Quote For Today: Hara Hachi Bu!

Okinawa is an island quite famous for its longevity. It has a higher rate than most of the world of people living till 100+.

“Hara hachi bu!” is what the older folk of Okinawa say before they eat.  It is a Confucius-inspired saying which means, “Eat till you are 80% full.”

Why?  Because it takes about twenty minutes for your stomach to receive the message from your brain that you are full.  For most of us, if we ate till we believed we are only 80% full, we would actually feel more full within the next twenty minutes.

So there you have it, wisdom from the Okinawans!

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Diet Affinity

This is the last post on my nutritional diet series.  In a sense, it is ‘Diet Affinity’ because it is all about understanding ourselves and our relationship with food first and understanding nutrition second.  We are not all the same and we need to approach health and nutrition and what we eat in a way that is integral to us.

Note: If you have an eating disorder then the way you relate to food has been damaged by false perceptions.  In order for your perceptions to change, you will need to seek help from a professional. 

When it comes to changing your eating habits, your rate of success is determined by how well you can integrate your mind (Psyche), body and spirit.  As many of you probably realize, you can have all the nutritional knowledge in the world and still not have good eating habits.  Something has to ‘click’ and that something is your spirit working with your mind as partners and dictating to the body what it needs. Determination is the spark that sets things in motion and it is determination that is also the fuel to keep your progress going. I have also found it important to not give myself a hard time when I fall (reached for that extra portion for instance) and to not give up. My bad choices are becoming fewer and far between because I simply start again with the right intentions.  Meditation and faith has helped me to smother the self-accusations that sometimes arise in my head.  I am not a bad person if I make a mistake, I am a person who is learning and in the process of unmaking bad habits and creating good ones.  The same applies to you whether you have a belief in God or not.  You are equally capable of over-coming the bad eating habits.  We all have to do it in our own way and in our own time.

One of the other things I want us all to work on is to develop the mindset that bad foods such as sugary foods or alcohol is not nurturing ourselves.  Whole foods such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains is how we nurture ourselves with food.  If we have a bad day, then somehow or another we have to tell ourselves, ‘I’ve had a bad day therefore I need a wholesome bowl of soup* or a cup of herbal tea.’

I know how it sounds but I really think changing our mindset is one of the keys.  The second thing we can do is to keep our minds in the present moment when we eat.  By that I mean eat consciously, slowly and involving all your senses.  Think about the nutrients you are taking in and the fact that you are nurturing your body.

From time to time, remind yourself that you are worth treating right and worth the extra time that is sometimes needed to eat healthy.  Do not self-harm with junk food or excess sugar.

*Note: You can make wholesome soup like in the picture above by using all your leftover raw vegetables and throwing it in a pot of water and allowing it to simmer for an hour or so.  Celery  is one of those vegetables that when it has gone soft, you may not want to eat it but it will add flavour and nutrients in a soup. Add some leftover dim sum, brown rice, potatoes, beans or spelt pasta to make it more filling. You can even beat an egg and add it to the broth while it’s simmering to make egg drop soup.

As Much As I hate To Admit It—We All Gotta Do It

So unusual for Home And Spirit, I have started a nutritional diet series.  I will be back to writing other posts about interior design and spirituality in the not-too-distant future.  However, as I have decided I needed to change my eating habits, I thought it might help those of you who also want to become more healthy to share the journey with me.  This article is sixth in the series.

Anybody remember Wonderama?

Funny how that song still sticks in my head after all these years!

As much as I hate to admit it, we all gotta do it–exercise!  Since I have only lost 6 pounds, I have been thinking about fun calorie burning activities and exercises.  Here are some ideas:

  • Dance to some great energetic music (like Floggin’Molly)
  • Bounce on a trampoline
  • Bounce on a space hopper- I gotta get me one of those!

