3 Reasons to Avoid the Kid’s Menu and What to Do Instead

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What if the common restaurant kid’s menu was never invented? What if parents ordered right off the adult menu, asking for a side plate to share “grown-up foods” with their kids from the moment they were learning to chew? What would happen?

  1. Kids would be exposed to a wide variety of textures, aromas and tastes. Research shows that exposure to new foods is the first step to raising healthy eaters.

  2. Kids would explore new foods, no matter which restaurant they visited.  Exploring new foods, essentially food play, has been shown to decrease the likelihood that kids will become picky eaters.  Food exploration doesn’t have to be messy play. It can include cutting into green beans and counting each tiny bean inside, or learning about shapes with parents handing over round slices of zucchini or triangles of spinach frittata. Exploring food is mindful, purposeful and has the intent of creating interest, not just filling bellies.

  3. Kids would expand their food repertoire over time, as they grew and experienced new restaurant menus. While purees are a nice start for learning eaters, children who linger on purees past the age of 9 months are likely to develop feeding difficulties. Kids who rely on the standard kid fare of chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese or French fries, never venturing from a kiddie menu, get stuck in a kids’ meal rut, with no direction on how to climb out.

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How Being Flexible Can Help You Avoid Burnout

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A few days ago, I was reminded of the importance of the art of mental flexibility in order to avoid stress.

One of the many reasons people feel stressed out is that life changes when they don’t want it or expect it. It is the surprise change that throws the careful routine out the window. People then tense up, trying to restore what was, without being opened to the change and the possibilities it could bring into their life.

I consider myself quite good at being flexible and I believe it to be true for the most part. But sometimes, we need a reminder.

For the past 10 years, we have led a gluten, milk and egg free life, due to a lot of food allergies running in the family. While it had been a huge initial adjustment at the time, and it had continued to be extremely restrictive for us, we had found a routine that worked. We had adapted.

Then a few weeks ago, the doctor suggested that the kids should be re-tested for their allergies and the way to do that was to re-introduce in their diet the offending foods for a couple of months and have test done again at the end of the period.

Needless to say, the kids were ecstatic. Finally they would be able to eat like everybody else and enjoy the foods they had been missing out on – pizza, cupcakes, cheeseburgers – the first few days were a teenager dream.

However, I had a completely different reaction. I felt overwhelmed by the idea of all the changes needing to happen for this to work: Double food preparation, (Not everybody in the family is being re-tested), change in shopping patterns, getting used to using those ingredients again, … The list went on and on.

While in theory, I could see that it was a very positive move, I was really struggling with the change emotionally.

Why? Continue reading

Why Real-Life Love is Worth the Struggle

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It has been said that you craft a relationship by practice, practice, practice. It does not just happen. In fact, 80% of couples choose to stay together after adultery in marriage. Monogamy is a conscious decision.  Divorce is not an option or exit for those who have reached real-life love. Their mindset is different. Their mindset is we will make it work! It takes discipline to be married happily.

Adultery is now higher for women than it is for men. Career women may see life without a spouse as palatable because of the burnout they feel from carrying most of the responsibilities alone. Social networking after work pulls apart the intimacy and connection between a couple. People can look up old sweethearts and eulogize those memories. This makes them feel younger and fancy free.

There is no conflict or conflict resolution needed. Polite marriages are higher in adultery because they lack conflict which gives us passion. The bored are looking for the pizazz of first love, but are searching for it in the wrong place. No one knows that with better imagination and ingenuity you can have an affair with your own partner.

For those who claim monogamy is not natural to humans, studies suggest that married people have better health, sex, wealth, and happiness. Women in relationships feel more sexually satisfied after 15 years together. The longer a couple is together the more sense of kindness returns later in life—similar to the way the relationship was in the courting period. 

This is real-life love and if you’ve got there you’ve traversed the power struggle it took to get there. After you conquer the power struggle stage you have more respect for each other. When you reach real-life love, you accept each other as you are and you are better for it. You have grown together as improved individuals.

