Category Archives: Health

How to Support a Depressed Person in Your Life

Depression is an increasingly common problem in the world, but that does not make it any less serious. Even if you have not suffered from depression yourself, chances are that it has touched your life in some respect through the sufferings of either a friend or relative.

If you have not experienced depression first hand, it can be difficult to understand what people who have this problem are going through. It can also be particularly tricky if you live with them under the same roof. Here are some tips that can help:

Be a compassionate listener

It is tough to know what to say to someone who has depression. However, do not feel bad about that: even therapists spend a number of years learning how to treat people with this affliction. What you can do is be a compassionate and attentive listener. People suffering from depression often feel that no one cares about them, so the fact that you are willing to listen can actually mean a lot. Let them know that you are there for them.

Encourage them to get help

When all is said and done, the person most qualified to help someone suffering from depression is a therapist. Your friend or loved one may feel that there is no one out there to help them, so it is your duty to let them know that that is not the case.

Help them to take the steps necessary to access the help available in your community. If they are reluctant to go to the appointment, offered to accompany them.

While you are performing this service for your friend or loved one, do not forget to take care of yourself. It will not do anyone any good for you to suffer physical or mental decline because of the stress that comes from helping this person.

Should Grandpa’s Sadness Be Of Concern?

Do you find that your grandparents are seeming to be sad more often than not? Depression among senior citizens is a common problem, but one that is frequently misdiagnosed due to the symptoms often resembling issues at that period of life, side effects from medication, etc.

People in their golden years can be plagued by physical and cognitive issues that make normal functioning that much more difficult. Also, when one is nearing the end of life and feels burdened by regret, this can also lead to chronic depression.

Here are some other factors that can contribute to the problem:

Lack of Exercise

Getting up and moving not only aids our bodily processes, it can also help us on a cognitive level. If you don’t exercise regularly, you will feel worse on both a physical and mental level. As seniors are usually dealing with mobility and energy level problems, it can be tempting to just stay in bed instead of going for a walk or partaking in other basic forms of activity.

Lack of Sleep

Even seniors in good health will find that their amount of sleep, and the general quality of that rest, goes down as they age. Sometimes it may be because of more frequent bowel movements, or could be a general restlessness that prevents deep and satisfying sleep. Your physical and mental well-being both suffer without a proper night’s slumber.

Isolation

Physical complaints, inability to drive due to sight loss, and living in a nursing home can cause a person to feel isolated. That lack of regular contact with friends and loved ones can lead to a feeling of isolation and lack of value. Those thoughts are almost always a recipe for depression.

If your grandparents or other seniors you know are experiencing any signs of depression, talk to them and offer your assistance. They will almost certainly appreciate it.

Should the Government Regulate Junk Food?

No one likes to be told what they can and cannot eat. Food is one of the key personal freedoms, but should it be? As the world struggles with an increasing obesity rate and overburdened health care systems, it seems at times like we are our own worst enemy.

Governments around the world regulate the sales of alcohol, tobacco, and, increasingly, recreational marijuana. Some have also instituted “soda taxes” that increase the cost of pop in order to encourage people to choose healthier alternatives. However, there has been no concentrated effort to extend such a plan to junk food as a whole.

Given that this segment of the food industry is quite substantial, any such plan would immediately run afoul of the many lobbyists employed to represent the major companies involved.

However, groups like the World Health Organization are becomingly increasingly vocal in their attempts to get governments more involved in addressing the problem. It’s tough to argue from a financial perspective: decreasing the number of people with chronic health issues brought about by poor lifestyle choices will also dramatically decrease the amount of money countries must direct towards healthcare.

That argument for action has suggestions on how to make this economically viable, like providing financial incentives for those involved in the production of healthy foods. They also advise other measures, such as tightening the regulation of fast food advertising aimed at children, and making it less profitable for companies that focus their means of production on unhealthy, highly processed foods.

These are encouraging ideas and one hopes they will increasingly come into play around the world. In the meantime, however, education seems to be the best choice. Helping people to fully realize the risks that a bacon double cheeseburger has on their well-being might encourage more consumers to think twice.

