Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Tag: healthy eating

4 Tips To Help You Take Better Care of Your Skin

As I get older, I am, of course, starting to care more about my skin. Isn’t that how it always is? Oh, to be a carefree youth!  What I appreciate about this contributed article are the facts that I never really considered before about taking care of your skin–I especially liked the first point about hard and soft water. Plus, once again, this post shows us that we are what we eat (and drink)! 

Most of us want to have smooth and soft skin no matter what age we are.  You may spend a lot of money on healthcare and beauty products, but you may not have to invest in expensive creams and lotions. The main reason for this is because most of us have the ability to have healthy skin naturally, and these tips can lead to long-lasting results.

Consider your Water

When you wash your face, you will see that soft water doesn’t really remove soap very well. It can leave some residue on your skin, and it can also make it much harder for you to have clear skin. If your water is soft, then you need to use any facial cleansers you have sparingly. A pure soap will actually work better. Hard water, however, doesn’t allow you to lather up as easily, and this can encourage you to use even more cleanser. When you do this, you may find that your skin dries out, and you may even find that it damages your skin. You can help to minimize this damage by using gentle and non-soap-based formulas that are not designed to lather up. It also helps to know the quality of water in your area so that you can make the best decision.

Always Drink Green Tea

If your complexion is blotchy or red, then you may have inflamed skin. If you want to avoid all of this, then green tea is a fantastic option. Green tea can help you to stop the collagen destruction that often leads to wrinkles, and it can even help to cleanse your body of any toxins as well. When you do drink green tea, you have to make sure that you are steeping the tea bag enough in order to get the full benefits.  If you are using a tea bag, seep for about 3 minutes. Any longer than that, and you may find the tea to be bitter. 

Avoid Stress

Easier said than done, right? Stress can take its toll on your body, and this does include your skin. When you are stressed, you may have more acne, and you may even find that you have more cortisol in the body as well. This can make your skin much oilier, and it can even decrease your body’s own natural ability when it comes to fighting off any bacteria as well. If you want to avoid this, then you need to try and limit the stress you are under. If you can do this, then you will most likely see a huge improvement in your skin. If you want some additional help, check out youngevity products.

Your Diet

If your diet is full of fatty foods , then there is a high chance that you are causing yourself way more issues than you need. Fatty foods can make your skin much more prone to oiliness, and that can cause you to have a bad complexion as well. If you want to avoid this, then try and eat a diet that is rich in fruit and vegetables.

And don’t forget, no matter what your age, sunscreen is vital for good skin care. Of course, that could be a post all by itself.

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5 Tips For Getting Healthy and Active This Summer

In the Midwest, we have been having quite a heatwave. So for some of you, you may read this title and think: What? Is she crazy? There are heat advisories every day! But some of these tips can be done easily–not or hot–and I like them because they are practical, so this is definitely one of those Practical Moms Unite posts. (contributed post)

If you would like to make sure that you are getting as healthy as you can during the summer months and are looking for inspirations on planning your active summer, read on. 

Leave the Car Behind

While it is more convenient to take the car everywhere, and you can’t do the weekly shopping without it (and carry all your bags), you might want to walk or cycle to places that are less than a mile away. Make yourself a promise to do this, provided that the weather is nice and it is safe to do so. A good way of deciding whether you should take the car or not is working out if driving saves you more than 15 minutes. If it does, you might take the car; but if it doesn’t, including circling around trying to find a parking place, you could walk or cycle.

Eat More Fresh Produce

In the summer months with the heat and sun, many of us crave fresh foods and fewer carbs than we do in the winter months. Start weaning yourself off carbs gradually. Swap your pasta for cooked vegetables, your corn flakes for a fruit salad, and visit the local farmers’ market regularly to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. To stay on top of your wellbeing, you might want to reduce your intake of processed food items and opt for organic and fresh meat and fruit instead.

Raw Food Diet and Salads

With the higher availability of fruit and vegetables in the summer, you might want to go on a raw food diet for a week to help your body get rid of the toxins and improve the condition of your skin, such as acne, while also treating some digestive issues. You can cut out white rice, chips, and pasta, and switch to vegetables and fruit to improve your mood, your diet, and your overall wellbeing.

