How to repurpose almond meal from almond milk with the help of Moon Juice, a dehydrator and some kitchen magic! Vegan gluten free sweet treats for one and all.Read More
Happy Mother's Day to everyone from Life Butter HQ! We hope everyone has the chance to reflect on mama-hood, whether that's celebrating with your own mama, celebrating yourself as a mama, or thinking back on the generations of women who have mothered you & your predecessors over time.
This is sometimes a hard day for people who have lost family members, and if that's you, then know that we are sending you our love!
And whatever your Mother's Day plans are, we hope you take a moment or two to consider the universal mama: Mama Earth.
She loves us...let's start to love her back! If you missed it, here's a short but super sweet take on how we can do just that by minimising food waste.
And if you want to know who we think got the best Mother's Day swag of all, that prize goes to Elise Loehnen of Goop. It's good to be a Goop editor!
Peace, love and mama-hugs from Life Butter! 🤗
So in connection with Episode 11 of Life Butter Radio (also here in iTunes), we wanted to show you one way that we that we try to minimise waste in the Life Butter Kitchen. We've had a few questions about some of the treats that we've served up on our Instagram...so here's a little look at how we turn kitchen scraps into bases for everything from standard recipes revamped (healthy fish & chips, anyone?) or kitschy, fun sweets!
Making nut milk is a regular part of our culinary rhythms; it is something we undertake on a weekly basis, and take no inconsiderable joy in. Mostly because we still don't drink our coffee black, and no-one in our home can tolerate dairy). But there's also something therapeutic about "milking" the bag...it's a strange pleasure. And honestly the difference between what you make at home and what you buy in the store is SO dramatic (though the Rude Health varieties are pretty great). People who say they don't like nut milk should try a home-brew; it's really rich, froths well and is so much fun to make! Of course if you don't like the taste of nuts or are allergic, you can use seeds (we are a fan of pumpkin, but hemp works well too). Pumpkinseed milk has a slight greenish tinge, which the tiniest LB team member finds hilarious...see, fun already!
There are about a million different recipes for nut milk already out there, & they are all pretty much the same: soak some nuts or seeds in water (preferably filtered) for at least 4 hours (overnight is apparently best), rinse them in the morning, and then blend them with filtered water & maybe some dates if you want it sweet, or cinnamon/vanilla paste/cardamom if you want to flavour your milk.
Most recipes say to add salt; we've never done this. Proportions....we don't really measure, to be honest. We are not reeeeeaaally rule followers (you may have picked up on this if you follow us on Instagram), but if you are, then here are some measurements from our go-to for wellness kitchen creations, the Moon Juice cook book.
But even just eyeballing it, we've never turned out a batch we didn't like. So if you're like us, just get a big-ish bowl (we use a soup bowl), empty some nuts/seeds into it, just cover with water & soak as directed above. Then empty the drained, soaked seeds into a powerful blender (the Vitamix (US here) is a fave for a reason - pricey, but we've had ours for 10 years now! You can also find reconditioned ones that cost a bit less). Cover with roughly three times the amount of filtered water, blitz for 30ish to 45 seconds, and, as the blender is working it's magic, place a nut milk bag (US here) over a clean vessel of choice. You can use a cheesecloth too. Then the fun part - pour the blended water & nuts into the clean vessel and "milk" the bag or cheesecloth until the pulp inside is just damp and all your thick lovely milk is contained below.
So far, so groovy. But once you've "milked" your blitzed-up nut-water, you are left with a not inconsiderable amount of leftover nut pulp. What does one do with this?
Well, until about a year ago, we just chucked it in the food waste. I had read about nut cakes and raw treats, but they always looked like something that grew out of the side of a tree. Not pretty and definitely not delicious.
BUT there's the fact that it takes a lot of water to grow almonds, that they (and many other nuts) are imported, and that I'll re-toast fresh bread or repurpose cooked pasta several times to avoid waste. So it just seemed wrong. And then we got into Moon Juice, and the controversial but oh-so-fun Amanda Chantal Bacon showed us that nut pulp could be made into fun, instagrammable things...like doughnuts. The Moon Juice cook book promises that it's actually easy & quick (ESSENTIAL) to make use of these milkmaid by-products, so we gave it a go. Here's how.
