Self-injury Awareness Day

Tomorrow is the global Self-injury Awareness Day (SIAD) so I thought it was a good time to create a post about an issue I’ve been considering writing about for a while.

Diana,_Princess_of_Wales[1]When I was eleven, I saw an article in a magazine about celebrities who cut themselves. These celebrities ranged from Princess Diana to Angelina Jolie. The list today is even greater – Colin Farrell, Johnny Depp, Russell Brand, Christina Ricci, Megan Fox, and Demi Lovato who is probably the most vocal about it. Needless to say, the issue of self-harm does come up quite a bit in mainstream media.

I understand the importance of talking about it but I can’t help wondering if talking about celebrities who self-harm does more harm than good. Largely because so many thousands of people idolise these celebs. I mean, Princess Diana, she was the ultimate role model for so many…. People wanted to be her and wanted to do everything she did. Everything!

When I saw that list when I was eleven, the first thing I wondered was why. Why do they cut themselves? The second thing I wondered was; I wonder if it helps. That is the problem right there. If I, at eleven, and at the time relatively trouble free, was wondering if cutting helped these celebrities get through their tough times, don’t you think that would encourage people who are in a much darker place to give it a go?

Since that day 15 years ago, I’ve ended up in a lot of conversations about self-harm and while many people of course won’t admit it, I feel like I know very few girls who don’t or haven’t ever self-harmed.

7515771442_cc34f46cfd_zFirstly why? Why are we turning to such a self-destructive method thinking it’s going to help? And secondly, how? How has this method become so predominant as a method of escapism and coping? I don’t want to encourage self-harming at all by writing this post.

It can become a deadly vicious cycle that is hard to break and there are far better ways of coping and working through tough emotions and situations other than injuring yourself.

However, since it seems every third person I talk to self-harms or has done in the past I feel it’s important to talk about. It’s such a taboo subject (like so many things I talk about on this blog…) and like the other subjects I feel maybe if it was talked about more, it wouldn’t be such a hidden secret and we’d be able to help those in need before the problem spirals out of control.

What is Self-Harm?

Self-harm is defined as the deliberate and direct injuring of body tissue, usually done without suicidal intentions.

The most common form of self-harm is typically cutting but it can including everything from burning, punching, scratching, banging, hair-pulling, interfering with wound healing and ingestion of toxic substances.

While suicide is usually not the intention when self-harming, the lines can become very blurred as self-harming behaviour can be life-threatening. Self-harming is most common in young people between the ages of 12 – 24 years old, though it can happen at any age.

Why do people self-harm?

deaths-head-487276_1280

Self-harming is seen by those who do it as a way of dealing with very difficult feelings, repressing memories or coping with overwhelming situations and experiences.

Some have described it as a way to release the pressure and the emotional pain by creating a more physical pain to focus on. It may be used as a way to express something that you can’t quite find the words for, or to make experiences, thoughts and feelings that feel invisible into something visible. You may be feeling numb, disconnected or dissociated and are seeking to feel… anything and turn to pain to help you find those feelings.

It may also be used to create a reason to physically care for yourself, to express suicidal feelings and thoughts without taking your own life or to communicate to others that you are in distress. This does not mean you are attention seeking. Do not let anyone tell you that (and trust me, I’m sure people will try and bring that one up.) It just means you’re crying out for help without actually wanting to physically ask for help.

For some people, self-harming can be linked to a specific experience and be a way of dealing with something that is happening now or something that happened in the past. For others, the reason might not be so clear, it might just be feelings that can’t be explained, an emotional pain you can’t quite put your finger on but you feel self-harming helps you regain control, or release that pain. It’s okay if you don’t know the reason, don’t let that stop you asking for help.

Treatment

I thought about going through the different kinds of treatment options that are available but to be honest, I don’t think I can.

I feel with self-harm treatment everyone reacts so incredibly differently. And I don’t necessary know if putting someone on anti-depressants will cure them. It may help in the short term, but once you become a self-harmer, it’s a tricky habit to break when shit hits the fan in the future.

unhappy-389944_1280There are all sorts of options – from psychology sessions, to hypnotherapy, to intensive meditation courses to prescription drugs. One of the best methods I know of for when times are really difficult is to wear a tight rubber band around your wrist. When you feel like cutting, ping it and you’ll get that same pain, but without the wounds, without the scars and you’ll begin to break the habit of physically damaging your body.

The best thing to do is to talk to someone you trust. If you can, let them know what’s going on. And if someone has come to you needing to talk, just be there for them. Don’t make them feel like what they’re doing isn’t okay, just be supportive and help move them through the difficult time. (I also recommend some really good food and movies during this time!)