Day Trips

You can also take a couple of day trips to change your environment, see something new, and practice mindfulness. Find inspiring places and notice new things every day. Take your mind off your daily routine every now and then. Even if you are only visiting the closest nature reserve, you will return relaxed and rejuvenated, after getting close to nature.

Camping and Hiking

If you have more than a day to spend away from work and your routine, you might want to combine camping and hiking. Find a location that you haven’t visited before to set up camp, make a walking goal, and bring the right camping equipment to cook and eat fresh during your trip. You can read more about camping hacks that will make life more comfortable when away from home while maintaining a healthy diet.  

Staying active is generally easier during the summer months, as you don’t have the excuse of the cold or snowy weather. Get on your bike, go hiking, and reduce your processed carb intake to make the most out of your health.

How will you get more healthy this summer? 

 

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6 Easy Tips to Stay On Top of Your Well Being

(contributed post)

Self-care has become a hot topic in the wellness industry and popular media lately – the idea that little acts of tuning into ourselves, listening to our instincts, and taking small steps to address potential problems or complications can have a big impact in our lives. And it’s true that small steps over time can have a large cumulative impact, especially when it comes to our health. Our daily routines can introduce steps that lead to great well being – and it can all start with the simplest of actions.

Start The Day With A Cup of Hot Lemon Water

Instead of turning to the caffeine the second the alarm goes off, why not start your day off with a cup of hot water with the juice of half a lemon instead? This wonderfully simple ritual has some huge health benefits. It kickstarts good digestion that will help your gut to process food better, gives your metabolism a boost, alkalizes the body, supports your liver to cleanse itself, and hydrates you. Consuming caffeine on an empty stomach has been shown to up our levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. This slows down the body’s natural ability to eliminate toxins, deal with fatigue, and burn fat efficiently. Adding raw apple cider vinegar to the mix can boost positive effects even further.

Connect With Nature

Studies have shown that immersing ourselves in the natural world has a huge impact on our sense of well being. Spending just 30 minutes a day outdoors lowers stress levels, boosts our cognitive abilities, and leads to enhanced problem solving skills and creativity. So create the opportunity to be out in nature, like using your lunch break to fit in a walk or switching your gym membership to an outdoor workout.

Book Those Tests

Good health relies on intercepting small problems before they have the chance to turn into larger ones, and that means keeping on top of routine health checks. So make sure you have that check-up at the dentist, book for an eye test, and visit your audiologist. Far from being a waste of time, you are proactively taking care of your health and identifying problems before they worsen to the point of needing major treatment. Similarly, if you have any recurrent injuries, like that bad back you ignore and just pop a pill to deal with, meet them head-on and find a decent chiropractor who can work with you to identify and solve the root cause of your discomfort and stop any further complications developing.

Eat Mindfully

Often when we eat our meals or a snack, we do so without conscious intention. We are watching TV or reading through the paper, even scrolling through our social media feeds mindlessly. This means that we consume far more calories than we need to, as we block out the natural signals the stomach sends to the brain that it’s feeling full. Make a habit of eating mindfully by banishing outside distractions. Concentrate on the sensations of eating and fully engage your senses with each bite. Not only will you feel more satisfied with what you eat, but you won’t be at risk of overeating by default. Taking the time to chew your food thoroughly also releases more digestive enzymes that help the body to break down and process your food and use the nutrients from it more efficiently.

Practice Stress Management

Stress, anxiety and unfortunate events are a part of most people’s lives, but it’s the way we deal with them that counts. Taking the time to practice a few simple techniques, made easy with a mindfulness app, can really reduce your stress levels and help you to deal with negative situations in a calm, collected manner. It introduces positive perspective and helps you to manage any negative effects in your life. Some deep breathing techniques have the potential to make a lot of difference in how you handle and react to external stress factors, such as work and family.

Balance Work, Exercise, and Relaxation

The key to taking care of yourself is to balance the different elements of your life, and schedule in enough time to get active but also to relax. Even light exercise is hugely beneficial both mentally and physically, so find the form of activity that inspires you – whether that’s running, yoga or something different like sailing or boxercise. Just 30 minutes three times a week will make a big difference to your well being. Then also create time for relaxation, like taking an aromatherapy bath with relaxing oils or just taking the time to read a really good book for some mental escapism.

