A raw food diet is simple. It consists of eating food in their natural state. The food is neither cooked nor adulterated in any way. By eating the bulk of your food in its natural state, you will enjoy a huge improvement in your health and vitality.

The Raw Food Philosophy

More than just a weight loss plan or a fitness diet, this diet is a philosophy based on a lifestyle choice. It demands awareness of the live nutritional value of unprocessed food and provides numerous health benefits. They are low in saturated fats and sodium and high in antioxidants and magnesium, and low in sodium. They are almost free of harmful trans-fats. A raw food diet will detoxify your system. It will lead to natural weight loss.

Raw Foodists

Switching to a raw food diet will be much easier if you are vegan, or at least vegetarian. Those who choose this diet are referred to as raw foodists. This diet is popular with those seeking to be disease-free and full of energy. There are no useless calories, hence no weight gain. The diet also optimizes the nutrition in your food because cooking often kills essential vitamins and minerals in food. By not eating animal flesh or animal byproducts, there are no steroids and hormones to absorb. In addition, the body will quickly begin to flush out toxins with this diet.

Since the diet consists of nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits, sometimes it is necessary to take dietary supplements like protein shakes. However, supplements are not necessary if the diet has been precisely calculated for the various macro and micronutrients the body needs to be healthy and strong.

Variety is added to the diet by making food combinations, using food dehydrators, processors, and blenders. For instance, you can make crackers by blending various raw foods into dehydrator. Chopping or blending it can alter the texture and taste of food.

The general idea is that the higher the amount of uncooked food, the better the health results. It is not the same as a vegan diet because although no animal flesh or byproducts are eaten with that diet, most of the food is still cooked. In addition, this type of diet may, depending on the philosophy of the dieter, include animal products that are eaten in their raw state. Besides seeds, nuts, vegetables, and fruits, the diet may also have eggs, sashimi fish, carpaccio, and unpasteurized milk, cheese, and yogurt.

Food – none of us can go without it! But how does the way in which we think about food impact our diet? Are you someone who just sees food as body fuel, or do the different tastes, textures and nutritional values of food excite you? In today’s health conscious world, I would think that most of us fall into the latter group. If you want to achieve your diet goals quicker, then you need to clearly understand you relationship with food.

Eat and Burn

In its simplest form, food gives our body the calories it needs to run on a daily basis. When there are too few calories, the body looks to its own reserves. When there are too many calories, the body puts them away in storage (i.e. as body fat). On a purely mathematical level, so long as we burn as much as we consume, we are not going to produce excess body fat. So yes it is possible to eat junk food and stay thin but we also know that what food we eat can be as important as how much food we eat.

Food Fanatics

Not all foods are created equal. It would be nonsense to say that a caramel flapjack and an organic apple containing the same number of calories are of equal health benefit. At the ‘eat and burn’ basic level then yes they might provide our body with the same number of calories but substance is surely just as important. We have all learned that the organic apple is bursting with healthy goodness, whilst the flapjack will be laden with sugar and other nutritional nastiness.

The food world has gone crazy over the past few years. Every other program on television is a cooking program. But why are we so obsessed? It is just body fuel at the end of the day…

I have to admit, I am a modern day ‘foodie’. I love cooking and experimenting in the kitchen and I strongly believe in the health benefits of natural food. In my eyes, there is nothing wrong with this, food has the fantastic ability of making us happy so let’s take advantage. However, you need to be aware of your root relationship with food. There is definitely a risk of obsessing over food. Such obsession may manifest itself as punishing yourself for eating ‘junk’ food, a lifetime of calorie counting, or possibly worse. We each have unique relationships with food and to get the most from food we should strip away the layers and get to the bottom of what and why. Why did you have to eat popcorn whilst watching that movie yesterday evening? Why did you have to drink alcohol when socialising last week? It is good to sit back and think about our food choices so we understand why we made them and can enjoy those choices instead of feeling guilty about them!

Strategies to Avoid Food Obsession and Achieve Your Diet Goals

As we are dependent upon food for survival, all of us have a relationship with food.

Here are a few ideas to help you find out, change, and nurture your food relationship.