Be on the look out

If someone wants to be caught, even just a little, they will slip up. And don’t just look for wounds or scars on the body. If someone is known for being a self-harmer, they’ll start being a little more careful, especially if they’ve been called out for it before.

If you have a friend with a history of cutting who regularly gets a black eye or ‘accidental burns’ on the skin, yet always has a good excuse for these injuries I would take the excuses with a grain of salt. It’s quite possible they said ‘I walked into a door’ to explain their black eye to person A, and ‘I got hit by a rugby ball’ to person B.

That’s not to say they’re not going to have accidents and aren’t going to be truthful, it’s just saying, be vigilant. If they’re slipping up it’s possible they want to be caught. It’s possible they want the help.

Also, just because someone hasn’t hurt themselves in 18 months, it doesn’t mean they will never do it again if life starts to get tough. It can become like an addiction. Relapse is easy.

I’m sorry this post has been so dark today, it’s just an issue I felt needed to be talked about, and an awareness day that needed to be marked.

I’ll leave you with this little poem… It does get better. Just hang in there and stay strong.

One of the best things we can do in our lives is
Begin again 640px-Orange_ribbon.svg[1]
Begin to see yourself as you were when you were the happiest
Begin to remember what worked for you and what worked against you
Begin to try and re-capture the magic that is life
Begin to live a lifetime each day as you did when you were a child
Begin to forget your baggage, the problems that don’t matter anymore, the tears that cried themselves away, and the worries that are going to wash away on the shore of tomorrow’s new beginning
Tomorrow tells us it will be here every new day of our lives If we are wise, we will turn away from the problems of the past
And give the future and ourselves a chance to become the best of friends
Sometimes all it takes is a wish in the heart to let yourself
Begin again
- Author Unknown

I love Pina Coladas….

IMG_5499When I lived in New York, my other half and I went to a party at Dallas BBQ in Times Square to ring in the New Year. It was a great night actually, plenty of dancing, lots of great food and a constant supply of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks! Naturally, being a non-drinker, I was really excited about the non-alcoholic cocktails and dived in, literally chasing the servers around the restaurants to get top ups.

One of my favourites that night was the virgin pina colada … i’m sure I downed about eight of them, no kidding.

Anyway, since I’ve been on my big pineapple kick after learning about the amazing health properties of this miracle fruit, I’ve been recreating a lot of my own virgin pina IMG_5496coladas lately as a way to help these long, cold and dark winter nights pass us by.

The best part about this is that is super healthy! Coconut and pineapple – you can’t go wrong! So kick up your heels and enjoy!

Virgin Pina…

1 C cold coconut milk
1 C fresh pineapple chunks
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp coconut nectar (optional)

IMG_5488Method

1. Pop all the ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.
2. Chuck the heater on, close your eyes, drink your virgin pina and pretend you’re on a tropical island.

Perfection…!

Blueberry Mud Smoothie

If you haven’t figured it out by now… I’m an INSANE smoothie addict. I love smoothies… in fact I could probably live on them.blueberry mud 2

I went through a few weeks when I thought perhaps banana was the root of my problems and ended up eliminating it for a while. It wasn’t, obviously, the cause of my problems as I eventually discovered (along with learning that I could only eat brown bananas, not green or super yellow bananas).

Anyway, I was at a loss as to what I could make in my smoothies. I tried mango as a base Bwhich was delicious (that recipe is coming for those non-FODMAPPERS, I promise), but on FODMAPs mango is on the ‘must avoid’ list and all that mango had awful effects on me!

blueberry mud 3Eventually I dug around in my freezer and found a whole bunch of blueberries, so I had a play and came up with my ‘Blueberry mud smoothie’ and I’m quite a fan.

It’s perfect for those summer mornings… middays… afternoons…evenings…nights. It’s perfect all the time and it’s so tasty, especially if you love a hint of chocolate!

Blueberry Mud Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 C frozen blueberries
  • 1 C milk (I use lactose free but it works very well with almond and coconut milk too)
  • 1 Tablespoon cocoa
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon cacao nibs (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

Pop all the ingredients into a blender and blend it all together! If you add cacao nibs they add a bit of a crunch kind of like biscuit pieces, however the coconut oil also solidifies with the frozen blueberries and tastes a bit like chocolate chip pieces (at least I think so).

I hope you like it!

