Over the last couple of years of intentionally trying to improve my diet, one simple habit stands out as the easiest and possibly the most effective change I made. A daily dose of banana.
A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. Bananas contain three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber.
There is no question that bananas give us a great energy boost, that’s why they are popular with athletes.
But bananas also help protect us from several illnesses. Blood pressure, anemia, constipation, nerves, and ulcers are all often eased by eating a banana.
According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND, those suffering from depression felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.
The old saying, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ should be updated to a banana a day.
I prefer mine when they are nice and ripe, with a few brown dots on the skin. I have one chopped into my porridge every morning for breakfast, with a spoonful of honey.
I also use them in my fruit smoothie recipe.
Go on. Have a banana!
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When I read this tragic story I realised caffeine is a much more dangerous drug than we realise.
‘My heart just hit the floor’: A mother’s pain after her son died from drinking FOUR energy drinks daily… as a doctor warns no more than two caffeinated beverages per day
The 35-year-old truck driver had suffered a massive heart attack and died from caffeine toxicity
A mother is determined that no one else will have to endure the pain of their child dying from consuming too many energy drinks.
Shani Clarke’s son, Michael, used to drink at least four 500ml cans of Mother a day – as well as four to five cups of coffee before he was found slumped behind the wheel of the 11 tonne truck on the side of the road in Perth on January 30 this year.
The 35-year-old truck driver had suffered a massive heart attack and died from caffeine toxicity.
by Leesa Smith For Daily Mail Australia – 3 September 2014.
Most of my life I have been a chain coffee drinker. I needed a shot first thing to get the day started, another to get to work, and throughout the morning to keep me focussed… Or so I thought.
In my mid-thirties I began suffering from chest pains. It felt like I was having a heart attack. I went to the doctor. His first question was ‘How much coffee do you drink?’ When I told him he said that was almost certainly the problem. I cut back on the caffeine, and guess what? The chest pains stopped immediately.
As life went on the caffeine consumption increased a little. But I could feel myself starting to get irritable and tetchy by mid-afternoon.
Caffeine is a strong addictive drug. It is the fact that we are addicted to it that makes us think we ‘have to have it.’
Caffeine is in coffee but it’s also in tea – lots of teas not just ‘normal’ tea. It’s also in cola drinks and most energy drinks.
It might come as a surprise that caffeine is not just an addictive drug, it’s also a model drug of dependence
Caffeine is produced by more than seventy-five plants, which use it as a pesticide. That’s right – a pesticide! When we consume caffeine, our body thinks that some kind of emergency is happening. It floods itself with dopamine, epinephrine, cortisol, and acetylcholine. That’s what gives us that feeling of stimulation and being wide-awake and alert. But the human body is not designed to live at that intense state of emergency alertness for long periods of time, let alone every day.
It takes about 24 – 36 hours to come off this drug so, if you are a daily consumer, prepare for a serious pounding headache for a whole day.
Once you are off the drug, you’ll feel a lot calmer, happier and less irritable.
I quit caffeine on 16th October 2014 and I’m not planning to go back. I no longer wake up with caffeine cravings. I still meet friends in coffee shops and cafes but only if they serve decaf, which most of them do.
If you want a slow release, safe energy drink, try my smoothie recipe. A pint of that should see you right for the day, with no health risks and lots of health benefits!
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Every morning just before you wake, the energy fairy visits you and gives you a portion of emotional energy for the day. Each one of us is allotted a similar amount of emotional energy every morning. When you have spent that emotional energy it’s more or less gone until the next day.
When that emotional energy is gone, everything you try to do seems harder. There are a few things you can do to recharge your emotional batteries and there are a few things you can do that will drain your emotional batteries.
This energy is limited so we need to be wise in how we spend each day’s allotted energy.
It is the source and power of all your creativity. So we need to understand that our best work will normally be achieved within three to four hours of waking.
