What fruit and veg should I buy organic?

 

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Organic or not organic, that is the question. Do you ever wonder if it’s worth stepping on the organic bandwagon or not? In some cases it is, in others not so much. Lets talk about fruit and veg. Some fruit and vegetables are really worth buying the organic version of because of the high amount of pesticide residue on the product. Others have less residue and ok to buy non organic version.

For those of you who haven’t heard about the “Dirty Dozen” it is a  list made from the Environmental Working Group,  EWG in the US, compiling the produce with the most pesticide residue. It’s updated every year and its meant to give the consumer information of which fruit and vegetables have most pesticides on them and therefore should be buying the organic version instead.
They also provide the list of “Clean Fifteen” which is the opposite: a list of produce that have the least amount of pesticide residue and are safe to eat in non-organic version.

While these lists are all good and serve a purpose, I’ve been following these lists for a few years, it occurred to me that these are based on american produce, not european. Sure, we import a lot, but I certainly try to buy locally sourced food when ever possible so what rules applies over here? Many of the pesticides used in the US are not allowed in the EU.
I did some digging, and it appears that we do have our own version:

It was made up by PAN (Pesticide Action Network) who measured pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables found here in the UK. And sure enough, there are a few differences from the American ‘Dirty Dozen’ and ‘Clean Fifteen’.

Worst fruit: (most pesticide residue):
citrus
pineapples
pears
apples
grapes
strawberries
peaches and nectarines
apricots

Worst veg:
tomatoes
parsnips
cucumber
carrots
lettuce
beans in a pod
peas in a pod
sweet potatoes
courgettes and marrows
yams

Best fruit: (The least amount of residue and ok to buy non-organic version of)
star fruit
plums
exotic fruit
kiwi fruit
banana
raspberries
other berries
melons

Best veg:
corn on the cob
leeks
aubergines
onions
ginger
chilli
potatoes
peppers
celery
spinach

There is still the debate on how harmful pesticides really are to the human consumer, and I say this: Better to eat non-organic fruits and vegetables than none at all.
I also think its always better to buy as locally produced food as possible. I’d rather buy locally grown non-organic apples, than organic ones that have travelled from South Africa.
Think air miles.
Local farmers markets are usually a good place to go as well.                                                    Another thing that might help if you’re not sure which fruit to buy organic is to think about wether or not you will be eating the skin of the fruit. If you will peal the skin of, like a banana, its usually safer than a fruit like apple, where you will be eating the skin.

Also, grapes show up on both this list and on the DD, so remember to buy your wine organic too.

Anyway
Hope these lists help you, the savvy shopper, to make wiser choices.

xx

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Is your oxygen mask on?

Do you put your own oxygen mask on first?

You know when you’re flying and how they during the safety demonstration always say for parents and other adults to put their own oxygen mask on first before helping others?
Well, most of us probably think that it makes sense. After all, we won’t be any use to anyone if we pass out or die ourselves, will we?

But do you put your oxygen mask on first in the real world too?  Where you’re not up in the air, but living your everyday life with your feet firmly on the ground?
I have a feeling a lot of people don’t.
I know I didn’t.
And I know plenty of women who don’t.

We prioritise everyone else but ourselves.

Not only are we just as ‘worthy’ as everyone else, but even if we do feel like we are only here to serve others, how can we, in the long run, help others if we ourselves are crashing to the ground?
How can we be there to help and support family, friends, co-workers and anyone else, when we’ve “hit the wall”, ended up injured, depressed or seriously ill?

We give so much to others and so little to ourselves.
Looking after yourself is not selfish, it’s a necessity. Because we matter too!

You matter, I matter.

In my case it became very real when our boys were diagnosed with autism and the realisation that they, or at least our youngest, probably will never be able to live an independent life. He will most likely always need help and support in some way, shape or form, through out his life. This is scary as hell. (and this is not me being ‘negative’, this is me being realistic)

And even though I won’t be able to guarantee I’ll be there for him for the rest of his life, I will do my absolute best to be here for him for as long as possible. And that means, I have to stay healthy and mentally strong.
I won’t be any good to my children if my health deteriorates and I end up in hospital, or even if I can’t get out of bed. I won’t be any good to them if my depression is so bad I stay under a blanket all day. I won’t be any good if I’m so stressed I don’t have the time or energy to play and interact with them. And I certainly won’t be any good to my family if I’m not even here in a few years!

