EFFIE BOND

Longevity: How to Life a Quality Life Aisling Larkin modern wellness lifestyle
Lifestyle

How to Live Longer and Healthier

Eating wisely, moving naturally, connecting with others and having a purpose or outlook is the key to a quality life. We’re always doing our best to stay healthy and many of us want to live to a grand old age. So, how do we do that? Many people living in what’s known as ‘blue zones’ are living well into their hundreds with a combination of a good diet and exercise – and a few other ways that might just take you by surprise!   What’s a ‘blue zone’? Blue zones are regions in the world where people don’t just live into triple-digits, but they do it with their bodies and minds well intact. The five regions are Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece, and Loma Linda, California. So, what’s their secret?   Start as you mean to go on First things first: a healthy breakfast. Starting the day right every day can go a long way in helping you live longer. Standard breakfasts you’ll find in blue zones usually consists of protein, complex carbohydrates (like beans or veggies), and plant-based fats (like nuts, seeds, and oils). Things like granola and oatmeal are popular, as well as soups, beans and rice. People also usually eat most of the day’s calories before midday.   It’s about more than just your diet Blue zone residents don’t just credit food and exercise for their longevity – they have some other tips too. Slow down and take it easy. Things like stress are well known to affect life expectancy. None of the blue zones are found in cities, which is no surprise. Cities often have a faster-paced, more stressful vibe to them – but don’t worry, you don’t have to move out. Just take time to slow down and take a break when you need it. Self care is key. Think about when you drink. If you’re partial to a glass of wine here and there, try to drink it before you eat at night. People in blue zones tend to enjoy a pre-dinner aperitif instead of a late night guzzle, which is said to help moderate their drinking and promote a healthier lifestyle. Spend time with friends and family. Being socially connected to people you love and enjoy spending time with is invaluable for living longer. So, grab your pals, siblings, partners and kids, and spend some quality time together. Find what makes you happy. As well as finding things you enjoy doing, try to embrace optimism and gratitude in your everyday life. It can take time and work, but the psychological and physical effects are priceless. This can be a hobby, a craft, helping others, giving back, self care.  Move Naturally. Move in nature and move naturally. Allow it to become natural at regular intervals throughout the day. Consistency is the key, along with conscious and unconscious actions. Things like gardening, housework, running errands and walking the dog all count as much as a gym session. A great tool I have implemented over the last few months is getting in at least 500/600 steps per hour. It means it forces me to leave the desk and at the end of the day I am not worried about a huge deficit and faced with an impossible task of getting it all done when I am exhausted already.    So, even though you might not live in a blue zone, you can still adopt some of their practices. And by making changes to your everyday life, you might just find you’re living into triple figures too!

Olive Oil : Fake or Real aisling larkin modern life-style food
Lifestyle

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – How to Find the Good Stuff

