Ovulation and no sleep

We talk about this important women’s issue here. Men, you can keep scrolling on if you want.

I, like many other women, find it harder to sleep during the ovulation phase. Our progesterone levels are lower, and there isn’t a lot of estrogens. Flo.health says that they tend to drop at this time. I’m also a bit hungrier during this time as the egg is being fertilized around about now.

Image by Andrea Piacquadio

What is ovulation?

Ovulation is a period in a women’s cycle where she releases the egg. It normally happens on day 14 of her 28-day cycle. By that time, the mucus is very thick and white.

There is a temperature change in our bodies, and it is slightly cooler. After that, it gets warm again. When the body gets warm, we sleep much better. This could be a reason why some women don’t sleep well.

Low progesterone equates to insomnia, according to Conceive, easy. Some women take birth control pills.  Also, we experience no sleep problem right before our period

Ways to  control this

  • Keep a sleep diary for a couple of months just to record everything that is happening. You can do it on your Garmin app or Fitbit app. This will help you better understand your sleep.
  • If it gets worse, do see your GP. Your GP can recommend an oral contraceptive pill or some other pill to help you sleep better.
  • Make sure that you are eating enough. Women that don’t eat enough might have deficient progesterone and estrogen levels.

You are not alone in this.

Caffeine and sleep

Caffeine and sleep are related. When we don’t sleep well we tend to have more caffeine. I know I used to have more before the 30 days less caffeine challenge. Caffeine brings out the stay awake feeling as it is a stimulant. But it tends to create more problems for those that can’t sleep so well with caffeine.

After 15 mins of drinking it, you’ll feel the effects. Mayo Clinic says that many of us rely on caffeine to keep us going throughout the day. How much you can tolerate depends on the person itself. Saatva says that we should know our intolerances and tolerances to caffeine. Some people are jittery and wired up, whilst others relax.

Caffeine brings about disturbed sleep for more people. And when people are sedentary and have caffeine they don’t sleep as well. Caffeine is a whole buzz of activity and hype. We, the Melburnians love our caffeine and we would have lots if we could not sleep well. Coffee and energy drinks are the worst offenders with about 100-500 mg of caffeine.

Have a few of these and you’ll be buzzing. The Sleep Foundation says that caffeine cannot replace a good night’s sleep.

When I found that I drank less caffeine I slept much better at night and had not many PMS symptoms.

So if you want to have caffeine, don’t have it late in the afternoon and if you are sensitive don’t have too much of it. A little bit of coffee is ok as it is an antioxidant.

Do cut back if you are having too much.

National Nutrition week

It was National Nutrition week from the 12th of October to the 18th of October 2020.

Because of the Coronavirus and people staying at home a lot more, nutrition and gut health is essential. During the last six months of lockdown, it is reported that many people put on weight (myself not included, but other bloggers like Thanh).

This week it is essential to focus on heart-healthy food. For lunch, on the 1st day, I had a salad with Moro Olive oil. I had a homemade steak with mushrooms and Birds eye chips. There is nothing wrong with Pub food, but if you are going to the pub all the time or having takeaway pub food, then it is an issue. Pub food all the time is not healthy for the gut. Pub food is full of bad fats, and it’s usually frozen. The food is generally cooked in cheap vegetable oil.

I have been trying to up my vegetable game, and that is good. I had a salad for a couple of days for lunch, and some multigrain rolls from Coles. It was awesome. I also had watermelon, pear, bananas, and a wide variety of fruits. Even though it is not cold, I enjoyed some oats. Oats are full of fiber and can help lower cholesterol. They are also good for the heart.

I enjoyed tacos from Dingo Ate my Taco. They do the best homemade tacos ever, and I tried the pork one with beans and loved it.

On Friday it was my flatmate’s birthday, so I enjoyed some homemade spaghetti marinara and a small piece of black forest cake from Fergusson plarre.

Overall it was a good week, and I could do this at home while in lockdown.

The case against sugar: is natural sweetener better

We talk about sweetener vs. sugar and which is better for you. Most of us in COVID isolation has put on weight, and over 50% of Americans eat way too much sugar, which is bad for you. We add it to our coffee, and it is found in cakes, biscuits, some cereals, and jam.

There are 42 varieties of sugar, some of which are artificial. White sugar is one of them.

White sugar

White sugar is the calorie-laden sugars that are normally added to everything. There are 16 calories in one teaspoon. So 2 teaspoons of that are 32 calories.

