The petition against Subway to remove the chemical azodicarbonamide from their breads gave rise to some pretty funny social media jokes (like how now we all know where that unique subway bread scent comes from). And it’s definitely a good thing that this major chain is making a move to go more natural, and less chemical with it’s food products, even if it was under major public pressure. It made me pretty happy I have never been a fan of their sandwiches when I read the coverage. But, the same chemical is found in many products on other fast food restaurants menus, including:
- McDonald’s: regular bun, bakery style bun, bagel and English muffin, Big Mac bun and sesame seed bun.
- Burger King: specialty buns, artisan-style bun, sesame seed bun, croissant, English muffin, home-style Caesar croutons and French toast sticks.
- Wendy’s: bagel, premium toasted bun, sandwich bun and panini bread
- Arby’s: croissant, French toast sticks, harvest wheat bun, honey wheat bread, marble rye bread, mini bun, onion bread and sesame seed bun
- Jack in the Box: bakery style bun, jumbo bun, croissant, grilled sourdough bread and regular bun
- Chick-fil-A: chargrilled chicken sandwich, chicken salad sandwich, and chargrilled chicken club sandwich
- Dunkin’ Donuts: Danish, Croissant, and Texas Toast.
These other chains have not indicated an intention to remove the ingredient from their products, with the exception of Starbucks, which has already started a transition away from baked goods containing the chemical. So how concerned should you be? While it seems better to avoid it, there is no need to panic if you’ve been eating $5 foot longs for lunch every day. Europe and Australia ban the use of the ingredient, but it is actually FDA approved for use in controlled amounts. It has had bad effects in animal studies. It increases the level of urethane, a carcinogen, in bread when baked, but seems most harmful in its industrial form for workers exposed to it in high levels. The ingredient may not be desirable, but it is not so dangerous that it has been poisoning customers. Yet it is something to think about next time you find yourself looking for a quick bite. Is it really worth taking in all of those unnecessary chemicals from processed foods, or just waiting until you get home to make yourself a sandwich?
When I set my alarm to get up early before work to go for a run, or to go to the gym, there are many times that I don’t feel like going. As I make the preparations the night before, laying out my outfit, packing my workout bag, I often think how much nicer it would be to sleep a little longer instead. When the alarm goes off, sometimes it’s a tough battle to get out from under the covers rather than rolling over. On one of these mornings, I walked into the gym feeling all sorts of cranky, and wishing I had decided not to come. I was tired and unmotivated, but I got on the elliptical anyhow because I was there. Then I looked to my left, and I saw an old woman, so white-haired and frail that she had parked her walker next the elliptical three down from me. She was going slow, but she was going. If that’s not inspiration to work out as an able bodied young woman, I don’t know what is. She needed assistance walking, but still put in the effort to get in her daily exercise. I can walk just fine, and I was grumbling about being there. It reminded me of a blog post I read a long time ago about being thankful for being tired and sore muscles because it meant you had an active body that had carried you around all day, and keep you mobile- something you might realize you had taken for granted if it’s capabilities are ever taken away from you.
Then I saw The Huffington Post’s article on Olga Kotelko, the 90 year old track star. After she retired from her teaching job, she started competing in track and field in her 70s, and now she has 26 world record in her 90-94 age group as of today- an impressive record at any age, and especially so at hers. Olga doled out a few tips on staying healthy and active that included eating fresh, natural, unprocessed, and unrefined foods, while getting lots of sleep. She also sites keeping a balanced fitness routine that challenges cardio, flexibility, and muscles while training your brain by learning new things. Then finally she plans for the future, is looking forward to joining the 95-99 age bracket next, and keeps an optimistic outlook, saying, “You’re never too old to chase your dream!” Take a page from her book next time you are dreading a workout, and remember – if Olga can do it, you probably can too.
You already know that looking on the bright side is way more fun than being a Debbie Downer all the time. But what if it’s just not a part of your nature, and instead of seeing the silver linings, you’re more prone to seeing the big gray cloud hanging over your head? Well, you’re in luck! Author David Mezzapelle shared 10 ways that even the worst pessimist can try to be a little more optimistic.
- Be Thankful: If you aren’t aware of the good stuff you have going on, it’s hard to be happy with your life. Take stock of what is going right in your life, and what is going wrong. This will make you value what you’ve already got, and help you figure out how to turn those not so great things around. Hopefully 6 months from now, those awful things will be lessons that taught you something great that you can appreciate after the hardship is over.
