A Cup(ful) of Loving

Heart-brooch
This lovely heart brooch was made by Angela Cuthill at artysmarty

It was Valentine’s Day yesterday. The hearts, cards, chocolates and everything else for Him and Her has been in the shops’ windows for ages, since early January. The red hearts and roses and everything else is screaming at you from shop shelves, ads on TV and radio; special books and films coming out, CDs or singles being released, etc. It’s all coming out of your ears, there’s SO much of it, absolutely everywhere and you can’t escape it! Or maybe you don’t mind at all. You not only don’t want to escape it, you also can’t wait for another excuse to buy your loved one some flowers or chocolate or have a whole Valentine weekend. I wish you happy Valentine’s Day for yesterday and I hope you had a lovely and happy day (evening and night included) and that you are still enjoying a lovely Valentine weekend with your loved one(s).

I say it only today, a day later, because Husband and I have been disgustingly busy and haven’t had a moment free to ourselves. So we spent our Valentine’s Day travelling on a train home very tired and grumpy, but still very loving to each other. Then we zombied out on the sofa with loads of tea, a mind numbing book and telly.

But being overwhelmingly busy doesn’t mean we didn’t appreciate each other or express our love and gratitude for each other. I told him in advance not to get me anything or do anything special because I wanted to protest against all this retail and money spending circus (just my grumpy opinion – you don’t have to share it). And I told him not to expect anything on the day slimming products. The day before or after is fine, just not on the actual Valentine’s Day. Why? Well, because I think we should express our loving feelings to our loved ones anytime and any day and not on demand and when we’re told to by retail or radio or TV or advertising companies.

So I do just that whenever I feel like it. And so does the Husband. A random card, or loving words or flowers or chocolates/biscuits or whatever it occurs to either of us, or something small and insignificant act of loving for each other. And then it’s a wonderful surprise. And it’s treasured just as much, if not more.

Having said all that, we both apologised to each other for not getting anything for one another. He bought a little box of heart shaped biscuits and I bought a silly little card for him. So much for not being part of the Valentine ‘madness’ crowd!Cupf-of-Loving

And now that there’s still some of the Valentine’s weekend left, I’ll go and spend it with him.

How did you spend the Valentine’s Day and the weekend? Do you have little rituals or random things you do throughout the rest of the year and then ‘protest’ on the day?

Happy Valentine’s for yesterday and what’s left of the Valentine’s weekend!

This ‘n’ That in the New Year

UNION-JACKIEThe New Year of 2015 is now well on the way and so many things have already happened. I planned a little post about my Great British Christmas, as Valentina has asked for the details. If anyone else wants to read about it, from a Balkan point of view let me know and I’ll happily oblige, even though that theme is (a bit) passé now.

I hope you all had a good break and spent the holiday time with your loved ones. And that there were no ‘big explosions’ (somebody’s glass usually gets overfull around that time when the family are gathered).

It was getting rather overwhelming before and after Christmas and also immediately after the New Year, so I decided to take a break from social media, lay low for a while and gather my thoughts (no, I wasn’t wool-gathering!).

I have been following some Balkan blogs over the past two years. Some of them are beauty and lifestyle blogs and some are different; more of a … venting kind. Where bloggers vent their feelings about the everlasting sorry state of Croatian/Balkan lifestyle in a perpetually bad economy. One could say that I’m looking back to my roots…

As Nigel Farage is now in the UK Parliament (Thanet Constituency in Kent) and vocal about his views, I started thinking about the fact that I am an immigrant myself. Then Charlie Hebdo events reminded me that I grew up in a time when freedom of speech was unheard of in our part of the world. And that that still might be the case. So I decided to write a bit about the UK from my ‘immigrant’ point of view.

Because there are plenty of great people here and in other countries who are also immigrants for one reason or another. We started new lives in our new ‘abodes’ and we contribute to our new country. I love the UK and this is where I feel at home. I want to write about why I love it here, from the point of view of somebody who’s grown up in the Balkans (might as well be Mars).