What is sweetener?

Sweetener is natural sugars which have saccharin. It has 0.4 calories in each sachet. You can find them in the health food stores, and some cafes might have them. It can be added to baking and everything else that you make at home with sugar. You can also add it to coffee instead of your sugar.

Over the years, we got so many packets of sweetener at health expos that we decided to try the Norbu ones during isolation. These are naturally healthy for you, and I normally add two sachets to oats and one to coffee.

Stevia is a type of sweetener, and there was a study done on this in the States. It has zero calories, and The Journal of Nutrition has said that stevia beverages reduced appetite in healthy people. Thus it meant that they were less hungry before lunch

Next time when you are in the supermarket, do try sweetener instead of sugar. You might find that it tastes better and it’s better for your health. They are not as sweet as white sugar. After a while, you’ll get used to the taste. At first, you might find the taste a bit weird but keep trying, and you’ll get used to it.

Things to do with mushrooms

This article was written for Mushroom Day which is on the 15th of October.

It is mushroom season and mushrooms are full of the essential vitamins and minerals that we need. Here are some ways with mushrooms.

How to prepare mushrooms?

Mushrooms are really simple to do. With the dried Asian mushrooms that you buy in the Asian stores, you probably do need to soak them for a little bit in a bowl of water

There are many different types of mushrooms from the Japanese shitake, the Australian mushroom to the Chinese mushroom that we have during Chinese New Year

Mushroom salad

This is really easy to do and you can do it with just about anything you have at home.

Udon noodles with mushroom

This recipe is from Cooking with Chef Dai

Homemade mushroom pizza

Here you can use truffle oil for this. You can buy the pizza-making kit from supermarkets and I got the recipe from Heidi Larsen

Scrambled eggs and mushrooms

Just simply sauteed them in a pan and put it with scrambled eggs for breakfast. And then you add toast with your scrambled eggs and mushrooms.

The key to Optimal health is to eat better not less

Sun Basket wrote about this issue on Healthkickny. We spend billions of dollars and months of research on finding the best ways to be healthy even though we already know-how. We want to be skinnier and lose weight so we eat less. But sometimes and for some people, less is not on option. Some people have super skinny genes that some say that they may need to put some weight on.

Some days I just want to eat more and its perfectly ok.

About $8 million is spent on research every year and its on the things that we already know.

There is an article about this by Jamanetwork which turned the research on its head and says that the quality of the food we eat is what matters the most. They did a study on 609 participants and they were instructed to maintain a low fat or low carb diet. They also had to maintain their exercise for eight weeks and they had to attend a few healthy eating sessions held by a Registered Dietician. There wasn’t a lot of weight loss due to genetics and other things but their blood pressure, insulin, and glucose were lowered and the lipids had improved.

They say that dietary modifications are needed to lose weight. It takes 12 months just to lose the weight and keep it off for good. Healthy habits take time to develop. Not one diet suits everyone. We should be eating low-fat foods and more vegetables according to the USDA.

Yep like we say you should eat better for optimal health not less. And don’t worry about that weight loss. It’s just a number on the scale. Your health is what matters to you.

Why face cleaning is more important now

During Coronavirus times our face gets dirtier. I never really thought about that until I had a 14-day break from social media. Before COVID19 I never really washed or cleansed my face. 

But now that we’re forced to wear masks, I now wash my face every day. Underneath the mask that we wear to go out of the house, we sweat. When we sweat on our face it can produce acne. Acne for most is uncomfortable.

I have used the facial scrubs that I got for free at Melbourne Central during their treasure hunts and my skin is quite fine. One of them smells like bergamot which relaxes you.

You can buy various cleansers online, depending on what your skin type is. Sephora is a good place to start. They have a range of skincare. In Melbourne, we are under stage 4 restrictions which means that no skin or beauty place can open with the exception of Priceline (which is in fact a pharmacy)!

The supermarkets only have a very limited range of these cleansers and they might do more harm to your skin especially if you have really sensitive skin.

If you really want to be thrifty, you could use up all the ones that you have in the house first provided that it is usable

How to use a cleanser to clean your face

You need to have clean hands to do the job. 

First, get a facewasher and wet it. Then wipe it on your face to wet it. Then apply a tiny squirt of cleanser on your hand. Gently with your clean fingertip massage it around your face. Be careful not to put any in your eye. Then rinse it off.

