How to Fix a Healthy, No-Fuss Buddha Bowl

Know what a Buddha bowl is and what goes in it? Dietitian Anna Taylor, MS, RD, LD, CDCES, explains this simple concept that’s known by many aliases — bliss, glory or nourish bowl — just to name a few.
Why all the bliss and glory?
Because the recipe for buddha bowls couldn’t be easier. Plus they bring everything together that could ever make your belly happy.
You just cook each option separately (if needed) and leave them to chill in the fridge for a bit. Then layer up your ingredients for a super-quick meal that really packs in the nutrients you need each day. 
“With the right ingredients, you can’t go wrong,” Taylor says. “Buddha bowls are always good — and good for you, too.”
Build your base
Your entire bowl should start with about 1 cup of cooked grains. Regardless of what you put in, overall you’ll want your ingredients ratio in these recipes to be about 25% grains, 50% vegetables, 20% lean protein and 5% herbs, spices and toppings.
Go for the grains
Start by cooking up some healthy grains and letting them chill. Some really good-for- you grains to consider in your buddha bowl base are:
Udon noodles.
Quinoa.
Brown rice.
Veg out
You can get a great big portion of your recommended daily veggie requirements in with one of these bowls, so don’t be shy and really go all out with this part! Just sauté them in olive oil — or add them raw at the end. Consider these fresh, cooked and cooled healthy options to really embolden your buddha bowl.
Broccoli.
Carrots.
Arugula.
Beets.
Spinach.
Cauliflower.
Pack in the protein
Your buddha bowls can be vegetarian or contain meat or seafood, and it’s up to you. Foods like tofu, fish, beans, plant proteins and lean white meat add plenty of nutritional benefits to your buddha bowl. Consider these, using about ½ cup: 
Tofu.
Shrimp.
Edamame.
Chickpeas.
Leftover roasted chicken.
Kidney beans.
Tuna.
Don’t forget good fats
The fresher and nuttier, the better with all of these foods that give you a burst of healthy fats. Use between 2 and 4 tablespoons of any of these :
Avocado.
Sesame seeds.
Cashew nuts.
Pumpkin seeds.
Tahini.
Spice it up
Here’s where it gets fun and really, anything goes. Brighten up your bowl with zesty spices, fresh herbs and fun flavors:
Cilantro.
Fresh chopped ginger.
Minced garlic.
Chili flakes.
Fresh or dried basil.
Scallions.
Get a little saucy
Top it off by drizzling some super-charged flavor over the top with these homemade healthy sauces:
Pureed cilantro with a squeeze of lime and olive oil.
Peanut butter and squeeze of lime.
Basil pesto with pine nuts and olive oil.
Lemon squeeze.
Taylor emphasizes, “If you follow this guide, no matter what buddha bowl you create you’re sure to make your belly happy and your whole body healthy. And you’ll be fueled up for the rest of your day.”