This means that, where possible, we should do the most important things for the day in the morning, when our emotional energy is fully charged. Get up earlier if you have to.
Professional negotiators often plan important negotiations for late afternoon when the people they are trying to negotiate with will have fewer resources to argue with them. It’s easier for them to sell their ideas to people running on low emotional energy. So beware of agreeing in the afternoon to doing something you may later regret.
Depending on where you fit on the introvert/extrovert scale of things, you will likely gain energy in different ways. By the way, no one is either extrovert or introvert, but these are opposite ends of a scale, and all of us fit somewhere between to two. And please don’t confuse introversion with being shy or quiet either. Basically, the nearer to the extrovert end of the scale you are, the more likely that you gain energy through outside stimulus and being with a crowd. By contrast, the nearer you are to the introvert end of the scale, the more you are likely to gain energy from solitude and time to think.
For example, I’m nearer the introvert end of the scale. This surprises some people because I do a lot of public speaking, so I don’t appear shy. But that’s a misconception about introverts anyway. But I do need a daily dose of solitude and quietness to survive emotionally. I need to think and process the day.
By contrast, a friend of mine is more extrovert. He gains energy from outside stimulus. When he feels low, he’ll invite a load of people round for a barbeque. This recharges his emotional energy, whereas for me it would be quite draining after a while.
Once we identify what energises us and what drains us, we need to have sufficient periods of the thing that energises us. If we let several days go past without those energising activities we will start to feel stressed.
One more thing, avoid angry, negative or toxic people. Anger, negativity, and toxic behaviour will always drain everyone. Anger drains the angry person as well as those to whom the anger is directed. Everyone loses.
So take a step back. Observe when in the day you feel most alive and energised. When in the day do you feel most drained? Can you plan your day to use your higher energy times for your more creative activities?
I try to write first thing in the morning for an at least an hour. It’s my most creative time and I want to use it well. Things like admin, meetings and other stuff can wait till later in the day.
Social media can drain us too. Taking in lots of unimportant information, amusing cat videos, and similar stuff can use up our precious emotional energy. Chose a less important time in the day for that stuff if you want to maximise your creativity.
What about you? What gives you emotional energy? What drains your emotional energy?
There’s a big problem with email. It constantly distracts us from what we were doing. It wastes thousands of hours of productivity by interrupting our train of thought.
Many people allow email to act like an untrained puppy – yapping and jumping up any time it likes. It poops all over the place and leaves us to clear up the mess.
If you don’t take control of your email, your email will take control of you.
I know there are some jobs out there where people are employed to reply to emails as quickly as possible, perhaps they are the exception. But even so this simple step will help most people take control of unruly email.
Here are a few simple steps I use for email:
1. Switch off automatic email delivery
Some email programs are set to check for email every five minutes! That means every five minutes you could be interrupted by emails that could easily wait.
Our paper mail comes in one bundle every morning around the same time. It gives one interruption. If we are not in it sits and waits on the mat. We open it when it’s convenient.
Now imagine that the mailman brought each letter separately and knocked on the door ten times a day. I would find that really irritating. But that is exactly what most people’s email does!
So here’s the thing. I have switched my email to manual delivery. That means the app only checks for email when I ask it to.
And I only ask it to check for mail once or twice a day – normally first thing in the morning and late afternoon.
It is hard to think of any email being so important that it can’t wait half a day to be read.
That’s my personal email. My office email only gets checked once a day on the three days I am in the office, and normally around 10:30am.
2. Set up an auto-responder if you have to
Set an auto response that says something like, ‘Thanks for your email. To increase productivity email is only read early morning and late afternoon. If your message is extremely urgent and really can’t wait a few hours to be read, please text my cell phone 000-0000-0000.’
Most people won’t text you because 99.99999% of all email is never that urgent.
So instead of your email beeping and putting little read badges on its app icon, distracting you from what you are really working on, just check it once or twice a day.