When the Moon Hits Your Eye Like a Big Pizza Pie…or a Nice Light Salad

One of the most romantic things you can do for your significant other is plan a special, candle lit meal for two. Usually these types of dinners are rich, heavy and generous with the alcohol. While this type of decadence may seem like a great way to celebrate, reward, or just connect, it may lead you to fall asleep before the real romancing starts, or if you manage to stay up, you won’t be feeling your best which definitely defeats the purpose. Here are some meal ideas to make you feel cool and heat things up:

  • Crab cakes and a light salad: especially good for summer, try adding apple to the salad for extra brightness. You can prepare most of it in advance, which will keep clean up to a minimum. Try serving it with a white wine spritzer made with a citrusy sauvignon blanc.
  • Flank steak flat breads topped with sautéed bell peppers: this cut of beef is super lean, but it still feels like a treat because it’s steak. You can add little chipotle to the peppers for a nice spiciness without making you sweat. Try it with sangria made with red wine a no-sugar added cranberry or cherry juice.
  • Pasta with pesto, cherry tomatoes and bocconcini: have your own Lady and the Tramp moment with something a little healthier (even better if you make your own pasta and pesto from scratch). This is also a great way to showcase heirloom tomatoes when they’re in season and make the meal look extra special. Go full Italian and try it with a Campari and Soda: the bitterness will offset the sweetness of the tomatoes.

With all of these, the best plan of action is to prep as much before hand as you can, so that you can spend more time romancing and less time in the kitchen. Showering your loved one with indulgences may seem like a good idea (and I’m not saying never do it), but taking care of their body while treating them to something lovely lets them know that you’re thinking of their overall well being too, showing commitment and caring.

I Like to Move it Move it (Not Really Though)

They say that after dealing with death and divorce, moving is one of the most traumatizing events a person goes through, and after my last move, I’m inclined to agree. I don’t have a lot of advice to offer about boxes, bubble wrap or any of that jazz, but I can tell you how what we ate made a difference in how well the move went. Moving days are hectic, which in and of itself makes eating healthy more difficult, but add to the fact that all your dishes are impossible to get to and you’ve probably spent the last week making sure to have as little food in your place as possible (less to move) and you’ve got a recipe for a day spent eating infrequently and unhealthily, which, aside from being bad for you, will also deprive your body of much needed nutrients while you’re making it work even harder than usual:

  • The day before, pack up plastic bags full of veggie sticks, almonds and pretzels for easy to reach snacks that you can munch as you load and unload your belongings
  • Start they day with a protein and carb filled breakfast to make sure you have enough energy to last in case you miss out on lunch hour (though the snacks should help here). If you can, try to have just enough yogurt (single serving cups, drinkable ones, or single serving tubes are great here) and granola bars for you and anyone else in the household that is moving (look for lower sugar varieties, to avoid crashing). If you’re helping someone move, try a veggie filled omelet with brown toast, or make your own breakfast burritos filled with lots of black beans.
  • While moving, it’s important to stay hydrated, be sure to have lots of water bottles on hand, especially in the summer
  • For dinner? I say go ahead and order that pizza! You’ll want to reward anyone who’s helped you move, and frankly, you’ll have done so much lifting, walking and stressing that the extra calories won’t be felt. You should still make an effort to add as many veggies as you can and avoid super fatty meats (most places will offer chicken-a much leaner choice than pepperoni). You’ll be so tired from moving that the any sluggishness you feel from a big pizza dinner won’t really be felt.