Do you know an immigrant? Are you one?

Chicken with Lemons and Olives

I rarely follow recipes when I cook. Even when I’m inspired by a recipe, I improvise massively, and just put in the pan whatever I reach for and think might taste good. We used to say as kids ‘what would happen if …’, so I ask myself if my meal would taste OK, or even better, if I put a little bit of x into y. So, I put all sorts of this and that into what I’m cooking, it turns out pretty delicious (Husband’s words not mine!) and he’s left guessing what’s on his plate.

Rijetko kuham po receptima, a cak I kad kuham inspirirana nekim receptima, masovno improviziram i strpam u recept stogod mi padne na pamet. I znate ono kad se djeca (nekadasnja) zamisle i kazu ‘ŠBBKBB (što bi bilo kad bi bilo…)’ ako dodam X u Y? Tako i ja kad kuham – i  onda ubacim svasta nesto, pa kako ispadne i onda Muz pogadja sto jede!

However, as I mainly cook northern Mediterranean style – which is what I grew up with – I followed this North African recipe pretty much to the letter, especially as The Husband is lurking nearby and he wants it ‘just so’ (although he usually eats whatever he’s served, because he’s absolutely starving from the wait!)

Medjutim, kad znam da nisam bas vicna u receptima nekih drugih zemalja, slijedit cu recept uglavnom kako pise; pogotovo ako je Muz u blizini i ja kuham ovako nesto ukusno, onda je i njemu stalo da se drzim recepta (inace on pojede sto mu se god servira, jer je jadan toliko gladan od cekanja!)

What do you do when you have some lovely fresh organic or preserved lemons, brown or black olives, full spice rack, lots of fresh ginger and coriander in the fridge and the cupboards? This is one of my favourite recipes from my frequently used Mediterranean cookbook I decided to share with you. Thank you to Zubin blog for inspiring me after I emptied some of the dusty corners of my cupboards.

Sto napraviti kad imate friske ili prezervirane limune, crne masline, policu punu zacina, friskog djumbira i korijandar u spajzi? Ovo je jedan od mojih omiljenih recepata iz moje omiljene kuharice koji sam odlucila podijeliti s Vama, inspirirana Zubinim blogom, te praznjenjem spajze i/ili kuhinjskih ormarica.

Chicken with Lemons and Olives
From: Mediterranean Cooking by Jacqueline Clarke and Joanna Farrow, Hermes house, 2003
“Preserved lemons and limes are often used in Mediterranean cookery, particularly in North Africa where their gentle flavour enhances all kinds of meat and fish dishes.”
I used the quantities as in the recipe which are enough for 4 people. There were only Husband and I for the evening, but there was plenty of leftovers for some more (light) meals later in the week. We stored the sauce in a glass container separately from the chicken.
So here is the recipe:
2.5 ml / ½ tsp ground cinnamon /cimet
2.5 ml / ½ tsp ground turmeric /kurkuma prasak
1.5 kg /3-3½ lb (pounds) chicken / kokica
30 ml/2 tbsp olive oil /maslinovo ulje za kuhanje
1 large onion, thinly sliced / veci/veliki luk
5 cm /2 in piece fresh root ginger, grated/ naribanog cimeta
600 ml/ 1 pint/ 2½ cups chicken stock
2 preserved lemons or limes, or fresh ones, cut into wedges /ukiseljena ili svjeza limuna ili limeta izrezanog na kriske
75g pitted brown olives – I used pitted black olives in brine in/from a jar / crne/smedje masline bez kostica
15 ml/ 1 tbsp clear honey
60 ml/ 4 tblsp chopped fresh coriander
Salt and ground black pepper
Coriander sprigs to garnish
Tbsp = tablespoon
Tsp = teaspoon

LEMON-&-OLIVE-CHICKEN_spices LEMON-&-OLIVE-CHICKEN_spices-2

Preheat oven to 190°C/ 375F/ Gas mark 5. Mix the ground cinnamon and turmeric in a bowl with a little salt and pepper and rub all over the chicken skin to give an even coating. (Imagine you’re in a beauty salon and you’re giving your chicken a facial with gorgeous smelling creams etc. You’re enjoying yourself immensely with relaxing music and so is your chicken!)