On a day when we have NO time (many a day), we inverse the nut milk bag over a bowl, dumping out the damp pulp, cover and pop in the fridge to be dealt with later in the day.
When we have 60 seconds, we plop the nut pulp on a sheet of parchment paper that we place in our dehydrator (you can also use your oven - just put it on its lowest setting - but you should leave it open, which is hard if you have kids). We set the dehydrator at 70 degrees C and go about our biz.
It normally only takes a few hours to get bone-dry (which is what you want). Not going to be home? You could probably leave it on all day; you're not trying to keep a chewy consistency, so it's fine if it gets brittle. Once bone-dry, the nut pulp will look a bit like coral - it can then be blitzed into nut flour. You can do this immediately, or toss it into the fridge and do it later - maybe when you have a accumulated a bit of a stash. For the grinding, you can use a flour mill (we use the dry grains attachment to the Vitamix (US here), which actually came with it when we purchased it back in 2008). Just drop in the nut-coral and pulse until you get a relatively-fine grain flour. You may have to shake the jug around a few times to get it evenly milled, and you could probably also do this in a food processor - perhaps more easily by adding the nut pulp gradually. This is just how we do it. It sounds a bit gross (dried nut pulp?) and labor-intensive, but we promise it's quick and not at all difficult, otherwise it would not happen in our home.
So there you have it! Nut flour that you can use in any recipe that calls for any type of ground nuts or seeds. We see ground almonds all the time - in recipes for baked "fish and chips" (the nuts give them crunch), baked "fried chicken" (ditto) and of course in any number of flourless desserts, including the crumble recipe in GP's It's All Good book (one of our standbys - US here). And perfect for Spring!
In part two, we'll take you through the raw treats we made...for anyone wanting to try something a bit different!
Nut Milk Bag & Dehydrator
Vitamix - Standard & Dry
Nuts, Seeds & Salt
Why is our relationship with food so complicated? Why can't we just go to a restaurant blind (i.e. without having googled the menu and pre-decided our order) and casually scan the menu, not for the most "health enhancing" choice (whether that's a lettuce-wrapped hamburger or the raw bowl with a side of ferments), but for whatever is calling our name from a flavour perspective? The concept of health food is hardly novel, and "diets" designed to keep you fit and trim have been around for decades. But over the past few years, the conversation has intensified. We have been bombarded with messages about the power food has over our mood, longevity, immunity, skin (the "perfect skin diet"? Seriously?), hair, sleep, hormones & more. Our expectations of food are now astronomical; more than pleasure, culture, family, love or even figure and physique goals, it's like the type of food we consume is part of our identity, speaking to who we are as people. And not in the Italian way.
It's been an intense moment for food. Feeling depressed? You aren't eating enough healthy fats. Skin breaking out? Try cutting out dairy. Energy low? Lay off the caffeine and sugar. Want to save the world? Stop eating animal products. Hormonal, menopausal or fertility issues? That's a whole other mess that we'll be diving into separately, but here's a little teaser: your diet is to blame (at least in part).
Look, we will be the first to say that most of this is actually incredibly positive. I grew up on a diet of fast food, pop tarts (brown sugar cinnamon baby!), "fruit" roll ups and basically everything in packet form. Honestly, this was a really fun way to grow up; convenience food is specifically crafted to be amazingly flavourful and downright addictive (seriously, oreos are as addictive as cocaine, and the casein in cheese triggers the same part of our brains as opioids! No wonder cheese is the last thing many vegans give up.). Looking back at photos, however, and remembering how I felt at the time, I'm convinced it didn't do me any favours. 😕 So I am delighted to see a resurgence of real food. And once your palate adjusts, the flavour, texture, beauty and pure sensory delight of real food is pretty incomparable. So when we choose to prepare more of our own meals from scratch (or those hand-made by others), we are benefiting not just from a health perspective, but enjoying high-quality, delicious food. Unless you are making cinnamon chicken. Sorry, but that did not work out for us!
