10 Healthy Snacks for Athletes

As an athlete, you aren’t going to get anywhere close to a good performance on an empty stomach. On the other hand, eating the wrong food and too much of it before a game isn’t good either. Your pre-game meal should at best be decorating your shoes because you might puke everything out what you ate.

The ideal thing to do is to consume a pre-game snack which would address your needs for energy such as easily digestible carbohydrates along with the additional goodness of essential nutrients. As far as lifestyle is concerned, athletes are sometimes tempted to steer off track and indulge in unhealthy habits. It’s a grab-and-go situation because of the feeling of hunger all the time.

If you are an athlete, the best way to abide by a healthy lifestyle is to remain focused on your goals and, of course, your diet. To avoid the temptation of unhealthy snack choices, here are 10 beneficial snacks for athletes like you irrespective of what your game is.

1. Homemade trail mix

A combination of nuts such as cashew, peanuts, almonds, and walnuts along with simple carbs like granola, pretzels and dry fruit can provide you with a good dose of protein. This combo also provides healthy omega 3 fatty acids which contribute to fat burn, energy, and muscle recovery. The benefit of these snacks is they remain fresh throughout the day.

2. Sports Nutrition Bar

Sports nutrition bars are fast and portable snacks, making it easy to grab-and-go. However, they can also be expensive. Not all sports nutrition bars can suit your purpose because they could be loaded with sugars and high calories. What you can do instead is to find out which one works best for you in terms of a healthy sportsperson’s diet.

3. Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwiches

Peanut butter is an all-time favorite for many, but you need to be careful of allergies. This combo snack packed with nutrients would provide your fats and proteins along with the goodness of fiber. Honey is beneficial for athletes as it also contains antioxidants and a load of vitamins and nutrients.

4. Pretzels and Hummus

As a healthy snack for athletes, this combination could as well be your favorite party food. This goes on to show that eating healthy is not boring at all. Pretzels and hummus are portable snacks that can be carried around anywhere. They are packed with protein, fiber and a variety of other essential nutrients

5. Whole Grain Bagel with Nut Butter

As a treat packed with crabs and protein the whole grain bagel with nut butter is one of the best choices for athletes. This combination is low in sugar as well. Versatile snacks like these create variety as you can choose the ingredients from different nut butters like almond, sunflower, and peanut. The combination of high protein and carb content also acts as a pre- or post-workout snack.

6. Fruit

While many think describing fruit as a sack seems weird because it is more of a food choice, you’ll be surprised how fruits can provide you a power punch of vitamins and ready electrolytes even during a game. This is why you may have noticed tennis athletes chomping on bananas in between sets. Bananas are packed with potassium and prevent cramps. Bananas also contain a ready source of electrolytes necessary for one’s game. Apples are also high in natural sugar and fiber. Popping a handful of grapes will also give you fuel to up your game.

7. Salmon Sandwich

Did you know the benefits of salmon during work-outs are that it provides you with an abundance of nutrients primarily rich in omega 3 fatty acids and promotes muscle recovery? In addition to an amazing dose of omega 3s, you get vitamin B, Selenium, antioxidants, potassium, weight maintenance, and of course, proteins.

8. Grilled Chicken Breast and Cottage Cheese Sandwich

The ingredients of the grilled chicken breast include a healthy low fat dose of excellent protein and a number of less celebrated nutrients which are extremely helpful for your body. By far one of the most important elements of chicken breast is Leucine, which in turn is one of the three main BCAAS (branch chain amino acids) highly essential for health. Leucine contributes toward healing and health of skeletal muscle tissue. Apart from these foods, there is a load of healthy snacks you can choose that are both nutrient-rich as well as pleasing in taste.

9. Non-Fat Plain or Greek Yogurt

It’s a no-brainer to conclude that athletes need strong muscles and healthy bone structure. So, yogurt is a rich source of calcium, which is essential for healthy bones and also reduces the risk of osteoporosis. But did you know, as per some experts, calcium also plays a pivotal role in muscle metabolism? Since yogurt encourages the growth of good bacteria, which also help your body fight many diseases, it’s a good snack for athletes.

10. Raw Vegetables

You might not have paid a heed on the nutritious value of raw vegetables, but these are highly essential for athletes like you. You can easily get ahold of baby carrot sticks cut-up in individual packages with broccoli and cauliflower that are readily available in supermarkets. Then, just mix them and prepare a light salad dressing.

Snacks for Athletes

Since you are an athlete living in a fast-paced world, it would be difficult on concentrating more than three meals per day. Instead, nutritional experts advocate eating small healthy meals per day which can provide enough fuel for improved workouts and exceptional health. Besides nutrition, you can also abide by healthy habits that would make you a better athlete.

Four Calming Techniques to Improve Your Mental Health

If you are like me and the other nearly 325,000,000 trillion people in the U.S., you have experienced stress. From raising kids, dealing with your boss or handling a health issue, you can feel overwhelmed. But there’s good news! Learn how to create peace and take control of your life.

Determining the Type of Stress

Most people do not realize stress, a response to stimuli comes in two varieties which is good stress and bad stress. Bad stress or distress happens when your perception of an event is threatening. According to Stress Management Society, “Through the release of hormones, such as adrenaline, cortisol…the caveman gained a rush of energy…”. This onset of biological and emotional reactions resulted in the need to fight or flight.

Good stress or positive stress is the opposite response. It is marked by feelings of happiness and a sense of confidence. Your thoughts are focused and the energy is motivating.