3292248201_f52d28af0e_b

  • Energetic house cleaning—I love this way too much if I am honest.  Totally prefer it to exercising which is not ideal but I think I can implement it as part of my exercise routine.
  • Babysit some toddlers–not a joke!  I did this recently and really burned some calories!  So much fun chasing after little ones.
  • Play sports–not for me but some of you may like to so it goes on the list.
  • Power Yoga
  • roller blading
  • Bike riding
  • Ice skating
  • Decorating!!  Which is what I am doing next week!

So how is everyone else doing?  Are you adding all those amazing colourful fruits and veggies to your diet? Are you ready to implement some exercises?  How about we start slowly together…just 5 minutes a day to start but make those 5 minutes ultra-fun and make it count!

My Favourite Source Of Nutritional Info And An Update

So unusual for Home And Spirit, I have started a nutritional diet series.  I will be back to writing other posts about interior design and spirituality in the not-too-distant future.  However, as I have decided I needed to change my eating habits, I thought it might help those of you who also want to become more healthy to share the journey with me.  This article is fifth in the series.

I think now is the time to catch you all up on how my new healthy lifestyle is working for me so far. Like I have mentioned before, I have decided to do things slowly, incorporating one change at a time so as not to go insane or get confused. The first thing I noticed was that my energy level increased immediately when I just gave up the sugar and alcohol.  My brain also felt a whole lot clearer and less fuzzy.  Once I added fresh fruits and vegetables I felt a bit more positive and my mood felt better…not sure if that’s in my head or what but I do feel better.  Now I am not going to lie, there have been times when I had some sugar or alcohol but my aim was not be rigid about it.  I have mostly given up sugar and wine and bread but there are times when I will have it.  Giving up desserts is not too difficult but I do want a burger bun with my veggie burgers.  I have been making these gradual changes for the past 3 weeks and I have only lost 6 lbs/2.7 kg so I guess now is the time I should be exercising….but I’ll leave that for the next post.

Sometimes, it can be challenging to start a new lifestyle especially if you have been following the old unhealthy but somewhat enjoyable lifestyle for years.  One of the hardest things I have found in the past whenever I tried to loose weight was the overload of information I would get from reading books designed to tell me what not to eat and what to eat.  So if you have had the same problems and are feeling even a tad confused, I have got two great recommendations!  Honestly, these are so simple and will give you Nutrition 101 quickly and with very little effort on your part.

Recommendation number one is this great documentary called Food Matters.

food matters

You can find it on Netflix or buy it on Amazon.  It gives you quite a lot of information on basic nutrition and all you have to do is watch the 1 hour and 36 minutes video.  There are also some great information on super foods.

Recommendation number two is You Are What You Eat by Dr. Gillian McKeith.

youarewhatyoueatbook

The book is colourful and full of easy to understand information with lists and charts.  Not only do you get information about what you should be eating, it also lists some important clues in understanding your own nutritional deficiencies.  For instance, are you aware that a white coating on the tongue or skin splitting behind the ear are signs of nutritional deficiencies? The other thing about this book is that it is not a lot of reading and it’s great for flipping to the write page to get to the info you want.  This has become one of my go to books for knowing what supplements I need and when I want to put myself on a  detox plan.

There are a lot of great nutritional books and information out there but if you just watch the video and read the book as mentioned above, you will get an all round basic education and may not need anything else. Of course, always consult with your doctor before changing your diet especially if there are any medical concerns.  

True Facts About Food Vices

So unusual for Home And Spirit, I have started a nutritional diet series.  I will be back to writing other posts about interior design and spirituality in the not-too-distant future.  However, as I have decided I needed to change my eating habits, I thought it might help those of you who also want to become more healthy to share the journey with me.  This article is fourth in the series.

If you have been reading this series of articles about my new diet plan, you will know that it is about gradual health changes.  We looked at understanding our relationship with food and changing the foods we eat from beige-y colour foods to adding lots of colourful fruits and vegetables.  In this article I want to talk about something we may be a wee bit uncomfortable with namely your food vices.