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The Everyday Super Foods You Need In Your Diet

(contributed post)

We often hear about the term “superfoods” and how we need to incorporate them into our diets. But in reality, what does a superfood even do? The key to the term is that they are multi-taskers. They do more than one thing and are full of a variety of disease-fighting nutrients. They are usually fairly low in calories too; and at the end of the day, they are usually packaged in a form that tastes good, which really is what is going to make us eat more and more of them and incorporate them into our lives every day.

Some of the superfoods, may be a little quirky for our everyday diets, though. Can you imagine any of your children munching on goji berries? They are good for you, but not something you (or the kids) would be wanting to have every single day. They can be hard to find and pricier than many other alternatives too. So it is good to find out what superfoods can be added into your day, each day. Here are some super simple superfoods that you can have that are easy to find, easy to eat, and taste great.

Berries

They say that the brighter and more colorful your plate, the better it will be for you. So adding things like berries into your diet everyday is a good way to add plenty of color. Berries, like raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries, are full of fiber, as well as being filling. They are full of antioxidants too, which can keep you healthy and even help to keep your memory sharp. They are versatile too, which makes them a great staple in every household.

Vitamin C & Vitamin K

Two vitamins that are particularly important for our bodies, as well as for things like ecchymosis (or bruising) to heal, are Vitamin C and Vitamin K. The former helps with tissue repair, and the latter, vitamin K, plays a big part in blood clotting. Both of these are found in fruits and leafy green vegetables. So if you find that you bruise easily, then it may be your body’s way of telling you that you need a more nutrient-rich diet. The foods these vitamins are found in are low in fat, high in fiber, and have other goodness in them, like iron and magnesium.

Eggs

Protein is something that we need in our diets as it helps our bodies to repair and to grow. There are plenty of ways to get protein into our bodies, including sources that aren’t from animals. One of the cheapest sources of protein, as well as being a high-quality protein source, are eggs. They are also low in calories, at around 70 calories per egg. They are packed with antioxidants that take care of our eyes, and the lutein in eggs can also help to protect our skin from UV rays. The humble egg is a super-nutritious powerhouse.

Oats

Oats are a superfood in several different ways. They are an easy and digestible food to have in our diets, and are a good way to increase your intake of fiber (something that many of us lack enough of). Having a breakfast that is full of fiber can help us keep full until lunch, which is always a good thing, especially if we are looking to watch our waistline. Oats are also a whole grain, meaning they have been unprocessed, and they don’t have any added sugar. So they are the perfect alternative to breakfast cereal. You can use them in oatmeal, overnight oats, breakfast bars, baked desserts, and even into energy balls, and making your own milk.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are another testament to the saying that the brightest foods are the best for you. They are full of color because they are full of carotene, which our bodies use to make vitamin A. This vitamin can help our immune systems, as well as helping us to have strong bones. In fact, one sweet potato has around four more times vitamin A than the recommended amount. So they are great to add to your diet. Roasted, baked, or made into your own fries, are all good ways to go.

Do you have a favorite food that you and your family like to have in your diet? As you can see, for foods to be super, they don’t need to be expensive, with a name you can’t pronounce, or bought in a health food store. It would be great to hear what you think!

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4 Reasons Dogs Can Help You Maintain a Healthy Weight

The above photo is of my dog yesterday, staring out the window, and I thought it was funny, so I took the photo. He sat like that for over 10 minutes! I wondered: What is he watching for? So even though this contributed article is mostly about working out with your dog, which I do take him for walks frequently, even on cold days when I would’ve never went out without him, I wanted to show you my funny boxer just sitting. 🙂 Read on for a more active and healthy post though…

Working out is hard, which is why most of us need a partner to help ease the strain. Not only is it less lonely working out with a friend, but it also drives us to be better. When you let yourself down, you’re letting down the person who agreed to train with you in the first place. And the majority of us feel too guilty to let this happen. There’s a problem, though – who wants to be your workout partner? Everyone has commendable intentions, yet they can go by the wayside when it comes to crunch time. So, where are you supposed to turn? Who is going to help when your friends and family won’t? The answer is the family pooch and here’s why.

