Great Big Wellness Geek

Geek

Today Mr Amazon Delivery Guy confirmed something I didn’t even realise I was dreading – confirmation that I’ve officially become a ‘Great Big Wellness Geek’ (GBWG for short)… and I’m not quite sure what to think of it.

Basically Mr Delivery Guy brought with him my coveted BPA Free 2 liter water bottle, the one that was as cheap as chips (€12 including postage and package!!) the one I got from these guys at New Wave Enviro Products, the bottle I wrote about here and have been only dying to receive.

Here’s a pic of him (the BPA bottle, not the Delivery Guy you ninny!)

BPA Free Bottle

Isn’t he a cutie?!

The strange thing was that when it was delivered to my office I was too embarrassed to take it out of it’s box and have a good old ‘New Delivery Inspection’ (like I used to in days of yorn when my delivers included Dermalogica products).  You see half my office already thinks I’m mental – what with the green juices I do be sup’ing, the homemade green lunches, the herbal Nettle and Green teas I have stationed beside their Nescafe and Barry’s Tea and the floral pouch of supplements I have on my desk (I deservingly get a guffaw of laughter every time I take a spray of my Vitamin D!!) so I think I just felt this BPA bottle went that step too far for what I’m ready for just now.

Basically I’ve decided there’s a few stages involved in Wellness:

GBWG Stage 1: This is the stage where you’re toying with becoming a GBWG. It’s a stage where you Google ‘cleanses’, ‘effects of sugar’, ‘benefits of raw food’, tentatively replace your beauty products with natural ones, drink a green smoothie once a month (and only get through half cos you think it tastes like grass) but generally go with the flow and keep your beliefs and preferences under wraps.

GBWG Stage 2: Then there’s the next stage, the one where you start requesting veggie options when eating out (instead of not wanting to rock the boat), actively count the number of fresh fruit and veg you’ve eaten each day and panic if it’s less then 4 and have a freaker if someone sprays Antiperspirant Deodorant near you in a confined space (‘agghhhh my poor lungs’!!).

The thing is I feel like I might just have pushed through into Stage 2… and I’m not yet sure how I feel about becoming that person.

We all find ourselves a bit cringy at times right?!

(There is a Stage 3 but I’m not even going there today)

Well anyways I know what Oprah (does anyone else have a mental block on how to spell that woman’s name?! My first attempt is always Opera!) and her cronies would say…

bfaa078b7aa0c8e19ad9a6c329ea846c177470041536468102_rSHrKxug_f150870656237458251_QpJbt8vU_fyoga6
And other fabulously motivating (but oddly irritating) phrases. But sometimes it all gets a bit much and you’re just a bit daunted about being out on your own, and basically you just aren’t bloody well ready for being at GBWG Stage 2.
Who knew an Amazon delivery could invoke such emotions eh?! 😉

A Veggie Adventure

Picture1

As a reader of my blog you’ll (hopefully!) have picked up the fact I’ve spent the last year trying to live a more rewarding and fuller life by changing my diet and general relationship with food. I’m very proud to have gone from the person who slinks past the fruit and veg aisle, trying to make as little eye contact with the courgettes as possible, to becoming the person who yelps in excitement when they see pumpkins and kale on sale (true story).

Over the course of the year:

  • I’ve realised the effects stimulants have and reevaluated the emphases I place on them- therefore reducing my intake of sugar, alcohol and my beloved coffee.
  • I’ve put my ‘Little Ms Skeptical’ hat to one side, and listened to the incredible findings of those vegan advocates (the ones I once sneered at for being ‘mad hippies’) and as a result I’ve massively reduced my intake of meat and diary.
  • After a truly awful 1st try, I’m making a concerted effort to have regular green juices and smoothies. I even undertook a juice detox (which you can read about here)!
  • I’m also back on my supplements, drinking clean(er) water and eating lots and lots of fresh fruit and veggies- the greener the better in my book.

Next on my agenda is to find ways to get more of that good green stuff (or ‘rabbit food’- as my Granddad calls it!) into my system by extending my plant based cooking repertoire (and not having to rely on raw carrots like this poor guy!)

Rabbit-eating-carrot

Here’s some of my attempts so far:

1. Cauliflower base pizza: This one is cool!  I just love finding new ways to get plants into my system. You feel like you’ve found some kind of ‘life cheat’ when you’re mixing the dough made from cauliflower and ground almonds. The tomatoes sauce and lemon and basil drizzle really bring out the flavour too.