Fake Handbags, Fake Lips …but now Fake Olive Oil ? Pop into any supermarket and you’ll see hundreds of bottles of extra virgin olive oil on the shelves. But watch out: they’re not all the real deal they promise to be. So how do you know which are the good ones? And what does that actually mean? Be on the lookout for fakes To me FAKE olive oil, refers to me being sold something which it is not. It is when I end up with something different to what I thought I was buying. Larry Olmstead, the author of Real Food, Fake Food says;  “Fake EVOO, in the worst-case (and illegal) scenario, is diluted with a cheap soybean or seed oil or mixed with lower-grade olive oil that’s been chemically refined. The fakery begins with olive oil being extracted from the olives in Spain, then shipped to say, France or Italy, where it is blended with olive oils from yet other places before being bottled and shipped off again. Or, as is most common, it’s mixed with olive oil that has been sitting around since the previous year’s harvest or longer. According to Epicurious “Olive oil is simply the juice extracted from fresh olives—no chemicals, heat, or further processing. To qualify as extra-virgin, the highest grade, the oil has to pass lab analysis and sensory tests set by the Madrid-based International Olive Council. What makes olive oil ‘extra virgin’? Officially, oil is counted as ‘extra virgin’ when the oil is extracted during the very first pressing of the olives. It means nothing else has come into contact with it and nothing else is mixed with it. It’s just pure, unadulterated goodness in a bottle. The difference between ‘extra virgin’ and ‘virgin’ has to do with the fatty acid level. Virgin olive oil has a level between 0.9 and 2.0%. To count as extra virgin, it needs to be 0.8% or lower. How to tell which ones are the real deal There are a few simple steps you can follow to make sure your extra virgin olive oil really is what it says: 1. Smell and taste it. Pure olive oil will smell fresh and fruity, with hints of grass and almond. If it smells musty or has no smell at all, steer clear. It should taste a little bitter and have a slight peppery taste. Don’t worry too much about the colour, though – it can come in all kinds of shades. 2. Check when it was made. Good olive oil will have a batch or harvest date on it, telling you when the olives were picked and pressed. This date is much more important than the best before date as it tells you how old the oil is, not how long it has left. And beware: a ‘bottled’ date could be misleading as the oil could have been sitting in a tank for months or even years before being bottled. 3. Pay attention to the bottle. Olive oil should be stored in a cool, dark place, so clear bottles are no good. You also want to always stick to glass – plastic is porous and can let in heat, light and moisture. 4. Look for a certification seal. Good ones to look out for include the European Union’s Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Italy’s DOP, or the COOC Certified Extra Virgin seal from the California Olive Oil Council for California-made oils. All of these mean the oil has met the extra virgin standards set by these countries or continents. 5. Use the price as a guide. I’m not saying you have to buy the most expensive oil out there. However, if you’ve followed the previous steps, the oil you’re choosing is likely to be a little more expensive. It’s totally worth it – just think of the good it’s doing for your body! Time to make some yummy dishes Now you’ve got the right oil, the world is your olive oiled oyster! Lots of my recipes contain extra virgin olive oil, so why not use your new bottle to whip up something delicious? Some of my favourites are my Grilled Peach, Prosciutto and Mozzarella Salad, my Mediterranean Cherry Tomato Sauce with Grilled Sardines, and my Goats Cheese & Asparagus Galette with Crispy Bacon. Happy oiling!