What are your food vices?  Let’s be honest because we probably all have them.  If there is anything you eat which you have a problem cutting back on, then it’s time you look at them honestly and think about what they are doing to your health.

15061081508_5bb5db004a_k

White/Refined sugar: You may find this hard to believe but white/refined sugar is toxic. Let’s look at some facts:

1. Zero nutritional value

2. Though it may appear to give you a bit of energy when you first eat it, it actually causes your energy to plummet later in the day.  It also depletes your energy over all.

3. It is related to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and liver damage.

4. Causes obesity and belly fat.

5. It depletes the body of vitamins and minerals.

6. Causes tooth decay (it depletes the body of calcium)

7. Increases the risk of gallstones

8. Interferes with brain function

9. More highly-addictive than alcohol

10. It messes with your metabolism.

When it comes to refined sugar, there is no reason at all we should be consuming it.  It is equivalent to taking drugs and it is found in so many packaged foods it’s unbelievable!  The goal I have given myself down the line is to give up sugar altogether.  The way I do it, is to tell myself I have already done it but don’t give my self a guilt trip when I find I have eaten some sugar.  For one thing, I sometimes don’t realize there is sugar in something until it is too late and for another thing sometimes, people will offer it to me as a gift or when I am over someone’s for dinner.  They mean well, it is love so I don’t turn down a small serving of it.

The other thing I want you all to realize is that you still have to be cautious with fruit consumption.  Yes, fruit is nutritious and you should have some but be careful not to overload on it as it still has sugar. Drink fruit juice occasionally only and don’t give it to children.  They are better off with a piece of fruit and a glass of water.

Alcohol: The above list of sugar facts also applies to alcohol consumption. Just add that it also lowers fertility.  It is another thing we need to eliminate from our diet.

Bread: Don’t hate me, but unfortunately bread can also spike blood sugar levels.  It also has a lot of sugar and evidence is mounting that most people have even a small sensitivity to glucose.  Glucose sensitivity is linked to schizophrenia. Most grains contain phytic acid which binds nutrients and prevents them from being absorbed.

Step 3: Give up sugar and alcohol and cut back on bread consumption

1. When you crave something sweet, go for a piece of fruit.

2. Drink plenty of water instead of carbonated drinks, fruit juices and alcoholic beverages.

3. Stay away from artificial sweeteners as they are all carcinogens.

Great news!  When you start giving up on sugar, bread and alcohol, your energy levels increase and your mind becomes clearer and your less tired.  Give it up altogether and you end the cravings.

The Easy Start To A No-Fuss Diet

So unusual for Home And Spirit, I have started a nutritional diet series.  I will be back to writing other posts about interior design and spirituality in the not-too-distant future.  However, as I have decided I needed to change my eating habits, I thought it might help those of you who also want to become more healthy to share the journey with me.  This article is third in the series.

The reason diets fail us is usually because we are trying to lose weight in a way that is unnatural. Think about this if you will:  What kind of foods were created for humans to eat?  Was the first man and woman given protein bars and diet shakes to eat?  Were there springs of artificially sweetened and coloured diet drinks? Of course not.  Nor did the first humans only eat one or two kinds of natural food.  They ate what they could hunt or forage which they knew were good for food.  It is a natural thing for humans to want to try new flavours and to have a varied diet.

Now I want you to think of everything you have eaten (that you can remember) in the past week.  Make a list of what you remember eating.  Now look over the list and picture all the food in your mind.  If you are like most people who don’t have a nutritionally sound diet, you will notice perhaps that all the food you have been eating are pretty much the same colour—beige or beige-y.  Pasta, white rice, bread, buns, doughnuts, bagels, French fries, fried chicken, potatoes, cheese etc…beige, beige, beige!

