By not allowing to feel connected to the land I was born in, am I avoiding something that is pushing to get exposed?
Here I am. Sitting on top of a mountain. The snow is being whirled through the air sideways. It’s cold. It’s white. It’s beautiful. It’s not home.
A friend has recently made a comment that hit home deep within me. And I have since been reflecting on that. What exactly was it, that felt like truth was being spoken when my friend said that perhaps there is something I am wanting to get away from. And that I might have to allow for it to be exposed.
At first, my reaction was like, yes of course, I want to get away from narrow minded people. From the pressure society puts upon me. From the lack of smiles. From the cold - not just physically, but also emotionally. From the grind. From having to pay pension. Save money. Take responsibility for my life. Because people in my home country are VERY responsible.
But then at second thought, I realised that all those patterns are within me too. To whatever extent. I’m being mirrored strongly when I’m here. It’s where my ancestors are from. My family. My roots of this physical body. I was born and raised here. Naturally, I am to have adopted these patterns. They might have weakened since I don’t live here in anymore. But does me being here trigger something within me because of the strong mirror?
On that note, please know that I’m aware this is a very gross over-generalisation. And I’m also aware that we encounter all sorts of people from all sorts of walks of life and levels of open-mindedness EVERYWHERE. So why do I feel so strongly about it in my home country? Why am I being triggered so much here?
Frankly, I almost feel a sense of superiority when I get to answer that I haven’t lived here in a while. Gosh, the Ego. Why is that? Why do I feel like I don’t want to be put into the same box with “them”? Me vs Them? What an illusion. I know that intellectually. And yet, I feel the separation so strongly. My home country doesn’t feel like home. It hasn’t in so long, that I struggle connecting with it every time I return.
My only sense of belonging manifests when I’m with my family and closest friends. And yet, even with some of these dear friends I feel the distance. I love them. I care about them. But I also feel disconnected. And I keep excusing that with the fact that many of them have a family now, beautiful babies and a very settled life. Am I feeling superior yet again? Am I feeling smug about my freedom?
Who am I trying to prove something to?
Myself. I’m trying to prove to myself that I’m NOT like them. That I am not narrow-minded. Not inflexible. Not dependent on society. Not part of the grind. (And yet here I am working my bottom off on the ski slope).
Is that why I keep returning without actually wanting to? Is there a lesson here to be learned? Facing the mirror this place is holding up for me so relentlessly and persistently. The mirror of recognisable patterns. The mirror of no separation. The mirror of sameness. The mirror of connection.
What would happen if I allowed for the connection to blossom again? Perhaps, I’m scared that I might enjoy it. What would it take to make that connection come to fruition? Open-mindedness. Being open for whatever is arising, within me and with others, and meeting it with love and compassion. Did I say I felt like I wasn’t narrow-minded? Well, scrap that.
How do I allow myself to feel the roots of my physical body, the sprouts from the earth of the land I was born in?
This digs deeper than just wandering around barefoot grounding my energies and connecting with the earth. These are roots I need to dig up deep within me. Somewhere somehow there is such a strong resistance to recognising that I am one and the same with all the beautiful people in this extraordinarily beautiful country.
I’ve always had such a strong sense of gratitude for the blessed life that I live. For being born in this home land of mine. For having such strong support around me of family and friends that I love dearly. And this remains unchanged. Love and care for the people, the land and everything it offers me has and will always be there. But the sense of separation puts a small dark shadow on my love and gratitude for my land and its people.
Because regardless of how I choose to live my life. Here or there. In the grind or outside. Saving money or spending. Travelling or settling - it has nothing to do whatsoever with the sense of connection with this land and its people that I know I have the ability and capacity for.
And with that, once again, I’m filled with a sense of immense gratitude for where I am right now. In this moment. On top of that mountain. In the midst of a snowstorm. Because I live. I breathe. And I am provided for. Surrounded by people that love me. People that care about me. Thank you - yes, YOU!
Fear is so persistent, isn't it? Very persuasive too. Just extremely limiting. Fear is the most common emotion to block us from stepping into our power. Our greatness. Our divinity. And into a life of freedom, joy and ecstasy.
Recently a friend of mine asked me if I ever worry about my finances and retirement. She hit a sensitive topic for me. One that I've relived over and over. A fear that I haven't been able to fully let go. Yet. I'm slowly but surely transcending that. With each intentional moment of sending out my gratitude for all that I have and cultivate my trust for everything that will still be provided for me.
Retirement. Pension schemes. Mental constructs of society. Illusions. Maya. I don't believe in this system that we've created. Disguised as a 'we're all looking after each other' social system. I might agree on the fact that the initial intention behind it is pure. It has qualities of sharing, community, helping the less fortunate and co-creation. The execution and what it's done to people's fear is less exciting. It created a conditioned mindset that leads you to believe that without a very elaborate government controlled retirement saving plan, you'll basically be left to die once you "retire". But guess what, retirement too, is a story invented by the Western human mindset. Ever seen a retired Balinese farmer? Or a retired Indian Sage? I haven't. And that's inspiring and confirming for me.
I, for my part, envision myself doing what I love doing, living a life that fulfills, to the moment of my last breath. Which in turn will sustain me through to the end. In whichever way the universe intends to provide for me. I trust I will be provided for.
If you're the "rational both feet on the ground" type of person, I'm with you. I'm aware that we do need money. We do need security. We do need savings. But where do you draw the line from letting fear guide you in this process and letting it flow freely and effortlessly. The latter meaning, work a job that you love. Live simple. Live free. Be healthy. Find your purpose, your passion, your dharma. Whatever you wanna call it. Then do that. Until the day you die. And if you happen to be able to save up a bit of money in this effortless process. Good for you! Use it. Live. Give. Enjoy. And feel safe. Stay independent from a system that only invokes fear and makes money out of exactly that.
It takes courage and strength to stand my ground in this belief. This vision of my very own unique retirement plan. I keep getting hit with well-intended but oh so strongly conditioned advice on how I should probably start thinking about the future (read retirement) soon. First of all, I don't do future. Never really have. Learnt the hard way when life always changed my plans. Second, of all, I won't ever retire from life - how could I! Life's is so beautiful. And life is always what you make of it. You create it. And when you live it the way you want, why in your good senses would you want to retire from that.
In a conventional world, you retire from your "job" and loose purpose. You don't know what to do with yourself because you've spent all your life numbing your feelings, desires, visions, dreams to be able to fit in and not let the system crush you. And now, you're left empty. Because the job that defined your life is no longer. And despite the fact that you most likely hated it - it gave you reason. Purpose. You never questioned that. Until now that you're retired and your reason is gone. Your health - mentally and physically - has seen better days. All of the sudden you have all this time on your hands, but you never learnt to be with yourself. To let your individual creativity express. To listen to what you really desire and not what someone else tells you. Be that a person, the system or just money itself.
If money dictates the bigger part of your life and why you do a certain job - chances are you've had to numb yourself to deal with it while your soul crumbles under the weight of greed and attachment. And what happens when you retire from your money-dictated working life and you are left with the wonderful chance to "just be"? Who will you be? Will you know what sparks your passion for life?
You're risking that at that age of retirement, you will either spiral downward because the weight of time for yourself is too much to handle or the slightly better scenario is that you start to peel your layers, one by one. And you start to get to know yourself. And if you're lucky you're still in good enough health to live your dreams.
But why wait?! Why wait until the system sets you free to live fully? Start now. Don't worry about the future and live your life the way that feels good for you. And if that doesn't include pension schemes and retirement plans, trust the universe and you'll be just fine. Let go of the fear entirely. Completely. And for good.
This is most importantly a reminder for myself to not let fear interfere with the way I want to live my life. This particular fear puts me in a space of scarcity rather than abundance. Which in turn blocks the flow and attracts even more scarcity. My journey has been to let go of financial worries and step into attracting abundance now and always. And even if I should decide to retire from doing what I love doing - it'll be an abundant retirement not dependent on pension schemes. And I'm not necessarily speaking about money. Abundance comes is many different forms and shapes. But that's for another day.
Thank you for reading. Love always x
This world is one huge Patriarchy Party. And I never consciously realised it. And no, I haven’t become a Feminist. But I woke up to my feminine body. My feminine emotions. My feminine energies.
