Guide to The Regular Health Checks You Should Be Having

Guide to the Regular Health Checks You Should Be Having

Health Checks Ensure You Stay Healthy

Introduction

Regular health checks ensure you stay fit and healthy.  Many health problems are not apparent without health checks.  Regular checks you do yourself keep you in tune with your body.  A medical practitioner must also perform some checks.  This article will explain why it is important to have regular health checks, including several you can do yourself.  It also includes a recommended schedule for health checks that your doctor will do.

The advantages of a regular health check-up

The most important reason to have regular health check-ups is the early detection of diseases such as heart disease and cancer.  Treatment is much more successful if caught at an early stage, before complications have set in.  Many life threatening diseases have little to no symptoms.  For example, kidney failure.  Other health issues may have symptoms that are vague or mistaken for other conditions.  Symptoms such as fatigue can relate to many different causes. Vague symptoms are often explained by lifestyle factors such as being busy. Without regular checkups a health issue can be overlooked until you develop a serious illness.

My Back Pain Masked a Serious Health Condition

I have a chronic degenerative spinal condition which is very common in nurses.  CT scans and bone scans show degeneration in the fascia joints in my spine.  When my back pain intensified, my doctor prescribed a cortisone injection under CT guidance.  This successfully treated the pain, so I had them regularly with improvement in my pain.

When I developed severe back pain on the opposite side of the degeneration my GP prescribed stronger pain killers.  I suffered for over two years, believing the pain was caused by degeneration. I did not really understanding why my pain was on the opposite side.  It wasn’t until I developed complications after surgery this year that it was found that I had hydronephrosis.  The back pain was actually caused by a blockage which caused the urine to reflux back into my kidney.  

This would have led to serious kidney problems if it hadn’t been detected as an incidental finding.  I’m a Registered Nurse and I hadn’t even suspected my back pain was kidney related.  This is one example of how serious health issues can be overlooked, especially if they can be tied in with existing, known health issues.

The Regular Health Checks You Should Be Having - infographic
The Regular Health Checks You Should Be Having

The health checks you can do yourself

You can do many health checks yourself.  If you find anything concerning, you can then see a doctor.  Get to know your own body by doing these regular health checks:

Skin – Regularly check your skin, taking note of any moles, freckles and skin blemishes.  A doctor, preferably at a specialised skin cancer clinic, should assess any changes.  The doctors at skin cancer clinics are experienced in assessing skin. They use specialised equipment designed to detect early skin changes. Early changes that might indicate skin cancer can be treated before they develop further.

Weight – check once per week.  It is a good idea to keep an eye on your waist circumference as well.  Any waist measurement over 88cm (35 inches) for women and 102cm (40 inches) for men may mean you are at high risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  See my article Why Your Waist Measurement Matters for more information.

Dental – Dentists should examine any lesions and bleeding that don’t resolve in a week.  Clean teeth at least daily and use floss as your oral health is vital for overall well-being.  Have a regular checkup and clean by a dentist at least yearly.

Mental and emotional health – seek medical help if you have symptoms of anxiety, intense sadness, fatigue, insomnia or changes in appetite that don’t resolve after a month or two.

In addition to the above, women need to do monthly breast self examinations.  See my article How to Perform a Breast Self Examination (and Why) for a complete guide.   Men need to perform a testicular self examination monthly from puberty onwards.  See your doctor if there is any unusual thickening or lumps.

The health checks your doctor will do

Have a regular check-up with your doctor every two years.  Be aware of your family health history as it may mean you need screening more often – see my article Know Your Personal and Family Health History for more information.  Your doctor should be able to tell you if you are at high risk for certain diseases.  Additional screening to the following may be recommended.

The recommended health checks for both men and women:

Skin checks:  Yearly

Heart health – blood pressure every two years from age 40, more often if you have a family history of high blood pressure, stroke or heart disease.  You should also have your blood tested to check for high cholesterol and triglycerides every 5 years from age 45, more often if high risk.  If you are high risk you may also have an ECG (electrocardiogram) or cardiac echo, which are both non-invasive checks.  A one-off test is offered at age 45-49 to screen for high risk of heart disease.

Bowel screening every two years from age 50. (A bowel screen kit will be sent to your home if you are an Australian resident)

Sexual health – yearly if sexually active.  See your doctor immediately if you have pain, discharge, lesions or if you have unprotected sex.

Eye tests for glaucoma and macular degeneration – every two years after age 40s if you have a family history.  From age 65 if you notice vision deterioration.

Bone density from the age of 45 (women) or 50 (men) if at risk for example, a family history of osteoporosis.

Diabetes – A fasting blood sugar test.  A one-off test is offered at age 45-49 to screen for high risk of type 2 diabetes.  Those at high risk of Type 2 Diabetes should be checked 1-3 yearly. 3 yearly for people not at risk, from the age of 40.  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders should start 3 yearly checks from age 18.  

Hearing Impairment – a hearing assessment yearly after age 65.

Kidney disease – every 1-2 years if at high risk.

Immunity – Flu shots (Influenza vaccinations) yearly after age 65.  If you are high risk or work in the health care industry you should also have Influenza and Hepatitis B vaccinations.

Health Checks for Women

In addition to the above health checks, women should have:

Cervical screening every 5 years from the time you are sexually active.  The cervical screening Test has replaced the Pap Smear. It should be started at age 25 or two years after your last Pap Smear.

Breast screening every 2 years from age 50-74.  If you are high risk you will be offered screening from a younger age and more frequently.  For example, I have been having yearly mammograms and ultrasounds plus MRIs every 2 years because of my high risk.  Some women have them more frequently than that, depending on your doctor’s preference.

Health Checks for Men

In addition to the above health checks, men should have:

Prostate – Annual prostate checks from age 50, earlier if you have a family history.  This involves a blood test (PSA), and may include a digital rectal examination.  See your doctor if you have trouble urinating, pain, blood in your urine, night-time urination frequently, or incontinence.

Women's Health Checks - The recommendations for Breast checks, and cervical screening.  Men's Health Checks - The recommendations for  Testicular and Prostate checks
Women’s and Men’s Health Checks

Be an Advocate for your own Health

You are the best advocate for your own health.  If you suspect you have a health issue, see your doctor.  If you are unhappy with the outcome, seek another opinion.  You know your own body.  Keep track of the symptoms, write them down, and identify any patterns.  If you are unsure of whether you should see a doctor, refer to my article Signs You Need to See a Doctor.  

Let your doctor know of any family history of disease.  Keep track of your personal and family health history – see this article for more information.  Most important, keep up with your health screening and the regular health checks you should be having.

Please note:  I am a Registered Nurse of 30 years but I am unable to give specific medical advice.  If you are concerned please see your GP.  Screening schedules may differ depending on where you live.  The schedule recommended here is for guidance only.  This post is for general informational and educational purposes only.  Please refer to the disclaimer.

Further reading: While researching this article, I found the most thorough information at the following websites:

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How to Perform a Breast Self Examination (and why)

How to Perform a Breast Self Examination (And Why)

The statistics on breast cancer are troubling. Even with all the research and new treatments available, there are still 55 new breast cancer diagnoses daily. The most important detection for early breast cancer is regular breast self examination. This post will inform you of how to perform a breast self examination correctly, and other important facts to be aware of.

