23+ wellbeing things. No. 9 – You are what you eat

It appears that someone got creative and scheduled parts 10 and 13 ahead of part 9, but we’re happy to roll with it and bring you the parts you might have been searching for over the last few days now!

Spicy chicken salad

Eating well has long been honoured as a sign of self-respect.  Good nutrition underpins everything from the way you feel physically and mentally to the proper function of your immune system.  While this might be more of a challenge if your store cupboard supplies have run low, leftovers, odds and ends and things that are stale but not yet mouldy make for great eating with just a little ingenuity. 

The British Heart Foundation have some tasty and simple recipe ideas, including how to salvage slightly stale bread, the BBC offer student recipes on both their Good Food and Food websites (not sure what they are trying to say about the latter set of recipes there), while Eating Well hosts a huge number of pantry tips and recipes to inspire you to get cooking.  Given the variety of ingredients some of these recipes require, it seems doubtful that you will ever want to cook any of the particular recipes exactly as they describe them.  Just remember that you can substitute anything you have at hand for ingredients you do not have.  Some people end up with an entirely different meal by the time they have finished delicately substituting one thing for another and that’s just fine!  The only thing that matters is that you enjoy what you eat and that you eat as much of a variety of different foods, including wholegrains, fruits and vegetables as you can.

Making the most of your food

Eating regularly, taking the time to chew and enjoy your food, and sipping plenty of water while you eat all help you digest your food more easily and get the benefit from it.  “Eating is meditation” as a wise man once put it.  Be in the moment with your lunch, enjoy every mouthful, engage your senses and sink your mind into your body.  Be one with your meal while it lasts.

Keeping wet inside

By the time you start to feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.  Thirst is your body’s alarm bell ringing to tell you that you are already stiffening up in all the wrong places, feeling worse and thinking less clearly than you would if you were sipping water.  The usual response is to upend a can of energy drink into yourself and carry on.  The minor drawback of drinking a lot in a short time, particularly a lot of a chilled drink, is that it then tends to rushy through the body without touching the sides, prompting an urgent trip to the toilet.  The body absorbs drinks best that are sipped regularly over time and are close to body temperature.  That means that the best hydration you can get is from a bottle of tepid water.  Water is also available on tap, while energy drinks currently require outpacing the competition in the supermarket so as to arrive at the last remaining cans two metres ahead of the competition.

Culturally, most of us have learned an aversion to room temperature drinks – either hot drinks that are almost cold or cold drinks that have warmed up but it’s a preference that’s easily changed when you just want to focus.  Let your hot drinks cool a little, and choose water from the tap or from the non-chilled tap at the water fountain ahead of when you need it so it can warm up on your desktop and then sip it gradually over time.

While water is best, all watery drinks are good, tea and coffee included.  Only alcoholic drinks actively dehydrate you, just one more reason why they leave people with a hangover including dry mouth, stiffness, sickness and headache the morning after the night before.  Still, self-isolation is a great time to detox and cut out all the drinking.  More seriously, drinking alone is generally held to be a bad idea and you are likely better off without it.  Just serve your water up in a colourful glass or add something to make it more interesting, from a lemon slice to a teabag.

Assistant Librarian (Promotions) at the University Library. An enthusiastic advocate of libraries, diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice for all, inside and outside the workplace.

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