That said, some aspects of new wave cooking are troubling.
First of course are the health claims, which do not convince everyone. I'm not going to go down this rabbit hole, but essentially the medical community is not universally convinced that gluten and dairy are unsuitable for the vast majority of us. Google it if you want to lose hours of your life in the detail and expose yourself to some angry rants on both sides. And yet, so many of us clearly look and feel better for eliminating (or at least reducing) our intake of these ingredients. Is that because, when cutting out gluten and dairy, we are typically replacing processed foods with our own cooking, or is there more to it than that?
My own take is that science is of fundamental importance in advancing an understanding of how to treat, improve and enhance both the human body and human experience, but there is still so much that science cannot explain. Over time, we will learn more about how food affects us both as a species and as individuals, but in the meantime, we should feel empowered to experiment and see what makes us feel good. Most of the time, that's probably going to involve lots of greens. But sometimes, that is going to be the pizza, addictive as it is.
Someone asked me recently what I think it is we are all trying to remedy through clean eating. Because if the promise of so many of these regimes is "healing", does that mean that they are appropriate for the well? Do we all have autoimmune diseases, early-onset arthritis, adrenal fatigue, imbalanced hormones, anxiety and depression? And is there a reason why dairy and gluten free menus perhaps aren't on the agenda for health workers in Africa and Asia who are trying to help the clinically malnourished?
But actually, I'm less interested in de-bunking the health claims of this new modern way of eating, and more interested in exploring the other ways that food feeds us, and what are are potentially missing when we cut out a huge swath of edible substances by going paleo or raw vegan.
Because I've been downing green smoothies and saying "can I substitute..." in restaurants for years, and adjusting my diet really has helped me with a whole host of issues (as it has helped so many). But I've grown uninspired. I'm tired of being told that a bowl of greens with some roasted veggies is "amazing" and will make me feel sexy. Because it doesn't; it makes me feel "good", like I've been virtuous. And that is just feeling really boring these days. Do I want to be the good girl who has salad, alkaline water and maybe a square of dark, refined sugar-free vegan chocolate as a treat? Or do I want to be a sensual, free-spirited, fun explorer of the world who partakes in its delights? Didn't Kate Moss and Gwyneth Paltrow have this exact conversation once?
Food is nourishment. It is also entertainment, culture art (or can be), and love.
I want to eat with all of my senses, enjoying the visual beauty, the texture, smell, context, history, culture and taste of food. Of course I want to feel amazing, so I'm not going to abandon the principles that have worked for me...but I'm changing my expectations of food. I want to feed my hair, make my skin glow and have endless energy...but I also just really, really want to have fun.
I recently picked up the Moon Juice cook book (quick summary: lots of raw plants & nuts. Get a juicer, a blender, and a dehydrator). I've been in a bit of a cooking rut, and this book inspired me immensely. Unlike the vast majority of "clean eating" superstars, Amanda Chantal Bacon has been to culinary school, & has a fine dining background working in well-known restos. She's also travelled the world, and her recipes evoke the magic & romance of, say, an afternoon in Beirut, or a warm Tuscan evening. To say that her approach to eating is unconventional is a massive understatement (the reaction to her "what I eat in a day" for ELLE magazine was INTENSE - and hilarious). But I find her way of looking at what food can do for us refreshing, because it truly pairs the promise of food's power (she is the creator of Sex Dust & Beauty Dust, after all) with the delivery of its pure sensory pleasure. I don't have a juicer, but I have tried quite a few recipes from the book, and so far, they are all actually delicious! They have also been fun to prepare (mostly because they are very different). Are they gorgeous? Not in my every iteration, but I see the potential. I'm going to try a few more of the especially vibrant dishes, and report back. Watch this space!
