Mind Your Head

In recent years, the stigma around mental health, especially in Ireland, is slowly evaporating which is amazing but we still have a long way to go!

When it comes to our mental health we really need to make more of a conscious effort to build a healthy mindset, being healthy is not just going to the gym, it involves your body, mind, and soul. For example, for a few years I was constantly on some sort of a diet and I believed that if I was a certain size I would be truly happy and could start living my life, achieving my goals, and chasing my dreams. In fact, it was quite the opposite – when I reached my goal weight I was miserable, anxious, and terrified to leave my house or to go out with my friends. Through these experiences and from talking to others I’ve noticed just how important having a healthy mindset is. I’m by no means a professional or trained in this area but I want to share what I find helpful, especially when I’m having a bad day. I’m also not naive, whilst I do have mental health issues myself I do understand that some people have it much worse than I do and can find getting out of bed a daily struggle. However, I do hope that this post provides you with some ideas or inspiration on how you can take steps to make things a bit easier for your day-to-day life.

Challenge Negative Thoughts 

Negative thoughts about yourself are the worst aren’t they? They can be so difficult to control and very easy to believe. A complete lose-lose situation. What really helps me is to write these thoughts down and to challenge them – are they fact or opinion? Is there evidence for or against these thoughts? Quite often you will find that these thoughts are not true and over time the more you question these thoughts the less you believe them and you will slowly start to gain more confidence in yourself and see that you are an amazing human being who deserves love, kindness, and to live a happy life.

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SBC/ Instagram

Positivity 

This one is particularly difficult when you’re having a bad day but I would recommend writing 1-3 things that you are grateful for, no matter how big or small, every night before you go to bed. Also, add a bit of structure to your day by setting daily goals, again no matter how big or small, and share these goals with your loved ones so they can encourage you to complete them.

 

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Foundr Magazine/Instagram

Self Care

Firstly, it is important to put yourself and your recovery first and to stop trying to be a people-pleaser (this will only lead to resentment). Simply put, self-care is about recognising that you do deserve love and that you need a break, even if it’s only for 20 minutes a day. Self-care does not have to be extravagant, it can be something simple like watching your favourite TV show or film, reading a book, having a bath etc., as long as it’s something that you enjoy.

 

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Support

You cannot go through your problems on your own, support from family, friends, and professionals are extremely important and although the thought of asking for support may terrify you I promise you won’t regret it. It is essential that you have a support group who you can rely on especially during your recovery. Personally, I’ve always been afraid to ask for support especially from professionals but recently I started an eating disorder recovery program and it has honestly been one of the best decisions I have ever made for my mental health. Professional support is also great for having an outsider’s view on your problems and for identifying and addressing your underlying issues.

 

Exercise

Exercise both physically – running, swimming, gym etc. (if you’re in the postion/healthy mind frame or weight to do so) and mentally – practicing mindfulness e.g. mediation. Headspace is a great meditation app!

 

I hope this post is of some help for you. Focus on your recovery, nourish important relationships, and remember this too shall pass.

 

Tara

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Chocolate + Caramel Roses

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I absolutely adore anything with caramel and I was on a mission to make a healthier version of Cadbury’s caramel bar when I came across a chocolate rose mould in Stock on King Street in Dublin. These little roses are the perfect size because you don’t feel heavy or bloated (even if you eat them all at once) but you still get that amazing crunch and sweetness.

First, you need a chocolate rose mould like the one in the picture below. Like I said, I got this mould in Stock for about but you can try TK Maxx or even online stores like Amazon to see if you can get a better deal.

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Second, melt about 3 squares of dark chocolate (I used Viviani’s 90% dark chocolate) and then pour it into the moulds until the chocolate covers about 3/4 of the mould. Put in the freezer for about 1 hour.

 

Meanwhile, make the caramel: 

  • 1 1/2 cups of Medjool Dates – pitted (around 14-16 dates depending on the size)
  • 2 tbsps of Coconut Oil – melted
  • 2 tbsps of Coconut Milk – solid part only
  • 2 tbsps of Cashew Butter
  • 1 tbsp of Chia Seeds
  • 4 tbsps of Water
  • 4 tbsps of Ground Almonds

 

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If you don’t want extra caramel I would cut the above recipe in half, but this caramel is honestly insanely delicious so it’s always good to have a little extra lying around!

 

After the hour is up, take the mould out of the fridge and spread the caramel on top of the chocolate so that it covers the entire mould. After this, melt another 3-4 squares of dark chocolate and pour it over the caramel – be generous and don’t be afraid of overflowing, you will need to do so in order to ensure that your roses will come out with perfect layers. Put in the freezer for at least 2 hours or overnight – the longer you keep them in the fridge the better the crunch of the chocolate is.

 

And there you have it, a perfect combination of crisp chocolate and gooey caramel. Feel free to tag me in your recreations on Instagram or Twitter.

 

Tara

The Importance Of Setting Weekly Goals

Good evening!

I’m going to keep this post short and sweet because really the bottom line is that setting weekly goals is so important as they can help motivate you and add a bit of structure to your life. You should have a combination of long-term goals and short-term goals that led up to these long-term goals.

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Each week, maybe the Sunday before the beginning of a new week, write down goal(s) under the following headings;

Self Care

What will you do this week to treat yourself? E.g. get your nails done, have a bath, get your hair done.