And then put some moisturiser on your face


How COVID19 is changing the food market in Southeast Asia

Now that with people staying at home and not going out, the food scene has changed in Asia. People are opting for eating at home services and takeaways.

agriculture cherry tomatoes cooking delicious

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Mintel says that more people are looking for immune-boosting foods as they are worried about their immune systems. More people are turning to health food stores. After the pandemic, we would see health stores bounce back fast and make a profit.

Online shopping is becoming the new normal and we will see that for some time. Online grocery shopping is the norm seeing as they have experienced a surge in online orders. RedMart in Singapore has experienced “Unprecedented demand” for food and other household items.

During the pandemic, many restaurants and cafes have lent a helping hand to those that are doing it tough by giving away free food.

Most people are eating at home and brands are conscious of that. Many brands are spreading the COVID 19 message about eating at home and safe practices. Brands such as Ensure and Knorr spread messages about being immune to protect yourself against this deadly virus. Consumers are being reminded about having adequate sleep.

What brands need to know

Even after this pandemic has passed brands need to practice strict hygiene and remind customers to do so. They also need to know that online shopping will be around for quite some time as customers have gotten used to the convenience of having everything home delivered. Home cooking will be the norm after the pandemic has passed

Luteal Phase Defect

This has never been talked about before. Luteal Phase Defect can be quite serious. There are four phases of the women’s cycle: Menstruation, Follicular, Ovulation, and Luteal. The Luteal phase is the last one and it’s supposed to be fourteen days long.

It is a serious disruption in a woman’s cycle if not treated properly. 

Luteal Phase Defect is when the luteal phase of a woman’s cycle is shorter, resulting in a shorter cycle. This phase would be around 10-12 days. It is caused by low progesterone levels. I used to get this quite a few times pre COVID as I was exercising too much. I was trying to train for a marathon and also trying to learn my gym stuff. Thus this puts a lot of stress on my system. Now that the gym lockdown is almost over I will aim to only go to the gym twice a week and run four short runs a week.

As marathoners this not uncommon for us to get it if we don’t eat or rest enough during the week and in between runs.

Another risk factor for Luteal Phase defect would be obesity. People who are obese can expect to have a shorter luteal phase.

Anorexia has been linked to a luteal phase defect. 

What are the symptoms?

  • Spotting in between periods
  • Miscarriage
  • Trouble getting pregnant
  • Periods come more frequently

What should I do if I get these symptoms?

You could try modifying your diet and exercise. Try not to exercise as much and instead learn to love yourself. Be happy with the weight that you are. Try to get some good fats into your diet.

If all else fails and you’re still getting the defect after 3 periods then you should see your  GP and then they can help you out. Don’t wait until its too late. Don’t forget to mark when your period and symptoms were. You can do this on my apps like Myfitnesspal and the Garmin app which you can download from Google Play.


Sugar Free September 2020

This is partly a sponsored post from Snack Proud who have given us some items to try.

We are doing Sugar free September to learn more about living a sugar free life with COVID 19 restrictions. Meyer (2020) reports that fewer Americans are going sugar free with 74% of them are trying to quit sugar.  COVID19 restrictions means that we are housebound for most of the day. In Victoria we are in Stage four until the middle of September. Also some of the food processing plants would be significantly reduced at this time meaning that people cannot rely on processed foods.

We can have natural and free form sugars such as sugars found in fruits as that does give you some energy. Stevia is also allowed as that is a natural sugar. So too is Rice malt, Dextrose, and maltodextrin.

We tried the sugar free chocolate ball and enjoyed that as an after-dinner treat. It had no added sugar in it but stevia. 

We also tried Snack Proud’s bars which have about 9g of protein and are good for a hump day treat. The kombucha from the box was an awesome alternative to soft drink! It was a peach flavoured drink which had stevia in there. The keto cookie was really good

We supported a few cafes and things but most of the ones that are open have a lot of processed foods in there. When I went to the Boathouse I had their crossaint and their iced teas which are sugar free.

During the month we had homemade chicken roulade and burritos which are awesome.

What could cafes do promote sugar free behaviour and choices?

Now that we are outside more often, cafes are serving ice cream and iced lattes and other drinks which have sugar in them. Most of the salads at cafes have too much dressing in them.

What they could do is put the dressing on the side and the customer puts as much as they want in there.

Cafes could promote sugarless drinks and snacks that have stevia in them. They could sell plain fruit. 

Most supermarkets promote free fruit for kids which is a great option. Cafes too could do this at the end of the day to get rid of the fruits as well as promote healthy eating.