Sea Swimming: The Benefits Aisling Larkin modern wellness lifestyle
Lifestyle

Dive Right In: All the Benefits of Sea Swimming

Escape, Exhilaration & Real Social Connections I know, I know: the sea in this part of the world can be pretty chilly. But if the thought of taking a dip makes you shiver, you might want to think again. Swimming in the sea has long been proven to be good for your body and mind – and definitely your soul. I was great during Lockdown, then we finally caught Covid that October and that stopped the weekly trips down to the beach that winter. The following summer, I jumped back in, in a very sporadic way but it was still delightful in the summer. I would hop on my bike, cycle down to the beach and have a quick dip and home again, or sometimes a little post yoga dip. Then, winter came and I gave up again. I took stock and realised that going on my own and having no one else to show up for was one of the biggest barriers I had. I had no one to be accountable to, no one to nudge and no real commitment.  I was lucky enough to be invited to join a group a few months back who dip and swim each week, religiously.  I can honestly say it is one of the highlights of my week. I love it. We swim at the weekends, early mornings. We all sneak out of the house, threading carefully, minding not to wake child, nor pet. The bags are packed since the night before, each item carefully accounted for…. towel, swim shoes, dryrobe, socks, underwear… always double checking you packed your knickers ! In the early hours, kettles are boiled and flasks are filled. Mugs, milk, snacks are packed and off we go. We converve bright and early, when there is a quiet stillness on the beach.  A quick de robe and we are in !  It is a little cold now, I am sure in the coming weeks it will be getting colder too, but we chat, we laugh, we scream. We  dip and swim and then that moment of …. “aaaaahhhhh”….” isn’t this lovely”…  “I love this, this is great”,  kicks in and until someone calls time, we happily float, dip, swim, chat, connect. Upon getting out, we dress, get warm, make tea, huddle a little and chat about all the goings on of the week and what is to come for the following week.  We are a mixed group and that makes it all the more interesting. We exchange modern life survival tips, congratulate the personal & important wins from the week and even celebrate birthdays. The chat is easy, it just flows. There is no care given to wobbly bits …. like not even one care or thought.,That mindset does not exist here and I think this is possibly the first time in my existence that has ever been the case. I literally could not give two hoots what I look like with that group. It is not about perfection here, but just being present. Being fully immersed and present in this weekly ritual, in this momemt. It is the ultimate escape from the daily grind of life.  We are new souls meeting, connecting and getting to know one another; strangers becoming friends. There is no judgement, no division just togetherness and support.  One of my absolute keys to success for this has been this group of wonderful humans who invited me in. I am so very grateful. There is commitment and support and a sense of community. When the day and the time is set and you know everyone will be there, it is easy, The commitment in your mind is made to go and do it and then, well you just do !   The science behind it You’ve probably heard of the ‘fight or flight’ response, which is what happens when our bodies are stressed. Your hypothalamus receives a signal to say something is wrong or you’re under attack, which causes your body to release both cortisol and adrenaline. This is exactly what happens when you get into cold water. But don’t worry – your body will counteract this cortisol by releasing endorphins (and we all know that’s a good thing!), which gives you that happy, calm feeling when you’re back on land.  Face your fears If you’re brave enough to put your face in the water, your nervous system will send out a message that put your organs into ‘rest and digest’ mode, which lowers your heart rate and reduces inflammation. Because this is the opposite of ‘fight or flight’, it can make you feel totally relaxed. Your body will also release serotonin and noradrenaline into your bloodstream, which are thought to help your brain stop feeling pain.  Boost your mood Remember those endorphins I mentioned? Well, when they’re released, they also trigger the release of dopamine, also known as the ‘happy hormone’. One study even showed that immersing yourself in cold water can boost your dopamine levels by 530%!   Jump start your metabolism Spending time swimming in the sea can increase your metabolism, the process that transforms the food you eat into energy. The cold water activates a state called ‘cold-induced thermogenesis’, which means your body is using more energy and calories to bring your internal temperature back up.   Add sea swimming to your workout regime Swimming is great for your whole body. You’re using your arms, legs, feet, and hands, whether you’re just staying afloat or you’re headed for a lengthy swim, and your heart and lungs will get a workout too. If you’re swimming in a wetsuit, boots and gloves, those all add extra weight and make your body work harder.   Reduce pain and inflammation We all know to reach for an ice pack to reduce swelling, and I’m sure you’ve seen athletes jumping into ice baths after a game to help prevent injuries. The same applies here – the cold will reduce inflammation in your body and help you recover

Lifestyle

Create The Perfect Summer Grazing Board

There are all kinds of reasons to get on board (no pun intended) with a beautiful platter this summer. They’re not only yummy, but they can be therapeutic to make and fun to share.   Taking time for yourself Making a beautiful cheese, charcuterie or grazing board can really help you relax. A wonderful combination of organization and creativity, it’ll hit all the different parts of your brain. And not only that – shopping for the food and assembling it will give you a good couple of hours to yourself. So, pick your favourite cheeses and meats, find a big old board, and take some well-earned me time.   Sharing the love There’s lots of research telling us that sharing meals with others is good for your mind, body and soul. So, once you’ve created your masterpiece, why not invite the girls round to enjoy it with you? Or turn it into dinner for the family for something a little different for your weeknight tea. If you fancy treating yourself and extending that me time, you could even just make one for yourself and devour it with your favourite summer drink, like my rosé port and tonic. Perfect for a solo, sunny evening!   How to create a yummy board Your grazing board is your chance to get creative and add all sorts of your favourite foods. You could stick with a classic cheeseboard (check out my guide to creating the perfect one), or why not add some charcuterie? Or, if you want to avoid meat and dairy, there are all kinds of delicious veggie and vegan options too. Here are a few of my faves to add to a board: ·         Cheese… any cheese! We have an amazing array of cheeses made right here in Ireland, so why not support local businesses while getting yourself some creamy deliciousness?! ·         Sheridan’s salted, herbed almonds. These smoky beauties add gorgeous crunch to your board and a nice bit of variety too. ·         What’s cheese without bread?! I love a loaf that’s a bit different. Things like pitta or flatbreads are a fab addition and give you something to spread that cheesy yumminess on. ·         Why not give my simple fig recipe a go? Combined with parma ham, mozzarella and basil, they don’t just give freshness to your board, but some beautiful colour too. ·         Add some crunchy baby gem lettuce and my easy buttermilk ranch dressing for a tasty dip on the side.   Top tips for creating your best board 1.       Choose a board that’s big enough. Sounds obvious, right? But you want to make sure there’s enough space for items both big and small and nothing’s going to topple off the side. 2.       Combine both sweet and savory. Sure, you might not want chocolate right next to your cheese, but if you think about your placement then you can create a tasty journey from salty to sweet. 3.       Place the biggest items on the board first and put similar items together for the prettiest presentation.   All you really need is a board and a list of food you love, and off you go. Happy grazing!

