Health and Beauty

by Khun Pissara Umavijani

After many years of being a perfume collector, I wondered what made perfumes magic. I have a friend, Anuchy, we spent hours smelling, talking about fragrances and what made them special. We decided to order raw materials from different global suppliers. On arrival, the joy of discovery was greater than anything we could imagine! That was the beginning of an inwards and outwards journey. 

Scents link directly to our brain. They stimulate our emotions. It is the most primal part of perception. It creates wonderful and powerful mind tricks. I have discovered the reason behind the creation of Parfums Dusita: Good perfumes make you happy; great perfumes make you dream.

I came to Paris in 2011 with nothing but dreams. My father died in 2006. The experience of losing him made me realise how ephemeral life was and how important it was to build something, to be happy and to do what you love. I knew my heart was in perfumery. I wanted to affect other people as my fragrances affected me.

I believe we need good perfumes in life. We need sensation that links directly to our brain and stimulate our emotions. We make decisions based on scents without knowing. It is a primal perception. 

I created Dusita with passion. I wish to make people dream, discover, and feel this sensation of happiness. Through the countless hours of working and collecting inspirations everywhere, I believe that perfumes will speak for themselves. I believe that people will always seek a good scent. Creativity is characterised by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and embracing originality.

Parfums Dusita is about happiness each creation is crafted to portrait an aspect of it: Issara is about freedom, Mélodie de l’amour is about love, Oudh Infini is about discovering new things and places, and Erawan is about personal growth.

Creativity is also about making connections. I am always thinking about the world and the experiences I have daily, but sometimes I like to open one of my father’s poetry books and see how it makes me feel.

I started to think of how my Father’s wonders about his longings and his ability to ever be happy. I believe that happens to all of us; we eventually reach points of uncertainty. We need to find a way to reach peace of mind. I started sketching. As he mentioned in a poem, I drew the Sun Moon Lake and a golden Thai temple in the middle. It was a representation of a guiding source of light, steadiness and tranquility.

I think about elements and select picture colours when drawing. I paint the fragrance already in my mind. The temple translated into incense; the water into freshness. These are my two main scents: Frankincense and Mint Citrata. I want to depict tranquility, but also the roughness of difficult times. I decided on a contrasting astringent green fig scent.

In my lab I worked on my idea of fragrance. The name Le Pavillon d’Or came later, but I called it my “guiding light” fragrance. I do many trials. I start balancing a few materials as a core then build. Developing perfumes is a process that takes months. You have to let it macerate, evolve, be organised and keep the olfactive direction you wish it to go in check.

When I am in Thailand, I collect succulents. I fell in love with the crushed Boswellia leaf smell. This inspired me to use Omani Frankincense Green Sacra. I found this material soft, delicate and breezy. It also blends well with white florals. One perfumer basic is to know the materials, analyse facets and evolution, but you must evaluate how they perform inside a composition and how they interact with other scents. It is a continuous learning process. Every time I enter my Paris laboratory, I discover something new… magic for a nose! That is why perfumery is my never ending passion.

When the formulations are ready, I send them to Grasse, where they blend them with globally sourced precious raw materials. Creating perfume concentrate in large quantity is also another expertise I admire. Each year I get the raw materials to analyse them from different sources such as Grasse Rose de Mais, Tunisian Orange Flower Absolute, Madagascar Vanilla Absolute and Indian Sandalwood. If  the quality is right, I use it in my formulation.

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If we can see a glimmer of positivity from the past year as the world grappled with the COVID-19 global pandemic, one can rank widespread acceptance of masks as a method to protect our health and those around us. Many of us have incredibly spent the last 12 months wearing facial masks outside of our home seven days a week. Young and old, we are all masked warriors doing our best to stay healthy. 2020 certainly saw the mask and mask accessory industry explode like never before. 2021 and it appears that necessity will continue long into the year. We have taken this step diligently as a way to help protect our health and halt the spread of COVID-19. What we have also accomplished by default is countless hours of cleaner air making its way into our lungs. The right mask that fits well helps protect us from Covid-19 and protects our lungs from the toxic pollutants that are in the air. 