The other book that has been inspiring me? Another Californian who is equally polarising (though more mainstream popular) - Chrissy Teigen. I'm not sure if she wrote all the recipes, but I do think she wrote all the headnotes, and they are both funny and inspiring. This is someone who loves her food, loves her body and loves life. She's a swimsuit model, so it's easy for her to make cooking look sexy, but all I know is that when I flip through this book, I want to jump into some of the pictures and get in on the party. Will I be eating her meatloaf every week? Doubtful - I gave most of it to my dinner companions...who said it was amazing. I rarely get that reaction from the "amazing" dishes I pick from one of our more health-focussed cook books.
I'm tired of food making me feel virtuous, guilty, confused, expectant or just meh...I want food to make me feel alive.
So with this as our backdrop, I'll now be diving into Life Butter's look at food. You can expect recipes, videos, and tonnes of fun on the Radio show. Come along for the ride - let's inspire & be inspired. ✌️
The V&A's Retrospective On The Counter-Culture & What it Has to Say About Our Neo-Hippy Now
It's not exactly breaking news to say that many of us are drawing parallels between the Days of Revolution: Recent Past (i.e. the '60s/'70s) and now; everywhere you look in fashion, music and popular culture, we are going all braless and protest-y. And quite understandably; on both sides of the political spectrum in the West, there is a swell of dissatisfaction, confusion and anger at the "establishment", whatever that means to you. Wherever you look, there are references to the historic protests around the civil rights movement, equal rights movement and peace demonstrations, and the slogans of that era are being reinterpreted & repurposed to give voice to current frustrations.
Of course this was the era that also brought us that brand of Californian, holistic wellness that we are seeking to understand here at Life Butter, and so I thought it would be interesting to check out the Victoria & Albert's retrospective You Say You Want A Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970 to see if it held any insights into the incredible growth of the wellness industry, currently valued at $3.72 TRILLION globally. I've also been a long-term fan of '70s style...particularly that look that involves not cutting or brushing your hair. 😜 So off I went.
The exhibition was good fun; it was well-curated & had a great variety of materials to see & hear (sponsored by Sennheiser, you walked through with headphones taking you on an audio journey of the era, and a big-screen, 28-minute musical film on Woodstock at the end looked promising, though I didn't get to stay to watch as I had a 2-year old in tow). Liberal economic politics, social change in the form of equalising rights and loosening strict moral codes, recreational drugs, The Beatles, The Stones & David Bowie (we are in London, after all), Mary Quant & Chelsea Girl style and Californian communes were all explored in vibrant relief. But more than just another baby-boomer group hug on The Glory That Be Theirs (Which Will Never Be Matched), the exhibition also sought to draw parallels between then & now, though definitely with its own angle (excellent review on the slant here).
While the exhibition didn't explicitly examine any of the tenets of wellness per se, the spirit of revolution that categorised the Counter-Culture & called the young to divorce themselves from the "establishment" (remember: don't trust anyone over 30) is the same essence that is breathing life (and megabucks) into contemporary wellness. The specifics matter less; whether your wellness jam is grass-fed beef and ghee or sprouted mushroom protein shakes and actual jam, a large part of the movement is against the "man" that is McDonalds. Industrialised food, fast food, packaged anything is out: remember, don't trust your mother's cooking (if you grew up on the S.A.D. anyway!). The young today are shockingly like The Beatles (who could be their (grand)parents), "we all want to change the world", we're just going to do it with our dollars. According to a Neilsen, 73% of millennials are prepared to pay more for products and services from companies dedicated to social and environmental change, while 80% of global customers agree that companies must play a role in addressing societal issues, according to Edelman’s 2016 Trust Barometer (source).
So...what does that have to do with exercise, meditation, health eating...crystal healing & sleep?
Well, we all know that the baby boomers and the generation that WILL NOT GO AWAY; their story & legacy, and therefore much of this exhibition, didn't seem novel...until I got to the very end.
