Be grateful — live and enjoy life

By looking at our 5 senses this post explores how we take things for granted.

What things do we take for granted?

Sight
We wake up everyday and, most of us, can open our eyes and see our world. Are you actually thankful for your eyes? Look after them. Feed them great wholefoods and go to the opticians.
Touch
Right now you can touch your screen or keyboard. Are you actually thankful that you can touch and feel things? Look after your skin. Reward your wonderful body with great food. Remember to also “touch” other people — especially those who mean the most to you. Mix all these senses up to do this.
Smell
Have you ever went into a house and smelt dinner? Be thankful you can smell and experience this amazing sensation. Some people do not even have food to cook let alone smell.
Taste
Sometimes we can taste things in our environment, for example gas, and some things are more prominent for taste, such as, food. Be thankful you can actually taste things.
Hear
People who are completely deaf cannot call their friends up on a mobile. Be thankful you can hear. Don’t blast your music up too loud every single time. Look after your ears.

Some people are born with a lack of senses or are missing some, for instance blind persons, which means they do not have all 5 senses. As a little bit of added knowledge, blind people do not “see” black things, they simply cannot see anything so their lack of vision is not black because they cannot see black in the first place.

Photo of a plaque saying: “There is always, always, always something to be thankful for”. Source.

Start being grateful. What are you grateful for? Write these down. Live these things out — live life. Don’t let bad days get you down, or bad periods — for that matter.

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Reference

  1. Russell, H. (no date) How to Start a Gratitude Practice to Change Your Life.

What are whole foods? Why are they good?

Whole foods are unprocessed and unrefined foods which our body loves. In a nutshell, they are anything fresh and whole, such as vegetables and fruit, for example. Shelly Najjar explains what whole foods are in her blog post.

How to add whole foods to your diet

Fruit and vegetable salads
Fruit is naturally sweet, packed with lots of vitamins and minerals, and tastes lovely by itself. Try cutting up a few pieces of fruit in a bowl, you’ll love the sweetness first thing in the morning, or as a healthy snack.
If you’re having a lasagna, or some chips and burgers, add some vegetables to a salad. Cucumbers, onions and sweetcorn work really well with main meals.
Salads are a great and easy way to get whole-foods into your body.
Change some of your main meals
Try adding a homemade country vegetable soup, or a tasty stir-fry, into your main meal diet.
Add them to your favourite meals
Do you love that curry you make/buy? Add peas to it. Adding one of two vegetables is very easy to do.
Legumes
Things like chickpeas and lentils, for instance, are legumes and are considered whole foods. Some legumes require to be soaked in water for 8 hours before cooking, so they are not considered handy for quick cooking!
Having said that legumes are very easy to eat and are packed with fiber which helps maintain a healthy digestion system. Try adding legumes to Mexican food — it is a great combination. Once you do this you’ll become an expert at adding them to other cuisines.

Health benefits of whole-foods

Whole foods have been proven to lower bad cholesterol and maintain good cholesterol. This helps us have a strong heart and clear arteries/veins. Whole foods are rich in fibre which helps us maintain a healthy digestive system.

I would also argue that whole foods can improve your mood, outlook on life, concentration… You might want to start eating more of them.

Reference

  1. Bruce, B. Spiller, G.A. Klevay, L.M. Gallagher, S.K. (2000) A Diet High in Whole and Unrefined Foods Favorably Alters Lipids, Antioxidant Defenses, and Colon Function. [Online] [Accessed on 18th March 2013] http://www.jacn.org/content/19/1/61.full

Horse-meat in the UK, Ireland and Europe

For those of you who read this blog outside Europe (thanks for making this global!) you might have heard about the whole horse-meat scandal in Europe. If not, an explanation is given below.

Horse-meat is not bad for you

Some parts of Mainland Europe eat horse-meat happily whereas most people in the UK and Ireland see horse-meat as a ‘no go meat’ for culture reasons. Horses are seen as real pets and not as food. Culture is fascinating.

But the problem with horse-meat, in a nutshell, lies with the labels on foods. 100% beef burgers have up to 100% horse-meat in them. Horse’s get different medications, some of which can be harmful to humans, which need to be regulated. Having said that, some experts in the UK have said that a person would need to eat 500 grams of burgers a day to be infected.

You are what you eat

Although this saying is inaccurate (because you are what you digest) it got me thinking: we do not really know what is in our food. Government’s do not do enough to regulate the food industry. Why? Here are one, of many, reasons:

  • Next time you’re in the supermarket have a look at the content. Look at the amount of salt and sugar in our food. If the government really wanted to help with obesity and lifestyles they would get a tighter control on this stuff. You can run your body into the ground if you eat too much salt, or sugar. Some government’s do, however, offer guidelines but this does not reduce the volume of salt and sugar in our foods.

