Caitlyn Jenner's recent exposure in the public eye, where she came out to the world through a Vanity Fair photoshoot and interview has sparked a lot of discussions around transgender and identity across the globe. The new series, I am Cait, which follows the highs and lows of Cait's fresh experiences as a woman is not only emotionally-moving but incredibly inspiring. This leaves a lot of food for thought about the place of accepting all people within society, whether they are black, white, fat, skinny, tall, short, male, female or other.
The series really leaves the audience questioning their own place in society and how we are conditioned by roles, stereotypes and the expectations driven by the media to 'fit in' and meet expectations. This is a well produced, raw and confronting series which everyone should experience for themselves.
How often do we concentrate on the health benefits of food when it comes to deciding what to eat? Low carb, high protein, sugar-free...the list goes on and on. Although I am definitely for eating a balanced diet packed with vitamins and minerals, I believe that it's important that we chill out from time to time and eat for the pure sake of pleasure. Yes, you heard me, food can be all about the taste and not about the calories. Having this approach towards food, is, in my opinion, an integral part of healthy eating. When people overly stress over food and don't allow themselves to be present with their food, to simply sit and enjoy the sensations in their mouth, they are depriving themselves of pleasure. If food was entirely meant to be about the nutrition, flavour just simply wouldn't exist. It's there for a reason, so savour it. Why do we have cravings for certain delicacies? Why do we have favourite foods and food preferences? The simple answer is this - because we're human beings and we're designed with the innate intelligence to nourish our bodes.
Nourish means enjoying.
Sure, a chicken breast and mixed green salad can be delicious and I'd lie if I said I don't enjoy eating this. Yet to say that this is all I should eat, day in and day out, without making room for some indulging and enjoying other foods, would be a disservice to all the amazing food the world has to offer.
Food brings people together. Certain tastes capture certain memories, they trigger nostalgia and enhance our experiences. Food is an integral part of life and I'd go as far as saying a component to happiness. Have you been around someone on an extreme diet? They're not the best people to be around, am I right? Actually, they're best avoided until they come off the damn thing.
For those of you who know my story, you'll be aware that my long-time battle with anorexia and orthorexia stripped me of these simple pleasures and left me a shell of a person. I know first hand how important it is not to obsess over what you eat, as this has detrimental consequences on both your physical and psychological health.
So in summary, some times it's best to just shut up, drop the nutritional talk and sink your teeth into something for the pure sake of enjoying every mouthful. Whether this may be a bowl of veggies or fresh Italian gelato, is entirely up to your tastebuds and what, at that moment in time, fills the spot.
Photography by Bruce Tuten
I had an amazing time this weekend exploring Germany's 'eco capital': Freiburg. Click here to discover the best places to wine and dine for peanuts!!!
Are you happy? No, truly. Are you excited to get up in the morning and conquer the world with your 101 goals and dreams to fulfill? Yes? No? Perhaps?
Here's the thing: people's perceptions of what happiness is, differs just as much as people's levels of happiness. They're just so diverse.
So what does it mean to be happy?
The latest scientific research into the state of happiness, has focused on the characteristics that shape this so called sense of happiness. These primary factors are: overall level of satisfaction, social connections, family upbringing, health and then the external factors like career, wealth and marital status. From this, researchers have concluded that happiness is not what you might think it to be. It's not the idea of being overjoyed or pleased all of the time. Happiness is not to be considered a fleeting, short term phenomenon, although much of Western society's' conception of happiness is based on just that: materialism, career, having a long term partner.
This will burst your bubble: only 10% of the external factors like these, contribute to your overall sense of happiness.
Perhaps we need to broaden our approach to happiness to mean overall content, as this is where the research is pointing.
So how can you boost your happiness, right here, right now?
The first step is to realise that pursuing this notion of perpetual happiness is a false and lost cause. It's impossible. Our humanity itself calls for us to experience a broad spectrum of emotions: joy, sadness, anger, frustration, love and excitement. What scientists have pointed out through their extensive study across people who report high levels of happiness, is their understanding of this concept. The ability to put things into perspective, to acknowledge that we have our ups and downs, and to be resilient to an overarching doom and gloom
Mentality when times are tough, greatly shape a happier, healthier person.
What about diet and nutrition? This can be beneficial, but a balanced and nourishing eating regime alone won't result in high levels of happiness. Considering all areas of your life is the key. Here are some helpful tips to boost your happiness:
1. Meditate daily. This will enable you to better handle your emotions and shape a sense of mindfulness in all that you do.
2. Nourish your body. Whole foods should make up 80% or more of your diet. Don't be afraid to indulge. It's important not to restrict, but to find the balance that works best for you.
3. Socialise. Social connections are one of the greatest contributing factors to your happiness, which you can control. Lonely people aren't happy people!
4. Find a sense of purpose in what you do. Have goals. Share them with others, especially like-minded people. Excitement is the seed for long term happiness.
5. Be grateful. Practicing expressing gratitude will help you see the rose amongst the weeds. It will nourish your spiritual side and leave you feeling happy to be alive. This is best done through writing in a gratitude journal, for a mere 5 minutes a day!
Tell me below what you do to shape a sense of happiness, and whether or not you've tried any of the techniques noted above!
Thomas Grainger: www.thomasgrainger.info
Eating Disorder Recovery Book: www.eatingdisorderbook.info
Photography by: Patrick Lim
Presented by Thomas Grainger