The Boy at the Supermarket

Today at the supermarket I overheard a conversation between a young boy of about ten years old with his mom. They weren’t Thai and were most probably expats living in Bangkok. The young boy made such a funny and pleasant remark that I want to share it with you.

As you know, ever since I lost weight around 5 years ago, I’ve become a lot more healthy, aware of what I am eating, and avoiding the fried or sugar infused foods. Growing up I didn’t really have a concept of what was healthy, or what wasn’t. My mom is a wonderful cook, but once I went off to college and worked, dinners ended up whatever was available in my fridge. My often late dinners were simple pasta and pesto. My snack at work was raisins. Hey, they are dried grapes which are fruits, what’s so bad about them? Answer: they are high in sugar.

Okay, so what was it I overheard? It started out with the mother asking the boy “What would you like for dinner today?”

The boy answered, “Potatoes, mashed potatoes and oh, I want some salad and vegetables Mom! The food at school is so sweet! They put sugar in everything even soup! I might have to stop having soup at school!”

Wow, that really hit me.

He was only around ten, but with health conscious parents, he has grown up being aware of what he is putting into his body. It’s great. He will grow up healthy.

Now it’s up to the schools to serve children healthy food. Parents really should check out what’s being served at schools and perhaps like Jaime Oliver, fight for healthier servings. No sugared pink milk please!

Wellington Sunday Farmers’ Market

Whenever I am traveling, I always try to find out where the farmers’ market is and make a note of visiting it.   Many times I’d even plan the trip so that on Saturdays or Sundays I am in cities where there are markets. There’s something about walking around rows and rows of fresh food, straight from the farm that just makes my heart glow.  I love the hustle and bustle of the place and to be able to ask the seller all sorts of questions.  Wellington, of course, has a lovely farmers’ market on Sundays and without doubt, Alex and I had to visit.

We went to the harbourside market (http://www.harboursidemarket.co.nz). It’s not too far off from Te Papa museum and as it’s name, it is right by the Harbourside.  Unlike the Saturday night market, it is significantly larger with a lot more shops.  There are stalls selling everything from fresh vegetables, fruits, breads, to duck truffled onion soup and pizza.  I love it.  It’s a good walk in the morning and if you wake up early, it opens at 7.30am so you can visit it before you start your day.

Harbourside market

The market is outdoors and in a large space, so you don’t feel crowded and the noise level doesn’t get high.  I love it. You can take a leisurely stroll and everyone is in a pleasant mood. I mean, who wouldn’t be surrounded by all the food! There are clowns there to entertain children and benches on which you can have your sandwich or roast chicken.

Being somewhat avocado crazy, I had to check out the Avos or avocadoes at the market. Imported avocados from New Zealand in Bangkok costs around 80thb each (2.50 USD) so I wondered how much there were locally.   They were around $1 NZD (less than 1 USD) each and if you bought a large bag, the price was even lower.  Wow, needless to say, I did have to buy some avocados to eat. The price doubles though if you are out in Wanaka but that is understandable considering transportation costs.

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We had the duck truffled onion soup from “La Rotisserie de Canard” where the owners were speaking french.  I didn’t ask where they were from but I do know the soup was good. It really warms your belly up on a chilly day.

We saw signs going to the covered city market (http://www.citymarket.co.nz/) but sadly we were out of time. There was the lovely Te Papa museum waiting for us to visit.

Hmm, I feel like some onion soup now.  La Rotisserie de CanardSourdough pizza...

Happiness is contagious

Sleeping by the Cycle

It’s tough trying to be healthy all the time. Every now and then I succumb to magnum brownie ice-cream, donuts, scrumptious mud brownies with vanilla ice cream or any kind of spaghetti from pesto to carbonara. On weekends there are delicious buffets ranging from dim sum to Korean bbq to international buffets. Bangkok is a food lover’s paradise. Then there’s Games of Thrones and Da Vinci’s demons on DVD which had me staying up way past my bedtime on weeknights, anticipating what happens next. (Thank goodness am done until the next season.) I end up sleeping late, eating a lot (more often than I should) and lack the energy to go workout. I find excuses.  It’s a terrible vicious cycle. I gain weight, I get sluggish, I get moody. I wake up not feeling “fresh” as I should even though I still slept my seven or eight hours.