Early Detection of Breast Cancer Leads to Higher Survival Rates

If breast (and other cancers) are detected early, they have a much higher survival rate. Options for treatment are numerous. At present the five year survival rate for breast cancer is 91% in Australia, and 96% if the cancer is caught early. That is an excellent outcome, but there are still over 5000 deaths yearly. A free breast screening program is available in Australia, but performing breast self examination is still the best way to detect early cancer. It is important to note that males can get breast cancer too, albeit at a much lower percentage than women.

Breast Cancer Statistics in Australia.  Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer, affecting 1 in 7 women and 1 in 675 men.  Source:  National Breast Cancer Foundation
Australian Breast Cancer Statistics. Credit: National Breast Cancer Foundation

How to Perform a Breast Self Examination

If breast cancer is caught early there is a very high chance of survival. A monthly breast self examination is the best way to detect early breast cancer because every woman’s breasts are different. If you know how your breasts usually look and feel, you will be in the best position to identify early changes and seek medical attention. Some breast changes are very subtle so it is important to know what to look for. The most important thing is to check your breasts monthly. Some guides say to do it on the first of every month, and some say after your monthly period ends. Post menopausal women should do theirs on the first of the month.

I have seen a number of ways to perform breast self examination. I have always done mine in the shower with soapy, slippery skin. Some women prefer to do theirs lying down. What matters the most is that you check all parts of your breast including up to your collar bone and under the armpit. Here is an excellent video which shows very clearly the correct procedure:

Breast Self Examination. Credit Madras Institute of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, India

Signs and Symptoms to Watch For During Your

Breast Self Examination

The signs and symptoms to watch for are:

  • Changes in the size or shape of your breast
  • Dimpling or a ‘pulling’ of skin on your breast
  • Any new lumps in the breast or under your arm
  • Breast pain or swelling (pain is rare)
  • Discharge of fluid (except breast milk) from the nipple, including blood
  • Dry, flaky red skin around the nipple area

If any of these symptoms are found, make an appointment to see your General Practitioner as soon as possible. Some women have no symptoms and the cancer is found during a routine mammogram or physical examination by a doctor. Mammograms should be done two yearly between the ages of 50 to 74. Breast Screen Australia provides a free screening service for women aged 50 to 74. Free screening is also available for women aged 40 to 49 and over 74, if requested. It is recommended that women with a strong history of breast or ovarian cancer are screened from an earlier age.

If symptoms are found, further testing may be required including ultrasound, biopsy and other scans such as a CT Scan or MRI. Treatments depend on the size and type of tumour, whether it has spread, and your general health.

Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer:  changes in the size or shape of your breast, dimpling or pulling of skin on your breast, any new lumps in the breast or under your arm, breast pain or swelling, discharge of fluid (except breast milk) from the nipple, including blood and dry, flaky red skin around the nipple area.  Source: ICON Cancer Centre
Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer. Credit: ICON Cancer Centre

Preventing Breast Cancer

Some factors that increase your risk of breast cancer include:

  • increasing age,
  • family history,
  • inheritance of mutations in the genes BRCA1, BRCA2 and CHEK2
  • Exposure to female hormones (natural and administered)
  • a previous breast cancer diagnosis
  • a past history of certain non-cancerous breast conditions

While you can’t do much about your genetic history, there are lifestyle factors that can impact your chances of getting breast cancer. These include:

  • being overweight
  • not enough physical activity
  • drinking alcohol
  • exposure to radiation

Know Your Breast Cancer Risk

I have written about my own diagnosis of BRCA2 gene mutation, which lead to my bilateral prophylactic mastectomies. It is important to know your risk because the presence of a gene mutation or family history of breast and ovarian cancers, could dramatically increase your risk. My risk before surgery was 60-80% as opposed to the general female population of around 13%. The only effective way I could guarantee that I would not get breast cancer was to have my breast tissue removed. It was a “no brainer” for me – the type of cancer that people with BRCA2 get is often the worst type with a very low survival rate. I did not even want to take that risk.

It has been a life changing decision for me because I had complications – I haemorrhaged post operatively. I’m still recovering 5 months later and have not been able to return to work. It may seem strange to say that I still don’t regret that decision.

I found out this past weekend that my brother has Stage 4 Prostate Cancer, undoubtedly from BRCA2. My mother-in-law has terminal lung cancer and only has a few weeks to live. The high incidence of cancer in my family gives me a lot of anxiety around it. Mum passed away at my age from cancer, and dad died from pancreatic and prostate cancer (BRCA2). My son had a melanoma at 24, and two of my siblings also had melanomas. Some families seem to cop a large burden, and ours is one of them.

Don’t Ignore Symptoms

One of the messages I want to convey is never to ignore symptoms. I have written about this previously in Signs You Need to See a Doctor. Be an advocate for your own health because without it daily life is so much harder.

Please share this article – it may help someone you care for. If you enjoyed this you may like my previous post October is For Breast Cancer Awareness which lists my previous posts about my BRCA2 diagnosis and surgeries.

Note: This post is for general informational and education purposes only. Please refer to my disclaimer.

Shared on Denyse Whelan Blogs Life This Week Linkup

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is for Breast Cancer Awareness

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  I will be featuring breast cancer awareness in my blogs, as well as hereditary cancer.  My focus on cancer awareness this month is due to a passion for health promotion.  I can speak from experience because I have been a Registered Nurse for 30 years as well as having diagnostic tests and multiple surgeries.  

If you have been following Midlifestylist.com you may be aware that I have BRCA2 gene mutation which increases my risk of breast and other cancers.  Both my parents died of cancer – mum was my age, 54.  My father had BRCA2 as well.  He had prostate cancer and pancreatic cancer, and passed away when he was 84.  His father also died of prostate cancer and his sister died of ovarian cancer.  My son and two siblings had melanoma.   Cancer has therefore impacted my life dramatically. 

This year I had prophylactic surgeries to remove my ovaries and breasts.  That is because my chance of getting cancer was so high.  Unfortunately I had complications from both operations and required 3 extra operations.   I’m still recovering and have not been able to return to work since May.

Raising awareness of breast cancer and BRCA2

I can use my blog as an avenue of passing on my knowledge and experience of the impact of cancer and hereditary cancer risk.  Raising awareness will hopefully spare other families from seeing one of their loved ones suffer from cancer.

My previous blog posts about BRCA2 and cancer are:

The first of every month is the day women should perform a breast self examination.  My next post in this series will show you the correct way to perform the breast self examination, and what symptoms to look for.  

Shared on Life This Week Linkup by Denyse Whelan

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Reduce Your Kitchen Waste – Save Money & Lower Your Carbon Footprint

Reduce Your Kitchen Waste

Easy ways to be less wasteful in the kitchen 

It makes sense to reduce your kitchen waste as it saves money and is better for the environment.   This article will discuss some easy ways that you can be less wasteful in your kitchen, and ways you can lower your carbon footprint using eco-friendly alternatives.

This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure.

Eco-Friendly Materials

Just by swapping to eco-friendly products you can effectively reduce kitchen waste. Look for items made from the following materials:

  • Hemp
  • Jute
  • Organic Cotton
  • Recycled Glass
  • Bamboo
  • Bioplastic compostable products made from Sugar cane, corn or potato starch 
  • Wood especially teak, or recycled wood
  • Stainless steel or aluminium
  • Recycled rubber
  • Clay
  • Recycled paper
  • Coconut husks/fibre
  • Linen made from flax
  • Cork
  • Soybean fabric
  • Recycled Polyester Plastic (PET)
  • Wool felt, or reclaimed wool

For further information, read this article from Household Wonders.