I remember how it wasn’t a big deal when my moon visited me for the first time. It was just what is was. A little pain, a little bleeding, a little padding. A little acknowledging. Not much talking about it. My body changed. Curves started showing. Boys started noticing. I was mainly excited about wearing bras. But I never connected deeper with my feminine body. What did the moon cycle mean? What comes with being a woman? How can I access the sacred feminine powers?
And with curves - I realise now only in hindsight- my body started to get sexualised. And technically that’s a very natural thing. Boys and girls become pubescent and hormones take over. The thirst for sexual experience and an innate urge to reproduce becomes active. But it also conditioned a certain way in my mind about the dynamic between men and women. Sexually speaking in the world I grew up in, a woman is in some ways regarded as an object for the man’s pleasure. Yes, certain men care about the woman’s pleasure, but it’s to get done with quickly for them to get their well deserved fix. Orgasm and ejaculation are the ultimate goal of a sexual interaction. So that was my sexual experience - from the very first to the most recent, before I started to become a lot more aware of not only my feminine body, but also the expansive sexual connection that is possible between men and women. But that’s for another time and another post.
I want to address something that has been very eye-opening for me in the recent months.
I had been on contraception since about the age of sixteen. Starting with the anti-baby pill (don’t you think the name is pretty cruel?), then changing to a seemingly “lighter” version which was a vaginal hormonal ring. And then I got a hormonal coil inserted (one of the most painful experiences of my life). I was aware throughout all those years that I’m adding artificial hormones to my body and I’ve always believed that whatever isn’t naturally meant to happen can’t be good, in the short or the long run. But I never questioned it more deeply as that’s the way everyone was doing it. There wasn’t an alternative really, except for condoms. But especially when you’re in a longterm committed relationship, that’s less than ideal.
I never questioned that my moon cycles got completely messed up - to the point of non-existence. Surely, there is a reason for our bodies to have certain natural mechanisms in place - Nature is smart. But hey, we think we know better. We always do until we don’t.
After almost fifteen years of being on contraception came the moment when I went to see a Healer Guru in India just with general curiosity, nothing specific to be addressed. Having only offered my name and where I’m from he asked me if I menstruate. I thought that was a slightly weird ice-breaker. At that time I hadn’t in over two years, so I denied. He went on to say that there is something foreign in my womb space that is blocking the energy flow in my body. Woah. It hit me like a wall. I explained to him the concept of a hormonal coil. He didn’t even know there was such a thing as contraception. Well, of course, how would he. I was completely left in awe of this man who, knowing only my name and not a thing about contraception, found something massively wrong with the way I had completely changed the wonderful workings of my feminine body.
I knew immediately that once I get back to Europe, as a very first thing before even allowing myself the coffee from my absolute favourite coffee shop ever, I will have my coil removed. So I did. It took six months for my body to find back to it’s moon cycle. A little longer still for it to be regular. That was exactly a year ago when my body was finally relieved of artificially added hormones. Relieved of working against nature. Relieved of having a plastic something sit in my sacred womb space. And since then everything has changed.
At the beginning there very subtle changes. I started to become a lot softer not only physically but energetically. All my life I had been thriving on high yang energies. Never yin. Never feminine and soft. Once my moon cycle started again after six months, I broke out into tears at the sense of an immense and profound connection that I felt not only with my body, but more specifically with the woman in me. With the sacred, beautiful, soft, gentle, nurturing, receiving energy of the feminine.
Since then it has been a continuous journey of rediscovering my sacred feminine. I feel sensual, beautiful, curvy and soft. I feel ecstatic about being a woman and holding secret feminine powers. The world needs more softness. More yin. Women in the patriarchic world are not allowed to be soft. We are raised to be yang. To compete. To become leaders, CEOs or president. Which can really only be achieved the masculine way. There is no space for emotions, feelings and softness when you’re at the top. So we forget. Women forget how to embody the beautiful gentle and yet so powerful traits a woman holds.
Realising my feminine side and allowing it to show proudly has been a journey of self-discovery and self-love. A journey of learning what I was never taught. The ways of the feminine.
In hindsight, I believe very very strongly that the contraceptives I had been on with all their effects on my body - especially stopping my moon cycles - was a huge contributor to my disconnection with the woman in me and with that, feeling sexually objectifying and controlled, feeling like I had to run, push, do and cultivate these masculine traits to make it in this patriarchic world ruled by men, hell even my body was yang. Muscular, skinny, strong, ripped. An ideal that many strive for, but I now know better.
My message for all the women reading this includes an invitation to reflect deeply on your current situation around sex, contraceptives and your connection to your moon and the sacred feminine energies within you. And if you resonate with my words trust me when I say having my moon cycles return was one of the most beautiful experiences of connection with my body I have ever felt in my life. And it has taken my sensuality, my sexuality and my orgasmic joy of living to a level never imagined.
If you feel called to explore on this further, I am here for you x
People coming and going.
Things taking new forms.
Energies aligning and parting.
Life in itself is impermanent. Birth. Breath. Death. Impermanence. And with the realisation of impermanence comes the lesson of non-attachment. Of cherishing each and every person, thing and situation for the beauty they are, the lessons they hold. But cultivating the ability to let go.
I have been called to reflect on impermanence deeply. On letting go. On cherishing the memories and living the energetic connection when loved ones leave. The thought that I might never see them again is painful and yet there is a nurturing feeling of what was and still is. The deep heart connection. A beautiful energy that transcends space and time.
I realise how for the last couple of years of me moving places so often and with that having to let go of being physically close to beloved ones, I have been in a space that I dare call detached indifference. Not that I didn't care about my dear friends and family, but I didn’t allow myself to feel. To feel the sadness when a person leaves. To feel the loneliness and the empty space they leave behind. To feel the craving for physical touch. To feel a little lost at first. Wanting to hide in my introvert cave because meeting new people isn’t always that much fun. But with that indifference I never allowed for the beautiful feeling of heart connection to fully blossom regardless of space and time. A connection that comes from the heart, from the soul - it doesn’t need physical closeness. It blossoms through the energy that I send out to the person that I love and the energy they send back. Always connected. And these connections are what I cherish. These are the people that I hold close to my heart, always. These are the beautifully effortless connections that are nourishing and uplifting. Comforting. Always there.
I have a pattern of 'out of sight out of mind’. I used to be in a state of denial about this, thinking it makes me a bad person that doesn’t care. I would push myself to stay connected with people that I love through calling, social media, skyping and what not. But if it doesn’t come naturally and effortlessly, it drains my energy. There is no good or bad, no black or white. Most people might say this isn’t a good pattern and it might seem like I don’t care - most likely it feels this way to some of the people concerned and loved dearly.
But I am effortless. My life is effortless. Things flow effortlessly. And that’s where I feel authentic to my Self. I don’t push. I don’t force. I let. Allowing the flow of life to unfold like the ocean allows the waves to be powerful or gentle. To be high or shallow. To take life or give life.
I cherish these beautiful heart connections because they are effortlessly nurturing. Effortlessly comforting. Effortlessly THERE. Always. It’s a give and take of love energy. That doesn’t require a call once a week. Or a text every day. And today I hold so so much gratitude for all the people in my life that share this beautiful heart space with me. And I want to apologise to you. If you ever felt like I didn’t care. I do. If you ever felt like I didn’t think about you. I do. If you ever felt like I don’t love you. I do. Dearly!
Impermanence. The core essence of understanding life and how a state of balance is held. Accepting impermanence and letting go. Letting go of the mind stuff. The heart connection stays, forever. It’s effortless and so deeply nourishing. It doesn’t need letting go because that’s our natural innate state of being. We are one. Connected by the heart. Connected through our soul. A connection that might have the capacity to transcend impermanence. What a comforting thought.
I love you.
I used to think I'm a natural multi-tasker. Just for the simple fact that I was able to do several things at a time. But was I efficient in each of those tasks? Probably not. I got it done, mostly error-free, and ticked it off my TO DO list. I never however questioned the very fact that multi-tasking doesn't necessarily result in the fastest and most efficient results. It just FELT like it because I was doing several things at a time. Recently, I've been analysing this behavioural pattern. And having spoken with people and read into the topic has made me realise that there is another way to go about tasks and productivity. In fact, to go about life in general.
In each and every moment of doing something. And the other day, I came across this article by Leo Babauta that made me commit to trying to break my pattern for good. To devote my attention to ONE things at a time FULLY in each and every moment. Read on, maybe you get inspired too!