8 Vitamins & Minerals You Need for a Healthy Immune System @ClevelandClinic

Who doesn’t want a healthy immune system? (Raise your hand. No one?) But did you know the role your diet plays in keeping it in top shape to protect you from toxins and infections?
Sadly, too many of us don’t eat enough of the fresh fruits, vegetables and other foods we need to keep ourselves healthy year-round. Healthy foods provide many substances including vitamins and minerals to keep us strong and healthy. You can’t just eat an orange or grapefruit or pop a vitamin pill and expect one quick burst of vitamin C to prevent a cold and to boost your immune system.
“A truly healthy immune system depends on a balanced healthy diet over time,” says registered dietitian Maxine Smith. “It’s like training for a battle and preparing your body ahead of time so it can through a good punch when attacked by viruses, bacteria and toxins. Other lifestyle practices such as regular exercise and good sleep will better prepare you for the battle.” 
With some exceptions, it’s best to get your vitamins and minerals from your food rather than in pill form. Smith shares some tips for some of the top vitamins and minerals your immune system needs to perform:
1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C may help prevent infections or shorten their stay. Citrus fruits are a standout, but did you know there are other good sources? It’s true! Smith recommends the following:
Spinach.
Kale.
Bell peppers.
Brussels sprouts.
Strawberries.
Papaya. 
Fun fact: vitamin C is in so many foods that most people may not need to take supplements unless a doctor advises it. Consult with your doctor before taking any vitamin C supplements.
2. Vitamin E
Like vitamin C, vitamin E can be a powerful antioxidant that helps your body fight off infection. This important vitamin — part of nearly 200 biochemical reactions in your body — is critical in how your immune system functions. To get your vitamin E, think high-fat plant foods such as:
Almonds.
Peanuts/peanut butter.
Sunflower seeds. 
Oils such as sunflower, safflower, and soybean oil.
Hazelnuts.
3. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is an infection-fighter and comes in two forms: preformed such as in animal foods such as fish, meat and dairy or from plant carotenoids. Tuna is a great source of preformed vitamin A. When it comes to carotenoids, go colorful
Carrots.
Sweet potatoes.
Pumpkin.
Butternut squash.
Cantaloupe.
Dark green leafy vegetables.
4. Vitamin D
Known as the sunshine vitamin, it’s one of the most important and powerful nutrients for supporting the immune system. Food sources are limited but include:  
Salmon. 
Mackerel.
Tuna.
Sardines.
Vitamin D fortified like milk, orange juice and cereals. 
In general, it’s best to get most of your vitamins from food, but vitamin D may be the exception to that rule. Talk with your doctor to find out if you need a supplement. 
5. Folate/folic acid
Folate is the natural form and folic acid is the synthetic form, often added to foods because of its health benefits. To get more folate, add more beans and lentils to your plate on a regular basis, as well as leafy green vegetables. Avocado is another tasty source. You can also get folic acid in fortified foods (check the label first).
Enriched pasta.
Enriched bread.
Enriched rice.
6. Iron
Iron, which helps your body carry oxygen to cells, plays a part in many of the immune system processes. It comes in different forms. Your body can more easily absorb heme iron (aka iron from animal products), which is abundant in:
Red meat (limit to smaller amounts and less often).
Chicken.
Turkey.
Canned sardines.
Oysters.
Clams.
Mussels.
Canned light tuna.
If you’re a vegetarian, have no fear. You can still find iron in:
Beans.
Broccoli.
Kale.
Iron-fortified cereals.
7. Selenium
Selenium seems to have a powerful effect on the immune system being important for preventing infections. Animal foods are the best sources, with the exception of Brazil nuts, that offer a whopping greater than 100% daily value in one nut. However, too much can be a problem, so keep to no more than one to two of these in a day. Look for selenium in: 
Seafood (tuna, halibut, sardines).
Meat and liver.
Poultry.
Cottage cheese.
8. Zinc
Zinc is needed for the production of new immune system cells. It’s found primarily in animal foods but can be also found in some vegetarian food like.  
Oysters.
Crab.
Lean meats and poultry.
Baked beans.
Yogurt.
Chickpeas.
Choose frozen when you can’t get fresh
Depending on where you live and what time of year it is, you can’t always get your hands on high-quality fresh produce. Keep in mind that buying frozen is a good option and can be quite convenient in our time-crunched world. Frozen food can still boost your immune system. 
“Manufacturers freeze frozen fruits and veggies at ‘peak’ ripeness, which means they’ll pack a similar nutritional value as their fresh counterparts,” she says. “Just choose plain frozen foods rather than those with added sugars or sodium.”​


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How to Fix a Healthy, No-Fuss Buddha Bowl