Reduce Your Kitchen Waste – Only buy what you need

I discussed this in my article How to Eat a Healthy Diet On a Budget.   By only buying what you need, you can reduce food waste.  Use a list when you shop, only bulk buy if you know you will consume it by the expiry date, and shop at wholefood stores where you can buy ingredients by weight. Avoid products with a lot of packaging, for example fruit or vegetables with plastic wrapping and trays. I cringe every time I see the unnecessary packaging in supermarkets. Buying from markets can be far better for the environment and the produce will be much fresher.

Compost your food waste 

You can reduce your carbon footprint by composting your food waste at home.  Home composting saves your waste ending up in landfill.   Landfills are responsible for much of the methane gas, a byproduct of composting organic material.  Landfill gas, a combination of methane and carbon dioxide, is responsible for much of the greenhouse gas emissions.

Food scraps can be composted and used to fertilise your garden and pot plants.For further information about home composting, read my Complete Guide to Composting and Worm Farms.   

Use alternatives to plastic bags and food wraps in the kitchen

By swapping plastic with eco-friendly alternatives you will drastically reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.   Choose compostable bags and food wraps, silicone lids for containers, beeswax wraps, muslin bags, and storage containers made from glass or stainless steel.

I have a set of silicone lids which are a great way to avoid using plastic wrap. They come in different sizes and can stretch over bowls or to save cut fruit. They may be hand washed or put in the top rack of the dishwasher. My set has lasted at least two years.

Silicone Lids.  These may be stretched over bowls, or used as fruit and vegetable savers.  Hand wash or put in the top rack of the dishwasher to clean.  Reuse again and again.  May be placed in the microwave
Silicone Lids. These may be stretched over bowls, or used as fruit and vegetable savers. Hand wash or put in the top rack of the dishwasher to clean. Reuse again and again. May be placed in the microwave

Reusing and re-purposing plastic

A common question among people trying to reduce kitchen waste is:  should I throw out all my plastic bags and containers?  The answer is, absolutely not!  That will only add to the landfill.  Instead, try to reuse them as much as possible before you discard them.  Re-purpose them elsewhere. 

Plastic containers could be used for storage.  Even ones that have lost their lids could be used as dividers in your sock drawer or bathroom.  Reuse plastic until it’s completely unsuitable for further use, and only buy sustainable products from now on.

Use stainless steel, silicone or ceramic alternatives to disposable or plastic

Reusable items include drinking straws, coffee mugs, drink containers with lids, coffee pods and lunch boxes.  You will save money as well as reduce plastic use.

Swap paper towel and cleaning implements to eco-friendly alternatives 

I love the fact that there are now reusable alternatives to so many products.  Everything from cotton or cellulose dishcloths to coconut pot scrubbers are now available. Look for products made from sustainable materials, including the packaging they come in.  The bonus is that they look great, especially the bamboo ones.  

As someone who has multiple allergies and very sensitive skin, it is vital for me to avoid strong chemicals.  Eco-friendly cleaning products made from natural ingredients are better for the environment and less allergenic to my skin.  Look for pure Castile soap products.

Clever Ways to Reduce Kitchen Waste.  Save Money and Lower Your Carbon Footprint.  Alternatives to plastic wrap, cleaning implements made from environmentally friendly materials, produce bags, reusable drinking straws and coffee mugs
Clever Ways to Reduce Kitchen Waste. Save Money and Lower Your Carbon Footprint. Alternatives to plastic wrap, cleaning implements made from environmentally friendly materials, produce bags, reusable drinking straws and coffee mugs

Where to find stockists of eco-friendly goods

We are lucky to be able to purchase a huge range of eco-friendly products in Australia.  Our supermarkets and department stores have increased their range over the years and there are specialty stores as well.  You can find a lot of eco-friendly products online.  The Well Store sells not only environmentally friendly  homeware, but also food and health supplements.  

Because of my allergies I am always on the search for products that are hypo-allergenic and made ethically from natural ingredients.   The Well Store has an extensive range for personal and home use.  I recommend this company to anyone trying to reduce waste in their kitchen, and lower their carbon footprint. 

Reduce your kitchen waste

To sum up, reducing waste in your kitchen is as easy as swapping plastic and disposable products with reusable or compostable products.  You will not only reduce your carbon footprint, ultimately you will save money.  You may purchase many of the products from supermarkets or specialty stores such as The Well Store.

Can you suggest other ways to reduce your kitchen waste? I’d love to hear what ways you are environmentally friendly at home. Leave a comment below.

Before Starting Your Workout at Home

This equipment is enough to get you started on your home gym.  Remember the most important aspect of exercising is to choose one you enjoy and stick to it.  Get into a good routine where you exercise regularly, whether that be cardio and strength three times a week or second daily yoga.  Any regular exercise is essential for your mental and emotional health. If you are new to regular exercise or have significant health problems, see your doctor prior to starting a new exercise regime (see my disclaimer – this post is intended for general informational purposes only).

Workout Planner - use a planner like this to keep motivated.  You can set your goal for the week and track your progress.  Image source: Canva.  Data"- pin - nopin = "true"
Workout Planner – use a planner like this to keep motivated. You can set your goal for the week and track your progress.
Image source: Canva

You may enjoy other articles such as What You Need to Know Before You Start Walking for your Health.

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Health Tips to Promote Women’s Health Week

Women's Health Tips

Promoting Women’s Health

Women’s Health Week is from 7 – 11 September this year. Women’s Health Week is a week dedicated to all women across Australia to make good health a priority. Every day this week I have been publishing Women’s Health tips to promote women’s health. This post will discuss each tip in more depth and provide links so that you may learn more. I am passionate about promoting health and have been using social media posts for this. Links to my social media accounts are at the top of the page.

Women’s Health Tip 1 – Exercise Regularly

Improve your health by exercising regularly. Find an exercise you love and stick to it. That may be a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day, a yoga session, or a dance lesson. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you enjoy it and do it on a regular basis. If you are moving your body daily you will reap the benefits, both mental and physical. Don’t let health issues hold you back. In this post I explain how I overcame my health issues and don’t let them stop me from maintaining my exercise.

Exercise Regularly.  Regular exercise is essential for mental and physical health.  Find an exercise you love and stick to it
Exercise Regularly. Find an exercise you love and stick to it. Regular exercise is essential for mental and physical health

Women’s Health Tip 2 – Eat a Healthy Diet

Eat a healthy diet that is balanced and doesn’t cut out whole food groups (unless you have specific health reasons to avoid them such as allergies). A healthy diet includes food from all food groups – protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, whole-grains and dairy or it’s alternatives. Diets that cut whole food groups out are fad diets and can’t be sustained without health issues. One of the most important indicators of health is your waist size. Eating a healthy diet can be seen to reduce the amount of fat stored around your waist and reduce your risk of health issues such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Read more about it at this post.

Eat a healthy diet.  A healthy diet includes protein, fruit and vegetables, wholefoods and healthy fats.  Maintain a healthy weight without fad diets
Eat a healthy diet. A healthy diet includes protein, fruit and vegetables, wholefoods and healthy fats. Maintain a healthy weight without fad diets

Women’s Health Tip 3 – Take Time for Self Care

Taking time for self care is important for your mental and emotional health. You may find yourself caring for others, and being so busy you don’t have time for YOU. Make self care a priority in your routine. Find something you enjoy – try meditation, singing, hobbies, dancing, yoga, massage, beauty treatments or just relaxing with a good book. Our emotional health is being tested this year, with many people finding they are more stressed than usual due to the pandemic. That means it is even more important that you prioritise your self care, which you can read more about in this post.