A secret to productivity, happiness and mindfulness that you can practice right now, and every day: Devote yourself single-mindedly to ANYTHING you do. For example, you can single-mindedly focus on:
Most of us try to combine doing two or more things at once, by listening to a podcast while running. It's not enjoyable. You’re not really present with either. That’s not to say you should never combine activities, but to the extent that you decide to focus on one at a time, you’ll be more present with it, and more fully appreciate it.
Most of us are also very good at switching focus. What it means is that we’re not really devoting ourselves to anything. We’re saying that there is nothing worthy of our full attention. Nothing is sacred if we are constantly switching.
What if we made everything we do sacred?
What if we decide that if we’re going to spend precious moments of our life on something, we’re going to treat it with reverence, wonder and respect?
What if every time we ate something, we gave it our undivided attention?
Every time we talk to someone, we treat their words as if they were their last words?
What if, every time we open a website, we have only that website open … and treat it as if it were a sacred activity?
What if, every time we do anything, we give it not only our full attention, but our full appreciation? We found gratitude and wonder and love in everything we did?
If we acted like this, every day, then our lives would be filled with mindfulness, gratitude, happiness.
When you are about to start doing something, pause to notice what you’re doing. Set an intention to be fully devoted, single-mindedly devoted, to this one thing. Then give it your everything, as if it were your last act.
Try it for a day! I'd be curious to hear your feedback on what changed for you.
Avoiding processed foods is key to sustain one’s health. I’m a big fan of a wholesome plant-based diet that consists of non-processed foods. Lots of nutritious raw food but also warming and nourishing cooked foods. This is not only because it tastes best, but to avoid all the chemicals that are added to our food. And with that I don’t even manage to avoid all of the chemicals that are added to our food. Unless I grow my own food, in my own garden, on my own soil full of nutrition, there will always be a chance I’m ingesting some sort of chemical, additive or preservative. Especially when we look at non-organic farming because yes, I can’t afford buying organic all the time. And living in Asia does limit the possibilities for organic food somewhat.
Many of us are by now aware of most chemicals in our food. We try to avoid GMO, HFCS, MSG, E numbers and such. The big nasty words. But what about the rest? There are more than 3,000 food chemicals purposely added to our food supply. Some more harmful than others. But as a general rule of thumb if it isn’t natural, I don’t believe nature intended for us to eat it.
Below I've complied an overview of the worst offenders for you.
Partially hydrogenated and modified oil
Generally labelled as soybean oil, vegetable oil shortening, modified coconut oil or palm oil to name a few. Most of these are processed to the extent that their chemical structure changes and they turn into trans fats. Trans fats raise bad cholesterol (LDL) and at the same time also lower good cholesterol (HDL). They increase and trigger inflammation in the body. This puts your health at risk, increasing chances for heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Which foods contain trans fats? Cakes, pies, cookies, biscuits, margarine, crackers, microwave popcorn, doughnuts, candies.. you get the point. Most of these hydrogenated oils are made from soybeans which in itself can have further health risks involved. Most soy crops - especially in countries like the US where GMO is still allowed - are genetically engineered.
Modified Food Starch
This includes corn starch, agar, calcium carbonate, calcium sulfate, cellulose gum and most of the time if you read the ingredient “modified starch” is means it will have been treated with chemicals such as sulfuric acid, chlorine and others which aren’t necessarily safe for consumption. Due to the treatment with these chemicals, the risk for contamination increases and with that the chances that we actually ingest the chemicals. Lastly, modified starch is a highly processed carbohydrate which adds empty calories to your food. Especially for weight conscious people it is recommended to avoid modified starch for that very reason.
HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup)
Though chemically similar to table sugar (sucrose), this cheaper alternative is a highly processed form of glucose converted into fructose. Some studies have shown that HFCS inhibits Leptin which is the hormone responsible for controlling appetite. On top of that, HFCS being pure fructose, it needs to be processed by the liver. Fructose is primarily metabolised by your liver, because your liver is the only organ that has the transporter for it. If you consume high amounts of it, fructose can be taxing on the liver and essentially damage it. Similar to alcohol and other toxins. And just like alcohol, fructose is mostly metabolised directly into fat. It can’t be used as fuel for the body efficiently and it therefore gets stored in your fat cells, which leads to mitochondrial malfunction, obesity and obesity-related diseases.
They can appear in our food as Aspartame, Xylitol, Sucralose, Saccharin or Sorbitol to name a few of the more common ones. They all come with their own effects on our health. Aspartame is probably the worst of all evil and has been shown to have carcinogenic effects. It is to be avoided especially by pregnant women as aspartame can predispose the baby to metabolic syndrome disorders and obesity later in life. Common side effects of aspartame include headaches, migraines, mood disorders and dizziness. Artificial sweeteners can trigger and increase addiction to sugar tenfold as it has a much higher sweetness. Most of these sweeteners are known to cause abdominal bloating, cramps and even diarrhoea. Plus, as they are artificial the body isn’t able to break down the compounds and with that these sweeteners can have a huge effect on our metabolism and create residue in the body and the liver.
MSG goes by many names: monosodium glutamate, maltodextrin, sodium caseinate, autolyzed yeast, autolyzed vegetable protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, yeast extract, and even citric acid. Ultimately, more than 40 forms of this processed additive can be found in supermarket aisles. And the side effects are immense. There is an actual thing called MSG symptom complex - that says it all, right? Headaches, flushing, sweating, facial pressure, numbness, palpitations, nausea. MSG is also a chemoinducer of obesity, type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome. It’s often found in canned soup, diet beverages, an array of popular fast food, packaged sausages and frankfurters, beef stew, instant soups, salad dressing and some packaged vegetarian foods - and Chinese food.
The safety of artificial food dyes is highly controversial. Artificial food colouring is what creates the bright colours of candy, sports drinks and baked goods. They’re even used in certain brands of pickles, smoked salmon and salad dressing as well as medications. Artificial food colouring consumption has increased by 500% in the last 50 years - children are the biggest consumers. Just slightly scary.. Listen up, food dyes are made from petroleum! Petrol.. that is used to fuel cars and scooters. Several studies have found a small but significant association between artificial food dyes and hyperactivity in children. They can also cause behavioural changes including irritability, restlessness, depression and difficulty with sleeping.
Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
These additives are widely used by the food industry as preservatives to prevent oils and fats from oxidising and with that from going rancid. They are used in cereals, potato chips, chewing gum, butter, meats, baked goods, snack foods and beer. They are also found in food packaging, cosmetics, rubber products, and petroleum products. Why would you eat something that is also made into rubber? BHA and BHT can negatively impact sleep and appetite and have been associated with liver and kidney damage, hair loss, behavioural problems, and cancer.
And here comes the outrageous part: Food manufacturers are now allowed to include the above as “Rosemary Extract” - part of the Clean-Label Revamp of ingredient lists. Doesn’t that sound yummy and healthy? Don’t get fooled, it’s just a different name for the same and has nothing to do with rosemary. Not in the slightest.
Potassium bromate is a oxidising agent that chemically ages flour much faster than air. It also bleaches dough and increases its elasticity which creates the bubbles as the bread rises. The end product is fluffy, soft and unnaturally white. Luckily this additive is banned in the European Union, Canada, Brazil and many other places, but don’t eat store bought bread in the US and Japan where it’s still allowed. It is carcinogenic which means it can cause cancer.
Sodium nitrate is a salt that is used to preserve foods and added to cured meat including bacon, jerky, ham, salami and hot dogs to help preserve them. If you’re a vegetarian and took a sigh of relief, I have bad news. Sodium nitrate can be found in plants due to nitrogen in the soil. Plants absorb sodium nitrate from the soil as it’s needed for plant growth. Vegetables with high levels of sodium nitrate include spinach, radishes, lettuce, celery, carrots, cabbage, and beets. High levels are concerning for our health and can cause problems such as cancer, heart disease and leukaemia. Other side effects include dizziness, headaches, nausea and vomiting.
Sodium Benzonate and Benzoic Acid
These are added to some fruit juices, carbonated drinks and pickles to stimulate the growth of microorganisms in acidic foods. They generally affect only people with allergies, but they also exacerbate symptoms of asthma and ADHD. A diet high in sodium can increase the risk for hypertension and with that heart disease. When sodium benzoate is used in beverages that also contain ascorbic acid (vitamin C) which is very common, these two substances can form a chemical that causes leukaemia and other cancers.
