I am a cheese lover, I particularly like goats cheese for its strong unusual flavour.In the past, I would regularly tuck into cheese sandwiches every day; selecting different cheeses to eat every week.
I’m not in a minority enjoying cheese with around a third of us eating cheese regularly in a meal.
The top five most popular cheeses in Britain at the moment are:
This trend seems to be growing with the increase in popularity of vegetarian foods recently. More people are becoming aware of the health benefits of cutting down on red meat and are also aware of the environmental impact of production processes. An appealing alternative to this appears to be cheese.
The most surprising fact is that one in ten people habitually eat a chunk of cheese as a main meal.
I’ve been trying to cut back on saturated fat intake along with my carer. Until recently I’d eaten cheese and thought it was not particularly any more fattening than any other type of food; except fruit and veggies which you can eat in abundance.
I discovered reading food labels in detail, that it is very high in saturated fats. Much higher than most red meats in fact and therefore not much help if your trying to cut back on saturated fat.
Cheese can contribute to increased levels of saturated fat in the diet fast if it’s eaten regularly. An alarming fact if you have switched to cheese recently and thought it was a healthy option to meat products.
Why is saturated fat something to be aware of in a diet?
Saturated fat in a nutshell……
Eating too much saturated fat in your diet leads to your body producing excess cholesterol which causes blood arteries to become blocked or restricted. This in turn increases the risk of cardiovascular disease which includes heart attacks, angina and strokes.
The easiest way to reduce this risk is by lessening the intake of saturated fats. There are some quick and easy ways to start making a difference. Avoid or reduce full fat dairy products such as cream or cheese (skimmed or 1% fat milk is much better than full fat milk). Also cut back on pasties, pastries, pies, cakes, chocolate, coconut milk, coconut oil and palm oil. When eating meat choose low fat meats such as chicken, turkey, venison, veal or rabbit.
In addition you can have foods that reduce cholesterol in the blood.
Soluble fibre (e.g. fruit, vegetables, oats and nuts) absorbs and carries the cholesterol out of the body.
Plant stanols or sterols inhibit cholesterol absorption in the gut. These are available in fortified foods such as Benecol.
For more information about diet and healthy eating have a look at the following website:
This week, I thought it would be worthwhile spending time discovering how mindfulness can help and perhaps trying it out.
In a previous post I mentioned that mindful meditation has been proven to help the symptoms of fibromyalgia. I was intrigued to explore this in more detail.
How can mindfulness be described?
In a nutshell, it’s focusing our attention purely on the present moment. Doing this without letting the mind drift back to past memories or thinking about future events. Mindfulness is embracing the present with acceptance, without judgment.
The monkey mind
There are so many distractions for us to focus our mind on. To illustrate the monkey mind, try this exercise for a couple of minutes.
Focus your mind on your breathing. Think about where you can feel movement in your chest from your breathing. Concentrate on this area, for a few minutes. You will notice your thoughts stray, thinking about numerous things other than the breath.
These thoughts are from past or future experiences. The mind is rarely focused on the present. It jumps from one subject to another, like a monkey playing. This practice is called the monkey mind.
Why should I try mindfulness?
Clinical researchers have carried out a number of tests which have shown that mindfulness can improve your overall health and wellbeing. For fibromyalgia sufferers the benefits can be:
lower stress levels
improve the quality of sleep
encourage positive thinking
alter the way the mind reacts to difficult situations
improve decision making
How do I start to practice mindfulness?
Start by focusing on your senses when you carry out your everyday routine. By thinking about the feel, touch, smell and the sound of everything you are experiencing.
If you carry out a task such as washing the dishes, think about the heat of the water, the texture and feel of the plates, the scent of washing up liquid and the sound of water filling up the bowl.
If you have a regular daily routine build some time into it every day to practice mindfulness.
You could try changing your daily activities. For example if you regularly go for a walk and always walk the same way; try changing the route to one your not as familiar with. Or try a completely new walk.
By changing your routine to something different or new it will get your mind to focus on a familiar task in a different or new way.
If you find while you are concentrating on tasks thoughts interrupt you. Just observe them, try not to be side tracked by them.
Introduce a label for each thought that arises; ‘I’m nervous about a exam result’, label it ‘thought’, or a feeling ‘I feel worried’ label it ‘emotion’; and go back to the task you are carrying out.
This practice will help train the mind to not follow a thought and get sidetracked by it. Just observe thoughts without judgment, acknowledging them, and labelling them. Going back to the task.
Taking mindfulness a step further incorporating it into daily meditation practice can encourage the mind to work in a regular pattern.
Mindfulness meditation works by silently spending a few minutes every day thinking about one aspect of the body, such as breathing awareness and acknowledging thoughts, when they arise and bringing back attention to the breathing.
Have a look at my page on Meditation for more information about suggestions for meditation practice.