 

 

How to Handle it When Things Get out of Hand at the Farmers’ Market

Farmers’ Markets are one of the best things period. Nothing beats being able to buy your food directly from the source. Not only is it cheaper, but your body will thank you for providing it with something that hasn’t had to sit on a truck, and then shelf, for several days. The only real problem I have with these heavenly spots is buying too much! This is especially easy to do in the summer months when everything is in season and local farmers are showing off new and exciting varieties of my favs. If you’ve got the same problem, here are some ways to make sure none of your bounty goes to waste:

  • Create your own frozen food section: simply wash and prepare fruits and veggies (e.g.: pitting cherries, hulling strawberries or stripping kernels from corn cobs) and spread them on a sheet pan so they freeze individually instead of in big clumps. Once they’ve frozen, you can store them in a freezer bad and enjoy long into the winter
  • Pickles or Jams: not only are they a great way to preserve seasonal produce, they are infinitely customizable, so your creations will not only be local, but also unique. Bonus: jams are a particularly good way to use berries that are starting to slide towards mushiness
  • Add fruits and veggies to dishes where that don’t usually call for them. Add cauliflower to mashed potatoes, make your kebobs a 70/30 split between produce and protein.
  • Have containers of chopped up fruit ready to go in the fridge, so that when a snack attack strikes, you’ll be ready and the inconvenience of prepping fresh produce won’t be an issue-this is especially great for kids who are home from school for the summer
  • Got a friend or family member going through a tough time? Consider making them a produce heaving casserole or salad. They’ll appreciate not having to cook, and the bringing something healthier than the traditional cheese and carb loaded comfort food will give them a chance to care for their bodies without having to think about it, or feel guilty for taking the time for self care

 

 

 

Salads That You’ll Want to Eat

One of the sad facts of healthy eating is that yes, those of us who follow this lifestyle tend to eat a lot of salad. All too often people try to shame us with taunts of “you don’t win friends with salad!” or “yuck, rabbit food!” but no longer! Here are some great suggestions to up your salad game and make it feel like a luxury decadence instead of a healthy chore:

  • Have you ever tried Haloumi? It’s a firm, salty cheese and makes a great protein addition to a salad. Cube it and sear it in some olive oil (it won’t melt) them toss with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs like dill or cilantro and a hummus lemon dressing
  • Speaking of herbs, are you including them in your salads? Fresh, delicate ones like basil, dill, and cilantro work best, and bring a lot of flavour with no guilt
  • How about upping the nutrients with some unexpected fruit in a savoury salad? Cherries, peaches, strawberries, pears, and apples are all great choices to start with. Be sure to follow the seasons where you are to get the freshest (and most nutritious) ones.
  • Olive oil is a perfect, heart healthy way to start off a homemade dressing, but consider adding other oils too for flavour. Walnut, almond, and sesame oil are all readily available at most large grocery stores and can really add a new dimension to your dressing
  • Do you have a favourite comfort food? Why not try re-imaging it as a salad? Fajitas are an easy choice, but why not a chicken cordon bleu? You can grill the chicken, dice some lean ham, sprinkle a little grated swiss and make a punchy Dijon dressing to get all the flavour of the classic dish, but with the addition of as many greens as you can handle

Should Libraries Change with the Times?

The short answer to this is obviously yes, shouldn’t everything? Progress is a good thing, moving forward is better than backwards. Arguably, the shift of libraries to open communities’ centres of learning and open access is a good thing. And it is. But…isn’t there something that is lost by democratizing knowledge as much as we have? By making things available to everyone, do we not then need to sink to the lowest common denominator? This is becoming an especially egregious problem nowadays because with the increasing prevalence of ‘special snowflake syndrome’ , the idea that everyone’s opinion is valid and that every possible handicap (real or perceived) needs to be aggressively accommodated is bringing us all down. How much teaching can actually be happening in a space where there are constant interruptions and endless ‘needs’ that must be taken care of? How much scholarly independence can there be if taxpayers deem themselves customers and begin to treat the staff like members of the service class (who, don’t get me wrong, should not be referred to as such, nor treated with anything less than kindness and respect). Why can’t we have nice things anymore? Why is it so wrong to want a quit space filled with books and meant for reading. Does everything need bells and whistles? Have we lost our ability to reflect in silence. If libraries are a reflection of the community, then what does it say about us if ours are no longer places dedicated to learning and the history thereof? Progress is good, and important, but we don’t need to bury and improve everything from the past, sometimes, the original was the best. Libraries have been around for thousands of years, but if we keep going the way we are, they might not exist for much longer, or, if they do, they might not have any books.

