some industries are heading into their busiest time, e.g. retail;
  • Events – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year.

An offer for you: free e-book

Survival Guide for the Holiday Season

My Survival Guide for the Holiday Season will help you stay healthy during this busy time.  You will get:

  • A guide to healthy eating, self care and exercise;
  • A planner to guide you to set goals for staying healthy;
  • Weekly trackers – checklists to keep you on track.

Sign up now to receive this survival guide completely free. It will help you to keep on track with your health goals during the holiday season. More details at the link.

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If my readers have some other solutions on how to keep on track with your health goals during the holiday season, please share them in the comments. I would love to know how you deal with social events and the “silly” season.

Shared on Denyse Whelan’s Linkup Life This Week.

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Dessert Grazing Platter

Healthy grazing platter for dessert

Healthy Platter to Serve for Dessert

Most dessert platters are heavy on high calorie food such as chocolate, cakes and sweet biscuits and candy. It can add a massive amount of calories to your intake, especially if it’s at the end of a large meal and alcohol. This is a healthier version of a grazing platter to serve for dessert, that will appeal to most of your guests.

  • Plenty of fresh fruit like grapes, melons, strawberries and mango cheeks
  • unsalted nuts like almonds and cashews
  • dark chocolate is healthier than milk or white chocolate. I included cranberries dipped in dark chocolate by Angas Park. They contain antioxidants and have no added artificial colours or flavours, or preservatives.
  • Greek yogurt
  • dried fruit such as apricots or figs

Options for Entertaining

If you plan to have just one grazing platter, you can combine the above with the savoury grazing platter – cheese, fruit and olives go very well together. At Christmas time, cut the melon with a star or Christmas tree shaped cookie cutter to add a festive touch.

Dessert Grazing Platter - a healthy option to serve your guests.
Dessert Grazing Platter – a healthy option to serve your guests.

Food to Avoid Serving

Try to avoid serving food high in sugar and fat. While being moreish and a crowd pleaser, the aim is to feed your guests healthy food. Avoid serving the following:

  • Chocolate mousse or puddings. Serve my healthy chocolate chia pudding instead
  • Blocks of chocolate or candies. Serve strawberries dipped in dark chocolate instead.
  • Pastries, cakes and sweet biscuits. Serve healthy protein balls or sugar free versions of your favourite cakes and muffins.
  • Salted or caramelised nuts. Serve raw nuts and seeds such as sunflower seeds

Delight your guests at your next gathering by serving them healthy food. They will appreciate the care and attention you make to their health.

Dessert Grazing Platter

Most dessert platters are heavy on high calorie food such as chocolate, cakes and sweet biscuits and candy. It can add a massive amount of calories to your intake, especially if it’s at the end of a large meal and alcohol. This is a healthier version that will appeal to most of your guests.
Prep Time30 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Dessert, Grazing Platter
Cuisine: Entertainment, Healthy
Keyword: Dessert, Easy, Entertaining, Grazing Platter, Healthy
Author: midlifestylist
Cost: Varies

Equipment

  • Decorative Platter
  • Sharp knife
  • Christmas cookie cutters (optional)

Materials

  • Plenty of fresh fruit like grapes melons, strawberries and mango cheeks
  • Unsalted nuts like almonds and cashews
  • Dark chocolate is healthier than milk or white chocolate. I included cranberries dipped in dark chocolate by Angas Park. They contain antioxidants and have no added artificial colours or flavours or preservatives
  • Greek yogurt
  • Dried fruit such as apricots or figs

Instructions

  • Assemble the ingredients on a decorative platter. Adjust the quantities according to the number of guests. You may like to serve a Savoury Grazing Platter as well, or add some of the savoury ingredients to this platter

Notes

Healthy grazing platter for dessert
A healthy version of a dessert grazing platter
If you plan to have just one grazing platter, you can combine the above with the savoury grazing platter – cheese, fruit and olives go very well together. At Christmas time, cut the melon with a star or Christmas tree shaped cookie cutter to add a festive touch.

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Savoury Grazing Platter

A healthy savoury grazing platter

A Healthy Version of a Savoury Grazing Platter

Everybody loves a cheese board! They can turn a buffet into something special, and look amazing. This is how to make a savoury grazing platter that is healthy and appealing to most people.