Take time for self care.  Self care is important for your emotional and mental health.  Take time for YOU.  Try meditation, talking to a friend, relaxing, beauty treatments, hobbies ... find something you enjoy
Take time for self care. Self care is important for your emotional and mental health. Take time for YOU. Try meditation, talking to a friend, relaxing, beauty treatments, hobbies … find something you enjoy.

Women’s Health Tip 4 – Get Health Checks Done

Make sure you are aware of what health screening is recommended for women in your age group. This may differ according to your place of residence. Ensure you attend to monthly breast self examinations and check your skin for changes. Maintain a regular schedule of screening for your breasts, dental health, eyes, and heart (blood pressure, cholesterol and other blood tests). Depending on your age, you may need bowel cancer screening, regular pelvic examinations, bone density test and mammograms. Your doctor will advise you of any further tests you may require depending on your personal and family health history. More information is in this post and I will have a post in the future on health checks.

Get Health Checks Done.  Screening for breasts, skin, teeth, eyes, heart, bowel, gynae, bone density etc.  See your doctor - find out what screening is needed for your age group.
Get health checks done, including screening for breasts, skin, teeth, eyes, heart, bowel, gynae, bone density, etc. See your doctor to find out what screening is needed for your age group

Women’s Health Tip 5 – Be an Advocate for Your Well-being

You are your own advocate. Speak up if you are concerned, or if you feel your concerns are not being addressed adequately. Those niggly feelings that something is wrong should not be ignored. See a doctor if you are worried. This post will help you decide whether your symptoms mean you should see a doctor. The head in the sand approach does not work with health. It’s easier to treat things if they are in their early stages, and it’s far better to prevent disease than treat it.

Be an advocate for your well-being.  Don't hesitate to see a doctor if you suspect something is wrong.  Your well-being is important.
Be an advocate for your well-being. Don’t hesitate to see a doctor if you suspect something is wrong. Your well-being is important.

Women’s Health is Important

Women make up over 50% of the population. Women’s health is important because we are often the main caregiver of others. We often put our own needs last and ignore health issues until we are really unwell. Stay in tune with your body, and look after it. Don’t take your health for granted because it takes all the joy out of life if you are in poor health. By following these women’s health tips, hopefully you will feel inspired to prioritise your well-being. For further information about Women’s Health Week visit the official website.

I love to hear from my audience, so feel free to comment on my posts or contact me via my contact form. I would love to know if there’s any subject you would like me to discuss in a future post. If you would like to receive my newsletter, please sign up for it in the box below.

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How to Eat a Healthy Diet on a Budget

How to Eat a Healthy Diet on a Budget

This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure.

This article will tell you how to eat a healthy diet on a budget. We all want to eat well.  Most of us want to eat a healthy diet.  One of the barriers to eating a healthy diet is the cost of healthy food compared to junk food.  The cost of buying individual ingredients, and the time taken with cooking something healthy as opposed to buying fast food on the way home from work can often lead us to consuming unhealthy junk food.

It is a fallacy however, that you can’t eat a healthy diet on a budget.  The key to eating a healthy diet lies in planning for the long term.  Here are some tips for eating healthy on a budget:

Tips for Healthy Eating on a Budget

Grocery Shopping Tips

  • Stock your pantry so that you have the ingredients for easy meals on hand. This means you’re less likely to order Uber Eats or takeaways. See my guide to stocking your pantry below.
  • Buy in bulk, especially staples that last a long time if stored correctly.
  • Buy when the specials are on, but only food that you know you will use.
  • Only eat in season fruit and vegetables.  For example, a cauliflower can cost $2 in season or $8 out of season.  The other advantage to buying fruit and vegetables in season is that they are fresher and often have less chemicals and packaging than store bought ones if bought from the markets.
  • Buy frozen fruit and vegetables when they are out of season.  Frozen fruit and vegetables retain their nutrients as they are snap frozen straight after harvesting.  They last a long time and are often cheaper than fresh.
  • Only buy what you need.  I buy two tomatoes per week because I would waste a whole bag.
  • Plan what meals you will be cooking for the week and only buy the ingredients for those recipes.  This reduces waste.  We have stores where you can take your own containers and buy foods such as wholefoods by the weight.  Some supermarkets offer this service as well.
  • Buy generic brands.  They are often a similar quality as branded versions, and are often hard to distinguish from the more expensive brands.
  • Buy alternative protein sources such as tofu and legumes. They can be very cheap compared to meat and chicken. Try to have two meat-free meals per week.
  • Buy cheaper cuts of meat and cook them in a slow cooker.  Slow cooking is a fantastic way of making tougher meat such as chuck steak, into tender, melt-in-the-mouth meals.
  • Avoid buying food that you already have.  Check your cupboards and make a list of what you need before you head to the shops.  I have found since I’ve been doing online grocery shopping that I’ve saved money.  Instead of buying something unnecessarily I can check my cupboards to make sure I need it.  I also do less impulse buying of unhealthy treats.
  • Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry!  You will be likely to put more into your trolley, and it would most likely be unhealthy food.
  • If you do go to the shops, avoid aisles that have unhealthy food.  I don’t even walk down the chocolate, sweet and soft drink aisles.  Stick to the perimeter of the store as this is where the wholefoods are.

Prepare Your Own Food as it is Cheaper

  • Wholefoods are cheaper than heavily processed foods.  A bag of rolled oats is much cheaper than oat based muesli with fruit.  You can make your own muesli, or try my overnight oats recipe.
  • Make your own stirfry sauces and recipe bases from scratch.  Ready-made ones are often full of sugar and salt and are very expensive.  Use fresh ginger, garlic, onion and low sodium soy sauces for your stirfry sauce instead.
  • Grow your own vegetables – even a few plants in containers for herbs and easy-to-grow vegetables, can save you money and provide nutritious and fresh additions to your diet.
  • Invest in a bread maker.  I can buy a huge bag of baker’s flour which lasts a few weeks.  Our own sweet and savoury loaves such as fruit and nut bread, banana bread, focaccia and pizza bases are easy to make and save us heaps of money.  
  • Other things I make myself rather than buy ready-made are Greek yoghurt and salad.
  • Since my sons moved out I find I’m still cooking enough for four people.  I freeze the remainder in meal-sized portions so there’s always a meal that we can defrost and heat if we’re too tired to cook.
  • Save $5 per day by making your own coffee at home. I have a fantastic Delonghi coffee maker that grinds, and brews the coffee, and even froths the milk. The initial cost of the coffee machine is high, but it pays for itself quickly if you have 1-2 cups per day rather than going to the cafe.
  • Prepare your lunches for the week ahead.  Some ideas are:
    • A large salad you can take daily for 2 – 3 days
    • Portions of healthy snacks e.g. nuts and dried fruits
    • Healthy muffins can be made and frozen
    • Cut up carrot sticks, celery sticks with a portion of hummus or salsa
    • Vegetable soup divided into meal-sized portions.  It can be frozen until needed
    • Try my healthy burrito recipe for easy, healthy meal prep.

