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Category Archives: health

reflections born from illness

I woke up this morning with an aching stomach, and not really sure what to do, I spent most of the day asleep or lying down. I spent a lot of time staring at the room around me, the view from my window, thinking thoughts I haven’t had time to think in my structured day. I paid attention to my body, trying to figure out what it needed, calling attention to how little I do this on a normal day when my stomach is happy. When I get sick I can usually pinpoint the reason why – I was dehydrated, I was too cold, I didn’t get enough sleep – and then I pay attention to these things that I should be paying attention to before it’s too late. Take care of your bodies now, they’re what we live in.


essential thing: chocolate truffles

my name is xandra burns and i am a chocoholic.

i don’t know if chocolate truffles would be listed as an “essential thing” for any other minimalist, but hear me out:

truffles are a prime example of quality over quantity.

minimalism is about eliminating excess – what you can live without, what you don’t truly love – and i truly love chocolate. however, i don’t love all chocolate. i think i can say that i like almost all kinds of chocolate. i’m satisfied with the cheap sainsbury’s bars. but i would much prefer a champagne truffle, a rich slice of chocolate cheesecake from caffe nero, a triple chocolate bens cookie hot out of the oven.

so no more sainsbury’s. no more vending machine chocolate. no more packaged chocolate cookies. if i’m going to eat chocolate, i’m going to eat it luxuriously, with style.

an expensive habit? a bit, but ultimately, i eat less chocolate and i eat better chocolate. it evens out when i factor in health and happiness.

since my truffles are so exquisite, so cherished, i only eat them on occasion, and when i have earned them. i have made it a habit to eat a truffle only when i have accomplished a daunting task or worked solidly for a considerable amount of time.

i keep a jar of truffles on my desk as an incentive. when i limit the kinds of chocolate i eat and limit the amount i consume, it becomes more of a treat, which, after all, is the point of truffle-eating in the first place.

going veggie

i have been a vegetarian for about six weeks now.

why have i decided to be a vegetarian?

simply put: it’s healthier. i don’t like meat that much.

the added benefits?

i don’t feel guilty about eating animals, and it’s better for the environment.

however, as harsh as it sounds, one person does not make that much difference. what really counts is getting large number of people to give up meat, and that’s not part of my agenda. this choice¬† is for my benefit and my reasons. personally, i have a problem with animal cruelty to the extent that eating meat bothered me. does it bother me when other people eat meat? a little, but i feel hypocritical to say so since i was one of them not too long ago. it’s a personal decision and i can only speak for my own experience.

and i love it so far.

i like lambs. i don't want to eat them.

and i don't want chikens to live like this. images from "food inc." helped solidify my decision.

what were my initial concerns?

there are certain foods i could not imagine giving up – burgers, spaghetti with meat sauce, bacon and sausages for full english…but when i realized that i can substitute veggie burgers for burgers, quorn for ground beef, and veggie sausages, mushrooms, and tomatoes for bacon and sausages, this was no longer a problem.

i’m also quite the foodie and was worried about missing out on interesting gourmet options. in oxford at least, there are plenty of delicious vegetarian options that i hardly notice. in my college hall, the vegetarian dish is almost always much better than the meat one anyway (for this, i am quite fortunate), and i would opt for it even before i decided to commit to vegetarianism.

gourmet burger kitchen does amazing veggie burgers.

how do i manage to eat a balanced diet without meat?

i have done some research, including monitoring my daily intake, and was surprised to find that i have been consuming enough protein without meat without even trying to replace it. i love eggs and beans (and nutella), and eat enough every day to fulfill my daily requirement. what i lacked was actually fruits and vegetables, which are now much more incorporated into my diet. it was not difficult to start eating healthily once i became better aware of what healthy entails.

while nutritional needs vary person to person, i use this chart as a basic guideline.

defining vegetarianism

calling myself a vegetarian was sort of scary, just like calling myself a minimalist. there were periods before i decided to commit (to both) in which i shied away from the idea and didn’t even consider it. ultimately, the extent to which you are a vegetarian or a minimalist is up to you. some vegetarians eat fish, for example. now, i don’t like fish enough for that to be my exception. my initial plan was to eat meat occasionally when i wanted it – better that than keeping a few cravings from calling myself a full vegetarian – but i haven’t even wanted to do that.

where to look for help

many of my favorite bloggers are vegetarian or vegan and have shared their stories and offered advice:

leo babauta – mnmlist

angela liddon – oh she glows

alicia silverstone – the kind life