- Tell Others Your Stories: By telling other people about the times you really messed up and how you coped, you pay it forward, making it easier for someone else to avoid those pitfalls you found first (and just in case you didn’t know, paying it forward will make you feel pretty good too).
- Don’t Hold Grudges: When you carry around bad feelings towards someone else, the only person they will make feel bad is you. Forgive and move on because while you can learn from it, you can’t change what’s happened in the past.
- Really Listen: Don’t half-listen while you play a game on your iphone. When you’re distracted, you send others the message that you don’t care about what they’re saying, and block yourself off from learning new things.
- Use the Green Monster: When you’re jealous or envious of what someone else has, that probably means you want something they have. Instead of festering about it, pick their brain and figure out how you can get it too – take that negative energy and use it to get what you want.
- Smile More: When you smile (even if you’re faking it), your body releases serotonin that will boost your mood. Frowning just gives you wrinkles.
- Lead a Healthy Lifestyle: Try to be active, eat healthy nourishing food, and get a little sunlight most days. Park farther away from the store. Take the stairs. Grab a pack of almonds instead of a candy bar at the drug store, and use that lunch break to go get some fresh air. Your body will thank you with better focus, higher levels of vitamin D, and a boost of energy.
- Think Good Things About the Future: Try not to always jump for the worst case scenario. Picturing the opportunities that will open up ahead of you instead of doors slamming in your face will help you see your life in a more positive light. Reposition the situation to one that has (even if it’s really tiny) some sort of pleasant effect on your life at the end, even if it sucks going through the steps you need to get there.
- Take Charge: Don’t blame things that are going wrong in your life on other people, the economy or politicians. If you decide you’re in control of your own life instead of looking for a scapegoat, you’ll be more open to opportunities that might come your way to get you out of that scenario.
- Know that the Past does not Predict the Future: If you had a crappy childhood, that does not mean you’re doomed to a crappy adulthood. If you screwed up your last relationship, it doesn’t mean you’ll fail at the next. When you go through something difficult, you typically learn something. Instead, think of it as a hurdle you’ve already jumped. Now the path is clear to move forward unobstructed.
What do you do when you’re in a funk, and want to look on the bright side?
I have in quite a few bridal parties, and as much as I love being a part of my friends’ special days, that business is expensive. From showers, to dresses, and bachelorette parties, it’s a financial investment (albeit one I am happy to make) in my friendships. Today, my most recent bridesmaid dress was dropped off for alterations, a little strap tweak in time for the ceremony just under two weeks. Now, this isn’t my first time in the alterations game, and typically tailors will charge a set amount for any small alteration (think shortening and adjusting straps), then up the price for more major jobs (like taking in or letting out globally for the garment). But this lovely women told my friend that for two dresses with just a small strap adjustment she would not accept any payment. She would not accept a gift card in thanks. What she wanted was only for us to pay her small kindness forward by either donating time or items to our favorite charity, or doing a good deed for another. I was bowled over by her generosity with her time to make a wedding a little bit less expensive for two complete strangers. It certainly made my day.
And, it probably made hers. There is something incredibly uplifting about doing something kind or generous for a stranger. Anyone who has donated to a thrift shop, or helped an elderly person cross the street knows that good feeling you get when you help someone else. In addition, the Huffington Post reported it can have real health benefits for do-gooders. Doing a random act of kindness for a stranger can improve heart health, contribute to lower blood pressure by triggering a release of oxytocin which opens blood vessels and protects the heart, and as an added side effect is can boost your mood to make you an overall happier person. So, keep it up! Doing good for others is good for them, good for your mood, and good for your health.
Has a stranger ever given you a random act of kindness? Have you given one to someone else?
It just might make you live longer. A study I read about on The Huffington Post found that women who drank 6 or more cups of coffee a day reduced their risk of dying young by 15% when compared to people who abstained completely from the glorious beverage. The benefit goes up the more coffee you drink. Scientists credit the caffeine and antioxidants as having a protective effect on health similar to small doses of aspirin. Your morning cup of joe can reduce your risk of dying from heart disease, stroke, respiratory illness, diabetes, and infections. So stop feeling guilty about that mid-afternoon Starbucks run (as long as you’re not buying sugary frappacinos and pastries), after all, it’s good for your health!