Let’s talk about girls (and their issues with food). There, I said it.

R U OK? 

Today is ‘R U OK?’ Day. A day to remind us that a simple question can do a lot.

In this context, I have decided to write about a rather contentious topic. A topic which is difficult to put into words and even more difficult to discuss publicly. However, I have chosen to write a post about it because I think that it is something we need to talk about. Why? Because I am sick of witnessing so many women feeling so guilty for eating a piece of cake, when we have way bigger fish to fry. It may sound silly to some of you, so you don’t have to read on, but I do know a number of girls who have fallen into some degree of depression over this so, in my opinion, it is definitely worth addressing.

Firstly, although I am primarily targeting this post towards girls (simply because I feel that girls are the ones concerned by this more than boys), I am by no means excluding any gender.

The myths about the ‘superfood’ trend (or whatever you want to call it)

Right, so… Girls, let’s talk about food.

Far too many young women are uncomfortable and unhappy about the way they look. One of the biggest causes of this is the over ‘healthy’ trend which has begun to spread everywhere. Everyday we are bombarded with information about what we should or shouldn’t be doing. It seems that the obsession is ‘how to loose weight?’, ‘what’s the best work out to do?’, ‘what is the best detox to do?’ and the list goes on.

Sorry but that just makes me sick.

It’s so freaking stupid that we let ourselves get so carried away with it all. I’m sorry to break it to you but all of these so called ‘healthy’ brands and advocates for healthy/sports only really care about making money. Ok, maybe not all of them, but 99% of them maybe?

Yep, I fell for it too

What can I say… I will admit that I completely fell in this silly vicious cycle too. Thankfully, I stopped myself before it got out of hand as I realised what type of person I was becoming. I also catch myself occasionally falling back into that sort of frame of mind but I quickly move on to something else, something worth my time and worry.

Your guide to a healthy, balanced and happy self

The good news is I have some advice to give to all of you. And I would LOVE for you to get back to me if you have any questions or would like to share your story/advice/thought with me too!

The key is to: keep it simple!

Rule number 1: Don’t over think it

Do not over think what you eat. It is very important to eat heathy, however, there is a difference between being healthy and being ‘over’ healthy. Think back to when you were a child and did not understand the concept of how ice-cream could be bad for you. Eat what you want! Eat bread! Eat three proper meals a day and stop the snacking. When I go to France I witness people who love their food and eat lots. They just know when to stop and they don’t over think it.

Rule number 2: Don’t over do it

Don’t exercise like a maniac. Be active, yes, definitely. That is so important. But you don’t have to do something if you don’t want to. If running is not your thing then walk. Walking to work if a great start. Or doing yoga or joining a team sport maybe? Quit the gym if it makes you unhappy and puts you in a shit mood. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Rule number 3: Don’t follow it

Stop following those stupid Instagram accounts of women who spend their lives spray tanning and staring at themselves in the mirror. Or the accounts that only drink green tea and almonds for breakfast. Read a book instead, or catch up on the world news.

To sum it up

The less you think about it the better you will feel and the better you will look. I promise. If you need to chat to anyone please feel free to contact me.

For more information about R U OK? Day click here.

Need-Help-Now

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Supercharged Vegetarian Salad (and a note about food sustainability)

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I’ve grown up in a family which eats a lot of meat. My dad especially loooves his meat. He always sources very nice free range meat and, benefitting from the fact that I still live at home, I am so lucky to have access to such good food beautifully prepared by him most evenings. As a matter of fact, my cousins live on a cattle farm in France which explains why my dad loves his red meat so much!

However, I am well aware of the fact that the world is currently undergoing a food sustainability crisis. I’ve actually done a bit of work for Oxfam as part of a university assignment which focused around this issue of food security. In a nutshell: first-world countries eat too much and source their food in an unsustainable manner by importing and exporting way too many products, wasting an unbelievable amount of food and unsustainably growing certain plants/fruits/veggies which has serious negative environmental impacts on the planet. We simply cannot keep going the way we are. If we do then soon enough there will be no food left and our environment will be a wreck (even more than it already is…)

So… I do try to moderate my consumption of meat because I know that if every person on the planet ate as much meat as my dad does then we would be in big trouble (no offence dad). Unfortunately, I am not vegetarian because I love my protein way too much and feel that my body struggles without it. Nevertheless, I have a small amount of animal protein only once a day and then have no animal protein at all once or twice a week. I know it’s not much but I feel that a small step is better than nothing. For both sustainable and health reasons I try to vary my animal protein intake, for example, mix it up between fish, red meat, poultry and crustaceans. I also pay attention to where I get my animal protein from and avoid getting food which I know is unsustainably sourced (yet I must admit that it’s not always that easy to find out these things).

