Eat Smarter


Pronounced ‘eh-duh-maa-may’, these glistening green jewels are whole, immature soybeans and are a powerhouse of protein, fibre, and antioxidants.

They are usually sold in their soft fuzzy shell (which you do not eat), in cans, or frozen in bags like peas.

Edamame come with a few additional bonuses: they are surprisingly high in copper, which can help your immune system. They also contain good fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve brain health and lower the risk of heart disease.

They even have particular plant compounds called isoflavones which, along with the high magnesium and calcium may alleviate premenstrual syndrome and migraines.

A half a cup of edamame gives you nine grams of fibre, about the same as four slices of wholemeal bread or four cups of steamed zucchini.

A note of caution though: you should not eat edamame raw, and because they are a bean, if you eat too many they can cause bloating or gas. Keep in mind also they are a soybean, so if you have a soy allergy you should stay away.


How to eat edamame

You can cook edamame in their shell by boiling, microwaving or steaming. Then just squeeze each bean out, as though you are shelling peas, and eat as a snack.

You can also add them to a whole range of other meals for a nutritional boost: pop some in your next casserole, soup, salad or salsa.

The Habits That Can Protect Your Memory

Want to slow your memory decline and ward off dementia? A new 10-year study of more than 29,000 older adults has confirmed there is a link between how we live and our cognitive function as we age.

The researchers identified six habits linked with a lower risk of dementia and a slower rate of memory decline.

1. Physical exercise: at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week.

2. Diet: eating appropriate daily amounts of at least seven to 12 food items (including fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, oil, eggs, cereals, legumes, nuts and tea).

3. Alcohol: not drinking or only occasionally.

4. Smoking: not smoking or a former smoker.

5. Cognitive activity: exercising the brain at least twice a week (such as reading, playing cards).

6. Social contact: engaging with others at least twice a week.

Those people who had four to six healthy factors, and those in the average group of two to three had a slower rate of memory decline over time than people with less healthy lifestyles. Notably, this held true even for people who carried the APOE gene associated with a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Ways to Manage Mould

There are such tiny little black spots, yet they can cause health problems and be a real challenge to remove.

Mould is actually a type of fungus that produce microscope seeds called spores.

Breathing in those spores can cause health problems for some people. While most people are unlikely to be affected by mould, the risks are higher for people who have conditions such as asthma or lung disease, chronic disease such as diabetes, or low immunity.

  • Health problems can include:
  • respiratory infections
  • irritation to the nose, eyes and throat
  • skin rashes
  • hypersensitivity pneumonitis

How to manage mould

If you come across mould at work, treat it as a safety hazard. Identify the risk, assess the risk, control the risk and then review. Remember to always wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when dealing with mould.

If you have mould at home, try to remove it as soon as it appears. Remember, unless you remove the cause of the problem, it will keep coming back.

Recommended process to remove mould:

  • For routine clean-up of mouldy surfaces, use mild detergent or vinegar diluted in water solution (4 parts vinegar to 1 part water).
  • If the mould is not readily removed and the item cannot be discarded, use diluted bleach solution (250mls of bleach in 4 litres of water or half a pint of bleach in 1 gallon of water) to clean the surface. When using bleach, protective equipment is recommended: PVC or nitrate rubber gloves; safety glasses; and safety shoes. Make sure the area is well-ventilated while you are cleaning with bleach.
  • Ensure the surface is dried completely once cleaned.
  • Absorbent materials, such as carpet may need to be professionally cleaned or replaced if they are contaminated with mould.

How to reduce the risk of mould

Mould loves moisture, so the best way to reduce mould is to keep your rooms ventilated and dry as much as possible.

1. Maintain proper ventilation

  • Turn on exhaust fans, particularly when bathing, showering, cooking, doing laundry and drying clothes.
  • Open windows when weather permits, to improve cross ventilation.

2. Reduce humidity

  • Limit the use of humidifiers.
  • Limit the number of fish tanks and indoor plants.
  • Limit use of unflued gas heaters

3. Control moisture and dampness

  • Repair all water leaks and plumbing problems, for example, burst water pipes, leaking roof or blocked rain gutters.

4 Expert Tips for Making Friends

Meaningful social connections, aka good friendships, are essential to our wellbeing – and our physical health.

Research shows people who are lonely have a higher risk of dementia, heart disease and stroke, along with higher rates of depression and anxiety.

But making friends as an adult is not as easy as it was in preschool where all you had to do was share some crayons. So how do we make new friends – and keep them – while doing everything else we need to do?

1. Move past the fear

“What if they do not like me?”

One of the core obstacles holding people back from making new friends is the fear they will not be liked.

Yet research into “the liking” gap shows that most people underestimate how much they are liked. A 2018 study published in Psychological Science studied interactions between strangers in a laboratory; first-year college students in a dorm; and as formerly unacquainted members of the general public in a person development workshop. “Our studies suggest that after people have conversations, they are liked more than they know,” concluded the study authors.

Plus, when you assume that someone likes you, you tend to become warmer, friendlier and more open, which in turn makes you likable. It is called the “acceptance prophecy”.

Dr Marisa Franco is a psychologist and author of Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make – and Keep – Friends.

