I’m starting my New Year with a difference

Written by: Helen

new year 2

 

It was dark out but in his world it was always dark.  He moved across the road slowly, one foot placed carefully in front of the other, his white stick feeling its way along the frosty ground.  Finally it bumped into the kerb and the man responded by lifting his foot.

It didn’t get much easier when he was safely on the path.  He slid his stick from side to side, constantly checking where the path dipped into the road.  He had to be aware of lamposts and signs, of cats and of other people.  Everything was a threat because he couldn’t see it.

I watched him until the car drove around the corner.  We delivered a couple of Christmas cards.  After each delivery we quickly dived back into the warmth of the car.  I was surprised to see him as we drove back down the same road.  He didn’t seem to have gotten very far.  I suppose, even  in the cold, he had to take it slowly.

There was something about this man that I couldn’t help but watch each time we passed.  It occurred to me that being blind is hard.  I know this sounds silly and it’s not something that I didn’t know before, but it was one of those moments in life where you suddenly feel like you really get something.

I can cross a road and walk up a street and it’s no big deal.  I usually do it whilst contemplating the meaning of life (OK, more likely to be what I’m having for dinner or what brand of conditioner Harry Styles uses but you know what I mean).  For this man the act of walking outside was a daily challenge that he had to overcome; an act that I do all the time and take for granted.

 new year

New Year is traditionally a time to think of ourselves.  It’s not that I don’t give to charities or help good causes but generally at New Year they aren’t on my radar because I’m too busy thinking of what I want from the year ahead.  But watching this man I had a sort-of epiphany.  For me this year I would like to start it differently to any other year.  What healthier way to start off 2015 than by thinking of others?  Perhaps, hopefully, it will set the tone perfectly for my year ahead.  Don’t get me wrong I will make personal resolutions (I never start a year without them), and I will post about improving our health and fitness, but before that I want to tell you about the Action For Blind People charity.

There are so many amazing charities out there. For me, this glimpse from a car window, on a cold December’s evening, of a man engaged in one of his daily battles touched me.  This is a charity which supports blind people of all ages and offers them support in many ways.  For instance they help with day-to-day living, welfare rights, finances, assistive technology and also help finding employment and more.  I can only imagine how useful this charity is if you are in the terrifying position of losing your sight.

If you want to know more about what the charity does or you are interested in helping through donating or fundraising the link is here.

At the moment you can still donate to their Christmas appeal which tries to provide activities for children who are blind, not just at Christmas but throughout the year.  As a mother myself I can only imagine the shock and the worry that comes with finding out your child will never see.

All I’m trying to say is that although New Year is a great time for looking at our own lives and health, and making ourselves plans and promises, it could also be a time to feel grateful for what we already have, especially the simple things that we take for granted.  And wouldn’t it be fantastic to enter the New Year knowing we may have made a difference to someone elses life?

Do you spend New Year helping charities, rescuing puppies and generally being a less selfish person than me?  Or do you have any other good causes you’d like to mention?  Please leave your comments below.  Subscribe by popping your email address into the subscription box and you won’t miss out on any posts for 2015.  I wish you a very happy New Year and, as always, thank you for reading!

Coping With The Inevitable This Christmas

Written by: Helen

xmas

 

In case you weren’t aware it is nearly Christmas!  There was a time, in my more naive days, when I believed I could be ‘good’ at Christmas.  When I use the word ‘good’ I mean that I believed I could use my willpower and I wouldn’t eat too much rubbish, drink too much wine, watch too much Christmas telly etc.  Needless to say, I was kidding myself.  I have come to realise that some things at Christmas are certain;

  1. I will still have at least one present to buy on Christmas eve.
  2. I will still be wrapping said presents into the early hours of Christmas morning.
  3. I will forget to buy enough labels and end up writing people’s names in biro on the paper (I know, you’d think I’d learn).
  4. I will eat too much
  5. Because of number 4 I will wish I’d worn larger trousers (Friends episode where Joey uses maternity trousers- great idea!)

I find some peace in acknowledging this to myself.  You may find it strange that a website which is all about health and nutrition is saying ‘don’t worry, go mad this Christmas.’  That isn’t exactly what I’m saying either.