  • Make a Black, Grey, White list of foods you commonly eat. Black for the least healthy, White for the most. Then keep it in your kitchen, making sure that your cupboards are full of those foods on the White list (typically fresh fruit, vegetables, unsalted nuts and seeds, whilst trying to cut out those on the Black list (basically anything processed containing sugar, as well as alcohol and if you follow the Paleo diet, then all grains too). To take things further, you can keep a score board to measure how many food items from each colour group you are eating – monitoring your results forces the truth upon you, so there is nowhere to hide!
  • Work out what type of food personality you are. Do this by clearly identifying what you enjoy about food. For me, I know that eating healthily will make me feel happy but so does the odd treat. I have a soft spot for beer and ice cream (not together though!), so I indulge in these things every now and again. It may be that you enjoy a certain type of cuisine, or need to eat every two hours. Being aware of your food personality will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses in your diet, which you can then address sensibly instead of obsessively.
  • Be wise about food availability – possibly the most important factor in keeping a healthy diet is to always have the healthy food readily to hand. Most people resort to less healthy foods because they are so accessible. A little bit of effort on your part and healthy food can be fast food in any hectic lifestyle. Prepare your healthy food in advance and keep stock levels high (i.e. always have fresh fruit and vegetables at the ready).
  • Equally, if it isn’t in your house in the first place then you can’t eat it! If you don’t have very strong willpower, avoid the lethal step of bringing junk foods into your home. Too often I have picked things up and thought it would be saved for a rainy day but the evenings are full of temptation and before you know it that treat is in your belly. I know that keeping sweet food in the house can undo my healthy eating, so it’s best kept out most of the time.

Free Your Food, Do Not Trap it with Rules

The key to making healthy eating a lifestyle choice and not a short term diet is to make it fun and enjoyable, not boring and burdensome! I think adopting a ‘rule free’ food psychology is more realistic than to simply ban certain foods altogether. To be truthful, we all fall off the healthy eating bandwagon. In my eyes, this can be a good thing providing that you that you do enjoy your treats (e.g. cake) that you consume otherwise what is the point!? Don’t worry and just get right back on track instead of dwelling on that junk food.

Please find more information about the ability of food to change your mood on my website, where I have given examples of foods that could help you achieve your diet goals.

Luke Moghaddas-Davies – A fitness enthusiast who has trained for over 12 years and believes everyone should take ownership of their health and achieve their fitness goals – no excuses! By making healthy living more realistic, and for me that means ‘rule free’, I know how to stay lean and fit for life not just for summer!

In order to get food to taste good most people think that you have to result to unhealthy food flavorings. Most people wonder if it is possible to eat healthy while maintaining the great taste. Artificial sugars are an alternative to table sugar (sucrose) as they tend to be more intensively sweeter and have zero calories. Artificial sugars have become the main functional ingredients in many diet drinks and other healthy food products. Many artificial foods have been made to cater for those of us who watch what we eat. You can add texture to your food which is good for your digestive system via food texturizers. Here is how to add taste to your food:

Spices: Its definition tends to be a grey area for many culinary aficionados, as one definition is inclusive of herbs. The American Spice Trade Association has it that, flavoring is “any dried product used primarily for seasoning purposes.” The other widely and most accepted definition is whether fresh or dried or derived from the bark, stem, root, seed or fruit of a plant. They tend to be grown in tropical climes. They are highly regarded for their medicinal value and in preparation of cosmetic products. Examples include garlic, ginger, cloves, pepper, cinnamon even wasabi.

Herbs: Herbs are different in that they are derived from leaves. They may be whole, grinded a little to be flaky, or well grinded to be powder. When consumed whole they tend to give texture to food and hence are a great natural food texturizer. Herbs do not favor tropical climes and are commonly found in more temperate areas. Herbs are similar when it comes to their medicinal values and also cosmetic properties. Examples of herbs are parsley, basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary.

Condiments: They tend to be simple sauces; good examples include mustard, ketchup and barbecue sauce.