Pregrijte pecnicu na 190°C. Pomijesajte cimet i kurkuma/indijski safran u posudi s malo soli i papra i utrljajte dobro u kozicu po cijeloj kokosi. (Zamislite da kokica lezi kod Vas u beauty salonu dok joj Vi njegujete kozu najdivnijim I najmirisnijim preparatima uz relaksirajucu muziku I u tome uzivate I Vi I Vasa kokica!)

Note: wash your hands REALLY well after chicken facial (handling your chicken) like you would after handling any raw meat or fish. Use forks or other handy utensils for your next step (putting your chicken into the pan) or WASH YOUR HANDS AGAIN if you’re doing it with your fingers!
Chicken_facial-2Chicken_facial-1Heat the oil in a large sauté or a frying pan and fry the chicken on all sides until golden. Transfer the chicken to the ovenproof dish.
Add the sliced onion to the pan and fry for 3 min. Stir in the grated ginger and the chicken stock and bring just to the boil. Pour over the chicken, cover with lid and bake in the oven ‘sunbed’ for 30 min.

Zagrijte ulje u tavi i isprzite kokicu na svakoj strani dok ne pozlatni. Prebacite tako zapecenu kokicu u tepsiju. Dodajte narezani luk u tavu i przite/kuhajte 3 min. Dodajte naribanog (ili sitno nasjeckanog) djumbira i kokosju juhu (kocka rastopljena u vodi) i promijesajte. Kuhajte dok ne prokljuca. Maknite s ‘plamena’, prelijte preko kokice, poklopite posudu / tepsiju (moze i s aluminijskom folijom, ako Vam je tepsija otvorena) i strpajte sve u pecnicu (citaj solarij!) na 30 min.
Tanned_chickenAdded_ginger Chicken_bath_prepChicken_se_toca
Remove the chicken from the oven and add the lemons or limes, brown olives and honey. Bake uncovered for 45 more minutes, until the chicken is tender.

Izvadite kokicu iz pecnice, dodajte limun ili limet (zeleni limun) izrezan ‘na barcice’, crne masline i med. Pecite nepokriveno jos 45 min dok kokica ne omeksa.

Lemon_honey_olives_cry-faceOven_stage1

IMPORTANT:
To check that the chicken is thoroughly cooked, use a skewer or a knife and pierce deeply through the thickest part of the meat (needs most/ longest cooking). If the meat is thoroughly cooked, the juices will run clear, NOT PINK. You can also use a thermometer. When the temperature reaches 75°C, it is thoroughly cooked.

VAZNO: Provjerite da je meso dovoljno peceno cistim nozem ili vilicom, ubodite u najdeblji dio mesa/kokice. Ako je ‘sok’ bistar, a NE roskast ili svijetlo crvenkast, meso je dovoljno kuhano. Ako imate ‘termometar za kuhanje’, opet ubodite kokicu u najdeblji dio, gdje bi temperatura trebala doseci 75°C ili vise.