If you had a puppy that was being disruptive you would quickly train it and put some real boundaries on it. Soon the dog would know to only poop outside, not to jump up all the time, and to stay on its bed when told to. It would know there was a set time for walks.
It is time to put a leash on your email and give it a strict routine so that you are in control, rather than it controlling you.
What about you? How do you control your email?
Do you ever feel guilty just by being you? Do others express impatience with you when you are just trying to be you?
Let me explain. I’ve loved writing since I was fourteen years old and my Dad brought home an old fashioned black typewriter. I loved the clackety-clack sound of the keys as I typed. I loved the black and red inked ribbon. I wrote bad poetry and poorly written stories. But I wrote because I like to write.
When I grew up I had to go out to work. I had to do things that earned money to pay the bills. I worked in a factory, in a shop, in a community center, in a church and finally I started a charity to help some of the poorest people in the world. All those things earned me just enough money to keep my head above water. But no one paid me to write. I had to fit my writing in around other things. I wrote some booklets and finally published my first book.
All my life, other things have pushed my writing onto the sidelines. Sometimes I was busy trying to save the whole of Africa but really was just building an orphanage or a school or starting a feeding program for street kids. All those things take time and, once you start them, you have to see them through.
From time to time we all have to face the difficulties life throws at us – relationships, the end of an era, moving house, losing a job, trying to start something from scratch and so on.
It must have been during one of those times when I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and a little low. Walking and chatting with a friend of mine, the situation looked impossible. Then he said something that changed my life.
‘Keep being you and keep doing what you love.’
I found that a very profound statement because the more I thought about it the more it made sense. When we are just being ourselves and doing what we love, it brings energy to our whole being. A photographer spending a day taking photos will find energy and joy in what they are doing. A painter likewise will come alive if they can spend a few days painting.
My best days are days like today, when I have marked a day in my diary to just be alone and write. It refreshes me. I used to have to take a day off to do this. But now I manage my own time, it’s not a day off, it’s a day ‘on’. It has taken me years to reach this point.
I’m not sure I have ever made any money from writing but writing leads to other things. Money is not the whole point. If we only focus on money, it will crush our creativity. But if we keep being who we are and keep doing what we love, we’ll get better at it and one day, maybe, we’ll become someone who makes money from what we do. But either way, we will be more alive, happier in ourselves, and more at peace with the world.
Having written a dozen or more books and having a few more in the pipeline, I am happy in my little writing corner. Some people ask ‘How are you able to write a whole book?’ Simple tip: write one page a day – between 500 and 1,000 words. Do that for 30 or 40 days and you have a book. (More writing tips on my other blog How to Publish Your Book.)
So who are you? What do you like to do?
Let me say to you what my friend said to me:
‘Keep being you. Keep doing what you love.’
I always try and be authentic on this blog. I try not to write about life improvements I haven’t personally tried. But like everyone else, I’m still keen to learn new things. So here goes.
I’ve recently started listening to James Altucher’s Ask Altucher podcast. James and his wife Claudia talk about going on a ‘no complaint’ diet.
What that means is, while you’re on the diet, you abstain from complaining for seven days. If you slip and start complaining you have to start again at day one, until you’ve gone seven consecutive days without complaining.
The thing is, it is really hard to avoid complaining all together. So it’s an alomost impossible task to complete. However, the purpose of the no complaint diet is to give you more energy and happiness because complaining is draining! Complaining delivers very few results most times but makes us feel drained emotionally.
Take yesterday for example. We have a franking machine at the office, that my little charity bought to save money on postage. When they were selling us the machine they told us we would save a lot of money on postage. However, what they didn’t tells us was they would charge us for all sorts of extras which means we aren’t saving much money at all.
Yesterday, they sent me an invoice for a service contract for £165. This was something we had never asked for. I called them to tell them to cancel the invoice. The man on the phone was apologetic that we had received a bill for something we didn’t want and agreed to cancel the bill.