The exhibition concluded in a way that I didn't expect - showing the links between technology as an important tool of the Counter-Culture in creating anti-establishment, independent societies (think these Californian communes) and our use of technology today. I might be alone, but I had never thought of the hoodie-wearing, Soylent drinking (someone please EXPLAIN THIS?!?!) Silicon Valley of today as a continuation of Californian hippiedom. But if technology is the agent of revolution, and the agent of community (as it is so often said to be), it is also increasingly becoming the tool of commerce, with retailers not only encouraging e-commerce (duh), but using apps to track consumer movements, tailor specific discounts and nudge shoppers towards a purchase. Here's the link to an interview Joseph Turow gave on his new book The Aisles Have Eyes; have a read or a listen if you want a forecast of all the new & sneaky ways retailers will use technology to separate you from your cash.
So what does this all have to do with wellness? It's about the MONEY behind youth & revolution. Because wellness is about revolution, right? Or is it about luxury? Because feeling good is the new looking good, and every big brand is on board.
I don't have a problem with this; more money behind holistic health, beauty & wellness (hopefully) means that it becomes easier & cheaper to make healthy choices. This too follows the trend of the 60s, when mass production decreased the price of all manner of "things", and so the generation of social change also became the generation of hedonism, consumerism and the credit card (according to a slightly pessimistic V&A).
But while I'm not completely anti-consumerism, I think it has an incredible ability to Dilute The Message (see this excellent mini-rant on this phenom in the fitness industry by ELLE UK Fitness Editor Bangs). And if, as discussed in a previous post, wellness is really about community, then I really think we need to keep the message strong these days.
There was an image in the exhibition that really struck me; it was of Jean Shrimpton walking barefoot, barelegged & seemingly carefree down a wild Kings Road; Mary Quant's archetypal Chelsea Girl. With the best will in the world towards all Chelsea Girls, that phrase connotes something a bit different today.
So I'll buy organic greens, I'll buy a gym pass...hell, I might even buy some palo santo..but I want to keep the end in mind. Why am I doing all of this? It's worth remembering.
Viva La Revolucion!
The Verb of 2017 is Nourish
So as I wrote in my previous post, 2016 has been, for many of us, a year. Many of us have been preoccupied with big picture issues, and in light of this, it seems wrong (not to mention a bit retro, but in the naff way) to talk about traditional "New Year's Resolutions". And yet, maybe in part because we are so consumed by worry and anxiety, both about ourselves and the state of the world, we seem to be in a season of perpetual self-improvement. So the idea of resolutions remains, I think, current and relevant. I've seen a few different approaches to a modern take on resolution season.
At the start of 2015, Vogue suggested an "eat this, not that" approach to resolutions, subbing out some of our usual list items for more modern and perhaps more achievable counterparts. This seemed a bit gimmicky, and I didn't really vibe with what they picked (I for one always prefer a black cab to Uber anyway).
ELLE UK called for 2017 to be The Year of Not Being Perfect - which I really like in theory, but their model/celeb references don't quite convince for me, because as much as Gigi Hadid stresses her imperfection and highlights her work ethic (both of which I applaud her for), it's hard for me to feel a sense of real camaraderie with a supermodel. I doubt I'm alone on this one. It's not her fault, but dems da facts, I'm afraid.
Gretchen suggests picking a theme word of the year. This I like - I too am a fan of a framework, and an even bigger fan of simplicity. One Word to Rule Them All has promise - not too much to think about, easy to check back in, and vague enough to give yourself lots of outs if you find that you're not really hitting your benchmarks throughout the year. Not that you would be anyway - because there aren't any when you keep things this loose.
But I want to finesse this a little bit - keep the simplicity, but make this more of a call for action, which seems to match our #currentmood much better, being one of action. And thus the verb of 2017 was conceived - mine is nourish.
What does the idea of "nourish" mean to you?
