Tag Archives: healthy diets

The importance of taking a real lunch break

As important as it is to bring a nutritious lunch to work, it is equally vital to take a step away from your desk to take a mental break. Most work places contractually allow an hour for lunch however recent studies suggest that one in four people are too busy to take a break for lunch, one in three eat lunch at their desk and the average person takes less than 20 minutes each day for lunch away from their desk (Gandhi, 2012). Many people work through lunch in order to save time and avoid working late however it rarely works to their benefit.

If you don’t take a lunch break you may want to reconsider after reading this post because there are definite health and productivity advantages in doing so. Of course, to a degree, the need for breaks definitely depends on the demands of your job. The more intense and demanding your job, the more necessary it is to take breaks.

Taking a lunch break and nourishing the brain with food and fresh air will not only boost your mood and leave you feeling refreshed thus increasing your afternoon productivity levels it will also help you maintain your weight. If you habitually eat while you’re working or at your desk, elevated stress levels lead to increase cortisol, which leads to fat accumulation in the body. There is also more of a chance you will overeat, because the distractions from work cause you not to realise that you’re full until you’ve over eaten (Gandhi, 2012).

Making a conscious effort to take a lunch break improves your productivity as it energises and refocuses you. It also encourages you to work more effectively as you are working towards a short term reward. It will also leave you feeling happier and less prone to mood swings, therefore being a more pleasant and motivated employee. Many workers worry about what their boss and co-workers will think if they take a break. You will need to get over this and allow yourself to detach psychologically as well as physically. If you are so stressed out that you are worried about work the entire time you are taking a lunch break, there won’t be any benefit. So as hard as it is to let go of the stress and get over about what others will think, it will be well worth it and you will be pleasantly surprised at your mood lift and increased productivity.

Once you master the art of taking a decent lunch break we dare you to step it up a notch and boost your endorphin’s by taking an express gym class or going for a power walk in a nearby park. Many gyms offer express thirty minute classes at lunch or gather some workmates or friends that work in the same area to do a thirty minute power walk.

So take the plunge of getting into a regular habit of taking a lunch break. Even if it means taking fifteen minutes more than you usually do to step outside for some fresh air. Fifteen minutes is better than nothing.

Make taking a lunch break a New Years resolution. Go on we dare you. You will be surprised at how your productivity and mood increases. We’d love to hear your feedback, tips and experiences of how taking a lunch break benefits you.

References

Gandhi, Kumud. 2012. The importance of lunch. Retrieved 24 November 2012 from http://www.mentalhealthy.co.uk/lifestyle/food/the-importance-of-lunch.html

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Best exercise for people with limited time

Today’s lifestyles are so busy it’s easy to push exercise to the bottom of the list when juggling work and personal life commitments. However we all know just how important it is to engage in regular physical activity and the benefits it provides such as weight loss, energy, general satisfaction in life and protection from numerous illnesses.

It is all about finding the exercise that suits you and that you enjoy and don’t find a chore. Then it’s about making time and prioritising it and setting yourself goals. Making simple lifestyle changes to your daily routine can also help to keep you physically active and boost your metabolism.

Here in Australia our obesity rate is through the roof. It has more than doubled over the past 20 years and Australia is now ranked one of the fattest developed nations in the world with around 37% of Australians being overweight and 25% obese.

We need to knock this epidemic on the head and start to change our lifestyle and habits. Incorporating regular exercise teamed with a healthy balanced diet is a key strategy to reducing these statistics and improving the lives of Australians.

Here are some tips for incorporating physical activity into your everyday routine:

  • Keep off public transport a few stops earlier and walk the rest of the way home or to work
  • Make good use of your lunch break go outdoors for a power walk you will come  back to work feeling more energised and able to focus
  • Let the kids ride their bikes with you jogging beside
  • Opt to take the stairs over elevators and lifts
  • Get up 30 minutes earlier than the rest of the family or than you normally would to take some time to go for a job or to do some yoga
  • Turn cleaning into a work out
  • If you have a dog or like dogs borrow a friends or neighbours and take it for regular walks
  • Make conscious decisions to do active activities on the weekend or after work. Instead of sitting at your computer or in front of the TV get outdoors and active whether it be throwing a ball around in the park or walking around a shopping mall instead of online shopping

While it is certainly important to make small changes like the above to your everyday life it is equally important to realise you should be engaging in at least three thirty minute sessions of moderate to high physical activity per week. There is no quick fix or round about ways to becoming physically fit and active. You have to make the time and make exercise a priority in your life. So we urge you to make a commitment today to choose your favourite type of exercise whether it be walking, surfing or tennis and we’re sure you will feel better for it!

