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Choosing the best nutrition

Warm confit ocean trout, autumn vegetable a la grecque, horseradish mayonnaise

Following on from the thoughts in my previous post “Crap in = Crap out“, I wanted to write a little more on what I feel is the best nutrition, and, even if you don’t agree with me 100%, some guidelines how to choose foods that are good for the body generally.

So, what do I view as good nutrition?

I base my food choices around Optimal, Sub-optimal and Non-optimal. I personally ban nothing, I just chose to avoid things that I know are non-optimal. After all when something is “banned” or “bad” then, by that nice twist of human psychology, we generally want it all the more.

Broadly speaking, the foods I eat are:

Optimal (eat freely and with gusto!):
Plentiful amounts of meat, fish, fowl, green veg (brassica), eggs, cheese, cream, butter, olive oil, herbs, spices.

Sub-optimal (Eat with care, enjoy the tastes):
Moderate amounts of all other non root tuberous vegetables (peas & corn are not vegetables, they are beans & grains respectively), veg from the onion & garlic family, seeds, nuts (peanuts & cashews are beans), berry fruits (inc tomatoes.)

Little bits of non potato roots (swede, turnip, sweet potato, carrots etc), 70% dark chocolate, cocoa powder, red wine. Beans are a borderline case, extra care advised.

Non-Optimal (really not good for the body, enjoyed without guilt once in a blue moon, if at all):
Sugar, all grains (rice, bread, pasta, cake, biscuits, crackers)  & white potatoes.

I talk more about how to start eating a low-carb way in this article on my low-carb website.

However, even if you don’t agree with me on the above, there are still a few factors that I’m sure that we can agree on.

  1. Choose and prepare actual food.
    This is really a cornerstone of self-care. And usually, knocking up a nutritionally valid meal takes just as long as one that is devoid of nutrient value. Why stint yourself? It takes me 15-20 mins to prep and cook most of the meals I eat, and I know exactly what went into every mouthful I then take.If you are choosing “ready-meals” (let’s face it, everyone does once in a while!) a good thing to bear in mind is the ingredient list – Does it have ingredients in it that you wouldn’t cook with/couldn’t find as a home cook?
    Check that label, 6  ingredients or less is a good start. If there are more, ensure that these ingredients that are not chemical “Fillers” “Flavours” or “Enhancers”
  2. Never choose “diet” products – They are usually sugar and chemical laden monstrosities!
    Look at the ingredients for two well known brands of “Diet shake” (low-fat then low-carb)

    Slimfast Vanilla Shake 325Ml
    From www.tesco.com/groceries/product/details/?id=261592549
    Ingredients: Skimmed Milk (78%), Water, Sugar, Milk Proteins, Corn Oil, Stabilisers (Cellulose, Carboxymethyl Cellulose, Dipotassium Phosphate, Carrageenan), Thickener (Acacia Gum), Emulsifier (Mono-and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids), Flavourings (contain Lactose), Vitamins and Minerals1, Antioxidants (Sodium Ascorbate, Alpha-Tocopherol), Sweeteners (Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium), 1 Vitamins and Minerals: Magnesium Oxide, Vitamin C, Zinc Oxide, Ferric Pyrophosphate, Vitamin E, Niacin, Sodium Selenite, Biotin, Copper Gluconate, Manganese Sulphate, Vitamin A (contains Soybean), Vitamin B6, Thiamin, Vitamin D, Pantothenic Acid, Folic Acid, Riboflavin

    Atkins Ready To Drink Vanilla Shake 330Ml
    From http://www.tesco.com/groceries/product/details/?id=282485593
    Ingredients: Water, Dairy Protein Blend (Milk Protein Concentrate, Calcium Caseinate), Sunflower Oil, Stabilisers (Cellulose, Sodium Carboxymethyl Cellulose, Carrageenan, Potassium Phosphate), Acidity Regulator (Potassium Citrate), Flavourings, Sweeteners (Sucralose, Acesulfame-K), Salt, Colour (Riboflavin)

    I am sure you will agree with me, neither of these are at all real food… Consuming these types of product do no honour to your body at all. Remember, Crap in=Crap out!