I was a bit disappointed not to have the crunchiness of a normal pizza base, but otherwise I felt on top of the world after eating this and would make it again in a flash.

photo (27) photo (29)

2. Courgette pasta: I actually can’t remember where I found the recipe for this one, so here it is from me old memory:

  • Two courgettes, very finely cut length ways (or else, if your a Fancy Pants, run them through a spiraliser. I obviously didn’t have one in the pic below)
  • 100ml toasted hazelnuts
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in two
  • Half a jar of the best quality pesto you can afford
  • Mix it all together in a bowl and, ‘hey pesto’ (intentional typo!), get stuck in!

This is great on it’s own, maybe for lunch but I tend to have it on the side of some fish or something a little bit more substantial.

corgette pasta

3. Spinach and squash salad: This is actually a variation of a meal I ate in the Mellow Fig down in Blackrock, Co. Dublin. I tend to use feta or goats cheese instead of the gorgonzola and only use olive oil and apple cider vinegar as the dressing.

 It’s a great one for these colder days when you still want to eat something nutritious and refreshing.

Baby-Spinach-Salad-with-Roasted-Butternut-Squash,-Dried-Cherries,-Gorgonzola-and-Pepitas

Happy Cooking! 🙂

Filthy Fluoride

Water-supply1

I’m sorry, I just feel like I’ve been taken for an absolute fool these past few years- probably because I have been a fool.

I never used to stop to ask what was added to my water, if my shampoo was doing anything else to my scalp rather then just cleaning it, if my tampons were safe, if the pesticides being sprayed on my veggies had any dodgie side effects, if antibiotics given to cows could end up in the milk I drink. Now I do, and my brain just won’t stop asking questions and looking for replacements.

Once you start scratching the surface and actually look at the items you’re using on a daily basis all hell breaks loose. You start seeing that at some point in the last 50 years someone decided our health and well being is big business and every tactic, marketing ploy, corner cutting, money saving scheme is fair game. Nothing is what is seems.

… OK, rant over (sigh of relief from anyone still reading!) I just needed to get that off my chest!

Anyway, before the red mist came down I was about to talk some more about water. As mentioned previously I’m trying to steer clear of plastic water bottles due to the unwelcome side effect of BPA’s (more on that here). I’ve bought myself a lovely BPA free water bottle and everything was going fine until I heard about fluoride (this is where the angry ‘red mist’ came from).

Basically since 1964 the Irish Government took it on themselves to save our little Irish teeth by pumping a chemical called fluoride into our tap water. I don’t doubt that they did this in good faith at the time. However since then the case against this practice has mounted with studies suggesting links between excess fluoride and the following:

  • Some cancers
  • Osteoporosis
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Down syndrome
  • Chronic fatigue, thyroid dysfunction, headaches, depression, eczema and many more.

Due to all the evidence today almost all developed countries have outlawed the practice of adding Fluoride to their drinking water and now Ireland is one of only 8 developed countries, WORLD WIDE, to be still adding Fluoride to tap water!! Crazy right?!

If you’re interested in helping the fight against fluoridation here’s some levels of activity:

Level 1 (Zero effort required) – Like Irish group ‘The Girl Against Fluoride’ (TGAF) on Facebook to increase your awareness

Level 2 (Little bit of effort required) – Sign some petitions to stop fluoridation in Ireland- here and here

Level 3 (Fairly high effort needed) – I’ve no doubt fluoridation is going to be a hot topic as 2014 rolls in and we’re expected to start paying for this toxic water. So start talking to friends and family now about the harmful effects it’s having on our water supply and maybe, just maybe, if enough of us are complaining someone up there might listen.

TGAF

In the mean time, what can we do to help ourselves, and reduce the levels of fluoride we are exposed to?

I was in touch with TGAF for their suggestions on how to combat this chemical and here’s a summary of what one of the team, Shane, told me…

The best way of completely removing fluoride from the water is to use Reverse Osmosis (RO) filters on our taps. This can be either bought or rented, depending on your fundage situation:

Buying: Renewell Water Ltd

  • This is a small one man operation who TGAF have now teamed up. He offers the RO system at a discounted prices of €399 (and will also make a €50 donation to the campaign for each filter that is sold).

Renting: The Water Treatment Centre

  • They offer the RO system as a rental for an installation cost of €50 and a weekly rental of €3.99 (which turns out to be just over €250 for the year).

EL cheapo option: Good old Lidl and Aldi!

  • A 3rd option in these ‘tough economic times’ is to scrap RO and our worries about BPA plastic and just go for Glen Carrick bottled water from Lidl, or Comeragh Spring Water from Aldi. TGAF  tells me this bottled water is both low in fluoride and high in calcium- the calcium acts as a buffer for the fluoride ion thus enabling the body to excrete this naturally occurring fluoride (5litre bottle costs €1.20)

I’m planning on investing in a rented fluoride filter and I’ll let you know how we get on!