Oven_stage1_results

Stir in coriander and season to taste. Garnish with coriander sprigs and serve at once. I usually have couscous, bulgur wheat, rice or boiled potatoes, and green beans or peas with it, but obviously you can eat it however you like. Buon appetite!
Coriander_spices-3Oven_stage-2_resultsUmijesajte nasjeckani korijandar. Zacinite i dodajte malo korijandara na vrhu po zelji. Servirajte odmah. Ovakvu kokicu najcesce jedem uz kuskus, rizu, bulgur ili kuhani krumpir. Sto se tice povrca, grasak ili mahune ili sto god mislite da bi islo uz to. Ako Vam se ne jede povrce uz ovaj recept ne morate, kako god Vam pase. Dobar tek! 🙂

Serving_suggestion

If the whole chicken is too much for one mealtime, separate the remaining meat from the bones and put the meat and sauce in separate airtight containers in the fridge. I prefer a glass bowls or jars with good lids, but plastic boxes will also work – or whatever else you have. Store the meat and sauce in the fridge as soon as they have cooled. I eat my chicken leftovers within 3 days.

SAFETY:

Surfaces: clean well before and after, use separate surfaces for meat and other types of food.
Tools: knives, cutting boards etc. – use separate ones for meat and veg.
Amounts / aliquots of sauce to reheat: aliquot it before reheating. Make sure it’s reheated thoroughly (reheat the daylights out of it!). Same for the chicken, reheat only once. So, only reheat what you will eat.

What are your favourite lemon recipes (I don’t mean baking with lemon)? Have you tried this or similar recipes? Share your experience of cooking with lemons!

Koji su Vasi omiljeni recepti s limunom? Kuhate li s limunom (ne mislim na pecenje kolaca) ili samo koristite limunov sok? Podijelite Vasa iskustva i/ili eksperimente!

Black Friday

colourful-bags I don’t think the UK had a Black Friday before 2013. I asked The Husband where the name Black Friday comes from. He said it must have something to do with accounts and banks: if the state of the account is good, black ink is used; and debt is typically written in red ink. Of course, it means retailers’ accounts, not consumers’ accounts. Then I googled it, and discovered it has something to do with Philly cops during the 1950s and 1960s and the problems they were facing with pedestrian and vehicle traffic on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Today’s start was a ‘cheerful’ one for me by hearing the ‘surprising’ (not!) news on the radio about the shopping disasters around the country. Mustn’t miss the 6 o’clock news tonight: what fun, I thought, to watch shopping madness and ‘rioting’ around the country from the comfort of my own living room!

The word ‘black followed by a name of a day sounds a bit dark and pessimistic to me. Especially if I think about shopping. Am I the only one who feels like this? Shopping and I have a love-hate relationship dating back to my ‘socialist’ childhood. I remember seeing newsworthy queues in front of small local food shops before they opened. My older cousin and I would queue for milk and bread in one shop. Our granny for something else in a second shop, and my mum and uncle for yet other essentials in a third shop.Roblox Robux Hack 2017

I remember standing in one queue for bread and my cousin (3 years my senior) in another queue for milk. When my queue came half-way towards the bread counter, a nice lady standing behind me suggested I go ahead and ask if they ran out the bread I needed to buy, so I wouldn’t waste my time and stand in the queue for nothing and she would save my place in the queue. Off I went, only to be told off by a very scary and unpleasant (to a little girl) ‘older’ man not to be trying to jump the queue because he wasn’t born yesterday and how dare I even think about trying such tricks! I got rather scared and got back to my place in front of the nice lady who was very cross with the ‘bully’ man, but decided not to do anything about it because things could have become ugly. What a character-building experience!

My cousin came back from her queue and waited with me because I must have looked rather frightened, so her protective instincts squashed the ‘beat up the younger annoying sister/cousin’ instincts momentarily (because siblings with that age difference always fight at least until they are well into their teens). The bread we wanted was sold out, so we went into a third queue to pay. For a usually ‘obnoxious’ older cousin, she was really nice that day (or at least for that part of the day!).

shopping-bags-and-legsI somehow can’t see myself queuing for a flat screen TV or whatever else at stupid o’clock and then stampeding around, or being stampeded over, just to get a bargain. I think if I did that, I’d turn into a very ugly shopping monster flattening whomever happened to be in my way. Don’t come between The Bitch and her bargains, or else!!! I know I’d get like that, and that would take any joy out of shopping for me and anyone who is with me, or anyone who happens to have the misfortune to cross my path. I like my shopping experience to be a treat and not a battle for life and death. I taught myself to shop differently and remove any stresses I could from shopping. And I am not judging those who do.