  3. Make time to eat, and eat mindfully and conscientiously.
    Eating food is something that most of us tend to “fit in” to a busy life – we grab a quick sandwich between meetings, or mindlessly grab “something” to eat whilst doing other things. We also graze on “snacks” as we work or watch telly… And again, none of this values your body.

    Eating mindlessly means that you are not paying attention to the signals your body will send you about being satisfied. Grazing especially, where you are constantly chewing and “topping up” your stomach, and hence suppressing natural signals, is not at all how we evolved to eat.

    Myself, I always ensure that I take my lunch break and take my time over eating. I’m slightly less mindful than I might be, in that I read my book whilst I eat. However, taking that break from my day re-energises my brain for a good afternoon of productivity!

    When I cook my dinner, I enjoy eating it. Again, I’m generally watching something as I eat, but I’m also taking my time and enjoying my food, and not just stuffing it into my face as fast as I can.Thinking about what I’m eating also allows me to listen to my stomach – if I’ve cooked too much, I’ll know it. I will then stop (no fake imperative to “clean the plate” for me!) and (generally) fridge what I’ve left over, for consumption later or more often the next day.

So, my challenge for this week: At work next week, when you eat lunch, do nothing but eat lunch. For the period that your food lasts; no books, no chatter and definitely no work! Enjoy the food, and indulge in the sensations it gives. Revel in how it tastes, it’s smell, how it feels in your mouth. After you finish eating, read a book for the rest of your lunch hour, or if your lunch room is more social, chat with colleagues about anything but your day-job – do not dash back to your work. Take time to breathe and digest.

Commit to doing this at least once next week and leave me a comment below about how this experiment works for you, and especially how it feels, even if those feelings are negative. Because negatives are as valid as positives for self-learning, as all “feels” are generated by the Limbic brain in the now. Then, we can start working on connecting those dots!

Catch you next week!

Image used, Warm confit ocean trout – Bistro Vue by Alpha
Used Under Creative commons licence: Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Be Selfish – It’s a vital part of Mindfulness

being-selfish-word-cloud

It’s almost swearing isn’t it, making that “I’m being selfish” statement, and it’s used as an insult, “You’re so selfish!”

However, being selfish is quite probably the number one factor in personal health and well-being.

I’m not talking about the type of being selfish where you detriment others, take the last biscuit or don’t stop to give someone a hand if they need it, I’m talking about the kind of selfish that is centred on self-care.

  • Being selfish enough to stay home when you are sick and not “just struggle on” because it is expected.
  • e.g. Flexible working here is so good – When the brain is active enough, but you feel wiped out and can’t face the commute, a day or two of Working from home may well be the recharge you need!
  • Being selfish enough to look after your own needs so that you then have the energy and capacity to take care of your loved one’s needs.
  • e.g. Booking a babysitter for an hour or to and then taking that time to get out of the house, relax and recharge – Read a book, go to the gym, get a manicure or a haircut.
  • Being selfish enough to take the time out to create art, to look after plants or to make a good nutritional choice.
  • e.g. find that moment of stillness within that allows you to paint, write, draw, cook, dye, knit, do origami. Have the moment to find and follow the inspiration that comes as you cook a good but simple dinner. Enjoy focusing on how your orchids are growing, taking that ten minutes a day to check them over for damage or rot,  and to talk to them about how beautiful they are, how well they are growing and what beauty they add into your life.

Women in particular are really bad at this style of selfishness, I know I’ve done it more times that I care to think of, caring for my loved ones to the point of my own exhaustion. However, taking that time out to self-care, to “be selfish” can carry with it massive amounts of  guilt.

We have to learn to let this guilt go, as being selfish gives us the focus and clarity to be our best, to show up in each moment with calmness, kindness and compassion. It sends a message to your limbic brain that you are ready for “good things” and promotes focus to serve the world with our own superpower (we all have one!).

After all, as the saying goes: “Put on your own oxygen mask before you help others.” If you are constantly leaving your own “oxygen mask” to one side, starving yourself and your soul of love and care, you will simply not have the resources to live life to its full potential.

After all if you don’t look after yourself, you won’t be able to love and serve others in the world. So, how can you be more selfish in your life? Think of three ways that you can be more selfish, leave me a comment below and we can start working toward connecting those dots.

Catch you next week!