How to Stock Your Pantry With Healthy Food on a Budget

This is a guide for stocking your pantry.  If you have the following in your pantry you will be able to cook most recipes and avoid having to buy takeaways.  A well stocked pantry will help you to eat a healthy diet on a budget. I always have the following in my pantry:

Pantry

  • Tins of tomatoes, beans (kidney and cannelloni), corn
  • Dried lentils
  • Herbs, spices, stock powders and gravy powders
  • Olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil, sesame oil and oil spray
  • Longlife milk – almond, skim, coconut
  • Flours – baker’s, wholemeal, cornflour
  • Oats, oat bran, chia seeds, couscous
  • Nuts and dried fruit
  • Rice – long grain, arborio
  • Pasta – spaghetti, penne, Singapore, vermicelli
  • Vinegar – white, balsamic, cider, red wine
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sauces – soy, oyster, chili, tomato, barbecue, mustard
  • Pesto, salsa, tomato paste
  • Sugar – caster, raw, brown
  • Soups – tomato, mushroom
  • Curry paste and powder
  • Taco shells and burrito / tortilla wraps
  • Honey, maple syrup, Vegemite, peanut butter
  • Rice crackers
  • Wholemeal bread
  • Cereal – Weetbix, Plus
  • Tins of tuna (small and large)

Refrigerator

Stock your refrigerator with the following:

  • Milk (low fat)
  • Eggs
  • Cheese – feta, low fat shredded, parmeson
  • Hommus
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables in season.  I always have potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, onions, carrots, apples, tomatoes
  • Mayonnaise

Freezer

Stock your freezer with the following:

  • Chicken breast, chicken thigh fillets, low fat mince, lean beef.
  • Other cuts of meat in season
  • Peas, blueberries, mixed vegetables
  • Puff pastry

Eating Healthy Food Doesn’t Have to be Expensive

Eating Healthy Food Doesn't Have to Be Expensive
Eating healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive

Does the cost of healthy food put you off buying it? It is actually a fallacy that healthy food is expensive. That is because we are bombarded with messages about super-foods. These so-called super-foods are trendy, and the price is bumped up accordingly because the demand for them is high. There are other foods that are much more readily available, and offer the same health benefits at a much lower cost.

I have compiled a list of the healthiest food you can buy. These foods are not only healthy, they are versatile, easy to prepare and cheaper than so called super-foods. These foods are usually well tolerated by most people, and are nutrient dense. That means you get more buck for your dollar. If you would like a copy of the list, plus a handy shopping list template and a guide to buying healthy food, the link is below:

Money-saving Appliances

The right kitchen appliances can help you to eat a healthy diet on a budget. Here are my recommendations for appliances that can help you save money:

Delonghi Coffee Machine

I save $5 – $10 per day by brewing my own coffee. My son and I bought this coffee maker and when he moved out he took it with him. I loved it so much I bought another one. I like that it uses coffee beans, not pods which are bad for the environment. It grinds and brews the coffee as required, and it also can froth milk for a cappuccino. There is a power-saving mode so it switches off when not in use. I use the coffee grinds on the garden so there is very little waste.

Breville Slow cooker

A slow cooker is one of the best money saving appliances you can buy. I still use my crock pot, the original slow cooker, which I received as a gift in 1987! That version is long gone, but you may still buy the Crock Pot brand slow cooker. The Breville Slow Cooker is my husband’s and it is almost as good as my ancient one. It just shows you how long quality appliances last if you look after them. A slow cooker transforms cheap cuts of meat into beautiful, melt-in-the-mouth meals with very little fuss. Just put all the ingredients in, and turn it on for 4-6 hours and your meal will be ready to serve.

Breville bread maker

My bread maker is my new favourite appliance. Because I have spent much more time at home than usual this year, I have been experimenting with many different types of cooking. Making bread is so incredibly easy in this bread maker that I make at least two loaves per week. You just add all the ingredients to the bread maker bowl, program the machine, and it does it all – kneads, proofs and bakes the bread. We’ve made fruit and nut loaves, pizza bases, foccacia, wholegrain and white bread and they’re all amazing.

Panasonic Microwave Oven

My microwave oven is perhaps the most utilised appliance in our kitchen. I really don’t know where I’d be without it. This particular model is an inverter oven so it defrosts, cooks and heats food with more precision than an ordinary oven. The reason it is such a great appliance is it is fabulous for cooking a quick healthy meal, or to defrost and heat one from your freezer. This means you’re not resorting to buying takeaways.

Save Money with These Appliances for your Kitchen - Panasonic microwave, Breville Bread Machine, Delonghi Coffee Maker, Breville Slow Cooker
Save Money with These Appliances for your Kitchen –
Panasonic microwave, Breville Bread Machine, Delonghi Coffee Maker, Breville Slow Cooker

The Health Benefits of a Healthy Diet

Healthy food fuels your body. You will maintain a steady weight, have more energy, will be able to concentrate better and have less health issues. Eating convenience and junk food should be a rarity. It may be cheaper in the short term to eat something convenient, but in the long term the cost to your health will add up. Using the above suggestions, you will be able to learn how to eat a healthy diet on a budget.

I lost 17kg last year on a Government sponsored program. I had a phone consult with a Dietician regularly throughout the program, which was the key to my successful weight loss. Most of my weight loss came down to my diet because the only exercise I am able to do is walking due to chronic back pain and other health issues. Your diet is vital for maintaining a healthy weight, and preventing illness.

I am a Registered Nurse, but my background isn’t specifically in nutrition.I recommend that you consult a Dietician and a General Practitioner if you have health issues or a lot of weight to lose to get you into the healthy weight range. This post is for general informational and educational purposes only. Please refer to the disclaimer.

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Please comment on my article as I love hearing from my audience.

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Tips to Improve Your Well-being When Life Gets You Down

Tips to Improve Your Well-being When Life Gets You Down

Life is Getting Us Down in 2020

This year I’ve noticed many more people talking about how they’re feeling demotivated, distressed, fed-up and down in the dumps.  Many people have begun to let their healthy diet and exercise routines slide, and their waistline expand.  The affects of the global pandemic on our well-being are really starting to become apparent as it drags on with no end in sight. The uncertainty, isolation and risks to our health and lifestyle are all factors in causing this decrease in our state of well-being.

Our well-being won’t just miraculously improve if we don’t make an effort to change our routines.  We have to work at it because it’s all too easy to be lazy and get into bad habits.  Frequently people get into a rut and can’t see any end to their current situation.  It’s as if a black cloud is over their head.  A few down days can lead to depression.

Clinical depression needs to be treated by health care professionals such as psychologists and medical doctors. (I am not a trained professional in these fields. Please refer to my disclaimer. This article should be used for informational purposes only).   I’m not talking about depression in this article, rather the low mood that many of us are experiencing due to the current pandemic.  If your mood has not improved after a few weeks, please seek professional help. 

How I’m Working on Improving My Well-being 

I talked recently about how my long recovery from surgery has been affecting my well-being.   As time drags on and I’m still not well enough to go back to work, I’ve had days where I feel really down in the dumps.  What have I been doing to help myself deal with these feelings?  

I’ve had to be proactive and work at maintaining my mental health.  My tendency to shut down and go into a shell, wallowing in misery, didn’t work for me in the past.  Over time I’ve found there are activities I can do to improve my mood.

