Tuesday 7 July 2020

In Season this July: the Fruits and Vegetables of San Francisco

If you’re anything like me, you’d might really like to get your head around what seasonal fruits and vegetables to buy from the grocery store or farmers market, but maybe you’re not sure where to start?

We’ll let's learn together. After a little hunting, here’s what we should be looking for this month.


  • Apricots, Nectarines, Peaches, Plums, Pluots
  • Berries (Blueberries, Boysenberries, Mulberries, Raspberries, Strawberries)
  • Figs
  • Melons
  • Rhubarb


  • Artichokes
  • Avocados
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Green beans
  • Snap peas
  • Summer Squash

This brilliant list comes to you from SF Environment’s Bay Area Seasonal Fruit & Vegetable Guide.


Resources: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4807/10-Reasons-To-Eat-Whats-In-Season.html 


Tuesday 9 June 2020

High Salt Diets and Your Blood Pressure

What’s considered a high salt diet? 

Sodium, a mineral contained in salt, is necessary for your body to work properly and helps control many functions (U.S. National Library of Medicine). However, studies have shown links between higher salt intake and higher blood pressure, while reducing salt intake lowers blood pressure (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2020).

Dietary sodium is measured in milligrams (mg) and should be limited to 2,300 mg a day for adults, and 1,500 mg a day for anyone with high blood pressure or heart disease (U.S. National Library of Medicine). That’s about 6 grams of salt or about a teaspoon (U.S. National Library of Medicine 2020). 

Where does sodium pop up in my diet?

Managing your salt intake can be a little overwhelming, it’s used in (American Heart Association, Inc. 2020):

  • Processed foods
  • Natural foods with higher-than-average sodium content, including cheese, seafood, olives, and some legumes
  • Table salt, sea salt and kosher salt (sodium chloride)
  • Some over-the-counter drugs
  • Some prescription medications

How do I reduce salt in my diet? 

A heart-healthy diet is vital for helping to reduce high blood pressure and should emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins like fish, which are all naturally low in salt. 

Canned and processed foods, often contain salt to preserve color. If canned or processed foods do have salt, check the label for how much per serving. Look out for these words on labels (U.S. National Library of Medicine): 

  • Low-sodium
  • Sodium-free
  • No salt added
  • Sodium-reduced
  • Unsalted

It’s also a good idea to stay away from foods, which are almost always high in salt including (U.S. National Library of Medicine): 

Processed foods, like cured or smoked meats, bacon, hot dogs, sausage, bologna, ham, and salami

  • Anchovies, olives, pickles, and sauerkraut
  • Soy and Worcestershire sauces, tomato and other vegetable juices, and most cheeses
  • Many bottled salad dressings and salad dressing mixes
  • Most snack foods, such as chips, and crackers.

Some easy swaps

For cooking, see if you can replace salt with flavor! (U.S. National Library of Medicine) 

  • Try pepper, garlic, herbs, and lemon
  • Be sure to use garlic and onion powder, not garlic and onion salt
  • Add fresh or dried herbs
  • For dressings at home, use oil and vinegar on salads instead
  • Avoid foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG).

When eating out ask for steamed, grilled, baked, boiled, and broiled foods and try not to add additional table salt, enjoy the flavors, and the experience the chef presents. 

With love,

Want to learn more!? Additional resources: 

  • American Heart Association, Inc. (2020). Shaking the Salt Habit to Lower High Blood Pressure. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure/shaking-the-salt-habit-to-lower-high-blood-pressure  

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2020). The Salty Stuff. Retrieved from https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/sites/nihNIH/files/Special-Issues/Healthy%20Eating.pdf 

  • U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2020). Low-salt diet. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000109.htm

Monday 12 August 2019

What I'm thinking about this week: Nourishing Love

I have been listening to the audiobook recordings from Zen meditation Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s “The Art of Mindful Living”. It is an interesting, challenging, thought moving discussion where Master Hanh very reasonably lays out the consequences of not living mindfully, and some guidelines on how to get out of the mess. 

Image copyright of Amazon.com, Inc.

One of his teaching that struck me was Nourishing Love. 

Nourishing Love. The idea that not only do your actions and life nourish you, but does the way you love others and the way they love you nourish you? What he’s really talking about are healthy relationships, but what a wonderful Buddhist way to phrase it. 

Do your relationships and the way you love and are loved nourish you? In a family that is brittle, difficult, loving, passionate, it can be difficult and challenging to be the person who is kind, generous and listens. Wildly, he also speaks about active listening and how important it is to be mindful of others through really holding space and listening to what they have to say. This really hit me, because so often we run through life, cleaning the house while talking on the phone, texting while having dinner, eating in front of a computer instead of in front of friends, instead of being with our loved ones, instead of really listening and seeing them.  