Here are some tips for reaching real-life love: Continue reading

Green Shoots in a Desert Kingdom

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Although fears over our planetary woes make headlines and keep people up at night, it should be apparent that finding solutions is about our mindset. The mindset of dread contributes to passivity and depression. Recently I encountered a mindset that holds promise because it combines consciousness-awareness raising with technology. The green shoots of a viable future were evident to me in the desert kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Ever since its oil wealth gave it tremendous leverage over world economics, the Saudi kingdom has faced a fork in the road, deciding between an old feudal social order or an unparalleled opportunity to serve as a laboratory for engineering the future. My contacts were with the Saudi elite—I went there to give workshops in self-awareness—and it became apparent that they are inspired to solve the country’s challenges with a strong focus on education, the younger generation (60% of the population is under thirty), job creation, and wellbeing.

It was the last topic that involved me the most. After 9/11, I became deeply concerned with the radical dichotomy of the Muslim world, where a struggle had emerged between tradition and the postmodern world, that is, between a more rigid religious authority, and a future-minded youth who wanted to look out on the wider world integrating Islam with a global focus on science and technology.  It’s no longer a question of which side should win but rather how to integrate tradition with a global economy and an emerging Zeitgeist of respect for cultural and religious diversity. The biggest challenge facing the Saudis is how to create a moderate, economically secure middle class that can stand for modern values and simultaneously for Islamic ideals and Arab culture. Continue reading

Intent of the Day: Time for Friendship

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Time and experience can tell you that you are definitely able to find yourself alone even in a crowd of people. A city can be just as lonely as the most isolated cabin on the most isolated mountaintop if you aren’t connected and known by people who matter to you.

So often we can assume a lack of effort on another’s part as rejection on ours, but perhaps it is time to consider that we hold the keys to our own happiness and connection.

“I always assume you’re busy.”
“Why did we ever fall out of touch?”
“We think about you all the time, we just assumed…”

Many of us are operating out of assumptions that stop of from reaching out.
We assume someone else is busy.
We assume we’re forgotten.
We assume people have better things going on.

All this assuming has left us tired and disconnected and so, whether we are busy or not, we want to make time to reach out. We want to make time to stay up-to-date with the lives of those who matter to us. We intend to make time for friendship.

You too? Here are some permissions you have when making time for friends: Continue reading

Like Me, Do You Get the Urge to Do Spring Cleaning? Here Are Some Areas I Plan to Tackle.

One of my great realizations about happiness (and a point oddly under-emphasized by positive psychologists) is that for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm. More, really, than it should. After all, in the context of a happy life, a crowded coat closet is trivial. And yet over and over, people tell me, and I certainly find this, myself, that creating order gives a huge boost in energy, cheer, and creativity.

So I’m a big believer in the value of clutter-clearing.

Also, I’m a big believer in using outer milestones as a catalyst for action or change. Whether that’s New Year’s day, September (the other new year), my birthday, or a holiday, I think it’s helpful to be reminded that I might want to make changes in my life. (Yes, Questioners, I know you think that January 1 is an arbitrary date. Noted.)

So spring, for me, is a reminder to think about spring clutter-clearing. I’m not inspired to do deep cleaning like window-washing, carpet-cleaning, or anything like that. Spring reminds me to tackle nagging clutter build-ups.

I look for places where I tend to stick things and forget about them. Do you have this problem? For me, I’m looking at these areas: Continue reading

Intent of the Day: Tough Questions

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We don’t always associate questions with hard work. We think of sweat, exercise, building, almost anything other than questions but those can be some of the hardest to face. When we ask ourselves the tough questions, there is no place to hide. We can also prioritize everything else above our own reflection time, but there is so much that can feel our of whack when we haven’t taken the time to really examine our real feelings and hopes. It doesn’t appear that there will be a convenient time to ask, so we’re going to set an intent to make the time. We intend to ask ourselves the tough questions.

