Mindful Eating: a new commitment to food

Nowadays, we are always rushing into something or somewhere. When it is time to pause for having a meal, our brain keeps connected to everything around us: we constantly check our phones, we are absorbed by social media news, and stressed by work and life issues. Amidst such turbulence, how can we be aware of the compromises made in our relationship with food?

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Inverting old and bad eating habits

Cultural, economic and marketing practices affect the way we buy and use food. Labour, leisure, preferences and lifestyle changes have made us increasingly sedentary also jeopardizing our eating habits. In the hope of contradicting these paths, many new diets have emerged, offering a range of ways to lose weight and improve our health. All these new solutions are nonetheless focused on cutting and adding nutrients to our meals, forgetting an essential part of the process: our eating behaviour.

Mindful eating cuts across this boom of trendy diets to alert us that healthy eating also included rethinking our eating habits and our relationship with food. This bond with what we eat derives from the awareness taste, smell, colour and texture of food. According to the Centre for Mindful Eating, “pausing and becoming curious focuses the mind. Mindful Eating cultivates becoming grounded in the present moment’s awareness of eating.”

This complete awareness helps us to focus or thoughts and feelings in those physical sensations related to eating, and to identify the true origin of hunger – whether if it is a physical hunger or if it is a consequence of an emotional cause.

Mindful Eating has been helpful in treating many conditions, including eating disorders – like binge eating -, depression or anxiety, and addressing various erroneous food-related behaviours.

How to practise Mindful Eating

Practising Mindful Eating may not be an easy task since it usually contradicts our normal eating habits, simultaneously demanding total concentration. According to the Harvard Health Publishing, there are a few steps that can help us improve our Mindful Eating.

First, the shopping list. We should consider the health value of every item added, preventing us from impulse buying at the supermarket. A second step is discipline.  We should avoid skipping meals and thus prevent seating at the table with excessive hunger. Meals should be taken with an appetite but in appropriate portions.

The third step involves the essence of Mindful Eating. “Appreciate your food. Pause for a minute or two before you begin eating to contemplate everything it took to bring the meal to your table. Silently express your gratitude for the opportunity to enjoy delicious food and the companions you’re enjoying it with.

Bring all your senses to the meal. When you’re cooking, serving, and eating your food, be attentive to colour, texture, aroma, and even the sounds different foods make as you prepare them. As you chew, try identifying all the ingredients, especially seasonings” as advised by Harvard Health Publishing.

The following steps involve taste and chewing. It’s easier to taste food completely when our mouth isn’t full. So taking small bites and putting down utensils between bites could help. Chewing thoroughly and eating slowly are other techniques that improve our experience in tasting all the flavours that are released.

Final advice: “Devote at least five minutes to Mindful Eating before you chat with your tablemates.”

Lifestyle changes to fight high blood pressure

Hypertension affects 4 in 10 people all over the world and the numbers are growing every year. For those affected by hypertension there are some lifestyle changes that can attenuate and lower blood pressure values and for those who are in risk of having high blood pressure, they can prevent the disease by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

There are 3 lifestyle changes that can make a difference:

1. Adopt a healthy diet

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grain cereals is good for the overall health of every adult. According to the website WebMD, a healthy diet should include:

  • “Eating more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods
  • Eating less of foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol, such as fried foods
  • Eating more whole grain products, fish, poultry, and nuts
  • Eating less red meat and sweets
  • Eating foods that are high in magnesium, potassium, and calcium
  • Eating foods with less sodium”

2. Maintain a healthy weight

Having a health weight means keeping a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9. Being overweight or obese increases the risk for high blood pressure, as well as other health issues related to excess weight.

3. Be physically active

Practice exercise regularly is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Walking, running or practicing other sports is essential to every adult and children. It is recommended to walk for at least 30 minutes a day in order to be healthy.

These lifestyle changes aren’t just important for controlling blood pressure but also for general wellbeing.  The more healthy behaviors you put in your daily routine, the better your health will be in the future.

May is the month of Hypertension awareness at Health Abroad. It is estimated that 4 in 10 adults globally suffer from hypertension. Raising awareness to the disease is important to put the spotlight in the preventive measures that can be taken to lower these numbers. Read our previous blog posts of the hypertension month:

Consequences of hypertension

Hypertension is a silent and symptomless disease.

Those who suffer from high blood pressure can go on without noticing the condition for years and years and only learn about it when other related diseases appear. If left untreated, hypertension can originate many other diseases and health conditions, and some can be fatal.

According to the American Heart Association, some of the health consequences of untreated hypertension are:

  • Damage to the heart and coronary arteries which can lead to heart attack, heart disease, congestive heart failure, aortic dissection and atherosclerosis
  • Stroke
  • Kidney damage
  • Vision loss
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Memory loss
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Angina
  • Peripheral artery disease

Controlling blood pressure is essential to keep track of the way the condition is affecting those with hypertension. Blood pressure values vary with age, gender and ethnicity so you should be aware of what values are considered normal and what values are considered high and need immediate action. Regular doctor visits and regular screenings are very important to control existing hypertension or to prevent hypertension.