And lastly, a few more words on the chemicals that are widely used to grow food - vegetables and fruits. Pesticides are chemicals used to eliminate or control a variety of agricultural pests that can damage crops. The most common ones are insecticides (to kill insects), herbicides (to kill weeds), rodenticides (to kill rodents), and fungicides (to control fungi, mold, and mildew).
Pesticides have been linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s, ADHD and birth defects. They can also harm the nervous, reproductive and endocrine system. Pesticides tend to be stored in the colon and although one piece of fruit with pesticides won't kill you, it is the build-up that can be harmful for your health.
Pesticides don’t only harm us humans, but they also affect the environment massively. Biodiversity gets lost and key species such bees are eliminated as they die away, they pollut the water and contaminate the soil which create a vicious cycle as we grow food again on the same soil with the same water. Lastly, pest, insects, weeds etc can become resistant resulting in the need for increased application of pesticides.
Have you ever heard of the Dirty Dozen? It’s your little cheat sheet to know which foods to avoid if you buy non-organic produce. The Dirty Dozen are the fruits and vegetables that have the highest amount of pesticides.
In 2017 the list is as follows:
The full list can be found here: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list.php#.WYKYGNOGPsk
Despite the fact that all of the above sounds very scary, it is very possible to avoid these ingredients all together. Just think that you don’t want to eat what doesn’t exist in nature. None of the above “man-made” ingredients do. They might be derived from nature in some form or another, but due to the processing, the heating, the extracting, the torturing it isn't what it used to be in its natural form in the slightest.
And yes, perhaps not all food additives are “that” bad or “that” harmful, but I’m still a major advocate of an unprocessed diet. Think about why most of the additives are added to the food? Maybe because the “food” or product doesn’t taste nice otherwise! It would be bland. Tasteless. And nature never intended for us to eat things that don’t taste.
Recommended further reading: Swallow This by Joanna Blythman.
Thank you for listening. Thank you for being aware. Thank you x
What values, principles, or deep sense of purpose do you want your life to have exemplified?
I started reading a book. Yet another one. It seems to be one of my new hobbies ‘to start reading a new book and never finish’. But this specific one has resonated in a deep place within me so I am still reading. It talks about our soul’s purpose in life, both spiritual and worldly fulfillment and the four desires. More on that later. And the concept of finding purpose basically screams my name. My name’s written all over the fucking front page. Why? I don’t feel like I’ve found mine. Yes, I’ve come a hell of a lot closer to doing what I love doing. To living my life the way I want. Waking up every single day thinking and FEELING how blessed I am. But a piece is missing. A little piece of emptiness needs to be filled. And I have a strong feeling it has to do with my purpose. The very purpose my soul brought into this lifetime of mine. And it’s my duty to fulfill it. It doesn’t have to be something big. Like Nelson Mandela. Elon Musk. Or Gandhi. But it has to fill the little space of emptiness. The feeling of having no actual real purpose. The feeling of not making a difference in this world - regardless of how small. The feeling of fully and passionately dedicating all my time creating something. I love doing many different things. But none of them to the extent that I would ONLY ever want to do that. I’ve been excusing this with the idea that I’m a 'multi-potentialite’ (watch the TEDTalk on this, it’s great!) and yes, to some degree I still see myself in that concept. A lot. I love to try new things and never commit to one thing fully. Perhaps this is connected with not having FOUND the one thing to fully commit to. But then, this is my rational mind thinking about ‘work’ or a ‘profession’. When actually, finding one’s purpose is often misunderstood as finding one’s profession. Work. Or what people do for a living. But that’s not all of it. Merely a small part. And I’m starting to realise that by only reading the first few pages of my new exciting book. Dharma - the purpose - consist of our true essence. A deep deep desire of our soul to express the innate Self.
Let me explain using an example given by the book. A woman realises that she completely lights up and can fully embody her soul’s potential and purpose by ‘just sharing all of me’. This very simple thing is her Dharma Code. Her purpose. And it makes sense when you think about it for a while. If that’s all you do. In any situation of your life - not just your professional life - to ‘just share all of you’ - all your decisions, choices, actions and reactions will be based on your Dharma Code and with that you shape your entire life around ‘just sharing all of you’. So in whatever you do - breathing, working, relationships, studies, sports, reading, volunteering, teaching - you just share all of yourself. And that’s your very purpose. Because by doing everything based on your purpose, things will work out divinely and how they need to as you’re fully embodying your purpose.
The woman had been in unlucky relationships all her life, but found fulfilment in her teaching job. Upon reflecting, she realised that other than in her teaching she would always play small and safe. Never sharing all of herself fully. And with that failed miserably in all aspect of her life where she didn’t share all of herself. Including her past relationships. Yes, she had already found a ‘job’ she liked, but really that’s only a very small part of your life and does not contribute hugely to lasting happiness and fulfillment.
Another example was a guy that desperately tried to make his acting career work. Investing time, energy, money, sweat and worries - basically everything. His mission was to ‘inspire people to think and grow’. And he thought acting was the way to achieve that. But trying hard against your soul’s desire won’t work. Now he paints. And that’s all he does, every second of his life. No more effort, no more strain. Just pure enjoyment. And he is still following his Dharma Code to ‘inspire people to think and grow’ as he touches people with his paintings.
These examples illustrate that purpose doesn’t mean ‘job or career’. Not at all. And that’s where I’m headed. I feel that in terms of ‘job’ I have found something that lights me up. That I enjoy. But quite possibly I’m missing the actual definition of my soul’s purpose to be able to fully express that through what I do. In everything I do. To be able to do everything effortlessly and choose and commit to something that I want to invest all my time and energy into.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati puts it this way:
‘There will never be a storm
That can wash the path from my feet,
The direction from my heart,
The light from my eyes,
Or the purpose from this life.
I know that I am untouchable to the forces
As long as I have a direction, an aim, a goal:
To serve, to love and to give.
Strength lies in the magnification of the secret qualities
Of my own personality, my own character
And though I am only a messenger,
I am me.’
And yes, I promised to share the four desires. They basically describe all of what drives us and that we need on this Earth Walk to live a life of blissful fulfilment and everlasting happiness.
Now, this might explain to you partly why the book resonates with me so much. It speaks from a more realistic point of view and takes into consideration the beauty of our human experience. It doesn’t abandon all the worldly desires and pleasures like other Yogic philosophies do. Which has always confused me and given me reason for frustration. How can one abandon ALL worldly things completely to try and attain enlightenment when it’s SO beautiful to be human and to EXPERIENCE. The key that I learnt is to keep a detached sense of joy, pleasure and appreciation for material and worldly things which includes all physical sensations and sensual pleasures. And with that detached awareness it’s even more fun to dive into the experience fully. To explode with joy in a moment of ecstasy. To taste good food. To indulge in human connection and touch. To admire nature’s beauty and let it engulf you completely. Why would anyone ever deny themselves all this beauty to live in a cave never to return. Not me. So this books speaks about the balance between spiritual and worldly fulfillment based on tantric principles and the above mentioned four desires. I’m sold! And I shall keep you posted on the process. The book is essentially a course, a lot of work and commitment. Because that Dharma Code isn’t just cracked with a lil’ reading and sipping tea.
The book is called ‘The Four Desires’ by Rod Stryker. Thanks dear friend who recommended it to me. Much love.
I was vegan for many years. STRICT vegan. Like ‘don’t put that yogurt too close to my raw almond milk granola bowl or I might get bad karma’ kind of strict. And I was fine. I was happy. And had no problems following through. Just saying no to things that weren’t for me. Just asking for vegan at the most random non-veg restaurants. Or just eating plain lettuce if there was no option.
And then I started studying Nutritional Therapy. Most of my classmates were vegan. Some not. And as time went on and we dived deeper into the world of nutrition and living a holistically healthy life I came to certain realisations.
