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5 Things You Should Never Microwave But You Didn’t Know

5 Things You Should Never Microwave But You Didn’t Know

You might want to think twice before going to heat up that plastic covered stew from last night.

Along with a fridge, stove and TV, I am pretty willing to bet you have a microwave in your home. That is a pretty safe bet as 95% of Americans own a microwave oven.

An Accidental Invention

Many things around us today have come about as a pure fluke such as post it notes, the Slinky, and Kim Kardashian’s career.

The Microwave falls under this category as well.

Percy L. Spencer was an electronics genius who served during World War II. On a tour, one of his laboratories he stopped for a moment in front of a magnetron, not the villain from Transformers but a large tube that drives radars. The tube’s ability to heat was noticed from a melting chocolate bar that was in his pocket.

To see if it was genuine heat, Spencer tested a bag of popcorn kernels that ended up popping all over over the room.

Seeing an Opportunity

This phenomenon might have just been regarded as an amusing experiment to Percy, similar to people dropping Mentos into bottles of Diet Coke; however he had over 150 patents to his name and saw a possibility.

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The first microwave oven stood five foot six inches tall and weight 750 pounds.

The microwave found a place early on in restaurants, rail cars and ocean liners as a means to cook large quantities of food.

It would take decades though before the microwave oven was developed as beneficial and affordable for the average family.

Cooking With a Radar Box

Make no mistake, a radar box is exactly what a microwave oven is. A microwave cooks food with oscillating electromagnetic energy that are very similar to radio waves but move back and forth at a much greater speed.

Where a normal oven’s heat slowly penetrates through food, microwave oven heat immediately reaches molecules around an inch below the surface of the food.

Microwaves produce non-ionizing radiation and there are studies that show that this can affect changes in your blood and heart rate along with microwaved food causing certain type of intestinal and stomach cancers

What specific things can be compromised by using a microwave?

Microwave ovens have to go through much more extensive testing and safety procedures these days so manufacturers will say the health risks are greatly reduced. Convenience is paramount and people will understandably try to save time when possible, but here are 5 things you are better off never putting in a microwave oven.

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1. Breast Milk

A key benefit of providing a newborn breast milk is being able to introduce the baby to powerful bacteria-fighting agents that are contained within the milk.

The Journal of Pediatrics ran tests on 22 samples of frozen breast milk heated in a microwave on either low or high heat and found that breast milk heated on high heat showed greater E-coli growth. This was 18 times higher than the milk heated without a microwave.

The samples microwaved at lower temperatures dramatically decreased isozyme activity as well as promoted the growth of harmful bacteria for babies

2. Broccoli

Broccoli is no stranger to the microwave as it is one of the most common quick heated vegetables around.

Any form of cooking is going to destroy some nutrients in food. Steaming is the most gentle and still causes a loss of around 11% of the antioxidant content of broccoli.

Cooking broccoli in a microwave with a bit of water lost up to 97% of its beneficial antioxidants.

3. Frozen Fruit

This has always been a big time saver. Buying frozen foods is actually not a bad idea as the flash freezing process can help preserve the nutrients of the fruit. Fruit immediately starts losing nutrients the moment it is picked. This is why frozen fruit or veg from the other side of the country can have a higher nutrient profile than local organic produce that might have spent more than a week in storage, transit and then on shelves.

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Russian studies in the late 70’s revealed that defrosting frozen fruit in a microwave ended up converting beneficial glucoside and galactaside into carcinogenic substances.

The Russians also continued studies into the early 90s that showed immunological effects of microwaves.

Frozen fruit is best thawed in a fridge or simply on a counter top at room temperature.

4. Defrosted Meat

Some microwaves rotate and some do not, which can lead to uneven distributions of cooking and thawing.

Frozen meat is a tough thing to have to defrost in a microwave, as it can take so long that it becomes very easy to start cooking it. Edges of meats can start to cook and turn brown while the inside remains frozen.

When that meat gets to the 40-140 degrees fahrenheit level bacteria begins to grow and multiply. If the meat is not immediately cooked you are looking at a pretty contaminated piece of meat.

Japanese researches found that meats cooked longer than 6 minutes in a microwave also lost half of its vitamin B-12 content.

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The best thawing tips are to let it defrost in a fridge overnight or thaw under cold, running water.

5. Dishes Covered in Plastic Wrap or in Plastic Containers

There are a lot of takeaways from this, but a very key one is to not microwave anything with any form of plastic around it. When you heat foods covered in plastic you can create carcinogens.

Heating these plastic wraps or containers can release harmful toxic chemicals directly into your foods. Some of the chemicals that can be derived from plastics are:

  • BPA
  • polyethylene terpthalate (PET)
  • benzene
  • toluene
  • xylene

Related to the breast milk issue above, it seems smart to not heat up any form of plastic baby bottle in a microwave.

Wrapping It All Up

Big changes in safety and design have definitely taken place in the manufacturing of microwave ovens. The companies that sell these products will be quick to point out the safety measures that were taken in their product’s creation.

Of course these companies will say that though, they really do not have a choice when sales and revenue are the bottom line.

The point is to try and prepare foods as traditionally as possible and eliminate or at least drastically reduce the use of microwave cooking.

Our time saving measures can actually end up causing us more problems in the long run.

Featured photo credit: Ethan via flic.kr

More by this author

Jamie Logie

Jamie is a personal trainer and health coach with a degree in Kinesiology and Food and Nutrition.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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