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Being Busy Does Not Mean Sacrificing Your Brain

Have you ever been away on a conference, trip or vacation and feeling like sugary or fast food was your only choice? In a case where you come back from a vacation and gain weight instead of feeling rested and having glowing skin, is it just me or does that also make you feel a little off balance and awkward?

In instances where you come back from your trip, why do you think you do not always feel rested or refreshed? Even a business trip does not need to feel more exhausting than it already is. You can mitigate any effects of stress and sleep deprivation by eating well and exercising.

Have you ever had such a busy week in your life at work or school and thought that sugary or fast food was your only choice so that you could save time? In my personal experience, when I used to work full time, run my business part time and go to school full time, I had a tendency to eat less than healthy foods. I felt even worse, as though the foods I ate added to the stress that I felt. One of my naturopaths had saved my life in this regard, and educated me that ingredients matter more than calorie counts alone. There are programs out there that tell you ‘no matter how many pastries or fried food you eat, it is okay because it is only X amount of calories’, unfortunately, caloric counts are an easy measure and most of us won’t even read about the nutrition itself. The truth is, if what you are eating is ‘clean’ you can have a little more fun and not feel like a prisoner to calories (a measure than can be faulty). A 100 calorie snack may fulfill 100 calories of your day and not exceed your limit (and you think you are being healthy for keeping within your calorie count), but what in the world makes you think it has any nutritional value and purpose if you have not even read the label? This is why I strongly encourage each and every one of you to love and care for yourself, and please read your labels.

Many of us truly feel like we have no other choice and that convenience means less than healthy food. If you work it right, it does not have to be that way. Convenience is great, but planning ahead and just being conscious and mindful of your choices can save you more time and money in the long run, after a while, mindful eating becomes second nature, and not even the Holidays will provide a good enough excuse to over eat. Planning ahead and being mindful is like working a budget for your health, it does not have to feel like a chore if you look at it positively! Eating frivolously may not work really well nor can it build health-wealth or health-prosperity.
The below tips only cover nutrition, but I recommend working out in your hotel room or home for at least 20 minutes every morning on top of these tips which are part of a nutritionally mindful lifestyle for the long term, and not just a short term diet:

Tea and Coffee:

Order your coffee or iced coffee made with skim milk (non-fat milk) and un-sweetened (I am saying skim and not soy because soy has too many GMO and regular milk has too much fat). If you wish to have it sweetened, even if you’re getting a latte and not just regular coffee, you can sweeten it yourself with cane sugar or brown sugar at the counter, because if the baristas sweeten your drink themselves, often times they use classic sweetener which consists of liquid refined sugar.

Order your tea un-sweetened, with skim milk, if you must sweeten your tea, use honey, cane sugar or brown sugar (these are the last modified versions of sugar but this does not mean limiting yourself).

Smoothies or specialty drinks:

If you are getting a smoothie, lemonade, mocha, caramel macchiato, or anything of that nature at a coffee shop or at a restaurant: at least get it half-sweet or ask the server or barista to skip the added sugar all together. I am saying this because the mocha and caramel mixes, for example, already come with sugar, so does the fruit juice in smoothies. Removing the additional classic sugar syrup may affect the creaminess of your drink, but it still may be the best option. The server or barista might offer you their ‘diet or sugar free or light version’, but opt for the real thing as half sweet instead, since aspartame (light or diet) is probably more dangerous than real sugar. The word artificial sweetener should be alarming enough –they make fake versions of refined sugar, a somewhat cute and nice initiative but really funny at the same time.

Eating at pubs:

  • Even the greasiest pubs have salads on the menu, be it romaine lettuce with dressing on the side or mixed greens. You can order chicken, turkey, beef of your choice of seafood with your salad.
  • Most restaurants also have baked potatoes, which are awesome with your choice of meat or vegetarian alternative and can be accompanied by a side of cooked veggies.
  • When ordering a sandwich, wrap or pasta: go whole wheat or whole grain. Why? Because white flour in its natural state is not white, it has been bleached to become white. Do you know what bleach does to your clothing? Yeah, not a good feeling for your intestines either, the damage is done gradually.
  • Making water your drink of choice can help you avoid ordering soda at restaurants with your meals.

