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Which Country Has The World’s Best Diet (And How Can We Learn From It)?

Which Country Has The World’s Best Diet (And How Can We Learn From It)?

In our modern world, nothing quite highlights the privileges we posses like the availability of food and the overconsumption present in our society. Those who have access to grocery stores rarely take the time to reflect on just how fortunate they are to have such an abundance of food at their disposal. This creates a dangerous complex and the byproducts are issues like morbid obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

The overabundance of food in restaurants and at stores raises a question: are these first-world conveniences hurting us more than they are helping us? Sure, we all need to eat everyday, but is the accessibility factor actually responsible for unhealthy outcomes in countries like America?

An important study spanning decades

The Lancet Global Health recently posted a journal based on a decade-long study of the diets of almost 4.5 billion adults across 187 countries. Their findings are both important and surprising. Those who live in high-income countries often do not realize that the vast number of food-related conveniences at their disposal can actually be a dangerous thing.

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    According to this research, which contains data that spans two decades, people from countries in Africa such as Chad, Mali, and Cameroon have the healthiest overall diets. Other low-income countries such as India and China have consistently healthy diets as well.

    The study found that although the worldwide consumption of healthy foods has increased during the last two decades, so has the the intake of unhealthy foods such as processed meals and excessively sweet drinks. In countries like America, people have grown accustomed to getting exactly what they want, exactly when they want it. Thus, supply and demand creates an avenue for overconsumption and excessive waste. These concepts are ideologies of the psychology of grocery stores.

    The findings of this study propose that nations have been increasing their consumption of unhealthy foods at different rates. A large number of high-income nations are showing decreased rates of consuming unhealthy foods, but they are still far behind most African countries in terms of truly healthy eating. These countries have had healthy diets for generations and practice much more restraint when it comes to leading balanced lifestyles.

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    An article from The Telegraph identifies the best of the healthy and worst of the unhealthy:

    Countries with the healthiest diets:

    • Chad
    • Mali
    • Cameroon
    • Guyana
    • Tunisia
    • Sierra Leone
    • Laos
    • Nigeria
    • Guatemala
    • French Guiana

    Countries with the most unhealthy diets:

    • Armenia
    • Hungary
    • Belgium
    • USA
    • Russia
    • Iceland
    • Latvia
    • Brazil
    • Colombia
    • Australia

    So how does America truly stack up? America is easily one of the most unhealthy places in world, ranking near the top of the “unhealthy diets” list.

    America is experiencing an ongoing health crisis. One in four deaths in the United States is related to heart disease, which is commonly a byproduct of poor diet, and 735,000 Americans have heart attacks each year. Aside from cardiac issues, obesity is a massive problem in the United States as well.

    A little more than one third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese. Rates of obesity have more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in just the past 30 years. Childhood obesity is certainly an issue we must face.

    Beyond poor diet choices, millions of Americans are dependent on alcohol and 81.3 million Americans smoke tobacco products or use smokeless tobacco regularly.

    Think about how overconsumption may be a part of your life. Focusing more on healthy foods at proper portions instead of constantly indulging is a step in the right direction. I’m by no means implying that you should give up all of your favorite foods and snacks cold turkey. Focus on a lifestyle that is balanced.

    A great way to lead a healthier lifestyle is by introducing new healthier meals into your diet. The following African-inspired dishes are an excellent jumpstart to a healthier mindset. (All recipes courtesy of Eating Well).

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    Three African dishes that are healthy and delicious

    Moroccan-Style Stuffed Peppers

    “Aromatic savory-and-sweet stuffed peppers are a satisfying supper, thanks to lean beef, brown rice and bell pepper in each bite. Serve with rainbow chard sautéed with olive oil, garlic and parsley.”

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      Ingredients:

      • 1 8- to 10-ounce bag microwavable brown rice or 1 2/3 cups cooked brown rice
      • 4 medium-to-large bell peppers, tops cut off and seeded
      • 1 pound lean (90% or leaner) ground beef
      • 1/2 cup currants
      • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
      • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
      • 2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable juice, such as V8, divided
      • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish
      • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
      • 3/4 teaspoon salt
      • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

      1. Heat rice according to package directions. (If using cooked rice, skip to Step 2.)

      2. Place peppers upside-down in a microwave-safe round casserole dish just large enough to fit them. Add 1/2 inch water to the dish and cover with a lid or inverted dinner plate. Microwave on High until the peppers are tender but still hold their shape, 3 to 6 minutes. Drain the water and turn the peppers right-side up.