Four Paths to Calm

Now that you know more about stress, you can start to manage it. Try these tips to make stress ignite your creativity and passion. Make stress work for you.

1. Keep It in Perspective

So, how do you transform your bad stress into good stress? Change your perception. If your job causes you to relocate, consider it a career opportunity. If the throbbing in one of your molars means you need a root canal, don’t panic. Discuss it with an emergency dentist Calgary. Consider it an investment in your health.

2. Calm the Monkey

Your mind races with thousands of thoughts all day. Anxiety builds as you obsess about future concerns. What if this happens, what if that happens? Stop!

Just breathe. As you mindfully count from 1 – 10, inhale and exhale slowly. Feel your heart rate decrease.

The Buddhists used this breathing method for quiet meditation to conquer the Monkey Mind or frenzied mental condition. In Mindfulness: Taming the Monkey Mind by Mitchell Wagner, the author states, “It is not possible for the mind to be open…when it is consumed by anxiety.”

3. Choose the Right Foods

What do yogurt, pistachios, and spinach have to do with relaxation? They contain key ingredients which affect your mood.

Pistachios

According to Organic Facts, pistachios have “6 grams of protein per ounce…”. Protein contains an amino acid which produces serotonin, a regulator of hunger.

Spinach & Avocado

The folate found in this green leafy vegetable produces dopamine, a chemical producing feelings of pleasure. Folic acid improves memory in adults experiencing stress. Avocados are also high in folate and vitamin E.

Yogurt

This comfort-inducing snack is filled with probiotics. It delivers healthful live bacteria in the gut linked to good mental health.

Strawberries, Raspberries, & Blueberries

These fruits are high in vitamin C which helps fight stress.

4. Become a Yogi

Yoga is a tradition dating back 300 years ago. Yoga is low impact and is a synergy of mind, body, and soul.

The International Journal of Yoga published “Exploring the therapeutic effects of Yoga and its ability to increase the quality of life” and found “Yogic practices enhance muscular strength…reduce stress, anxiety…”. Bikram, Hatha, and Kundalini are some of the best forms of yoga for beginners.

Invest in Stress Management

Consult with your doctor. Read books and attend local exercise classes. Stay up-to-date about trends.

Stress is a part of life. Learn stress management. Anticipate the unexpected and choose a strategy challenging you to do your best. Then, sit back and relax.

A Growing Interest in Food and How Our Food Culture is Changing

People have always loved food. It’s tasty, it’s an enjoyable thing to share with friends and family, and of course, we simply need it to survive. However, in the past couple of decades, our love affair with food seems to have grown quite a bit. Gone are the days when meat and potatoes were considered a square meal, at least in many social circles. People are finally beginning to examine the effects diet has on health and well-being, and this change can’t happen quickly enough.

Some states are beginning to see a decline in obesity rates, but there is still plenty of work to do if we want a healthy, thriving society. People are also getting more interested in food in general. Not everyone is on a mission to get healthy. Some simply want to capitalize on a growing demand for chefs. Culinary schools are expanding to meet with rising enrollment numbers as people choose food-based careers or simply decide to educate themselves so they can prepare food at home.

1. A Healthier Lifestyle

Research from the Organic Trade Association found that Americans are buying more organic products than ever before. Concerns about health and the environment have led to more people choosing organic. The economy is all about supply and demand, so this rising call for more organic items has led to a number of new businesses, including Thrive Market, an online resource offering hundreds of organic and all-natural items at an affordable price.

Aside from the organic factor, there are other reasons Americans are becoming more interested in bettering their health through food. To put it simply, many people are growing sick and tired of being sick and tired. In recent years, alternative diets and lifestyles have begun rising in popularity, including veganism, paleo and gluten-free.

As buzz surrounding these diets grows, people find reasons to believe that they can empower themselves through an alternative lifestyle. In turn, this leads to more alternative products appearing on store shelves, which leads to a greater awareness and so on. Therefore, by making smart choices with the foods they buy, people are actually having a positive influence on society as a whole.

2. Food-based Media

Cooking shows have been around for decades, but in the past twenty years, they’ve really begun growing in popularity. From televised contests for home cooks to lavish competitions featuring some of America’s finest professional chefs, there’s no shortage of food-related entertainment to enjoy. Perhaps this factor has contributed to America’s growing foodie culture.

3. A Difficult Economy Means More People are Cooking at Home

As people struggle in a difficult economy, they are beginning to look for ways to save money. Therefore, cooking meals at home rather than eating out is becoming increasingly more popular. Research from Peapod and ORC International shows that 72 percent of Americans cook from home four or more nights each week, and more than a third made a resolution to cook more in 2017. It was also found that millennials were more than twice as likely to make this resolution than older folks. But, it’s no secret that millennials are struggling financially and eating out can be really expensive.

However, the world has changed since the baby boomers were young, and these changes are likely to stick around. Therefore, it can be assumed that cooking skills will be important for today’s young people as well as future generations to come.

If you’re developing an interest in food, you’re on the right track to a healthier life. Even if nutrition isn’t your main motivation, you’ll still have a deeper connection to what’s on your plate if you go through the process of cooking it yourself. That connection can make every meal a more mindful experience, which is precisely what the act of eating should be. You’ll also be able to track your caloric intake much easier if you’re aware of every ingredient, giving you a better chance of staying at a healthy weight.

What About a Welfare Challenge?

In recent years, to draw attention to the plight of food insecurity in America, advocacy groups and community organizations have promoted Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or “food stamp” challenges.  Aimed at highlighting the difficulties in living on a “food stamp budget,” (about $4-$5 per day) these challenges encourage participants to better understand the realities faced by those who rely on food assistance to meet nutritional needs.