One of them was that I was an extremist. No offence for all the vegans out there, I’m still with you! With extremist I’m referring to my mindset. It was so extrem it didn’t allow any flexibility let alone an open mind!! Now that’s not very healthy I thought to myself. And I started to open my mind. To the wonderful world of a balanced, nutritious, sustainable and most importantly healthy diet. And again, I’m not saying vegan diets aren’t healthy, but you need to know a thing or two about nutrients to get all your essential life warriors. You also need to understand that it really might not be for everyone. We all have slightly different genetic makeups. Slightly different metabolisms. Different blood types. Different SNPs which are genetic variations that can influence how we process and absorb nutrients. Different taste buds. Different lifestyles and level of physical activity. You name it, we are all that slight bit different - physically and mentally. Never spiritually, but that’s for another time. So the point is that maybe your neighbour is the world’s healthiest vegan and will be forever without ever touching a food supplement or getting a vitamin B12 injection, but your sister who tried a vegan diet cold turkey - no pun intended - last spring really suffered.
Back to extremism. I realised for myself that it was actually quite restrictive as a way of life. For me personally. It allowed NO flexibility. Sometimes - in hindsight - no joy or living in the moment. When I was riding that extremist wave, I never thought I was missing out, being extrem or not enjoying the moment fully. But in retrospect I could maybe agree that there were some occasions when having that piece of goat cheese with my beetroot salad might have enhanced the joy of living in this human body with incredibly sensitive taste buds.
So over the last year or so, I’ve opened up. My mind. My choices in food. And my opinion on a healthy diet. And again, I can only speak for myself and in my profession as a Nutritional Therapist I know to be conscious of individuality. But allowing myself to have eggs has been a game changer when travelling in some Asian countries where it’s hard sometimes to get all your nutrients and feel fulfilled when you only eat white rice and some curried vegetables. If you’re lucky there is a Dahl without cream or salted chillied peanuts for some protein. The life of a traveller.. *sigh*. But also, during my studies I learned to understand how an egg can be so very nutritious. It’s packed with proteins and an abundance of vitamins and minerals.
Or I might have had the odd cuppa milk chai with a hell of a lot of sugar in India - I mean how can you miss out on that experience. It’s the simple things in life, right? And being able to ALLOW myself to choose a chai with milk and sugar over a simple chai which is essentially just black tea with no milk no sugar (*yawn*), for me now means LIVING LIFE IN THIS BODY FULLY, but CONSCIOUSLY AWARE of the choices I make. Having a milk chai with sugar every now and again and enjoying that moment so much feels like a big party of joy, presence and mouth love. Why would I deny myself simple joys like that? Neither my body nor the environment on a grand scale will be affected. And I know what some of you might be thinking now - well if every human being on this planet had milk chai with sugar on tap, that surely WILL cause health and ethical problems - I completely agree! How about, what if every human being on this planet only had ONE milk chai with sugar EVERY NOW AND AGAIN instead of four times per day as some people do.
Or how about eating fish on an island, from a local fisherman that uses only sustainable fishing methods - because luckily he’s not corrupted by money and the mass production tools of the modern world - EVERY NOW AND AGAIN (how often are we on an island anyway) instead of eating farmed salmon from the supermarket three times per week?!
Or maybe buy grass-fed organic beef from your local butcher for a special occasion like your boyfriend’s birthday because he loves it so much INSTEAD of buying the cheapest most unethically sourced chicken you can find at the pound shop? Throw the entire world population into these equations are it’ll change the world.
So it comes back to BALANCE. And AWARENESS. Allowing yourself simple pleasure - if then a milk chai give you pleasure - and making a very conscious and aware decision to ENJOY and thank Mother Nature for the JOY. And give back with your gratitude, awareness and conscious ethical choices. Those have nothing to do with being vegan or not. But they have everything to do with being mindful in each and every moment you put food into your mouth. In each and every moment you stand in front of a supermarket shelf (or your online shopping shelf) and decide between organic and non-organic. In each and every moment you look at a menu that has OPTIONS to opt for coconut milk instead of cows milk. Options are great. But if there are no options and you still really want to order that probiotic live yogurt with blueberries despite you not actually “doing” dairy, then that’s great too.
Make a conscious choice, thank Mother Nature and allow yourself to be filled up physically, mentally and emotionally by the joy of having that yogurt. It will be so satisfying. And that feeling will last for a long time which means you won’t want to eat yogurt again the next day. Or even the day after that.
BE PRESENT when you eat. Enjoy every mouthful. And most important of all, LISTEN to what your body tells you. When we start to eat consciously, slowly, mindfully, we learn to really listen. Our bodies know what they need. And once we learn to listen, we know exactly how to respond to that need. Which is different to a craving that develops in your head because you saw the delicious looking cake on the counter.
There are different aspects to making food choices. Nutritional considerations. Care for the environment. Seasonality. Freshness. And animal welfare. Consider ALL of it when making your food choices and you can’t really go wrong.
THE PERSONAL BOTTOM LINE. I eat what feels right for my body and the environment. Which most of the time is vegan. After all, that’s what I love to eat. Plants. Raw cakes. Avocado. But there are moments where it might be an egg. Or milk in my coffee where there is no other option. Or that piece of goats cheese when my dear friend adds it to her signature salads :)! And there might even be times when I don’t crave anything other than pure, fresh, local vegan food for weeks. My body tells me. And I listen.
Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu. May all beings everywhere be happy and free from suffering.
I bet your mom told you this already and I'm not your mum, but I’ll do it again, just to make sure. Drinking plenty of water is probably the most important thing when it comes to being healthy. Why? Well, hydration. But there is of course some more details to the ‘Why’.
I’m currently sitting in a café in Bali as I’m writing this (#digitalnomadwanker) and it’s hot. And sweaty. And I’m doing my outmost best to sip my 1.5 l of water to then refill the bottle at this place before leaving (free water, yes please). Because drinking water is important and I know that very much. However, since not working in an office anymore and not having my water bottle literally next to my screen where my eyes can see it, it’s not always very obvious that I should drink. Those gentle reminders of my bottle really helped. Now, it’s more like. Wake up, realise you ran out of water and you can’t drink tap water, go to shop, buy a bottle. Finish it until after yoga. Then have breakfast, walk, walk some more, sweat, sweat some more, have cake. Walk, sweat. Dinner. And before you know it the afternoon went without drinking more water, because you know, life is pretty magical and exciting here.
So, the benefits you ask. Like for real, not just ‘you should drink a lot of water”.
First of all, our bodies are made of about 60% water - cool, right? That’s why the moon can really affect us in many different ways. The moon can move entire oceans after all! But that’s for another time. What does all that water in the body do? Help digest, transport, absorb, create saliva and maintain the body temperature.
Et voila, je presente, benefits:
Brain - Studies show that even very mild dehydration can have effects on many functions of the brain. You might lose the ability to concentrate and even develop a headache. Isn’t that the first common answer for many when they mention a headache? ‘Drink some water, love!’ Other studies have even shown increased levels of anxiety and fatigue with dehydration.
Digestion - Drinking all that water also helps with your number twos. To keep your digestive system smooth and your food moving through effortlessly, your body needs liquid. Hence, low water consumption can be associated with constipation. On that note however, it’s recommended to not drink during meals as this can dilute the digestive juices and reduce the absorption of food. Drink until 30 mins before your meal and then only an hour after and you’re good!
Kidneys - Ever heard of kidney stones? Uggh, not nice. Painful. To be avoided at all costs. And you’re lucky, it really doesn’t cost more than a little water to do that. If you’re lucky, you might even have access to free water. Gratitude. These stones can be formed due to minerals in the urinary system that get stuck and build up. A higher intake of water and fluid in general means more passing of urine through the system and with that your kidneys get flushed more often, minerals diluted.
Weight - Loss! Yes, you heard it. Keeping hydrated and drinking all that water can help with weight loss or maintaining weight. This is mainly due to increased satiety feelings and also a boost in metabolism. Which means that your total energy expenditure goes up too, with your body working hard to make the best use of the water coming in. Free calorie burning while staying hydrated. Win-win. You can even drink cold water which might give you an extra boost as your body has to work a little extra to bring the temperature down. But if you’re like me, you just can’t deal with cold water and that’s cool.
Exercise - Yah. Ever seen anyone in the gym without water? Not very common and that’s for good reason. Yes, you sweat and need to hydrate. You will otherwise feel a pretty steep decline in your physical performance. This can present in symptoms such as reduced motivation, increased fatigue and it just makes the exercise feel much harder in general - physically and mentally. And it’s also important to notice that staying hydrated during exercise will help reduce oxidative stress. This is a natural process that happens when exercising, but you don’t want those free radicals roaming around your temple, so flush them out!