When Life Gets You Down Use all Five Senses to Improve Your Well-being.  The senses of touch (massage), smell (perfume, scented candles), taste (fresh coffee, healthy fruits), hearing (music, sound of water fountain), sight (scenery, sunset) can be used to improve your mood
When Life Gets You Down Use all Five Senses to Improve Your Well-being. The senses of touch (massage), smell (perfume, scented candles), taste (fresh coffee, healthy fruits), hearing (music, sound of water fountain), sight (scenery, sunset) can be used to improve your mood

How to Use All 5 Senses to Improve Your Well-being When Life Is Getting You Down

You can use all five senses to improve your mood and your well-being.   For example, who can deny that the fresh whiff of coffee in the morning doesn’t immediately heighten your sense of smell?  Or that a warm hug from someone you love doesn’t make you feel calmer and happier? I am a very sensory person, and I’ve found the following have helped:

  • TOUCH: I had a massage.  I normally have a remedial full body massage but I still can’t lie on my front so I had a sitting massage instead.  To make the most of it I used deep breathing techniques to relax my muscles.  These tiny Thai masseurs are so strong, you feel like you’ve done 3 rounds with a sumo wrestler!  But it works.
  • SOUND: Listening to uplifting music.  I was born in the 60s so I love 70s and 80s music.  I can sing as loud as I like to my favourite hits  and it’s always a mood booster.
  • SMELL: A splash of my favourite perfume lifts my spirits.  I don’t save my scent for special occasions.   I use it daily because it makes me feel better to smell nice.  Using scented candles and reed diffusers has also helped.
  • SIGHT: Taking time to watch the sunset, or admire a beautiful scene is uplifting.  While I’m out walking my dog every day I take time to look at my surroundings.   I’m lucky to live where I have lovely parks and waterways nearby.  My dog’s a social butterfly so we end up meeting lots of dogs and their owners.  It’s nice to say hello or stop and chat if they’re up for it.
  • TASTE: I’ve done lots of cooking.  It’s starting to show as the weight’s starting to creep up.  Only 1kg but since I lost 17kg last year I’m very wary of gaining any weight.  So I’ve gone back to basics and getting back on a healthy diet.  It’s easy to grab convenience food when you’re feeling low, but taking the effort to prepare fresh food will boost your mood.  Eating lots of fruit and vegetables,  quality protein and healthy fats will make you feel more energised.

Other Ways I’m Boosting My Mood

Sometimes we have to push ourselves to be proactive in improving our well-being.   I know what depression is like and it’s easy for me to slide into that state of mind.  Rather than just allowing myself to stay in a rut, I push myself to do activities that I know will boost my mood.  

I credit my improved sense of well-being to the following:

  • Putting a bit of make-up on every day.  Then I don’t feel so daggy.
  • I’ve had a couple of phone sessions with a counsellor.   Getting the perspective of an impartial person about my long recovery time has really helped.  My takeaway from the sessions – I’ve been looking after everyone else for the last 30 plus years so it’s time to look after myself.  And let others look after me (which I find hard to do).  
  • I’ve been spending time socialising.  My nature is an introverted homebody so I  tend to stay home where I’m in my comfort zone.  I know that the most uplifting activity for me is having meaningful conversations with people.  So I make an effort to meet someone to talk over coffee or a meal.  Phoning them is the next best thing.  It improves my well-being so much.
  • I’ve been de-cluttering and tidying.  Just one area of the house at a time.  There’s nothing better than a good cleanout!  I can’t do too much housework because it increases the pain and swelling, so I just do a little bit every day.
  • I’ve been spending time in my garden every day.  Spring is upon us in Australia and the spring growth has begun.  It’s been a very long winter because time has dragged by for me and I’m really looking forward to warmer weather.  We’re lucky to have a pond with fountains in our garden.  The sound of cascading water is music to my soul.
We have a pond with fountains. The sound of the water trickling is music to my soul. I love the sound and find it very calming

What ways do you use to improve your well-being?  Share them here so others can benefit.

Just a head’s up, I saw my surgeon a couple of days ago, and because my swelling and pain are ongoing he’s going to operate again on Monday.  I’ll be in hospital for a few days and have a drain for a few weeks.  While I’m in hospital I won’t be allowed visitors which will be horrible. Not having the support of my family will be really hard but I know this is necessary to assist my healing and prevent further complications.

Because of this, I may be a bit inconsistent with my blog for the next few weeks.

shared on Life this Week, a linkup by Denyse Whelan

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Healthy Breakfast Options to Start Your Day

Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day

It has often been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  A healthy breakfast can energise you and nourish your body with important nutrients so that you perform at your optimum capacity. 

The morning rush can lead people to choose convenience food which can be a poor choice, or skip breakfast altogether.  I have compiled a list of healthy easy breakfast choices to start your day, so that you perform at your optimum best.

Quick, Easy Breakfast Choices

  • Smoothies (see my favourite recipe below) – 340 kCal
  • Cereal with low fat milk, yoghurt and a banana (see below for the healthiest cereal options) – 300 kCal
  • Smashed avocado on sourdough bread 140 kCal
  • Fruit salad and yoghurt with a sprinkling of granola 250 kCal
  • Wholemeal toast with nut butter and sliced banana – 420 kCal
  • Boiled eggs (may be cooked ahead of time) on wholemeal toast – 270kCal
  • Microwaved porridge satchets – 130 kCal
Blueberry Smoothie Recipe - Blend blueberries, yoghurt, sugar, vanilla extract, reduced fat milk and nutmeg to make a refreshing healthy smoothie
Blueberry Smoothie Recipe (adapted from recipe in Canva)
Blend blueberries, yoghurt, sugar, vanilla extract, reduced fat milk and nutmeg to make a refreshing healthy smoothie

Healthy Breakfast Options that Require Preparation 

  • Poached eggs on wholegrain toast – 356 kCal 
  • Homemade granola or muesli 
  • Healthy feta and spinach muffins (see my favourite recipe below) 167 kCal
  • Rolled oats, skim milk and honey – 242 kCal
  • ½ avocado on a slice of sourdough bread with grilled tomatoes or mushrooms – 258 kCal
  • 2 slices Short cut bacon, grilled with a poached egg, grilled tomato and steamed spinach – 312 kCal
  • Overnight oats (see my favourite recipe below) – 160 kCal
Overnight Oats Recipe
Combine oats, shredded coconut, dried fruit and nuts, oat bran, milk powder, salt, cinnamon, Greek yoghurt and water.  
Leave overnight.  Make in batches, stores well in pantry
Overnight Oats Recipe
Combine oats, shredded coconut, dried fruit and nuts, oat bran, milk powder, salt, cinnamon, Greek yoghurt and water.
Leave overnight. Make in batches, stores well in pantry

Cooked Breakfast Options 

Many people prefer to start their day with a cooked breakfast but often choose fried bacon and eggs over healthy alternatives. Your serving of bacon and eggs can be made healthier by:

  • Poaching the eggs
  • Using short cut bacon
  • Use a non-stick frypan with a spray of olive oil
  • Drain the bacon by placing it on a paper towel before serving
  • Add cooked vegetables to the plate – tomatoes, spinach and mushrooms are popular choices
Spinach and feta egg muffin recipe
Whisk egg, milk and salt and pepper.  Pour over baby spinach and feta cheese.  Top with grated cheese and bake. Delicious hot or cold
Spinach and feta egg muffin recipe
Whisk egg, milk and salt and pepper. Pour over baby spinach and feta cheese. Top with grated cheese and bake. Delicious hot or cold

Healthy Cereal Choices

Cereal is a popular choice, but many commercial cereals are not healthy, because they are high in sugar and saturated fat.  The unhealthiest cereals contain up to 30g sugar per 100g cereal, or 3 teaspoons sugar per serve.  They may be sabotaging your weight loss goals on a daily basis.  Read more in this article by dietician Claudia Cramer.

