This is the kind of health and wellness article that I especially enjoy writing. The reason why is because, every time a big food trend comes out and/or folks watch some documentary and then vow to never eat a certain food again, I'm usually over here like, "Calm down. No need to be so extreme about everything. Moderation has always been the key".
And so today, we're gonna tackle eight foods that usually are the object of "don't do that" trends and docs. Should you consume them all of the time? As you're about to see in my breakdowns, absolutely not. At the same time, do they have absolutely no redeeming qualities at all? Yeah, that's not the truth either.
So, let's get into some foods that may be considered to be unhealthy, yet can actually benefit you, so long as you know what approach to take to them. Ready?
In order to break all of this down, as thoroughly as possible, it only makes sense to first explain why certain foods are considered to be unhealthy and then follow that up with the actual benefits that come with them. Let's start with beer. It's basically a fermented drink that is made from water, grain, hops and yeast (so if you've got an allergy to any of these things, it would automatically be a no-no for you). Since everything but the water in beer is a carb and carbs turn into sugar in our system, you can probably already guess that beer is a beverage that can help you to pack on the pounds (which is basically where "beer bellies" come from), if you're not careful. Also, consuming too much alcohol can lead to health issues like cirrhosis, hypertension and even breast and colon cancer.
Still, in moderation, beer can actually be a beneficial thing. The hops in it can help to reduce body inflammation; there are extracts in beer that can help to decrease tooth decay; there are also studies citing that moderate alcohol consumption (which includes beer) can reduce the risk for heart disease by as much as 42 percent, and since beer also contains the chemical element silicon, it can be great for increasing bone density and boosting your brain power too.
I know some people who act like bread is the devil. Here's why. Bread, especially white bread, tends to be high in carbs, low in micronutrients and made from sugar and gluten (which we'll get into a bit later). Plus, a lot of breads are made with refined flour which is the kind that has the bran pulled out of it. When you eat this type of bread, it can lead to obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
However, there are breads that are made from sprouted grains which is a good thing. That's because sprouted grains are a good source of protein, fiber, folate and Vitamin C. As a bonus, they're also much easier for your body to digest. If sprouted bread (like Ezekiel Bread) is a bit too "much" for you (it does tend to be a little on the hard side), sourdough contains prebiotics and is low on the sugar level side; 100 percent whole wheat bread leaves all of the grain intact and, flax bread has whole-grain flours and flax seeds which makes it one of the healthiest breads you can eat. Or, if you want to take a stab at making some of your own bread, click here for a recipe for soft whole wheat bread.
3. Hot Wings
I'm pretty much the kind of person who is gonna tear some chicken wings up regardless. But if you were ever wondering why some folks frown on this particular food, it's because, not only are (most) wings pretty much only comprised of skin and fat, the really good-tasting ones are usually fried. In fact, I once read somewhere that one wing can be anywhere between 165 and 200 calories. Then, if you add the ranch or blue cheese dressing into the mix, you're getting about 700 calories more (for five tablespoons).
So, what could possibly be the good side of 'em? It's actually the chicken itself. Chicken contains Vitamin B12 and choline which can help your nervous system to function properly. Chicken also has the amino acid tryptophan in it which makes it easier for your serotonin levels to stay in balance so that you can remain in a calm and relaxed mood. Chicken is also an awesome source of protein and we all need that for healthy hair and nails, to build muscle mass, and to keep building up our cells, bones, and what comprises our skin. Bottom line, if you want to keep a lot of the calories at bay, baking your wings instead of frying them is gonna be your best bet.
If cereal is your favorite breakfast food, I get why you might want to skip over this particular point yet try and bear with me, OK? The main reason why breakfast cereal is so problematic is a lot of brands are loaded with sugar, preservatives and refined carbs (which are basically carbohydrates that have been stripped of all their nutrients). One way to know if yours falls into this category is to check out the label. If you see that sugar is the second or third ingredient, it's got way more than what you need. Plus, a lot of breakfast cereals are also highly processed which is never a good thing.
So, what possibly could be good about breakfast cereal? Well, if you look for the kind that are high in fiber and low in sugar, you can still enjoy the convenience of eating cereal without compromising your health in the process. If you're curious to know what some of those brands are, Good Housekeeping did an article featuring 30 of 'em. You can check that out here.