Others: Salt is a mineral, but it would be unfair to ignore it when talking of seasonings. Salt has preserving qualities, commonly used to preserve fish before refrigerators, hence the term salted fish. There are many different types of salt, from rock salt to sea salt. Iodized salt is usually recommended so as to limit the salts’ dehydrating properties. Some like to confuse sugar as a seasoning, but it is considered as part of functional ingredients as food can be made out of it. To be fair sugar changes the taste of whatever it is mixed in, but it is more commonly referred to as a sweetener.

We are what we eat and whenever we want to eat healthy there is always the drawback of sacrificing taste. Good food has to have the right functional ingredients and complementing food flavorings to bring out great tasting food. Food that tastes good is not enough; addition of good food texturizers will ensure that your food also feels good in your mouth. We usually rush at what tastes good to us every meal time, and probably our best meal is usually what we remember tasting best. With the proper application of food seasonings you will always have a feast of even the smallest meals.

In terms of nutrition food and health are great concern all over the world. The major concentration is on the threats exerted by kinds of foods, and how we can cut them by avoiding junk foods and modifying our daily diets. For example, many consumers avoid the white sugar as they perceive that it is harmful for health.

Many nutrition and health authorities offer guidance for people to avoid health problems associated with over or under-consumption of certain foods. However, it largely depends on the attitude of the people to their food intake and health. (more…)

There are eight distinct candle making additives used in the candle making process. Some makers choose not to use them at all while others take advantage of what each type of additive has to offer to their candle making process. Candle wax additives are inexpensive and work well if you are educated in how to use them and why to use each kind. (more…)

If you are like most coffee drinkers, you probably think you are already getting an awesome cup of coffee. However odds are that you can probably still improve the quality by following these eleven steps:

1. Use Quality Coffee Beans

Stay out of the grocery stores! OK that is a serious statement, but seriously do not buy coffee beans at the grocery store. No one knows when it was roasted and that is a critical, key point in coffee freshness. These beans are known for being stale, whether they are in the gravity bins (especially stale!) or bagged (usually stale!). No one really knows how long the beans have been in the bins or bags. Buy your coffee from an area independent coffee shop or artisan coffee roaster that can verify the roasting date. This is the only way to know you are buying freshly roasted coffee beans of gourmet quality. Their reputation is on the line so they strive for the best quality coffee freshly roasted.

2. Store Properly Remove your beans from the original bag and put in an airtight container like Tupperware or Glad Ware. The more opaque the container, the better to keep harmful light out. Extreme light like keeping coffee in a glass jar on the sink can cause deterioration of your beans, allowing your final cup of coffee to taste flat or stale.

Do not store in the freezer or refrigerator. Keep them in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place like a cupboard or pantry. Refrigerators harbor many odors and coffee is very porous. It will act like a sponge to odors whether it’s ground or whole bean. Freezers can cause freezer burn, and the flavor oils to crack and lose flavor. These oils are where the flavor is. Storing in the freezer freezes the surface condensation each time the coffee is taken out of the freezer.

Excess moisture will cause your beans to stale faster and shorten the life span of your coffee so a cool, dry and dark place it recommended for storage.

3. Proper Grind and Grind Just Before Using

The grind of the coffee matters. Your coffee should be ground for the type of brewing method you are using. Coarse for French press and single serve, fine for espresso. The in between matter but for most auto-drip makers your grind should be just finer than coarse meaning that when you rub it between your fingers the grinds should feel similar to typical bread crumbs. Espresso grinds should feel like somewhere between sugar and powdered sugar. Also, by using a burr grinder your coffee will receive less friction than a typical blade grinder giving your grinds less chance to get scorched during grinding.

Coffee is very porous and will absorb odors and air (oxygen) very fast. Oxygen will make your coffee taste really bad! So, the longer your coffee is ground and not used the longer it has to stale and make a bad cup.

4. Measure Properly

Weigh your coffee before you grind it. To make a good, well-rounded cup of coffee you should use approximately.75oz (22g) of coffee beans to every 8oz of cold water. You can +/- to taste but this is a good starting point.