What I want to challenge you to do is to make your diet vibrantly colourful. I want your weekly food to change from this:

badfood

 

To this:

 

goodfoodcollage

From the last post, Understanding Our Relationship With Food, we looked at a list of fruit and vegetables.  You may have tried some that you really like and some you don’t like at all.  You may have even tried some that you are willing to give a second chance and there may be some you never heard of. Did you make a list of your favourites?  Now add those you are willing to try or try again.  BUT remember this is something I am also doing and I am not about to make it difficult for myself either.  Time is very very precious to me.  Taste is also important. So what I have decided is to do things very gradually.  I know more or less where I ultimately want to be but I am not putting pressure on myself and I am not in any rush because what I want is to eventually have a permanent feel-good healthy diet which I am happy to adhere to with no difficulties whatsoever.  I also know that realistically, it is going to take me some time to get the hang of shopping in a new way because it is not going to be the same as it was before.  Also, for this to be successful enough for weight loss and vibrant health there will have to be several habit changes and most of us are not going to be able to do it all at once.  I think that is another place where failure is bound to happen.  In my opinion, it is wa-a-y too challenging to go from being a couch potato and eating…well potato chips and pasta to having fruit smoothies and running marathons overnight.  Now if you are dismayed, don’t be.  Just be patient and breathe a sigh of relief because it means this is going to so much easier than you thought.

Step 3: Add some colour to your groceries this week

1. Add some new vegetables to this weeks grocery list. As this is your first week, plan to serve some raw vegetables you and your family (if you don’t live alone) wouldn’t mind eating.  Raw carrot sticks, celery sticks, cucumbers, courgettes are good raw but so are brussel sprouts or red peppers.

2.  Add some new fruit to your diet this week too.  Explore the aisle at your supermarket; buy some favourites and add something exotic you never tried before such as custard apples or dragon fruit.

3. Find an easy vegetable soup recipe (or get a recommendation) or try this yummy vegetable chili I found on Mastercook:

 

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Vegetarian Chili

blackbeanchiliIngredients:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes or tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

 Preparation:

Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil for a minute or two, then add sweet potatoes, carrots and bell pepper until onions are soft, about 5-6 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium low, and add remaining ingredients, stirring to combine well.

Simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, for 20-25 minutes, until flavours have mingled and vegetables are cooked.

Makes 5 servings

Understanding Our Relationship With Food

I have come to the conclusion that the way to optimal nutrition and maintenance of health is through the understanding of ourselves and our relationship with food.

So we’ve done the first step by delving in and understanding our past diet failures. What did that tell you about yourself?

Okay, before I go any further, let’s make one thing clear because I suddenly feel like I just had a ‘telepathic’ mind-full of negative comments from those of you who may have just put yourself down.  Failing at diets does not make you a failure.  It makes you human and it makes you blessed.  Why? Because it gives you the opportunity to have an even greater understanding of yourself.  By understanding your weaknesses, you are given the opportunity to learn to overcome them. Hurray!(Hurray for me too because we are on this journey together!)

Step 2: Gain insight into your relationship with food

1. In the past, whenever you have tried to take on a new habit or discipline, which proved to be more successful for you?  To go to an extreme and then reign yourself in or to do things gradually?

2. What foods are you absolutely not willing to depart with?  Make a list if there are several. Would your doctor say it is okay to eat these foods?

3.How much exercise are you willing to do per day?  Be totally honest, even if it’s none!

4. Look at the list below (or make your own list of fruit and vegetables which are local to your country).  Looking at the list, make a list of your own of all your favourite fruits and vegetables.  Now notice the colours of the foods you picked.  Is there enough variation in colour?  Do you have anything blue or purple?  Are dark greens missing?  If you do notice some missing colours, decide which of those foods you would be willing to try or eat more often and write them down. (I’ve noticed I have missed a few so please feel free to add your own).

List Of Fruits And VegsClue: What makes this diet easy as that we will not be counting fat grams or calories.  Instead we will be choosing foods from a wonderful array of colours. 