A healthy cereal provides nutrients and leaves you feeling full for longer.  It is an excellent source of wholegrains, antioxidants and gut friendly fibre.  Many breakfast cereals are fortified with other ingredients such as B group vitamins.  Eaten with dairy products such as milk and yoghurt, they will also supply much of your daily calcium needs.

Choose cereal by reading the food label.  Look for cereals with the following:

  • Low in sugar – less than 10g per 100g cereal.  Watch for hidden sugars which may be listed as fructose, maltose, honey, fruit juice concentrate, corn syrup, caramel or invert sugar, dried fruit
  • High in fibre – >10g per 100g.  Fibre is gut friendly and fills you up, leaving you satisfied for longer
  • 50% Wholegrains
  • A high health star rating
  • Low in saturated fat – <3g per 100g

The healthiest cereals in Australia are:

  • Barley + Freedom Foods
  • All Bran Kelloggs
  • Simply Fibre Muesli Food for Health
  • Active Balance Buckwheat & Quinoa Freedom Foods
  • 5 Grain & Seed Granola Carmans
  • Plus Fibre Uncle Toby’s
  • Shredded Wheat Uncle Toby’s
  • Organic Honey Roasted Almond Bircher Muesli Macro
  • Wholegrain Mini Bites Be Natural
  • Great Start 5 Grains & Seeds Woolworths
  • Gourmet Porridge Carmans
  • Guardian Kelloggs
  • 10+ Natural Muesli Sunsol

Your morning cereal should be served with protein such as Greek yoghurt to provide a healthy start to the day.  An alternative to cereal are my chocolate chia pots, which combine chia wholegrains with cacao and almond milk for a sweet healthy treat.

Choose healthy breakfast cereal - low in sugar and saturated fat, high in fibre (50% wholegrains) and high in health star rating
Choose healthy breakfast cereal – low in sugar and saturated fat, high in fibre (50% wholegrains) and
high in health star rating

RECIPES

Blueberry Smoothie Recipe

Blueberry Smoothie Recipe

A healthy smoothie to start your day
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course Breakfast, smoothie
Cuisine Smoothie
Servings 1
Calories 340 kcal

Equipment

  • Blender

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup blueberries fresh or frozen
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar Optional. May use alternative sweetener if desired
  • 1 container plain yoghurt 227g or 8 oz
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup 2% reduced fat milk Use dairy free alternatives if vegetarian or vegan
  • teaspoon ground nutmeg

Instructions
 

  • Blend the blueberries, yoghurt, milk, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg in a blender until frothy
  • Scrape down the sides of the blender with a spatula occasionally
  • Serve immediately

Notes

340kCal per serve.  Sugar may be omitted.
Blueberry Smoothie Recipe
A healthy smoothie recipe to start your day
Keyword Breakfast, Easy, Healthy, Smoothie
Overnight Oats Recipe

Overnight Oats Recipe

Christina Henry
A healthy overnight oats recipe to start your day. May be made in batches.
Prep Time 10 mins
Resting time in refridgerator 8 hrs
Total Time 8 hrs 10 mins
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Healthy
Servings 1
Calories 235 kcal

Equipment

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Air tight containers or mason jars

Ingredients
  

  • cup instant oats
  • 2 teaspoons oat bran
  • 2 teaspoons milk powder
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar optional
  • teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons dried fruit or nuts of your choice
  • ¼ cup Greek yoghurt
  • ½ cup cold water

Instructions
 

  • Mix all the dry ingredients well
  • Place in a mason jar or other container with lid until you’re ready to use
  • Mix in water and yoghurt. Shake jar/container
  • Leave in refrigerator overnight

Notes

Multiply quantities to make a batch (the quantities above are for one serve)
I usually make one week’s worth at a time.  The dry ingredients are approx. 160kCal,  mixed with yoghurt and water the total is 235kCal.
Overnight Oats Recipe
A healthy breakfast to start your day. This overnight oats recipe may be made in batches and stored in the pantry until needed. Mix with yogurt and water and leave overnight in the refrigerator.
Keyword Breakfast, Easy, Healthy
Spinach and Feta Egg Muffin Recipe

Spinach and Feta Egg Muffin Recipe

Christina Henry
A healthy muffin recipe that may be eaten for breakfast or lunch. Serve hot or cold. Multiply the ingredients depending on how many muffins you need. The ingredients listed are for one muffin. Keeps in the refrigerator for 3 days.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Breakfast, Lunch
Cuisine Healthy
Servings 1
Calories 167 kcal

Equipment

  • Whisk
  • Muffin Tin
  • Oven

Ingredients
  

  • 1 egg
  • 20 g feta cheese crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon shredded tasty cheese
  • ¼ cup baby spinach Wilted in microwave or boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Spray a muffin tin with oil spray
  • Heat oven to 220 degree celsius
  • Whisk egg, milk, salt and pepper
  • Place feta and spinach in a muffin tin (it’s easier if the spinach has been wilted in boiling water and drained well)
  • Pour egg mixture over feta and spinach
  • Sprinkle shredded cheese on top
  • Bake for 20 minutes. Serve hot or cold

Notes

Spinach and Feta Egg Muffin Recipe
A healthy recipe for Spinach and Feta Egg Muffins. May be eaten hot or cold, for breakfast or lunch.
Multiply ingredients and make in batches. The quantities above are for one muffin (I usually make 4 – 6 at a time)
I also eat these at lunch time with a salad
Keyword Breakfast, Easy, Healthy, Lunch, Spinach and Feta Egg Muffins

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shared at this link-up party - Life this week #202 at Denysewhelan.com.au
Shared at this link-up party – life this week, https://www.denysewhelan.com.au/denyse-blogs/taking-stock-3-27-51-lifethisweek-54-2020/
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Know Your Family and Personal Health History

Know Your Family and Personal Medical History

This post is for general informational and educational purposes only. Please refer to the Disclaimer. It is recommended that you seek advice from your medical practitioner if you require specific medical advice.

Knowing Your Medical History is Essential

It is important to keep a track of your health history, especially your family’s history of diseases and other health issues. Your family’s medical history can reveal a pattern of certain diseases which may indicate whether there is a familial risk for developing a medical condition. Common diseases that can crop up in families are:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease – heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes
  • Kidney disorders
  • Diabetes and other endocrine diseases
  • Asthma
  • Genetic disorders such as haemophilia and Down syndrome
  • Some types of mental illness
  • Osteoporosis
  • Huntingtons disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Albinism

Some diseases are caused by mutations in a gene, while others are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors such as diet, exposure to toxins, skin damage by exposure to UV light, and substance abuse. Further information is available from Health Direct at this link.

It is important to know your family's health history because it may show an inherited disease.  This post includes a printable medical history form to record your personal and family health.
It is important to know your family’s health history because it may show an inherited disease. This post includes a printable medical history form to record your personal and family health.

My Own Family Medical History

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Sue Loncaric for her series Women Living Well Over 50. One of the subjects we discussed was the importance of knowing your family and personal medical history. I shared my own family history of cancer, and how it lead me to have genetic testing to diagnose me with BRCA2 gene mutation which puts me in a high risk for certain cancers.