Over the past decade, policy makers, journalists, celebrities, and regular folks across the country have participated in these challenges and shared their stories, which generally share a common refrain: It’s hard. Purchasing sufficient quantities of quality food for a family on such a budget is near impossible.

Moreover, a considerable number of SNAP families report zero income, meaning that there are no additional funds to act as a buffer when the food stamps run out. These types of challenges are important in drawing attention to the very real problem of hunger in our country, and have the potential to raise needed funds for food pantries and anti-hunger advocacy groups.

While recently reading about a SNAP challenge experience, I got to thinking: why not a welfare challenge? Much like food stamps, today’s cash assistance program (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF) is a widely-misunderstood government benefit, and stereotypes about recipients abound. Why not challenge celebrities, politicians, and community members to live on a “welfare budget” for a month?

The guidelines for my proposed challenge would look something like this:

  • Welcome to the welfare challenge! Imagine your family has fallen on hard times. Before you get started, freeze all of your assets. No access to savings, credit cards, or investments for a full month. Remember, millions of poor families lack access to a formal bank account, and most lack any financial safety net. For this month, you have nothing to fall back on.
  • Now, live on a budget of $400 for the next 30 days. This is about the average monthly cash assistance benefit in the U.S. (though you could be living on as little as $200 per month if you live in certain states). This $400 should cover all of your non-food expenses, including utilities, toiletries, cleaning products, clothes, transportation costs, school fees, and anything else you and your family may need for survival. Hope for no parking tickets, car repairs, or other unforeseen expenses!

Don’t forget that due to overwhelming need, federal housing assistance doesn’t reach many low-income families. In fact, in many areas, public housing applicants face excessive waiting lists or must participate in lotteries to obtain access. So you’d better plan to budget for your housing this month too.

  • Try to avoid accepting other forms of assistance to help meet your family’s needs, as these aren’t always available to every family.
  • Set aside 30 hours per week for your required work assignment, which is required through the program. This may include volunteer work, job search assistance, or another type of work activity, though be aware that data suggest this will not likely prepare you for a living wage job in the future. However, without participating, you can set your budget back to $0 as families receiving cash assistance can be sanctioned (i.e. thrown off the program) for failing to comply. In many states, this means that the whole family loses their cash benefit, including children. Don’t be late!
  • Next, experience the struggle of living in poverty and relying on welfare benefits to support your family. Be prepared for the inevitable fallout, which may include losing your home, your car, and running out of diapers, tampons, or toilet paper (which can’t be purchased through food stamp benefits). Be prepared to tell your kids “no” a lot. Fear every bill that lands in your mailbox. Expect your physical and emotional health to suffer.  You may even struggle to think clearly and problem solve.

Ready to sign up?

Rest easy, do-gooders.  Promoting such a challenge would be irresponsible, even reckless.  To expect families to live on $400 per month is ludicrous, yet across the country, we expect just that from hundreds of thousands of households. Children suffer tremendously as a result.

Speculation about such a challenge is already largely inconsequential, as cash assistance itself is a dying concept. It’s been well documented that welfare is dead. Across the country, the rolls are dropping precipitously, as sanction policies become stricter and more punitive while funds continue to be supplanted to plug state budget holes. In my state of Ohio, with a population of over 11 million, only about 100,000 recipients remain (mostly children), despite the fact that nearly 1.8 million people and 340,000 Ohio families live in poverty.

Fighting hunger in America is an area of shared commitment. While people have a range of opinions on the best approach, those on both sides of the aisle generally agree: hunger is bad. This is especially evident around the holidays. We collect cans, serve meals to the homeless, and write checks making donations to pantries. However, poverty is more complicated, and too often we allow personal judgements and stereotypes to cloud our ability to feel empathy to the poor.

All too often, we cease to remember that being poor means more than not getting enough to eat. Poverty is pain, shame, and struggle. Hunger may be easier to put a Band-Aid on, but it won’t end altogether unless we tackle the source.

My welfare challenge is, for good reason, a nonstarter. Asking others to demonstrate compassion for those in poverty is not. Supporting policies that allow families to live with dignity is not. Let us all try to do better.

Without Papers But Not Without Rights: The Basic Social Rights of Irregular Migrants

Refugee camp on the outskirts of Calais, France © Matt Sprake
Refugee camp on the outskirts of Calais, France © Matt Sprake

Those who think that irregular migrants have no rights because they have no papers are wrong. Everyone is a holder of human rights regardless of their status. It is easy to understand that the prohibition of torture protects all people but we should also be aware of the fact that basic social rights are also universal, because their enjoyment constitutes a prerequisite for human dignity. Therefore, member states of the Council of Europe should stand by their obligations to protect the basic social rights of everyone under their jurisdiction, and this includes irregular migrants.

Migrants can be in an irregular situation because they have entered a country, or stayed in a country, in an unauthorised way. Their situation may become irregular because they overstay an authorised period which can last several years. Due to the very nature of irregular migration, it is difficult to estimate the number of irregular migrants currently living in Europe, though the figure undoubtedly runs into the millions.

Barriers placed by states to the exercise of basic social rights

In my work, I have been confronted with too many situations where the social rights of irregular migrants have been deliberately denied by authorities, in contradiction with international and European law. In other countries where these rights are recognised in national legislation, practical obstacles to their exercise have unfortunately proved to be numerous.

