5 foods almost all of us need to eat more of

1. Vegetables
2. Fruits
3. Fibrous grains (such as oats, wholemeal bread and high fibre cereals)
4. Legumes (beans and pulses such as baked beans, kidney beans and lentils)
5. Nuts & seeds.

Each of these foods truly nourish our body and research shows time and again that their consumption is strongly linked to our health.

Notice they are not all low in fat, low in sugar, low in calories or low in carbohydrates.

But they are all minimally processed plant foods that together form the base of a diet rich in quality fats, quality carbohydrates, dietary fibre, resistant starch, vitamins, minerals and an array of different antioxidants.

When we eat them consistently we improve the way our body functions right down to the cellular level, and in this way not only benefit today, but markedly reduce our long-term risk of weight gain, heart disease and diabetes too.

Enjoy all foods. Especially plants.

The science of love and kindness

Scientific research has shown how generating the feelings and thoughts of love and kindness changes us, for the better.

It not only cultivates positive emotions within us, such as joy, gratitude, contentment and hope, but it develops who we are as a human being. When we practice love and kindness, we become more self-accepting, mindful, experience greater social connectedness, improved physical health, greater purpose in life and enhanced long-term happiness.

The thing about love and kindness is that it is not a fixed trait we are born with. Rather, it is a practice we can actively develop.

Here’s one way: in a quiet space, imagine intentionally directing feelings of love and kindness from your heart to yourself and others. Start with a focused attention on just you, followed by your loved ones, your friends, strangers and then finally all beings. Throughout, simply authentically wish each group good health and happiness.

This very exercise brings about the scientific benefits described above.

Personally, this practice is one of my favourites for cultivating a life of health and happiness, and my antidote for any feelings of isolation or distrust I may have. It is a simple exercise that we can all do, and has changed my life for the better.

When we open our hearts with love and kindness, we not only grow as human beings and improve our own lives, but we of course create the opportunity to enhance the lives of others, and collectively make the world a better place.

The problem with dieting

Is that it very often causes overeating. The restriction, stress and deprivation associated with limiting what your body desires can leave us eating more calories and gaining more weight than before we started.

The alternative is to allow ourselves to enjoy the foods we want in moderation. To be aware of how hungry we are, how much we’ve had and what we really feel like eating.

“I can have this if I want, but do I really feel like it?”

The irony of giving ourselves the total freedom to eat what we desire is that with time we end up desiring it less.

Healthy mind, healthy body

It is well-known that our emotions, both positive and negative, have a direct effect on our physical health. By definition, emotions have a physiological effect on our body, and it is in this way that they can strongly influence our health and vitality.

Feelings of chronic stress, anxiety or hopelessness, as just some examples, can increase the strain on our cardiovascular system and our risk of heart disease. Feelings of joy or excitement, on the other hand, strengthen our immune function and significantly lower our risk of colds and flu.

What is less well-known, but even more important, is that these emotions are influenced directly by how we think. We feel stressed because we think we can’t cope. We feel anxious because we think all about how it could go wrong. And we feel hopeless because we think that we will never find another way if this way fails.

Scientific findings show that optimism, which is the thinking process that concludes good things will happen, is associated with better cardiovascular health, and may also reduce cancer risk. This is an effect that parallels the benefits of high fruit and vegetable consumption.

Our mind and body are deeply connected. A desire to cultivate a healthy body starts with a desire to cultivate a healthy mind.

Doing what you love

One of the most important lessons I’ve learnt in life is to be the person that you want to be, and to have the belief that you are worthy, deserving and capable of being exactly that.

Today, I’m excited to announce that after much thought, reflection and self-doubt, I’m following my highest excitement and moving in a new career direction. Instead of waiting around indefinitely for an employer to tell me that I’m capable of more, I realised that what I was actually waiting for was for me to hear those exact same words from myself.

As part of my new career direction, I’ll be blogging consistently about cultivating a life of health and happiness. This is something I’m passionate about creating for not only others, but also myself, and is what I’ve spent the last ten years of my life studying and reading about.

Please feel free to subscribe to my blog and share it with your friends and family. I hope that it will help you on your journey and potentially make you think about your own life in a new and different light.

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