Plastic- you ain’t so fantastic

plastic-water-bottles

Ever notice how when giving recommendations to prevent sickness or remedy any ailment all beauty/ health columns include a recommendation to drink water?

Oh you have acne? Drink more water

A kidney infection? Drink more water

You want to lose weight? Drink more water

Migraine? Drink more water

Wrinkles? Drink more water

So naturally drinking more water was one of the first changes I made and now I feel headachy and grouchy if I don’t drink at least 2 liters every day. I used to buy a 2 liter bottle of Ballygowan water at the start of the week and then keep refilling it up from my kitchen tap filled, Brita jug each morning – I did this to save on the cost of buying bottled water every day and also to reduce the environmental effect which throwing out a 2 liter bottle would have.

It’s only through some late night Google-ing I learnt the following scaryness about this practice:

  1. Plastic containers have codes on their base and each one refers to the type of chemicals the container has been made from.  Take the Ballygowan bottle Code ‘1 PET’, unfortunately for me it turns out PET degrades with use and can contain trace amount of Bisphenol A (BPA) which is amplified if exposed to high heat- such as being left in a car (which I’m always doing) or re-used. If you want to know more about the codes and what they mean and which ones to steer clear of I suggest a look at this
  2. BPA is a synthetic chemical that has been used to make certain plastics since the 1960s, including plastics found in food and drink containers. BPA can leach into our food and drinks. In fact studies indicate that most of us already have BPA in our bodies and one study showed that 90% of Europeans have traces of BPA in our systems.  More on BPA can be found here.
  3. A growing number of health experts, consumers groups and national governments (Canada recently declared BPA was a toxic chemical) are becoming concerned about the health effects that can be caused from high-dose or long-term exposure to BPA, including;
  • Heart Disease
  • Intestinal Damage
  • Infertility and Reproductive Issues
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Behavioural Changes in Children
  • Premature puberty in children
  • Neurological problems in infants
  • Permanent damage to foetuses in pregnant women
  • Miscarriage
  • An increasing number of occurrences of breast and prostate cancer

Of course there’s also evidence to suggest that there isn’t any problem with BPA’s (read what the Irish Food and Drink Industry say in support of BPA here). However I’m going to go with my gut here and steer clear.  My take on these things is we’ve no come back if these researchers and scientists turn around in 5/10 years time and go:

‘oh yea, actuallllllly, it turns out we were wrong and BPA- it’s mad dangerous and harmful. Oopsies! Sorry about that everyone!’.

So i is going to be safe, not sorry.

That’s why I’m currently looking high and low for a 2 liter BPA free water bottle which doesn’t cost the earth. The closest I’ve come is this 1 liter bottle.

If you come across a 2 liter BPA bottle that delivers to Ireland and doesn’t cost a bomb please please let me know!

September: A month for a fresh start

Boy, oh boy, did I have a good summer- friends weddings, mini city breaks, a week-long holiday in Italy, lots of wine and bread, dinners, nights out and lots and lots of sugar, salt and delicious toxins!

photo (19)

As much as I’ve loved the summer and all the indulgence, it’s left me feeling a bit ‘off’. My skin is back looking rubbish, my energy levels are bottoming out again- I long to be back in bed most days, my brain fog is creeping back, my mood is also defiantly darker and my old tumtum is playing up a fair bit.

I’ve always loved September, for me it brings with it a sense of ‘fresh starts’ – more so than January does. I associate January with being broke, cold and depressed while September for me is the time of new books, shiny new shoes, hikes on crunchy Autumn leaves, hearty meals, routine and new habits. In fact it was this time last year that I first decided to stop just ‘investigating’ wellness and holistic health and actually start living it.

(Basically, last September, after a particularly fun night out with friends I decided to walk the whole way home, a 30 minute walk,  at 2:30 AM, down quiet, deserted streets, all alone –  just so I could get cheese and garlic chips from my local chipper. I know, I know, so dangerous, such a flippen eejit.