Perfect Pineapples

With so much talk about all these exotic super foods and super fruits, sometimes the more common fruits which are packed with their own miracle properties are entirely overlooked. One of these fruits is the delicious pineapple! Now before I go any further I want to specify I’m talking about fresh pineapple. Unfortunately those little cans of the fruit aren’t going to be quite as miraculous as the fresh kind (when is it ever!?)

pineapples-373769_640The deliciously tasty tangy pineapple fruit has a huge range of beneficial properties that you rarely find grouped together in one miracle fruit. Pineapples are an important source of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, sodium, potassium, vitamins A, B-6 and C, thiamine, riboflavin, folate, pantothenic acid, manganese, antioxidants and polyphenols (such as beta-carotene). When you grab yourself a fresh pineapple you also are eating the only known source of an enzyme called bromelain.

Yikes… that’s quite a list! What on earth do all these things do?!

Well let’s start with that enzyme since it’s so super rare and all! Bromelain is crazy effective in alleviating joint pain and arthritis, reducing swelling and inflammation (It’s even said that aside from bruises and sprains it can reduce post-op swelling and tenderness, I’ll have to remember that one), inhibits tumour growth and aids the immune system and digestion and can help with the circulatory system.

800px-Pineapple_-_small_piecesBromelain is a hugely effective method of managing bowel disease as it works as a facilitator with other enzymes and substances to provide relief, and it also is an effective in treating osteoarthritis. A pineapple expert (yes, really) I spoke to even said drinking three glasses of freshly squeezed pineapple juice is enough to rid your body of parasites.

Aside from the amazing properties that bromelain holds, pineapples also have so many other benefits for our bodies!

  • Increases fat burning and help your body naturally detox
  • Is a great source of fibre, is low in calories and contains no fat or cholesterol
  • Helps relieve bloating and constipation
  • Relieves nausea
  • Reduces the risk of atherosclerosis as it can prevent fat deposits in the arteries and thrombosis.
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Treats intestinal worms
  • Asthma prevention
  • Regulates blood pressure
  • Prevents damage from free radicals
  • Helps treat colds and flu and can help thin mucus and treat coughs.
  • Delays the appearance of signs of aging
  • Helps improve fertility
  • Increases your resistance to infections
  • Strengthens bones
  • Improves elasticity of the skin
  • Boosts the production of collagen
  • Can help combat anaemia
  • Improves memory
  • Helps treat depression
  • Helps fight fatigue
  • Helps soften the skin on your feet and eliminate those skin cracks!
  • Helps protect gums
  • Improves eyesight
  • Helps relieve acne
  • Crushed pineapple wedges can be used as an effective natural exfoliating agent
  • Relieves arthritis and rheumatic disorders
  • Softens and strengthens the nails
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes

I’ve always been a pineapple lover and will include it in my meals and snacks wherever possible, and it’s a low-FODMAP fruit which is a major bonus! What I don’t understand is why it took me so long to learn about all these benefits. It’s not like the miracle fruit properties are new information, there’s evidence of pineapples being used a way back when to help fight a variety of diseases and ailments.

Turl1he fruit is native to Paraguay in South America but as the native people moved up through South and Central America then across to the West Indies, the spread of pineapple trees moved with them.  The pineapple was brought to Spain when Columbus discovered the America’s in 1493 and spread throughout the rest of the world by sailors. The sailors carried it with them in the hope it would protect them from scurvy due to the high levels of vitamin C contained in pineapples.

You have to have the timing just right when choosing a pineapple. Choose the pineapples that are free of soft spots, mold, bruises and darkened tips as that is likely to indicate that the pineapple is no longer at its prime ripeness. The pineapple expert I spoke to (in a conversation that was purely out of interest, not on official ‘WOE’ business) said a good way to test if a pineapple is fresh, ripe and of high quality is by tapping your finger against the side of the pineapple. If the pineapple is ripe and ready to eat, it will have a dull, solid sound whereas the poor quality or not yet ripe pineapples will respond with a hollow thud. (Truth! Give it a try!)

Pineapples_in_Ishigakijima,_Okinawa,_JapanA pineapple will stop ripening as soon as it’s picked therefore you don’t want to pick an unripe one in the hope it’ll be okay to eat in a few days. Give the end of the pineapple a sniff. If you smell a fragrant and sweet scent, it’s good to eat. If it smells fermented or sour, you’re probably going to want to get rid of that fruit….!

Once you’ve got your ripe pineapple, you should eat it as soon as possible as it will perish quickly. The quality of the pineapple will also deteriorate if you store it in the fridge for long periods. However, if you need to store your pineapple for a day or two, store the fruit either whole or cut into sections wrapped inside plastic wrap in the fridge for 1 – 2 days.

 

Warming Mid-Season Salads!