Over the past decade, I became uniquely and alarmingly acquainted with the hazards of air pollution on human health. Like a toxic friendship you just can’t shake, even short term exposure to dirty air lingers on the mind and manifests across the body with nagging coughs, dull headaches and irritation of eyes and throat. The worry of air pollution on our health over these past years became so great it yielded personal action for me. In the early 2010’s, I helped co-found an air pollution awareness and advocacy group called Care for Air. By 2016, my family had literally moved to another country, in large part, due to our search for cleaner, healthier air. I suspect we will not be alone in the years ahead to what may be a tidal wave of air pollution expatriates.

Today we know air pollution is on the rise globally. According to the World Health Organisation more than 80% of city residents around the world are exposed to particulate pollution at unsafe levels. Seven million people are killed prematurely each year by air pollution in both rich and poor countries. Sadly, Thailand is no stranger to air pollution and it’s not just Bangkok. Chiang Mai ranks among the top regions for exceedingly high levels of hazardous air. Saraburi, Chonburi and Samut Sakhon unfortunately also join this list. The Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) by the University of Chicago shows long term exposure to fine particulate pollution is shortening the average Thai’s life expectancy by more than two years. In the most polluted areas that number grows to four years of reduced life expectancy. The AQLI found that 87% of Thailand’s 68 million residents are exposed to air pollution levels exceeding WHO guidelines. This public health crisis of dangerous and toxic air hits children, the elderly and the most vulnerable people hardest. It is estimated that 10-15% of children in Thailand suffer from asthma.

 So, what is going on with Bangkok’s air? In recent years, there have been some improvements. Yet still the problem persists with air pollution levels reaching highest levels over the winter and drier months. Seasonal weather patterns and human activities combine to make the winter months here in Thailand particularly bad. Compounding that – Bangkok is not a very windy city. The lack of wind is problematic in the cooler months as PM 2.5 pollution particles build in the air and there is not enough wind to disperse them. The cooler temperatures cause an inversion effect which results in the air pollution stagnating for days at a time. Thailand’s air pollution problem comes from a combination of vehicular emissions, biomass burning, agriculture and industrial emissions, among other factors. Our location on our planet even plays a role in exacerbating this problem. A recent study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill revealed that effectively where air pollution comes from is as important as how much is emitted. Air pollution generated in the areas closer to the equator where there is more heat and light yield more ozone than regions farther from the equator. That unfortunately puts SE Asia squarely in this hot zone.

Whether we know it or not, air pollution is shaping our lives. But we can get educated and take better ownership of the air we breathe to protect ourselves and to ensure we do not become major contributors. The problem of toxic air will not go away without sustained efforts – large and small.  So, what can we do on an individual level to reduce our own personal air pollution footprint? Well a lot it turns out. Small changes at home snowball. The air around us improves and our example begins to set in motion a collective responsibility.  

So, starting today, why not proudly become a clean air ambassador: 

  1. Wheels matter:
    Go on two wheels when possible! Bike around town if that is safe in your area. If you own a motorcycle or diesel car, consider switching on your next trade-in or purchase to a hybrid or petrol vehicle. In the meantime, reduce your emissions by ensuring your car isn’t the one idling for long periods in the driveway, at markets or school. For all vehicles, turn the engine off when not in motion.

When it comes to getting around, consider walking, biking, or public transport when possible. 

  1. Check readings daily and avoid outdoor aerobic activities during peak air pollution times.

Air pollution levels tend to be highest during early morning and evening hours. Sadly, this is also when temperatures are most pleasant for outdoor exercise, especially when wearing a mask. Check air pollution readings via your phone app, like IQ Air or Air Visual, before taking that power walk or run outside.  

  1. Become a compost convert! Dispose of garden waste eco-friendly
    Learn how to compost and organise a neighbourhood composting group. Food from dinner leftovers to inedible waste like eggshells and garden waste can be composted which helps nourish the soil and in turn reduces what goes into landfills. Think it won’t make a difference, well, consider this: Organic waste (food and garden waste) in landfills generates methane which is a potent greenhouse gas. Compost can also capture and destroy a significant portion of industrial volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) in contaminated air. 