I woke up the next morning, with a horrible hangover, eye make up everywhere, the remains of the chips on the coffee table and I decided I had had enough. I decided then and there I didn’t want to be ‘that’ girl no more and gingerly set out to become the person I wanted to be).

bfaa078b7aa0c8e19ad9a6c329ea846c

So, on this note I’ve decided that this September is again going to be my wellness ‘fresh start’. I’m going to go back to:

  • Drinking lemon and hot water each morning
  • Reducing my coffee intake to 1 skinny latté every other day
  • Doing a big veggie/ fruit shop each week so I’m more prepared for the week ahead
  • Eating at least 5 different fruits/ veg a day
  • Dry body brush before my shower everyday (not just at the weekends!)
  • Drinking 2 liters of filtered water a day (…must buy a filter!)
  • Get my body moving for at least 20 minutes every day– more yoga, get out and start walking in my lunch break, using our new gym.
  • Meditate more often (perhaps I’ll start a meditation class?)
  • Consciously work on silencing my ‘ego’ or ‘negative DJ’- she’s getting awfully loud and agressive lately
  • Reduce my reliance on cheese and bread and actively seek out and make new alternatives
  • Drinking either a juice or smoothie everyday
  • Cut out all beer and cocktails, they seem to be making an unwelcome return
  • Reduce my reliance on Facebook and Daily Mail… those bloody sites will be the death of me!!
  • Replace all my supplements which have long run out
  • Buy a vegan cook book and become more confident with vegan recipes
  • Take more time to Skype all my BFF’s living in far off places- I always feel 100% times more connected and grounded after a good old natter!

Yup, I think that is enough to keep me going! Here’s to feeling back fit and healthy by Christmas!

Clean Cleaning

clean cleaning

As anyone who has lived with me will know, I’m a little bit of ‘a Monica’ when it comes to cleaning, i.e. I verge precariously on the OCD cliffs and could easily disappear down the hole- if I had a less busy social life or cared more about germs.

One Saturday morning, as I sprayed what must of been a half a bottle of bleach around our windowless and particularly filthy bathroom, I started to wonder what the chemicals were doing to my lungs or what the chemicals I had used to wash the kitchen floor was doing to our bear feet. I decided there and then to try and educate myself on whether it’s possible to conduct ‘clean cleaning’. Here’s what I discovered…

  • It turns out that companies aren’t actually required to put their ingredients on their cleaning products because their formulas are considered protected trade secrets so you can’t actually be 100% sure what you are spraying. I don’t know about you but that just seems wrong to me.
  • Obviously no one wants filthy dirty germy surfaces and toilets but according to my research it’s not only lot cheaper but also safer to clean your house with common, non-toxic household staples. Have a look yourself here

So, like my attempt at cleaning up my food intake and regular beauty products, I’ve also started trying to replace my ‘dirty’ cleaning products. Here’s some replacement ideas:

(I found the following safe cleaning products on Jess Ainscough’s – the ‘official’ Wellness Warrior- website)

Clearing drains

  • No more of that ridiculously toxic, ‘wear- safety- goggles- and- gloves-when- using’ crap, instead I pour down a handful of baking soda mixed with 1/2 cup of white vinegar when my drains annoy me. Trust me- this one works a treat!

Bathroom and kitchen surfaces: Homemade baking soda paste- again works like magic

  • Dissolve 4 tablespoons of baking soda in 4 tablespoons of water.
  • Use a soft cloth to rub the paste onto the surface to be cleaned.
  • Wipe off with a clean cloth and buff to shine.
  • This can also be used to clean pots and pans and the inside of your fridge.

Shower

  • Clean shower doors with white vinegar.
  • Spray or wipe on and leave for 10 minutes before rinsing off.
  • Sponge shower curtains with water and baking soda.

Toilet

  • Pour 150ml white vinegar into the toilet bowl and brush before flushing.
  • Disinfect your loo with a solution of 10 drops of tea tree oil in 115ml of water. Leave it in the bowl until the next flush.
  • Wipe the toilet seat with an all-purpose surface cleaner made from 600ml white vinegar, 300ml water and 20-30 drops eucalyptus oil.

 Drainage holes and taps

  • Rub a cut lemon to remove grease and lime scale
  • Remove lime scale from taps with a soft cloth dipped in white vinegar.
  • Scrub away rust and grime from around the taps with an old toothbrush coated with a mixture of 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.

More clean cleaning ideas can be found here 

However if all this talk of measuring and mixing makes you feel like a crazy scientist, there are of course clever people who make clean products for us to use instead…. Sooooo much easier!

These nice people include:

  • Ecover- which can be bought in Tesco/ Dunnes/ most Health Food shops and online

clean cleaning1

  • Or, if you’re feeling loaded, try Jessica Alba’s new website Honest on for size

clean cleaning2

Happy clean cleaning! 😉

Top Wellness Cloud Posts

The Wellness Cloud Views

  • 11,424 views

Please click to follow The Wellness Cloud and receive notifications of new posts by email

Join 71 other followers