They’re Reliable

Humans can overthink things. Exercise is the perfect example because we may not really want to do it anyway–or least make ourselves go to the gym at 5am or after a long day at work. As a result, lots of people decide they will skip and then get into a bad routine. Dogs aren’t like people because they always want to leave the house. If they’re cooped up during the day, they need a long walk to blow off steam and release tension. Going for a jog or fast walk together, then, is a perfect compromise.

They’re Aerobic

Running has its advantages, but most aerobic activity is as healthy. In fact, depending on the goal, it can be better for you than a 10K. Let’s look at exercise helping you to lose weight. After the holiday season or one too many takeout sessions, we can feel the weight start to become a problem. To shed the pounds, the body needs to metabolize oxygen, which is a fancy way of saying you need to keep your heart rate down while moving around. Taking the dog for a long walk, instead of going for a run by yourself, is an excellent excuse. Plan the route so that it includes inclines as well as declines for ultimate results.

 

It’s Fun

Part of developing a  healthy exercise routine is finding a way to enjoy the experience. Because exercise can be difficult, it’s not enjoyable one-hundred percent of the time. The good news is that a dog instantly brings fun to the party thanks to their enthusiasm. Throwing a ball and chasing them around is not only a physical activity for you but it makes them wag their tails. Plus, regular dog activities can take place in beautiful locations such as the beach or the park. It’s hard not to enjoy exercise with your best pal as the sun sets over the ocean.

They’re Vacuums

If the above doesn’t appeal to you, then how about this… 😉 Of course, dogs need their own healthy food–whether you decide to buy dog food or make your own.  Any amazing pet review site will provide info on the best products on the market.  Still, your pooch probably likes human food: chicken, green beans, rice, and salmon, of course. Indeed, if dieters (or kids who don’t want their dinner) should “accidentally” drop leftovers on the floor, with your dog around, you may not need to vacuum! It’s a brilliant method of reducing meal sizes and cutting down on your daily calorie intake. I bet you are ready to rush out and get one of these dogs right now, aren’t you?

Do you need a healthy accountability partner? If you own a dog, the perfect solution is right under your nose.

 

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Ready to Be More Organic? It’s More than Just Eating Organic Food

(contributed post)

We all know that eating organic food is much better for our health and the state of the environment. But is that where organic living has to end? You’ll be pleased to hear that there is actually a lot more that can be done in your life, so that you can live a wholesome, naturall,y organic life. It’s not just about food!

Ready to be more organic? Here are some really great tips that can help you get started.

Create An Organic Garden

One of the easiest ways to ensure that all the fruit and vegetables you eat are organic is to start growing it yourself. Growing your own food can be quite difficult, especially if you are completely new to it. But don’t panic; you can start off developing your skills by beginning with the easier produce to grow, such as lettuce, cucumbers, and gherkins. You’ll be able to buy seeds from your local supermarket; but there are also some online stores that sell more exotic fruit and vegetable seeds, if you fancy challenging yourself!

Reduce Your Energy Consumption

Leading a more eco-friendly life is part of living more organically, too. So, it’s important that you try and reduce your household’s energy consumption as much as possible. There are various ways you can do this. First of all, make sure that every electronic device and appliance is turned completely off when it isn’t in use. Next, you should consider switching to a renewable energy source. There are now quite a few energy companies that will install solar panels onto your home’s roof, so that you can use greener energy from a nature-friendly source!

Go Natural With Skincare

You can also improve your skin care so that it’s a lot more organic. First of all, it’s worth finding some natural skin care products. Lots of beauty companies now have a very good range of natural products, as there is such a high demand for them. These are all made from organic ingredients and are completely cruelty-free, meaning they haven’t been tested on animals. If you want, you might also like the idea of trying to make your own skin care products. There are lots of recipes online that use plenty of ingredients you will already have in the house.

Eat Seasonally

There are some people who complain about the price of organic food. Sure, it can sometimes be expensive, but that is usually the case for ingredients and produce that are on sale when they are out of season. So, as you can probably tell, it’s much better to try and eat seasonally whenever you can. There are a few guides that can help you work out your diet, so that it is more in keeping with the season. But one of the best ways to figure out what is in season is to buy from farmers markets, as they will only be able to sell what they are able to grow at the time.

