If you are like me, sometimes you truly feel like a party of one when it comes to healthy eating habits. Currently stationed in the Midwest I am no stranger to receiving a bit of flack when at a barbecue and I politely decline the mayonnaise drenched potato salad in exchange for the grilled fruit kabobs. This is America! Everyone should love burgers, potato salad, fries and ice cream…right?
In truth, that was my childhood. I was raised on a steady diet of orange chemical powdered Macaroni and Cheese mixed with the mystery meat of hot dogs with a minuscule side of veggies. It was delicious at the time but I knew if I wanted to accomplish my fitness goals, feel good about my body and live a long healthy life I was going to have to retire that blue box in exchange for the color green.
Two years ago, I embarked on an experimental self-guided detox program that has since lead me to attending natural health conferences across the U.S., and I haven’t looked back. Along the way there were family members and friends who fell into one of two categories- the adders or the subtractors. The adders were the ones who may not have fully understood my newfound love of wheatgrass, but they saw my change in physical appearance and change in attitude and wholeheartedly supported my journey.
The subtractors were the individuals who projected their own insecurities on me in the form of making fun of my choices or putting me down when I declined going out to grab a pizza. Along the way I began to formulate ways to maintain these relationships. Food is a very sensitive subject. It is rooted in tradition, celebration and oftentimes emotions. When you feel the positive effects of healthy diet changes you want to scream it from the mountain tops, however subtle approaches may be better:
Educate, do not judge. You see your best friend eating a GMO laced potato chip and your first inclination is to rip it from her hand and harp on her about how it is destroying her immune system. Stop. Take a deep breath and slowly lay your kale chips next to hers. If she asks to try one let her and explain the benefits of switching. Be patient and remember your journey wasn’t an overnight success either. The best leaders lead by example.
Be grateful in every situation. There are a multitude of vegan and plant-based products on the market these days, some with a more refined nutrient profile than others. If a friend purchases the sodium and wheat laced veggie burger for you at a gathering beaming with pride that she entered the vegan section of the supermarket to find it, thank her. Thank her profusely for thinking of you and for taking the time to helping you stay on track. Additionally when you are offered meals in a family’s home try your hardest not to turn them down, sticking your nose in the air proclaiming you only eat organic X, Y and Z. This is where you demonstrate your inner gratefulness and education listed prior.
It never hurts to come prepared. Keeping almonds, bananas and carrot sticks on hand will never be a bad idea. You know those Snickers commercials on TV that show hungry individuals turning into monsters when their appetite hits? The same feelings can crop up when you are hungry and in the presence of movie theater popcorn. Healthy snacks will help keep your popcorn binges at bay while making you a more pleasant person to be around.
Collaboration is key. When I gave up dairy my mother looked at me in horror, thinking we would never be able to make our family’s famous lasagna ever again. Not so fast. We soon began to team up on an updated recipe with substitutes and options for me that tasted just as good as the original while bonding in the process as if she was teaching me the recipe all over again for the very first time.
Add more adders, be careful of the subtractors. Some friends may grow angry with you, stating that you have changed and you are not as fun as you used to be once upon a time when beer and pizza Fridays were the traditional
One of my favorite foods is Avocados. Not only are they scrumptious and mouth-watering, they are a nutrient dense food, which means health for us all! In fact there are so many nutrients in an avocado it’s almost like having a mini vitamin!
Awareness is a skill of sensitivity and focus that allows for a more rich and synergistic experience of life. I develop this type of awareness through games. I focus on the fun aspects, and really get back to the joy of being childlike. Even if fun were all I accomplished, that is something deeply valuable. One of the most simple awareness games involves playing with the deprivation of sight.
Call it a breakthrough, or maybe it’s a breakdown - its hard to tell when you’re still processing. One thing was certain, I’d just uncovered a key to so many of my struggles in life – “I am unlovable.”
Actually, let’s come back to that. We all like to believe we see the world the way it actually is. The truth is we’re all seeing the world from our own unique perspective. Think of your unique perspective like a pair of sunglasses. Now you’re looking through those sunglasses at a glass of water. The amount of air and water in this particular glass is exactly even. An optimist sees the glass as half full (filtered through a perspective you should focus on what is there). A pessimist sees the glass as half empty (filtered through a perspective you should focus on what isn’t there).
