One food additive you need to avoid

One aspect of our modern day lives that I’m incredibly passionate about is learning exactly what’s contained in our everyday foods. We’re simply not eating the way that our grandparents or even parents were eating. Food giants are answering to our ever increasing demand for foods with a greater shelf life, and that are ultra-convenient to our busy lives.  Sure they deserve a pat on the back for their loyalty to our requests, but the downside is that your health is suffering much more than you realise. I’ve learnt an incredible amount of knowledge on additives and preservatives through my health writing, and here’s one additive you certainty want to avoid.

So many supermarkets are recognizing our concern for products that contain unknown chemical ingredients, that many food companies will now splash “additive and preservative free” all over their front packets. Unfortunately, that’s often very far from the truth.

Annatto, or 160B is used to create smooth texture in food products like ice cream, additives and preservativesmargarine and salad dressings. Sure, it comes from natural sources, which allows those food companies to use the slogan additive and preservative free. That’s because annatto is sourced from the achiote shrub seed, however it’s anything but good for your health.

Various health complications

You’ve got to wonder just how many modern day diseases are linked to additives and preservatives in our food? Sure one Magnum ice cream won’t kill you. And that’s not what I’m getting at. Rather, you have to consider how many sources of the foods that you consume in one day, contribute to your overall intake of particular additives and preservatives.

Each country has their own regulatory body to say just how much of an additive oradditives in food preservative is considered to be safe for consumption in each food item. The problem is that that’s only for one food product, yet those same additives or preservatives are scattered across multiple food sources. Consume five food products throughout the day, with that same safe level of an additive and you’re looking at some big repercussions to your health.  Just Google “annatto and IBS” to reveal how many adults suffer from irritable bowel syndrome thanks to this nasty chemical.

Run to your same staple foods for years, or even a lifetime, add into the mix toxic pesticides, cleaning products, pollution and chemical body products, and you can see why cancer and other diseases are rampant as the chemical burden is just too overwhelming to your body. Your body simply does not recognize many of the foreign chemicals.

Behavioural disturbances in children

Luckily the Food Intolerance Network has been set up in Australia, to allow parents to share their experience with annatto, and how it affects their children’s behaviour. Timefood additives and time again, reports have been made on disturbing behaviour such as head banging and absolute rages in young children. Unfortunately, links would be very rarely made between that behaviour, and the food they are given each day. Instead, they are likely to be sent to a child psychologist and prescribed some heavy medication.

Annatto is just one of the many additives to be avoided in food products. Unfortunately, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. To me it’s about going back to the basics, without making food boring of course. Setting small goals is a great way to reach your target of clean eating. Start to flip the packet over and read what’s actually in your food, and even challenge yourself to go additive and preservative free for a week or two. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of your pre-existing medical conditions started to dissipate.

 

 

 

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The joys of giving

I always find this intrinsic urge to help others realise the greatness of life when my own cup is full. The funny thing is that the urge to volunteer at a local nursing home, actually came when my cup was completely empty. I guess when I felt I had nothing left to give, I discovered that in fact I still did.

I often sit down for cups of tea and listen to the many joys and struggles of those nearing the end of their lives. In the struggles, the gold always seems to be in the ability to keep picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and never losing sight of your true essence. The ones that speak more of their joys over their struggles, are also the ones that never missgiving to others a bingo class, dance class or yoga for over 90’s. They have found a way to maintain a solid outlook on life. Even when their mind starts to fade against their own will or knowledge.

I still see that spark in their eyes and cheeky smiles as they play pranks in the dining room with the other residents. They make the most of what they have and are entirely satisfied with their daily rituals they have created, within the physical limitations of their fading bodies.

I listen on as they ecstatically describe in great detail the type of toast and brand of butter they have for breakfast, what time the daily paper arrives and when the nursing home bus is due for their supermarket outing. I ask whether they butter the toast right to the very edges. Their excitement builds as I fabricate my interest for gains of their happiness. I love to play this little game the most.

It’s selfless because many people would rather be out surfing, catching up with friends orvolunteering enjoying the sunshine. A lot of the time that’s me and I really have to push myself to go in there.

But it’s when those I visit are lying on their beds rugged up watching daytime TV and I knock on their doors to see their faces light up.

When the old men in dance class fight over who’s dancing with me next, while the only two elderly women in the home watch on with daggers, as if I’m cutting their grass.

When I distract them from a topic that upsets them and start talking about how beautiful the last sunset was and watch their smile return once more.

But it’s when I leave that I feel it the most.