Here’s what I’ll be eating:

Fruits and Vegs

 

Understanding Our Past Diet Failures

In my last post, The ‘D’ Word, I mentioned that I began contemplating how to lose weight by first listing the reasons why dieting failed when I hit forty.  So here is the list I came up with.

Reasons Why I Have Failed At My Diets In The Past

1. I tried to change my diet to what I was uncomfortable with.  For instance, in order to get down to 105 pounds on the low fat diet, I had to eat less and less fats.  I mean I even substituted spaghetti squash for actual spaghetti…ewwwww!

spaghetti squash Pic Source

spaghetti squash
Pic Source

Low-fat and I mean really low-fat can be tasteless and low-carb no longer fits well with my love for muesli and my pescetarian/vegetarian lifestyle.

2. I lost interest in exercise.  Simple as that.  Time became more and more important to me and I didn’t want to give it up in order to exercise.  Some days, I came home from work stressed or exhausted so why would I exercise when I can put my feet up or read a book or watch television?

3. I thought my husband and three teenagers would impede me.  None of them like the idea of having no treats in the house and two of them are not very fond of vegetables.  Every time, I cook something healthy someone complains. However, I now realize that my husband and my oldest teen daughter are all for me serving up lots of veggies.  I also realize that just because there are chocolates and wine in the house doesn’t mean I have to eat them myself.  I need to teach myself to have more willpower.

4. In the past, I have found dieting to be time-consuming and often complicated.  There is sometimes a lot of reading and researching involved.  I mean really, have you ever looked into the macro-diet?  It made my head spin! There is also the time spent in counting calories, fat grams, planning menus and cutting vegetables.  I hated the thought of spending all my valuable time.

Step One: Now it’s your turn to begin. Take some time to sit quietly with pen and paper and write down the things which hinder you losing weight.  Be honest, no one else has to know.

The ‘D’ Word

As I mentioned in my post Coming Soon On Home And Spirit, I have decided to create my very own tailor-made d***.

No please, hear me out.

It is a d*** made specifically for me but with tips on how you can also create your own with virtually no effort and no time spent on reading books or counting calories or fat.  It is really going to be a no-brainer.

Here’s why I have decided to do this.

In December, I hit an all-time high and an all-time low.  While no one would call me fat, I actually hit the highest weight ever; about the same at my full term pregnancies. Besides hitting an all-time high in weight gain, I hit an all-time low in nutrition.  I ate loads of sugary foods and drank wine nearly every night because it was the “Christmas season”.  At the end of December, I felt extremely unwell. I experienced a drop in energy, a drop in my mood and I was so bloated I actually looked pregnant.

feeling bloated

In my life-time, I have read many books on health and nutrition and took part in several diets.  In my twenties, I was a successful dieter.  At one point, I was doing two hours of cardiovascular exercises a day and eating low fat.  In my thirties, I did about half hour to an hour of exercise a day and went on the Carbohydrates Addict Diet (with amazing results). In my forties, I exercised infrequently or sporadically alternating between different types of yoga to simple exercise, dance and stretches and then finally stopped exercising altogether.  I made new years eve resolutions about losing weight and then didn’t stick to the diet.

So I decided not to have a New Year’s resolution to lose weight.  I decided instead to put my foot down and to begin to get healthy again and then to get healthier still.  I wanted my energy back.  I wanted to feel good and I wanted to hopefully lose  some weight.

However, I had to face the facts as to why I haven’t been able to stick to diets and all the reasons that were keeping me from losing weight. So I spent just a few moments thinking about this and came up with a list. Once, I had the list in front of me, I came to the decision that I needed to have a tailor-made diet.  One that was easy to follow and stick with.  One that didn’t cost a lot of time.  One where I didn’t feel deprived of the food I loved but also one where I felt healthy and energised. Now who else would be better to create this diet for me but me? After all, I know myself better than anyone.

So although this diet is tailor-made for me, I hope to give you the tools and hopefully some inspiration to create your own diet.  If you’re interested, please check out future blog posts on this subject.