Most grazing platters are heavy on processed meat, cheese and crackers. While tasty, they are high in calories and saturated fat. By serving healthy alternatives, your guests will leave at the end of the evening feeling pleased that they were eating nutritious food rather than ruining their healthy diet. Instead of serving the usual high fat, high calorie cheese platter, try using these healthier versions:

  • low fat ham or roast beef, thinly sliced
  • chicken breast, grilled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • carrot, capsicum, celery sticks
  • one or two cheeses – I usually use Brie for the soft cheese and a hard tasty cheese. The one shown in the photo is a vintage cheddar cheese I picked up from the Good Food and Wine show. Because it’s a tasty cheese, a small amount packs the flavour in which means you’ll eat less of it
  • cherry tomatoes
  • low carb crackers like these Tribe Organics rice crackers and baked pea crisps from Harvest Snaps
  • Dips and spreads such as hummous and salsa which are healthier than a lot of other dips such as french onion.
  • olives, sundried tomatoes or pickles

Options for Entertaining Guests

You can increase the size to cater for the number of guests you’ll have. You can also put some sweet flavours in like dried apricots, grapes and honey. Nuts such as cashews and almonds go well too. Alternatively, you can make a separate platter for dessert, like my dessert grazing platter.

A healthy savoury grazing platter includes a range of healthy options, and adds nutrients to your overall diet. Options for your cheese platter include vegetables, low fat cheese, salsa and hummus and leave out processed meat, crackers and high fat cheese. Experiment with different combinations of flavours, adding in food that you enjoy. That way, your guests leave your event feeling satisfied, without that ill feeling that comes from eating greasy food.

A healthy savoury grazing platter - healthy options for your cheese platter include vegetables, low fat cheese, salsa and hummous and leave out processed meat, crackers and high fat cheese
A healthy savoury grazing platter.

Savoury Grazing Platter

Everybody loves a cheese board! They can turn a buffet into something special, and look amazing. This is how to make a savoury grazing platter that is healthy and appealing to most people. Most grazing platters are heavy on processed meat, cheese and crackers. While tasty, they are high in calories and saturated fat. Instead, try using these healthier versions
Prep Time30 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Grazing Platter
Cuisine: Entertainment
Keyword: Dinner, Easy, Entertaining, Grazing Platter, Healthy, Lunch
Author: midlifestylist
Cost: Varies

Equipment

  • Decorative Platter
  • Sharp knife
  • Cheese knives

Materials

  • Low fat ham or roast beef thinly sliced
  • Chicken breast grilled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Carrot sticks, capsicum, celery sticks
  • One or two cheeses – I usually use Brie for the soft cheese and a hard tasty cheese e.g. vintage cheddar cheese A small amount packs the flavour in which means you'll eat less of it
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Low carbohydrate crackers e.g. rice crackers and baked pea crisps from Harvest Snaps
  • Dips and spreads such as hummus and salsa which are healthier than a lot of other dips such as French onion.
  • Olives
  • Sun dried tomatoes or pickles

Instructions

  • You can increase the size to cater for the number of guests you'll have. You can also put some sweet flavors in like dried apricots, grapes and honey. Nuts such as cashews and almonds go well too. Alternatively, you can make a separate platter for dessert, like my Dessert Grazing Platter.
  • Experiment with different combinations of flavors, adding in food that you enjoy.

Notes

A healthy savoury grazing platter
Healthy savoury grazing platter to serve your guests
Serve healthy food to your guests at your next event.  Entertain with a Savoury Grazing Platter and a Dessert Grazing Platter.  Your guests will appreciate it.
Serve healthy food to your guests at your next event. Entertain with a Savoury Grazing Platter and a Dessert Grazing Platter. Your guests will appreciate it.
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Signs you need to see a doctor

When should you see a doctor? What signs to look for

Signs and symptoms that need to be checked by a doctor

Updated 14 August 2020

People are delaying seeking a doctor’s advice because of the pandemic. A delay in the diagnosis and treatment of disease leads to poorer outcomes in some instances, especially cancer. There are some signs and symptoms that should not be ignored, and need to be checked by a doctor.

I’ve been a Registered Nurse for over 30 years and unfortunately many of the patients I see have a “head in the sand” approach to health. They are aware of signs and symptoms, but they’re too scared to go to the doctor so they leave it too late. Many of the diseases we see can be cured if they’re diagnosed and treated early enough, but because the person is too scared to see a doctor, it is too late to do anything about it. Unfortunately we also see patients who have been fobbed off or treated for the wrong thing as well. If you’re not happy with what you’re told by one doctor, seek another opinion. You are the best advocate for your own health so keep in tune with your body and don’t ignore signs that there’s something wrong.