The criminalisation of migration and repressive policies of detention and expulsions of foreigners seriously affect the protection of the basic social rights of irregular migrants, not least because they create a general climate of suspicion and rejection against irregular migrants among those who are supposed to provide social services.

Migrants in an irregular situation are too often seen as cheats, liars, social benefits abusers or persons stealing the jobs of nationals. In such a context, law enforcement officials in charge of countering “illegal immigration” often have difficulties in recognising an irregular migrant as a victim of human rights violations and in need of protection.

In some instances, the police are placed under official pressure to attain quantified targets of “repatriations” – I noted this to be the case until 2012 in France. This policy can be particularly harmful to irregular migrants’ access to social rights, because it forces them to live clandestinely and avoid contact with social assistance providers for fear of being arrested, detained or deported. According to a June 2015 study by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, the main reason for victims of exploitation not reporting their cases to the police is the fear of having to leave the country.

The criminalisation of migration through establishing an “offence of solidarity” against those who try to assist migrants by providing minimum access to shelter, food and healthcare is another unacceptable measure taken by some states in recent years. To guarantee access to basic social rights for irregular migrants, basic service providers such as medical staff should never be placed under an obligation to report irregular migrants to law enforcement authorities.

Access to basic social rights can also be impeded by protracted situations of legal limbo such as that experienced by rejected asylum seekers who cannot be expelled in Denmark. I consider that in situations where return is impossible or particularly difficult, states should find solutions to authorise the relevant person to stay in the country under conditions which meet their basic social needs and respect their dignity.

As indicated in a recent study on the impact of the crisis on access to fundamental rights in the EU, undocumented migrants are among the groups disproportionately affected by austerity measures imposed in the field of healthcare. In Spain, access to healthcare for irregular migrants in most regions was significantly reduced in 2012, until the government recently decided to restore primary health care access, mainly because of the disastrous impact the restrictions had on the national healthcare system. It remains to be seen if the right to access to healthcare of irregular migrants will also improve in practice.

Right to basic social assistance, shelter and food

In some countries, restrictions on access to social rights rest, more or less explicitly, on immigration policies aimed at sending back irregular migrants, including by forcing them into destitution, in order to deter other would-be migrants from coming. States may be tempted to link access to some basic social rights to the residence status of the migrant. In the Netherlands, while the law grants irregular migrants access to emergency healthcare and education, the government has attempted to deny access to shelter, food and water. As noted in my report on the Netherlands, I could witness some of the difficulties experienced by irregular migrants due to this policy during a visit carried out to a disused church in The Hague in 2014, where some 65 irregular immigrants had taken shelter.

As unrestrictedly recognised in many international legal instruments, everyone has the right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate food, clothing and shelter. Under the European Social Charter, as emphasised by the European Committee of Social Rights, the minimum guarantees for the right to housing and emergency shelter apply to irregular migrants too.

Shelter must be provided even when immigrants have been requested to leave the country and even though they may not require long-term accommodation. The Committee has pointed out that the right to shelter is closely connected to the human dignity of every person, regardless of their residence status. It has also stated that foreign nationals, whether residing lawfully or not in the country, are entitled to urgent medical assistance and such basic social assistance as is necessary to cope with an immediate state of need (accommodation, food, emergency care and clothing).

Protection from exploitation and human trafficking

Everyone, including irregular immigrants, should be protected from labour exploitation and trafficking in human beings in full compliance with Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights prohibiting slavery, forced labour and by extension human trafficking, and with the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.

While in many European countries a residence permit can be granted to victims of trafficking or severe forms of exploitative work staying irregularly on the territory, too often, this applies only under the condition of co-operating with the police. In 20 country evaluation reports, the Group of Experts on action against trafficking in human beings (GRETA) has urged the authorities to ensure that in practice access to assistance for victims of trafficking is not made conditional on their co-operation in the investigation and criminal proceedings: Article 14 of the anti-trafficking Convention allows parties to make the issuing of a temporary residence permit conditional on co-operation and it seems that in some cases this blocks unconditional access to assistance for foreign victims.

States have an obligation to sanction employers exploiting the vulnerability of irregular migrants. From a human rights point of view, what matters most is not that a state fights against “illegal work”, but that irregular migrants are protected and compensated for the human rights violations they have suffered as a result of their exploitation. Foreign domestic workers, because of their isolation, are particularly vulnerable to this form of abuse.

Right to education of children in an irregular situation

Many international and European human rights standards, including the European Social Charter and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, require that access to education be ensured for children regardless of their immigration status. However, too often, schools or other administrative authorities place barriers to irregular migrant children’s right to education by unlawfully asking for documents such as birth certificates as a condition to enrol the child.

Measures to be taken by states

To create an environment favourable to ensuring irregular migrants’ access to inalienable basic social rights, states should not only refrain from criminalising migration but should go further:

  • Consider policies, including regularisation programmes and increased possibilities for legal channels to immigrate for work, so as to avoid or resolve situations whereby migrants are in, or are at risk of falling into, an irregular situation.
  • Ratify and implement international and European treaties relevant for the protection of the rights of irregular migrants, including the International Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, the 2011 ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, and the Revised European Social Charter and its collective complaints mechanism.
  • Train police officers, labour and immigration officials and basic service providers on the human rights of irregular migrants and victims of trafficking in human beings and exploitative work.
  • Inform irregular migrants about their rights and ensure full and equal access to justice for irregular migrants who are victims of exploitation and other human rights abuses by encouraging them to report this without resulting in their prosecution or expulsion.
  • Enable NGOs and trade unions to defend the basic social rights of irregular migrants, including before courts with the victims’ consent.
  • Ensure irregular migrants’ equal access to victim support and assistance mechanisms adapted to the needs of each individual and that are confidential and free of charge.
  • Never call migrants in an irregular situation “illegal migrants” as this would be inaccurate and harmful as stressed by the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) in its campaign “Words Matter!”, promoting alternative words to this expression in several European languages.

