A healthy and enjoyable lunch

Spinach with dried scallop soup

I went to the island today for some errands and stopped by to see a friend. She was glad to hear I’ve been trying to eat healthy food, and we agreed to have a healthy lunch together. I told her I was OK with whatever she ordered, and I was not disappointed. Two of the dishes she ordered were so good, I just had to take a picture of them: the spinach and dried scallop soup and stir-fried mushrooms.

Lunch with my friend is always enjoyable as I enjoy listening to her talk just about everything. She is several years oder than I am, and I always feel I learn something new every time I have lunch with her as she can explain so many things to me about economics and politics.

I had a wonderful time, and I was happy I was able to enjoy lunch without ruining my diet!

Have a lovely Monday!đź’•

T.

Got a table by the window, but … buildings

On fake and real hunger

Celtuce and King Oyster Mushroom

Yesterday I had a pretty good lunch and snacked on a banana after a couple of hours. Around 5 o’clock as I was preparing to go food shopping, I felt hungry. Then I thought, “How could I be hungry again?” But I decided I was not going to eat anything until after I got back home. And that’s exactly what I did and actually forgot the feeling of hunger while shopping.

From what I’ve read, there is actually such a thing as “fake hunger. ” We may feel “hungry” even just an hour after lunch, but this may be because that cheesecake just looks so tempting (I swear I can hear cheesecake calling out to me every time I see one!) Or perhaps we are stressed and need to comfort ourselves with food that we like; or we may be surrounded by people we like and to spend more time with them, we order more food.

Next time you feel hungry, ask yourself if it’s real or you are just dealing with something that can be solved not by increasing your calorie intake, but by doing something healthier — drinking more water, doing exercise, talking with people, etc.

Webmd has a good article on checking whether you are truly hungry or not.

Stir-fried tofu

Have a lovely weekend! đź’•

T.

Another week of healthy eating

Celery, Cucumber and Apple Smoothie

Normally I try not to talk about my little achievements if I have not reached my ultimate goal yet. I have this superstition that it will be jinxed if I talk about it. But last week I wrote about my diet, and the weekend passed without me ruining it. So here I am writing something more about my diet.

Some vegetables I used to ignore have become interesting in my eyes, simply because I am looking for variety. Before I came to China, I seldom ate vegetables. This is true of most Filipinos. We love our lechon and meat too much. So one thing I’m truly happy about coming to China is learning to love and cook veggies. And fungi!

I had never eaten mushrooms before I came to China, but these days one of my favorite ingredients for cooking is the king oyster mushroom.

king oyster mushrooms

I use this kind of mushroom to replace meat, and I just love it! I cooked it with celery the other day, and today with eggplant.

King oyster mushrooms are abundant in China, but I have never seen this kind in my home city in the Philippines. I will surely miss this when I go home for good!

This evening I tried the cucumber, celery and apple smoothie after coming across this recipe. It’s not my favorite smoothie, but it’s good enough for variety.

I hope I can stick to my healthy diet (and silly dancing) so I’ll be strong and healthy for a busy but fun summer with my son!

Have a healthy, happy Monday!

T.

A week of healthy eating

I survived a week of no rice, no bread, no pasta. It was all veggies and the occasional egg. There was no dancing for three days because my schedule didn’t allow it, but I still lost weight!

Last year I had trouble sleeping because I was hungry after not eating anything later than 4pm. But now I eat crackers or a banana in the evening and sleep through the night.

For lunch today I made salad and sautéed king oyster mushroom and added celery. The mushroom and celery mix was so good! I will not miss pork or beef at all if I have this kind of mushroom.

Hope you reach your goal of losing weight and staying healthy!

T.

Losing Weight: Inspiration + Discipline

(This is about my experience, and I know not everyone has the same experience. But there are people like me out there, and this is for them.)

I’ve been trying to lose weight for as long as I can remember, but it has been on and off as my weight fluctuates. I started gaining weight and actually became a little overweight on my last year in university and my first year working. Then I went to study Latin dance and lost weight and was my ideal weight for a couple of years until my heart was broken and I became depressed and resorted to stress eating. Then I had the opportunity to move to another country. When my husband and I first met he was so thin and I was overweight, but he liked me anyway. I tried to lose weight, and I did and was quite happy with how I looked in my wedding gown three years later. After 4 years I had a baby and since then I have not been successful in reaching my target weight. My son is now 8 years old.

Looking back, my recipe for losing weight back then was: inspiration/challenge and discipline. I was inspired to lose weight because I wanted to look nice for my then-boyfriend. I was challenged to lose weight after I realized I couldn’t wear the dress I liked because it wouldn’t fit me. There were times I was challenged to lose weight because a guy I liked, liked a girl who was so skinny! As an older person now I find those inspiration/challenges seemed really silly but they helped me lose weight! The point is we need something to inspire us or drive us to want to lose weight.

