anti-bacterial, helps fight infections, balance sugars, improve heart health, supports weight management
Recipe Credit: Cooktoria
During the cooler months try to replace cold salads with warm ones. This time of the year we tend to lose more body heat which may have an impact on the quality of our digestion. Our bellies produce heat during digestion and we need to maintain that heat to properly digest food. Therefore a warm hearty salad will give you a comforting light feeling as opposed to a bloated uncomfortable one. Energy levels are also naturally depleted during these months so it is important to eat foods that will give you that natural boost and keep you from relying on stimulants such as, increasing your coffee intake during this time of the year.
Butternut Squash is a vitamin rich power food that benefits the functioning of your nervous and immune systems. It is also something you want to try if you are someone who suffers from painful PMS symptoms. The anti-inflammatory properties of this fruit help fight undesirable symptoms from inflammation. What you put inside your body will nurture you at the cellular level!
So, make it count :)
#1. Clean and cut butternut squash in cubes (40 oz)
#2. Peel and cut two red onions in cubes (4 cups)
#3. Combine the two in a bowl and coat with 3 tablespoons of sunflower oil. Season with salt, pepper, dried thyme, dried parsley, and garlic. Mix together, please :)
#4. Roast in the oven for about 55 minutes or until tender
#5. Toss fresh baby spinach (6oz), dried cranberries (3/4 cups), and warm roasted vegetables together. The warmth of the vegetables and the oils will flavor the spinach and soften.
This doesn't require a whole lot of time but if you are looking to cut time in half with chopping, grab the organic precut butternut squash packs and basting oil from Wegmans.
Recipe Credit: Wegmans
Cardamom is a great spice to chew especially after a meal due to its fresh taste and digestive properties. My mother used to call them "breath fresheners". I always thought she was being funny. It turns out she wasn't! Did you know cardamom contains a potent antiseptic for bad breath?
I have always used cardamom in my cooking, baking, and hot teas. Mainly because of its aroma, taste, and digestive benefits- relieves gas, bloating, and reduces belly spasms, or cramping. But recently I discovered how great it goes with coffee!
Have you ever tried adding cardamom to your coffee?
Now I'm just repeating myself :)
Cardamom is commonly added to coffee in the middle east to reduce the stimulating effects of caffeine, and more importantly- alkalize the acidic nature of coffee. Now you can have your coffee without feeling all bubbly inside.
Notice how your body feels.
Tell us about your experience!
When we make a decision to change something about ourselves it is not uncommon to get impatient very quickly. Why not? When we decide to do something different we obviously think it is good for us, so we just want to do it! But the process between setting an intention, taking the initiative, and looking for desired outcomes can be overwhelming. At times to the point where we begin to doubt our decision, or begin to think that we are not capable of doing it. We may even start to feel like a failure, or use words like "I can't..." or I'm not good at..." or "I can't be bothered to..." Maybe even give up? We are only human after all. For human beings seeing is believing and we are conditioned to be result-driven since we were little human beings :)
Change is not easy. It is not supposed to be. Mainly because we are working on changing ourselves on so many levels to sustain desired outcomes. Replacing old patterns that served us, practicing a new way we have no connection with, accommodating a new feeling, working on maintaining the new way, preventing setbacks or reverting to the good old comfortable ways. For example, when you decide to quit smoking, or lose weight, or start exercising, or establish a morning routine, or ________ (fill in your own gap), think about what you have to give up? How does the existing way serve you right now? Where does your comfort lie emotionally, physically, psychologically? What discomforts accompany the new?
The secret to accomplishing goals is to focus on baby steps leading up to your goal. Just like you did when you were a little human being. Your super goal was to walk. So you began to move your limbs and find them first, then when they were strong enough you rolled over, held your neck high, then your body, then began to crawl, stand up, and then walk/run (or whatever order you took you know what I'm saying). I am sure you didn't start running before you started standing ;) Be patient with yourself and focus on your little steps that will carry through the next steps.
How do I change my life?
One step at a time.
People choose to enter into therapy for various reasons. Sometimes it is to alleviate emotional pain, enhance functioning in school or work, be effective in their relationships, or when they are struggling with life problems or need to make decisions. The safe space created in the counseling room and a strong therapeutic relationship can be beneficial to a persons personal growth. People who seek counseling services are not crazy, insane, ill or sick. They are people faced with undesired symptoms, and challenges that are accompanied with stress.