Iquinoa-405538_640t’s that time of year when it’s not quite as freezing as it was but it’s still not warm enough to be shedding the winter layers. I stare at my kitchen every day knowing I should make a warm hearty meal to get me through the cold nights, but desperately wanting a light spring salad to make me feel like the sun is shining and the air is warm. My indecision about seasonal eating has got me back into developing new recipes big time. Over the last few months I’ve slowly been experimenting with reintroducing a few foods again and one food I’ve gotten really into is quinoa!

I’d got quite into quinoa before I went paleo but as quinoa is a grain I cut it out completely while I was being a strict paleo follower.

IMG_3007Quinoa has so may health benefits – it’s high in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, contains (small) amounts of omega 3, contains all nine essential amino acids, is high in dietary fibre (almost twice the amount of other grains!), is low-GI, is one of the most protein rich foods available to us and that’s just to name a few. So basically it’s like a super food. A super-duper food. AND it tastes pretty darn good so it’s definitely worth incorporating into your diet.

Anyway, as I’ve occasionally added a little rice here and there to my diet over the last few months, I thought it might be nice to give quinoa a try.

IMG_3003I was really smart *note sarcasm*, I bought my quinoa, and was so excited about adding it back into my diet that I forgot to buy anything else to add to it. As it turns out that was actually quite lucky as it led me to develop this recipe! I rummaged around in my fridge and freezer and managed to pull together the ingredients that would become my quinoa, feta and orange salad.

I wasn’t sure if feta and orange would go together at first but wow, what a combination. I’m a fan! I used homemade chicken stock the first time I made this recipe and wow it really adds some brilliant flavour to the quinoa!

IMG_3004The recipe makes quite a decent amount so I ended up having the leftovers for lunch the next day and to add a little extra flavour to the reheating, I added a little mayo, and let me tell you, that was pretty special as well!

 

You can easily have this thing whipped out in half an hour and it actually works really well as warming winter salad or a cool BBQ side dish

I hope you enjoy!

Quinoa, Feta and Orange Salad

250g quinoa
1 3/4 C vegetable or chicken stock (preferably homemade and ensure there are no onions or garlic if you follow low-FODMAP)
½ cup feta chopped into cubes
¼ parsley, chopped into small pieces
2 oranges peeled and chopped into pieces
1 capsicum (peppers), chopped into small cubes
1 C cherry tomatoes, chopped into halves
¼ C pine nuts
Juice and zest of one lemon
3 T olive oil
1 tsp garlic granules (if you can tolerate garlic)
1. Rise the quinoa well then cook over a medium heat in the vegetable stock until tender (about 15-20 minutes).
2. Place cooked quinoa into a salad bowl and stir through parsley. Add chopped feta, oranges, capsicum, tomatoes and pine nuts to the bowl and toss until just mixed.
3. Mix olive oil with zest and juice of lemon plus garlic granules if using and drizzle over the salad.
4. Serve hot for winter or cool for summer – enjoy!

Zingy C ThickJuice

Winter is depressing. Everyone gets grumpy, you can’t leave the house without 500 layers of clothing on and you miss your daily dose of vitamin D. PLUS you don’t necessarily get all your other vitamins either because you’re not eating those light summery fruits as often because they’re not warm and hearty enough. Normally at this time of the year I’m tucking into berries and oranges and other great summer fruits, instead I’m keeping wrapped up in my warm blanket and keeping as warm as I possibly can. However, I’ve been increasingly craving lighter drinks – more juices rather than smoothies and preferably ones that give me a good Vitamin C kick, maybe to try and sweep away those winter blues!.

IMG_2791I was debating heading to my local juice bar the other day to get my fix and thought, why don’t I just make my own juice. Then I rolled my eyes, at myself, because I don’t own a juicer. Sad truths. BUT I do own a pretty decent blender. Why not make a thickjuice. Get it, like a thickshake but with juice!

So I headed to the vege store and grabbed a sad looking pineapple, a couple of lemons which looked equally as sad and the orange that have probably been imported from Florida (desperate measures… plus Florida oranges ARE amazing) and whipped up a pretty decent juice if I do say so myself!

Here I was, for the last few months being so sad that I can’t make really freaking awesome juices because I don’t own a juicer, yet I could have added a wicked twist on it by juice my fruit blender styles.

So, without further ado, here’s a refreshing way to add some zing, vit C and excitement into your juicing days.

Zingy C ThickJuice

IMG_28011 Orange
½ Pineapple (the riper the better)
1 lemon
decent handful of ice

  1. Peel the lemon and orange, remove all seeds and put in the blender
  2. Cut the skin off half a pineapple and cut the fruit into chunks before adding to the blender.
  3. Add the ice, or cold water if you prefer and blend together.
  4. After 45-60 seconds the fruit should be blended into a thick juice.
  5. It’s better chilled so you may want to pop it in the fridge for an hour or so. Enjoy!

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