I would highly recommend checking out Oxfam’s GROW campaign which provides heaps of ideas on how to eat in a more sustainable manner. Here’s the GROW method at a glance:

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Anyway, here’s the recipe for a supercharged (as in super healthily charged) vegetarian salad:

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P.s: this salad was made from left overs in my fridge – again, trying to minimise waste and eat more sustainably!

Ingredients:

  • Salad leaves (I used spinach and steamed kale but you could also use lettuce or rocket for example!).
  • Two poached eggs (method on how to easily make perfectly poached eggs can be found here).
  • Cherry tomatoes (cut up into small quarters).
  • Handful of cut up cucumber.
  • 1/4 of an avocado (thinly cut).
  • Sprinkle of goats cheese (feta, halloumi or ricotta could also work here).
  • Dressing: roughly 2 parts olive oil, 1 part apple cider vinegar, 1 part mustard.

Method:

  1. Cook your poached eggs (takes 3-4 minutes)
  2. While the eggs are cooking mix all your ingredients together in a bowl (don’t forget a bit of dressing).
  3. Add the poached eggs.

So easy! You can even prepare this salad in the morning and bring it to work for a very healthy and real tasty vegetarian meal. I find that this salad has a perfect mix of greens, healthy fat and flavour. If you’re lucky enough to have the day off like I did then enjoy eating this delish salad along with a very good book like ‘Eat, Pray and Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert.

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Note: Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar Book really inspires me and I often base my meals upon it (link to the I Quit Sugar blog here). Even though this book might sound like a silly ‘diet’ book it really isn’t anything like it. On the contrary, Sarah Wilson writes a lot about ways to minimise food waste as part of her overarching food sustainability vision and she discourages dieting, opting for simple well-balanced meals incorporating healthy fat, greens,protein and a small amount of carbs (and obviously, given the title of her book, avoiding sugar). I like the way she writes. I have one book of hers and it has an endless amount of yummy recipes which I love to play around with. Give it a try and you might find you like it too!

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Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions!

With love,

Camille.

Charlie Hebdo Where Do I Even Begin?

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Now that the tension and media attention about France’s recent terrorism ordeal had gone down slightly I would like to share my thoughts regarding this issue which was, evidently given my background, very much close to my heart. I must state very clearly upfront that, although I am atheist and am rather anti-religion, I respect the fact that we live in a multicultural society and I have nothing against anybody who practices any religion. In particular, I respect the Muslim community and I do not affiliate the recent events with your religion and beliefs at all. On the contrary, I wish to console you for having to undergo what must be some particularly scary times for you. The only thing I do have a problem with is those people who drive negative extremist ideologies in the name of religion but I will come to that a bit later in my post.

Charlie Hebdo. Where do I even begin?

First off, I wish to send my deepest condolences those who have been affected by these attacks and to all the families and friends of the victims. Now, writing about this topic is proving much more difficult than I would have ever imagined. Why? Because this whole matter began by an attack on writers. An attack on freedom of expression. So yes, there is a strange feeling of anxiousness hovering over me as I am typing on my old laptop keyboard. But let me tell you. The more I write, the more this grey cloud is disappearing. Charlie Hebdo, you are an inspiration. I realise how grateful I am to live in a democratic country where I am allowed to share my opinions and views.

Charlie Hebdo represents the right to freely express ourselves, the right to laugh and be satirical. Yes, they had an opinion and more often than not distributed very grotesque cartoons. Yes, they offended certain people and schools of thoughts. But what is a world where we cannot share ideas and opinions? If we didn’t have people who had the courage to object to certain ideologies then how can the world ever evolve and become a better place?

