Cooking For a Weekend Away

I came back from vacation on Friday and immediately I couldn’t wait to start eating more nourishing, healthy food. During my almost two weeks in London and Paris I ate “whatever” I wanted, which amounted to very few veggies and far too much sugar (especially in a deliciously boulangerie-filled Paris… Can anyone blame me?)

So although I had plans to come visit my mom on Saturday and stay Sunday, as well, I decided I’d pack my own food instead of continuing to eat “whatever.” I cooked a vegan sweet potato curry with a can of organic mixed beans I found on sale a month ago. The recipe was inspired by this Creamy Thai Sweet Potato Curry from Pinch of Yum.

I made salads, as well.

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I’ve recently enrolled in the introductory courses of the Natural Nutrition program from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. I have been curious about and interested in food and nutrition for almost as long as I can remember. I’ve had struggles with food for even longer. So overall this seemed like a good choice for me, especially since the entire program is offered online as a self-study course, where you can set your own pace.

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I’m learning a lot about the interaction between the environment and food supply (and the quality of that food supply) and also about the importance of eating a balanced diet that includes carbs, fats, protein, fibre and a host of micronutrients. I didn’t place enough importance on protein previously, having accepted vegan guru wisdom on the lack of necessity of protein.

The 900-plus page tome in the photo is the introductory text and it’s super accessible and interesting. There seems to be a large focus on how human behaviour and industry has affected the quality of our food supply and what we can do to make sure we stay healthy despite the many contaminants we face daily.

I’m still only at the beginning, so more thoughts to come. Leave a comment if you have any questions about the course that I might be able to answer!

Ten Ways to Cheer Up

Sometimes I’m in a bit of a rut, too stressed to function, having a bad day, lower on the few days before my period, or just groggy with a headache following a nap with still-wet hair. It doesn’t matter, but I wanted to make a list of things I can do to change my mood, so next time I have a guide to turn to.

  1. Turn your phone on to a text from someone you like—Okay, I can’t exactly do this every time, but it happened today, so it stays on the list. And the point is, positive human contact of any sort helps.
  2. Wash your face, scrub your face, put on a face mask. I feel more awake after washing my face and I also like the pampering element of a face mask. It feels good to know I’m caring about myself and face masks are one of my favourite ways to do that.
  3. Make a cup of tea. There’s something quaint and cozy about making a cup of tea, even if it’s spring or summer. I have a container where I keep all of my tea bags, and the process, including choosing the kind of tea I will make, heating water, brewing and discarding the tea bag, and adding almond milk are all meditative and fun. Not to mention the huge comfort of holding a warm cup of something and taking in that warmth with each flavourful sip.20170601_190840-1
  4. Put on some music, but not just any music. My all-time favourite happy albums are In Between Dreams by Jack Johnson and Closing Time by Tom Waits. Most of the songs on these two make me feel a calm sort of happiness (contentment?)—as opposed to jittery and excited or anything else.
  5. Open the blinds and crack a window open. It’s so nice to let some light inside and the sounds of the happenings outside of my window have the power to instantly connect me to something other than what’s in my own head.20170601_192821
  6. Follow a guided meditation to centre and calm the mind and invite a new, better way of feeling to you. I love the Boho Beautiful Youtube channel. I love what they do there, and I regularly practice yoga following their videos. They have also posted guided meditations that are short, simple and I find very effective. Today I tried this one—a 10-minute gratitude meditation.
  7. Go for a walk. Exercise is the natural upper, and it’s incredible how much the simple act of walking can do for my mood. Sometimes I like to stay out of the way, explore the relatively empty residential side streets while keeping totally to myself, and other times, I feel good people-watching on busier roads.
  8. Nourish yourself. When I am stressed or low, my appetite suffers, and I tend to make poorer food choices. Drinking plenty of fluids and exercise, like walking, help me feel hungry. And the act of preparing a nourishing meal can be reflective and meditative, so it’s one way to cheer up and get to a better headspace. For best results, I try to only prepare the portion I plan to eat, avoid snacking on anything while I am preparing my meal, and maybe even say a prayer of gratitude before eating.20170601_212849
  9. Watch an episode of something cheerful. I can count on The Mindy Project or Friends. The key for me here is to not overdo it. I’m including it because it really is a great and healthy way to create a better mood.
  10. Get back to your day. Get back to working or running errands or doing chores. When I’ve worked to get into a good mood, I hold on to it by getting busy in a purposed and structured way. I feel content enough to feel absorbed in the day’s tasks, and feeling accomplished keeps my endorphins high. If you don’t have much planned for the day, write a blog post on your favourite ways to cheer up; I’d love to read it.

Soul Journal: A Framework of Growth

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My body is rejecting salt, oil, and caffeine. That’s a strange thing to write, it sounds a bit hocus-pocus to me. How would you know what your body is rejecting?

I get high blood pressure when I eat foods with those things in them. I also get high blood pressure when I listen to loud music or think stressful thoughts or fantasize things—exciting things like meeting a celebrity or going to Mallorca or some other dream. I’m 26 years old, about 125 lbs and otherwise healthy. There is no reason to experience this, really, and it’s only been happening recently.

So instead of going to a doctor and having them prescribe me a short-term course of blood pressure medication, I’m choosing to honour what my body is telling me by committing to a course of clean eating, no exciting music and lots of things that help.

Non-high intensity aerobic exercise like walking helps, yin yoga helps, apple cider vinegar helps, mantras help, and guided meditations help sometimes.

I didn’t have to look any of this up… I’m connected with my body and its signals, thanks in part to the curse/blessing of being considered a slightly anxious person. It’s the other way around, actually. Some anxious people like me are more in tune with their bodies and tend to feel panic when they misinterpret totally normal occurrences in their bodies that other people wouldn’t even pay attention to.

There are different ways to see the same thing.

And while I’m presenting this as two paths, where I am choosing to take the one that is right for me, I admit that ultimately I see this as a meaningful part of my journey, not just a blip. My body is asking me to allow it to accommodate more. More emotions, more situations. It’s asking me to adapt my environment so that it can do more for me by being more adaptable to changes.

I know because this is how it’s reacting to the whirlwind of changes happening now.

And I want all that. I want to be able to live in the now, without the security of the future, a fantasy that  isn’t happening now, the fake excitement of a Spotify playlist that takes me somewhere other than here, and the emotion-numbing allure of salty, oily foods and caffeine—or alcohol. I want to be able to live free from of all of those things and to live here.

While I am being forced to make a change, this is also a change I want with all of my being. I’m lucky this is happening to me. And I am so grateful, too.