She travelled overseas and made new friends along the way, in part fuelled by an assumption that she would be liked. She writes, “People like to be liked, and we tend to like people who we believe like us.”

2. Join an outgoing group

Dr Franco advises joining a group that meets regularly over time to make friends. “So instead of going to a networking event, look for a professional development group, for example. Do not go to a book lecture; look for a book club.”

“When other people are pursuing a hobby in a group, they are likely also doing it for social reasons, because they are choosing not to do it alone.”

“That capitalises on something called the ‘mere exposure effect’, or our tendency to like people more when they are familiar to us,” says Franco.

3. Ask questions

If you cannot think of anything to say, ask a question. It does not have to be deeply personal, it could be based on the current situation, such as “what did you think of the presentation?” A 2012 study from Harvard University found that self-disclosure activates brain regions associated with reward. That is, people love talking about themselves.

4. End with an opening

So you have had a great conversation with a new person and you are getting on well. How do you progress it to friendship?

Dr Franco suggests inviting them to an exclusive activity. “Once you find a person you like, think about generating exclusivity, which means having an experience with that person that you do not have with everyone else in the group.”

How to keep new friends

After you have established a friendship, one great way to strengthen it is to tell your friend how much you value them.

If that idea fills you with awkwardness, do not worry. There are ways to do it without it sounding cheesy. Here are two easy ways recommended by Dr Marisa Franco:

1. Tell them in passing

As you go about your day, if you think of your friend, tell them. The classic “I saw this meme and thought of you,” is a classic for a reason. Franco says these small notes show your friend you genuinely care for them and lets them know it is safe to invest in your friendship.

2. Share your little vulnerabilities

Let them in on the little things: the trashy reality program you love, your irritation over leaf blowers on Saturday mornings. Sharing vulnerabilities, even small ones, creates connection and trust. It allows your friend to open up about their own world in turn.

How to Stop Catastrophising

How to Stop Catastrophising

Catastrophic thinking is a distorted way of thinking that pushes us down and then gives us a kick: we do not just imagine the worst will happen. We also believe that when the worst does inevitably happen, the results will ruin us.

Say you have misplaced your credit card. Immediately you think someone has picked it up. They are using it. They are going to drain your bank account. What is more, you decide, they are going to steal your identity and your entire life is ruined.

Or you notice a pain in your side. It must be cancer, you decide. You are going to die, you tell yourself. Even worse, the treatment will be too expensive and your family will be plunged into poverty and they will end up homeless and the kids’ futures will be ruined.

It is not real. It is not rational. You are catastrophising.


What is catastrophising?

Catastrophising is sometimes called “worst case scenario thinking”. David Robson, author of The Expectation Effect: How Your Mindset Can Transform Your Life, calls catastrophising “a mental habit in which you overestimate the chances of something bad happening, and exaggerate the potential negative consequences of that scenario.”

As French philosopher, Michel De Montaigne, once described, “My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened.”


Why is it so damaging?

This kind of negative thinking can have intense psychological and physical consequences.

Not to catastrophise, but this kind of negative thinking can make you more vulnerable to other mental conditions, and can even increase your feelings of physical pain.

One of the reasons is that your body and nervous system cannot tell the difference between real danger or imagined danger. When you think catastrophic thoughts, your system has a stress response, which reduces your ability to think clearly.

“The catastrophic misinterpretation of the bodily signals fuels anxiety and fear, which then makes it more likely that you will interpret the situation catastrophically,” says Barnabas Ohst, a psychotherapist in Freiburg, Germany, and a co-author of a recent meta-analysis examining the role of catastrophic thinking in panic disorder.

Secondly, catastrophising can make your more vulnerable to other mental illness including phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder. It can also make other anxiety conditions worse: you can imagine the impact of perfectionism mixed with catastrophising: every tiny mistake you make would mean your life is ruined.

So why do we do it?

As humans, we have a cognitive basis towards the negative. We are conditioned to search for and hone in on potential threats. This served us well in the distant past when we had to avoid predators. In our current society, this can go haywire.

While some people only catastrophise about certain aspects of life, such as their health, or the kids’ safety, or their career, for many people, it is a mental habit.

It can be triggered by prolonged stress (such as ongoing global pandemic and economic crisis), but it is often built-in from an early age.

Note: While catastrophising can simply be a bad habit, it can also be a sign that you may be experiencing burnout, or that your mental health is suffering in another way.

Reach out for professional help if you are struggling. If you or someone you know is in crisis, call Emergency Services. For further information and support, ask your doctor for guidance.

How to stop catastrophising

The most proven and effective way to break the cycle of catastrophic thinking is become aware of it. “Awareness is essential,” says David Robson, “so the first step should be to pause your thinking and to recognise when your mind is going down a psychological black hole.”

The keywords to watch out for are “always” and “never”, the key feelings are dread and doom. Then, challenge your automatic thoughts and question whether they are rational or realistic.

A good trick here is to imagine you are advising a friend. If your friend had a presentation due to work, and they believe they are going to mess it up and embarrass themselves, get fired and never find a good job again, what would you tell them?

Chances are you would remind them of times when they have done well and you would encourage them to rationally problem-solve by spending more time preparing and practising. Remember, you do not have to believe everything you think!