To improve the quality of our sleep (and our health), this past week Alex and I have been experimenting. We’ve been sleeping according to the sleep cycle and it feels amazing! We wake up refreshed and even awaken before the alarm clock goes off. There’s no grogginess or wanting to snooze in bed. The body wakes up naturally.

So what’s the thinking behind this? As you probably all know, we go through roughly four stages of sleep. In short, it begins with NREM (Non-rapid eye movement) with us in a stage of between sleep and wakefulness. Our eyes roll slowly, opening and closing. Then we start becoming harder and harder to awaken until we reach a stage where we are less responsive to the environment and do not react to what’s happening around us. The final stage is when we are in the REM (Rapid-eye movement) stage. We are in such a deep sleep that most of our muscles are paralysed. Interestingly, this is the most important stage in our sleep and important in helping us learn complex tasks.   It takes us roughly 90 minutes to finish a sleep cycle.

To avoid waking up in the middle of our dream stage or the REM stage, Alex and I determined the time we have to wake up and worked back five cycles to determine our bedtime. We made a conscious effort to make sure we were in bed and ready to doze off.  It has paid off and reminded us of the importance of quality sleep. We awaken feeling fresh and energised. It’s a wonderful feeling, and the best part? It results in my having less cravings for unhealthy foods.

Quality sleep = good health

Have a good weekend everyone and wish you all some quality sleep! Let me know if it works for you 🙂

Stressed? Run.

This morning, I went running.  It’s been awhile, actually a couple of months since I’ve been running regularly.  The past few weeks its been difficult to just squeeze in twice a week of running.  Of course the usual excuses come up, the rain, lots of things to do..etc.  The list is endless.   Really there is no excuse. , The truth of the matter is that the more stressed you are, the more tasks you have to do, the more you should actually be running.  It clears your mind in unbelievable ways.

It’s like floating on cloud 9.

This morning I realized how unfit I have become.  Just a few months off and there I am huffing and panting after just 4 sets of running at 7.5 km/hour.  My heart felt like it wasn’t getting oxygen fast enough and I felt myself hanging on the treadmill rails.  It got better after the second set, however, my average before was 9 km/hour.  I tell myself.  I have  to keep running.  I cannot let myself get out of shape.

The best thing of all though is that I was reminded of how running really clears up your mind. If you’re stressed, overwhelmed by all that you have to do, have a zillion million things to get done then the best stress reliever of all is exercise.  Your brain feels replenished and thoughts flow more clearly.   You had valuable time to be by yourself and let your brain rest.

After all, don’t you wonder why the best ideas usually appear when you’re out for a walk or taking a shower?  The “thought” had an opportunity to get through the zillion other things that circuit through our brains like flashes of electricity all day long.

So really, the best way to maintain your mental health is to just exercise.  The more stressed you are, the more one should exercise.  There’s no excuse.  Exercise and it will change your life.  Try it.  I dare you. 🙂

Socks

It’s almost the end of January, I have a zillion things to do yet right now all I am thinking about are socks. Yes, you read it right. Socks. Those soft cushy things you put on your feet to keep warm and wear with shoes. What? Are you serious? Yes, I am. I am very serious. I have to confess, I have actually been thinking about socks for a few days now so it’s about time I wrote about it.

It all started when I resumed my running schedule after a few weeks of rest. Most days, running is a bore and I do it just so that I can eat and have that delicant piece of sinful chocolate that melts in your mouth. However, one day a week or so again, I ran and ran and for the first time in a long time, I felt that running was enjoyable.