Background documents

  • European Committee of Social Rights, Collective Complaints Decisions on the merits:
    • Conference of European Churches (CEC) v. the Netherlands, Complaint No. 90/2013
    • European Federation of National Organisations working with the Homeless (FEANTSA) v. the Netherlands, Complaint No. 86/2012
    • Defence for Children International (DCI) v. the Netherlands, Complaint No. 47/2008
    • International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) v. France, Complaint No. 14/2003
  • Press Unit, Registry of the European Court of Human Rights: Factsheet on Trafficking in Human Beings
  • Council of Europe Anti-Trafficking Website
  • Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s Resolution 1509 (2006) on human rights of irregular migrants, 27 June 2006
  • Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Recommendation 1985 (2011) Undocumented migrant children in an irregular situation: a real cause for concern, 7 October 2011

Seeing Beyond the Negative: How Understanding Culture Adds Perspective

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Whilst working in local authority (Child Welfare Agency) as an auditor and conference chair, I have been involved in several child protection cases involving North Korean families. Child abuse is a complicated issue and there is much research on families in the UK from different cultural backgrounds and a lot of information can be found by looking at the Serious Case Review Biannual Analysis which is what I often do when researching issues to do with child abuse. As social workers we are often focused on some of the most difficult aspects of humanity, and our need to find out what the negatives are almost prevents us to see what the positive aspects of people’s worlds and cultures are.

Serious case reviews are a well researched government sponsored data gathering which is put into information which is easy to assimilate and not full of academic jargon based on class room discussions. The Biannual Analysis deals with real families that we as practitioners work with every day, unfortunately these reviews consist of children and families struck by tragedy. What did the Biannual Analysis tell me about North Korean families? Much in social work is based on hunches and anecdotes, my current inquiry was why are so many North Korean families being referred to children’s services and why was the nature of the child abuse so similar? I have not been able to find any information that can help me which might be a good thing bearing in mind the criteria that cases are submitted for SCR’s.

I have been involved with cases which have similar factors, they show the impact of parents who as children were abused or had harsh treatment in their past, and who may also have had recent post traumatic stress from possible torture or fear and anxiety of retribution or separation from family who may be at risk back home.

Also, I made an information request to the ICS department, ( ICS is our data capture system)which did not show huge numbers subject to child protection plans, but certainly showed significant numbers of children who are subject to child welfare services. This particular local authority has a high number of North Korean families. Other facts about their circumstances and child in need support may provide us with some interesting insights into these families who have sought refuge in a far away country.

As a social worker I am challenged to look after my wellbeing by eating healthy food, however local to where I work, there is a great Japanese street food restaurant that does fast take away orders. This is where I normally grab something to eat, served by the same familiar woman who takes my order and shouted it out in what I thought was Japanese to chefs busy cooking on open fires in a row of street kitchens.

Almost suddenly in these times of austerity in London, a new Japanese restaurant opened around the corner to my office and as I have no commitment to anyone place I tried it out and began ordering my take away from the new place. A few months later a familiar face greeted me in the new restaurant, the smiling friendly face of the lady who formally shouted out my order with limited softness of face, in the bustling open street kitchen.

She greeted me like a long lost friend and was pleased to see me in the shop that she was now working in. She seemed very much more relaxed, possibly because the restaurant was fairly new and did not have as many customers as the street stall and she could actually have a conversation with me instead of the conveyor belt like system which kept the street kitchen lively and cheap.

Mi Yung and I started talking about her journey to Britain, and I was overwhelmed by her declaration about how she did not care if she woke up and it was raining (in Britain we moan about the weather) she was happy when it rained because she had the freedom to work where she wanted and to stand up to her bosses if she felt that her rights were being impinged. She had loved working in the street kitchen but the quickness of the serving had not allowed her to talk with people and this was what she wanted to do more than ever.

Her journey to freedom was based on the need to interact with people when she wanted and to be truly happy, working in this new restaurant meant that she could grow in a way that most people who are born into less restricted societies take for granted. And although she needed a job she expressed to me the need to work somewhere that she could be free and meet and greet the world.

Now, my inquiry is much more based on the positive aspects of the North Korean society in the area; how to mobilise the positive aspects of people like Mi Yung who see the world with eyes based on growth not just on past abuse or being stuck in trauma. Understanding culture is important for social workers, but we do not always need to learn from negative occurrences of adult violence or child abuse.

We can learn by understanding and interacting more with people who have come through adversity attempting to catch glimpses of how they remain resilient and what aspects of their positive worlds can aid those who are not so able to let go of their past. In terms of child protection the local authority should talk to people like Mi Yung to gain an understanding or what support can be put in place to aid and support North Korean families. With regard to social workers intervening with families of similar backgrounds, this lively discussion seems to have been missing in the past decade of social work transformation.

It’s About Living: Difficult Conversations Made a Little Easier

christmas
It’s A Wonderful Life

Ahhhh holidays! Once the hustle and bustle are over … our thoughts turn to cozy evenings with family, wrapping and then opening presents, crackling fires in the fireplace and another round of the seasonal food that we all associate with childhood wonder and good times.  What a time for celebrating our lives!

