Make meals a social occasion

Nicola - Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Only 25% of Australian families eat together – which robs each family member of valuable time to feel connected, share their experience, explore idea,s and just be together.  

Sharing a meal is important and is something humans have done since time immemorial.  Specific celebrations in many cultural and religious groups are often marked by a shared meal, and food is often offered as a welcoming gesture.  Such social occasions give us a sense of belonging, identity, and make us feel connected – all adding to a sense of meaning, purpose and inclusion.

Put aside the e-world and busy-ness for a while and get connected: try to schedule meals to eat with others in your family / household; share jams and preserves with neighbours; eat at communal tables if out alone; commit to sharing meals with friends or neighbours who live alone.


Murderous menopause

Nicola - Friday, February 20, 2015


Flaming June.  Menopause is a difficult phase impacting on multiple body and brain systems.  Recently, when talking about menopause, I have meet a few women who felt so overwhelmed by the neuro-chemical changes that they had ‘homicidal’ thoughts.  One even called it her lion moment.  Research suggests that menopause is a period of divorce risk.   One reason is that during menopause, and peri-menopause, the reduction in oestrogen is associated with a lowering of oxytocin which can leave women feeling disconnected and un-bonded to their partners.  So whereas you previously tolerated faults and foibles because of your caring bond you are less connected and freely critical.  Add that to raised stressed levels as a result of increasing cortisol and you have a recipe for lowered tolerance and a shorter fuse.  So perhaps menopause for some can be translated to Men!-a-pause (as in exhale) and count to ten.  Best thing is to start with self compassion, learn some good stress management and meditation techniques.  Oh, and put offenders on notice!

Eat rainbows

Nicola - Tuesday, February 10, 2015

food images (3)

For a healthy brain mind and body you need to eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, plus protein, good oils and low GI carbohydrates to get all essential micro nutrients.  Statistics show that only 5-15% of teens and adults eat enough vegetables.

How to get kids eating vegetables?

Many parents ask how to get their children to eat their vegetables. Start Young! Make vegetables fun – serve food in patterns (rainbows) or pictures (faces). Provide alternative colour options – peas, beans, broccoli for greens. Soup is a great way in introduce different types of vegetables eaten. My Grandmother called vegetable soup ‘Robber Soup’ from the Richard Scarry book which made it all the more appetitiisng. Never shy away from the expectation that they will have vegetables of at least 3 colours each day. Other tips include offering raw vegetables with hummus dip, making cubes of raw vegetables in a ‘snack’ bowl to munch instead of chips, and model eating vegetables yourself.

How to introduce new foods?

The brain has to ‘taste’ something at least 5 times before it ‘likes’ it – so present ‘yucky’ vegetables at least 6 times. If you have done the food camouflage trick of embedding vegetables into something else (eg – grated carrot into bolognaise or beetroot into brownies) tell your children afterwards so they learn that they like the sneaky vegetable.  Play a game and go shopping and play detective – choose a weird new food and investigate what it is, how to prepare it, find a recipes and make it then sit down and all be food critics.