Toxins - Like above, flush ‘em out those bad boys! The detoxification process needs water to flush out the stuff once it’s been processed by your liver and kidneys. Drinking lots of water will do that job for you. It’s almost like a little daily detox.
Skin - Forget about lotion or expensive creams. Water’s your best friend. It keeps your skin fresh, smooth and glowing. And it prevents - maybe even reduces - wrinkles. It’s the best hydration for when your skin is dry. Hydration from the inside, thoroughly and effectively.
And now you want to know how much water you should be drinking? That’s of course very individual. Boring answer, but it’s true. A good indication is the colour of your pee. Is it quite bright, almost clear? Good, you’re doing it right! Other indications can be headaches, fatigue, constipation and even feeling hungry when you actually ate enough - it’s your brain picking up the wrong message because it can’t function properly without water :).
And look, I get it, water isn’t exactly the most exciting drink out there (hi, wine.) But, how about pimping your drink with fresh cucumber, lime, lemon, mint, even berries or whatever strikes your fancy.
I’m off to finish my drink, laters x
I’ve been thinking. Why do I engage on our beloved communication system called social media? Why do I share my favourite travel pictures, my nailed-it yoga asanas and my what I thought was an amazing looking dish on my Instagram? Some even get shared on my Facebook! Imagine that. Most of us do it. Anyone know why? In my opinion, partly because of our ego and I’m guilty too. But then, we’re all trying to make a living somehow and the fact that the power of the internet can help spread the word cannot be denied. So why do I feel self-conscious every time I post something? Never when it’s just a simple quote without my face on it. And usually not about travel pictures either. Ha. And despite feeling slightly uncomfortable, I keep doing it. Keep riding that social media wave. I actually aim to do it even more. Because I want the world to know what I do. (Do I really?!) Make people get to know what I have to share. But every time my index finger is about to hit that share button I get a small bout of anxiety. What if people hate it. What if people think I’m showing off. Or what if people unfriend me because they don’t what to see it. And within this very millisecond, my ego mind says: don’t care what other people think, just do it.
But where is my true and honest place in all this. Which side do I take. Do I just do this on a mission to spread the word and prepare for my future yoga studio… #dreambig? Or do I do it because I enjoy getting approval and confirmation from the people that I love? Through Instagram, Selina?! Really now? Or is my place in the offline world? Is that where I feel more comfortable? But then, I would be missing out on a HUGE opportunity to reach many people that maybe, dare I say, I inspire with what I’m doing or help them in some way or another. Take it or leave it, as one of my teachers always says. So technically, the people that want it, will take it and the rest will find something else they like and that’s totally fine too. So WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
Especially in the “business” of yoga there is SUCH a fine line between the ego’s drive to share that handstand I nailed or how bendy I am and the fact that yoga is NOT AT ALL about the ego. In fact, it DOESN’T EVEN EXIST in the world of yoga. So where to draw the line? How to, despite the ego situation, still get your word out there, spreading your passion and your thoughts, your skills - not to be a show-off, but to inspire and eventually, yes, making a living out of it. But that’s secondary. It will come naturally and is essentially just a side-effect. Because I think, most of us need to eat, have shelter and access to the internet and these things still cost money in this world we’ve created.
So again, where is that fine line. I just can’t seem to be able to find it. And I find small comfort in the fact that so many great yogis out there use social media to reach the world and we all follow them. We’re all inspired by what they do, aren’t we. We follow them on their Instagram, their Facebook, their Snapchat, their Whatsoeveridontevenknow.
I feel like I have to justify to myself and even to the people that see my post and might wonder or disapprove, why I do it. But that’s something I need to work on for myself, ain’t got nothing to do with the others.
So why is it that my asana pictures get the most likes? And why is it that yogis that literally only post handstands and other funky arm balances and can do all sorts of different pretzels have the most followers? The world is a wee bit superficial, we know that, and I’m part of that too. Yet, I don’t really want to. Don’t really feel it’s right. But then again, I haven’t completely separated myself from my ego (just yet?) and my ego does like a good looking picture that just happened to capture that one particularly great moment and it wants to share it with the world.
And I reckon a liiiittle bit of ego is needed to survive in this world. Especially when I don’t want to hide behind a big corporate name, three screens and a headset telephone anymore. I want to be me. And I want to be THAT and attract the people that care and love it. So, that still leaves me with the in-between. The gap between me and those people. How do I reach them. Will they just find me? Even without social media? Will the universe send them to me if I act from love? I trust it will. But this might be going to the extreme. Hey, don’t have a website with pictures of yourself or talk about yourself and what you do. WHERE IS THAT FLIPPIN’ FINE LINE?
And as always, I don’t even know exactly what my point is. It’s just good to write it down. Because maybe there is people out there that are confused about this too. I guess it’s just about finding where your own personal fine line is in this big confusing world of being present.. ONLINE.
‘You begin to feel on a cellular level
that things are unfolding exactly
in the way that they should.
At the rate and timing they need.
You start to trust the process.
You relax from the endless pushing
that most of us learned at birth.
On some fundamental, mysterious level, you just let go.
Not with that bitterness people feel
when they fear the (ego’s) dreams won’t occur.
Not with passivity as right actions do get shown.
Rather you relax into this calm curiosity
about where the flow might go.
You’re detached yet somehow riveted
by how the story will unfold.
You feel spaciously receptive
and open to what wishes to come.
You give it all room to blossom.
You trust the highest,
one way or another,
eventually will unfold.
You know that with God as your Source
you needn’t cling to any one plan
And you’re not clutching a list of desires,
pushing the ego’s agenda even more.
When you’re in cycles of quiet and waiting,
you catch your breath
knowing the wheel again will turn.
You rest because as the right actions get revealed
a lot will arise to be done.
You wait for the signs and the timing
rather than rip open the cocoon.
You trust that delays might be welcome.
You trust that delays can be good.
You trust that delays are all perfect.
And you stay present
just to witness
your own birth.’
- Tosha Silver
I hope that you have diligently read my travel blog in the meantime? It's ok if not. Not everyone is into travelling. Being back means feet on the ground of reality and loads of motivation to do my own thing. I cannot tell you how much I want to try very hard to make this thing work. This thing of being a Yoga Teacher slash Nutritional Therapist for life. For a living. I said goodbye to my desk forever, so that's it. Ain't no turning back and I wouldn't want it even if I was offered money! Ha.
So here I am. Soaking up the London vibes, I missed it! Not that it isn't great in the East, but hey London has a great food scene, I ain't gonna lie. And the coffee isn't so bad either.
I have revamped my website (this one, yes) and hope that you like it! I'm aiming to be back to updating my blog with relevant information for you and to be there should you need some advice or someone to kick your yoga butt.
You wonder if I've changed after six months of solo travelling. Well, it's hard to say, but people change all the time, don't they. Travelling or not. That's life. And it's a good thing, it means progression and growth and that's what we're here for on this earth. Only our core. Our heart and soul. They stay. They are who we are and I wouldn't want to be any different. I think travelling and spending time alone just makes you more aware of who you are and where you want to go. And what you don't want or are. And this in turn may change you because it will show in your words. Your actions. Even the way your eyes see the world. So I guess I have changed. This journey has been one of the most challenging but rewarding of my life. And I wouldn't want to miss a second of it. In fact, I could have easily continued. But, we gotta also make a living somehow. I'm working on just being a digital nomad. Doesn't that sound great? A digital nomad slash travelling yoga teacher slash online nutritionist - or something like that. Because times have changed. I realised that while I was travelling, through all the people I met. So so many of them work while they travel and they've been doing that for years. Hello!! I can do that too! And then there is all the people I saw today in the fancy coffee place in fancy Shoreditch working on their fancy Macs making a living too! While sipping a Flat White. Hello!! That's me right there. And that's why I'm saying times are changing, more and more people realise that the work/life balance isn't sitting at a desk for eight hours every day and then have two hours before you need to go to sleep to eat, do sports, meditation, read, watch your favourite series, meet your friends and drink coffee while listening to new age hipster music. Ya. Not enough time. So all these people that have had that realisation, made it happen. And changed that balance to actual REAL balance. And doing something they love without being dependent on anyone. That's the life you guys. And that's me. Just putting it out there.
So if anyone fancies a private yoga session or needs some nutritional advice, drop me a line ;).