Not only does it put everything into perspective. The true shortness of life and what is to be held dearest to the heart. But I know that when they put their heads down at night, they will be recalling all the events that made up their day. They will be content in knowing that someone cares for them enough to spend time over a cup of tea. One women I have regularly spent time with over the years, believes that my being there must be the angels watching her and karma returning to her, for all the good deeds she carried out over her lifetime.

That’s what continues to make my heart sing. “I think about you a lot, come and visit again soon won’t you?” she said upon my departure, as I received a warm hug and kiss on the cheek.

Wild & Free

Exotic solo travel. Surfing heavy waves breaking over shallow reef shelves. Nipple piercings. Tattoos. Serious injuries in remote islands. Broken relationships. Quitting jobs. Suns and moons rising over inverted oceans. These are just some of the things that come to mind, when I think of my past few years on this spinning globe called earth. Most of which mould and solidify my identity through the many lessons learnt throughout. It’s been fast paced and wild, but more and more I’ve noticed my foot easing off the accelerator and edging closer to the brakes. I’ve heard in life never to look in the rear vision mirror.

I actually forgot how old I was. I spent two birthdays in a row escaping remote islands from the clutch of shattered relationships. In a whirlwind of adrenaline to simply survive, I paid little attention to the spinning cogwheels as my numbers flipped.

On one shoulder jumps a devil screaming my name with a wicked laugh, telling me to keep running at the same pace. Embrace the adventure and keep dodging bullets. But why am I finding myself turning down opportunities to surf big waves. To risk all again and again. Risking all for perfect waves. A quote I lived and breathed with every cell of my body.

I look back on photos taken from the islands. Christ some of those waves. And that’s the cropped-10606336_10152531576460168_8204708269631415799_n.jpgthing with surfing. That ability to push through the fear and just go. Everyone that’s out there knows the possible consequences. I’ve experienced them and came so close to not remembering every day I knew before.  Cracking my head on the reef, to a degree that saw me lose consciousness the following day. My article spread pages of women’s surfing magazines because I wanted to highlight the dangers of solo travel and make it real and personal.

I spent two months at the northern tip of Thailand building this site. Bursting with

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excitement to share my surfing experiences. And I still am. But life is a journey and I want to embrace a post-travel mindset and the challenges that come with letting go of a chapter so incredibly vibrant in my heart.

I know my mum would love to read this. She was always telling me to take out life insurance as I shared stories of big waves. Near drownings, with a smirk on my face as if I just used up one more of my nine lives.  In the equally as grinning words of Gerry Lopez “I’m sure you die just a little”.

Passion lives here

What if you lifted all the pressure off yourself to perform in the blank areas of your life where your passion does not live and focused on the aspects you could never get enough of? Being a great lover. A great surfer. An adventurer and a free-spirit whose soul couldsurf lifestyle never be touched by anyone that comes into your space.

I’m not saying that blank areas are small and meaningless segments of your life. Quite the opposite. Your job for instance. How many truly love their 9-5? Sure it’s great if you do but luckily not all of our minds are created equally. I truly believe a life without passion is not much of a life at all and you’ve been taught, or even promised, to find it bountifully in all the wrong places.

Get a degree, work your way to the top, crush all below. How many of your passions are left untouched, collecting cobwebs amidst the chaos of chasing a career or a car or a house? tropicsDecades fly by. What if you so strongly felt in your heart of hearts that you’re put on this earth to just love. To just surf. To give others love. To give your kids your all. None of that has any monetary value yet all are ultimately priceless.

If you’ve found your passion in a very particular area of your life then that’s what gets your fire burning. Your vibration lifted. Take that energy and let it spill to those blank areas because you already found your purpose with so much certainty.

Think of finding passion as akin to being truly, madly, deeply in love. Your world just lights up.

Your underlying resistance that was once unexplainable vanishes. Things flow with ease and grace. You give more and can receive more. Stop wasting moments worrying about aspects and spaces that will never hold any value to you and only you. I’m not sure why, but things just start to make sense when you find your passion.

What you were looking for might already be in front of your very eyes.

Mentawai adventure

The land of dreaming

I’m a big believer in dreams carrying significant messages or images of the predication of the future places, people or situations you might encounter. I also believe strongly in Déjà vu and its powerful meaning and confirmation that you are on the right path in life. Surely Déjà vu is intertwined with some parts of our dreams, either that, or we are re-visiting the same scenario that we faced in a previous life.

Now with dreams I’m not talking the weird ones where you sleep with your best friend and wake up feeling nauseous or find yourself ridingNew Zealand exploration giraffes in the outback. To me, those type of dreams are just plain weird and I can never find any foreseeable explanation of what just occurred in my mind imagery.  The type I want to talk about are certain places I seem
to visit consecutively for nights, if not weeks on end. I also feel this strongly when I meditate, however the places I go to in meditation, I seem to always recognise as places from my past. Laying in a lush green paddock, gently floating down a river on my back or climbing through a knee-deep snow capped mountain- these all seem to be scenarios from my childhood growing up in NZ. The dreams that repeat for me, are all places I have not been to before and come to me as visions of the future. Let me describe how this happens.