What to do before your morning coffee Aisling Larkin wellness modern lifestyle
Wellness

7 Things To Do Before Your Morning Coffee

I know what it’s like – you feel like you can’t do anything until you’ve had that first cup of coffee in the morning. However, before you reach for that creamy cappuccino, think about getting these things done first to make your day less stressful and improve your overall wellness. 1.       Hydrate yourself Your body will dehydrate overnight, so it’s super important to have a mineral-rich drink when you wake up in the morning. Potassium and sodium are the important ones here, so things like coconut water, aloe vera, grapefruit or orange juice are all perfect choices. You can even dilute them down with water using a 1:1 ratio, and add a pinch of salt. 2.       Eat some fibre If you drink coffee on an empty stomach, you can get your cortisol levels going which can make your blood sugar spike. However, by eating something fibre-rich, like berries, a banana or an orange, you can balance that blood sugar and help keep it steady for the rest of the day.   3.       Hit the gym Although caffeine can feel like it helps you through exercising, it can actually make you feel more anxious. It could also leave you needing the loo mid-session. If you really can’t do without it, try just having a few sips instead of a full cup before you start your sweat session. 4.       Brush your teeth You might think you need to wait until after your morning latte to brush your teeth. However, because the acids in coffee weaken our teeth enamel, brushing them straight away can cause more harm than good. Instead, wait about 30 minutes for your teeth to be protected, then get your toothbrush on the go. 5.       Go to the loo  Coffee can make you need to go to the bathroom, so why not get ahead of the game? Pop to the loo before you pour your morning coffee and avoid the mad dash to the loo. 6.       Wait 90 minutes before pouring your first cup       Ok, I know this one sounds hard. But, if you can hold off for an hour and a half, your body will have a chance to balance its hormones and give you better energy levels for the rest of the day. 7.       Take a stroll       Going out for a walk can make you feel as awake and alert as that cup of coffee you’re used to. Natural light within the first hour of waking up is a big way to help your hormone balance and, when you combine it with exercise, it’s a win-win. So why not treat yourself and walk to the local café for your coffee? The walk will do you good and you can still get that caffeine fix you’re after.

Wellness

Radishes: Seasonal, Versatile and Gut-friendly

They might not be the first vegetable that springs to mind when you’re feeling peckish, but radishes have plenty of benefits you might not know about: 1.       Plenty of vitamin C Everybody knows vitamin C is good for you. It’s an antioxidant, helps with immunity and can keep you healthy in all sorts of ways. Just half a cup of radishes gives you almost 15% of your daily allowance.   2.       Nutrients galore On top of all that lovely vitamin C, radishes are also packed with other antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, beta carotene, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium.   3.       Good for your gut I’m always on the lookout for new sources of fibre, and now I can look no further than the humble radish. A cup of radishes has almost two grams of fibre, both soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre is great for slowing down digestion, while insoluble fibre can kick-start your metabolism. Perfect no matter how you’re feeling!   4.       Filled with isothiocyanates “What are these?” I hear you ask. Well, they’re plant chemicals that are good for you, and are found in other veggies too, like cauliflower and cabbage. These chemicals have been shown to be good for your gut and even have anti-cancer properties too.   5.       Antifungal Radishes contain an antifungal protein, which can help stop the growth of certain types of yeast. Eating them can go a long way towards preventing things like yeast infections, digestive troubles and tiredness.   6.       Fab for your tummy Whether sliced up, crunched up or juiced, radishes are here to help your digestive system thrive. They could even prevent stomach ulcers by protecting the lining and strengthening the mucus layer in your belly.   7.       Noisy and nourishing Who doesn’t love a crunchy snack? It’s been proven that the noisier your crunchy food, the more nutrients it contains. Chomp away!     So go on: slice them, dice them, roast them, juice them – however you want to eat them, just make sure radishes are on your next shopping list!