Compassion/Social

How will you interact or nourish your most important relationships this week? E.g. meet up with a good friend you haven’t seen in a long time, spend some quality time with your brother/sister/parents/partner? When thinking of your compassion/social goal for the week don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable or that you simply don’t want to do, this is YOUR goal so it also has to be of benefit to YOU. For example, although a relationship is a two-way street and support is essential for any relationship, I’m sure we all have one friend that can be a bit of an ‘energy vampire’ and it is just not good for your own well being so don’t feel that you HAVE to listen to their problems, especially if it is exhausting and draining for you.

Meal Plan

This is particularly relevant for those who, like myself, are recovering from an eating disorder. An example of a meal plan goal could be to stick to your meal plan for the week (typically 3 main meals and 2 snacks a day), or to try foods that you might consider ‘bad’ or have a fear around.

Fitness

Shona Vertue perfectly explained fitness goals on one of her Instagram posts: “Time and time again I realise in my own fitness regime the importance of skill based goals to help sustain motivation to train. Aesthetic goals just aren’t enough to empower us to keep pushing through a program or plan. We all want to look good, but if you haven’t got a deeper motivation for training than just simply a low body fat percentage, your enthusiasm will waiver.”

Job/Career

This can be anything big from going for that promotion to maybe something smaller like managing my time more efficiently or getting certain tasks done on a certain day or week.

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I hope this post helps you and feel free to share your own weekly goals with me in the comments section or on Twitter or Instagram.

Don’t forget to take it week by week but to also check in every other week and remind yourself of the bigger picture/long-term goal.

 

Tara

5 Mindful Eating Techniques

Love it or hate it, mindfulness is everywhere today and while it may not work for everyone, for some the benefits can be huge. One way of incorporating mindfulness into your life is using a technique called ‘mindful eating.’

 

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Mindful eating is a great mindfulness technique that involves you tuning into your body as well exploring the different colours, textures, aromas, and tastes of your food. It allows you to appreciate every single meal and it can be very helpful for people who struggle with an eating disorder, especially binge eating. Below I have written 5 simple tips to get you started.

 

1. Put your phone away

This is very hard but necessary when eating mindfully but it’s simple really, smartphone = distraction. In fact, those who eat while scrolling on their phone at the same time are actually more likely to gain weight than those who don’t, so leave your phone to the side and concentrate on the beautiful meal you’ve made yourself!

 

2. Listen to your body

Before you eat, ask yourself “am I really hungry?” Listen to your body, is your tummy rumbling and in need of food ASAP, are you starting to feel hungry, or are you just bored? Likewise, listen to your body to determine when you are full and don’t feel that you have to finish every meal, you can always save some for later.

 

3. Use your senses 

This is another important mindful eating step, use all of your senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell, and even touch) to really pay attention to the different textures, colours, smells, sounds, and tastes of your food.

 

4. Slow down

It is important to slow down and chew your food (don’t count the number of ‘chews’), again, savouring the flavours and appreciating the meal you have made for yourself. There’s no rush!

 

5. Portion control

Smaller plates leave you feeling fuller for longer.

 

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It can be hard to sit still and actually concentrate or remember to do so but practice makes perfect and you will soon find there are lots of benefits to this exercise.

 

Enjoy the rest of your bank holiday weekend!

 

Tara

Quinoa Krispie Squares

 

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This recipe is a healthy twist on one of my favourite childhood treats – Rice Krispie squares.

Instead of Rice Krispies I have used quinoa pops, which is essentially roasted quinoa. Quinoa pops have an unusual yet delicious nutty taste and you can buy them in bulk on Amazon or make your own (I bought mine on Amazon). Quinoa, in general, is a superfood which offers numerous health benefits, such as helping to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, and it is also a great source of protein.

This recipe is vegan-friendly and so simple to make.

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Caramel

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups of Medjool dates (around 270g), pitted
  • 2 tbsps of Coconut Oil, melted
  • 2 tbsps of Coconut milk, solid part only
  • 2 tbsps Cashew Butter
  • 4 tbsps Ground Almonds
  • 1 tbsp Chia Seeds
  • 4 tbsps of water

 

Method: 

  • Blitz all of the ingredients in a blender until they are combined.
  • Set the caramel aside while you melt 100-110g of coconut oil in a large saucepan. When the coconut oil is melted gradually add in 112g of quinoa pops and your caramel until the pops are covered in the caramel and oil.
  • Line a baking tray with parchment paper and then pour the mixture in, making sure to fill every corner of the tray with the mixture and using a glass to flatten the mixture.
  • Put in the freezer for 30 mins.

 

Chocolate

Ingredients:

  • 160g of dark chocolate (70%+ tend to be vegan-friendly – I used Vivani 92% dark chocolate)

Method:

  • Melt the chocolate in the microwave or on the hob, whichever you prefer, while the quinoa pop mixture is in the freezer.
  • After 30 mins, take the quinoa mixture out of the freezer and pour the melted chocolate on top – making sure every inch of the mixture is covered in chocolate.
  • Put back in the freezer for at least an hour or overnight.
  • Finally, ENJOY!

 

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I hope you love these squares as much as I do, they are brilliant ‘pick me ups’ and are packed with nutrients! Don’t forget to share your recreations by tagging me on Instagram (@neutralsandnutrition) or using #cleancandy.