Know what a Buddha bowl is and what goes in it? Dietitian Anna Taylor, MS, RD, LD, CDCES, explains this simple concept that’s known by many aliases — bliss, glory or nourish bowl — just to name a few.
Why all the bliss and glory?
Because the recipe for buddha bowls couldn’t be easier. Plus they bring everything together that could ever make your belly happy.
You just cook each option separately (if needed) and leave them to chill in the fridge for a bit. Then layer up your ingredients for a super-quick meal that really packs in the nutrients you need each day. 
“With the right ingredients, you can’t go wrong,” Taylor says. “Buddha bowls are always good — and good for you, too.”
Build your base
Your entire bowl should start with about 1 cup of cooked grains. Regardless of what you put in, overall you’ll want your ingredients ratio in these recipes to be about 25% grains, 50% vegetables, 20% lean protein and 5% herbs, spices and toppings.
Go for the grains
Start by cooking up some healthy grains and letting them chill. Some really good-for- you grains to consider in your buddha bowl base are:
Udon noodles.
Quinoa.
Brown rice.
Veg out
You can get a great big portion of your recommended daily veggie requirements in with one of these bowls, so don’t be shy and really go all out with this part! Just sauté them in olive oil — or add them raw at the end. Consider these fresh, cooked and cooled healthy options to really embolden your buddha bowl.
Broccoli.
Carrots.
Arugula.
Beets.
Spinach.
Cauliflower.
Pack in the protein
Your buddha bowls can be vegetarian or contain meat or seafood, and it’s up to you. Foods like tofu, fish, beans, plant proteins and lean white meat add plenty of nutritional benefits to your buddha bowl. Consider these, using about ½ cup: 
Tofu.
Shrimp.
Edamame.
Chickpeas.
Leftover roasted chicken.
Kidney beans.
Tuna.
Don’t forget good fats
The fresher and nuttier, the better with all of these foods that give you a burst of healthy fats. Use between 2 and 4 tablespoons of any of these :
Avocado.
Sesame seeds.
Cashew nuts.
Pumpkin seeds.
Tahini.
Spice it up
Here’s where it gets fun and really, anything goes. Brighten up your bowl with zesty spices, fresh herbs and fun flavors:
Cilantro.
Fresh chopped ginger.
Minced garlic.
Chili flakes.
Fresh or dried basil.
Scallions.
Get a little saucy
Top it off by drizzling some super-charged flavor over the top with these homemade healthy sauces:
Pureed cilantro with a squeeze of lime and olive oil.
Peanut butter and squeeze of lime.
Basil pesto with pine nuts and olive oil.
Lemon squeeze.
Taylor emphasizes, “If you follow this guide, no matter what buddha bowl you create you’re sure to make your belly happy and your whole body healthy. And you’ll be fueled up for the rest of your day.”

Recipe: Grilled Halibut and Asparagus With Herb Sauce

A heart-healthy accompaniment that works for flounder and ocean trout, too

In this dish, we grill hearty, delicious halibut along with tender asparagus. The bright, zesty sauce combines fresh parsley and cilantro with shallot, lemon and red pepper. Though this dish is loaded with beneficial plant nutrients and nourishing fats and protein, the flavors are what your guests and family will love.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 a shallot, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
4 4-ounce pieces halibut, flounder or fluke fillet, about 3/4 inch thick

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the parsley, cilantro, oregano, shallot, lemon zest, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of the oil, 1/8 teaspoon of the salt, the black pepper and the red pepper flakes.
  2. Heat the grill to medium-high.
  3. Drizzle 2 teaspoons of the oil over the asparagus, and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon of the salt and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Toss well.
  4. Rub the fish with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt.
  5. Grill the asparagus for about 3 minutes, or until tender and charred. Grill the fish for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until opaque throughout.
  6. Serve the fish with the asparagus, and spoon some herb sauce over the top.

Nutrition information (per serving):

Makes 4 servings 

Calories: 255
Total fat: 13 g
Saturated fat: 2 g
Protein: 27 g
Carbohydrate: 12 g
Dietary fiber: 3 g
Sugar: 3 g
Added sugar: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 170 mg

Recipe developed by Sara Quessenberry for Cleveland Clinic Wellness.

Ways to be Happy & Healthy in 2020:

I heard on the radio this morning that the top new year’s resolution amongst Irish people is to become healthier. As someone who’s had cancer this year, I can truly attest to the old adage of “your health is your wealth”;

I’m not a health “guru” or life coach or wellness warrior. I’m a normal GP with a normal life but I do think I have learned some things in my 32 years about what truly living healthily looks and feels like. Good health can generally be summed up as good physical health, a healthy social life and psychological or mental wellbeing.

I feel like I’ve lived two very distinctly different lives – one unhealthy and one which is now thankfully much better. As a junior doctor I was pathologically sleep deprived. Working up to 100 hours a week for 7 years took its toll on my physical and mental health.

Due to work demands I was socially isolated; this isn’t conducive to good mental health. My physical health wasn’t good; stress, lack of sleep and overworking meant I had a number of problems; a knee injury from regularly walking for 24 hours non–stop on call, regular IBS flares resulting in hospitalisation, kidney stones from dehydration…..and unknowingly having cervical cancer and sarcoidosis. I was sick. In every sense of the word.

Now I am healthy. That’s a bold statement but I believe it.