Therapy offers a space outside the norms of ones social self to discover, explore, and build their desired self. Therapy has different connotations in different parts of the world. In 2010 I was interning at a psychiatric ward at PIMS Hospital in Islamabad, Pakistan. I remember how the assistant psychologist and myself struggled with referring patients to commit to outpatient therapy. Patients would say,"Why do we need to talk to them when we have our family?", and then return home with their problem. While talking to someone helps, therapy involves a more complex process of becoming self-aware, and rewiring the brain to replace automatic patterns of thought and behavior- at the very least. Therapists do not do things haphazardly in the room. Trust me, it is more than just "talking to someone."
The process of finding a therapist can be very overwhelming. My clients share with me their experiences of finding the right therapist and often describe this process as confusing. While therapists differ from each other in their approach to therapy, what remains constant is that they are all in the practice of helping their clients produce change. How they arrive at this would depend on the their theoretical style. If you have seen different therapists in the past, you have probably noticed that some were talkative or direct, others quiet and non-directional, some spent time building a relationship, while others went straight to the problem and taught you skills. This was because they were practicing a unique therapeutic orientation amongst the various counseling theories that exist in the field today. The theory your therapist chose is what was congruent with their view of psychopathology. So, always ask your therapist what their therapeutic orientation is so that you understand what type of therapeutic experience you can expect to have in the therapy room and over the course of your therapeutic journey with them. Here are a few approaches that you may consider:
Expect your therapist to talk less, and focus more on past experiences to increase insight into the developmental origins of your unconscious psychological conflicts, making them more acceptable to the ego. Cultivating a therapeutic relationship is not the focus of your sessions together. This style may appear less warm to some clients while it can be the perfect fit for others.
Expect your therapist to be more engaging, and focus more on building a therapeutic alliance with you. The therapeutic relationship is important for your work together. This style may appear more warm compared to the psychoanalytic approach. Your therapist works on creating a safety net in the therapy room, and helps you achieve congruence with different facets of yourself, thereby promoting self-acceptance.
Unlike psychoanalytic and humanistic approaches that are based on the assumption that targeting distressing thoughts, feelings, or behaviors directly would be ineffective and counterproductive to the client; behaviorists take on a more direct approach to their clients presenting problems. They focus on making changes to the environment in addition to targeting distressing thoughts and feelings.
Therapists who practice under this approach are usually eclectically trained. They use a multi-faceted approach, and use different interventions from all theories that make most sense to the presenting concern, and that fit the clinical profile of their client. It is more of an individualized approach whereby the therapist is not committed to use only one approach alone.
Therapists who practice holistically tend to look at you as a whole person. This means they are not treating your mind alone, however taking into account other factors that may be affecting your psychological health, such as what you eat, how well you sleep, your daily activity levels, your current health condition (etc.) is important to your work together.
What other considerations or hesitations do you face when searching for a therapist? What have you found helpful, or not very helpful in the search process? What would you like to know more about?
As more and more states move towards legalizing marijuana, professionals such as those in the mental health field need to contribute to the round table discussions to complete the "health" debate. Since marijuana has been endorsed by the medical industry as a helpful medicine for certain illnesses, a lot of young people tend to think that it is has healing properties for the body. If it was so harmful why do doctors think it is ok for their patients? They make a good point.
Yes, it is true that medicinal marijuana has been endorsed by the medical industry for its benefits in terminal or debilitating illnesses such as, HIV, cancer (reducing nausea from chemotherapy and increasing appetite), chronic pain, anorexia (due to the "munchies") and multiple sclerosis (reduces muscle spasticity). However, research has shown that it has unfavorable and inhibiting effects on healthy individuals, especially those under the age of 25, who consume recreational marijuana.
How can the same substance cause opposite effects?
I know, it is mind boggling but what we don't know is that medical marijuana is a controlled substance bought with a prescription. Whereas recreational marijuana is grown locally sometimes in homes with no control for THC levels (the psychoactive substance that gives you a high). Although marijuana has been around for centuries, the nature of this drug has evolved with THC levels going from approximately 4 (back in the day) to now- up to 40. What does this mean?
That is why it is becoming a problem now than ever before especially with adolescents and young adults.
What are some perceived harms and benefits in users and non-users?