In these busy times, it’s just so rare when families and extended families get together for uninterrupted and unhurried conversation.  But, whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year is an ideal time to really connect and go  beyond the usual chatter and catching up.

This holiday season think beyond the traditions of the past and take the opportunity to start a new one.  Have a conversation for which you will be thankful in the future.  What is this conversation? It is a conversation about joy and having your voice heard even when you cannot speak for yourself.  When serious illness or long-term disabilities impact everyday life, difficult conversations need to take place. How do you find a way to start that conversation long before difficult situations are staring you in the face? It’s really quite simple. Here’s a holiday recipe for starting the conversation.

As you come together, invite everyone to take turns sharing what makes them happy and where they’ve found joy in their lives. This is something to which even the youngest family member can contribute.

Talking about the joys in life can easily lead to a discussion of what it is in the things that bring us joy. This invites everyone to share a bit more deeply about who we are and what makes us unique.  It promises to even surprise a few with the hidden story gems that will emerge and what you’ll learn about those you think you know well.

And, don’t be surprised if it now feels much easier to ask one final question…

“If something happened and you couldn’t tell us yourself, what would you want us to know that is important to you in being alive?”

Does this feel like an old friend in new clothes? Yep, it is, but the new clothes carry great significance. Unlike the more familiar questions about choices in case of illness or at the end-of-life, this is a question that comes from the perspective of living and that makes it a much easier, more palatable question to answer. Don’t be surprised if this gently evolves into a discussion about a beloved family member with an illness or a health challenge to face, and then into very personal sharing of thoughts on individual preferences and choices.

It’s fine to keep this topic on the light side but making sure family members have an idea of what’s important to you and how you’d want to be cared for during a difficult situation is really important.  And, it’s important for you to know … and understand … their choices too.

There is no question that the holidays can bring up a lot of emotions and you can use your best judgment about your family based on their response, but starting the dialogue about living life to the fullest is a way to connect and learn more about the people you love the most.  And, when you need to know what’s important to them in life, it’s a conversation you’ll be thankful you had.

A Recipe for Joy

Many of us see joy differently. To some, it might mean, sitting in the backyard watching the grass grow. To others, it could be contemplating their life sitting by a mountain stream with a fishing pole in hand. It’s an interesting discussion. We all take this journey that has a road that eventually ends. How we spend that journey is as individual as we are. Sharing with our loved ones how we envision that journey gives us a better chance of realizing it. We must remember that respect for the dignity and privacy of our family members comes first.  But, to initiate this conversation can be a beautiful gift for all who take part in it.

Initiating Important Conversations With Loved Ones

If you’re the conversation initiator, you’ll be surprised at how many possibilities you can find during holidays or other family gatherings.

·         Missing a loved one at holiday events
·         Movies you’ve seen
·         Sermons/seminars
·         Television talk shows, dramas and comedies
·         Medical checkups
·         Family occasions such as baptisms, marriages and funerals
·         Magazines and books

Supporting a Conversation That Continues

It’s only in the movies that everything is neatly wrapped up in a package. The real world is much more complicated. Family conversations stop and start over time. Maybe touching on the subject during family celebrations can be seen as a starting point.

The true objective of family conversation is more than a simple package of papers with advance directives and estate details. Those things matter, because they will guide final actions. But what matters most is to talk with the people you love about decisions relating to the joy you wish to live in the journey of your life.

We never know for sure when the story of our life is going to write its final chapter but we do know what gives us joy. Discussing what brings that joy and how we envision our life is meaningful conversation that helps eliminate difficulties and complications later but also brings families closer together today.

Coping Without Medical Insurance

Living without medical insurance
Living without medical insurance

Even with all of the changes happening with healthcare plans, many people are still coping without not having medical insurance. With the new healthcare reform, it is important to look into all of your options because it is becoming more affordable and available with more options than ever before.

Living without health insurance means that you have to look after your body even more than usual. Choosing a healthier lifestyle is a necessity. If you do not have health insurance, it is extremely wise for you to try to live a healthier lifestyle and try to apply for auto and travel insurance should any accidents result in any events from car or adventure sports accidents. Medical costs are extremely pricey and with no coverage whatsoever you will be paying through the pocket if you do not have the right insurance.

Healthy living

Regardless of medical coverage, a healthy lifestyle is important for everyone. One of the things that people can do is to monitor what they eat. For those who cannot afford health insurance this is even tougher because fast food might be the cheapest option, but it is also the unhealthiest type of food to eat. Limiting foods with trans fats is important as is including vegetables and fruits into your daily diet. Overeating can lead to a multitude of health problems including diabetes and heart disease and if you do not have health insurance you will be paying for these medical costs from your pocket.

Living a healthier lifestyle also means looking at other things other than food that can affect your body. Smoking and drinking alcohol are things that should be avoided because they do not help your health and without health, you should limit any risks that can harm your health.

Not only is maintaining a healthy diet important for those who do not have health insurance but an equal part of living a healthy lifestyle is to exercise or take part in some physical activity. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that adults spend at least 30 minutes a day doing some form of physical activity. Choosing a healthier lifestyle can prevent future illnesses and ailments over time.

ObamaCare: What will medical insurance look like in 2014?

Many Americans are able to receive health insurance through their employer’s plan or through the government with Medicare or Medicaid. However, about 15% of people remain uninsured and they can apply for the ObamaCare open enrollment in the marketplace until March 31, 2014. The new health care plan has caused quite a stir amongst politicians and health insurance companies, but the different available plans are meant to cover essential healthcare benefits people need such as health for women, better overall coverage and promising families that children can stay under their parent’s plan until they are 26 years old. The new law provides for better preventative care, insurance companies can not deny you for having a pre-existing condition, and there are no longer any life-time limits on the care you can receive.

