The key to beating stress, revving your sex drive and staying svelte is packing your plate with nutritionally powerful and healing eats.
Women say they struggle with their weight for many different reasons —- work, family, ice-cream —- but they’re all talking about the same thing : stress. Being tense makes it easy to gain weight and hard to lose it, and it certainly zaps sexual energy. Often, women say things like, “I’ll lose weight when work calms down,” or “I’d feel sexier if I lost a few kilogram.” But weight, stress and sex are like things three legs of the same stool: adjust one and you have to fix the other two. That’s why this plan addresses all three at once.
The foods on the following pages are so packed with natural nutrition that they start soothing , healing and reshaping you almost as soon as you put them into your mouth. Starting now, you can escape the vicious cycle of stress, weight gain and low libido, and kick off a lifetime of healthy, happy, empowered eating.
The following choices are nutrient dense and have been scientifically proven to fill you up, shrink your appetite or help you drop kilos.
When you get bored with leafy greens (and that can happen easily when you’re counting kilojoules), artichokes are the way to go. They make an ideal appetiser at just 250kJ each, and munching on all that fibre will help you consume fewer kilojoules during the rest of your meal. When you can get artichokes fresh (in spring and summer), they’re delicious steamed; just sprinkle with salt, pepper or a squeeze of lemon juice and eat the leaves one by one. Canned artichoke hearts, a staple in any slim-calm-sexy kitchen, come in handy when you need a simple but satisfying snack, and you could also pure them with little olive oil and fresh rosemary to serve as a dip.
Spicy chillies increase your burn thanks to an antioxidant called capsaicin. A US study found that in the few hours following a meal containing capsaicin, kilojoule burn nearly doubled. The antioxidant also significantly increased fat oxidation, pushing the body to use more fat as fuel. Some studies have been found that meals flavoured with capsaicin can diminish appetite. Experiment with a few different fresh pre-made salads and read the ingredients carefully to get a sense of which chillies do it for you.
This citrus fruit won weight-loss fame after a study found that people who ate half a grapefruit with each meal lost 1.6kg, while those who drank a serving of grapefruit juice three times a day lost 1.5kg. Many people in the study lost more than 4.5kg without making any other changes to their diets! If doing that much tartness leaves you puckered, try grapefruit as a delicious low-kilojoule dessert: add a tiny bit of honey, sprinkle on some cardamom and leave it under the grill for two to three minutes.
Apples may get the doctor’s vote, but a pear a day is a good idea too. Pears have especially high levels of a kind of fibre called pectin, which is known to help promote weight loss. Poached, they make a tasty warm dessert; raw, their creamy-gritty texture pairs well with cheese for a snack.
Fibre and a high volume of water ensure that tomatoes fill you up for a few kilojoules. They’re also loaded with lycopene, and researchers have found that the higher level of this antioxidant in people’s blood, the lower their level of heart disease and other chronic illnesses. Plus, tomatoes’ nutritional benefits actually increase when cooked, so saute or roast them, add to stews, or make a tomato-based sauce or soup-on a lower-energy day, it’s a true comfort food.
Studies have found that these options can help contribute to a healthy mental state, protect against the harmful physical effects of stress and boost your serenity level. Eat your way to Zen.
It’s true that side effects may include off-colour or funky-smelling urine, but it’s a small price to pay for all the folate they deliver. The vitamin is essential in helping you keep your cool when stress rears its ugly head. Steam some spears and add to salads or stir-fries; they’re also tasty baked and seasoned.
Besides being an excellent source of healthy fat, these creamy green fruits (yes, fruits) can stress-proof your body. They’re rich in glutathione, a substance that blocks intestinal absorption of certain fats that cause oxidative damage (the process that creates free radicals, the harmful compounds responsible for ageing). Avocados also contain more folate than any other fruit. Try to stick to a single serving (about one-quarter of an avocado). Thinly sliced, it can go a long way in salads or replace mayo on sandwiches or burgers.
All berries, including blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, are rich in vitamin C, which has been shown to be helpful in combating stress. German researchers tested his by asking 120 people to give a speech and then do complex maths equations. Those who had been given vitamin C had lower blood pressure and lower levels of cortisol after the stress-fest. Snack on a handful of fresh or frozen berries or add them to salad, yoghurt or oats.