Love and Light,
It's been a while, oops. Been busy. Organising. This: https://peanutenroute.wordpress.com
I am embarking on an adventure in the east. I'm doing my yoga teacher training in Bali and will then be travelling for some time in Indonesia, India and Nepal.
During this time I want to discovered the World of Food in these intriguing countries, how the people eat, what they cook and what their view on nourishment is.
I created Peanut En Route to write down my adventures, experiences with the infamous Delhi Belly - no ignore that - and just everything I want to remember forever and share with the world. Thanks for reading, sharing and commenting :)!
Well, living in London is great! It's AWESOME! But good god, there is so much pollution that when I cycle or walk along the busy roads I feel like I'm smoking ten cigarettes per second. Well, not that I know what cigarette smoking actually feels like, but I can imagine ugh. So, I've come to a point where I feel the need to do regular detox sessions, it just makes me feel cleaner inside out and healthier. So here I am sharing them detox secrets :)
Our bodies have an incredible ability to detoxify and excrete unwanted and potentially harmful substances from the system.
Naturally, this process works very efficiently and does an excellent job. However, our environment has changed quite dramatically and more than ever we are exposed to exogenous and endogenous toxins that can have a negative effect on our health. By following a few simple guidelines you can support your body’s detoxification capability making sure your body is clean and healthy.
Reduce the amount of toxins you ingest as a first measure. That means, avoid processed foods that can be alternated and fortified with chemicals unnatural to your body, reduce the amount of stimulants such as alcohol, coffee and cigarettes that can be extremely harsh on your liver - your most important detoxification organ! Also, have as much fresh air as possible - avoid polluted streets, opt for quiet roads and parks wherever possible.
Do a detox for at least a week every couple of months. And that doesn't mean having only lemon infused water which can be a way of detoxing too, but mostly not necessary. Since your body and especially your liver depends on many cofactors to be able to do its job properly, these should actually be ingested while detoxing. The following guidelines can help plan a detox:
Other rules to follow on a day to day basis include
Today's motto is two in one.. bought a massive head of cabbage because I wanted some for dinner. What to do with the rest? Ferment! :)
Cabbage is so nutritious - especially when eaten raw or fermented - check! I bought the purple version which is full of antioxidants and other protective phytonutrients. Cabbage is also high in a substance called sinigrin which has been shown to have cancer preventative effects and it being a cruciferous vegetable, it promotes your detoxification capability by supporting the liver. Last but not least, cabbage is extremely high in vitamin C and K. Good, right?
So, one half I used for dinner, chopping it into small pieces and eating it with cooked amaranth, avocado, radish and tahini dressing topped with pumpkin seeds.
The second half got chopped up even smaller, put in a jar and covered with sea salt. Then I crushed it until juice built at the bottom and topped it up with some more clean water until covered - done! Leave on your counter top for as long as you like, you will taste the familiar sauerkrauty flavour when it starts fermenting and keep in the fridge.
Admittedly, I do need to work on my making-dishes-look-appealing-skills, BUT do take my word for when I say it is I-want-more-delicious!
Don't we all feel a bit like healthy food after the period of overindulgence in everything contrary to healthy?
You don't have to go all cold turkey thinking a juice fast is the only way to go. Detoxing and giving the body a break also works with plenty of veggies - best eaten raw. Especially the green kind which are full of the right vitamins and minerals to support your liver.
On today's menu we have: raw kale and sprouting broccoli marinated in olive oil and lots of herbs and black pepper, sprouted quinoa, toasted pine nuts and seasme seeds, avocado and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
A detox that delicious and more-ish isn't so bad at all - try it!
If you have ever tasted soaked nuts you will know what I'm talking about here.. They taste amazing! But apart from the taste and how versatile they become, there is another very important point I need to make. It's called phytic acid, sounds kinda ewh right? Well, it's a very natural substance nuts, seeds and also beans and legumes produce to protect themselves from all their enemies like the little spider that landed on the page of your latest Dan Brown distraction...
Anyways, back to my point, phytic acid when ingested binds to minerals such as zinc, iron, magnesium, calcium, manganese and chromium. This will then inhibit the absorption of these precious and essential minerals, making them unavailable for our body. Also, it will make it more difficult for our gastrointestinal tract to break down and digest the nut properly because unsoaked nuts also come with enzyme inhibitors.
But there's help! Soaking your nuts will deactivate the phytic acid and neutralise the enzyme inhibitors.
All you need is your nuts and clean water, you can also add a bit of salt or lemon juice if you want. Soak the nuts over night, some need a shorter soaking time like cashews or walnuts, but it won't hurt if their bath is a little longer.
Once the soaking process is finished, rinse the nuts again and keep in a sieve to dry. You can store them in a glass jar for up to two days in the fridge.
And rather than just eating them on their own (which I know is delicious enough) you can also try making nut cheese, macadamia nut hummus or raw cheesecakes.. I guess another post is due soon.. Nom nomm!
Can I be very honest? It kinda is actually.. definitely in the amounts we eat it in the Western world.
Yes, we have evolved to eat grains to some extent when we obviously didn't use to do so as cave men and women, however not fully. Also, all of the refined grain products such as white pasta, bread, cakes, biscuits and cereals do not make it any easier for our bodies to make friends with gluten. They are even higher in gluten and lack anything nutritious like vitamins and minerals. Did you know that many bakers add extra gluten to their breads to increase shelf-life and make them more resistant?
On top of the increased amount of refined grains we eat nowadays, wheat and glutinous grains aren't anymore what they used to be. Thanks to mass production and gene modification they have become a product our bodies might not be able to process as easily anymore as we used to.
And let's not forget about all the gluten sensitive people and especially people suffering from celiac disease, there is certainly a reason for this to happen - just like there is a reason why many people are intolerant to dairy.
However and I do admit, there is still a lot of research to be done on this topic. All I can say is from what I have read, heard and seen, gluten can have quite bad effects on our health. In areas we would't even have thought. As you may know, our gut is also called our second brain and makes up 70% of our immune system. So you get the idea of how broad the adverse effects of gluten could potentially be.
Gluten as the name already gives it away is a protein that glues :).. Now, can you imagine what happens in our bodies when glue gets in there? Ugh, not such a nice thought.. Gluten is present in many grains such as wheat, barley, rye and spelt. You can also see its gluing effect when making a bread dough.
Now, it would be wrong to stay to stay off gluten forever unless you are suffering from celiac disease. Because also, WHOLE grains do come with many nutritional benefits such as B vitamins, iron and fibre which are essential. However, lowering your amount of glutinous whole grains and completely eliminating refined grains could bring many health benefits and make you feel more energetic, less prone to digestive issues and bless you with healthier skin. Also, I'm definitely not trying to push you into a false direction which would be to just buy gluten free products. Definitely not - refined and processed foods again, they can be full of additives! Also, there is a lot of marketing and money behind that industry which I'm not a fan of. Instead, complete your diet with more of the gluten free grains such as quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat, millet or amaranth.
Give it a try! Go gluten free for two weeks or even better 30 days and see what happens. Maybe you will see amazing changes that will make stay off gluten for good. Maybe you will not notice much difference in which case you do what you need to do :), everyone is different after all!
Yes, I have one... a cold! It happens to everyone and is relatively normal because the body can never build up enough resistance to all the viruses that can cause the common cold.
All we need to know is how to cure it naturally and let nature do its job. So, we know it's a viral infection, means we want to get as much anti-viral foods into our system as possible. What always helps and what I'm having right now is loads and loads of organic lemons, ginger, turmeric, garlic.. loads!
Try this immune-boosting and anti-viral hot drink:
2 organic lemon
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
Hint of black pepper (to potentiate turmeric)
Manuka honey to taste (or other organic honey)
Boil ginger, turmeric and pepper with 600ml of water, let simmer for 10 minutes. Squeeze lemons into a jug and add the hot liquid when ready. Enjoy with a bit of honey to your liking. Have this at least 4 times a day at the onset of your cold and you will be breathing freely again in no time :)
That's it for today, I'm going to have another cup and some rest.
Including me! Because it's so delicious and nutritious.. and I want to dedicate a little blog post to it.
Quinoa comes with a delicious nutty taste to it and it’s so versatile. It can be used where you would usually have your pasta, your rice, your potatoes for example. But it can also be added to salads, stews, soups. If you want to go all out, try sprouting it for an even more nutritious food!
