Tips

What’s on your plate? Overcoming dietary judgment.

Many of us are becoming increasingly interested in knowing as much as we can about what is in our food. We are becoming educated about where our food comes from, how it’s grown and cultivated, and how it affects our bodies. Talk to any one person and you’re bound to find that the way they think about food varies from your own perspective. There isn’t one way to eat healthy. Some people opt for a vegetarian diet, others give up animal products all together and become vegans. Still others will eat chicken but not pork, or beef. The configurations are endless and people have different reasons for eating the way they do.

One of the downsides of this food awareness is dietary judgment. Some people think they are experts on what everybody else should be eating and will gleefully shame anybody who is not eating “right”. I think that regardless of any good intentions that these people have they are engaging in concern trolling. When somebody is concern trolling they use the guise of being concerned about the wellbeing of another person to shame them and be harmful to them.

I think it’s great when people find something that works for them, makes them feel better and empowers them. I have friends who follow various diets and from what I can tell they are happy, healthy, and at peace with their choices. I am nothing but happy for them. I like seeing people that I care about taking care of themselves and making choices that change their lives for the better. What I don’t have is the inclination to question their choices. If somebody wants your opinion about something they will ask you for it. Barring that you are just giving unwelcome and unsolicited advice.

But back to what’s on your plate, should anybody have the right to judge? My answers is a firm no.

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Why you should keep a gratitude journal

Life can suck and I am not one to dismiss the negative feelings I have from day to day. Being perpetually optimistic and happy is unrealistic to me. Tune into current events and you will see how much work we, as a society, have ahead of us. It can be a real bummer. I believe in venting about the bad in our lives, not necessarily in public for all to see (unless you want to) but in a way that helps you get it off your chest. That being said, I also believe that “there’s something good in everyday”. Everyday we have something to be thankful for, something that we can look to and say, “That was nice.” It might be those amazing pancakes you made for breakfast and didn’t burn, the unexpected but welcome phone call from a friend, a polite smile and compliment from a stranger, or even the mere fact that you got half of one task complete for the day. Whatever it is, this little something should be acknowledged and recorded.

Negative stuff, thoughts, interactions, feelings can take center stage in our consciousness to the point we don’t see all of the stuff that is right in our lives. We tend to block out the mountain of good with a freckle of bad. I know that I am guilty of this. If say, I get feedback from ten different people I will give much more weight (emotionally) to the one negative response. I try not to do this but it’s difficult not to dwell on that one person. Similarly, whenever I’ve had a bad anxiety day I feel negative inside and look at all things through this darkened lens.

By taking the time to process our day in a manner that looks for something good we will be inclined to find it. It gives us a different way in which to frame our day. Small pleasures, and seemingly inconsequential happenings take on new life when we view them through the lens of gratitude.

A gratitude journal can take many forms. Each entry can be a simple sentence, a short paragraph, a picture or photograph, a quote or even a memento. I’ve even seen it in the form of a large jar into which you drop small scraps of paper on which you write something you’re grateful for and on December 31st you pick them out and read them. It’s a great way to look back on the year. I have a small notebook and I am trying to scribble something in it each night before I go to bed. I find that keeping this journal is even more important to me when I’ve had a crappy day.

Today is Sunday and I am going to share what I am grateful for right here in this blog post. We spent the day at home today. It was raining and it just felt like the sort of day to spend home. Nothing about today sticks out except that we finally purged the outdoor closet. It was such a mess and we had things we didn’t even know we had. I had mentioned to my husband that we really needed to sort that closet out but we just never got around to it. Today we finally did. It was warm and humid out there so it wasn’t comfortable to haul all of that junk into the porch where we sorted through it. The end result is a closet that is now usable and an item checked off my list. Looking at our junk in another way, I am grateful to have accumulated it all with my husband. In the mess I saw remnants of repairs and remodels we’ve done to our house and I know that I am lucky to have a place of our own.

I can’t really commit to a daily journal per se but a gratitude journal is something I believe is good for me and my mental health, and it could be good for you, too.

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Five tips for a happy home

I am not an expert on other families but I am an expert on my family. Here are a few things that I believe make ours a happy one (most of the time).

  1. Start each morning with a sunny disposition. I wouldn’t say that I am a morning person but I am not a grump either. When you smile you feel better, so start your day with a smile on your face. When I go into Diego’s room each morning I greet him with a smile and a buenos dias. His day is starting off, too, and I want it to start off on a happy note.  As soon as I set him down he runs into our bedroom in search of his Daddy. This little morning routine feels powerful because we start our day together. This has changed a little in the last couple of weeks as Diego has been sleeping later and so he doesn’t always wake up in time to see my husband off.
  2. Show affection. I have noticed that Diego loves to see my husband and I hug and kiss. It just makes his little face light up. It makes me feel good, too. It’s so easy to shower your child with affection. Everyday I am cuddling and kissing Diego and it melts my heart when he hugs  or kisses me back. It’s equally important to be affectionate towards your significant other.
  3. Be grateful. Each night before going to bed I go into Diego’s room to check on him. A soft hand on his back to feel the reassuring rise and fall as he breathes and a readjustment of his blanket always puts me in a contemplative mood. This quiet moment always makes me feel a deep sense of gratitude. It’s not enough to be grateful, it’s also important to express it. Little things like having my husband thank me for doing the laundry, making dinner, or vacuuming the floor makes a big difference. He does this often and it makes me feel so good. Likewise I make sure to thank him for everything that he does for us. It’s nice to hear that we are appreciated.
  4. Little gestures. Any relationship can benefit from little gestures that show our love. This past week my husband hid little post it notes around the kitchen for me to find. That was such a fun little treat. It’s not an everyday thing but it’s so meaningful when he does this. I sometimes sneak notes in his pocket, car, or coffee mug. What we do everyday is check in with a quick text and in the rare occasion a video call.
  5. Communicate about everything. Finances, vacations, the latest gossip- all of these topics are things that should be talked about, just to name a few. I think it brings us closer to talk about the minutia of our lives. For more than eight hours a day my husband and I are not together. When he gets home he always wants to know what Diego and I got up to. I tell him with the aid of pictures and video. We then move on to work, what needs to be done around the house, and what is on the DVR.

I’ll be sure to come back to this post when I’m having a bad day. These five things are ones that I strive for every day but sometimes I fall short. On the days that I do, I dust myself off, apologize if I need to, and try again the next day.