Don't Let constipation ruin your summer Aisling Larkin wellness modern lifestyle wellness
Wellness

Don’t Let Constipation Ruin Your Summer

Have you ever noticed your gut doesn’t quite behave the same in the summer? Well, you’re not alone – plenty of us have more trouble going to the loo when the sun’s out and the heat’s rising. Of course, it varies from person to person, but here are five things that could be blocking you up and how you can avoid them.   Eating different food when the sun’s shining A lot of us find we eat warming, comforting food in the winter. When summer comes along, we switch to fresh salads and crunchy vegetables, or perhaps we overdose on barbecue meat and ice cream. Either way, our guts are adapting to a change in diet, different foods and a different amount of nutrients. The best thing to do is be mindful of what you’re eating. Keep an eye on how your stomach is feeling and listen to what your gut is telling you. If you’re struggling to go to the toilet, perhaps switch the last burger for some more salad. Don’t forget food safety either – be wary of things that have been sitting out in the sun for a while and keep food covered wherever you can.  How much water you’re drinking Dehydration is one of the main causes of constipation in the summertime. When the sun’s out, we sweat more. If we’re not replacing that fluid by increasing our fluid intake, dehydration can catch up with us. Water helps your body break down food, absorb nutrients and soften your stool to help you avoid feeling bunged up. So, keep drinking that water, especially when you’re sweating. If you find it hard to drink water on its own, why not pop some fresh fruit in there? My favourites are lemon and strawberry – the taste of summer! Be sure to get in your 1.5 – 2 L per day. Start with a warm water and lemon in the morning and 30 minutes before a meal.  3.   Your level of physical activity With rising temperatures, it’s tempting to stay inside and avoid the sun’s rays. However, decreasing exercise can affect your digestion and lead to you feeling sluggish and constipated. That’s because physical exertion can help stimulate the muscles in your digestive system. So, do your best to keep your exercise levels up – by keeping things moving on the outside, you’ll keep them moving on the inside, too. Shifts in daylight hours and your sleeping pattern We all love light evenings and seeing the sun still shining at 8pm. However, it can get in the way of your natural circadian rhythm – that’s your internal clock that mainly responds to light and dark – which can in turn affect your digestion. Changes in your rhythm can impact your digestive enzymes, gut motility and nutrient absorption, all of which can lead to you feeling like you can’t go to the loo. The concept of Circadian rhythm is not new but so many of us are unaware of it. It is really interesting, have a read here.   My best advice, do your best to maintain a regular eating schedule if you can – your gut will thank you for it Have 1 Tbsp of Pumpkin Seeds, Flaxseeds & Chia Seeds Every day  This helps as the pumpkin seeds are loaded with magnesium, a mineral that most of us tend to be deficient in. Magnesium attracts water in the colon (softens stools) and also helps relaxes the muscles in the intestines (helps establish a smoother rhythm that prevents constipation). The flaxseeds are known to be high in omega 3’s and anti-oxidants, but also the all-important soluble and insoluble fibre which all help with gut health. I love to use the milled seeds and sprinkle them into my High Satiety Granola, into the Overnights Aats or into a morning smoothie. Eat More Fibre Rich Foods This is the oldest one in the book, but do we really understand why? Here is a little bit of science. When we eat those fibre rich foods like wholegrain, fruit and vegetables with the skin on and seeds to name a few have a high water content. They create an “osmotic gradient” , facing water into the large intestine during digestion. This extra liquid creates a softer stool which can transit more effectively through the bowel. it moves quicker and exits with ease.  Some of those great foods to include are Baked beans Bran muffins Brown Bread  Broccoli Dates & Prunes & raisins Kiwi  Kidney beans Peanuts Peas & Carrots  Spinach A Hot Coffee The heat from the coffee can kick your gut into action, but the coffee itself and its high levels of caffeine are also “known to stimulate colon motility”. This is not an everyday maintenance and how-to option. This is more of a seldom emergency solution.  Sip A Herbal Tea  Lots of natural ingredients like Senna and dandelion are linked t relieving symptoms of constipation. I love sipping on a Trá Speciality Herbal Tea in the morning or a little later after the kids go to bed.  Changes in your gut microbiota Your gut microbiota is a complex combination of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. They all play a key part in breaking down your food, but can all vary depending on things like diet, temperature and light – meaning that the summer weather can negatively impact how they’re working. They can also take a hit when you travel to new countries and eat new cuisines, so keep an eye on what you’re eating and respond to your body accordingly.   Colon Massage  Physical manipulation can really help to get waste moving through the large intestine. How to, you ask; well, “Start with hand in a fist on upper left abdomen just below ribcage. You can add other hand over first for added pressure. Perform deep circular movements with wrist as you move down the ‘down pipe’ of the colon. Aim for 8-10 circles as you move