  1. Clean green air inside your home 

For most of us, the majority of our time is spent indoors, whether at home, work or now virtual school. Indoor air it turns out is as polluted, sometimes more so, than outdoor air. The air inside is compromised by both external pollutants (PM 2.5, ozone) that come in through every window and open door, as well as indoor air generated toxins (benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, ammonia and trichloroethylene) from paints, varnish, leathers, plastics and more. These indoor air pollutants are linked to headaches, eye irritation, dizziness and more. The good news is we have some natural remedies at hand. The use of several plants can dramatically improve our indoor air. 

NASA’s 1989 Clean Air Study set out to find the best ways to naturally clean the air in space stations. The result? They also determined the best plants to purify your indoor air at home. The Spider Plant, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, Peace Lily, Dracaena and Chrysanthemum make great natural air filters and they are pretty hardy for those of us who are not natural green thumbs. NASA research suggests at least one plant per 100 square feet of home or work space. 

Learn more about air pollution causes and solutions. Join clean air movements such as Sate safe and healthy from air pollution and Covid-19.

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Today we are speaking with Dr. Nick Walters, B.S., M.D. (USA), DTM&H (London), FAAFP, ABFP (Diplomate). He is one of the world’s leading experts in family medicine, tropical and preventative medicine. He works at Bangkok Adventist or Mission Hospital, a non-profit medical facility here In Bangkok. Dr. Walters is also one of the editors of the SEAMEO SE Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health (SEATROPH). The magazine is published by the SEAMEO Regional Tropical Medicine and Public Health Network (SEAMEO TROPMED Network). One annual volume comprises of six bi-monthly issues (January, March, May, July, September, and November). 

When did you first come here to Thailand?

I first came to Thailand in December 2002.

What has changed here the most?

The cost of things has gone up but as is present everywhere in the world, Thailand has become more digitally connected and so many people seem to have a cellphone to access social media.

What has changed here the least?

People still like to go out with families or friends to eat together.

Can you tell us about your job at Mission Hospital?

I am a medical doctor at Mission Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. I am also an editor of a medical journal published by SEAMEO (SE Asian Ministers of Education Organisation) Regional Tropical Medicine and Public Health Network (TROPMED), called the SE Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health.

Where do you like to go when you are off work?

I like to go out to eat dinner with my wife. We try to have a date night once a week. Being a doctor keeps me out of the house for many hours each week, so I do not mind being at home when I am off work; in fact I enjoy it. There is always something that needs to be done in the house and if my wife and I are both doing it together, it is a joy. Another thing we do that I really enjoy is having free medical clinics for poor people in various parts of Thailand. Mission Hospital is under the Christian Medical Foundation, so we do free clinics in various parts of Thailand from as far South as Songkhla, as far North as Chiang Mai. From Tak in the West to Nan in the East. We usually go into villages where there is a need and provide medical care. This allows me an interaction with people that most visitors to Thailand would not see and it is very fulfilling.

What are your favourite places to eat?

Any place vegetarian.

Can you tell us about your family?

I am married and we have two children. My oldest son just finished dentistry in California last year and works as a dentist there. My youngest son is in medical school in California. My wife is here with me in Thailand.

What do you do for fun?

Redecorating around the house little by little and am an avid reader of history.

What advice do you have for any expatriate who wants to move to Thailand and live here?

Learn the language. Do not wait until you can speak Thai perfectly before trying to speak Thai, because it will never happen. Thai people are very forgiving of us foreigners when we try to speak Thai. Mix with Thai people. Enjoy the interaction.

You are an American medical doctor with a Thai medical licence here in Thailand. That is completely unheard of, it is extremely rare. Can you please tell us more about how you managed to do that?  

I came to Thailand and went to a formal language school to learn Thai. I did this for 9 months, 20 hours a week, 4 hours each morning, 5 days a week, in a language school. I then volunteered in the afternoons at the Mahidol University Hospital for Tropical Diseases immersing myself in the medical language. I then studied medical Thai for another 9 months with a tutor and continued to volunteer at the hospital. After this 18 month period I took my medical boards in the Thai language and passed all 3 parts on the first time in what I consider a miracle from God. The effort was worth it because living in Thailand is much smoother if a person can understand Thai. I do not use a translator at work, and I see both Thai and foreign patients for general medicine as well as tropical diseases, for which I also have a specialty.