This goes for everyone of course, parent or not.
Because the ONLY person you are guaranteed to spend the rest of your life with is yourself. So you should prioritise yourself. It is not ‘selfish’. It’s a necessity to make sure you have a strong foundation.

Look after yourself.
Self care every day.

Every Day.

Not just after an accomplishment or once you’ve finished what ever project you’re on, or once you’ve taken care of everyone else’s needs.

What about your needs?
Aren’t you important?

 

So what is self care?

I’d say it’s what ever you can do to look after yourself and your physical, mental and emotional health.

You do not have to whisk off to a three week yoga retreat in the name of ‘self care’, but maybe you can make sure you fit in a regular yoga class in your week? (if yoga is what you like to do of course)

Just make sure it’s not just another thing you add to your never-ending ‘to-to-list’

Do the things you enjoy to recharge.  Go for a walk, a run, have a bath, put your feet up, enjoy the sunshine in your garden. It could also be saying ‘No’ to something you don’t want to do. What ever makes you breathe a bit easier. It is not indulgent and it is not meant to be an ‘emergency care’ that you do once you’re overwhelmed and stressed out. Prioritise self care every damn day.

A few years ago my self care meant going to therapy every week. It might not have been all that enjoyable at the time, but by prioritising my mental health then meant that in the long run I would be able to be a better parent, spouse and friend. (and a better version of myself)

Today, most days my self care involves meditation, movement (a workout, a walk, yoga) a cup of tea in peace and quiet and healthy eating. Without these things I do not feel grounded, and I feel like I can not give all of myself if I haven’t prioritised some self care in my day.

Put your oxygen mask on first. THEN you can deal with everything thrown at you so much better. Because you’ve got the foundations in place.

What do you do to take care of yourself?

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xx

10 Reasons Why you should weight train

It’s Monday and to help you all start your week of right I thought I’d give you some good reasons to get you to the gym (or to train at home which works as well)

Theres no secret that I’m a huge proponent of weight training, but I know not everyone is as hooked on it as I am.

I know a lot of people who find lifting weights “boring” and there fore not doing it. I say, you might not be doing it right! It might be “boring” because you feel you’re not strong enough, or you just aimlessly fling some 2kg dumbbells around but have really no idea what you’re doing.
Here I thought I’d give you 10 reasons WHY everyone should weight train, no matter age, size or gender. (Obviously, if you have any health concerns please talk to your doctor before starting exercising.)
HOW to do it is a subject for another post.
But if you’re struggling to get your butt of to the gym, or dust of your exercise mat at home, hopefully this will inspire you to go.

1. It gives you stronger bones and reduces your risk for osteoporosis.

2. It helps you manage your weight. Muscles need more calories and the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you will burn just by existing.

3. It reduces your risk of injury. Resistance training builds stronger connective tissues and increases joint stability. This acts as reinforcement for the joints and helps prevent injury.

4. It will help you loose fat faster than with just cardio.

5. It helps regulate blood pressure and cholesterol.

6. It can strengthen your immune system.

7. It can make you smarter. Resistance training improves the brains cognitive function.

8. You will feel better. Strength training will release endorphins which is your ‘feel-good’ hormone.

9. It will reduce aches and pains, because more muscle will protect your joints.

10. It makes you stronger. (Duh!) That means that every physical task you perform in your daily life will get easier.

Are you out the door yet?

xx

Note:  I like my blog to be an informative and inspiring one with out information overload so I’ve chosen not to include a whole load of research studies here. But I didn’t just make these claims out of the blue, I can give links to studies that support all of the above if you so wish.

I finally weighed myself and this is what happened

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I had to weigh myself the other day.
Big deal! you might say.