Wellness

20 Questions You Should Ask Yourself

Life’s always throwing questions our way. Some are big, while others are small. Who am I? What do I want? What shall I make for dinner? Knowing what you think about things and how you feel is a really important part of understanding yourself and helping you on the way to wholeness. I’ve compiled a list of 20 questions which will make you consider things a little differently and could even show you possibilities you haven’t thought of yet. Did I do something just so I didn’t disappoint someone? Be careful that you’re not doing things you really don’t like just to gain someone’s approval. What’s the one golden rule that works for me? It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work for everyone. It’s about what works for you. What’s the big risk I’m worried about? Think about the biggest risk and confront it head-on. By figuring out the worst-case scenario, you can either make sure you’re prepared for it, or you can realise how unlikely it is to happen. And what are the tiny risks? Little risks are often manageable. Think about what they are and maybe even write them down. They’ll seem much smaller and you’ll feel able to tackle each one. Who do I yell at inside my head? We all do it. In the car, on the way home from work, in the shower. There’s always somebody we rage at. Try to figure out why you’re so mad at that person and why you can’t bring it up with them. You might just find that working it out is enough to make it go away. What small thing makes me happy? Do you love squishing all the avocadoes in the supermarket to see which one’s best? Maybe you’re happiest belting out Whitney while driving down the motorway and nobody can hear you? Find that little thing that floats your boat and do it whenever you can. What does nobody know about me? And why don’t they know? How would my relationships change if I always told the truth? If you decided never to lie again – even little white lies – how would your friendships and partnerships change? Would you feel closer to people? Would you feel relieved that you could feel totally like yourself? What’s my go-to spiritual practice? You might just have answered that with “oh, I don’t have one”. Time to think of a way to find your zen in a world of chaos. Maybe it’s going for a walk. Perhaps it’s baking a cake. It could even just be counting to ten while you make a calming cup of tea. Find what works for you. How often does my body scream “STOP, WOMAN!” Pay attention to it when it does. Headaches, tiredness, skin outbreaks – they’re all signs that you need a bit of a rest. What would I write on my own fortune cookie? Maybe “I deserve love”? Or “Don’t be scared to take a risk”? It could be “Brownies are always the answer”. It’s your fortune – go ahead and pick your destiny. What three items do I always need in my fridge to feel comfort? What’s always in there that you know you could turn to when you need a pick-me-up or need to feel refreshed? Have I found the best way to deal with the things I find annoying in other people? It’s time to let the little things go. We all do things that annoy people. Every single one of us. So, finding a way to not let other people grind our gears with their little shortcomings can lead to a much happier day for everyone – especially you! What do I think about the person who harmed me? Can you think of anything you have in common? It might just help you find the humanity in them and have a better understanding of why they did what they did. Why do I think the people who love me, love me? We’re often the hardest on ourselves. So, if you can see yourself the way others do, you might just find some really great things about yourself that you don’t pay enough attention to. What would my mum say if she were here? Mums usually know exactly how to stop you from getting hurt. So, if you think your mum would say no to the thing you’re thinking of doing… maybe don’t do it. What have I realised I’ll never be great at? This doesn’t mean you should stop doing it. Terrible at painting? Keep going. Awful at baking? Doesn’t matter – bet there’s still a delicious sugary mess to eat at the end. What real work have I done towards achieving happiness? Most things that are worth it do take a bit of effort, right? So have a think about what you could work a little harder on in the short term to bring you happiness in the long run. Do I care too much about what people think? We all worry about what others think about us. It’s part of being human. But what you’re really doing is allowing others to dictate who you are and the way you behave. Think of all the things you know and all the things you’ve done to make you the person you are today, and be proud of them. Who’s my favourite person to hug (and why)? Everyone needs hugs. And some people are just really good at them. So think about who your favourite hugger is and, if you can, go give them a squeeze.