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We all aim to eat well and follow a healthy diet. Having healthy snacks can keep you satisfied, provide the energy you need to keep going, and help prevent ravenous hunger so you don’t overeat later on. The more you plan ahead, the easier it is to stick to a healthy diet. After all, isn’t this why we mums pre-pack healthy snacks for our children? Along the way though, after we’ve given birth and the baby is no longer a part of our body, we seem to forget that tight association between how we care
for ourselves and how we care for our children’s health. In the past, I used to send my daughter to school with a nicely prepared, healthy snack box, whilst I ravenously gobbled up banana bread for breakfast on the way to work. Why is it that as mums we often shortchange and deny ourselves all the good things we do for our kids? A healthy diet, healthy snacks, and the importance of pre-planning are just as crucial for you, as it is for your child. Preparing healthy snacks ahead of time doesn’t have to be a complicated affair. You don’t need to pack a separate box for you and your child. Whatever is good for you is good for your child and vice versa. Here is a list of things I keep in mind when I pack snacks for my family. Smart snack guidelines: Pick appropriate snacks to suit your needs: Of all the macronutrients that you consume, your body can digest carbohydrates the fastest, followed by protein and then fat. Knowing this fact can help you plan ahead and choose appropriate snacks for you and your little ones.

When to reach for carbohydrates: As carbohydrate is digested faster than protein and fat, it can provide you with a fast energy boost to overcome your mid-afternoon slump. Carbohydrates have developed a bit of a bad rap recently, but do you know that carbohydrates are your body’s preferred source of energy? However, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Simple carbohydrates, common snacks I see at school, like baked treats, juices or breakfast cereal, will give a short term energy spike follow by a subsequent crash. To get a steadier energy lift, reach for complex carbohydrates snacks like fresh fruit, granola bars, or homemade trail mix.

When to reach for protein and fat:

Protein and fat take longer to digest, so snacks that contain these macronutrients will keep you satisfied for longer. If you know you’ve got a longer gap between two meals, then prepare snacks that contain some protein and fat ahead of time can prevent a family “hanger” meltdown. For a long family road trip, I like to pre-pack things like raw cashews, roasted salted almonds1 and beef jerky. You can also pick up on-the-go snacks like peeled hard boiled eggs, roasted sunflower seeds, roasted pumpkin kennels, shumai, or milk from the convenience stores. Use the substitution rule rather than subtraction for maximum snack pleasure: There is a difference between feeling satisfied and just full. A good snack should satisfy and give you pleasure, rather than simply filling the void in your stomach. If I tried to get my daughter to eat a healthy, low sugar, fat and salt snack, she wouldn’t have a bar of it. Chances are I wouldn’t want to eat it either. I have a sweet tooth and so has my daughter (I’m sure I may be to blame). We both love brownies which are not particularly healthy for us. However, rather than subtracting them from our lives, I choose to bake them myself. This way I can control the quality and the quantity of what go
into our brownies and substitute some ingredients to make them healthier. In the recipe at the end2, chickpea was used instead of flour (less processed and more fibre) and honey instead of white sugar (less processed, and less sugar due to higher water content).

Snack on food you ‘want’ to eat rather than food you feel you ‘should’ eat: I don’t know what’s true for you, but I know that I feel most at peace with food when I prioritise healthy eating, balanced with occasional snacks like chocolate and chips. If you and your kids truly want to eat something, allow yourself to. When you deny yourself or your child a particular food because it’s labelled ‘bad’ or ‘unhealthy’, you’re glorifying that food by making it more special. This can lead to intense cravings and the final outcome is often binging. Eating chocolate or chips is not inherently unhealthy, it’s only unhealthy when we binge eat it. This tends to only happen when we finally “give-in” to the forbidden food we’ve been wanting, but we’ve been denying ourselves. Imagine giving yourself and your child unconditional permission to eat a cookie every day, chances are by day 10, or even 20 you and your child will feel so sick of cookies you will no longer see cookie as a special indulgent food. To conclude, what’s good for you is good for the kids, so pre-plan so you’re not caught out, and treat snacks as something pleasurable to eat, something the family can look forward to.