But allow me to explain:

If you you haven’t read my previous post about why I don’t weigh myself, you can read it here. In that post I basically explain that how I decided a few years ago to stop letting the scales dictate my mood and my worth. If the scales showed me a number I liked, I would have a good day. If I’d gained? well, you guess it; I would have a bad day and be in a terrible mood because I’d feel fat.

So my solution was to stop weighing myself.
I just stopped.
I’d had enough.
I’d decided that my worth as human being did not lie in a number on the scales. It was just a number! Who cares if I’d gained or lost a kg?

And what happened when I stopped?
Did I ballon up, because I didn’t have that scale to keep me on track?

No!
I stayed pretty much the same.

And I was happy without knowing. Because I took the power away from the scales and put it in my own hands.
I had decided that I was more than a number. And rightly so. We are more than that number. That number should not define who we are or our worth. And it definitely should not have the power to decide if we would have a good or bad day.

But

Even though I truly believe and happily preach all this, I still had this niggling worry. I was scared of ever stepping on the scales again.
In theory I wasn’t worried about the number that would come up. But I wasn’t sure I would be able to stay neutral and not instantly give the power back to the scales again.
So I avoided them for years.

Fast forward to the other day.

I had to weigh myself at a recent check up at the doctors.
Previously I have always told the doctor or nurse not to tell me what the scales show and I would look away, happily not knowing.

But not that day.
I looked.
I was to curious.

I’d armed myself with thoughts like, “I have just had breakfast”, “my bladder is full” and “muscles weigh more than fat” thoughts, just in case I would be daunted by that number. (Just to clarify, muscles don’t actually weigh more than fat, muscles are just more dense than fat, there fore a kg of muscles take up less room than a kg of fat)

So I looked.

And my first though was: “Huh”
Followed by: “I can’t believe I looked!”

And I amazingly did not think “I weigh THAT much!”

Then as I walked home I analysed my feelings around this, and I can honestly say that knowing that number did nothing for me.
Sure, it was more than I would have liked back in the day when I weighed myself daily, but the funny thing was that I walked home with a smile on my face!
Not because of the number, not because I didn’t care about the number, but because I’d looked and overcome my fear!
I had looked, and I had not given any value what so ever to that number.
It really was just a number.

Knowing what I weigh had absolutely no impact on my self worth what so ever.
I still had all the power!

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Stepping on those scales re assured me how far I’ve come in my journey.
That I honestly believe what I preach: That I am more than a number.

 

xx

Summer Goals Update

Wow, I am seriously out of routine to get some quality writing time in for myself. Just putting it out there people!
I have not prioritised my blog and for that I am sorry. Both for you, my lovely reader, but also for myself. I just haven’t found enough time in the day to sit down and write. I can not write unless I am undisturbed and with two boys around it’s quite hard to find any undisturbed time that haven’t been taken up by housework or a workout.
I know, I know, I only have myself to blame. Like I said, I haven’t prioritised it. For the next holiday I need to come up with a better plan so my blogging doesn’t fall behind.

Anyway. Summer is over and I have more time to write again, yay!

Before the summer holidays started, I set up two lists, one for my personal goals  and one Bucket List of things for me and the boys to do during the summer.
Last week I let you know how my boys and I got on with the Summer bucket list, but how did I get on with my summer goals, you might wonder?

Well, not to bad actually.

This is what my list looked like:

1. Set and keep a routine for me and the boys daily
2. Make sure the boys are outside at least once a day, no matter the weather.
3. Walks after dinner at least four times/week
4. Not stress about house work. It gets done when it gets done.
5. Tick at least 1 thing off our summer bucket list every day
6. Keep up with my DAILY RULES
7. Drink wine no more than 3 times/week
8. Post at least 1 blog/week
9. Read 3 books
10. Have a BBQ every week

1. The routine I set up for me and the boys was pretty basic, really just meal times and reading/homework times. Might sound silly but I actually liked having that little list on my fridge as a reminder when when we needed to get fed so that not half the day has passed before I start thinking about breakfast.

2. The boys DID go outside every day, and it wasn’t even something that I’d needed to worry about. I am far to restless to spend a whole day indoors and I tend to drag the boys out with me as much as possible.

