Practicing Gratitude

Gratitude is a pretty crazy thing… It can change a person’s whole outlook on things… on life even… Recently in a book I was reading I came across the concept of practicing gratitude. In the book it was a simple task of wearing a gratitude bracelet which reminded the wearer to be thankful whenever they noticed the band… it could have been for something big or small, it didn’t matter it was just about taking a moment to stop and be thankful.

Sometimes I think I forget this… I forget to stop and smell the roses so to speak, every now and then it hits me and I am seriously thankful for heaps of things, but then in a moment it can all be gone… back to normal, back to woe is me, or my day sucks… Practicing gratitude is something that I have been trying really hard to do this year, with some success, but not that much… I know it is something that I need to keep working on so that gratitude and seeing the good in a situation is my first response not my last… I want it to be my default position… a heart that is open to seeing the best, not the worst, to appreciating, not taking for granted… and not only noticing the massive life changing things, but being thankful for all the tiny things in between. So to try and help me do this I added it to the list… right at number 38… ‘make a gratitude jar and use it’. I used a jar idea that I found on Pinterest which means it also crosses no. 46 off the list as well, but the jar is there for me to add to… big and small… and I think it has been working to a certain extent… sometimes I forget about it and it’s weeks before I add to it, but other times I am madly scribbling things I am thankful for onto strips of paper ready for the jar. These little strips get folded into little origami stars (no. 40) and popped in the jar so that when I am feeling a little down one quick look at the jar makes me feel happy, thanks to the stars, coloured paper and the pretty fabric lid that I got from Mum’s work, but also quickly reminds me there are so many things I can be thankful for. And if I need more convincing I can always unfold a star and read what I wrote.

Gratitude Jar

I am hoping that by the end of the year I will be so good at practicing gratitude that my jar will be full… and that it will be a daily habit, where I am always looking for the good and positive. That soon I will be able to say I practice gratitude regularly… and I am truly grateful, coz lets face it, gratitude and happiness are much better than bitterness and worry.

‘Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart’
Colossians 4:2 (NLT)

Jake Turns 21

So today is a pretty big milestone for my family, my youngest sibling, my brother Jacob, turns 21.  That means we are all pretty much grown up (in the age sense of the word, maturity is another story).  And even though we have spent pretty much all weekend celebrating him and the person he is.  I just wanted to add my two cents here… I am so proud of Jake and all that he has accomplished.  I am so glad he has found his feet and he most definitely different from me, and his own unique person.  And even though I have often tried to palm him off as my annoying little brother, I really do love being his big sister!  I have loved teaching him things, hanging out with him, fighting with him, playing Nintendo with him, watching Disney movies with him, looking after him and watching him grow up.  But I am also loving the fact that he has always taught me to be proud of who I am, to not be afraid of standing out or having different interests and hobbies (even if they are a little weird) and to embrace life even when it gets a little bumpy.  I am really excited to see what’s next for Jake, and what his future has in store because I know that God has big plans for him.

 So Happy 21st Jake!  I love you so much and I am super proud of you!

The Truth About… Green Juice

There are lots of new diet fads popping up all the time, some good, some bad, some indifferent…  Usually they have all  been spruced before… Just like fashion trends, diets come and go, some last a little longer and some are gone almost as soon as they were in.

The truth is, lots of these diets are actually based around a little bit of truth, but their promotion and advertising, usually done by those who don’t understand the research or science behind the idea, often promise miraculous results and mind blowing efficiency.

One such diet that I have been watching for a while now, is actually not so much a diet, but a food buzz around something in particular… Green Juice…

A quick google search will quickly offer you a number of benefits from this magic drink.  From curing cancer, detoxing and cleansing, to goodness delivered straight to your cells because of decreased digestion… But the reality is, they are not all they are cracked up to be… and in some ways they can actually be more of a hinderance then good…. but before we get that, lets just clear a few things up:

  1. There is no diet/juice/miracle food that will curer cancer.  Believe me I have looked and if there was, I would tell everyone… and I would be very rich.  Good nutrition is important to maintain strength and wellbeing during cancer treatment, and in some cases good nutrition can assist in preventing cancer, but there is no one food that will magically take it away.  I wish there was, but there isn’t, green juices are not the exception to this rule.
  2. Juice does’t cleans or detox The jury is still out on detoxing, but the reality is regardless of what we eat our food is broken down through the same system.  Our gastrointestinal tract… it has one liver and some kidneys whose greatest purpose in life is to detox the body… and you guessed it, they do this to the green juice too.  Juice cannot not actually remove any toxins itself, and depending on how concentrated it is can actually just make your body work harder than if you had eaten the ingredient raw.  As a side note, because the ingredients of green juice are… juiced… they also loose some of their ability to cleanse and clean out.  This idea is basically looking at a good bowel… making sure what goes in, comes out and does so regularly this system relies on fibre to work and much of the fibre from the ingredients in green juice are removed or prematuraly broken down during the juicing process.
  3. Green Juice is Digested… As you may have guessed from number 2…   Green juice is in fact digested.  Everything we consume is digested, in fact the act of chewing or in the case of drinking… swallowing is part of the digestion process… these nutrients are delivered to the cells of the body the same way everything else is… via digestion.  If something went straight to our cells we wouldn’t need to drink it… we could simply bath in it to get the full affect… but that’s not what happens, we drink, we digest, and the nutrients are delivered just as efficiently as any other food.