May is the month of Hypertension awareness at Health Abroad. It is estimated that 4 in 10 adults globally suffer from hypertension. Raising awareness to the disease is important to put the spotlight in the preventive measures that can be taken to lower these numbers. Read our previous blog posts of the hypertension month:

The best way to learn how good your health is, and if you are in risk of having high blood pressure or other health condition, is to do a check-up. Medical Port offers a wide range of check-ups from the most general to the most specific ones. Learn more about our check-ups in our website.

World Hypertension Day

Today, May 17 is the day to talk about hypertension. Hypertension is a disease that affects millions all over the world.

It is estimated that 4 in each 10 adults have high levels of blood pressure. Hypertension is the main risk factor for disease burden worldwide. Strokes and heart attacks are two of the main consequences of hypertension.

A healthy lifestyle can help combat hypertension. Some attitudes towards life can help make a difference:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Reducing salt intake
  • Practicing regular physical exercise
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

    World Hypertension Day
    World Hypertension Day

The best way to learn how good your health is, and if you are in risk of having high blood pressure or other health condition, is to do a check-up. Medical Port offers a wide range of check-ups from the most general to the most specific ones. Learn more about our check-ups in our website.

May is the month of Hypertension awareness at Health Abroad. It is estimated that 4 in 10 adults globally suffer from hypertension. Raising awareness to the disease is important to put the spotlight in the preventive measures that can be taken to lower these numbers. Read our previous blog posts of the hypertension month:

Foods to make you happy

Dieting can be frustrating and often put people in a bad mood. Changing eating habits isn’t always an easy task and is common for dieters to feel anxious. The good news is that if we consume foods that not only are good for a healthy diet but also make our brains healthy it will lead to a better mood.

Eating is a substantial part of our lives. Food gives us comfort when we are hungry and joy when sharing a meal with the family. New eating trends emerge everyday, some of them are intended to make us feel better about our choices, others to embrace a healthier lifestyle.

There are seven healthy kinds of foods that will boost your mood while playing an important role in a diversified and healthy dietary regime, according to the healthy lifestyle blog Noom.

1. Seeds

Pumpkin and chia seeds, walnuts and flaxseed are rich in Omega-3, which improves healthy brain communication, protects against free radicals, and have anti-inflammatory properties. We have previously written about the benefits of seeds, here.

2. Fatty fish

Salmon, sardines, mackerel and trout are examples of fatty fishes rich in Omega-3 that “help fight many chronic diseases, including depression”, according to Noom. Besides they positively affect the pathways in the brain that communicate with the body, which regulate the mood.

3. Healthy carbs

Although carbs are usually the first thing that comes to mind to cut off when starting a diet, they are very important in regulating mood. According to Noom, “carb-rich foods trigger the production of brain chemicals serotonin and tryptophan which promote feelings of well being.” Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are all carbs that can boost your mood and leave a lasting satiate feeling.

4. Vitamin D

The benefits of vitamin D for the body is a topic we discuss often (click to read our previous post about vitamin D benefits) because Portugal enjoys plenty of sun throughout the year. When the body needs more vitamin D apart from sun exposure, few foods can provide it. Mushrooms, fortified milk and cereals are examples. Vitamin D boosts the mood and reduces the risk of depression.

5. Chickpeas

Chickpeas are a great source of vitamin B6, the one “(…) responsible for helping the body make several chemicals that carry signals from one nerve cell to another” influencing the brain development and function, according to Noom.

6. Spinach

Spinach intake provides the body with folate, which supports serotonin regulation. Serotonin regulates mood and social behavior so consuming spinach can be the mood booster you need to keep your healthy diet.

7. Nuts

Nuts provide magnesium to the body, which contributes to bone and dental health, energy production and serotonin. Eating almonds, cashews, and peanuts regularly provide the body with the right nutrients, energy and also boosts good mood.

Eating healthy can be hard sometimes when there are so many alternatives that provide an instant good mood but are the opposite of healthy food. Keep these seven foods in mind so that you can grab one of them when you look for foods that can make you happy.

Read the original Noom post, here.

Vitamins and its benefits for your health

Our bodies need a certain amount of vitamins in order to be healthy. Maintain a healthy diet is important for weight-loss goals but is also important to ensure the body is consuming the necessary amount of vitamins.

When following a healthy and balanced diet, it is possible to get most of the vitamins the body needs with daily food intakes.