That could have been the simple end of the story. But I went into complaint mode and told him how unhappy I was about all the previous hidden charges. He couldn’t really do anything about the past so he offered to put a message into the managing director’s office. A lady called and I complained again. She said she would see what they could do as we were a small charity. She phoned back and said she’d sent us an invoice for £135 and added a few extras to the service contract. Now I got angry and told her to stop sending invoices for things we’d never asked for. The conversation reached a stalemate as I began to sound like Basil Fawlty. I came off the phone frustrated and exhausted.
Here’s the thing. Had I been on a no complaint diet, I could have just called and cancelled the original mistake and got on with my day. The energy I expended on ranting about unfair charges – which produced nothing but a feeling of frustration – I could have used for something more positive.
Now, there are things wrong in the world. I remember the good old days when companies promised nothing and delivered that nothing with added poor service with a smile. We didn’t expect good service and we didn’t get it. Everyone was happy.
Today, all businesses promise the world and few deliver. The rule is over promise and under deliver – which always disappoints. There a few companies doing the better thing – under promise and over deliver. I find companies like Amazon often do that. The goods come sooner that promised and are sometimes better than described.
My point is that we may have to draw attention to a fault with a product but we don’t have to start the complaining rant. More importantly, some people we chat to during the week start complaining to us about another person, and want us to join in. That’s the moment to say, ‘I’m on a no complaining diet so I don’t want to comment.’ As we avoid complaining and make that a habit, we will free up more of our emotional energy for more constructive and creative things. Maybe we could encourage a friend, compliment a colleague or start a new hobby.
I’m going to give it a try. I’m not sure I’ll get through the day but I’m going to give it a try.
Like all new habits, the more we do it – the stronger we become in that area. To be accountable, I’m going to attempt to report back on how I did by next Friday. Why not join me and abstain from the complain for a week because complaining is draining!
‘Do everything without complaining.’ – St Paul
One of the really easy ways to improve your life is to make a small change at the beginning of your day. So many people are after a quick shot of energy in the morning but most breakfast cereals are full of refined sugar. But refined sugar is just ‘empty calories’. Refined sugar lacks the natural minerals which are present in sugar beet or cane.
In addition, sugar is worse than nothing because it drains and leaches the body of precious vitamins and minerals through the demand its digestion, detoxification and elimination makes upon your system.
So here is an alternative simple breakfast that’s great for your health. By the way, never skip breakfast! It’s the most important meal of the day.
For the best start to your day, try this easy-to-make super-breakfast. All the ingredients have proven health benefits. You will feel the results right away.
Porridge with soya milk and banana and a spoon of honey.
So why is this a better breakfast?
Porridge helps fill you up, which prevents you from overeating. If you do not overeat, you will maintain or even lose weight. It also contains fibre which helps keep blood-sugar levels on an even keel and reduces the risk of high cholesterol.
Porridge contains a high amount of complex carbs, which get digested at a slow pace, unlike simple carbs. This gives you lasting energy.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that the body needs for vision, cell and tissue growth and reproduction. It is also an antioxidant, which helps destroy free radicals and reduce the risk for chronic disease. A 1-cup serving of porridge supplies more than 1,450 international units of vitamin A. The recommended daily value of this vitamin is 3,000 international units for men and 2,300 international units for women
The most important attribute of soya milk is its ability to improve your blood lipid profile. Unlike dairy milk, which is high in saturated fat and cholesterol, soya milk fat is mostly unsaturated with zero cholesterol. Soya milk is also naturally lower in sugar content than regular milk.
A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy.
According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND, amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.
(If you don’t like bananas, try adding red fruits like raspberries for extra goodness.)
A small spoonful of honey will give the porridge a natural sweetness without using refined sugar.
Start every day with this super-breakfast for lasting energy and better health.
This breakfast has been a simple but powerful building block in improving my health and life. I hope it works for you.