Food varies in price. How come lower quality food is mostly bad for you? Does this mean poorer people are more likely to suffer from health problems? This is not fair, yet this is the case.

What can I do about horse-meat?

You can’t do anything about the supermarkets and producers of these products. But you might want to consider getting stuff locally. If it’s local you have a greater chance of buying real products. Local produce is a little more expensive but you are likely to know where something has come from.

We really do not know what we eat. Although this is worrying, you should try to take as much control, on your part, as you can. One of the most important things to do is to cook your own sauce. Buy the ingredients yourself, get a lovely cookbook and knock yourself out. You can control lots of things this way — including salt and sugar. In fact, cooking from fresh ingredients allows you to have salt/sugar free meals.

Personally speaking, I cook from fresh ingredients. I find it relaxing, especially if I have coursework or exams. Don’t get me wrong, a cheeky chip is sometimes nice as a treat. But remember to enjoy your body. Love it, feed it with fresh (fruit and veg), tasty nutrients. Don’t overload it with rubbish. Salt, for example, will clog your arteries and will put a lot of strain on your heart because your body retains more water when there’s excess salt in your body.

Do you have anything else to add? How do you recommend a healthy life?

Organic food, is it healthier? What is the fuss?

There have been many arguments about whether organic food is better for you, or if they are just the same as ‘normal’ fruits / vegetables — without the fuss and price tag.

A farmer’s perspective opens our insight

Organic farming is better for a farmer’s land. Although the certificate means very little because it does not necessarily mean there are vigorous tests / procedures to carry out (The New York Times).

Cheap food does not always mean profit margins: cheap food also allows farmers to feed poorer people because organic food is expensive.

Organic claims

Growing food in organic (natural) conditions is supposed to be good for the actual food (nutrients etc) as well as the environment. However, Vance & Muirhead found that organic food is not necessarily more environmentally friendly.

Organic food may taste better, but it is not better for you (Queensland Country Life). However, there was strong evidence to suggest that those who have eczema were more likely to control the condition if they ate organic diary products (Queensland Country Life).

The organic summary (at least for 2012 !)

I hold my hands up, this is not a deep post. But from a scan of resources, I cannot see any strong evidence to suggest that organic food is healthier.

If it is grown in natural conditions it is bound to taste nicer. But lets flip this on one side: our body is an amazing instrument (whatever you want to call it) that can get rid of a lot of bad stuff. Let’s put it another way, look back to the last time you had an alcoholic beverage.

What does alcohol do to you?

You took this harmful compound (alcohol). It made you urinate more than you usually do (it does this because it contains vasopressin). It switches off part of our (long-term) memory (which is why you do not always remember the whole night after heavy drinking) and makes our liver work hard. But the important thing to note is that our bodies can get rid of this harmful compound. Our bodies are amazing. After a few days everything is back to normal, right? That headache is gone because there is no more vasopressin: loosing a lot of water causes the brain to shrink — this is what makes your head sore (a headache).

So the important thing to note is that non-organic foods may have chemicals in them, but they are not something our amazing bodies cannot control. A good rinse under water cleans the surface, right?

If you could buy a packet of organic apples tomorrow for a few pounds (Euros or dollars) it might be better to put the packet down and buy normal ones as well as another fruit. This is an extra piece of nutritional goodness for the price of one!

I hope that more research will be done in this area within the coming years. What are your views? What have you heard?

  1. Organic Food: Truths and Fables. The New York Times. (Sept. 14, 2012) Opinion and Editorial: pNA(L).
  2. Vance, A. Muirhead, S. Research questions organic food claims. Feedstuffs. 84.37 (Sept. 10, 2012): p1
  3. “ORGANIC food is no better for you than the traditionally.” Queensland Country Life [Ormiston, Australia] 6 Sept. 2012: 17. Academic OneFile. Web. 19 Oct. 2012.

Decisions

Life’s decisions are made all the time.

  • Will I log on to see what’s on WordPress?
  • What will I have for dinner?
  • Will I walk the dog tonight?
  • Will I get up and close the door?

We make decisions all the time. Sometimes we do not even know we are deciding something.

Shall I have white, milk or dark chocolate?

The point I am trying to make is that decisions get easier. The more we make them, the easier they are to make.

Yeah. I’ll have milk chocolate instead.

Practice really does make perfect. The more decisions you make, the easier they become to make — and achieve.

Now I am not saying that all decisions are easy; I wish they were. But the point is that after making a difficult decision, making a similar choice will be easier. Albeit slightly because you will have a little experience of the situation.

*note to self* Maybe this is useful to think about next time a difficult decision needs to made?!