Wellness

Your Journey from Wellness to Wholeness

Wellness is so important: looking after your mind and body is key to being happy and healthy. But all the different aspects of wellness can add up to something bigger, known as wholeness. What does ‘wholeness’ mean? Wholeness is really just about feeling complete. It’s about feeling like you’re the version of yourself you want to be. That doesn’t mean fixing yourself or always being on a quest to make yourself a better person. It really just means accepting the unique combination of things that makes you, you. Being who you’re really meant to be Sometimes you might feel like you’re fighting to be like somebody else. You’re trying things over and over that just don’t feel easy to you. And while it can be good to push yourself and try new things, there’s also a real peace that comes from accepting the things that come naturally. Everybody is different and the things that some people find easy might be hard for you. But guess what? That works both ways. There are plenty of things that are part of your natural self that others could only dream of being. Knowing who you are The real key to being who you are, is stopping being who you aren’t. Stop trying to be like other people, and instead focus on the things that you know make you happy. Sure, this might include making some mistakes along the way – sometimes you have to try things to know that they’re not for you. But the important thing is once you realise that something doesn’t suit you, don’t feel bad or guilty about saying no to it. Pay attention to your inner child A big part of finding wholeness is understanding your ‘inner child’. It’s about identifying your needs that haven’t been met, and working on them in a way that your younger self would have wanted. So, when you’re struggling with something, ask yourself: “What do I need?”, and pay real attention to the answer. That way, you’ll be healing in the way that’s best for you and it’ll help you feel like you’re whole. Only you can be you Try to look at yourself as a whole: take stock of your beliefs, your talents and your traits, and know that they’re what make you the wonderful person you are. By doing that, you’ll realise you don’t need other people to tell you what or who to be. And you’ll see that everything you need to feel like the whole you is already there. 

From Wellness To Wholeness aisling Larkin modern lifestyle food wellness
Wellness

Embracing Change When It Feels Difficult

You’ve probably heard lots of phrases about change. Things like “a change is as good as a rest” or “change is inevitable”. But we also know that some people “don’t like change”. So, what do you do if you feel like things are changing, but you just don’t want them to? Embracing the inevitable Change can be really hard, especially if you’re not prepared for it to happen. You might see people all around you happily embracing change like it’s the easiest thing in the world: new jobs, new partners, new houses. But you might not want to embrace those things in the same way. The thing to remember is that change really is inevitable. Nothing can stay the same way forever. So, the best thing to do is to make sure you’re prepared for change and you feel in control of the things happening in your life. Choose how to manage change Some people are great with change – they run headlong into it with open arms. Others like to cautiously dip their toe in the water to see what it’s like, but you might be someone who stumbles into it reluctantly and struggles to accept it. The key thing is making sure you’re happy with the way you manage that change. If you’re someone who finds it hard, try to focus on the parts of change that you can control. Say it’s something small like someone changing the time you’re meeting them – you can remain in control by choosing the place you meet. If it’s a bigger change in life, try to accept that you can’t control everything that happens, but make things bite-size if you can. You might not be able to control the whole event, but you can have a handle on the smaller chunks. It’s okay if something’s not ok I’m not saying you have to embrace all change. In fact, perhaps it’s good to realise that sometimes, you just don’t want the change. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen. But it does mean you allow yourself to have a good old grumble about it if you want to before it comes. There’s no right or wrong way to manage change – there’s just a best way for you to do it personally. So don’t worry about what other people are doing or how they’re managing things. Do things that make you happy and feel in control of the inevitable. Who knows, you might just end up enjoying change more than you thought! 