Marijuana is a sensitive topic for many, especially if the dichotomy remains users and non-users. It's almost like vanilla and chocolate. You do or you don't. There is a huge discrepancy between those who consume and those who don't. First of all, the person who consumes will most likely read this and immediately get defensive. Why did she say "use?" It's not like its heroin or cocaine. Those who enjoy smoking weed hate to be compared to those who do "hard drugs." But what is a hard drug? If we know that THC levels are uncontrolled for and surpassing the amount we considered normal years ago- and we have evidence of dependence to this substance and impairment or that this may lead to smoking weed with crack sprinkled on it- does this make it a hard drug? For sure, we see more and more people defending the subject matter because they do not want to be associated with the terms "drug use" or "addicts"- both words have negative connotations and they have not seen the whole picture due to the ambiguity around the topic. I think this has proved most harmful to adolescents who think they have got their hands on the lesser of two evils or college students who use this to manage anxiety. It certainly has impairing effects on productivity or motivation in addition to sleep, anxiety, and depression.
In my experience, what has worked best to approach conversations like these, is to have an open conversation about the topic. Don't present as judgmental. They won't stop just because you want them to. So don't focus your energy on getting them -
"on your side."
It is important to understand what they have already done their homework, and are ready for you to challenge them. Therefore, refrain from preaching because-
they really don't want to hear it. Instead, invite them to have a dialogue so that you can understand their perspective on the subject matter.
I always say- it’s kind of like chocolate cake. Some people can have it and get fat while others can have it and it won’t affect their weight. Both may love it but the effects on their body are different. The exposure to toxins in the body from a health perspective remain, as well as damage done to your lungs, heart etc. from smoking.
I have seen an increasing amount of clients deny or refuse to pay attention to how this substance affects their productivity, hygiene, mood, etc. If you want to be the better judge of whether weed serves you or not, pay attention to the nature of your thoughts, elicited emotions, routine, hygiene, food consumption, and overall functioning with it and then without it. Also record the amount and times you consume. Record it in writing in a journal and do this for 3 weeks. Most importantly, get some outside perspective about your behavior from people close to you in your environment, who watch you or interact with you regularly.
There is no better science than the science of our own body.
If you were headed on a vacation to a place that has been on your wishlist for as long as you can remember what do you imagine taking with you?
Would it be your best clothes?
Your manicured self?
Your new shoes?
Your fancy camera?
Who would you take with you?
Why did you choose that person?
Will you travel light?
...or pay for extra baggage?
Now, think about your life journey...
What direction are you headed in?
What are you taking with you?
Who are you taking with you?
Who are you not taking with you?
The journey towards growth should not be any different than planning for a getaway. Both require your commitment, personal investment, and involves making some choices to create outcomes. Like any journey, it involves checking in your baggage so that you may be comfortable.
Mental baggage serves no purpose but to weigh us down and slow us down. We collect and store because at an unconscious level it is serving a purpose. Since we have been carrying it for so long, we become accustomed to the weight. Like our closets and storage places, we need to do a little mental clean-up from time to time. Discard all those bags filled with old hurts, grudges, jealousies, and fears. It is not easy to do, but it is a decision worth making. Let go, be free.
Smoothie bowls are a great substitute to your morning cereal. If the sound of substituting your breakfast cereal makes you sad you can always sprinkle some cereal on as a topping. Crunchy toppings go well with these bowls! Smoothie bowls are quick and easy to put together especially if you have the ingredients prepared and frozen for immediate use.
How to build a balanced smoothie bowl?
1 cup of greens
1 cup of frozen fruit (if using more than one type, use equal parts e.g. 1/2 + 1/2 cup= 1 cup, or 1/4 + 1/4 + 1/4 + 1/4 cup).
Tip: Make sure you ripen your fruit on the counter for a few days before you cut, dry, and freeze.
1 tablespoon protein/healthy fats (nut butters, seeds, avocado...)
Superfoods and some (cinnamon, unsweetened shredded coconut, unsweetened cocoa powder, steel cut oats)
Liquid (orange juice, water, milk, almond milk, other milks, coconut water). Add 2-3 tablespoons or 1/2 cup depending on the consistency you prefer. You can always add ice (or greek yogurt) if you added too much liquid and want to thicken it.
Eggs are a great way to start the morning right and get that nervous system functioning properly. It is true that some foods will stimulate us while others will create a calming effect on our bodies. What you put in your body will essentially effect your energy and mood. Eggs are a natural remedy to curb symptoms of depression, anxiety, and increased stress. Test it out! Observe how you feel when you consume a breakfast high in protein, and healthy fats vs one that is heavy on sugar and carbs.
#1. Boil water in a pot: The water level should be enough for the eggs to be completely immersed, and perhaps an inch or two above to allow for evaporation during the boiling process
#2. Add egg: Don't toss it in as the egg will crack. You can use a large spoon to carefully place it into the pot
#3. Set timer for 8 minutes: Find something fun to do for 8 minutes- squats?