When I think of how I have typically related to myself - whether it's my physical body, or my mental state, or my achievements, it is with anything but a nourishing state of mind. I am often critical, exacting, ungenerous and occasionally downright mean; I know that I am not alone. This year, I want to spend time feeding myself. I want to indulge in beautiful images, sounds, experiences, sensations and tastes. I want to spend less time thinking about what the implications of my choices are, and more time observing and celebrating how they make me feel - both in the moment, and after I have thoroughly enjoyed them. I want to open myself up to trying things that are new, stepping outside of my comfort zone. I want to find more physical, spiritual emotional and mental experiences that feed me and those around me. I want to end the year feeling, if not restored, closer to "full" than I feel now. That is my aim.
So in kicking off my year of nourishment, I'll be spending some time on Life Butter Radio looking at one of the most important (and obvious) ways in which we nourish ourselves - through the foods that we eat and how we treat our body. Looking forward to catching up with you on the podcast; I think it's going to be a fun season.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and it's all too easy to find yourself in bed with a spinning head, especially this time of year.
So here are a few strategies for times you know you're going to be out, and for when you've had more than you intended. Because we all know that though a green juice/vitamin infusion or coffee/fry up (as per your preference) can help the next day, the only real cure for getting over the night before is sleep. So here's how to get the best sleep when you need it the most.
When You Know You're Going to Rage 💀
You're going to a birthday or, given the time of year, the holiday party. You're going to be eating late, eating all the things, and drinking ALL THE THINGS. So first can I say: just own this. Be unapologetic and excited because, for all the charm of hygge, these exist for a reason! BUT, maybe it's a Wednesday, & you're going to work in the morning. So you want to rage but not to the point of destruction. Ok - let's go.
Painful as it is to admit, we all know that prevention is better than the cure, so if you really want to hit the pillow feeling good, this will involve some self-control that may, depending on your temperament, take you a little bit out of the moment. Still, I think you can have fun while being, dare I say it, mindful, but you need to acknowledge that you will need to think a bit about your choices. Pretty much true of anything in life. Now, how do we make this easier?
Can I suggest that you make an effort to go to the party in a good mood? It may seem obvious to say this, but you are going to be so much less likely to arrive & immediately drink 2 glasses of prosecco if you have left work (or whatever) stress behind, aren't hyped up and feel content. So maybe try to fit in a yoga session (if that's your jam), exercise class, some sweet tunes, or anything that makes you feel good before you go. Because if you go relaxed and happy, it is going to make it so much easier to have the experience you want to have, and make choices that will set you up for a better night's sleep and following day.
If you even suspect that you may struggle with this, or you are actually hell-bent on destruction, maybe rearrange your schedule so you don't have important meetings or work assignments to tackle first thing the next day. And if you do get caught getting unexpectedly trashed, and you end up eating pizza at 2 AM dancing in your pants (true story), it is OK! I feel like these days so many of us are afraid to let go and enjoy ourselves, and would rather feel consistently good but maybe a bit stultified rather than occasionally OOC and silly. As long as you aren't a jerk (and maybe you don't use your camera phone), it's ok to go for it from time to time!
The Drinking 🍷
So with all that in mind, your evening. If you want a sugary cocktail (YES), try to just have 1 (or so), and really, really enjoy it. Honestly, that is the key to anything related to moderation and health. If you really take your time and enjoy your food and drink, you'll probably end up consuming less and have a better chance of staying on track than if you slam a few drinks quickly upfront and try to ease off as the evening goes on. You can also feel very chic and French (right? Seems like a French thing to do).
After that, low(er) sugar cocktails like vodka soda are your friends. If you like coconut, you could try something like this. Keep drinking water, of course - alcohol is a diuretic so it's dehydrating, and dehydration makes you feel like crap (simples!). You may have to hunt down the H2O, but water at least you can chug and then discard, or, alternatively, disguise as one of those boring cocktails so no one is the wiser. If you are at an epic dinner, you may have to watch overzealous waiters or hosts who constantly top up your glass...this is where you are taken slightly out of the moment, which is a bit annoying, but I've been caught too many times having no concept of how much I've actually had to drink because the level never dips below half a glass. You'll need to pay attention to how you're feeling, and gauge when it's time to back off. If you are veering dramatically off course, one of your friends or partner may be happy to do this for you. Winky-face.