I’ll go bargain hunting throughout the whole year to try to avoid any sales stresses, monsters and stampedes. I usually find the best bargains when I least expect it and sometimes in surprising places. We try to only replace things if they’re broken or well past their ‘best-by’ date (I don’t mean food!). Husband puts it very nicely by saying that the sales are days when things are more realistically priced. I think he’s right.

If you like your Black Friday and other sales, make sure you’re fit, well padded, mentally and physically prepared and that your peripheral vision is 20:20. Maybe footwear with steel-capped toes and a helmet, too. And a mini First Aid kit just in case. Luckily not all sales are as bad or newsworthy.

I’ll be writing another post about shopping and sales with no character-building memories, with more fun and wonder when I discovered shopping in the UK as a newly arrived immigrant from the Balkans. Until then, I wish you good luck with your shopping and bargain hunting, Christmas presents shopping, etc!

Omnia mea mecum porto / All that’s mine I carry with me / Sve svoje nosim sa sobom

Sparrowhawk_eating_on_guardThis is supposed to be an uplifting / ‘keep your chin up’ post. I don’t want it to be understood as a ‘soli mi pamet’ post.

If any of you have ever seen the film Leap Year (rom com) with Amy Adams and Mathew Goode, you might remember that question about the fire alarm and the most precious thing you would take with you. Even if you haven’t seen it, maybe you have asked yourself this question?

We are born into this world with nothing but ourselves – a tabula rasa. We die and leave this world with nothing, but lots of knowledge and memories and feelings (hopefully not many regrets) if we’re lucky enough not to get dementia or Alzheimer’s. We don’t get to choose where and what we are born into. But we have some choice in what we become and what we acquire.

A lot of people lost everything. How do we define everything? What do people mean when they say: “…lost everything…”? Lost all that was acquired in (part of) your lifetime, or over however many generations? Everything, including yourself?

You don’t lose the survival instinct. You don’t stop fighting for yourself and your loved ones. You may have lost your every possession, but you can still read and write. You still have your knowledge, experiences, imagination, sense of humour, ideas and yourself. Yes, YOURSELF. If you think about organ trade, ask yourself how much you would pay to replace any one of your organs that stops functioning for any reason. You may function perfectly or not, but you still fight. You don’t give up. You keep going.

And even if you get tired, with a bit of luck, someone will be there to give you a hand and help you along. It’s up to you to take that help. And it’s ok to stop and recover your spirits. In any way you can.

Evolution (Ooops, I said the “E” word!)

You know the phrase: “Uzdaj se u se i u svoje kljuse” (Just me and my [faithful] old nag)?

I’m a biologist. So I look at things in a ‘biological’ way. Evolve. Change. Adapt. You survived and got this far. Trust yourself. Trust your instincts. Trust your gut. Freeze any other shit out and listen to yourself. Earth is alive and the ground shifts under out feet, literally and figuratively. Land on your feet as often as you can.

Having studied biology, I often like to observe anything and everything. It gives me great comfort to watch a little snail glides across the table outside with its little eyes looking at everything around it. And to watch the birds fight with each other for food, territory and partners. And I watch how the creatures eat. In a park. In a garden. Sparrowhawk having raw ‘English breakfast’ in my garden. Anywhere, really. I like to observe the two-legged ‘wildlife’, too. (Yes, I mean humans!) The principles are pretty much identical. Can you guess where I’m going with this? I’m getting there.

Watching wildlife like that focuses on life in its rawness and I can get an important message out of it. I don’t need a lot to be happy. And I mean truly happy and satisfied. If I lost everything tonight, I would still have me. I would be in an absolute state, but I would still have me. And if I’m to stay ‘here’ for longer, I would have to use what I do have and adjust it to help me survive that loss. I’d have to evolve – quickly. Because I would have no other choice. And if I didn’t evolve, I’d ‘get eaten’. By a sparrowhawk or whatever else ruffles my feathers (pun intended).