What I mean is that when we set unrealistic goals we end up failing, and then we are left feeling guilty and bad about ourselves.  I am willing to accept that I will probably overdo it this Christmas.  However, by thinking about it in advance there are a few things I can do.  I have compiled a few tips for coping with the unavoidable food, alcohol and general merriment overload at Christmas

  • Diets don’t work at Christmas so I wouldn’t bother trying.  If you are following a diet perhaps relax the rules a little, and give yourself some leeway.
  • Find peace with the fact you deserve to spoil yourself a bit at Christmas.  If you are the type of person who beats yourself up over what/how much you eat then now is the time to think about releasing some of the pressure you put yourself under.
  • Workout.  Once I accept that I may will take in extra calories at Christmas I can plan to burn some of those calories off.  The chance of me having time to workout on Christmas day is slim nil but I can plan workouts for around Christmas.  And don’t just say ‘yer, I’ll workout’, plan exactly when you can fit them in, and put them on your calendar.
  • Balance and moderation are my favourite words when it comes to diet.  However, they are difficult to implement at Christmas.  But they are still feasible as you can try and balance out Christmas and Boxing days by surrounding them with healthy eating days.  For instance, if you eat a burger for lunch rather than feeling bad you should just try and balance out the calories by eating a healthy dinner.  This works the same at Christmas.  If you overdo it on Christmas day try and balance it out on a different day.
  • After seeming to say ‘pig out this Christmas’ I’m actually going to change my tone and say that Christmas doesn’t have to be completely unhealthy.  By thinking about it beforehand you can swap some unhealthy foods for healthier alternatives.  Here are a few ideas; Swap your potatoes for sweet potatoes, choose healthier cooking oils instead of fats, do a fresh fruit salad as a dessert option, for nibbles- put out nuts and dried fruits, have a nutritious breakfast on Christmas morning- porridge,poached egg on wholegrain toast etc. Any chocolate/ biscuits you receive as gifts try to portion them out, set yourself a limit as to how many of them you will eat each day and try to stick with it.  At the bottom I’ve included a couple of links for healthier Christmas Pudding recipes.

So basically, don’t punish yourself if you fall off the wagon a little this Christmas.  By thinking about it beforehand you can ensure a reasonably healthy and wholesome Christmas.  Christmas can get lost amongst the stresses of present buying and dinner cooking.The last thing we need is a guilt trip over every calorie we consume (this is a pretty good rule actually any day of the year).  It is a time for food, for spending time with loved ones and letting our hair down a little so enjoy.

Here are the Christmas Pudding links

Leave me your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe.  Do you have any tips for healthy eating at Christmas?  I’d love to hear from you.  Thanks for reading!  And I hope you all have a very merry Christmas!

 

 

 

Fit Food Friday: Brussels Sprouts (of course!)

Written by: Helen

So for my Fit Food Friday segment before Christmas there was one food that I had to do.  No Christmas dinner is complete without Brussels sprouts.  Generally they have a bit of a  bad reputation and it’s hard to find a child that will admit to liking them.  Interestingly, many don’t particularly like Brussels as children, but enjoy them when they’re older (I fall into this category).

They are definitely a vegetable worth having on your dinner plate on Christmas day, as well as on other days too.  And here are 7 reasons why:

 

brussels

 

1) They help you look younger

I thought I’d put this one first as it’s definitely something to smile about as you munch away at Christmas.  Brussels are an excellent source of vitamin C.  When vitamin C is eaten in its natural form (ie. in food rather than supplements) or applied directly to skin it helps to combat skin damage which is caused by by factors such as the sun or pollution.  It also reduces wrinkles and improves skin texture.

 

2) Nutritious

I mentioned they are high in vitamin C.  In actual fact one serving provides us with more than our daily need for this vitamin, as well as over 100% of our daily requirement of vitamin K.  Most people think of citrus fruit when they think of vitamin C but Brussels are a great source.  They also contain vitamin A, manganese, phytonutrients, fibre and even omega-3 fatty acids, as well as other goodness.

 

3) Antioxidants

I have mentioned in previous posts how important antioxidants are for fighting free radical damage.  Brussels not only provide the antioxidant vitamin C, but also vitamin A, manganese and flavonoid antioxidants.

 

4) Bone health

Brussels aid bone health because they contain calcium and vitamin K.  Vitamin K improves bone health because it helps calcium absorption and reduces urinary excretion of calcium.

 

5) Digestive support

This is due to the fibre content and a compound called Sulforaphane which helps to protect the stomach lining.

 

6) Cancer prevention

Sulforaphane also inhibits an enzyme which is known to be involved in the progression of cancer cells and it aids the body’s natural detox system.

 

7) Eye health

Reaching our daily requirement of vitamin C has been shown to offer protection against UV damage and to help keep our eyes healthy.  As I mentioned previously, just one serving of Brussels sprouts gives us our daily requirement of vitamin C

Here are a couple of tasty recipe links:

Sprouts with crispy prosciutto

Smashed sprouts mash with chestnuts

 

So there you have it.  Tuck into your Brussels on Christmas day and know that they are giving you plenty of goodness.  If you want more Fit Food Friday and other healthy posts delivered to your inbox please subscribe to the site and thanks for reading.

 

Reference- world’s healthiest foods,MNT