Tag Archives: nature

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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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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Coconut Water vs Sports Drinks vs Au Natural

Coconut water seems to be the new “it” health drink at the moment. The juice contained in
the interior of a young coconut has all sorts of nutritious and health benefiting properties.

Numerous sources concede that coconut waters benefits include fast rehydration after
physical exercise and weight loss. Coconut water is rich in essential and natural rehydrating
electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, chloride, magnesium, calcium, phosphate,
sulphate and bicarbonate. It is also rich in vitamins C, B, fiber and protein. These properties
respectively contribute to boosting immunity, energy levels, digestion, and repair of
muscles, bones, hair, skin, eyes and the creation of antibodies. Unlike other sports drinks
or vitamin waters it is completely natural without the refined sugars, artificial colours and
preservatives. It is also very low in calories and cholesterol free

So how does coconut compare with last decades health drink of choice – sports drinks?
Chhandashri Bhattacharya, Ph.D., lecturer in chemistry, natural sciences at Indiana
University Southeast conducted research to find out (Food Product Design, 2012).
Bhattacharya and fellow researchers concluded that for non athletes or moderate workouts
coconut water was the best option.

Coconut water is clearly the more natural of the two and has a lower additive intake. The
research team found that coconut water contained up to 1,500 mg per litre of potassium
compared to 300 mg per litre for Powerade and Gatorade. Coconut water however had 400
mg per litre of sodium compared to 600 for the sports drinks.

The higher potassium levels in coconut water are beneficial as it helps to get rid of cramps
in your muscles. Although the lower level of sodium in coconut water may seem beneficial
it is not the case for athletes or people engaging in strenuous exercise as sodium is depleted
through perspiration and must be replaced.

So to cut a long story short, unless you are an athlete or engage in frequent strenuous
exercise, coconut water is your best option. But how does coconut water compare to plain
old H2O? Coconut Water Australia, an unaffiliated coconut water review organisation,
states “coconut water is the purest liquid second only to water itself.”

Not only has coconut water got stick from consumers about its price but also about its
high sugar levels when compared to water. People who should be following a low sodium
diet such as people with high blood pressure or heart disease should be cautious in their
consumption of coconut water (Livestrong, 2011).

At the end of the day there is no substitution for simplest of liquids – H2O. Andrea Giancoli,
a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association told WaPo in an interview that “most
people don’t exercise heavily enough to need a sports recovery drink (Coconut Water or
Gatorade). Water is just fine for most people.” Other studies come to the same conclusion

that sports drinks and coconut water serve a purpose among elite athletes and those who
exercise for long periods. For others who exercise at a moderate intensity and for under an
hour, water is probably the better choice (O’Connor, 2011).

References

Chhandashri Bhattacharya in Food Product Design, 2012. Study pits coconut water vs sports
drinks. Retrieved 30 August from http://www.foodproductdesign.com/news/2012/08/
study-pits-coconut-water-vs-sports-drinks.aspx

Coconut Water Australia (2012). About Coconut Water Reviews, What is Coconut Water?
Retrieved 30 August from http://www.coconutwateraustralia.com.au/about-coconut-water-
health

McMillan, Tricia (2011). Bad Effects of Coconut Juice. Retrieved 1 September from http://
www.livestrong.com/article/399388-bad-effects-of-coconut-juice/

O’Connor, Anahad (2011). Really? The Claim: For Better Hydration, Drink Coconut Water.
Retrieved 1 September http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/08/really-the-claim-for-
better-hydration-drink-coconut-water/

Yin, Sara (2010). Coconut Water: Myth or Miracle? Retrieved 1 September from http://
www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/03/coconut-water-myth-or-mir_n_669572.html

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