I’ve recently been observing the pressures and expectancies society and peers place on teenagers regarding relationship statuses. It is uncommon these days that you might find a young teenage girl who hasn’t been involved with or is currently in a relationship or ‘thing’ with a boy. It is typically normal and exciting going through adolescence and having ‘crushes’ or ‘going out’ with someone you fancy, but these days it seems to be a lot more than that.
How many times have you eaten something and thought to yourself “I’m just not going to think about what’s in this/where it came from”? If you’re like me, way too many times (especially during exam week, but I digress). Often it is from a fast-food chain, or out of a vending machine. Rarely do we think of our fish dinners in this way; we generally think of fish as being healthy (they often are) and a more sustainable choice than a hamburger. However as a marine biology student I am learning things about the oceans, and more specifically what we humans are doing to them, that are making me think twice about the fish I eat.
Humans have and are still fishing the oceans as if their supply of seafood is bottomless, a real problem considering marine species, like everything else on earth, do not exist in infinite numbers. And fishing does not just affect the species fisheries are aiming to catch- thousands of fish are caught inadvertently through by-catch and are wasted. Some fishing methods such as trawling are horribly destructive to ocean habitats home to countless species. Aquaculture is often no better, introducing pollutants, invasive species, and disease to ocean waters, and destroying natural habitats to make the farms. After learning all this (and I know there is still much, much more for me to learn), I have had to take a very hard look at the fish I am eating, and have found myself asking the question I normally reserve for my guilty pleasure foods: just what exactly is the story behind what I am eating??
There are ways to find out, although for seafood I have found that finding information can be very difficult. Most countries don’t have mandatory seafood labelling which would tell the consumer where and how the seafood was caught or farmed. This information can be crucial in determining whether a product is sustainably sourced or not.
Programs providing a rating system of products based on where and how they were caught or farmed (such as SeaChoice, a Canadian program based off of Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program) are a great information base, but since labels of actual products are often lacking enough information, the consumer needs to do some work as well. Start by doing some research on your favourite seafood and see if any of them are sustainable. If upon reading the labels of said seafood product you do not see enough information for you to determine if it is sustainable or not, purchase something different that you are certain about. And start asking some questions: if no one is ever asking for more information, why on earth should suppliers feel the need to give us any?
It is often easy to feel that the earth’s situation is hopeless, that we have already messed up the planet so much there is nothing worth doing to try and save it, but this isn’t true. No one is perfect, but little changes can make a big difference. If you feel that you are in a position to make some changes, give this some thought. Start small, give it a try, and see what happens!
Thanks very much!
Samantha is a marine biology student, looking forward to discovering the countless things she has yet to learn about the oceans
Depression is a common thing nowadays. In his book "Better Than Normal", Dr. Dale Archer says that depression was not that common in 80's and people only went to psychiatrists if they were in a real trouble. But today it is not like that. So many people feel like they have fallen into depression. Some go to therapists, but some try to be their own therapists and overcome depression by themselves. I had a hard depression, too. But I couldn't handle it by myself and I went to a therapist. So, as a one who has experienced depression, let me give you some advices to overcome depression easily:
For many years I’ve been looking for a natural body cream that actually works, that could make my skin softer, brighter and healthier, well, after looking for it for a while, I found this body cream especially made for pregnant women; this body lotion allegedly helps the skin to not “break” during all of the time the baby bump is growing so you don’t get any kind of stretch marks.
I’d like to quickly rant about one of the most life changing superfoods that I’ve ever been blessed with: marine phytoplankton.
I was deeply attracted to it when I learnt that marine phytoplankton has the precise makeup needed for human cells to carry out their metabolization. I then went on to discover that it contains every nutrient needed for the creation and maintenance of new cells!
There has been a trend in western society of trying to cover up problems with technology. While this has awesome benefits in some fields, in others such as health, it can also add problems as well. Countering this, there has been an increasing movement towards natural practices, and minimalism.