#4. Peel and enjoy!
Peeling tip: I like to take a spoon and tap all areas of the egg shell until the shell cracks in all places. Then begin peeling using your fingers or the tip of the spoon.
Health tip: Buy eggs that are labelled "Pasteurized Organic free range"
We have all been through those moments when we were explicitly or implicitly told that we were not good enough. Some of us acquired these messages when socially excluded or other relative experiences that made us feel that we were inadequate. For example, if you were not invited to a gathering you may have said to yourself- "no one likes me", or if your loved one gets mad at you- "no one loves me", then you find yourself spiraling downward thinking that there may be something "unlikeable" about you.
We now live in an era where we are inundated with "you are not good enough" messages. We receive these messages through unexpected or unpleasant experiences in school settings, interpersonal relationships, missed opportunities in the work setting, or perhaps when you couldn't secure that job you thought you deserved.
Similar messages are conveyed through the media or advertisements telling us that we need to be a certain size, achieve a certain standard to be considered successful, that our skin needs to be free from wrinkles to look beautiful, that we need to lease a new car, revamp our kitchen, get another toy, a better play station, more clothes, shoes - more, more, more! Yes, the marketing campaigns for every business tailor to their business need of acquiring more product or service sales by preying on the psyche of their consumers. We are socially conditioned to want more, and now we are falling into a cyclical nature of happiness. That is, we are happy when we have an iPhone 5... until we want 5s, when we get the 5s, we want 6 the 6s... and on we go. We get sucked into greed.
In our relationships, how may of us find ourselves engaging in rhetorical questioning? i.e. "s/he takes forever to answer my texts" , "doesn't s/he miss me when I'm gone?", "s/he used to laugh at my jokes, do you think s/he's lost interest in me now?"
Then you turn on yourself- "it's because I'm ugly", "what is wrong with me?" In other words, we hold this tainted sense of ourselves and our self- worth. Consequently, when s/he says something that triggers this insecure area we go off like the unattended kettle.
Human beings are biologically wired to make sense of reality i.e. we place meaning behind our experiences to make sense of our world. Embedded in us is our ego, also known as our self-esteem or sense of worth. We all want to feel good about ourselves and when we don't, our ego sets out on an ungodly mission to get us out of this uncomfortable and undesirable state.
Human beings are also biologically designed to survive. A great example of this is the body's natural mechanism of storing fat. When our body senses famine it will use these reserves to keep itself alive. Similarly, the psychological part of us was designed to maintain the body's need to survive. Your ego is what protects you from feeling less than. So if what you perceive does not sit well with you, your story may be re-created or reality distorted.
In addition, if we feel that we "lack", the ego will search for things to compensate for this feeling so that we can be somebody and feel connected with our being. When we try to compensate, our actions come from a place of insecurity. Your insecurity will follow you wherever you go- seeping into the health of your relationships at its worst. When left unsatisfied, the ego will always look for something outside of you, to complete you. You can have everything but it won't make you happy because what it is searching for resides within you.
Many of us believe that our happiness lies at the end of our achievements. We live in a "when-then" culture. Ever hear yourself say, "when I get that job I will be happy" or "when I lose weight, I will be fine". The truth is you won't. Your connection to yourself will strengthen through an internal sense of worth and you can start by telling yourself, "you are enough" and that "you are blessed" then look for evidence or the tiniest things that you can be grateful for. You will find what you look for. This is the complexity of the human mind. What you focus on will become your reality."
External control is the biggest psychological illusion yet human beings seek it. Life works in favor of pushing us out of our cushy positions, you know- into the unknown to give us the gift of growth. If you permit, the journey can be liberating. If you are not grounded, the same journey is one filled with pain and suffering.
We possess selfish energy that needs to be tamed. This energy stems from the evolutionary goal to survive. Taking the reigns back requires an awareness of the ego and how it serves the self. Then, you decide what role you would like it to play in your life.
Cultivating a relationship with yourself takes practice.
Ask yourself, who you are at your core?
Who holds the power to change who you are?
Tell yourself, "you are enough".
Do not allow things outside of you to define you.
Let your experiences guide you as you turn unpleasant moments into teaching moments.
Choose inner peace.
Sweet potatoes are one of the most nutrition packed vegetables on the planet. If you ever have the option to replace white potatoes in your meal with sweet potatoes - just go for it! They are rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene, the minerals iron and magnesium, the electrolyte potassium, the vitamins A, B6, C, and D.
