How do you feel right now? Check your breath. Is it shallow, taking short, little breaths through your nose? Check your hands and teeth – are they clenched? Check your shoulders – are they tensed up towards your ears? If you answered yes to two […]
When people ask me for shortcuts for getting healthier and feeling better, I tell them two things. Firstly, that there are no shortcuts and health should be lifelong pursuit. Then, once I’ve stepped off my high horse 😎, I tell them to eat more vegetables. […]
Self-care has become a hot topic these day, as people search for a way to keep grounded in what feels like crazy times.
Self-care, as in the act of taking small moments for yourself, in order to uplift, centre and increase energy, is not the selfish act it’s sometimes made out to be.
I had a big watershed moment last summer when I realised that I was doing too much and not taking care of myself enough. It was then I understood how important rest and a sense of peace are to my own self-love, self-care and ability to love others.
For parents especially, we’re guilty of neglecting our own self-care in service to our families, children and loved ones. I’m sure many of you can think of specific moments where you sacrificed something for yourself in order to give to your children, whether it be time, food or emotional energy. That’s par for the game as a parent.
But in order to keep doing that, we need to make sure we keep our own ‘cups’ full. That is, we make sure we are rested enough, nourished enough, energised enough and calm enough to keep giving.
That’s where self-care comes in. And to be clear, this has different manifestations for different people. For some people, self-care is being able to have 20 minutes of extra time in bed in the morning, for others, it could making sure that they can get to their spin class at lunchtime. It could be taking a long bath in the evening or it could be noodling away at a piece of woodworking. It could simply be making the time to feed yourself nourishing food at every meal and eating it in a mindful way.
My self-care routine has evolved over the last few years. Now, for me, it means:
- Being able to do some yoga (even if it’s just 10 minutes with my son jumping through my legs during downward dog) every day
- Lighting my favourite Daylesford candle and enjoying the smell and the flame
- Doing my deep breathing exercises when I feel overwhelmed
- Having a little smooch with my husband
- Having a big belly laugh with my son
- Making meals from scratch at home and making sure there’s always something good to eat in the fridge
What do you do for self-care? Has your routine evolved or changed depending on what’s going on in your life?
Conventional wisdom suggests that we should drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, or about 1.5 – 2L. How much water do you drink a day?
For a lot of people, even drinking a litre of water a day is tricky. When I first my husband, he didn’t drink any water, but insisted that his 8 cups of milky, English Breakfast tea met his daily water requirement. I took me a while to convince him that tea is a diuretic 😳.
One thing to consider is that if you’re already eating a good portion of fruit and vegetables a day, you’ll also be getting the water in the produce, along with the fibre, micro and macronutrients too.
Some fruit and veg contain more water than others.
For example, 1 medium sized apple contains 86% water, whilst a slice of watermelon (the clue’s in the name!) is 97% water. Courgette, radish and celery are 95% water and cauliflower, peppers and spinach are 92% water. To contrast, a banana contains 74% water.
So if you’re eating 7 to 10 portions of fruit and veg a day, do you also need to be drinking 8 glasses of water a day?
As ever, it’s important to consider how you feel on an individual level and listen to what your body is telling you.
In general, if your pee isn’t clear or a light straw colour, then you probably need to up your water intake either through food or water itself. If you’re eating lots of fruit and veg that are high in water content and you’re still thirsty with dark pee, then you probably need to up your water intake. If you’re very active or outside on a hot day, it’s probably worth increasing your water intake.
Just as you can drink too little water and end up dehydrated, you can also drink too much water and end up with something called hyponatremia, where the cells become completely waterlogged, throwing the sodium-potassium balance in the cells off, which can be fatal. So the moral of the story: observe your body’s signs, consider how much fruit and veg you eat a day and tailor your water consumption to your own lifestyle and thirst.
And a note of caution: excess thirst can be a sign of diabetes, so if you’re experiencing this, I highly recommend going to see your GP.
How much water do you drink a day?
This isn’t a trick question! The NHS recommend at least 5 portions of fruit and veg per day and a recent study by Imperial College London went all the way up to 10 portions per day. Does that sound like a lot? Let’s put in […]
It’s has only been in the last six months that I’ve properly considered the role that food has played in exacerbating my anxiety.
When I eat badly – too much sugary food, too much bread and pasta – I can feel my anxiety building – that tight, clenched feeling in my belly that causes me to grind my teeth, ball my fists and look for the nearest exit.