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I’m not going to hide the fact that I felt slightly uneasy about Charlie Hebdo’s most recent cartoon cover which came out last Wednesday. I thought to myself ‘Ahhh is it kind of bad that they are representing the prophet again? That’s the main reason they were so cruelly attacked in the first place. Will it offend more people and stir up even more tension?’ Then my opinion shifted. I realised that, yes there is no doubt that drawing a cartoon representing the prophet is against the Muslim religion. However, just because some people who practice a religion are not allowed to draw their prophet doesn’t mean that everybody must obey to this rule. Just like some people are not allowed to eat pork for religious reasons yet it would be absurd to ban pork from every restaurant for example. You might think that’s it’s naive of me to say that. I know this is not just black and white. But at the end of the day, as much as I respect the fact that I might be making some uninformed judgment here, I do believe that just because certain religions impose certain rules it does not mean that if someone were to disobey that rule (whether they are practicing the religion or not) they should be physically or mentally attacked.

What do I take from all of this?

What I admire the most about France is its deep culture. French people are known for debates, we have constant debates whether it be between our political parties to debates during family dinners. This is what makes us special. This is why some of the most significant paradigm shifts have been driven by French philosophers.

The recent atrocities have not only shaken France but the whole planet. However, somehow these events were also very significant. They gave French people the opportunity to feel and demonstrate a great deal of mobilisation and unity. Together, we are stronger than the desire to activate fear and violence.

What next?

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Sadly, there is without a doubt a growing terrorism movement. However, the people who believe in such ideology will never win. How do we stop them? I do not have the answer. All I can say is we must erase those extremist negative ideologies from a large number of people. They need to realise that no religion would applaud committing an act of terrorism. On the contrary, their barbaric actions reflect extremely poorly on the religion they claim to be driven by. We need to target the people who brainwash disadvantaged ones and install within them dangerous attitudes and behaviours. Most importantly, we need to stand strong and not be afraid to speak out against extremists. Newspapers like Charlie Hebdo have a very significant role to play in communicating a warning message to the world.

I could go on an on about this issue which fascinates me but I understand that you have better things to do then to read my blog for hours so I’ll try to keep it short.

To the victims of the attacks, I send my deepest condolences. You will be remembered forever. You have not suffered for nothing, Your courage and opinion has been spread across the world and has be heard. Rest in peace.

The Gift of Loving

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I am finally on summer vacation!! Hoorayyy! Not only does that mean more sunshine, it also means more time for blogging :) Yes, I must admit that Uni really did creep up on me last semester so I gave my blog a bit of a break but now I am back on!

So today I would like to write about ‘the gift of loving’. So… what do I mean by that?

Well, you see, the past few weeks have been very busy for my family and I. While end of semester exams completely drowned me with uni work, my parents have been incredibly occupied with their respective businesses. Everyone goes through really busy periods like these. Times where we have so much on that we can start to feel a bit lost and overwhelmed. We become so busy that we are afraid to stop working on what it is we are trying to achieve because we feel guilty for taking ‘time off’.

This is where things can go wrong (and this is where my blog post comes in).

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I have come to understand that it is precisely during these busy times that we need to take a moment to reflect and breathe. It is actually crucial for us to do that and, in my opinion, it is the key to success. Don’t get me wrong here, I am NOT a professional in that domain, I am actually very much a learner still. Nevertheless, I can talk from my experiences and I’d love to share some of my sentiments with you. Everyone is different and I cannot prescribe the perfect ‘breather’ solution to remedy the risk of overloading during busy times, however, I can provide some ideas.

For example, I like to take a moment to simply think about what I am grateful for. I do that on the bus, when I wake up, before going to sleep or whenever I get a moment to myself. I acknowledge all the simple little things that make me happy. This is something I learnt from a yoga class. I often reflect upon the way I am grateful for being in good health, for having a loving and caring family, for the place I live in, for the opportunity I have been given to study, etc. During difficult times it is easy to forget about all the things we are actually very grateful for. Simply reminding ourselves about them can go a long way.

I also like to take about 15 minutes to do a few stretches to relieve tension in my muscles which often intensify as a result of stress. I enjoy going for a walk or even a nice jog with my dog. I like turning off my computer and phone and just reading my book. There are so many little things like these which can give our mind a bit of a breather.

When I talk about to the ‘gift of loving’ I refer to the gift each one of us has, that is the ability to love. Love each other, love sensations that happen to us, love things that we see, love concepts and ideas, etc. I love giving small little gifts to the people I love. The other day I gave my parents a little desert each from a beautiful patisserie called Pattison’s. I felt that they needed some time to relax and enjoy a little treat as a reward for all the hard work they had put in the past few weeks. They were thrilled by the deserts and watching them happily talk about something other than work while tasting some beautiful chocolate mousse reminded me yet again that, yes, small things can certainly go a long way.