Enjoy your new organic life!

Do you have anything to add?

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Why Gardening Is Good For Your Health

Okay, I will be honest, I don’t garden. But I know a lot of parents like to do this with their children, and I just posted that article the other day about how to get kids eating healthy. One of the suggestions was letting kids grow their own vegetables and fruits. So sticking with that theme, check out this cool infographic from WhatShed? 

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Packed Lunch Pleasers: Creating a Balanced Lunchbox

contributed article

During a day at school, your child has a lot of work to do and concepts to focus on. From the time they spend learning new things and soaking up information, to their fun on the playground with their friends, they’re constantly working and burning energy. This makes the food they eat incredibly important, and it’s something you may want to consider when packing your child’s lunch. To help you out with this, let’s explore some of the elements, which should be included in any balanced lunchbox. 

  • The Main Course

The main course of their lunch is the most important of all. This part of their meal not only needs to satisfy their nutritional requirements, but also has to be good enough for them to eat all of it. Sandwiches are a typical choice here, as they are easy to make healthy, while also including various food groups. Besides sandwiches, though, you could think about some pasta or rice dishes, which can be served cold without causing any complaints. Your child needs protein, fiber, and vitamins to make it through their afternoon, and this course can help with all three.

  • Some Additional Snacks

Of course, you’ll probably want to put more than just one item in their lunchbox. Along with the main course, most parents will also include some snacks in their kids’ meal. Chips are a very common choice, here. But, in reality, these aren’t the best for a child at school. Instead, crackers, vegetables, and other healthy snacks can take their place. It’s best to make sure that nothing in their lunch is too heavy on their stomachs. Otherwise, they could struggle to move around after lunch or stay awake in the classroom.

  • Something Sweet

Most lunchboxes will also include a sweet item or two, giving your children the chance to take on some instant energy. The way that you deliver this sort of treat is incredibly important to consider. Too much of the wrong sugars can lead to hyperactivity in children, and this is not what you want during their school day. To avoid this, fruits, yogurts, and other healthy sweets can be used, replacing chocolate bars and candy. Most kids will be happy to munch down on these kinds of treats. It’s just a matter of making the change, even if you have to think outside of the box to do it.

  • Drinks

Finally, it’s time to think about the drinks you send your child to school with. While they’re learning, they will need to remain hydrated to keep concentration levels up. To make this easier, fruit water and diluted drinks can be used as a healthy alternative to fruit juices and sodas. Not only will this help your children in the quest to stay hydrated, but it will also keep them happy, and they don’t have to cost a fortune.

Hopefully, this post will inspire you to try some new things in your children’s lunchboxes. Of course, the food they eat can impact your child’s education if he or she has trouble concentrating because of hunger or lack of nutrition. So, it’s worth creating a healthy lunch for your child! What have you found that works for your child’s lunch? 

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Do You Have a Fussy Eater On Your Hands? These Tips Might Help

contributed article

Children are notoriously fussy in this day and age. So many mothers feel like they share something in common if their child is fussy with their food. Some children are worse than others; and while many parents try to figure out what they may have done wrong,  there really is no rhyme or reason as to why children develop such funny aversions to certain foods. That being said, there are some ways you can combat the fussiness and try and improve things for the better. I thought I would share with you some of the tips that may help.

Plant some fruit trees and vegetables

Many children like to get involved in everything, and many of them love spending time in the great outdoors. So take advantage of this exploring nature and do a little gardening with them. Plant some fruit trees or vegetable plants, and watch them grow together. This could help you to encourage children to try new things that they grew themselves, but what if you end up with a bumper harvest? Things like a pressure canner can help you preserve excessive fruit and vegetables, which means things like wastage become a thing of the past, and it may even save you some money in the process.  

Make the food more fun and appealing

One thing many parents struggle with is making the food look appealing. However, if it visually looks good, it may encourage children to try more foods. If the plate is uninviting, then children are less likely to want to eat it. Parents have great success with making smiley faces or little scenes on the plate. It might be worth a try. Thankfully, you can find a little inspiration online on websites like Pinterest.