The actual vision

So as I’m drifting off to sleep, faint images of a certain scene start to seep through my mind. Tonight it is somewhere in a rainforest, I follow a path where the forest floor feels damp under my bare feet, I have a destination in mind, although the vision is not strong enough, I know from the previous night’s sleep it is upon a raised land and I feel strongly that I am heading to that familiar spot. Nothing significant happens in this dream, I am just given more pieces of a puzzle, almost in slow motion, meaning the visuals come to me at no fast pace, almost like my eyes are only half open. From what I know, this dream only lasts a short period of time before I continue a random set of insignificant other dreams for the night.

Now what captures my waking mind’s attention the most, is that I willThailand exploration return to this same place each night for up to two weeks until the scene manifests in my reality. In this case I was living in Northern Thailand at the time of these dreams and ended up on a completely random weekend trip away to a lush forest area full of mysterious ancient temples and caves. When I arrived at the forest I had a sense of familiarity wash over me and the memory of those repeated dreams came flooding back to me. After that weekend I no longer continue these same dreams.

This is where I believe we are much more connected to nature than what we remember our existence to be, pre-technology overload and fast-paced lifestyle. Each of my visions always involves the outdoors, much of which is my deep love of the ocean. I have found myself in some of the most stunning places in the world and vividly recalling the very scene before my eyes-from previous repeated dreams.

One step further

When I found myself living on a remote Indonesian island in the Mentawais my dreams became very powerful. At one point I wasn’t quite sure what was reality and what was dream and when I talk to other surfers that have spent long periods in these islands they can tell me the same situation. It’s a beauty that cannot be truly described. I previously wrote about this reality flip here.

Another strange set of reoccurring dreams was at the time I was dating the owner of a surf camp in these islands. What didn’t make sense to me from the beginning of meeting him, was the fact he never featured in any of my dreams. Generally each person who is in my life frequently, shows up in my dreams. However, I had a certain dream for two or three weeks straight, where I had this deep feeling within my being that I had met and connected strongly with “a” man. In my dreams I am not only picking up on the dream visually, but also energetically. I could actually feel all these feelings of being in love and being completely and utterly content, however the man I was with in my dreams had “no face” and I couldn’t recognise who it was, therefore I could not link it to the actual man I was dating.

What happened in those dreams is that I had the memory of meeting aMentawai adventure man I was deeply connected with, but at the same time I couldn’t find him and he would vanish from my side like a puff of smoke each and every dream. The dream would then take me to an unknown city, a really busy environment with lots of people moving in many different directions around me and I felt so incredibly alone to be in a city that I hated. I was overwhelmed to be in such a busy place when I knew my current home was set amidst a dense jungle, where waterfalls tethered off into tropical lagoons.

At the time these dreams occurred I was very much in love with this man and was seeing a long future out in the islands. It wasn’t until one night when he abruptly decided that the relationship was to end and insecurely dictated my very feelings for him. He told me I was not connected with him and that I didn’t love him, when that was the furtherest from my truth which (not coincidently) fell on deaf ears. Being an intimidating man who notoriously had the last say in any situation, the relationship was deemed over.

After a wild escape from that island and two days travel, there I was, sitting at a huge city in Malaysia, feeling more alone than ever and so confused how things could end so quickly and how he could vanish from my life (like a puff of smoke?). I believe those dreams were trying to indicate to me future events and with greater practice I am sure I could use these dreams more powerfully to predict future occurrences.

If you have trouble recalling any dreams that you had at night, the key issurf girl dreaming to first practice with meditation and mindfulness. I had a friend who claimed he just didn’t have dreams at all and really couldn’t understand some of the dreams I described to him that I had. He only just began practicing yoga and was brand new to the world of meditation. It wasn’t until he attended a 10 day Vipassana retreat that he was able to still his mind enough to begin recalling his night dreams. Upon his return from the retreat he ecstatically described his new discovery of a peaceful mind and dream occurrences. Vipassana can be perfectly described as below:

“Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. This simple code of moral conduct serves to calm the mind, which otherwise would be too agitated to perform the task of self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind. It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion.The scientific laws that operate one’s thoughts, feelings, judgements and sensations become clear. Through direct experience, the nature of how one grows or regresses, how one produces suffering or frees oneself from suffering is understood. Life becomes characterised by increased awareness, non-delusion, self-control and peace”.- dhamma.org