Ordinary People Helping Ordinary People in Extraordinary circumstances!

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Food Waste, Guilt and Mental Health

Hi guys, it’s our final day of healthy eating week and today we are going to take a look at food waste. We are now realising that in a lot of areas we need to start to reduce our waste and food is no exception. So as I have done all this week I will give a few suggestions to how we can reduce food waste and then I will go on to how food waste affects our mental health. I must admit I found researching this the most interesting.

I am a huge fan of reducing food waste, I waste very little but we are all different and what is most important is that everyone takes a look at what they can do individually to suit their own lifestyle and circumstances. So as I’ve done before I’m just going to write a little bullet point list with some ideas for you to try or not to try – its up to you.

● Avoid bulk buying
● Store food properly
● Use leftovers
● Create a meal schedule
● Preserve your food
● Buy the ugly fruit and veg
● Understand food labelling
● Make sure fridge is the right temperature
● Make shopping lists
● Freeze leftovers
● Measure your portions
● Freeze acceptable dairy products
● Freeze acceptable fruit and veg
● Use stale bread as breadcrumbs
● Make stock or broth out of older veg, this can be frozen
● Pack a lunch, it could be last night’s leftovers
● Log your food waste to see where changes need to be made

I’m sure there are more ways that you can reduce food waste but this was just a basic list I compiled to give you some ideas. Now, my favourite part, how does this affect our mental health?

I found this part of my research interesting because a lot of the psychology around food waste is related to guilt. Guilt leads to shame and neither are good for our mental health. A lot of people worry that if they were to waste too much food they would be characterised as lazy, excessive or greedy and careless. There is also guilt that if we do not always have access to food for our family or loved ones that we may seem like we do not care about them enough, so we buy more than we need, but then have to waste it. I cannot count the amount of times I’ve heard someone
say it’s better to have too much than too little.

Financial worries also come into play. Especially in today’s climate. Fuel prices are so high and everything else is going up in price so we feel a need to bulk buy and make the trip worth it so to write a list of what we need for the week or month makes money sense. Also keep a list of the
things that you regularly throw away and make a note to buy less to waste life. In a world that feels like it’s out of control, this one little step could really help our mental health, because we are taking control of the things we can.

My last point to make about food waste is that we need to look at our history. For years waste and wealth have been symbiotic. If you could afford to throw away food you were rich and the poor had to beg for scraps. Even until recently some people would never wear clothes that were handed down or from a charity shop, because we didn’t want to be viewed as poor. Thankfully now things are changing and we are starting to see that we can at least make a start to reducing the waste in our lives, not only for the planet but our own mental health as well because remember, you matter. Stay safe everyone. Been great doing all this research and sharing what I have found with you. M

ManyThanks again to our resident foodie – M.

Get Creative with Protein

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Ah Wednesday, we are halfway through the week. Today’s topic is protein and how we can get creative with it. So as usual, I will start with a quick explanation of what protein is, probably a few ideas on how to use it differently but then we will have a closer look at why it is so important for our mental health.

I remember 20 years ago, I was just a young girl in high school with no major health problems to deal with. I remember all the cool older boys with their big muscles all talking about how much protein they had to bulk up and thinking, I will never need to know about that. How wrong I was, I personally feel

weak when I don’t have enough protein.

So what is protein?

The most basic way to explain protein is that it’s the building blocks of our body. Protein helps to build and repair the body’s tissues. We need protein to repair cells but also to make new ones. Protein is very important for growth and development in children, teens and pregnant women. We often think of proteins as meat mainly, and eggs and dairy products. Lean meat is the best so we are not having too much fat in our diets so I thought since meat is pretty self explanatory I’d give a selection, a very small one because I don’t want this to be too long, of different proteins. Some of these I knew and others I had no idea they were protein rich. So I am just going to rattle off a little list of plant based sources of protein that you may or may not have heard of.

● Almonds
● Lentils
● Peanuts and peanut butter
● Quinoa
● Pumpkin seeds
● Tofu
● Pinto beans
● Chickpeas
● Green peas
● Wild rice
● Pistachios
● Chia seeds
● Sweetcorn
● Potatoes
● Asparagus
● Broccoli
● Avocado
● Brussel sprouts

I was amazed about the brussel sprouts, amazed and over the moon, I love them.

So why is having protein so good for our mental health?

A lack of protein means that your body can’t make the required amount of neurotransmitters required. This changes how the brain works. With low levels of dopamine and serotonin we can feel depressed and even aggressive. Protein packed foods can also help us to avoid sugary processed foods because we feel fuller. Lack of a sufficient amount of protein can cause mood changes, hair skin and nail problems, weakness and fatigue, slow healing injuries and slow recovery when ill. It can also make us feel really hungry. I know from personal experience that if I’m low on protein I will snack because I don’t feel satisfied, which then leads me to put on weight , which then affects my depression more, and it goes round in a vicious circle until I can get back on my feet with the healthier eating I do actually enjoy.

I will leave you with this last thought for the day which I found fascinating. 330 billion calls are made/born each day. That takes a good amount of protein. There are 86 billions cells in the human brain, all of which need help to repair. So if we are not looking after these cells by giving them the energy they need, how will we ever feel good mentally?