The Eating 🍔
When it comes to food, anything fatty, spicy otherwise difficult to digest will make sleep harder, so just be aware of that. Those of us who are based in the UK know that these parties can start early, so you can try to have anything particularly indulgent early on (which is when you're in best shape to enjoy it, actually). if it's late, go easy. If you don't think you'll be eating much but do plan on drinking, a good trick is to eat a big spoon of nut butter just before you go out. It won't bloat you, but will line your stomach and should prevent you from feeling trashed after 3 sips of champagne. I love this one, this one and this one - which is great for on the go, travel & kids.
If you ate early or not a lot and you're peckish before bed, you obviously want things that are easy to digest. Simple sugars will help restore blood sugar levels and make you feel better; the banana is a classic for a reason. Honey & toast is recommended too, but I personally think it's too easy to go crazy and have a million slices when your self control is low - a single piece of fruit works better for me.
The Actual Sleeping 💤
Once you're home, try to drink a large glass of water and take a magnesium supplement (I love this one); magnesium help us sleep and it also calms your muscles, promotes good digestion (go easy, it's powerful stuff) and can help clear your head in the morning. A friend shared that for strategic celebrating she sometimes drinks a bottle of pedialyte (UK equivalent) before and after she goes out, and that it wards off the hangover like a talisman. I can't personally vouch for this remedy, but it sounds plausible. Try to make sure your room is cool and dark, and turn off your phone.
Help I'm Trashed and I Can't Get to Sleep ☠️
We've all been there; you go to lie down, and the room starts spinning. If it's so bad that you feel slightly sick or really dizzy, just get up. You're not going to get any rest yet. Don't panic though, just find something you can do to pass the time.
Don't Do This 💻
For a variety of reasons, but for the purposes of this article we'll focus on its effects on your sleep, don't get on FaceBook. Or Instagram, or Twitter, or your tv. Also don't sit there obsessing about what you said, to whom and how someone looked at you with a weird expression on their face. Distract your brain from destructive thoughts like these (what can I say, I like muscles).
Do This 📖
Just try to chill out - listen to some music; if you can focus on a book or some easy, repetitive task like colouring (never tried it but some people love it!), do that. This may not be the time to get in the bath or light a candle, but you can still try find a calm space with soft light to chill out in until you are feeling like you can lay down.
Help I Woke Up Wired at 4 AM
Of course you may have passed out immediately, only to wake in the middle of the night. That's because of something called the "rebound" effect - basically once alcohol is out of our system, we are rocket-launched into lighter sleep where we are more likely to wake. This is why it's better to stop drinking way before you hit the hay - all the alcohol is already out of your system. But that ship has sailed. So if you do wake at this time, your brain may be going crazy and you may feel super anxious. If that happens, I've found it most helpful to simply recognise that this is what is going on, and that I may have to ride out some internal brain craziness.
If it gets to be too much, you can get up and read a book for a bit (maybe something like this rather than this) - I've found that my brain is calmer once again in the very early morning, and I can usually get back to sleep then. I personally don't think meditation is going to work in this scenario; your thoughts will just be too all over the place. But monks pray in the middle of the night and apparently the rest of us used to do this too; so that could be a centring practice as well til the craziness passes.
Do try to get some more sleep though rather than simply starting your day at some insane hour. You will feel so much better if you can get a few more hours.
Finally, remember that often the best memories are made when we've been able to loosen up and revel a bit. Try to be kind to yourself, but learn from your experiences too! They more we get to know ourselves, the easier it is to manage how we feel, which is what this whole wellness thing is really about.