Encourage them to cook with you

I think a great idea is to try and get your children to cook along with you. After all, they may love the idea of doing something with you (same idea as the gardening) and getting involved in the kitchen. It might be as simple as letting them put things in bowls or measuring out ingredients. Depending on their age, you can start to teach them new cooking skills. If they make it, they may be more enticed to eat it.

Relax during meal times

Many parents need to relax during meal time because children can sense tension and the anticipation that goes along with trying new foods. You may find that feeling frustrated with mealtimes, or even being over the top with emotions, can perhaps hinder your chances of success. Relax and go with the flow. 

A rewards chart

A reward chart may not work for everyone,but there have been many success stories of trying charts, specifically for new foods. Perhaps a sticker for every time they try a new food or finish their meal.

Positive encouragement

Finally, It is always good to remain positive and give positive encouragement when it is due. Sometimes, we can focus too much on the negative side of things, and this can have the opposite effect of what we are trying to achieve–getting children to be less fussy at mealtime. 

Perhaps you have more ideas to share. I would love to hear them.

 

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4 Tips to Control What Goes In and Comes Out of Your Mouth

I made a sign for my bulletin board that said: “THINK: Before food goes in and words come out!” One night after I binged on potato chips and dip (my favorite comfort snack) and said something to someone I wished I had not, I jotted that down. Because we are always moving so fast and trying to accomplish so much, we often don’t give ourselves time to think. And let’s face it, the older we get and the more responsibilities we add to our plates, the more we have to make a conscious effort to think before we eat or speak.

Here are four tips I use to try to help me with this (besides keeping a sign with these words on my bulletin board):

banner-about-food-going-in-for-blog

  •  Have a confidant or confidants.

This is no-brainer. You’re going to be crabby sometimes. You’re not always going to say the right thing. People are going to piss you off.  But you really should think before you speak–you don’t want your neighbors to plan your move or your co-workers to take bets on who wants to throat punch you first. So you need a group of trusted friends, or at least one, where you can share your witty and sarcastic thoughts, instead of saying them directly to the people who are driving you crazy. I know this sounds like I’m advocating talking behind people’s backs. That’s the glass half-empty way of looking at this because everyone needs an outlet–that’s real life.

  • Don’t be around people who make you crazy.

I realize this is easier said than done. And if you can limit contact with people who drive you crazy, you won’t need to share so much with those confidants mentioned above. But there are some people in your life who you will not be able to avoid. For example–your adorable children, who can turn into little beasts when hungry, tired, and overstimulated. (This is why you need those confidants.) If it’s a co-worker who is rude, you don’t have much choice, except for the confidants or finding a new job. But I bet there are some people in your life who drive you crazy, and you don’t have to be around them. You are CHOOSING this. Why? Why are you doing this to yourself? (Look, I have been guilty, trust me–I know it is easier said than done!) If someone does not treat you with the respect and kindness you deserve, then you don’t have to be around this person. 

  • Make yourself write down the food you eat.

Now we get to the what goes in your mouth–or “a minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips”.  If you have trouble with your eating habits, one thing I have found to work, to be aware of what I’m doing, is to write down everything I eat/drink. After I had my daughter, I went to Weight Watchers to lose the baby weight, and I found the program worked great. I know it’s not the answer for everyone, but one of the things they preach is: keep track of the food and the portions you eat.  I had to go back to Weight Watchers–I reached my goal about 7 months after Katie was born, and then had to go back when she was 3? But I have managed to keep it all off since then (almost 3 years) and stay well below my goal weight, using the principles of being aware (most days), portion control, balanced diet, and exercise–all things I learned from WW.

  • Don’t buy food you like.

Okay, maybe I should change that to don’ t buy junk food you like. I wouldn’t have binged on those chips and dip that I mentioned above if I wouldn’t have bought them. Ah, it seems so simple–I know it’s not. But if you have only healthy snacks that satisfy you, the chances of you putting on clothes to go out and buy junk food when it is late at night and the kids are in bed are much lower.  ESPECIALLY if you think about what goes into your mouth before you put it in. 🙂

 

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