Breakfast on the go:

  • In the mornings, most restaurants or coffee shops will sell yogurt, it may not be organic and sugar-free, but it’s better than Danishes, muffins and scones. Of course, if all else fails and you must get a pastry, oatmeal cookies are probably better than chocolate chip ones, by a little. Also, most coffee shops, sell nuts and trail mix, buy that on the go instead of baked goods.
  • As for breakfast at restaurants, a good modification consists of ordering turkey bacon instead of regular bacon due to lesser fat, and egg whites instead of full eggs can also be great. Of course, whole wheat toast instead of white toast is a good one too.


  • On vacation, on a business trip or when out and about, the cardinal rule for cocktails that I live by is to cut all un-necessary sugar. For example: a mimosa is fine with just champagne and orange juice, the added raspberry or strawberry cocktail mix that is sometimes part of the recipe is something that I remove when ordering it.
  • A lot sugar can be cut from cocktails if you ask the server or bartender to switch around the proportions. This goes for food too, but chances are you’re already going to bed late after drinking, the last thing you may wish for is to feel tired and crappy in the morning due to a headache caused by too much sugar in your drink, you can mitigate this by drinking one cup of water for each drink you have, but also cutting out sugar as much as possible from your mixed drinks.
  • A good mixed drink benchmark measure that I use is : 1 type of alcohol + 1 type of mixer only = healthiest option.
  • Examples: vodka & water, vodka & cranberry or orange juice, rum & coke, rum & orange juice, gin & tonic. Also, do not mix pre-mixed drinks with even more mixers, keep it simple.

    General tips:

    • Ask yourself if that bread on the table before your meal and that dessert after your meal is actually needed. Rarely will you regret not eating dessert or bread on its own before your meal; most of the time you will regret eating it and feel bloated and lethargic.
    • Often, restaurants do have appetizers that are more or less healthy and still tasty, but it is more difficult in this department to stick to whole wheat, so watch your portion sizes instead.
    • This is a really important tip that I have become conscious of recently: finishing the food on your plate is not necessary and probably a bad idea. Healthy portion sizes are usually not respected by most restaurants. Even if we are so used to it, they put as much as 20% more food on the plate than you should consume per meal. Meat should be no more than the size of a deck of cards, pasta and rice should be one cup per plate, for example, and this is not at all what most restaurants actually serve you. You will know when you feel full and that is when you should stop eating, not just to finish the food on you plate just because it tastes good or you feel obligated to finish it.
    • You can also carry your protein powder with you everywhere you go with a water bottle for mixing your shake. Most fitness nuts and athletes depend on protein powder, even more when they cannot work out as much in order to keep their muscle mass and cannot go a day without their protein powder. Once you find the right protein for you, it can become part of your life, so you do not have to go without it, just bring it with you.
    • If your flight or train only serves less than healthy options; wait until you land to eat if your commute is short. If your travel is longer, eat the healthy parts of the served meal only.

    To give you a bit of a personal story, very recently I have been on a little adventure to cut out all sugar and fast food from my diet (no treat meals) for two week straight. Now when I try and eat refined sugar and fast food, I immediately feel sick. The point of this was to develop an allergy to ensure I never go back to that, and it worked. I had cut it all out for two weeks, that is less than 21 days to form a habit thank-you-very-much, this means, you can do this in less time. Now I have natural sugar if I want sugar as a treat, and I save have fast food’s healthiest options for treat meals.

    It is important to note that it is your responsibility to monitor your food intake, not someone else’s, people may still offer you treats even after knowing about your lifestyle (not diet that word feels negative) change, and temptation will still exist. But nothing worth having is easy.