These are some of the vitamins our bodies need in order to be healthy:

  • Vitamin A – promotes the functioning of the immune system and maintains good eyesight. Vitamin A can be found in the following foods: cod-liver oil, sweet potatoes, carrots and leafy vegetables.
  • Vitamin B complex – there are 8 vitamins in this complex and their benefits are to transform carbohydrates, fats and protein into energy that lasts throughout the day. Vitamin B complex vitamins can be consume through foods like meat and fish.
  • Vitamin C – known for its immunity properties, this vitamin is also a good antioxidant and infection prevention. Vitamin C in high doses is known for slow the growth and spread of some forms of cancer like prostate, pancreatic and liver. The foods that contain vitamin C are mainly citrus fruits, tomatoes and broccoli.
  • Vitamin D – Also known as the “Sun vitamin”, this is the most hard to get vitamin in the winter months because one way to get is through sun exposure. The lack of vitamin D is associated with weak bone health.  Fortified milk, cheese and cereals are good sources of vitamin D when the sun exposure isn’t enough. Getting vitamin D in the winter in Portugal isn’t likely to be a problem, since there’s an average of 330 sunny days per year.  Click here to read more about Portugal in the winter.
  • Vitamin E – acts as an antioxidant in the body and it is especially beneficial for both hair and skin as it protects cells from the damage of free radicals. This vitamin is present in foods like leafy green vegetables, almonds and vegetable oils.
  • Vitamin K – one of its roles is to prevent blood clotting and to promote bone health. As people get older the intake of this vitamin is important for osteoporosis prevention. Food sources of this vitamin are leafy green vegetables, olive and broccoli.

The intake of these suggested foods is good for maintaining vitamin levels up and keep the body ready to defend itself from external threats. We should always favor the natural intake of these vitamins from food instead of the artificial chemical ones.

Read more about vitamins and its benefits here.

10 ways to live longer

Health and lifestyle website Medical Daily, shared their 10 tips that can help everyone to live longer.

Although we cannot predict until what age we will live, there are ways to extend our lives by living a healthier life and having a positive attitude.

These are the 10 ways to live longer:

  1. Manage stress
  2. Exercise
  3. Don’t smoke
  4. Don’t do drugs or drink too much alcohol
  5. Think young
  6. Avoid a sedentary lifestyle
  7. Keep a Mediterranean diet
  8. Always learn something new
  9. Keep close friends
  10. Stay positive

The key to live longer lies in the attitude towards life and in keeping the right balance between what is healthy and what is not. If there is something you really like, for example, eating fast food, you should have it once in a while, but not regularly. You should keep a Mediterranean style diet, as it is considered the healthiest diet by the World Health Organization, privileging cereals and vegetables over meat. But, sometimes you crave fast food and that is ok, since you keep it sporadically.

Maintaining a healthy life is also about doing what you like the most and feel happy with your choices.

Control your stress levels is also very important for your overall health because when you feel stressed for long periods of time, your immune systems goes down and you become more vulnerable to diseases.

Practicing exercise and avoid a sedentary lifestyle are crucial for a longer life since they rejuvenate your body and prepare it for the days to come. The more active your life is when you are 30, the better prepared your body will be for when you are 60.

Attitude towards life plays a big part in living longer.

This is what Medical Daily says about the importance of a positive thinking: “Whether you’re in college, working, or retired, making goals for yourself and challenging yourself is going to improve your outlook on life, which will make you happier and keep you healthier. At the end of the day, it’s all about being positive, focusing on the good things, and never giving up.”

7 superfoods for weight-loss

Yahoo health has listed the 7 best superfoods for weight-loss so that those who are looking to lose a few pounds before summer can get a hint of delicious and nutritional foods that will boost weight loss.

A balanced diet is comprised of fruits, vegetables, fish, meat and whole grains. For an effective weight loss it is very important to stay hydrated and drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Keeping a healthy diet and practicing exercise regularly help to lose weight in a consistent and long term way.

The 7 best superfoods for weight loss and some of their benefits according to Yahoo are:

  1. Almonds

“For optimal results, eat your daily serving before you hit the gym. A study printed in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that almonds, rich in the amino acid L-arginine, can actually help you burn more fat and carbs during workouts!”

  1. Green Tea

“It contains catechins, an antioxidant that hinders the storage of belly fat and aids rapid weight loss.”

  1. Vitamin-D fortified yogurt

  2. Legumes

Yahoo advises you to eat “(…) lentils, chickpeas, peas and beans into your diet throughout the week.”

  1. Avocado Oil

  2. Pistachios

  3. Grapefruit

Click here to read the entire Yahoo Health article.

Always keep in mind that a rapid weight loss might not be the best solution, if the diet isn’t balanced and healthy. Always consult a physician before starting a diet so that you can assess your health. Medical Port can help you lose weight with our weight loss program designed for those who would like to lose a few pounds and learn how to eat healthy and exercise properly.

If you would like to know more, please contacts us through email or call us at +351 220 973 751 and we will be glad to help you.