When we spoke about this in my yoga class, it was really magical because you can narrow it down to two parts. On your mat, with your body, can you be present, kind and loving towards your body - weird and abstract to say, but when you have wild hurtful thoughts, or you push your body so much it hurts, can you take the edge off and just be a little kinder? And off the mat, where the real challenge is, can you nourish your relationships around you. Can you spend this week listening to your family? Can you pick one behavior that’s nourishing to focus on? 

I really loved this topic, because not only does it make me warm to say the words “nourishing love”  but it’s psychology. It’s relationships. It’s the accumulation of how you treat people every day, the little moments that make up a life. 

With love, 

Saturday 25 May 2019

What I'm thinking about this week: Coming into balance

One of my yoga students recently asked me for asanas (yoga poses) to treat tension in the jaw. She has a really busy and stressful job (sound familiar), and her jaw is a very uncomfortable place she really feels it. I honestly felt a little stumped! The jaw I thought... I mean... I can get into the neck, and massage the jaw, but asanas for the jaw muscles? But my yoga mind shrugged, "Sure, I mean, it's all connected right?"

Working with your body, deeply, with your strengths and limitations, with your injuries and broken pieces (physical, mental, heart, and soul) takes time.

It has taken your body weeks, months and even years to get where you are today, and like any good breakup, it will take time to get out of it, move beyond it, or create something new.

Over the past 12 months, and really for years off and on (talk about patterning), I have muddled through, like Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh, depression, anxiety and more recently deep heavy stress that feels simultaneously suffocating and isolating at the same time. It makes my body ache. My chest and breath hurt, my neck, shoulders, and jaw. Stress seems to be something you load into the body, a heavy weight, difficult to shift.

Over the past couple of weeks, I've felt that unless I want to send myself into an early grave - which I most certainly am at this level of busy, corporate work, and commuting (up to three hours a day), then something has to change.

So I'm doing three things:

  1. Once to twice a week I take an Epsom salt bath and read in the bath for 45mins. 
  2. I go to gentle yoga classes three times a week (Monday, Tuesday and once on the weekend). One of the classes I'm going to is Yoga at Grace Cathedral, which is a beautiful meditative, peaceful experience. 
  3. I'm going to acupuncture, which I've never really done before but after each session, I feel a deep sense of calm, like coming out of a luxurious nap on a Sunday afternoon in the sun. Plus it's an extra 45mins of meditating a week.

While none of these are earth-shattering and certainly don't take that much time or money, they are creating a feeling of balance. Restoring what is lost due to stress. And that tension you find in your jaw, creating all manner of difficulty from chewing to swallowing, could it be that they're also related to the stress you're holding in your body because of your daily habits?

So, just for today, just for this moment be patient with yourself. Give yourself time. Be kind. While it takes a lot of effort to do so in the beginning, even just 30mins more a week of quiet, takes us closer towards balance instead of away from it.

Do you have any practices that bring you more calm and less frantic stress?

With love,

Saturday 27 April 2019

Beginners Guide to Food Allergies

Big topic. If I could tell you three things it would be:

  1. Find a doctor, allergist, and nutritionist that you like and trust. If you don't trust your medical care and they're not listening, get a second, third and tenth opinion if necessary. I went through three allergists before I found Prof Pete Smith, who saved my life.
  2. Be proactive. If you're feeling unwell or having the regular flare-ups or reactions, something is not right. It's up to you to follow-up with the doctor, ask for the referral, ask for what to research. While doctors and specialists are wonderful and can literally save your life, no one knows your body like you do, and if you don't prioritize your health, then no one else will.
  3. Take someone with you to appointments. I'm not sure if it's the same for you, but when I'm tired, stressed, sick and having an allergic reaction, I can't remember anything. One of my biggest symptoms of bad reactions is actually short term memory loss. Knowing this, I always take someone with me and take notes, which I then throw into a google doc to capture all the notes from that specialist in the one place. I have a rotation of family, friends, and partner that I take to appointments, and while it can be uncomfortable to ask, allowing for that level of transparency in your medical treatment, actually means people can support and understand what you're going through because they're sharing the experience with you. 

And finally, remember to give yourself a mantra, a motivating, reassuring, mind focusing key. I remember times in my life where I could barely walk a block without needed rest, and one of the key things that made it bearable was this mantra: "This too shall pass". 

With love, 
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