What is your tip for a healthy start to the day?
I got a shock this week. I went for lunch in a pub not far from where I live. The landlady is always there. She’s chatty, funny and a real people person. She’s often told me she’s not had a day off in eleven years.
When I suggested that at least she got Christmas Day off, she told me that was their busiest day!
She’s also been involved in politics – fighting the big breweries for better terms for pub landlords, whose position is often precarious.
Well, this week, she wasn’t there. When I joked with the lady behind the bar about if she was finally taking a day off, she told me the landlady had a stroke!
Fortunately, it looks like one that she will recover from.
I hope she starts taking a day off now.
I am absolutely convinced that humans are designed to need a break every seven days. Whatever our normal work is, we need a complete day’s rest from it every week.
I think this is the real meaning of the story of creation in the Bible. It was never about the science of nature. It is about our physical, mental and spiritual needs. It has stood the test of time.
Interestingly, in that story of beginnings, humans are created at the end of the week so their first day is the day of rest.
We tend to think in terms of resting from work. But I think this story tells us that we are designed to work from rest.
Rather than collapsing exhausted at the end of the week, if we do the rest properly – engaging only in activities that are healthy and that recharge us and our emotional energy – then we can work from that position of rest. Our weekly rest becomes a firm foundation for the week ahead. It is a reversal of the usual thinking but I find it much healthier.
I hope the lovely landlady recovers fully. I hope she has learned a lesson. We cannot work without a weekly ‘sabbath’ rest.
It is actually a ‘holy’ day – which is where we get the word ‘holiday’ from.
OK. I got bit spiritual there. But you need a break.
Is there anyone you know who needs to read this? Hit the share button.
‘I will give you rest.’ – Jesus
A simple switch to a home made breakfast drink can give you the all-day energy of Superman!
Today everyone is looking for energy. People are cranking up the caffeine, consuming sugary energy drinks, and scoffing sweets for an energy boost.
But there is a huge problem with all those attempts to get energy. (I mention the problems of caffeine in my post on sleep). Sugar is not the bringer of sustained energy – it is the enemy!
Processed sugar has no essential nutrients and rots your teeth. It can overload the liver because it converts not only to glucose (found in every living thing) but fructose, which can be harmful to the body or turn into fat.
Refined sugar can cause liver disease, diabetes and even cancer.
So here’s a healthy way to get healthy shot of sweetness with no harmful side effects – prepare a home-made smoothie.
You can buy smoothies from a store but they sometimes contain added chemicals to prolong shelf life. Best to make your own.
My smoothies are 100% natural and fresh!
You will need:
- A blender
- A handful of raspberries (frozen raspberries are fine)
- 12 red seedless grapes
- An apple
- A ripe banana
- The juice of one orange
- Half a pint of water
- Start with the ‘base fruits’ – the raspberries. Pop these in the blender. (I call these base fruits because they will provide much of the flavour. If you prefer you can use just raspberries or just strawberries or use blubberies/blackcurrants etc)
- Then add the grapes to the blender.
- Peel the banana and break into thirds and add that.
- Core the apple but don’t peel it. Just wash it and cut into segments and add to the blender.
- Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice into the blender. (Don’t add the orange itself as it will make the drink too ‘pulpy‘.)
- Add half a pint of tap water.
- Put the lid on the blender and give it a good whizz for a minute until everything is blended.
- Remove the lid and pour into a pint glass.
- Drink the whole pint or share half with a friend.
Do this first thing in the morning and it will continue to slowly release a steady flow of energy to you throughout the day, with no crash afterwards.
If you also avoid refined sugar throughout the day as well, the effect is even better. Link it up with a breakfast of porridge, honey and banana and you’ll have Superman’s energy levels!
I have been doing this for about a year now, two or three times a week and it never fails. Of course, you are also getting your five-a-day in one hit!
Bonus: Here’s 10 reasons why refined sugar is bad for you!