5. Purified Water at Precise Temperature

Fresh, clean tap water (purified is best) or quality spring water is recommended. Do not use mineral water, distilled water or tap water with any type of odor. It will make your coffee taste bad. The water should be between 195-205 degrees when ready to brew. At this temperature, the coffee will get proper extraction to optimize the flavor oils and caramelized sugars inside the coffee bean. This is hard to accomplish with most home brewers as the heating elements are not heat adjustable nor are they reliable to heat to the proper temperature at all. Good home coffee brewers will cost about $200 but are well worth it and last a lot longer. If you can, try the single cup pour over methods available or other brewing methods such as French press or siphon. The taste difference is remarkable. Google search each method for more information.

6. Brew Just Enough to Drink

Letting your brewed coffee sit waiting is not a good idea. And more so please do not let it sit on the hot plate! This is a good way to cook your coffee. Constant ‘keep warm’ mode like this will make it taste bitter. If you have to brew more than one cup and are not going to finish is right away, get an airpot of air tight hot container to keep it in. Still drink it within an hour or so but it will buy your more time.

7. Let it Cool

By letting your coffee cool to about 170 degrees (for black coffee) you will not only avoid burning your mouth, you will also get a more enjoyable coffee experience because you will taste the true essence of what coffee is all about: the brightness, the chocolaty notes, the citrus notes, the spices. It’s all there, get a little geeky! If you insist on pouring cream and sugar in your coffee, forget #7 and for #8 respectively!

8. Drink it Black

This is the coffee geek purist in me coming out! I used to drink my coffee with cream and sugar all the time until I got into the coffee business years ago. Society decided cream and sugar was the norm because of bad tasting coffee, not because coffee tastes bad. Coffee used to be bitter as a rule, but that was your father’s cup! Most likely the canned stuff from the grocery store. Ick! That is the old-school coffee made from Robusta beans, a low-grade coffee. Today the high quality coffee beans are called Arabica and you get them from coffee houses and artisan coffee roasters. When beans are blended and roasted properly black coffee is not bitter. It may take some getting used to but I assure you that you are missing a lot of great tasting coffee by adding cream and sugar!

9. Throw Out Any Leftover Brewed Coffee

This is part of #6 above, but deserves its own number. If you have brewed coffee left over past an hour in an airpot or air-tight container, throw it out. Brewed coffee has a life span as well and letting it cook itself in a container is not part of it.

10. Throw Out Any Leftover Coffee Beans

OK let me clarify! By this I mean the coffee that is left over after 21 days. Coffee beans have a life span of approximately 21 days from the day it is roasted. I prefer to drink mine within 10 days but that is just the coffee geek again. If you can span your coffee for use within 21 days of the day it’s roasted you will get a better tasting and far more superior cup. I know, you are asking “how do I know when my Seattle’s Best or Newman’s Own coffee beans were actually roasted?” Well, see #1 above for your answer.

11. Rinse and Repeat

That says it all! If you follow these steps I promise you will notice a more flavorful and tasty cup of brew!

1. Organic eggs are one good source of protein. Research shows that chickens raised in a natural environment produces eggs that are better than those raised in captivity industry. In addition, organic eggs have a protein content with better quality than non-organic eggs. Protein can help to develop muscle tissue and burn fat.

2. Catch fish, most fish we eat today were raised in fish farms. This makes them much less nutritious. Wild caught fish contain more omega 3 fatty acids omega 6 and a bit of bad. (more…)

Ever wondered how the morning cup of coffee washes off all the lethargy of sleep and kick starts your brain to face a brand new day? Does credit for coffee’s legendary refreshing effect go to the diminutive but obvious presence of caffeine? Can we reduce the virtues of such a great beverage to a mere work of a chemical? Clearly, the flavor, smell and arrogant upshot of caffeine all contribute towards making coffee a complete experience, rather than just a beverage.

Coffee is basically prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant. The coffee beans – as the seeds are referred to – are roasted and powdered. The processing of coffee beans is a very labor intensive process. The roasting phase of processing considerably influences the final taste and odor of coffee and is thus the most significant part of the whole process. Roasting causes extremely complex chemical action that metamorphoses the insipid taste of the coffee seed to the great taste we all know and love. In some cases the coffee beans are even aged for a considerable period of time before they are roasted.