A door closes, a window opens. If the old ways don’t work anymore, try coming up with new ones. Spread your wings. Think outside the box, beyond limits, because what more have you got to lose, if you already lost everything. And if you haven’t lost yourself, then you still have something vital.

Remembrance

Hat_poppy_1914-2014When I first moved to the UK, I wondered why everybody wears a little poppy flower in November. Then I found out about #Remembrance Day. To be honest, I don’t think that we have a Remembrance Day in the Balkans as such. A pity.

I like that there is a time like that in the country I now call home (UK). I like it that the Brits remember and WANT to remember. People talk about it, about their and our past, passing it down through the generations. It needs to be talked about. It needs to be remembered. How else do we, younger generations, learn and choose a right path for ourselves and change our futures for the better? How would we pass the knowledge down to our children and grandchildren, together with the (harsh) lessons learnt from all the wars in our past?

I remember loving history and enjoying every moment of historical museum trips so much so that I would visit the exhibitions just by myself or with my father who explained how the guns exhibited would have been used. I read as many books about WWII as I could get my hands on as a child, which wasn’t many, but I reread them. Time and again.

Then times changed in the 1990s. I was growing up and reading about anything but the World Wars. Because another war was everywhere around me: in the newspapers, on TV and radio, on the faces of refugee teens who became my classmates…

I like remembering the past from ‘before my time’. Not only because I can learn from it through lives of other people still living, but because it makes me put things in the right perspective. It makes me appreciate everything I know and have today as an individual, as a part of a community, as a descendant of my grandparents and parents who were not so lucky and who suffered great losses during and after the wars.

I was very happy to come across a lovely book called “Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe” by Simon Winder in a local charity shop the other day. I bought it and started looking for some others on the Internet by some great authors who wrote about those times. I look forward to a good pot of tea, maybe some cake to go with it (if I’m good) and a good read herbal slimming pills.

I heal through remembering and take my hat off to the ones who gave their lives so we have a better today.

Watch Consumed (2015) Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Surprising meetings

You know when you meet somebody you have never met before and you just click? Like a key in a lock; like an enzyme with its substrate. Just perfect meeting of minds and tempers. You don’t meet people like that very often, at least I don’t have that fortune. But I met somebody like that very recently. It was really unexpected because the purpose of my travel and meeting was business.

I almost forgot the power and amazement of such a feeling of a ‘perfect fit’.

When that person you meet feels like a mirror of a large part of your ‘brain’, when your thoughts are travelling in parallel and you both find yourselves saying to each other: ME TOO!!! with smiles wide enough to split your faces in two. It was such an unexpected pleasure, such fun and I felt we could never stop talking. Simply put, it almost felt like our brains were having intellectual sex! I got the impression that our sense of humour and understanding of things were really similar and we could talk forever and a day. And even after we said our goodbyes before catching our own transports home, we continued texting. I couldn’t wait to tell The Husband about it, and share the happiness with him. The only downside to something like that happening is when it’s late and I’m still so happy, hyper and super-excited about it that I don’t feel like sleeping at all.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Without meaning to sound like a stalker, I really look forward to our next meeting / drink/ cuppa. I am looking forward to exchange of ideas, experience, learning new things cultural and anything else that pops into our next conversation. Further conversations may not leave you (almost) euphoric, but you will feel happy talking about everything, nothing and just being with a friend like that. You’ll learn from each other and undoubtedly grow as individuals. Your brains and thoughts will feed off each other in a good way.

Events like that are beautiful my latest blog post. They should be appreciated for what they are – rare and special.

Have you ever felt like this?