For any recommendations around what sort of physical exercise is right for you or for any fitness related queries Docmate recommends consulting your GP.

References:

Better Health Channel (2012). Obesity. Retrieved 14 October 2012 from  http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Obesity

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Healthy lunch boxes for happy kids

A healthy school lunch is the best thing you can send your kids off to school with in the mad morning dash to get out the door. Often hectic routines can get in the way of sending the kids off with a healthy lunch box of food to keep them going throughout the day.

Eating healthy foods helps children concentrate and learn and will set them up for the future with healthier eating patterns.  Encouraging children to select their own lunch box items will mean they will be more likely to eat it. Setting a good example for your children is also important so try to set a good example with your own lunches and encourage your child to sit and eat before heading out to play.

There are so many processed foods such as muesli bars, cookies, crisps and crackers on the market which appeal to parents for their convenience and kids because of their high sugar and fat content. We’re not saying all these products are bad just to be wary of which products you buy we encourage you to take a look at the nutritional content and not to fill up your child’s lunch box of all of these sorts of items.

Some health food suggestions include:

  • Fruit: fresh or tinned and occasionally dried fruit as it is very high in sugar, low in fibre and stick to children’s teeth causing tooth decay.
  • Vegetables: try vegetables with a dip or a small container of mixed vegetables such as cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, capsicum and cucumber.
  • Dairy: a small drink of milk (freeze overnight and wrapped in a cloth in the lunch box), cooled fruit yoghurts, homemade versions of cheese and crackers (avoid sweet dips such as chocolate spread and oven-baked savoury biscuits are just as high in salt and fat as chips are so are best avoided).
  • Breads: attempt to include a variety of bread, particularly if children begin to lose interest in sandwiches. Try bread rolls, pita bread, flat bread, bagels, fruit loaf or buns, corn thins, scones, pikelets, muffins, crumpets, crisp breads to keep it varied.
  • Fillings: keep the sandwich fillings varied also with vegemite, peanut butter, different types of cheese, tuna, egg, sliced cold meats, grated carrot and lettuce, avocado, hommus, the list goes on.
  • Muffins and cakes: try making your own at home to include more fruit and vegetables and to eliminate additives. Sultana, carrot, zucchini, banana or pumpkin can be used in various baking.
  • Muesli and ‘breakfast’ bars: these are almost always too high in sugar and stuck together with fats and sugar. Try to avoid or keep to a minimum.
  • Water and milk: are the best drinks for children and can be frozen to help keep foods in the lunch box cool. Sweet drinks such as fruit juices, juice drinks, cordials, sports drinks, flavoured mineral waters, soft drinks are high in sugar and not necessary as they can increase the risk of tooth decay and are filling so may take the place of healthier foods.

Since time is usually of the essence you can prepare lunch boxes in advance the night before or some items can be prepared for the week and frozen such as bread, cooked meat, cheese, peanut butter, baked beans, mashed egg, yeast or vegetable spreads such as vegemite.

For more tips or information about your child’s lunch box or eating habits you can contact your school nurse, community health nurse, Dieticians’ Association of Australia or us here at Docmate and we will point you in the right direction.

References

Better Health Channel (2012).  Lunch Box Tips. Retrieved 14 October 2012 from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Lunchbox_tips#

Burrell, Susie (2007). How to pack a healthy kids lunch box. Retrieved 14 October 2012 from  http://www.taste.com.au/news+features/articles/1156/how+to+pack+a+healthy+kids+lunch+box

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Easing the mind, body and soul with meditation

We have talked about lack of sleep and stress in other blogs and how they can be so detrimental to your health. One solution to combating both of those problems is through meditation.

Meditation by definition involves deliberately holding a person’s attention on a subject, object or process. It can also involve clearing the mind and leaves people feeling more “alive”, enhanced feelings of calm and heightened awareness. Meditation offers many health benefits, such as reducing stress, and supporting healing and recovery from accidents.

Meditation of one style or another can be found in most of the major religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam as a means of realising spiritual enlightenment. Meditation is practiced for both health and religious reasons although it has become increasingly trendy these days to meditate as a self help tool for promoting good health, managing stress and for spiritual expansion and fulfilment without a religious basis.