So in this blog post I’ll share some tips for being healthier in 2020…

1. Sleep.

The main reason I’m healthier now is because working in general practice means I can sleep at night. Sleep is the single most important thing that’s turned my life around. Sleep deprivation is linked to depression and anxiety, obesity (due to an increase in the hunger hormone ghrelin), dementia and cancer. I often think the reason I got cancer is because of 7 years of chronic sleep deprivation. I can’t prove it of course but I knew what I was doing to my body wasn’t right.

If you want to make one change for 2020 to be healthier, make sleep a priority. Aim for 8 hours a night. Look up sleep hygiene for ways to make sure that you get a good, restful night’s sleep. I’m fitter, healthier and happier now than I ever have been and I owe a lot of it to sleep.

I know some people can’t get 8 hours a night. Small babies, long commutes and shift work mean it’s sometimes physically impossible. I’ve been there myself. But any small steps you can take to improve your sleep will make you healthier – physically and psychologically.

2. Movement

I’ve always loved to move. I love being physically active. Exercise is like a miracle cure. It helps reduce risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer, obesity and depression. When we exercise, endrophins that mimic the activity of morphine are released. This has a calming effect. And the beauty of exercise is that all we have to do is put on shoes, walk out the front door and put one foot in front of the other.

You don’t have to engage in a fitness program or join a gym or buy fancy gym gear. (By all means do this if you want to though!). I’ve always found it easier to just aim to move more. Go at your own pace. Do what you enjoy. Do it when you can; and don’t beat yourself up when you can’t. Life is busy. Sometimes there isn’t enough time in the day. There were times when I was working a 24 hour shift and I’d see fitness people on Instagram telling me “no excuses” and “make time”. Well, for normal people with normal lives, families, commitments and jobs, there sometimes simply isn’t time. And that’s ok too. Move when you can; small things like taking the stairs or maybe a walk during lunch hour with a colleague can make a difference.

Remember that there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes. If it’s raining (which it’s highly likely to be here in Ireland), put on rain gear and go. And also be safe in the knowledge that cold weather doesn’t cause a cold!

I enjoy going to the gym. I don’t set targets. I’m not strict with myself on it. But I do notice myself getting fitter and stronger over time. Consistency will naturally lend itself to progress. So do what you can when you can and you will see changes slowly creep in.

3. Positive Connections

Psychological wellbeing is a core component of health. As is a good social life. Who you surround yourself with impacts your health. Whether it’s people in real life or on social media, nurture connections that make you feel good and valued. Disconnect from people or situations who leave you feeling bad or anxious. Life is too short to maintain connections with frenemies. Do what you have to do for a happier, calmer, healthier you.

4. Gratitude

Being thankful for what we do have as opposed to being uneasy about what we don’t have goes a long way when it comes to mental wellbeing. Every night I get in to my bed without a bleep I’m thankful! You’d think the novelty would have worn off by now but it still hasn’t. The promise of uninterrupted rest still fills my heart with joy.

I’m also thankful for my physical health; I’m thankful that my body can move and can LIVE! I’m thankful for Peter and the joy having a life partner brings. I’m thankful for being able to get up and have a coffee in the morning. I’m thankful I’m still alive and can walk on a wild Irish beach and inhale fresh Atlantic air. There were times when I was going through cancer treatment I didn’t know if those things would be taken from me forever. I think of my late sister who can no longer experience these things. I’m grateful to be alive. I’m grateful for all of the simple yet wonderful things in my life.

5. Positive thinking 

I know this can seem like quite an abstract thing to practice but I’ve definitely become a more positive and optimistic person as I’ve gotten older. My biggest “Ah hah moment” of the decade was realising that the core skill for coping with adversity is being optimistic. I’ve learned positive thinking from Peter who is unshakably optimistic! Something that’s also helped me with optimism is written reminders. I write a to-do list everyday. This usually includes things like “take out bins”. But at the top of the list every single day I write “let go of negativity” and “don’t ruin a good today because of a bad yesterday”. I’ve been doing this for about the last 6 years everyday without fail and I really believed its helped me think in a more positive way. Some days it resonates with me more than others. But its always there and it’s most powerful on days I need it most.

6. Work place

We spend so much time at work that it’s bound to play a critical role in our wellbeing. I feel profoundly fortunate to love what I do. Being a doctor doesn’t feel like work to me. It’s not what I do. It’s who I am. (I struggled for a while with inextricably linking my profession with my identity but I now see that it’s a positive thing for me and I’m very comfortable with it).