Food for Thought

Like many people, I have a few extra kilos. Between 2010 and 2012, I ‘collected’ some more and reached about 70kg. And I’m a fairly small person (163 cm). So I could really feel gravity at work, pulling my stomach, bottom and lower back towards the ground. Of course the extra kilos don’t ever go where I would want them to – on my boobs. I had a bit of a backache (lower back) and my shoulders were slouching. I looked pregnant and definitely wasn’t.

In fact, in 2011, while on holiday, I met a lovely and friendly hotel maid – a Serbian lady working far from home to provide for her family. We chatted nicely on a few occasions. She once congratulated me and asked when I was due. As in: when do I expect my baby to be born… So I smiled widely from ear to ear, waved my hand and just said: “Oh, I’m not pregnant, I’m just fat!” She was embarrassed, but I really wasn’t offended and thought it was really hilarious. We had a good laugh together at my expense. You mustn’t take yourself too seriously. Trust us Balkans to think something and come right out and say it! *laughs loudly and snorts by accident* They do it in a more subtle way in the UK, but that was one priceless moment I will treasure forever. I was giggling for the rest of the day. (This really DID happen.)

But, all jokes aside / šalu na stranu. My wardrobe was half full of clothes I couldn’t fit into (not past my thighs, anyway), and the other half was filled with clothes I was nearly bursting out of (my intestines and stomach felt awkwardly displaced). So, you can imagine the hubby’s reply to I need some more clothes: “But you have sooooooo much to wear!!!” And I was looking only at my face in the mirror.

I still kept thinking about my Dad (died in 2010). And my uncle, his non-identical twin died (2005). And pancreatic cancers that killed them before time. And how excessive weight around my vital organs isn’t helping my prospects….

1961 Michelin Guide to France

1961 Michelin Guide to France

Walking up the stairs, felt like climbing the north face of the Eiger. I had to stop halfway up and have a rest. I was out of breath. I was tired and sluggish for various reasons, but my extra Michelin tyres didn’t help. I kept saying that I really want to lose some weight and get fit and healthy. And no fad dieting. I had to do it right. I knew I had to be in it for the long haul. Not like very familiar words of somebody I know well: “Od sutra sam na dijeti (I’m on a diet from tomorrow)!” I used to hear that often in my childhood.

All of you know that diet is serious stuff. And I don’t mean the fad (a few weeks/months) diets that don’t really solve anything and can even make things worse. Food we put into our mouths affects so many things, starting from our digestion, immunity, mood changes (friendly, with unpredictable doses of ‘THE BITCH has arrived!!!!’), hair, skin and nails, concentration, body odour… I could go on forever…. It’s about my life and my lifestyle, not a fashion trend of size zero and heroin chic.

And it all starts in the head. With your brain and thought processes. Because, if you want a change to be permanent and transform your life, you have to come up with a really god strategy that works for you. You have to know yourself, your faults and your strengths, your habits, emotions, reasoning and above all you have to be honest with yourself. You have to love yourself and forgive yourself, because you’re only human.Why we eat

Over the years I’ve watched a lot of health programmes on telly, something that probably help me gain my tyres in the first place! But it’s not as simple as that, as I was reminded of a few years ago in a lecture from the ‘obesity clinic people’ in Cambridge <a href="http://www.cuh.org.uk/addenbrookes/services/clinical/ims/obesity/obesity_index.html" onclick="__gaTracker('send', 'event', 'outbound-article', 'http://www find out this here.cuh.org.uk/addenbrookes/services/clinical/ims/obesity/obesity_index.html’, ‘http://www.cuh.org.uk/addenbrookes/services/clinical/ims/obesity/obesity_index.html’);”>http://www.cuh.org.uk/addenbrookes/services/clinical/ims/obesity/obesity_index.html

I talked to somebody from where I used to work who went on a diet and lost a lot of weight and looked fantastic. I also talked to another lady who had a surgery done (a gastric bypass, I think). And then I talked to my stepmother-in-law. About all this. And more.