Consuming this root vegetable will benefit your health by reducing inflammation in your body; improving digestion and eliminating free radicals in your digestive tract. They will keep your heart healthy and protect you from degenerative diseases. They also help with strengthening your eye sight, bone health and tooth formation. Red and white blood cells form in turn accelerating wound healing. It also helps you fight colds and viruses; and produces collagen that helps maintain your skin's youthful elasticity.
Sweet potatoes help with building immune which is probably why they are a natural resource in the winter time. They support the health of your thyroid glands, improve energy levels and promote healthy kidney functioning. Yes! So many benefits packed into one vegetable! I have a theory, the more we understand what is in our foods and what they can do for us, the easier it becomes to make better choices or at the very least create a positive shift in healthy consumption.
We are conditioned to pay attention to things that are not only tangible, but visible to the human eye. Simply put, if we don't see it we don't pay attention to it. Since we can't see our brain, we don't give it the right amount of attention it needs to function optimally. After all, it is the main organ in our body that runs the show.
Did you know that sweet potatoes can help you build resistance to stress? It is also a great source of vitamin D that becomes your defense against Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - you know, the blues you get when it is gray outside, especially in winter or in cities where the sun does not shine as much. There is a reason why this root vegetable is a winter vegetable! In additon to its amazing dessert like taste, it doesn't spike our blood sugar levels - you know, the nasty stuff linked to weight gain and fatigue. If you have diabetes and love potatoes this is a good substitute for your white potatoes as they release their natural sugars slowly into the bloodstream.
For this recipe:
2 sweet potatoes
5 garlic cloves (unpeeled)
Pinch of garlic powder
1 heaped teaspoon of thyme (dried)
Freshly cracked sea salt
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Freshly cracked pepper
#1 Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
#2 Wash the sweet potatoes. Cut them lengthwise down the middle (leave the skin on). Then cut each half into long wedge-like pieces.
#3 Place into a bowl that is large enough to toss your vegetables together. Add cracked sea salt, garlic powder, thyme, cracked pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. Toss well.
#4 Place sweet potato mixture into a grill pan. Add the unpeeled garlic cloves.
#5 Bake for 20-25 minutes.
When we imagine things outside of ourselves that we have little or no control over, we experience fear. Yes, even the most experienced professionals amongst us experience fear. Fear is a normal human response. Often too normal that we forget it is there. It is an automatic alarm system embedded in our bodies that alerts us when we perceive a threat. This natural system was created so that we could take action and survive. Many of us allow our fears to take control of our actions. Remember the last time you said, "I'm sorry! I couldn't help it?" It is not uncommon to think that our fears are out of our control. Therefore, we surrender ourselves to our emotional brain (the limbic system) and allow it to react erratically or irrationally in situations that intimidate us.
What we tend to overlook is that in actuality our fear is governed by our perception of what our minds have learnt to classify as fear. Yes, fear is a constructed reality- a learned response. We were not born afraid and our body does not know the difference between a bear approaching us, an argument with a spouse, or that a work related deadline is approaching. It just receives a threat signal from the mind and does what it was created to do- survive.
We all have different fears. Some of us feel ok flying on airplanes while others may freak out. Many of us will even ignore situations to allow ourselves the control of feeling at ease when we don't have to face what scares us. Therefore, we go about our lives not having the conversations we should have, avoiding the tasks we should do, and not making the decisions we need to make. Whether it is confronting someone about why they lied, or taking the risk to quit a job you don't like. We have a natural inclination to keep ourselves from leaning into our discomfort. We are biologically conditioned to protect and survive.
Sometimes our protective mechanisms will keep us in a comfortable spot and limit our growth. A classic example could be gleaned from my decision to start a blog. If I had remained in my zone of comfort this blog would never have been published and I would have been imprisoned by my conditioned fear. A new friend of mine in his attempts to coach me out of my fear asked me what I was waiting for? "Courage", I responded. "Acting in the face of fear is courage", he said.
Courage doesn't come first. You don't gather up the courage to do something. You do it while you are scared and when you have completed your task you experience growth as a result of your courageous act to combat your fear. The decision involves becoming conscious of what you are experiencing, and then overriding that with where you are, and where you want to be.
Take a moment to think about the role fear plays in your life.
What is that one thing you have been putting off for a while?
Why haven't you gotten to it yet?
What comes to mind when you think about doing it?
Recognize what it is limiting you from.
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