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By Sali Green 18 Oct, 2017
This week I went for my 2nd appointment at Arnica Dental Care , this time to see the hygienist. I'm happy to say I no longer have anxiety about going to the dentist or hygienist, so for anyone who is slightly or severely phobic, I can assure you that the team at Arnica is very understanding and gentle. Before long you won't have even a flutter of fear about going.

Tips I find useful for anxiety about going to the dentist or hygienist:
1) Don't eat for a couple of hours beforehand - this helps you be able to open your mouth more easily without fear of gagging.
2) Have a calm hour before you go. If you're into meditation, this is perfect for balancing and quieting your mind in preparation.
3) Don't have coffee or other forms of caffeine (these can heighten feelings of anxiety).
4) Rinse often during your treatment, it breaks up the amount of time your mouth is being inspected or your teeth being cleaned.
5) Use 'tapping', otherwise known as EFT, on your fingers during your appointment. (I do mine by pressing into the corner of the fingernails rather than actually tapping the fingers. Let me know if you want a video demonstration of this!) Here's a quick YouTube I found on tapping:

Let me know how you get on!
By Cheranne Hack 04 Oct, 2017

There’s a knock at my door, it’s a delivery. I wasn’t aware I had ordered anything, let me think..ah, is it that time again already?! It's the precious, petite box of pure joy I’ve been eagerly waiting for, and it’s not a day too late! I tear into the paper, I can smell the warm, soft sweetness alluding to what’s inside this month. I find the signature note from the crafter of these little creations, then carefully open the box (so not to disturb the contents) to take a peak inside, with as much excitement as if receiving a puppy on Christmas morning! 

Sitting there I see nine individually wrapped chocolates. My very own, personalised smooth chocolate truffles created just for me! ‘Chocolates?’ you may think, ‘All that anticipation for a box of chocolates?!’ Well, I say unapologetically, yes! These aren’t just any high street chocolates, nor were they mindlessly ordered online - popped in the basket and paid for without a second thought. No, these OMmaZing bite-sized pieces of heaven were purposefully chosen by me and thoughtfully made for me.

I must resemble a wild bore snuffling in the undergrowth for a seasonal truffle rummage, eyes rolled back, digging in to these in utter delight! I can’t just stop at one, you see, it’s a problem (but one I’m not willing to change). I’ve heard there are others who suffer the same happy addiction. I think Daniella could create a self-help group for us called 'OMmaZing's Anonymous'? No? Well it sounds as if the amazingly Exclusive VIP Chocolate Club is the only other alternative then!

Chocolate Club is the perfect option for those of us who eat chocolate more regularly than to celebrate our own birthday. Especially if you treat yourself to chocolate at least once a month and consider yourself a healthy eater with a sweet tooth; desiring to know even the ingredients in your ice cream. I love chocolate but I don’t eat it too often, so when I do, I like my choice to be something I can take my sweet time to delight and indulge in. Chocolate Club is clearly the answer!

What I love about Chocolate Club, is that as well as it conveniently saves a trip to the supermarket to stock up on a couple of bars (which I’m not fussed about but eat anyway), I get to choose my own favourite fillings from a vast selection of flavours, right down to the type of chocolate used - from milk to raw cacao. I get the satisfaction of receiving a box just when I’d forgotten all about it, and usually right at a moment when I appreciate them most too. Upon their arrival, it sort of feels like I’m getting a reward or like a present to myself just to say ‘well done you’. I think it’s important to treat yourself sometimes and what better way to do it?

By Cheranne Hack 18 Sep, 2017

Those of you of a certain age may recall that ‘ Don’t Believe The Hype ’ is a half-remembered rap song from some years ago. At that time I was still working in my previous life of advertising and design. It’s a strange industry – obviously it makes its money from clients who have products and services they wish to sell to particular groups of people – and advertising agencies are as much a mainstream business as the clients they work on behalf of. Yet, the creative studios in which I spent many years were populated by very ‘alternative’ people who thought, bought and behaved very differently to the consumers they by and large were employed to influence. I felt quite comfortable there for a long time, but I look back with a certain discomfort on that world now.

Advertising is extremely influential in the highly lucrative and extremely competitive food and drinks industry (although I have never worked on campaigns in those sectors). Think how we have been persuaded to ‘ go to work on an egg ’, or that British Beef, New Zealand (and more recently Welsh) lamb and Danish bacon are somehow better than other counterparts. More recently, food and especially snack food, advertising aimed at children has become a hotly debated political issue. Jamie Oliver is a vociferous campaigner for a 9pm watershed for such advertising as are former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and former Health Secretary Alan Johnson. Yet little has changed. Major food brands have continued to target children with junk food products that dazzle young eyes and create a sense that such products are a normal part of everyday diet.