Use the resources you have

Another option for the uninsured is to utilize the resources that you have at your fingertips. There are free or reduced priced clinics in most towns and using these services can keep you relatively healthy until you can get health insurance. Urgent Care facilities can treat diseases and conditions that are not life threatening or are not at the life threatening stage such as bronchitis and pneumonia; this will save on the potential costs of going to an emergency room. Planned Parenthood is a quality organization that can do yearly checkups for women including breast exams. Consult with friends and family to learn about organizations in your area that can do cost effective medical coverage (the internet can also be used for research).

Other insurance options to keep in mind: auto and travel

In order to take care of yourself, keep in mind of other insurance plans that cover different areas that healthcare insurance does not. Look into car insurance quotes that cover bodily injuries for third-party individuals in case of a car accident. If your individual state follows a tort system, medical payments coverage is available to pay for medical bills for both yourself and any passengers in your vehicle.

If you are planning a vacation and/or participating in adventure sports that include potential dangerous activities such as skydiving or bungee jumping, it’s not a bad idea to look into travel insurance either. Because health insurance does not cover auto or travel insurance, you leave yourself susceptible to injuries with very high medical bills.

Living without health insurance can be extremely difficult because sometimes accidents and illness are unavoidable. Living a healthier lifestyle both though diet and exercise changes, adding health coverage through auto or travel insurance and utilizing resources around you can help reduce the stress of living without health insurance until you are able to get the coverage you desire.

Why Pharmacists Are at the Centre of Future Healthcare

In today’s changing medical world, the pharmacist is becoming more important. In many ways, pharmacists are becoming more like mini-doctors, depending on their education and training. Some pharmacists in the United States and UK can even offer some medical advice and prescribe limited medications. This flexible license is vital to the ever-changing and expanding medical world.

Is becoming a pharmacist a viable career? With today’s medical costs rising, becoming a pharmacist is one way to help people without the high costs of 12 years of medical school. Most pharmacists also make a decent salary, making the investment worth it.

Take a look at how the role of the pharmacist is changing below:

Market Concentration

PharmacistOver the next 10-20 years, general practitioners will fade away. What used to be prescribed by practitioners will now be able to be prescribed by pharmacists. Hospitals and doctors will stick to consolidated offerings and specialized treatments. A few organizations may even buy out smaller doctor’s offices.

Self reliance

The economic downturn has made many people less likely to visit an actual doctor. This means that many people will turn to their pharmacist long before they ever step into a doctor’s office. Patients are looking for prevention and self-care methods, rather than treatments like they wanted before. This will enabled pharmacists to become involved with lifestyle management.

Medication Therapy Management (MTM)

Medication Therapy Management is a new role for pharmacists. This is an important role that will only become more important as the decade progresses. MTM is designed to help patients receive the best treatment options for their unique needs, and the pharmacist can take on that role with ease.

Pharmacogenetics

Could medications be used based on the genetic makeup of a person? In modern medicine, the practice is not widely used, but in the future, it is likely that many medications will be offered based on genetics. Pharmacists will be able to help provide the flexibility necessary to identify which medications belong with each unique set of genetics. Pharmacists have a chance to lead along with scientists to discover the true benefits of genetic-based medications.

Primary Care

One new role for the pharmacist is the role of primary care. With the new ability to dispense certain medicines and provide an advice-based role, many pharmacists are uniquely qualified to act as primary care providers for many low-risk patients of any age.

Pharmacists as Doctors

In the past, the pharmacy was simply for dispensing medication. However, today, the pharmacy is more of a community health center, offering health screenings, immunizations, and more. This hybrid between pharmacy and doctor’s office is something that is only beginning to emerge, but has the chance to become a community-based medical center that provides for all patient needs.

Prevention

Prevention is something that the medical industry hasn’t really focused on before now. However, with patients living longer and healthier lives, prevention becomes more important. Nutraceuticals, are foods and food products that provide medical and health benefits on more of a preventative role. This is something that a pharmacist can provide to patients- perhaps even uniting with fitness centers for a total health approach.

The role and future of pharmacists is changing. Rather than simply being pill pushers, the profession is changing and taking a more active role in the prevention and curing of medical illnesses. The pharmacist of today is able to interact directly with patients, offer medical advice, and help a patient take an active, preventative role in his or her health.

The Building Blocks of your Oral Health: Vitamins and Minerals

Caring for your oral health may not always be your top priority with so many worries in your hectic modern life. Because of this and a combination of other factors such as age and eating habits, your oral health could be suffering. It is always important to correctly brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss at least once a day, and visit your dentist regularly. You must also make sure your diet contains adequate amounts of the correct vitamins and minerals so that you can maintain healthy teeth in a less time-consuming way. What are the best vitamins and minerals for keeping your smile at its best?

Calcium and Vitamin D

shutterstock_132464885Calcium is the mineral that helps strengthen the bones throughout your body, including teeth. A deficiency in calcium can weaken your teeth and make them more susceptible to cavities and tooth decay. According to a team of Buffalo researchers, under-consumption of calcium can also lead to severe gum disease because of its effects on your jaw bone and subsequently the alignment of your teeth. Foods containing calcium include dairy products, some fruits and vegetables like apricots, figs, kale and okra, and some protein-rich foods like eggs, tofu, and sardines.