Happy celebrating...and sleeping! 😴😴😴
We are such stuff as dreams are made on...but what ingredients make up a good night's sleep?. This is an area where you can really geek out and get all tech-y about the best kind of mattress, the most relaxing music to listen to (sorry, but no), and the exact order your bedtime routine should take. That's cool, but not really our style. Ditto for wearable sleep monitors; I personally don't feel like I need super specific stats on my sleep patterns and activities (!). I'll know I've gotten a good nights' sleep because...I slept, and I don't feel tired the next day. I actually think devices like this can be damaging; what is so pernicious about tracking technology is that it excuses us from really engaging with ourselves and monitoring how we feel. And with everyone looking for painless ways to unplug and digitally detox, this seems like an obvious place to start...take a break from tech while you are unconscious - it couldn't be easier, right? Finally, sleep monitors may not be that reliable. Nevertheless, some people live for this stuff - if that is you, go for it.
Ultimately, as with everything related to health, there is no magic pill that will guarantee a night of awesome sleep (seriously, Ambien will make you do crazy things (starting at 5:27).). I am going to state up front that I think the number 1 thing you can do to sleep better is just spend an hour before bed in your PJs reading a book (free easy and fun - yay!) BUT let's be real: none of us are doing this on the daily. So when you are struggling to fall and/or stay asleep, it can be helpful to have a sense of some tricks you can try to improve the situation. Therefore, welcome to the first post in a series dedicated to briefly cataloguing the things that are supposed to help and hurt our ability to fall and stay asleep. Keeping with our holistic theme, we'll look at everything you can do from how you design your room to how you design your day, touching on diet, movement mentality & more. We'll conclude with what to do when you've gone ahead and done it - had dinner at 10 PM plus
half a bottle of rosé (I'm still nostalgic for summer, clearly).
We'll start with food, because it turns out that there's a world beyond warm milk and dry turkey to prime your body for your best bedtime. Some of the key chemical components of good sleep are calcium, magnesium, B6, and the famous tryptophan. The concept though isn't to eat foods containing these nutrients immediately before bed (though if you are going to midnight snack, these are better options) but to work them into your diet on a general basis. Nothing groundbreaking here I'm afraid; healthy food is healthy food, but if you are struggling with sleep, it might be worth checking to see if you can include more of these guys in your meals.
Melatonin is the hormone released by your body when you sleep, and a recent study has shown that drinking 2 glasses daily of tart cherry juice (which contains melatonin) helped with sleeplessness. Interesting, but, given that most of us would probably have to go on a bit of expedition to find tart cherry juice, and that, for all it's "tartness", it still quite sugar-laden, I would class this under one to try only if you're really struggling. Some people find melatonin tablets helpful, but in my experience they don't promote deep sleep and I've recently been told they can be habit forming, so sadly that is another potential shortcut I won't be taking.
More appealing beverages may be warm milk (I guess - yuck) and classic herbal teas like chamomile and lavender. Again, not exactly novel, but there are some ranges that do more interesting blends these days, like this one.
The list of what not to eat is obvious and boring - caffeine in the afternoon, heavy or sugary foods late at night (boo) and too much
fun booze all compromise our sleep. Welcome to the world of adult living. What's more interesting is what to do when you've done these things and still want to try to sleep well. That's coming up in another post - check back in soon. Here's a little preview: befriend some mamas, or invest in some pedialyte.
Anyone? Yeah, us too. But...why? Work/study/children/travel/friends/stress, or probably some combination of those. Between our increasingly fast-paced lifestyle, our cultural devaluation of sleep and technological innovations that make it practically possible to be UPALLNIGHT mean that sleep seems to be the first thing we cut in our efforts to get the most out of our days.
But the tide is turning; the importance of sleep to everything from how we look, to how we perform - in any arena of life, to how we feel and treat each other is becoming increasingly apparent as sleep research evolves. The message is clear: sleep matters, and, according to some, so much so that nothing less than a REVOLUTION in how we structure our days (and nights, and our homes, for that matter) is under way.
We never really gave that much thought to the fact that we were a little tired...isn't everyone? But Arianna Huffington's call to arms is a pretty dramatic demand for a re-evaluation of not only how we sleep, but how we live our lives. And so over the next few weeks, we'll be looking at the "why" of sleep importance, and "how" of sleep optimisation, always from the perspective of someone who wants to have her cake, and eat it too. Check in and cuddle up for an expo of the world of Zzz.