Cooking it is as simple as pasta, just add double the amount of water together with Quinoa in a pan. Boil and reduce heat, simmer for 10 mins and let sit with the heat turned off completely for another 5 mins. You should see white little sprouts coming out of the seed. On this note – Quinoa is actually classified as a seed, not a grain. It comes in different colours from red, to white to black and they have different intensities in taste.
Now, what happens when you put this superfood in your body?
Your stomach will be happy as it’s not difficult to break down, your intestine likewise as it can be easily absorbed.
Your body will be excited to get all the amazing amino acids present in this food which it can use to repair tissues and for normal body function. Quinoa is one of the very few plant based proteins that count as a complete protein as it comes with all the 9 essential amino acids.
Then your bowel will be delighted to know that there is a second benefit – fibre! Quinoa contains almost twice as much fibre as other grains which can help constipation, but also regulate blood sugar and lower cholesterol.
Your muscles will be happy as they will be supplied with lots of oxygen supported by iron which will help transport oxygen throughout your body.
Your nervous system can be calmed with a good portion of Quinoa for dinner after a stressful day thanks to the magnesium.
Also, your muscles will get a good portion of Riboflavin and Folate which are important B vitamins that are responsible for energy metabolism.
Research has also shown that two phytonutrients are present in Quinoa in very high amounts – quercetin and kaempferol. Both of which are extremely strong antioxidants so they will help your body fight and break down free radicals.
One more, a decent amount of Zinc will also be supplied for healthy skin, hair and nails.
That’s one healthy happy body right there, just from a bit of Quinoa :)!
BUT.. and there is a but of course, as with all things. Quinoa has become a bit of a controversial product. Be mindful, buy fair trade and organic. Due to the massive success Quinoa has over here in Europe but also North America and prices sky-rocketing accordingly, the people harvesting it cannot afford to buy it anymore. Plus, due to the high demand production of the grain has become less sustainable as mass production is being prioritized over sustainability. The soil cannot keep up with nurturing the plant and fertilizer have to be used.
What used to be a sacred grain - the mother of grains even for the Incas, a traditional staple in South Amercian kitchens, produced on a small scale has become another victim of our mass society.
Just something to bear in mind when purchasing, eating and enjoying your delicious Quinoa creations :)!
My favourite recipe is on my recipes page - a Quinoa, Kale and Avocado Salad.
It's called Kale!! Sorry to disappoint, it's not a new pair of fancy shoes or beautiful dress.. Just Kale. But look at this beauty, it's purple! Lol.. I got so excited in the shop that bought three of these, we never know, the world might end tomorrow, so at least I want to have eaten enough of this because it's also delicious :)
On top of the deliciousness and the stunning looks, this guy is also a superfood and extremely nutritious.
This cruciferous leafy green vegetable is full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer nutrients.
Kale is a great source of vitamin K which contributes to healthy bones, quick and efficient wound healing and acts as an antioxidant.
It has also been shown to have cholesterol lowering effects and being a cruciferous vegetable it aids liver detoxification.
Do you need more convincing? Maybe my super delicious warm salad that I made with it..
Boil a sweet potato while you are chopping up the kale leaves, bell peppers, garlic, parsley, and little squares of tempeh. Fry the tempeh with your garlic in coconut oil until golden brown. In another pan, just lightly steam your kale and when everything is done, cut sweet potato into pieces, add everything together in one pan. Add creamed coconut, nutritional year, sea salt and pepper, mixed seeds - finito!
Don't make your life too complicated, when it can be easy!
Just steam your favourite leafy green, I have chosen kale, together with some tenderstem, broccoli or cauliflower.
In the meantime rinse some tinned lentils, chickpeas or other beans that strike your fancy and peel some carrot or courgette spaghetti (loving my new julienne peeler!).
Now I'm not saying you should eat tinned foods as a general rule, but this is way way better than grabbing a ready meal in the super market - I mean like massively better. And it literally takes 3 minutes if you're quick, 5 minutes if you're slow or potentially 7 if you're clumsy like me and all the cupboard content falls on your head...
Add some ground nuts and seeds, throw everything in a bowl, add olive oil, sea salt and pepper - eat! Yummy yum :) x
Did you know that 70% of your immune system is actually located in the gut? A good reason to keep said part of your body healthy. How to do this? Be friendly with your good bacteria, they can do wonders!
Surely, some of you if not many have heard of Probiotics by now.. they have become about as trendy as Bikram yoga or a vegan diet. Now, they do cost quite a bit of money hence why I would like to introduce you to water kefir - it's cheap, easy, just as healthy and tasty.
For those among you that eat dairy, you can also make your own milk kefir or yogurt. This post is however, about water kefir, so if you want to know more about dairy kefir, just leave a comment below.
To get started, you need to order your kefir grains (available from many online shops), this doesn't cost a fortune and is usually delivered within days.
Recipe for water kefir
- 1/2 cup of kefir grains
- 3 cups of spring or mineral water (no tap water because of the chlorine, no filtered or distilled water because kefir needs minerals)
- 2 tbsp of organic brown sugar
Sugar is added because this is what the grains thrive on. Stevia, chemical substitutes or honey won't support the kefir fermentation or growth. The grains will eat the sugar and ferment in this process. At the end there won't be much of the sugar left, so you don't have to be concerned about the sugar content.
Put the sugar in a glass jar of 1 - 1.5 litre in size. Add the water and the kefir crystals. Give it a good stir with a wooden spoon. The grains don't like anything metallic.
Don't close the jar fully as some air should be able to get in.
Leave the kefir to culture for 24 - 48 hours depending on how much of the sweetness you want to be left.
Don't leave the grain culture for longer than 72 hours.
Strain out the kefir grains using a nylon sieve, never use metal as it can kill the bacteria.
Bottle and store the liquid water kefir in the fridge and let it ferment for another 1 or 2 days.
At the same time you prepare a new batch to culture. The grains cannot be left without sugar (food) for too long. It's almost like having a new pet :)! It may take a few batches before your kefir grains effectively remove the sugar from the water as they are adjusting to the new environment.
Once the kefir is ready you can drink it pure, add lemon juice or whatever strikes your fancy.
If you go on holidays or want to take a break because you are busy going to the cinema, studying or whatever the heck you might be busy with, you can also store the grains in the sugar water jar with closed lid in the fridge for up to a week.
As an alternative you can also try making coconut water kefir. You won't need any sugar here as the coconut water naturally contains enough sugars to feed the bacteria. However, don't overdo the coconut batches as the sugar content is not high enough for the bacteria to live off it forever - so they might eventually die and we don't want that eh :)?
Happy fermenting! And let me know how it goes x
I'm at Starbucks in Dublin drinking a green tea and waiting for my bus. Since I love tea and surely many of you do too, I thought I could elaborate this topic a bit more :)!
England my current home lives off tea, but it's the sort of tea that isn't exactly super amazing for you. Black tea with milk and sugar. Black tea has a lot of caffeine which can disrupt your nervous system and it interferes with the absorption of food. Then milk.. no need to say much about this, you know my opinion and the same goes for the sugar, it's a no-no if you want to be healthy.
My favourite teas are green tea, fresh mint tea, fennel tea, ginger and lemon tea, nettle tea and cinnamon tea. I also enjoy a match or chai latte from time to time, but always without added sugar and tea bags only. Meaning, the syrup based chai tea most coffee places do are no good for my Nutritionist body.
Green teas do have caffeine in it too and as long as you don't overdo it, it can be a good boost if you need it. It comes with a high amount of antioxidants which help your body to fight free radicals and prevent it from all sorts of diseases.
I love mint, fennel and ginger teas for their great ability to help with digestion. They are very calming and soothing for your gut and are always my go to when I feel I've eaten too much because it was too delicious or if a certain food didn't make me feel good.
Nettle tea is admittedly not the tastiest of all teas and takes a bit getting used to. But it's worth it! Also, if you don't like the taste mix it with any other tea that you like. I like to have mine with mint or green tea. Nettle is iron-building so it helps your body absorb and utilise the iron in foods you eat. It also boosts your immune system and clears up your skin.
Cinnamon tea II.. check my blog post about this delicious and naturally sweet treat!
Right! Time to go :)! Get cozy with a steaming mug of delicious tea and watch a movie - it's sunday night ;).
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I enjoy studying, creating, exploring and most importantly eating nutritious food and balancing my life with yoga.