Have you made the connection between what you eat and your anxiety? There is growing evidence to support the connection between nutrition and mental health – the connection between dietary quality and mental health.
It seems like a no-brainer: the way you eat affects the way you feel. But like me, it can take a while to make this connection, and once you do, eating well almost feels like a revolutionary act, the act of giving a shit about what you eat and drink and how they make you feel.
We eat three times a day, maybe more. Food is powerful stuff. It’s medicine, it’s nourishment, it’s therapy, it’s the way we fuel ourselves to do what we need to do. When you fill your body full of good stuff, you give it the nutrients – the vitamins, the minerals – it needs to keep you going, but also to keep you feeling good.
A diet lacking in important nutrients like magnesium, iron, zinc, vitamin D, omega-3s and vitamin B6 can have a knock on effect on mood. It means you won’t be able to produce enough of the feel good hormones like serotonin and melatonin and if you are an anxious person, this can make your symptoms worse.
What do you eat? Have you considered the effects of what you eat and drink and how it effects your emotional and mental wellbeing?
In my usual pre-flight mad dash through the airport, I did a sweep of WH Smith for my standard holiday pile of magazines (I find reading fashion magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar so relaxing on holiday! I don’t really know why, though? 🤔) and decided to pick up a couple of books as well.
I spotted this book, Anxiety for Beginners, mainly due to its Roy Lichtenstein cover image riff and although not light reading, thought it might be interesting to dive into this topic a bit more while I had some more headspace before my exam.
The author, Eleanor Morgan, has suffered from anxiety and depression since her late teens, culminating in several breakdowns and rounds of antidepressants. She decided to write the book as a way of educating herself and others about one of the fastest growing illnesses in the UK.
As a fellow anxiety sufferer, I read this book with a lot of interest, hoping to get more insight into how other people were handling the day to day management of the signs and symptoms of the disease. What really struck me was how common anxiety is, how many different ways it manifests itself and how it really cuts through all walks of life.
The author told a fascinating story about re-connecting with the most popular girls in her school years later during the writing of this book. She discovered that what she had thought was her old friend’s ‘cool girl aloofness’ was really her way of trying to manage her anxiety in the best way possible for her – holding everyone at a distance. It made me realise how quick we are to judge others, without really knowing what’s going on in their lives. Personally, I know that I can appear withdrawn and a bit cold at times, especially when my anxiety is at its peak and social interaction with new people can all be a bit too much. A bit more compassion is needed all around, going back to the old adage: don’t judge a book by its cover.
Overall, I thought this book was a good overview into anxiety, with a lot of the author’s personal experiences interspersed throughout. What I found disappointing was how little she discussed the effects of the various food and drink we put into our bodies and how they can exacerbate and ameliorate anxiety symptoms. The author took a very medicalised viewpoint, emphasising the benefits of anti-depressants. Obviously, given my nutrition background, I would’ve like to see more discussion about tryptophan food and the effect they have on producing serotonin, as well as the role of gut bacteria in supporting serotonin production.
The root causes of anxiety and depression can be complex and vary per person, but it stands to reason that if you treat your body like a garbage dump, filling yourself with foods that aren’t nutritionally dense and cause blood sugar spikes, your anxiety can be worsened.
I’ve written a bit about the foods I eat to help manage my anxiety here.
I haven’t felt like writing much about food and nutrition recently. There’s been a lot going on, personally and professionally. New job, a heavier course load at school and loads of political distraction (every morning, I wake up and think, ‘what now?’. Don’t you?). It’s […]
This weekend, I really fancied an open-faced sandwich, but had no bread in the house. I shuffled through the cupboards and found a bag of sweet potatoes and decided to see what sweet potato ‘bread’ tasted like. Stay with me… it was pretty good.
I brushed an oven tray with olive oil and grilled them for 20 minutes on each side.
And topped with some mashed avocado, broccoli spouts and pulled pork that I had in the fridge. A simple, yet filling lunch, so these are definitely getting added into my lunch repertoire!
What you need:
1-2 large sweet potatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
Any desired toppings – the sky’s limit here! Anything you would normally put on toast, from sweet to savoury, you can put on these sliders!
A large baking tray
How to make it:
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C
- Slice the sweet potatoes into 1 cm slices
- Brush both sides of the sweet potato slices with the olive oil
- Put the tray into the oven on the highest shelf and bake for 20 minutes or until they are soft and slightly browning.
- Take the tray from the oven and turn the sliders over and bake for another 20 minutes or until they match the texture and colour of the other side.
- Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Top with your chosen toppings and enjoy!