My family also has a high risk of cardiovascular disease and I have a congenital heart defect which was inherited from my father. Knowing my risk meant that I could have increased surveillance and appropriate treatment at an earlier stage, before I developed cancer or cardiac issues.

Knowing your family history can guide your doctor to investigate and treat you for medical conditions in their early stages or even prevent them before they occur. For example, because I have BRCA2 I had my ovaries and breasts removed before I developed cancer. I also started on cholesterol reducing medications before I developed plaque which could have lead to blocked arteries (arteriosclerosis).

My family has a high risk for melanoma so I have taken my sons for yearly skin checks since they were young. My son developed a melanoma at 24, but it was diagnosed at stage 1 and he is now cured. This is due to the regular check-ups and knowing our family history. We both now have 6 monthly skin checks.

Knowing your family health history is important because it could highlight hereditary medical conditions or risk of disease. It can guide doctors to investigate symptoms further and even guide them towards choosing one form of treatment over another. Drawing up a family tree may help to pinpoint certain diseases in the family. Using my own family as an example, your family tree may look like this:

Example of a family tree showing important health history.  BRCA2 gene mutation has been passed down to two generations.  It has an increased risk of breast, ovarian, pancreatic and prostate cancer and may also cause an increased risk of melanoma and other cancersMy Family Tree showing Our Health History

Keeping track of your personal health history is also important. I write everything down and update my records to keep a track of medications, allergies, illnesses and operations, vaccinations and the contact details of the medical practitioners who treat me.

The file is updated regularly and I carry a copy in my handbag in the event of a medical emergency. I cannot count the number of times I have had to refer to it. Keeping track of allergies, immunisations, medications and what procedures you have had done, is easy with this Personal and Medical Family History form.

Personal and Family Medical History

I have developed a useful printable personal and family medical history form that you may use. Print a separate copy for each member of the family and keep it somewhere safe. There is a printable version at the end of the post:

PERSONAL AND FAMILY HEALTH HISTORY 

Personal Medical Information

Name 


Date of Birth 

Place Born


Address



Next of Kin

Name


Contact No. Or Address


Medicare No.


Medical Insurance Policy: 

Provider:                        Card/Policy No.


Concessions


Social Security/DVA No.


Allergies 

MedicationReactionSeverity

Vaccinations

VaccinationDateVaccinationDate

Medical Conditions 

Medical ConditionDate Diagnosed

Surgical Procedures 

DateProcedureDoctorHospital

Medications

MedicationDoseFrequencyPurpose

Major Illnesses

IllnessDateDoctor

General Practitioner 

Name


Address


Phone


Medical Specialist

Name


Address


Phone


Surgical Specialist 

Name


Address


Phone


Medical Specialist 

Name


Address


Phone


Surgical Specialist 

Name


Address


Phone



Additional Notes









Family Medical History

Father 

Medical conditions 


If deceased – Age & Cause


Mother

Medical conditions 


If deceased – Age & cause


Children

Medical conditions 


If deceased  – Age & Cause


Brothers/Sisters

Medical Conditions 


If deceased – Age & Cause 


Grandparents

Paternal Grandfather – Medical Conditions 


If deceased  – Age & Cause


Paternal Grandmother – Medical Conditions 


If deceased  – Age & Cause 


Maternal Grandfather  – Medical Conditions 


If deceased  – Age & Cause 


Maternal Grandmother  – Medical Conditions 


If deceased  – Age & Cause 


Aunts/Uncles

Significant Medical Conditions


If deceased  – Age & Cause

Write significant hereditary medical conditions on this family tree

Printable Family and Personal Medical History Form

Download and print as many copies as you like. You will need one for each member of the family.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also like to read:

Signs You Need to See a Doctor

Being a Patient in the Midst of a Pandemic

Beating BRCA2 – How it Has Affected my Life

Please share this article as it may help someone else.

2 thoughts on “Know Your Family and Personal Medical History”

  1. katey26 says: July 29, 2020 at 10:03 am Edit The form is a great idea Like Reply
    1. Christina Henry says: July 29, 2020 at 7:23 pm Edit Thankyou Katey. I’m glad you like it Liked by 1 person Reply
  2. Jo says: July 29, 2020 at 10:06 am Edit This is a fabulous resource Christine. Two of my grandparents were heavy smokers and died of lung cancer (paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother – at 94), my maternal grandfather passed from complications of a routine operation and my paternal grandmother died of old age (at 98). My mother (78) is as healthy and fit as a horse, but my father (82) has had prostate cancer, non TB lung disease and asthma. Number 6 in 8 kids he lost his eldest brother at 92, but all others are living. All of Mum’s siblings are still living. My husband, however, was adopted and we know nothing at all of his family history. You have definitely got me thinking. #MLSTL Liked by 1 person Reply
    1. Christina Henry says: July 29, 2020 at 7:28 pm Edit Hi Jo, somehow I think you will have a long life! It must be difficult for your husband at times, not knowing his family history. I had my DNA tested through Ancestry.com and found a new first cousin who was adopted. That’s one way your husband could find family if he ever wanted to know. Regards Christina Liked by 1 person Reply
      1. Jo says: July 31, 2020 at 7:56 am Edit Yes, we’ve done the DNA testing, but the closest matches we got were 3rd/4th cousins. We’ve also now got a birth certificate so the next step is to see if we can getthe records unlocked (Scotland). Liked by 1 person
      2. Christina Henry says: July 31, 2020 at 12:31 pm Edit Oh wow! Good luck with it. Liked by 1 person
  3. leannelc says: July 29, 2020 at 7:38 pm Edit Hi Christine – I take my family’s medical history for granted and keep forgetting about the diseases etc that took some of them early. My father died in his early 70’s but that was largely from poor lifestyle choices, however you’ve reminded me of the heart issues in my mother’s side of the family that I need to keep in mind as I get older. I’m grateful that overall we’re a pretty healthy bunch.
    #MLSTL Liked by you Reply
    1. midlifestylist says: July 30, 2020 at 2:45 pm Edit Hi Leanne, I unfortunately inherited some dodgy genes from my dad, so I envy you having a healthy family. Luckily all the creativity we inherited came from my parents so you take the good with the bad. Some people prefer to put their head in the sand with health issues but I think it’s better to keep family history in mind and get on to it quickly if anything worries you. Thank you for commenting, regards Christina Like Reply
  4. Debbie says: July 29, 2020 at 9:29 pm Edit Hi Christina, this is a wonderful resource and your reasons behind it are really informative. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas with us. We are looking at issues with my grandson and family backgrounds are proving required information. Very timely to read your post #mlstl Liked by you Reply
    1. midlifestylist says: July 30, 2020 at 2:47 pm Edit Hi Debbie, I’m so glad you found it useful. I really hope it helps with your grandson. Thank you so much for your feedback, regards Christina Liked by 1 person Reply
  5. Helen says: July 30, 2020 at 12:34 am Edit This is so important! I come from a family that does not talk about family illnesses and It too a long time to draw the information out! It also helped remove some of the shame I was feeling when I realized that some of my medical conditions were not my fault, but actually due to family history. Like Reply
    1. midlifestylist says: July 30, 2020 at 2:38 pm Edit Hi Helen, yes I agree. The time for sweeping things under a rug is long gone. I still have family who choose to put their head in the sand where it comes to their health and I definitely disagree with that approach. It’s better to avoid illnesses or treat them in the early stages. Thank you so much for commenting, regards Christina Like Reply
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