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So there you go, I encourage you to be grateful for the gift that each one of us has, that is simply, the ability to love. I encourage you to make use of such gift especially during the most busy times we all encounter because guess what? Once we do, everything seems a lot lighter and much more achievable.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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I cannot recommend The Perks of Being a Wallflower enough!

Based on Stephan Chobsky’s amazing novel (which has actually been published in 31 languages – to give you an idea of the book’s popularity), this story will make you laugh and cry and will leave you wanting some more.

I read the book first and then watched the movie (twice – and I want to watch it again!). What was so great was that, unlike many other occasions when a film comes out after a book, the movie did not ruin my perception/understanding of the book. On the contrary, it actually enhanced it! Stephen Chbosky was actually hired by the movie production company to write, adapt screenplay and to direct the film.

Featuring the beautiful Emma Watson playing the role of Sam and Logan Lerman as Charlie I can guarantee that you will fall in love with this beautiful story.

Below are two of my favourite quotes from the movie:

  • “We accept the love we think we deserve.”
  • “This is happening. I am here and I am looking at her. And she is so beautiful. I can see it. This one moment when you know you’re not a sad story. You are alive, and you stand up and see the lights on the buildings and everything that makes you wonder. And you’re listening to that song and that drive with the people you love most in this world. And in this moment I swear, we are infinite.”

Thriving for balance whilst flying

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When a young dragon-fly sets off for its first flight this small but nonetheless intricately beautiful insect must feel a rush of adrenaline pumping through its tiny body. When a baby is able to stand up straight and take his or her first steps walking, the same sort of feeling must be experienced. Whenever one is subjected to a new and exciting experience something inside of us tells us that we should never let go of it and pursue it no matter what it takes. I believe that this principle can be applied to an endless list of things.

But let me ask you, do you think there could be any ‘danger’ associated with such ‘rush of adrenaline’ or ‘over satisfaction’ (if I may call it that way)? Well… Strangely, I think there certainly could be.

Allow me to elaborate by drawing a rather distant connection with the two situations aforementioned that will, hopefully, elucidate my point.

About a year ago, I started to get really into running, and with this naturally came the desire to become healthier. So I started to read more and more about food, sports, yoga – wellness in general. And it was great. I ran my first half-marathon and it was one of the most amazing experience of my life so far (I am not even exaggerating)! I experienced with different food – did a vegan detox, started to incorporate more vegetables and fruits to my diet, cut back on processed food and refined sugar. I started to become hooked to feeling healthy.

But, somehow, although I was doing all the ‘right’ things I slowly saw myself become a bit too focused on this aspect of my life, so much that it became a bit of an obsession (a strong obsession). How weird is that?! How weird is the fact that, because I was loving being healthy so much, I started to become too harsh on myself, too restrictive. After a while, I realised that I had fallen into a ‘binge-restrict-binge-restrict’ type of relationship with my own self. And it hurt. I was not happy about the way I looked, my sporting capabilities and I made myself feel so bad for eating ‘unhealthy food’.

To be frank, I feel silly writing this. Why? Because I am so lucky to have access to such good food and live in a beautiful area where I am able to go out and about close to the sea and nature. Sydney is a beautiful place to live in. Sydney is a very much ‘health and fitness’ orientated place. But, sadly, I have noticed that around me some people have become so hooked on to this ‘healthy’ lifestyle that it has started to severely negatively affect them. This ‘syndrome’ is particularly prone to young women.

So, just like a dragon-fly might take its flying capabilities a bit too far and get trapped in a house (like the dragon fly in the image above got trapped in my room – don’t worry I let it free after I took a photo of it) or like a young child might fall after walking too fast for its little legs to handle, we can sometimes turn amazing opportunities into dangerous situations. I am so glad that I was able to realise that I was falling into a bad routine which was not healthy anymore because I had taken things too far.

What is the solution to this problem? It’s easy. It starts with the letter B and is in the title of this post. Yes, you guessed it right: BALANCE!

Everyone is different. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to lead your life. If you want to exercise then do. If you want to eat chocolate, then do. If you want to go out for some drinks, then do. As long as you do this to make yourself happy not because of what other people think of you then you are nailing it! Being healthy does not mean never eating ‘bad’ food or exercising everyday. It’s about finding the right balance that works for YOU.