Vitamin D is important because it allows your body to successfully absorb calcium. If you are suffering from a vitamin D deficiency, you may have sleeping problems, skin rashes, and a burning mouth in addition to the effects associated with a lack in calcium. Luckily, many of the foods rich in calcium also contain vitamin D, like milk, egg yolks, and fish.

Vitamin C

The benefits of vitamin C are well-known for their effects on the immune system. Relatedly, a deficiency in vitamin C increases your chances for oral bacterial infestations and infections. Specifically, consuming too little vitamin C has been linked to gum disease and loose teeth. Many foods contain vitamin C, including oranges, kiwi, broccoli, and red peppers.

Iron

Under consuming iron in your diet can make you feel light-headed and disoriented, along with inflaming your tongue and causing sores to form inside your mouth. Because these sores are open wounds, they can easily become infected from mouth bacteria and cause other more serious problems for both your mouth and body. Iron can be found in most meats (especially red types), beans, tofu, potatoes, broccoli, nuts, spinach, and green peppers.

Vitamins B2, B3, and B12

Vitamin B2, B3, and B12 are all important for maintaining the balance of bacteria in your mouth. When you do not ingest enough of these vitamins, mouth sores can easily form. Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, helps produce red blood cells and can be found in milk, bread, and fortified cereals. Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is also closely related with halitosis, or bad breath, thanks to its role in digestion. Niacin can be found in meats, fish, and whole grains. Like riboflavin, Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is important in the production of red blood cells and thus a functioning immune response system. It can be found in fish, poultry, and meat. For more information on these important vitamins and others that are important for your diet and oral health, see WebMD.

Paying attention to your vitamin and mineral intake can notably decrease the amount of time you have to spend in the dentist’s chair. When altering your diet is not enough, you must see a quality dentist you trust. Websites rating dentist professionals can help you choose the best dentist in your area for you, either by searching by name or location.

Mayor Bloomberg’s Fight Against Obesity

by Kyle Jones

Obesity difference

During the summer of 2012, Mayor Bloomberg from New York attempted  to ban establishments from serving sugary soda larger than a 16oz cup to fight against obesity. According to the New York Times,  opponents of the law is calling Mayor Bloomberg’s ban arbitrary and capricious, and a New York State judge agreed with them. An injunction was issued one day before the law was to take effect.

This case raises an important issue such as governmental intervention in American’s health decisions. Many will argue that the government has no place in trying to regulate American’s health decisions. In other words, these people are advocates of individual responsibility for regulating health decisions.

So how can we take individual responsibility for regulating our food and drink intake? For one, watch what you eat. Doctors and health specialists around the country are seeking better dieting programs and encouraging people to watch what they eat and especially where their food is made from. Most big name companies which offer the many food products you see at your local food mart aren’t always properly treated. Some of the foods contain various chemicals and other substances which are harmful to your health.

One way to eating healthy is by buying your food from local farmers at farmers markets. The food they provide are  freshly grown and have less chemicals. Plus, it’s always a great deed to help out your fellow citizens who grow their own food and your food. Also, properly cook your food. Most of us are ignorant to the details of how food is being transported. So to diminish the possibility of words or other infections entering your body, make sure your food thoroughly.

Our bodies have its own mechanisms to fighting obesity; whether you’re awake or asleep. Your body is constantly feeding itself and using what you store to keep itself going. To help this process you need to implement constant movement in your lifestyle. Try to walk more to local areas, ride your bike, or run around your house a couple of times. Any bit of motion which does not involve sitting in a car can aid you into losing a couple of pounds.

Water helps obesityWhat I notice most people do not do is drink the recommended amount of water everyday. Most of the time I witness people drink juice, ice teas, sports drinks, and soda. Ingesting those liquids do not aide your body in replenishing itself. Our bodies are almost made entirely of water so ingesting the recommended amount keeps your body functioning normally.  The cells in your body are made of water and the dissolving property of water allows your cells to use the essentials during biological processes.

The last method I would like to mention is a substance which most people have never heard of. It is considered the tree of life and it provide everything you need. It is called the Moringa Oleifera tree. It is a tropical plant grown in usually semiarid, tropical, and subtropical areas. So why haven’t you heard it before? Maybe because of its INCREDIBLE health benefits which can supplement what you receive from milk, bananas, carrots, and oranges! According to Moringa Benefits, the tree, its roots, and its leaves all grant abundant nutritional value. You receive all of the following from this tree in one serving:

  • 125% daily value of Calcium
  • 61% daily value of Magnesium
  • 41% daily value of Potassium
  • 71% daily value of Iron
  • 272% daily value of Vitamin A
  • 22% daily value of Vitamin C

Moringa superfoodWith the above facts in mind, would you classify this tree as the tree of life?  If you are a skeptic, take the time to Google,  YouTube, or  whatever search method you want to find out the facts. You will be surprised by how many testimonials and videos are out their describing this amazing tree and its brilliant properties.

One problem though is the lack of abundance in the United States. If you live in hot and/or dry climate regions you can order the seeds yourself and grow them! They also sell capsules of crushed dried Moringa leaves on the Vitamin Shoppe website. They come in a bottle of about 60 capsules. So within 2 months compare how you felt now to then and notice the difference. I promise you’ll get what you paid for!

Mayor Bloomberg isn’t the only one who finds the obesity rate in our country a problem. It takes more than someone to tell you to get up and take care of yourself. You must be willing to motivate yourself into becoming a better individual. Take these methods, put your trust in them, and be the person you wish to see.

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