Bean There Done That

Thanks to a certain song about their magical properties, beans continue to get a bad rap, and that needs to change! Not only are they are great source of non-animal protein, they’re also very easy on the budget. When people think beans, their minds mostly go to either chili or baked beans, which are great, but if those are your only two recipes, then it’s easy to forget about including them more often in your meal rotation. Here are a few suggestions to make them more exciting:

  • creamy white beans: this works best if you’ve got dried beans and a lot of time on your hands, but the efffort is actually minimal (as is the case with pretty much any bean recipe to be honest). Simply put a 1:4 ratio of beans to water in a pot, along with some rosemary or thyme or both, a few peeled, whole garlic cloves and an onion that is peeled and cut in half length wise. Simmer the beans for a few hours (how long this takes will depend on the age and size of the bean) and season with salt and pepper once they reach the desired level of creamy-ness.
  • Versitile Black Beans: follow the basic instructions from above, omit the herbs, but include an orange that has been cut in half. If you’re feeling spicy, throw in some diced  jalapeno or chipotle peppers.
  • Comforting Split Peas: maybe not technically a bean, but legume is close enough, and you follow the same method, so I’m counting it. This time, in addition to the garlic and onion, add some dice carrot and celery. Feel free to toss in whatever hearty herbs you like, and some dried mustard will add a nice subtle kick. Spilt peas tend to cook faster than beans, so keep a closer eye on it.

All three of these can be un-veganized by adding either a smoked ham hock during cooking or some  cooked bacon/other pork at the start, before you add the beans and water to the pot. They are all great on their own, but try experimenting by serving them with different grains, breads or veggies. You can even purree them for dips or spreads!

How to Stay Healthy When You’re Camping

What could be better than packing up a tent and sleeping, then heading out to the great outdoors? Getting closer to nature is a wonderful way to reconnect with nature and reset, despite the lack of showers, camping can be a very cleansing experience and if you’re from a large city, spending time away from the noise and light pollution will do you a world of good. Unfortunately, because of space constraints and a lack of electricity, it can be easy when camping to load up on carbs and sugar, which can undo all those good feelings. Here are some tips you can use to make sure your next wilderness adventure is as healthy as possible:

  • Think ahead and make frozen meals like chili (be sure to use lots of beans, and a lean protein like turkey). Pack it in individual tupperware or freezer bags and heat over a camp stove or fire-bonus: they can replace ice in your cooler
  • For snacking, use the frozen trick again and freeze batches of grapes. Also, Focus on things like pretezels, nuts, or popcorn (and make sure they’re all low sodium) instead of greasy chips or sugary dried fruits. Fill containers with carrot and celery sticks for easy snacking, but stay away from things like apple or pears that will brown and be unappetizing
  • Be sure to drink lots of water, pack more than you think you’ll need in case there’s not a reliable water source and be sure to freeze some and use them to keep your food cool
  • S’mores are a camping must, and I would never say don’t have them, but try to boost the health factor by adding fresh fruit like bananas or strawberries, and be sure to use dark chocolate. Also consdier shopping around for a healthier cookie base than the traditional graham cracker, there are lots of tasty whole grain or gluten free options if you’re willing to spend a little time huntin

Will. It. Pickle?

In this age of both convenience and artisan revival, it’s easy to pick up any number of crunchy, acidic additions, but how much more impressive (and healthy!) to make your own? The best part is, it’s super easy and infinitely customizable, just follow these simple guidelines and get pickling!