It was fun, relaxing and I enjoyed feeling my feet pacing up and down on the treadmill. I felt bouncy and my feet were happy. I could run more than I had for awhile.

I wondered if it was runner’s high, but it wasn’t. I thought that maybe it was because I had slept a lot the night before, but it wasn’t or maybe it was because I had eaten lots of carbs. It’s true these things help running, but on that day the only deviation from the norm I could think of was the socks I was wearing.

I had just rediscovered my Thorlo running socks that I had bought in the US and hardly use. I have to tell you, they are in a league of their own from the normal sports socks I usually buy. I mean, socks, you put them on your feet and stuff them in your shoe. Why spend lots on them? Now I know why. They make the exeperience that much better. There was soft cushioning on the base and the material with which it was made keeps your feet dry and cool. Awesome. Now I’m fascinated by socks and am no longer going back to those skimpy running socks I used to buy.

My sock world has now changed. I am going to splurge for happy feet. (I guess it will make me enjoy running more too) What about you? Do you have any running socks you like in particular? Please share.

In case you want to try out some cool socks, I found a review on socks on runner’s world (http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-240-320–13925-1-1X2-3,00.html) Have fun!

Myth 7: Eating eggs will increase your cholesterol level.

Life goes on sitting and waiting for the flood. Lets talk about eggs today. A basic food staple that can give you energy during hard times are boiled eggs.  You can survive on rice and boiled eggs (as long as you do not get bored of it).  However, those with high cholesterol levels are often afraid of eating eggs for fear that it will push cholesterol levels up high. Some avoid it like it was some sort of disease.

According to Alannah Dibona, eggs are not unhealthy and not a food that needs to be avoided like the plague.  Cholesterol comes from certain saturated fat and trans fat.  Eggs have very little saturated fat (1.5 grams of fat for a large egg) and no trans fat.  That means Yeah! I can eat more eggs.

Eggs, in fact are quite healthy and have 13 naturally occuring vitamins and minerals.  Yes, you read it correctly, eggs are good for you.  You might ask, “Even the yolks that are supposed to have lots  of cholesterol?”  According to the article, Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic both agree that although the yolk has a lot of cholesterol, very little of it actually makes it to your bloodstream. Wonderful.

Now we can happily have a breakfast of eggs and toast.  I like scrambled eggs and omelet too, but if I put too much cheese and butter that might not be so good.  So have your eggs, just becareful of the oil and butter you use to fry it. Those aren’t so healthy.  Having poached eggs, and boiled eggs might be good alternatives.

Myth 6: High sodium foods taste salty, so avoid salty tasting foods.

Yes, inner Bangkok will be flooded soon. I say this because I believe I live in “inner” Bangkok. I am not far from the BTS skytrain and lifestyle shopping areas. Now, the “water” is a few kilometers away from my house. My local supermarket where I go for monthly supplies without having to use the main road is starting to flood. It’s taken so long to arrive. I’ve been waiting for over two weeks. I have to admit I am not as excited as I thought I’d be. (Maybe when I actually see the water, I will start to be excited.) Now, I just want it to flood and go away as soon as possible. Whatever will be, will be. Tonight, let’s therefore talk about Myth 6 that say that high sodium foods taste salty, and that one should avoid salty snacks.

According to Andy Belatti, a nutritionist, apparently new research indicate that low-sodium diets may not necessarily be better for your heart, but they do reduce high blood pressure and type II diabetes. The myth here, is that high sodium foods will taste salty.

Sadly, not all salty foods taste salty.

These “phantom” salt can be found in sweet foods such as a Dunkin’ Donut corn muffin (according to lifehacker’s article) which has as much sodium as 9 McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets! Can you believe that? I always avoided muffins and donuts for sugar, now there is salt too!

To avoid being trapped in this myth, the best way is to therefore read the nutrition labels. Check the facts before you eat. If you find that bothersome, you could start trying to cook yourself! With home cooked meals, you can control how much salt, sugars and other ingredients go into your diet. Bon apetit!