If you love something, do it as much as you want UNTIL you hear the little voice inside of you saying ‘okay I think I’ve had enough now’, I’m going to take it easy for bit and do other things. Listening to your own body is a skill which one must learn to embrace.

After all, we are all beautiful so let’s not over think anything too much and enjoy the life we have been given.

<3

Eye-opening trip to Cambodia

I’m sorry for my lack of posts lately! I have been very busy in the past few weeks and actually left Sydney four days ago to travel throughout parts of South-East Asia for three weeks. I promise I will make up for it though as I have many things to share about my trip already! So, let me begin by sharing my thoughts about the Cambodian culture.

Phnom Penh

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Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, is an amazing city. It’s a place of extremes, chaos but one that somehow captivates you through the charming faces of its people. At first, I had trouble getting used to the chaotic atmosphere of the city – the traffic is absolutely crazy, local markets are very busy, rubbish and strong smells submerge every street corner and the look of the many beggars’ faces is impossible to escape or forget. However, I soon became much more comfortable walking throughout these busy streets as, somehow, I felt welcomed and safe.

By visiting the Tuol Sleng Geneocide Musem and the Killing Fields I was exposed to some of the hardest things I have ever seen/heard in my life. Our guide, Ly, shared some intimate life stories with us and I realised how almost every person living in Cambodia today has been affected either directly or indirectly by the horrors of the past. Even if you were not directly arrested by the Khmer Rouge, members of your family or friends were (note that you were arrested for simply being educated, for having a job or for being against the government, etc). Even if you were too young to be arrested your youth was still shattered. For example, Ly explained to us that when the Khmer Rouge took power he was only aged three years old and he was taken away from his family. He was forced to work in rice fields where he was fed once a day a tiny portion of rice (1kg of rice was served to 100 children). The conditions of work were very harsh as in summer the heat was unbearable and during the monsoon season disease were very common in the wet fields while leaches would grab on to your feet as you were harvesting. Miraculously, Ly was found by his mother at 7 years old (after the fall of the Khmer Rouge and the Vietnamese entered into Cambodia), thanks to a photograph of Ly which was previously kept by his mother throughout the years of separation and terror. A few years onwards, one of Ly’s brother stepped on a land mine and lost his foot – sadly, he was only one of the many victims of the mines (note: the land mines were placed to stop Cambodians from escaping to neighbouring countries).

I could go on and on about the shocking information that I learnt in Cambodia. The most depressing part of it all was that, firstly, these horrific events happened not so long ago and, secondly, most people have no idea about any of it and will never even find out because the Cambodian history is not taught in schools much. So even though there is nothing I can really do to change what happened in the past I feel that learning about it at least gives me the opportunity to treasure what I have and to support good causes which work towards building a better future for Cambodia.

Siem Reap

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I preferred the town of Siem Reap over Phnom Penh. Maybe because it was a bit less busy than the capital and the streets were very charming. One of the best areas was ‘Pub Street’ as well as the Old Markets (one of the best markets I have ever been too – cheap and clean!) But Siem Reap is mostly known for the many temples and most notably Angkot Wat which is definitely worth visiting. The sunrise is extraordinary and well worth waking up at 4:45am for!

Summary of the sights and activities I would recommend you to do if you are going to Phnon Penh and Siem Reap on a small budget:

Phnon Penh

– Tuol Sleng, Museum
– Killing Fields of Chorung Ek
– Royal Palace

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– Wat Phnom

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– Get some massages done! There are tones of cheap places around.

Siem Reap

– Angkor Wat

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– Angkor Thom City Bayon
– Elephant terrace to watch sunset (note: the sunset is not as impressive as the sunrise at Angkor Wat but the elephant terrace is one of the best places to watch the sunset)
– Jungle Temple
– Banteay Srey Temple

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– ACCB (Angkor Centre for Conservation and Biodiversity) http://www.accb-cambodia.org/en/news.php?id=2
– Cooking class at the Temple Club located on Pub Street (only costs $10 and includes starter, meal, desert, t-shirt and visit to local markets – I will discuss this more in details in my next post!)

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– Pub Street at night

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– Old and night markets

That’s it for me! I hope this post gave you a concise insight of Cambodia’s culture and the activities you can do when visiting the country’s two largest cities!

For some more detailed information about these two places visit these two useful traveling websites:

http://www.tripadvisor.com
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/cambodia

Coming soon: Guide to eating and accommodation for Phnom Penh and Siem Reap :)