By Cheranne Hack 14 Sep, 2017
By Cheranne Hack 11 Sep, 2017

It was my birthday over the weekend. I played the game of reversing the numbers of my age as I often do, so for example, two years ago I was 15, last year 25 and this year I reached the ripe old age of 35! The game also involves recall and reflection too. Shortly after my 19th birthday in 1983 I left home to go and study in Wiltshire, leaving behind my South Devon comfort zone. I had been vegetarian for a relatively short time at that point, and I was excited about taking complete control of my own food. I regularly visited a health food shop called Swindon Pulse, which was an Aladdin’s Cave of open sacks of beans, grains and cereals with shelves piled high with meat replacement products that required rehydration, tins of exotic Eastern foods unfamiliar to me and also soya milk. At that time it was completely unavailable anywhere other than health food shops. I loved that shop – such shops had yet to re-imagine themselves as ‘pharmacies’ selling mainly supplements and bodybuilding potions, as they seem to now. I also liked one of the girls who worked in the shop, but that’s another story altogether.

Also I remembered being at primary school in the 1970s, at which point the full horror of school milk came flooding back to me. Miniature milk bottles holding, I think, 1/3 of a pint that arrived in the classroom first thing in the morning and were then stored on the radiator and in full sunlight. Needless to say, by the time my teacher had brutally stabbed the lids of each bottle with a knitting needle and inserted a straw later in the day, this full-fat bottle of misery was warm and thoroughly sour. I will forever be grateful to the late Margaret Thatcher for scrapping school milk (although there is little else in her legacy I am grateful for). I hated that school milk with a passion and as a result I’ve had a strong dislike for milk ever since.

Milk was no loss to me whatsoever when I shifted my diet to a fully vegan one a couple of years ago. To many, however, it is a default in the household fridge. Why? How did it come to be that humans became the only animal group to never become fully weaned?

By Cheranne Hack 04 Sep, 2017

Photography by Lisa Lavery

A guy we know went vegan last week, he announced to the world (on Facebook of course). Actually that’s not quite true, he has adopted a plant-based diet for a while in order to help him to lose some weight. He’s quite a big guy, he’s also a bit of a bacon butty and burger type character. As a result of his post he’s received many comments essentially sneering at his decision and making jokes about his eating habits pre last week. No doubt that’s been disheartening for him, but he has already shed 5 pounds. Not bad going, hey?

He proudly posted images of his enormous basket of fresh vegetables – a rainbow of colour which he intends to be the basis of his meals this coming week. We have given him some help and support with a few pieces of advice around supplementing his vegetables with other food types to help him feel more full and also to balance his diet a little better.

Now… perhaps this sounds like you. Or, you may already have made a more long-term decision, you could even be thinking about ‘meat-free Mondays’ or perhaps introducing more plant-based days into your weekly meal planning. All power to you, I say. What I want to discuss in this week’s blog are ways in which you can eat satisfactory, healthy and nutritionally balanced meals.

This will sound a little odd at first, but you need to prepare to eat more! I know, great isn’t it? Plant-based food can be extremely filling, but you will require greater volume. To put it in simpler terms – a meal comprising vegetables and pulses, for example, will need to completely fill your stomach. A heavily meat based meal should only half fill it, and a dairy-based meal a bit less again. So fill your plates, people!

By Sali Green 30 Aug, 2017
Coffee is one of those things - you either love it or hate it. You know if you like the taste or not (or if it’s just a reason to drink sugar and cream). You know how it makes you feel (i.e. your gut, your mind, etc.).

Not to mention the crazy headlines that say coffee is great, and the next day you should avoid it!

There is actual science behind why different people react differently to it. It's a matter of your genetics and how much coffee you're used to drinking.

NOTE: Coffee does not equal caffeine. Coffee contains between 50-400 mg of caffeine/cup, averaging around 100 mg/cup. Coffee is one of the most popular ways to consume this stimulant. But… a cup of coffee contains a lot of things over and above the caffeine. Not just water, but antioxidants, and hundreds of other compounds. These are the reasons drinking a cup of coffee is not the same as taking a caffeine pill. And decaffeinated coffee has a lot less caffeine, but it still contains some.

Let's look at caffeine metabolism, its effects on the mind and body, and whether coffee drinkers have higher or lower risks of disease. Then I’ll give you some things to consider when deciding if coffee is for you or not.

Caffeine metabolism

Not all people metabolize caffeine at the same speed. How fast you metabolize caffeine will impact how you’re affected by the caffeine. In fact, caffeine metabolism can be up to 40x faster in some people than others.

About half of us are 'slow' metabolizers of caffeine. We can get jitters, heart palpitations, and feel 'wired' for up to 9 hours after having a coffee. The other half is 'fast' metabolizers of caffeine. They get energy and increased alertness and are back to normal a few hours later.

This is part of the reason those headlines contradict each other so much - because we’re all different!

The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body

NOTE: Most studies look at caffeinated coffee, not decaf.

The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body also differ between people; this is partly from the metabolism I mentioned. But it also has to do with your body’s amazing ability to adapt (read: become more tolerant) to long-term caffeine use. Many people who start drinking coffee feel the effects a lot more than people who have coffee every day.

Here’s a list of these effects (that usually decrease with long-term use):
⦁ Stimulates the brain
⦁ Boosts metabolism
⦁ Boosts energy and exercise performance
⦁ Increases your stress hormone cortisol
⦁ Dehydrates

So, while some of these effects are good and some aren’t, you need to see how they affect you and decide if it’s worth it or not.