The range and variety of the experience we call coffee is considerably huge. For the stringent coffee buff that prefers an experience devoid of caffeine, decaffeinated coffee hits the mark. There are the darker roast styles that justify the word ‘black coffee’. There are even special flavored coffees in the market for people who need a twist in the tale. There is no end to the ways you can get your cup of coffee.

But, coffee is more than just a hot liquid in a cup. Its significance and influence extend in all aspects of society and culture. The coffee houses of the 16th century started off a trend of using coffee as an excuse and means of getting people to socialize. Coffee is the greatest social lubricant ever invented, capable of bringing people together to mingle, talk, debate and decide. The coffee houses of India became the axis and base camp of the workers struggle where people and propaganda celebrated the birth of a new political age. In Sweden and the Nordic countries, coffee is an important cornerstone of their culture.

In the past, coffee had a religious and spiritual significance. This appears quite natural given the experience of coffee is nothing short of divine. The early Arabs created wine from the coffee fruit which was used during religious ceremonies. In many cultures coffee naturally substituted wine when wine was prohibited.

The experienced connoisseurs of coffee indulge in coffee cupping. Coffee cupping is simply a great excuse to turn your love for coffee into a professional pursuit with all the semblances of any grave enterprise. Some professional coffee tasters are so proficient in drinking coffee they can identify the geographical origin of coffee from its taste.

Coffee is a great accompaniment for any informal meal, typically as an integral component of breakfast. In relatively more formal settings, like for instance, in a restaurant, coffee fits in perfectly during the dessert course. It’s obvious that coffee is a great accompaniment to anything from pastries, cookies, shortbread to muffins. But, if the coffee lovers of the world are to be taken seriously, coffee goes with any occasion or time no matter what.

I talk to a lot of people who are interested in becoming personal trainers. In this article, I will briefly share some thoughts on motives, attitudes and resources if you are thinking of becoming a personal trainer. I would recommend that you start by getting a legitimate certification. You can research the internet or talk to personal trainers at health clubs or private studios. As a suggestion, you could check out the International Association of Resistance Trainers, ISSA or ACE. These three certification organizations can be found on the internet and have several areas for you to consider. When considering a legitimate certification program, check out personal training / liability insurance.

Be sure that the certificate you earn will have clear guidelines on how to purchase insurance once you actually start to train clients. There are many fitness certifications that are not recognized by any insurance companies, stay away from these. If you choose to train without insurance, you are taking a big risk. Depending on the physical location of where you will train your clients (club, private training studio, corporate fitness center) you will need to check with their individual requirements regarding acceptable certifications and insurance policies.

After you have done your research on the above issues, if you are still interested, get started today! Whether you remain interested (out of the people who go into fitness training, many more drop out than stick with it) you can always use the information to further your own personal fitness programming. I believe that your initial training / certification will never be a waste. You will want to check out other certification programs later (may be required based on place of employment) in order to get plenty of exposure to all the different training methodologies.

Try to stay grounded – many programs are not that reality based. With any training information, ask yourself the question: How will I use this for my own, as well as my clients, fitness program? I have many doctors, other trainers and people with sports / human performance degrees who hire me to help with training issues. The rubber hits the road when you have a client who is depending on you to give them a cardio, strength training, eating, supplementation, injury recovery and / or flexibility program complete with personalized scheduling. You do not need to have all the answers but try to establish your own process for giving them the answers or effective referrals for what they need.

Not knowing what your previous experience is regarding working with people in general, I would suggest that you assess what your tolerance is for complainers and whiners as there are so many issues for so many people that you will need to address at some level (as a fitness professional). If you want to be a good trainer, you need to commit to the total client. I think too many trainers end up wanting to legitimize their own training priorities and believe that by becoming a personal trainer / fitness professional, they can focus all their time on themselves (not an acceptable mindset). They should stay out of personal training if they are not ready to commit to their clients. Do not fall prey to canned programs or using a cookie cutter approach for everyone you will train.

I come from a human service background (double major in Social Work / Criminal Justice) and worked my way up to manager in a juvenile diversion program over a period of 10 years before getting into personal training. BUT, in the first three years of being a personal trainer, I placed in three international personal trainer contests. These were great experiences but in all three instances, success was based on the commitment to the client more than caring about winning any contests.