If you’re unhappy in your workplace make a change. Of course you can’t just hand in your notice and walk away. But plan an exit strategy. It might take a few years to make a transition but when you know there’s an end in sight you’ll feel less drained by a job you don’t enjoy. I disliked being a hospital doctor. But I knew it would be for a finite amount of time. There was always the goal of general practice at the end. That kept me going. Plan your exit and aim towards it. Even if it will take years.

7. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good

This mantra has been something I’ve lived by a lot more in 2019 and I plan to bring it in to the next decade with me. I’m pretty sure perfection doesn’t exist so chasing it is setting yourself up for failure (failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing but you know what I mean). In 2019 I threw myself in to situations in which I maybe wasn’t fully prepared but I did it anyway. And it helped me grow and learn. I do my best. I strive to do things well. But I don’t seek perfection. I’ll be doing more of this in 2020.

8. Supplements

This is something I’m asked about day in and day out! If you want to take something in 2020, ask your GP to check your vitamin D and vitamin B levels. Take those if you need them and if there’s proof you’re lacking in them. There’s no health benefit from blindly taking a multivitamin. Find out what you need and take that. Probiotics are good for IBS. Evening Primrose Oil can help with cyclical breast tenderness. Biotin can help with nail and hair growth. Vitamin B6 can help with PMS. Don’t take something that an influencer is being paid to tell you has changed their life. (Lauren Goodger literally agreed to promote cyanide).

Take these things in a focused way for your own individual needs. If you’re interested in taking something like a supplement ask your GP about it. Ask if there’s scientific evidence for it. And make sure it’s safe with any other medicines you take.

9. Cancer screening

Get your smear test if it’s due. Attend breast check if you’re called. Screening saves lives. It certainly saved mine.

10. SPF

Wear SPF 30-50 on your face daily. Without fail. It will help prevent wrinkles and skin cancer. Your face in 20 years will thank you for it.

11. Detox

Your liver and kidneys will do this for you. Next.

12. Diet

If you’d like to lose weight I recommend not doing quick fixes or 12 week programs. Speak to your GP and or a dietitian who can help you with weight loss done in a sustainable and healthy way. Starvation and being miserable isn’t sustainable. Healthy weight loss is. Aim for health. Not to fit in to jeans or to be skinny for a wedding. Aim for health and a healthy weight will follow. Sleep also helps with weight loss. It helps regulate the hunger hormone ghrelin so the more sleep you get the less likely you are to overeat.

I want my diet in 2020 to be more plant based. The more I read the more health benefits I see. I’m a slow burner and I make changes over time. So I’ll gradually make more plant based choices and will hopefully reach vegetarian status eventually.

13. Sustainability

I have two flights booked to The US for 2020. I will not be sailing across The Atlantic like Greta any time soon but I will be more mindful about my carbon footprint going in to the next decade. In 2019 I ditched petrol starting coffee cups and converted to a reusable bamboo cup for my morning coffee. I plan to go electric for my next car. I’ll do my best to play my part for a better environment for us all.

14.

I have no number 14. But I’m not finishing on 13.

Good health is multifactorial. Identify the areas you want to do better in. Nurture them slowly. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Dr. Doireann.x

 

Recipe: Nutty Steel Cut Oats With Fruit

Cleveland Clinic
@ClevelandClinic

Upgrade your breakfast with steel cut oats. They’re freshly milled from high protein oats make a delightful, full-bodied hot cereal:

Ingredients

¼ cup steel cut oatmeal
¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon fresh strawberries
1 tablespoon fresh blueberries
1 teaspoon toasted walnuts, chopped
½ teaspoon honey

Preparation

  1. In a medium-sized pot, add almond milk and oatmeal.
  2. Bring to simmer; stir until oatmeal is thick and creamy – about 20 minutes.
  3. Serve with your favorite fresh berries, sliced bananas, or toasted walnuts, and almond milk.

Nutritional information (Per serving)

Makes 1 serving
Calories: 210
Total fat: 6 g
Saturated fat: .5 g
Protein: 7 g
Carbohydrate: 34 g
Dietary fiber: 5 g
Sugar: 4 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg

Source: Chef Michelle Bartoul-Mangan, Cleveland Clinic Wellness

Ways to be Happy & Healthy in 2020:

I heard on the radio this morning that the top new year’s resolution amongst Irish people is to become healthier. As someone who’s had cancer this year, I can truly attest to the old adage of “your health is your wealth”;

I’m not a health “guru” or life coach or wellness warrior. I’m a normal GP with a normal life but I do think I have learned some things in my 32 years about what truly living healthily looks and feels like. Good health can generally be summed up as good physical health, a healthy social life and psychological or mental wellbeing.