Tomorrow I will be talking about hydration and how important it is for our mental health. I hope a few of these pieces over the last few days have helped even a little. We can’t change everything overnight but every journey starts with one step. Stay safe. M.

Three cheers for our resident foodie volunteer. x

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Put Plenty on your Plate – Get at least 5 a day!!

Welcome back to healthy eating week, where today I’d like to discuss how getting our 5 a day can really help our mental health. There are days that even as a vegetable fiend I just don’t get my 5 a day. I do try but sometimes it’s an impossibility. As I said yesterday if there are medical conditions that make this impossible for you, consult your doctor about safer ways to include more fruit and veg.

What is a portion? An adult sized portion should be about 80 grams of fresh, frozen or canned or 30g of dried fruits. 150ml of fruit or vegetable juice or a smoothie is also a portion, but do tryto limit these to 150ml per day. There are some simple ways to add more fruit and veg to your diet. You can add extra fruit and veg to the things you already know and love. Add extra vegetables to pasta sauces, pizzas, soups, sandwiches etc.

Clear out the junk food.

Even those of us with the best intentions could be sidetracked to a chocolate biscuit instead of a fresh apple. If it’s not in the house, it ain’t there to tempt you. Even just replacing one snack a day for an extra portion of fruit or veg is a great first step. Vegetable sticks with a dip is a great option if you are not too keen on fruit. A hummus or a salsa is a great way to be adding more fibre as we went into yesterday.

Why Beneficial to Mental Health?

So now to the point, why is this so beneficial to our mental health? Let’s see what I found. There are so many vitamins and minerals that would take me forever to explain them all and why they affect us, so I will only explain a few of the main ones that affect our mental health. I’ll also give a few examples of what vegetables have these specific vitamins and minerals.
Low levels of folate have been linked to depression. We can find folate of folic acid in leafy green veg, spinach, romaine lettuce, asparagus, broccoli.

Depression, tiredness, lethargy, insomnia – sound familiar?

When we don’t have enough vitamin B1 we have problems like memory loss, anxiety, depression, irritability and insomnia. Vitamin B1 is found in cauliflower, oranges, potatoes, asparagus and kale.
Vitamin B deficiency can show extreme tiredness, lack of energy, breathlessness, feeling faint, headaches, pale skin, palpitations. This is of course if it is an extreme deficiency. Foods that contain vitamin B are spinach, beetroot, potatoes, mushrooms, and alfalfa.
Not having enough vitamin D is linked to depression. Our bodies can produce it naturally by being in the sun, but we can also help our bodies out with things like oranges, mushrooms, spinach, kale and okra.
I have covered 4 but there are so many more to consider. This just gives a great example of how important what we eat really is. We need these vitamins and minerals and the fibre to keep us not only physically fitter but also mentally healthier. They help us by giving us more energy and help us think more clearly.

I hope you have enjoyed today’s short piece and look forward to discussing proteins tomorrow.
Take care

Families in Trauma and Recovery Volunteer – M

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Healthy Eating week – Monday – Focus on Fibre

Healthy Eating Week

Healthy Eating Week 13th June2022 – 17th June 2022

Happy Monday everyone, I hope this week finds you well. The British Nutrition Foundation are encouraging us this week to take a look at our diets. There will be a different topic for each day. This got me thinking, how does the food we eat affect us mentally? So along with a few little tips I’ve researched to help us eat healthier, stay hydrated and waste less I thought it would be good to look into a little bit more depth as to why it is so important for us physically and mentally. If anyone has medical problems that could prevent them following these guidelines, consult with a doctor first.

Today’s topic is Focus on fibre – for meals and snacks.

Fibre is such an important part of our diet. It helps to maintain our gut health, normalizes bowel movements, lowers bad cholesterol levels and many many more things. There are so many ways we can increase the amount of fibre we are having, and some are very simple swaps we
can make in daily life, for example using whole grain products like wholegrain breads and pastas. Snacks like vegetable sticks or a piece of fruit are great ways to increase our fibre. If the thought of giving up our normal snacks isn’t appealing to you, did you know that dark chocolate (70-85% cacao) has a high percentage of dietary fibre? Popcorn is also a good source of fibre as long as too much salt and sugar has been added to it. This was great news for me because while I really love vegetables, the thought of eating celery and carrots sticks for the rest of my snacking life did leave a lot to be desired.

The Happier the gut, the happier the mind.

So, with the basics covered, we know what it is and how to get more, but, why is it important for our mental health? I got out my trusty laptop and did some research so that you don’t need to. Studies suggest that a high fibre diet can potentially lower inflammation. With inflammation there is pain present. I’m sure we can agree that when in pain we are not really our happiest. So the result of the lower inflammation is that symptoms of depression were reduced. Another study I found noticed a significant reduction in anxiety and high psychological distress. The gut can send signals to our brain when it’s troubled. Who would have thought that fibre could be so important for our mind? Basically, the happier the gut, the happier the mind. I know this to be true from personal health issues.

I hope this short piece has helped a little. Stay tuned for tomorrow, I have some great info on why getting our 5 a day really helps our mental health. Stay safe everyone