You too? Here are 3 reasons you should too: Continue reading

The “New Old Age” Just Got Better

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For at least two decades we’ve been living with a drastic revision of growing old. What is now dubbed the “old old age” prevailed for centuries; it was a set of beliefs that turned the aging process into inevitable decline physically and mentally. After a lifetime of work, people found themselves set aside, no longer productive or active members of society. Generation after generation these expectations came true. But everyone trapped in the old old age was mistaken to think such expectations were inevitable. Hidden factors were causing beliefs to turn into reality.

The “new old age,” created by the baby boomer generation, threw out the previous beliefs, exchanging them for more optimistic ones, and by now we’ve grown used to a set of readjusted expectations. Millions of people over 65 haven’t retired, and few have taken to the rocking chair. To be healthy and active one’s whole life seems possible. But as much good as the new old age has done, it faced two major obstacles. The first was that aging itself has long been a mystery, not explained by medical science because too many changes occur over a lifetime, and these changes vary from person to person.  The second obstacle, assuming that aging could be defined, was how to reverse it.

An enormous leap forward in overcoming both obstacles was made by Elizabeth Blackburn, the molecular biologist who shared the 2008 Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine with Carol Greider and Jack Szostak for their discovery of telomerase, the enzyme that replenishes a section of DNA known as telomeres, which cap the end of each chromosome like a period ending a sentence. Telomeres are “noncoding” DNA, meaning that they have no specified function in building cells, but they are far from passive. Their function seems to be to preserve cells. Every time a cell divides, which happens constantly somewhere in the body, its telomeres are shortened. Longer telomeres are typical of young cells in the stage of luxuriant growth; shortened or frayed telomeres are typical of weary senescent cells.

Now the head of the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, Blackburn covers every aspect of cell aging and renewal in her 2017 book, The Telomere Effect, co-authored with her close colleague, UCSF Professor and health psychologist Elissa Epel.  They convincingly describe telomeres and levels of telomerase in the cell as our best marker yet for the multifold process of aging. This also implies that by increasing one’s telomerase levels and thereby causing telomeres to grow longer, a healthy lifespan can be founded on cells that keep renewing themselves for decades.

In their book Blackburn and Epel cite a startling actuarial prediction. There are currently around 300,000 centenarians existing around the world, a number that is rapidly increasing. According to one estimate, reaching one hundred is about to become so commonplace that one-third of children born in the UK will live to be centenarians—the issue of protecting your cells is suddenly more urgent than ever.  We highly recommend reading Blackburn and Epel’s book–its wealth of information needs to be absorbed in detail. But the bottom line is to understand what puts your telomeres at high risk and low risk. Continue reading

Intent of the Day: Eat with Intention

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We spend a lot of time discussing the mind-body connection, but today we want to focus on the body half. Whether we want to or not, we have to slow down to eat eventually. It is in this simple and basic act that we can help or hurt ourselves, make or break a day. To begin, when we rush through eating, we can eat without realizing how our body is affected. When we skip eating, we deprive our body of vital nutrients to make it through the day. When we binge, we flood our body with excess, making us lethargic and heavy. Prolonged habits can cause lasting damage and much of it can be traced back to eating without fully connecting to the act. Today we want to start a different habit. We will eat with intention.

You too? Here are 3 things to help you do the same: Continue reading

Intent of the Day: Know Who We Are

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There is so much that makes a human. Muscles, nerve endings, water and blood. On top of your skeleton is a lifetime of experiences, things you’ve heard about what is normal, what you could and should be. They build up and tear down your stature depending on the day. Layered beyond that are our hopes and dreams, what we might become with a little luck and a lot of sweat.  This self will come across circumstances, people and opportunities, good and bad, that shape it further. As a result, it may be hard to tell the difference between what is you and what isn’t you. There may be parts of yourself so long buried just waiting for you to reclaim them. So, if your life feels like shoes that don’t fit just right, like you’re wearing someone else’s life, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate the things you’re counting as you.

We intend to know who we are.

You too? Here are 3 things to help you do the same: Continue reading

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