Coffee and health risks

There are a ton of studies on the health effects of coffee, and whether coffee drinkers are more or less likely to get certain conditions.

Here’s a quick summary of what coffee can lead to:
⦁ Caffeine addiction and withdrawal symptoms (e.g. a headache, fatigue, irritability)
⦁ Increased sleep disruption
⦁ Lower risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
⦁ Lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes
⦁ Lower risk of certain liver diseases
⦁ Lower risk of death ('all-cause mortality')
⦁ Mixed reviews on whether it lowers risks of cancer and heart disease

Many of the health benefits exist even for decaf coffee (except the caffeine addiction and sleep issues).

NOTE: What’s super important to note here is that coffee intake is just one of many, many factors that can affect your risks for these diseases. Please never think regular coffee intake is the one thing that can help you overcome these risks. You are health conscious and know that eating a nutrient-rich whole foods diet, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep and exercise are all critical things to consider for your disease risk. It’s not just about the coffee.
By Cheranne Hack 28 Aug, 2017

The day the world went vegan. Well, for a few hours it seemed that way. Amidst a Bank Holiday weekend blessed with welcome but long awaited sunshine, Saturday became Cheltenham Vegan Fair day. Something approaching 100 stall holders, charities and talk/workshop ‘deliverers’ descended on the Town Hall to be joined by in the order of 2000 visitors throughout the day – many of whom waited patiently in a queue snaking far into Imperial Square and beyond, to get in.

Food and nutrition were high on the list of offers inside the Town Hall – some amazing caterers performing miracles with plant-based ingredients. Independent cake and savoury bakers working wonders with pastry or whipped dairy-free frostings. Artisan cheese-makers, dairy-free mayonnaise and coleslaw producers, raw food specialists and nutritionists added an incredible diversity to the products on offer. Visitors were also treated to a long list of excellent talks and workshops which approached food and nutrition in a variety of unique ways.

Let’s not forget either the organisations who are dedicated to changing our lifestyles. Shoe-makers doing incredible things with faux-leather goods, ethical clothing makers and sellers, cruelty-free cosmetics and powerful change-makers such as Friends of the Earth, Sea Shepherds, several animal sanctuaries and many inspirational speakers. I’m sure I’ve missed other contributors too, if that’s you, I’m sorry, my memory isn’t what it was!

By Cheranne Hack 24 Aug, 2017
My friend Jane told me that August is the month when they start coming out in force, which is not ideal if you are not keen on them. The good news is that they apparently hate cinnamon, lemon and peppermint oils. The even better news is that you can buy these oils. Waft the aromas around by putting them in your diffuser. Put a few drops of the oil in a water spray bottle and spray a mist of your concoction along the skirting boards or anywhere else you think they may be lurking nearby. You'll have them running for cover on their nasty little hairy spider legs in no time.


Read about spiders here:
By Sali Green 21 Aug, 2017
Once again, the mainstream food manufacturers have hit the headlines, with public health organisations demanding that the efforts to reduce sugar in mass-produced food should be further supplemented by calorie reductions in popular foods such as pizza, burgers, ready-meals and crisps. This applies to organisations like Pizza Hut, McDonalds and Starbucks as well as manufacturers of supermarket products.

Public Health England chief nutritionist, Dr Alison Tedstone, said "we have a serious problem - one in three children leave primary school either obese or overweight; if we want to tackle this we have to look at calories. There are a number of ways it can be done – we can reduce the size of the products or change the ingredients."  NHS Choice suggests that on average people in the UK consume between 200 and 300 calories more than they should on a daily basis. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has also said that whilst these initiatives are voluntary among manufacturers, the Government will be prepared to legislate if there is no satisfactory progress.

For me, it's a sad indictment of the UK we currently live in that improving the nation’s diet is based around making cheap, fat-filled foodstuffs healthier. The Americanisation of our high streets, our supermarket shelves and our food choices are the real enemy here. It's no accident that the cheapest, easiest foods for us to consume are also the unhealthiest. How could it be any other way? Cheap processed meat products are virtually glued together with heavily salted, congealed fat and water to make them appear larger. Ever wondered why frying cheap bacon leaves a pool of salty, fatty water in the pan? The cheap, greasy cheeses that melt all over these foods is highly addictive, leaving us craving more. The low nutritional values of mass-produced food are unsatisfying, leaving us feeling the need to eat more. Goodness me, when I was a child the humble British chip was perceived as the enemy. It’s positively saintly nowadays, when compared to other horrors inflicted on us.

Demanding that food producers make the cheap products we now take for granted healthier is not the solution, in my opinion. For as long as we demand them, the industry will continue to explore cheaper, even more ethically and environmentally unsustainable ingredients and processes in order to sell us our addictive fix more cheaply. A 20% reduction in the calorific content of a pizza or a reduction in its size will not save the nation’s health or more worryingly that of its children. We simply have to wise up and take a long hard look at what we eat and how we eat it. This applies to everyone, irrespective of their dietary choices – meat-eaters, vegetarians and vegans alike are guilty of eating unhealthy, unsustainable junk foods on an epic scale.
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