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My boys and I out for a walk

3. Now, this one I did struggle with. We actually kept quite busy in the daytime and by the time dinner was over we all kind of collapsed. Or if I felt I hadn’t got my steps in that day I would go out for a walk by myself or maybe take one of the boys with me. Still, we didn’t make it to four times per week. Maybe two.

4. I DID NOT stress about the housework! Well done me! At one point six days passed between me hoovering! (I do not judge others on their hoover frequency, I honestly don’t care how often other people do it, it’s just my habit and preference to hoover every 3-4 days)

5. To tick one thing off every day was a bit ambitious. But I did frequently look at the bucket list to find ideas of what to do.

6. Apart from not getting up at 5am (it varied between 5.30am and 7.30am depending on what we had going on that day) I did do everything else.

7. On average I did not drink more than 3 glasses/week. During our holiday in Netherlands I had alcohol four times, but the week after only two, so it all evened out.

8. It was a struggle to find the time, but I did it.

9. Yes. I read:
Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty (this is not a book review but I’ll give it 4 1/2 stars)
You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell (2 stars)
The Lean Machines: Eat Well, Move Better and Feel Awesome by John Chapman, Leon Bustin (4 stars)

10. Yes, we did have at least one bbq every week.

 

So thats me done for this year.

I had great fun making these lists and they were a big help during the summer. I will definitely do this again next year and maybe I have even inspired some of you to do the same.

xx

Summer Bucket List update

Since summer is officially over now, and the boys go back to school next week, I thought I’d update you about how our summer went. As I wrote about here I’m not a big fan of unplanned days or big open spaces of  time, so I decided to set up a Bucket List Summer 2016 so I had some ideas of what do this summer with the boys.

I have to say, this summer went a lot smoother than I’d expected. I do think my routines and goals helped me a lot.

A lot of the stuff got ticked off while we were in Netherlands and stayed at Centre Parcs. I’d never been to Centre Parcs before but I highly recommend it, the boys loved it! Especially all the water slides.

So, here’s what we managed to do (or not do) this summer:

 

❏ Get Harry to learn how to ride without stabilisers (or at least practice)

✔︎ Go to the beach

❏ Sleep in a tent

✔︎ Visit a farm (I’m counting the small one at Centre Parcs)

✔︎ Have a family game night (Lots of Wii bowling)

❏ Have a family Singstar night

❏ Go to a theme park

✔︎ Go to the cinema (We saw BFG)

✔︎ Visit national trust place

✔︎ Visit a big city (Amsterdam and London)

✔︎ Make a summer scrapbook (I’m working on it)

❏ Play on the trampoline

✔︎ Visit a museum (The NEMO Science Museum in Amsterdam)

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On the roof top of the Science Museum

✔︎ Eat ice-cream

✔︎ Go swimming (we did A LOT of swimming at Centre Parcs)

✔︎ Have a playdate

✔︎ Visit Nannie Diane. (Everyone but Harry got to see her)

✔︎Visit Granddad (and Great-Gran!)

❏ Have a water fight

✔︎ Pick blackberries (mainly  me, but still…)

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Harry helping me pick blackberries

✔︎ Have a picnic (on the beach)

✔︎ Go bowling

❏ Go to Brighton

✔︎ Climb a tree

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Lots and lots of tree climbing!

✔︎ Get a family photo done

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Now, as you can see we didn’t complete all of the things on the bucket list. Some of it was down to the boys not wanting to. I could not once convince Harry to go out and practice on his bike! We also never slept in a tent, or jumped on our trampoline, even though it’s right there in our garden!

Harry actually did go to a theme park, just not with us. He went to Chessington World of Adventures with Springboard Project, which is an activity group for children with disabilities. But I felt like it would be cheating to tick that of our list so I didn’t.

Richard and I also had a Weekend in London which was absolutely fantastic! Loved every second.

All in all, its been a good summer! I will definitely make another Bucket List next year, and maybe even tick all the boxes?

xx

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Hubby and I in London