So I took a lot of thoughts from these programmes, and people I knew and started going way back with my food issues. Memories. Feelings. Habits. Adopted and inherited, consciously or subconsciously. I wanted to get to the bottom of my problem and work out a strategy for myself, to change things effectively and change my lifestyle permanently. To be healthier and happier, and hopefully live longer.

 

How and where we eatI asked myself:

  • When and why do I eat? When I’m hungry, thirsty, sad and depressed or bored? Sometimes I feel like I’m hungry, but I’m actually thirsty, so when I have a drink, the hunger feeling goes away.
  • What do I eat on these occasions? Good and healthy stuff or any shit I can get my hands on, like: crisps, chocolates, biscuits and such ‘delicacies’?
  • How do I feel before and while I’m eating? Am I stressed, angry or doing something I shouldn’t be focusing on (like eating at my desk while working on the computer)? How did I feel after I ate? Satisfied for a second and then wanting to binge of my favourite junk? Or do I feel happily full and my appetite sated? What was the benefit of that meal? Comfort, ‘inside hug’ or acquiring nutrients? How long does the ‘happy feeling’ inside me last?
  • How do I eat? Chew slowly and enjoy every mouthful or gobble it up because I’m in a hurry or I do I just eat fast for no reason? Are all my senses employed and enjoying the eating experience?
  • Do I snack and when? Am I keeping it a secret?
  • How varied or boring is my menu? Eating the same stuff during each season?
  • Where do I shop? Supermarkets, markets, health food shops or a bit of everything? (Of course this depends on budget and the availability of shops and foods.)
  • Am I hungry or not when I’m food shopping? I tend to choose a lot of meaty and fishy things if I’m shopping hungry!
  • What are my eating patterns? Do I eat regularly or do I not eat (because I don’t feel like it, for whatever psychological reason) and then binge on something (usually some sugar/salt/ butter loaded junk mentioned above)?
  • What is my food history?
    • And my role models – good and bad? For cooking and eating.
    • What are my memories and earliest experiences? Of certain foods and meals and the atmosphere while eating? Is an unpleasant feeling or memory causing me to avoid some foods or eat only certain types of food and nothing else?
    • What are my traumatic food experiences? Yes, I have those, too.
  • And let’s not forget the all important bowel movement! How often, how much, shape, colour and consistency. I’m not joking. *shrugs shoulders / slegne ramenima and smiles apologetically*
  • And since I mentioned the bowel movement, I shouldn’t leave out the kidneys, either. Am I hydrating myself = drinking enough? Or is my urine concentrated, because the water needs to reabsorb back into the body? (Kidneys are your filters, so make it easy on them and drink enough!)
  • What do I drink and how much? Water, juices (home-made or bought), coca-cola, tea (with or without sugar/honey), fizzy drinks?
  • And how much alcohol you drink and how? Binging some days? (I rarely drink alcohol, so I nearly forgot about that one).
  • What do I buy to eat? Ready meals, tinned food or raw and fresh or frozen ingredients? Or a combination of those?
  • How do I prepare my food? Steam, fry, deep-fry or overcook it until it’s all dead? How much time do I have to prepare it, if any?
  • When and where do I eat breakfast – the most important meal of the day?

What and when we snackWhat we buy and how we prepare it

Answers to the above questions provided me with a wealth of information. I knew what I was dealing with, how I needed to tackle it and approach my lifestyle change and what I needed to change.

If you remember at the start of the post, I said 2012. It’s now 2014 and I’m still at it. I was in a really bad place and shape when I started my lifestyle change. But I didn’t expect miracles. It’s been a long road to recovery. I had my moments of frustration and impatience, but I persisted. I hope your journey and your changes go well. And remember to take small steps. Know your goals. Don’t start your journey with a run and stop halfway through. Be patient. Take your time, making GRADUAL changes, allowing you body to adjust. You will get there eventually. Love your body, the temple of your soul and it will reward you.

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