What predisposes us to disease?

A doctor I worked with once said to me “if everyone gave up smoking I’d be out of a job”. That’s not strictly true, however, because even though the smoking rate has gone down since awareness campaigns and Government restrictions on the sale of cigarettes, there are still other risk factors that can predispose us to disease. These include hereditary factors, lifestyle, age and sex, environmental factors and socioeconomic status. We can’t do much about our hereditary factors, age or sex, but we can control our lifestyle, environment and socioeconomic status to a certain degree.

Don’t ignore these symptoms

Another thing we can control is our awareness of signs and symptoms that could warrant a trip to the doctor, such as:

  • changes in bowel or bladder habits
  • shortness of breath, wheeziness
  • a cough that produces yellow or green sputum, or is blood tinged
  • chest tightness or pain
  • spots that have changed on your skin
  • lumps and bumps
  • bleeding, e.g in your urine or faeces, or a wound
  • hoarse voice or difficulty swallowing
  • dizziness or fainting
  • pain not controlled with over the counter medications
  • weakness in a limb, especially when it’s down one side of your body and you also have a drooping mouth
  • very high fevers, 38 degrees C or above
  • discharge or oozing, especially when it has a strong odour
  • swelling
  • a cut or sore that won’t heal
  • severe thirst but still have a dry mouth
  • unexpected weight loss and loss of appetite over a period of time
  • snoring and breath holding at night, and still feeling exhausted during the day
  • changes in your vision, crustiness in your eyes, or red and painful eyes
  • yellowing of skin and eyes
  • palpitations or fluttering in your chest
  • fractures or sprains
  • severe vomiting
  • confusion or mood changes
  • reactions to medications or treatment
  • Knocks to the head, especially ones where you lose conciousness or see stars, or are confused afterwards
  • epileptic fits

This list is only a sample of things to watch out for. Some of these are medical emergencies – don’t hesitate to call an ambulance if you have chest pain, weakness down one side of the body, severe bleeding and serious accidents. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, make sure you are informed of what signs and symptoms to look for, and when to see your doctor for follow-up appointments.

Misdiagnosis can lead to poor health outcomes

I have worked in Plastics and Reconstructive surgery wards for many years and even then I have a personal example of misdiagnosis with skin cancer. Because I am aware of the risks of skin cancer I have had a yearly skin check for at least the last 20 years. My sons have had the same checks since they were small children. This is partly due to the high incidence of melanoma in my family (my brother and sister) but also because of seeing the effects of melanoma spread in patients.

I was on holiday in New Zealand and my son phoned me to say he’d had his skin check and the doctor had biopsied a spot on the back of his hand and it had come back as melanoma. It’s hard to convey how devastated I was at hearing this and not being at home to support him. He was only 24 at the time and we’d been going to the same skin doctor for years. This doctor had told him at least twice before that the spot was fine, and we had trusted him. This time it was a different doctor – we had recently moved to a new surgery.

Melanoma, stage 1, on my 24 year old son's hand.  Required excision and flap graft.
My son’s melanoma

If my son had left it for another year it would have spread. We were lucky it was Grade 1 and hadn’t spread at all. I phoned one of the Plastic Surgeons I worked with and made an urgent appointment and my son was in surgery the following week. He had to have a full thickness flap done, about 3cm in diameter, to his hand but he’s cancer free which is the best outcome we could have had. He’s proud to show his scar because he’s a survivor and he’s brought awareness to many of his friends and acquaintances about the need for skin checks. We both have to have 6 monthly skin checks now for the rest of our lives.

This is the scar on his hand now. He had a skin flap removed from his upper arm to graft on to his hand

Be Your Own Health Advocate

My message today is that I want you to see a doctor if you’re concerned about anything, but keep pushing for more if you’re not happy with what they tell you. That niggling feeling that something isn’t right should not be ignored so pay attention to your body!

Note: this article is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be substituted for professional advice from a Registered Medical Practitioner. Please see the full disclaimer statement by clicking on the heading Disclaimer on the Home page. I am unable to answer specific questions from readers – if you are concerned, please see your doctor.

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