Before getting into this one, it's important to put on record that eating a piece of fruit is so much better for you than drinking fruit juice. The main reason why is because when fruit is in its purest form, it's got the skin as well as the pulp which gives you unprocessed nutrients and fiber. That said, drinking juice can sometimes be an issue because it is a source of sugar and, based on how it's made, the sugar amount can be a lot. Just think about it—if you read the back of a label of your favorite juice brand, oftentimes the caloric intake is as much as 120-170 calories per serving. This means that you could easily consume all of the calories you need a day (which is roughly somewhere between 1600-2400 for us) by drinking a few glasses of juice alone! That's why moderation is key. Also, you should avoid juice cocktail (that is definitely full of sugar) or pasteurized juices; those typically have compromised nutritional content in them. I've also read that juice that has the label "not from concentrate" isn't a good look because those are oftentimes stored in tanks that don't contain much oxygen; as a direct result, the flavor and quality isn't all that great.
Still, if you're intentional about purchasing 100 percent juice, a cup of it will roughly equate to one serving of fresh fruit. And since fruit contains antioxidants, fiber, potassium and folate (for starters), it's not a bad thing to drink juice. It's all about selecting the right quality and not drinking it like it's water. 2-3 glasses a day is more than plenty.
6. Red Meat
Something else that some people loathe is red meat. I absolutely am not one of them. Anyway, the reason why it tends to be a very controversial topic is because of how some cows are treated (that's a fair point) and also because a lot of meat is processed improperly which leads to consuming hormones and preservatives. Plus, the fat that oftentimes comes with red meat can increase your chances of diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers (mostly colorectal cancer although it's actually a pretty low chance).
Why doesn't any of this absolutely terrify me? It's because I also know that red meat is high in protein, B-vitamins, iron, zinc, and selenium. As with just about everything on this list, the key is not to eat it all day, every day. Consuming a leaner cut, eating it no more than three times a week, and baking, steaming, or stewing it as much as possible helps you to get more benefits from red meat while lowering your chances of experiencing any health risks in the process.
Do you enjoy a nice cocktail at the end of the day? Aside from what I shared about alcohol in the beer section, the main things to keep in mind is alcoholic drinks tend to be high in calories and drinking too much can sho 'nuf turn you into an alcoholic. But if you're someone who only has one a day (or even better, 3-4 of 'em a week), for the most part, you should be fine (check out "Liquors That Are Gluten-Free (& Beneficial In Other Ways)"). Alcohol can boost your libido, make you less susceptible to colds and can even lower your risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease up the pike too. I've even read that 1-2 a day can lower the risk of death by as much as 18 percent. Sounds like a good reason to have margarita or mojito to me.
I'm pretty sure that a lot of y'all remember how going gluten-free was all the rage a few years back. If you've ever wondered what exactly gluten is, the best way to probably describe it is, it's a group of seed storage proteins; although, to be fair, it is mostly comprised of wheat protein. The reason why some doctors and nutritionists frown at gluten is because, clearly, if you have a wheat allergy of some sort, consuming it is only going to make your symptoms worse. Not only that but, if you've been diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder celiac disease, gluten can actually cause your immune system to attack your small intestine. Also, people with a form of celiac disease known as dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) should stay away from gluten because it can attack their skin rather than their small intestine.
But what if you don't have any of these issues? Well, because gluten falls into the carbs category and carbs (good carbs, that is) make up 50-60 percent of our diet, that is one reason to not go totally without it. Also, if you've heard someone say that gluten can cause you to pack on the pounds, that's a myth. In fact, oftentimes it's the gluten-free brands that have more calories (due to more "filler sugar" that's added) than the ones that contain gluten. And finally, while gluten itself isn't something that's loaded with nutrients, because gluten is usually found in foods like whole grains (which are packed with vitamins and minerals), the focus needs to be more on if the food that contains gluten is good for you; gluten being in it is really not that big of a deal.
Welp. I hope that debunked certain myths that you've heard. Listen, 2020 showed all the way out so, if you wanna have a beer and some chicken wings every once in a while—do it. It's not as bad as you might've thought it was. Sis, you're totally welcome.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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