There are a few other things about Green Juice that worry me just a little.  While they do contain lots of vitamins and minerals they are deficient in key macro-nutritients that our bodies require to function.  These are called macro-nutrients because we require ‘macro’ or larger amounts of them, than the micronutrients offered by a juice.  So when a juice is regularly used as a meal replacement, we miss out on protein and fat that we need (yes, fat is an essential part of the diet).

If we consume the juice with a meal, e.g. as part of breakfast we also get the additional energy provided by the juice… (an average cup of green juice contains somewhere between 335kJ and 502kJ (80 and 120 calories) this is roughly equivalent to a tub of low fat yogurt (427kJ)).  Extra energy in, if not burnt. will eventually lead to weight gain, so the addition of green juice to an individual’s regular diet will not assist with weight loss

Generally speaking Australian’s struggle to get enough fibre in the diet.  Good bowel health is important for so much more than regality, and fibre is crucial to this.  While you may be able to fit the volume of 3 serves of vegetables into a green juice, because of the fibre lost through juicing, it will only ever be equivalent to 1 serve of veg… thats a lot of work for 1 serve.

So what’s the alternative… well there is a place for the occasional juice, especially for the fussier few who don’t really include any vegetables, as juiced vegetables are better than none at all… but can you get the same amount of vitamins and minerals without juice?  Of course!  How?  Well you eat the greens (and other vegetables) normally, include them as a regular part of the diet.  The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends that women consume 5 serves of veg and 2 serves of fruit daily, for Men it’s 6 serves of Veg (19-50yrs) and 2 fruits… What’s a serve? 1/2 cup of cooked veg, or a 1 cup of salad.  A nice way to work towards this is to aim to have half of your dinner plate vegetables.

Fruits and Veg

Remember that the vitamins and minerals are not enhanced by juicing, they are always there in the food… Make sure you include fruits and veg at every meal because the reality is, one great day of intake doesn’t give you your vitamins for the week… if you don’t need these extra vitamins on the day, your body will dispose of them anyway.  Most of them aren’t stored up for a rainy day, they need to be consumed daily… so just eat your greens… and oranges… and yellows… and reds… and purples… get a little bit of everything and you’ll actually find you will have all you need.

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It’s not magic,
It’s not special,
It’s just regular food…

Em – your friendly Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD).

Beating Breakfast

Ok… so this is my first attempt and practicing what I preach and sharing that journey with you, I have decided to set out with a little structure, just so that it is clear what to do and what not to do… because trust me, just because I am currently doing it, doesn’t mean it is ok… So here is how it will work… I will let you in on my secret bad food habits, tell you why it is bad and what needs to be done instead and then tell you my plan… coz lets face it accountability is what makes the world go round…

Em’s Bad Food Habit no. 1

Breakfast is something that I am constantly telling my clients is important, but unfortunately it is also my worst meal of the day… I just find it really hard… so hard that  last year I had 3 breakfast specific items on my list and this years list includes a breakfast ultimatum… coming in at no. 8 is ‘Stop buying breakfast regularly’… it’s time to break my bad breakky habits, which include skipping it altogether, allowing chocolate to be an appropriate choice and various forms of liquid breakfast including up & go and ice breaks.  Now if you want me to I can justify all of these choices, but the reality is its not ok… I need to start the day right… and that means a nutritious and regular breakfast.

So why is breakfast so important?

Well there are a couple of reasons…

  1. Our bodies work with a feedback system, telling us when to eat and when we are full, the second part of that feedback isn’t as quick as the first, but regular meals can help the body better regulate these systems to make them more effective.

  2. Our brains need fuel to work… no breakfast usually means a slower brain, well not exactly but you know what I mean, concentration is hard without food.

  3. Breakfast can help with weight control… research tells us that people who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight or obese than those who skip this meal regularly!

Basically having breakfast has no downside… it helps maintain a healthy weight, regulates our body and makes us work better… what is there to lose…  The good news is it doesn’t have to be gourmet or fancy… your best bet is a high fibre, low GI choice… from a cereal to multi-grain toast to a breaky muffin (not the store brought variety)… the hardest bit is actually doing it… or maybe that’s just me.

My goal…

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Well it is pretty much what is on the list… stop buying breakfast… when I buy breakfast I make bad choices… usually an ice break from 7-11… it not only expensive… but just lazy…  since I have started my new job I have been making a concerted effort to have breakfast before I leave the house so that I have no reason to stop… and so I don’t buy rubbish… and so far there have been some good days, but some of my old habits have snuck back in.  I have often stuffed up and brought an ice break, but there has still been a whole lot more eating breakfast at home than I have done probably in the last 4 years…  so as a little encouragement for me to stop, and a deterrent from going back… I have done some maths for my weekday breakfasts… an ice break from 7-11 costs $3.80, that’s at the very least $19 (if I don’t get tempted by all the other goodies available) which is $912 a year… wow… which also comes out of my pocket money which I could be using for much more exciting things… compared to having breaky at home… lets take some Weetbix, just as an example… 3 Weetbix with a cup of low fat milk costs about 68cents… that’s $3.40 a week… or $163.2 a year… so by just having breakfast at home I can save $749… that’s CRAZY!

So not only will I save a bunch of money… but I will be setting myself up for the day, helping improve my intake (coz lets face it, everyone knows Weetbix are better for you than iced coffee) and hopefully my weight…  but more importantly I will be practicing what I preach… walking the talk… and being better for it…