  • While you can pickle just about any fruit or vegetable, keep in mind how the texture will be affected by pickling; the heat and acid of pickling will soften the pickle subject up, so if it’s soft already, it could become mushy (in which case, you may be better off making a relish or chutney, which will have a lot of the same flavour profiles, but will better suit the texture)
  • Think carefully about the natural acidity or sourness of the pickle subject: if something is already tart (like rhubarb) you’ll want to add extra sugar (or sugar substitute like maple syrup or honey) to balance it out
  • Don’t forget to season! A little salt will go a long way, and helps keep things preserved without chemicals. And there’s no reason to stop at salt, why not add other spices too? A cinnamon stick or star anise, as well as classic pickling spices like coriander, juniper, and dill seed are all great choices
  • Decide how long you want the pickles to last, if this is a quick pickle to be used soon, you can utilize the fridge method (explained below) if you’d like to keep them longer and store them in some kind of root cellar situation, then you’ll have to take more care by sterilizing the jars and lids in boiling water, and sealing them by placing the filled and lidded jars in a pot of boiling water (or a pressure cooker) for about 15 minutes until you can be sure that any bacteria is eliminated. This method is called processing and means you can keep the sealed jars at room temperature for several months
  • Once you’re ready to pickle, start by adding a teaspoon or so of salt to the jar, as well as any spices you’d like, then cram the jar as full as you can with your pickle pick, cut into whatever size you’d like to enjoy them at (eg: you can slice, cube or julienne, the smaller or thinner the size, the softer the pickle)
  • When your jars are full, bring equal parts water and vinegar to a boil. White vinegar is the most popular choice, but apple cider and champagne vinegars are good choices too. Remember, the vinegar choice will influence the pickle flavour. Balsamic vinegars are not recommended because of their strong colour and flavour, expense, and slightly thicker texture
  • CAREFULLY fill the jars with the hot water/vinegar, stopping about a centimeter below the rim. Seal the jars right away, once cooled, they can be refrigerated, or you can proceed with the processing method. Pickles with be ready to eat in a few days, but try to wait a week to really let the flavours develop

***Fridge pickles are just that, pickles you keep in the fridge! The only real difference is that since you haven’t processed

The Essential After-Beach Hair and Skin Care Routine

after beach hair and skin care routine
Following this after-beach hair and skin care routine will help you make the most of your summer.

The combination of summer heat, humidity, and UV rays can do a number on your hair and skin. Follow this after-beach routine to keep your hair and skin strong and supple all summer long.

1. Take a Cool Shower or Bath

Do this even if you don’t have a sunburn. The water doesn’t need to be ice-cold, but it should be a few notches down from your typical shower temperature. Your body works hard to keep cool after extended periods in the sun, and hot water won’t do it any favours.

2. Wash Up

Give yourself a full-body scrub as soon as you get home from the beach. All that sweat, sand and sunscreen can really clog your pores. To avoid oily skin and unpleasant breakouts, scrub yourself with a gentle washcloth or body brush ASAP.

3. Use Gentle Soaps and Moisturizers

It’s good to use a moisturizing product after you’ve been at the beach, as your skin is likely dehydrated from being in the salt and sun all day. A light oil moisturizers will help to restore that summer glow to your skin.

However, you should avoid products that could irritate your sun-kissed skin, including:

  • Retinol
  • Retinol A
  • Petroleum
  • Benzocaine
  • Lidocaine

It’s important to never use citrus essential oils on your skin after spending time in the sun, as they can scar and leave permanent damage.

4. Use a Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner

You know how your hair is always tangled after a beach day? Your hair loses moisture from being out in the sun. According to Gina Capano of Luxe Bar, overexposure to salt water also contributes to dehydrated hair.

Use a mild, moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, scrubbing well to remove any sand or sunscreen that got caught in your hair. If your hair is feeling especially brittle and damaged, try using a conditioning hair mask.

5. Treat Sunburns Immediately

By now, you know the importance of protecting your skin from the sun. But everyone makes mistakes, and sometimes, all the sunscreen in the world isn’t enough to keep you from getting burned. If you’re seeing red after your beach trip, apply an aloe vera treatment immediately after your cool shower. Reapply whenever you’re feeling dry and sore.

According to Web MD, you should see a doctor following a sunburn if:

  • You have signs of needing more fluids (sunken eyes, dry mouth, dark urine)
  • You have signs of infection (swelling, warmth, red streaks, pus)
  • You have a fever

Get Out and Enjoy the Sun!

There are many positive health effects of hitting the beach. You can get a great big dose of Vitamin D while you’re soaking up the physical and mental benefits of full-body exercises, like swimming, surfing, and beach volleyball. But it only takes one bad experience to put a damper on your fun, so be sure to follow these tips as you make the most of your summer.