At this period in my life, my first and most important reason for wanting to lose weight is to be healthy. As my son is on the Autism Spectrum Disorder and has several delays in most skills yet growing taller and heavier everyday, I need to stay healthy to still be able to handle him even when he becomes taller than I in a couple of years. This is real and serious inspiration.

Next comes discipline. Discipline means exercise and diet. Those times I lost weight I was either going to dance lessons, dancing in front of the TV (there are lots of dance workout videos available) or running almost everyday. The important thing was I was physically active. Apart from exercise, I also went on a diet. Diet did not mean not eating, but reducing the portion. I have always believed in Aristotle’s idea of moderation in everything.

I put exercise and diet under discipline because these two indeed demand discipline. There were times when I became lazy or tempted to eat more than what I needed, and it took a lot of self-control to get myself to workout or say no to more food. Again, that inspiration/challenge helped me stick to discipline.

And as once again I am trying to lose weight, I am also trying to stick to my recipe of challenge + discipline. So far I have been doing well as I am not home yet (I always put on weight when I go home to the Philippines, where everything, especially eating, is more fun!! The real challenge will be spending the summer back home.)

Right now I have started shedding a couple of pounds, and I have to thank my husband who has also become health conscious when he reached 40. Like me, he realized how important it is for both of us to stay healthy for our son. Though he does not exercise as much as I do (I dance in front of the TV everyday) as he is always busy at work, we both try to eat healthy by eating more vegetables and fruits and less meat and bread/rice.

Like I said, so far so good. I hope you find your inspiration and add lots of discipline to achieve your goal.

Good luck!

T.

Are we really what we eat? 

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Does coffee have any effect on you? Does chocolate?

Coffee is my non-human best friend. It gave me energy when I most needed it after my son was born. Though sleep-deprived, I still needed to function efficiently and coffee made it possible to stay awake and teach at eight in the morning, come home and feed the baby, and do housework, and prepare lessons, etc. I am forever grateful to the person that invented coffee drink.

My son used to have laughing fits even when there’s nothing visibly funny, especially after having his then favorite breakfast of peanut butter on toast. Several people told me back then to just let it be because he’s a “happy boy.” I also witnessed how chocolate could make him unbearably hyperactive.  His laughing fits and hyperactivity stopped when we put him on GF/CF diet. I am forever grateful to the person that came up with the GF/CF diet for people with ASD.

Reading about autism and diet, and books on neurology especially by Dr. Oliver Sacks, and witnessing firsthand the effects of medicine on my leukemic mother’s mind,  made me wonder if we are nothing but mere slaves to every single thing that is already in or enters our body — food, medicine, bacteria, chemicals, etc.

For example, what we call personality can easily be changed, not by our will to change (that’s not easy at all), but by lesions in the  brain.

In his book, An Anthropologist on Mars, Dr. Sacks wrote about Greg who, as a young man in the 60’s, rebelled against convention, took drugs to seek a “higher consciousness,” later dropped drugs to seek this “higher consciousness” in religion, namely Hare Krishna. His first year at the temple saw him as obedient, pious. Then he started losing his eyesight which the temple residents took to mean his “inner light was growing. ” Greg was also becoming more withdrawn which again, people interpreted as becoming “enlightened.” Long story short, it was only when his parents insisted on taking him to the doctor that it was discovered that Greg had a growing tumor in his brain.

     “Brain imaging had shown an enormous midline tumor, destroying the pituitary gland and the adjacent optic chiasm and tracts and extending on both sides into the frontal lobes. It also reached backward to the temporal lobes, and downward to the diencephalon, or forebrain. At surgery, the tumor was found to be benign, a meningioma—but it had swollen to the size of a small grapefruit or orange, and though the surgeons were able to remove it almost entirely, they could not undo the damage it had already done.”

This brain damage radically changed Greg’s personality. In the hospital “his seeming serenity (actually blandness), gave him an appearance of innocence and wisdom combined, gave him a special status on the ward, ambiguous but respected, a Holy Fool.”

Many other patients written about in this book showed major changes in their personalities after suffering from brain injury.

This, then, made me wonder if we have any independent will of our own at all? If the decisions that we make are truly our own, or are mere results of these little things in our body that ultimately feed our brain and change the way we think, speak and behave.

Alcohol and drugs sure can influence the way we think or behave. Children with ASD behave differently and sense things differently when they are overstimulated or not. Neurotypical people take all kinds of medication or drinks to make them feel better or think more clearly.

I used to think that the expression “You are what you eat” only referred to physical health. Now I’m beginning to think that that applies to our mental health as well.

(This is just a draft of what I really wanted to write. I’ll rewrite this when I have more time to be alone and think!)