Beetroot: The New Beauty Food
Lifestyle

Betaine: The Newest Beauty Superfood

There are plenty of superfoods out there that are good for you from the inside out, and now you can add betaine to that list. It can do wonders for your skin and is found in all sorts of food you probably already eat! Betaine (also known in the science world as trimethylglycine) is a natural compound found in foods like beetroot, spinach, quinoa and wheat bran. It was discovered back in the 19th century, but has stayed a well-kept secret in the world of beauty – until now. So, what exactly can betaine do? 1.   Hydrate your skin Betaine is what’s known as a ‘humectant’, which means it attracts water and keeps it locked in. If you apply it directly to your skin, it can take moisture from the air around you and draw it into your skin’s outer layers, giving you a beautiful, hydrated appearance which can also help you look younger. 2.       Soothe irritation Betaine has been found to be anti-inflammatory. It can help calm and soothe your skin if it’s irritated, as well as reduce redness and itchiness 3.       Create a protective barrier Betaine can promote the production of ceramides, which are vital in your skin’s protective layer. By boosting that layer, betaine is helping to prevent moisture loss while shielding you from the environment around you. 4.       Brighten and balance Some studies have shown that betaine can help brighten your skin and balance out any uneven tones. It can help reduce any hyperpigmentation by reducing the production of melanin – that’s the pigment that darkens your skin. So, now you know the ways betaine can boost your skin, you can tuck into your beetroot and quinoa salad knowing it’s even better for you than you thought. Enjoy!

Eating Together: The Science of Why Its So Good For You
Lifestyle

Eating Together: Good for the Mind, Body and Tastebuds

It’s always lovely to sit down with friends and family for a long, leisurely dinner. But did you know there are more benefits than just delicious food and good conversation? Eating together can even make food taste better! More and more people are eating alone Research shows that a third of weeknight meals are eaten alone, and the average adult eats almost half of their meals on their own each week. There can be all sorts of reasons for this: living alone, eating on the go, an increase in single-person households and an aging population with more and more older people living alone. Sure, a meal on your own can sometimes be lovely. But it has also been linked to depressive symptoms, obesity and high bloody pressure. Spreading happiness It’s been proven that people who often eat with others feel happier and more satisfied with their lives. They also trust others more readily and tend to be more involved in their local communities. It’s all about bonding with others – if you eat with friends and family, you’ll create stronger relationships and social bonds, which in turn can help you be a more sociable and outgoing person. Taking your time When you eat with other people, you tend to eat more slowly. That’s down to things like chatting, using your hands to gesticulate and also just enjoying a leisurely meal. We already know that eating slowly is better for your health. It can help you eat fewer calories than you would otherwise, plus it can help avoid big spikes in blood sugar. So, eating with friends really can be good for your body. Although be careful: you could end up eating more when you’re out at a restaurant and that sharing dessert is just too tempting to resist! Better quality food When families sit down to eat together, we know that children and teenagers are getting better nutrition. They tend to eat more fruit and vegetables and fewer soft drinks and fast food. They also take on more protein, calcium, iron and vitamins, all of which are important for growing bodies. Putting in the effort Cooking for friends and family can often mean putting real love into the meal. That usually means higher quality ingredients and less processed food. However, putting that same effort into cooking just for yourself doesn’t come quite so easy. It can feel like you’re making too much food, that some of it will go to waste or that you just don’t have the energy to go to all that trouble for yourself. Next time, think about cooking up a big batch of food and freezing some of it. That way, you can get all the nutrients you need and you’re not throwing anything away. Making life taste good So now you know how good social eating is for you, why not grab your friends and family and cook up a storm? Your body and mind will thank you for it!