You may be thinking this sounds very wishy washy. However it has been scientifically proven that many forms of meditation result in clearing your mind which promotes a sense of calm and heightened awareness which can be a powerful healing tool for many disorders such as anxiety, depression, headaches, high blood pressure, migraines, stress, insomnia, recovery from accident or illness.

The immediate benefits of meditation can include improved physical, emotional and mental health, focused and clear thinking, improved memory, enhancing a sense of self, more equanimity in the face of challenges and an overall satisfaction in life.

It is advisable to seek help from a meditation, yoga, kum nye, qi gong, thai chi teacher or your doctor if you would like some guidance on how to find a form of meditation that best suits you. It isn’t for everyone but it has fantastic health benefits especially when teamed with a healthy diet, regular exercise and healthy sleep patterns. So what’s the harm in trying it right?

References:

Better Health Channel Victoria (2012). Meditation. Retrieved 13 October 2012 from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Meditation#

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Sleep, sleep, glorious sleep

Sleep is a much valued commodity in most people’s lives. For the majority, myself included, we can’t get enough. But for some getting to sleep and staying asleep is a really big problem which has negative consequences in their lives. For others too much sleep can be detrimental. It seems a little complicated too little and you’re tiered, too much and you’re sluggish. But really like most things in life it is all about balance.

All though everyone’s individual sleep needs vary in general most healthy adults require at least eight hours of sleep a night. However, some people are able to function without sleepiness or drowsiness after as little as six hours and others can’t perform at their peak unless they’ve slept ten. So pretty much anywhere between 7 to 9 hours is average. The goal is to wake up feeling refreshed and to stay awake and alert throughout the day without relying on stimulants or other pick-me-ups.

In today’s lifestyle people are so concerned with exercise, healthy diets and stress management but sleep is equally important to these areas in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Sleep aids the brain with learning and memory retention, metabolism and weight management, cardiovascular health, mood and quality of life, safety, immunity and cancer prevention.

Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory. A Harvard University study showed that those who slept before a cognitive task did better. In others, subjects discovered more insightful or creative ways to problem-solve after a good night’s sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation can cause weight gain by altering metabolic functions it also contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime which has the potential to cause accidents.

The symptom of sleep loss, whether long or short term, we’ve probably all experience is moodiness. Irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate and moodiness that can lead to psychological problems such as anxiety and depression are all linked to lack of sleep. Too little sleep can leave you so tiered you don’t want to do the things you enjoy and effects the ability to work effectively.

Serious sleep disorders such as insomnia have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, cardiac arrhythmias and increase inflammation which are linked to heart attacks. Sleep deprivation also alters the body’s immune function. For example sleep loss around the time of a flu vaccine has shown to reduce the production of flu-flighting antibodies. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer. Harvard researchers have shown that women who work at night are at increased risk of breast and colon cancer.

So getting a good night’s sleep is clearly very important. However for some getting a decent night’s sleep is very difficult. Docmate strongly suggests consulting your GP if you are experience regular insomnia or difficulty with sleep. However some tips for a good night’s sleep include:

  • Regular exercise, but not within 3 hours of bedtime
  • Not using alcohol as a sleep aid
  • No caffeinated drinks after noon
  • Keeping your bedroom temperature cool
  • Establishing a sleep routine for going to bed and getting up
  • If your head is swimming with thoughts when you lay your head down keep a note pad by your bed to write them down and deal with them in the morning
  • A touch of relaxing oils such as lavender oil on your pillow case
  • Relaxing herbal tea before bed such as camomile or lavender tea

On the contrary too much sleep can also be a problem, although it is not as common a problem as lack of sleep. Depression plays a large role in sleeping too much as well as prescribed medications which may make you feel drowsy and feel the need to sleep all the time. Too much sleep can cause headaches, high blood pressure, higher death rate, obesity, poor dietary habits, heart disease and diabetes.

So it is a fine line between too little and too much but everything in moderation is the key here. If you are ever worried about your sleep patterns Docmate strongly advises to consult your GP for their advice. Happy sleeping everyone!

References:

All Sleep (2012). Oversleeping. Retrieved 13 October 2012 http://www.allsleep.com/sleep-disorders/oversleeping-too-much-sleep/

American Psychological Association (2012). Why sleep is important and what happens when you don’t get enough. Retrieved 13 October 2012 from http://www.apa.org/topics/sleep/why.aspx?item=3

Harvard Medical School (2012). Six reasons why you need your sleep. Retrieved 13 October 2012 from http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/HEALTHbeat_011806.htm#art1

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