I feel like I’ve lived two very distinctly different lives – one unhealthy and one which is now thankfully much better. As a junior doctor I was pathologically sleep deprived. Working up to 100 hours a week for 7 years took its toll on my physical and mental health.

Due to work demands I was socially isolated; this isn’t conducive to good mental health. My physical health wasn’t good; stress, lack of sleep and overworking meant I had a number of problems; a knee injury from regularly walking for 24 hours non–stop on call, regular IBS flares resulting in hospitalisation, kidney stones from dehydration…..and unknowingly having cervical cancer and sarcoidosis. I was sick. In every sense of the word.

Now I am healthy. That’s a bold statement but I believe it.

So in this blog post I’ll share some tips for being healthier in 2020…

1. Sleep.

The main reason I’m healthier now is because working in general practice means I can sleep at night. Sleep is the single most important thing that’s turned my life around. Sleep deprivation is linked to depression and anxiety, obesity (due to an increase in the hunger hormone ghrelin), dementia and cancer. I often think the reason I got cancer is because of 7 years of chronic sleep deprivation. I can’t prove it of course but I knew what I was doing to my body wasn’t right.

If you want to make one change for 2020 to be healthier, make sleep a priority. Aim for 8 hours a night. Look up sleep hygiene for ways to make sure that you get a good, restful night’s sleep. I’m fitter, healthier and happier now than I ever have been and I owe a lot of it to sleep.

I know some people can’t get 8 hours a night. Small babies, long commutes and shift work mean it’s sometimes physically impossible. I’ve been there myself. But any small steps you can take to improve your sleep will make you healthier – physically and psychologically.

2. Movement

I’ve always loved to move. I love being physically active. Exercise is like a miracle cure. It helps reduce risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer, obesity and depression. When we exercise, endrophins that mimic the activity of morphine are released. This has a calming effect. And the beauty of exercise is that all we have to do is put on shoes, walk out the front door and put one foot in front of the other.

You don’t have to engage in a fitness program or join a gym or buy fancy gym gear. (By all means do this if you want to though!). I’ve always found it easier to just aim to move more. Go at your own pace. Do what you enjoy. Do it when you can; and don’t beat yourself up when you can’t. Life is busy. Sometimes there isn’t enough time in the day. There were times when I was working a 24 hour shift and I’d see fitness people on Instagram telling me “no excuses” and “make time”. Well, for normal people with normal lives, families, commitments and jobs, there sometimes simply isn’t time. And that’s ok too. Move when you can; small things like taking the stairs or maybe a walk during lunch hour with a colleague can make a difference.

Remember that there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes. If it’s raining (which it’s highly likely to be here in Ireland), put on rain gear and go. And also be safe in the knowledge that cold weather doesn’t cause a cold!

I enjoy going to the gym. I don’t set targets. I’m not strict with myself on it. But I do notice myself getting fitter and stronger over time. Consistency will naturally lend itself to progress. So do what you can when you can and you will see changes slowly creep in.

3. Positive Connections

Psychological wellbeing is a core component of health. As is a good social life. Who you surround yourself with impacts your health. Whether it’s people in real life or on social media, nurture connections that make you feel good and valued. Disconnect from people or situations who leave you feeling bad or anxious. Life is too short to maintain connections with frenemies. Do what you have to do for a happier, calmer, healthier you.

4. Gratitude

Being thankful for what we do have as opposed to being uneasy about what we don’t have goes a long way when it comes to mental wellbeing. Every night I get in to my bed without a bleep I’m thankful! You’d think the novelty would have worn off by now but it still hasn’t. The promise of uninterrupted rest still fills my heart with joy.

I’m also thankful for my physical health; I’m thankful that my body can move and can LIVE! I’m thankful for Peter and the joy having a life partner brings. I’m thankful for being able to get up and have a coffee in the morning. I’m thankful I’m still alive and can walk on a wild Irish beach and inhale fresh Atlantic air. There were times when I was going through cancer treatment I didn’t know if those things would be taken from me forever. I think of my late sister who can no longer experience these things. I’m grateful to be alive. I’m grateful for all of the simple yet wonderful things in my life.