      3. Meanwhile, cook beef and garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in currants, cumin and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the rice and cook for 30 seconds more. Remove from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup vegetable juice, cup mint, orange zest, salt and pepper.

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      4. Spoon the beef mixture into the peppers. Pour the remaining 2 cups vegetable juice into the dish and cover. Microwave on High until the juice and filling are hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve the peppers with the sauce and garnish with mint, if desired.

      Kumquat Tagine

      “A tagine is a slow-cooked Moroccan stew (traditionally served over couscous)—but here it’s quicker and (dare we say it?) tastier, thanks in large part to the bright spike of kumquats.”

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        Ingredients:

        • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
        • 2 onions, thinly sliced
        • 4 cloves garlic, slivered
        • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
        • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat, cut into 2-inch pieces
        • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
        • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
        • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
        • 1/2 teaspoon salt
        • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
        • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
        • 1 14-ounce can vegetable broth
        • 12 ounces kumquats, seeded and roughly chopped (2 cups)
        • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
        • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey

        1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

        2. Heat oil in an ovenproof casserole or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and ginger; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

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        3. Add chicken; cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes. Stir in coriander, cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper and cloves; cook until aromatic, about 20 seconds. Stir in broth, kumquats, chickpeas and honey. Bring to a simmer.

        4. Cover the pan and transfer to the oven. Bake, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the broth is bubbling and somewhat reduced, about 1 hour.

        Grilled Salmon with North African Flavors

        “Our version of the classic North African herb paste known as chermoula serves as both a marinade and a sauce for this richly flavored salmon. If it is too cool to grill outdoors, you can roast the salmon at 450 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes.”

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          Ingredients:

          • 1/4 cup low-fat or nonfat plain yogurt
          • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
          • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
          • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
          • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
          • 3 cloves garlic, minced
          • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
          • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
          • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
          • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
          • 1 pound center-cut salmon fillet, cut into 4 portions
          • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

          1. Stir together yogurt, parsley, cilantro, lemon juice, oil, garlic, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup for sauce; cover and refrigerate. Place salmon fillets in a large sealable plastic bag. Pour in the remaining herb mixture, seal the bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes, turning the bag over once.

          2. Meanwhile, preheat grill to medium-high.

          3. Oil the grill rack. Remove the salmon from the marinade, blotting any excess. Grill the salmon until browned and opaque in the center, 4 to 6 minutes per side. To serve, top each piece with a dollop of the reserved sauce and garnish with lemon wedges.

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          Robert Parmer

          Freelance Writer

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          Last Updated on August 20, 2019

          How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

          How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

          Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

          Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

          I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

          You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

          Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

          When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

          I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

          Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

          Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

          Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

          1. The Inner Critic

          This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

          • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
          • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
          • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
          • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

          The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

          Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

          2. The Worrier

          This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

          The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

          3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

          This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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          This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

          The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

          4. The Sleep Depriver

          This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

          The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

          • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
          • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
          • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
          • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

          How can you control these squatters?

          How to Master Your Mind

          You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

          Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

          There are two ways to control your thoughts:

          • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
          • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

          This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

          The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

          Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

          For the Inner Critic

          When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

          You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

          For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

          You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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          “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

          If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

          • They rile up the Worrier.
          • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
          • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
          • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
          • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

          Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

          Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

          For the Worrier

          Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

          Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

          You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

          • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
          • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
          • Muscles tense

          Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

          If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

          Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

          “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

          Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

          If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

          Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

          Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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          For example:

          If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

          “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

          Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

          “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

          Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

          For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

          Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

          The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

          • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
          • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
          • Muscles tension

          I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

          Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

          Breathe in through your nose:

          • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
          • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
          • Focus on your belly rising.

          Breathe out through your nose:

          • Feel your lungs emptying.
          • Focus on your belly falling.
          • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

          Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

          Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

          One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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          Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

          For the Sleep Depriver

          (They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

          I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

          Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

          1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
          2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

          When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

          From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

          For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

          If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

          You can also use this technique any time you want to:

          • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
          • Shut down your thinking.
          • Calm your feelings.
          • Simply focus on the present moment. 

          The Bottom Line

          Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

          You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

          Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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          Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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