On top of being a vitamin C powerhouse, oranges have an added benefit: that tough skin keeps them protected while they’re bouncing around in your handbag or backpack, so you can tote them anywhere.
You probably thought you’d read about oysters in the sexy foods section, right? Well, they earned a place here because they contain a mother lode of zinc. Six oysters-what you’d typically be served in a restaurant as an appetiser-have more than half the recommended daily allowance for this important calming mineral. They’re an acquired taste, but fans love them with Tabasco or a simple squeeze of lemon.
Research has proven that these shelled marvels provide more than one kind of cognitive edge. They contain alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid, and other polyphenols shown to help prevent memory loss. And US studies found that the omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts keep the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline the check. To bring out their flavour, toast them for a few minutes under a hot grill, then chop and add to salads.
Get ready to titillate your taste buds (and other body parts) with these ingredients, all of which have research to back up their aphrodisiac status. Time to put nooky back on the menu.
This sensual sweet does more than just make your tongue happy; it also contains a compound called phenylethylamine, which is linked to the release of endorphins, those natural feel-good chemicals that flood our bodies after a workout. Interestingly, though, Canadian research, which examined hundreds of studies on potential aphrodisiacs, found that even though people believe their sexual desire increases after eating chocolate, it’s not linked in any way to sexual arousal or satisfaction. In other words, chocolate’s sexy powers are more than likely all in the head, where the triggers serotonin and endorphins. But hey, that works too! When you’re craving a fix, enjoy a portion-contolled amount (15g) or try one of the sexy recipes
While your breath may not be that alluring, coffee does possess some sexy properties. A US study found that the female sex drive perks up after a cup because it stimulates the part of the brain that regulates arousal. One caveat: because getting back to a healthy sleep pattern is so important for your overall health, pay attention to your afternoon cut-off time. For many people, restricting caffeine after 2pm is a good general rule
These are a reliable source of L-arginine, an amino acids that’s been shown to be effective in treating erectile dysfunction. And they’re not just for breakfast. Try an easy frittata recipe for a weeknight dinner.
The creamy texture and pretty colour are definitely bonuses, but it turns out that peaches’ high vitamin C count also makes them something of a fertility drug for your guy. Higher consumption results in better sperm counts and less sperm clumping (without going into details, that’s actually a good thing). Frozen slices are also a little higher in vitamins C than the fresh ones, so stash some in the freezer and add them to a smoothie for you – and your man.
A gorgeous, bright yellow spices, saffron comes from the crocus flower and has a mild, delicate flavour that’s popular in Mediterranean dishes. Researchers have found that saffron lives up to its reputation of improving sexual performance (worth its expense at about R50 per gram). The best way to bring out its flavour is to soak the threads in hot (but not boiling) water or both for 15 minutes and add the “tea” to your recipe. It’s superb in any grain dish – Spanish seafood paella is a classic one – as well as in soups and stews.
Beef has loads of zinc and iron, as well as plenty of satisfying protein and B vitamins. Plus, there’ just something so tantalising about the sound and smell of steak sizzling in the pan – it’s like foreplay you can eat! Besides being good for sexual performance, steak has that special-occasion feel to it. Go for a grass- fed variety to make it extra-healthy.
This juicy favourite has an unusually high level of an amino acid called citrulline, which your body uses to pump out another amino acid, arginine, that’s related to vascular health. In guys that can translate to healthier erections; in women, it’s been linked to increased libido. And let’s be honest, there’s something kind of sexy about biting into a dripping hunk of melon on a warm day.
The Slim, Calm, Sexy Sips
Behold, some party drinks that won’t pack on the kilos
- Slimming cocktail : Two tablespoons vodka with a splash of grapefruit juice and a lemon twist.
- Calming cocktail : Hot toddy: combine one cup hot chamomile tea with half a tablespoon honey, a shot of bourbon or brandy and a lemon slice.
- Sexy cocktail : Four tablespoons soda water with two tablespoons cayenne pepper powder and vodka, over ice.