5. Positive thinking 

I know this can seem like quite an abstract thing to practice but I’ve definitely become a more positive and optimistic person as I’ve gotten older. My biggest “Ah hah moment” of the decade was realising that the core skill for coping with adversity is being optimistic. I’ve learned positive thinking from Peter who is unshakably optimistic! Something that’s also helped me with optimism is written reminders. I write a to-do list everyday. This usually includes things like “take out bins”. But at the top of the list every single day I write “let go of negativity” and “don’t ruin a good today because of a bad yesterday”. I’ve been doing this for about the last 6 years everyday without fail and I really believed its helped me think in a more positive way. Some days it resonates with me more than others. But its always there and it’s most powerful on days I need it most.

6. Work place

We spend so much time at work that it’s bound to play a critical role in our wellbeing. I feel profoundly fortunate to love what I do. Being a doctor doesn’t feel like work to me. It’s not what I do. It’s who I am. (I struggled for a while with inextricably linking my profession with my identity but I now see that it’s a positive thing for me and I’m very comfortable with it).

If you’re unhappy in your workplace make a change. Of course you can’t just hand in your notice and walk away. But plan an exit strategy. It might take a few years to make a transition but when you know there’s an end in sight you’ll feel less drained by a job you don’t enjoy. I disliked being a hospital doctor. But I knew it would be for a finite amount of time. There was always the goal of general practice at the end. That kept me going. Plan your exit and aim towards it. Even if it will take years.

7. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good

This mantra has been something I’ve lived by a lot more in 2019 and I plan to bring it in to the next decade with me. I’m pretty sure perfection doesn’t exist so chasing it is setting yourself up for failure (failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing but you know what I mean). In 2019 I threw myself in to situations in which I maybe wasn’t fully prepared but I did it anyway. And it helped me grow and learn. I do my best. I strive to do things well. But I don’t seek perfection. I’ll be doing more of this in 2020.

8. Supplements

This is something I’m asked about day in and day out! If you want to take something in 2020, ask your GP to check your vitamin D and vitamin B levels. Take those if you need them and if there’s proof you’re lacking in them. There’s no health benefit from blindly taking a multivitamin. Find out what you need and take that. Probiotics are good for IBS. Evening Primrose Oil can help with cyclical breast tenderness. Biotin can help with nail and hair growth. Vitamin B6 can help with PMS. Don’t take something that an influencer is being paid to tell you has changed their life. (Lauren Goodger literally agreed to promote cyanide).

Take these things in a focused way for your own individual needs. If you’re interested in taking something like a supplement ask your GP about it. Ask if there’s scientific evidence for it. And make sure it’s safe with any other medicines you take.

9. Cancer screening

Get your smear test if it’s due. Attend breast check if you’re called. Screening saves lives. It certainly saved mine.

10. SPF

Wear SPF 30-50 on your face daily. Without fail. It will help prevent wrinkles and skin cancer. Your face in 20 years will thank you for it.

11. Detox

Your liver and kidneys will do this for you. Next.

12. Diet

If you’d like to lose weight I recommend not doing quick fixes or 12 week programs. Speak to your GP and or a dietitian who can help you with weight loss done in a sustainable and healthy way. Starvation and being miserable isn’t sustainable. Healthy weight loss is. Aim for health. Not to fit in to jeans or to be skinny for a wedding. Aim for health and a healthy weight will follow. Sleep also helps with weight loss. It helps regulate the hunger hormone ghrelin so the more sleep you get the less likely you are to overeat.

I want my diet in 2020 to be more plant based. The more I read the more health benefits I see. I’m a slow burner and I make changes over time. So I’ll gradually make more plant based choices and will hopefully reach vegetarian status eventually.

13. Sustainability

I have two flights booked to The US for 2020. I will not be sailing across The Atlantic like Greta any time soon but I will be more mindful about my carbon footprint going in to the next decade. In 2019 I ditched petrol starting coffee cups and converted to a reusable bamboo cup for my morning coffee. I plan to go electric for my next car. I’ll do my best to play my part for a better environment for us all.

14.

I have no number 14. But I’m not finishing on 13.

Good health is multifactorial. Identify the areas you want to do better in. Nurture them slowly. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Dr. Doireann.x