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The Flexi Foodie's ultimate guide to being happy in 2017: nutrition challenge

by Julie Delahaye

Julie Montagu, aka The Flexi Foodie, has amassed a loyal legion of thousands of followers thanks to her impressive knowledge about all things health, nutrition and wellbeing. Every week this January, Julie will be sharing some of her biggest tips exclusively with HELLO! Online readers and challenging you to have a healthy and happy 2017.

Julie will be sharing a challenge every week to get you feeling happy and healthy in 2017 - tweet us @hellomag and let us know how you're getting on!

"Here we are – the final week of the Happiness Challenge! Two weeks are down, and we just have one more week of great habits to build in order to boost your happiness and your health. We’re almost at the end, and I’m so excited for all of us to finish strong and to keep some of these great happiness challenges we’ve adopted. The focus this week is nutrition.

"There are 75 trillion cells within the body and they all work very hard to keep us going. The nutrients from the food we eat is absorbed by every single one of these cells - in order to maximise our health, we must maximise what nutrients get absorbed so that we can feel great every day. You do not need to go on some crazy diet to start feeling great. You just need to follow my simple 'Golden Rules' and there’s no reason why you can’t keep on having those chocolate biscuits every so often."

Julie also shared her favourite healthy eating recipes to try for your nutrition challenge this January - click here to check them out!

julie montagu

Julie is hailed as a nutrition guru by her legions of followers

Julie's top ten 'Golden Rules':

"Increase whole grains: Quinoa, bulgar wheat, brown rice, wholewheat pasta, soba noodles – get one into your every day diet. Because whole grains contain fibre, they help to control blood sugar and blood cholesterol and make you feel full so you eat less. Plus, they aid in the prevention of constipation.

"Increase sweet vegetables: Corn, carrots, beets, squash, sweet potatoes – these guys really do help to crowd out the not-so-healthy foods in your diet. Not only are sweet vegetables packed with a superhighway of nutrients, but they appeal to your sweet tooth, too.

"Increase dark, leafy green vegetables: kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, bok choy - dark leafy green veggies are crammed with goodness. From blood purification, improved circulation and a strengthened immune system to elevated moods, the benefits of these greens are too valuable to ignore.

"Increase good fats: avocados, coconuts, nuts and seeds – these fats are your friends. We need these particular friends for brain function, joint protection, and energy. Even more so than carbs or proteins, good fats are the greatest energy source, and having more energy helps to boost the metabolism.

"Increase legumes and beans: chickpeas, mung beans, lentils, black beans – this food group is a superior plant-based protein source.

julie montagu flexi foodie

Julie shares her top ten tips for healthy eating

"Decrease your refined sugar: from starving the brain, fuelling inflammation and aging the skin to upsetting hormones, refined sugar has been chemically processed and literally stripped of all beneficial nutrients.

"Decrease refined oil: limit or even banish the vegetable oil, safflowers oil and sunflower oil. The process of refining oil is equivalent to the refining of sugar and whole wheat into white foods. Think of it this way – it’s taking a perfectly good food, chock-full of its natural occurring vitamins, minerals and enzymes and stripping those goodies out.

"Experiment with non-dairy alternatives: plant-based milks are a great alternative to cows' milk. Free from all cholesterol and lactose (the sugar in animal milk), these non-dairy alternatives (almond, quinoa, coconut, rice, oat and hazelnut) are plentiful in fatty acids.

"Experiment with the superfoods superheroes: unleash your inner superhero by experimenting with cacao, goji berries, baobab, spirulina, bee pollen and, yes, even sea vegetables. From improving overall wellbeing and reducing inflammation, to boosting the immune system and alkalizing the body, these superheroes nourish us deep within.

"Eat less meat, dairy, sugar and packaged or processed foods: these foods are cleverly designed to switch on the indulgent headquarters in our brain. So, what do we do? Eat more plants. I know that may sound daunting, but the tenth Golden Rule is not about taking it all away – it’s about a willingness to come aboard a new adventure and experiment, dig in and bring back whole foods in their natural state. Amen."

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