About the author:
Gale Ruttanaphon
– Founder of My Mummy First
Asia’s exclusive health & fitness expert for mums Gale works with busy mums who can’t identify with the person they see in the mirror now and feel guilty to take any time for themselves, which makes them feel ashamed, insecure, and out of control. She helps them become strong, lean, confident women who take on greater challenges beyond exercise, translating into happier mums, and good role models to their kids.

1 The brand that I like is Blue Diamond roasted salted almonds because it has pretty lower sodium (4% daily value per serving). As a general guide: 5% DV or less of sodium per serving is considered low, and 20% DV or more of sodium per serving is considered high. 2 Fudgy chickpea brownies *Slight modifications from a recipe I found on Pinterest from lindseyghoens.blogspot Ingredients:
• 1 can of chickpeas (drained and
• 2 tbp unsalted butter (melted)
• 2 eggs
• 1/3 cup of maple syrup or honey
• 2 tsp of pure vanilla extract
• 1⁄2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 pinch of salt
• 1⁄4 cup of dark chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 180°C. In a blender, combine all the ingredients except dark chocolate chips and blend until smooth. Stir in the dark chocolate chips and pour into a baking tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes (until toothpick comes out clean when testing).

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When life is full of confusion, gratitude unlocks the fullness of life

Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more 

Gratitude turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity

Gratitude can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend

As we reach the end of what most of us have found to be a turbulent year, I am grateful for my time spent at Kamalaya. This was my second visit and I brought a friend. Over 50% of Kamalaya guests return, I was one them, drawn to return by the lure of what we sojourners describe as the ‘Kamalaya magic’. 

John Stewart, cofounder of Kamalaya, Koh Samui is the calm face of the place. He clearly delights in engaging with any guests interested in his spiritual philosophies.

John spent 16 years living a simple yogic existence, some of which in a Himalayan cave, before developing Kamalaya as a world leading wellness and holistic spa along with his wife Karina. As someone who has spent most of this year wishing I could crawl under a rock to ride this pandemic out, I’m happy to receive any of his wisdom.

Visitors seek the serene holistic wellness of Kamalaya for a number of reasons. On offer is a synergy of healing therapies from East and West to help guests recharge who are disillusioned, dissatisfied, disconnected, unwell or unhappy to recharge. 

Of course that was before we all bore the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic for most of 2020. I returned to Kamalaya on a girl’s trip away for some much needed relaxation, restoration and time away from it all in a beautiful setting. Oh and the Flash Sale bargain prices helped.

My friend who I believe said it more eloquently: 

Since Covid-19 cruelly arrived in the world, it made me stop. I had no choice! I have gone through so many emotions during this time and without realising, slowly became a shadow of myself, almost burning out. When my Bangkok bestie suggested we go on a girly trip, and after the nod from my husband, my case was packed!’

It is hard to explain but there is definitely something healing about this tropical jungle terrain with its ancient granite boulders. Or perhaps, I have just found my big rock to hide under?

From the ‘Embrace Life’s Potential’ cloth bag given on arrival, I search for my  Kamalaya journal where I have penned questions for John. After all, if there are any secrets to help us all live an authentic, joyful and fulfilling life particularly in Covid-19 times I want to know. 

If necessary, I’ll even take a good dose of yucky turmeric, or whatever elixirs are on offer here! Here are the secrets I discovered.

Don’t try to work out the Covid whys

I asked John for his explanation of what happened in the world and why he thinks Covid-19 occurred in the way it did? He tells me he made a conscious decision early on in the pandemic to turn his investigative mind off. 

‘It was not for me to micro examine how or why Covid-19 occurred. Was it a man-made virus? Was it political? This type of questioning did not interest me in this moment. Rather like confronting any tsunami in the world, where you would not stop to investigate whilst it is happening, a full investigation could follow at a later date. I turned my mind to my responsibility for my in house guests, my staff and to the land’.

I liked this advice. I have certainly been guilty of following each and every Covid-19 news release, statistic, while chasing glimmers of hope for vaccinations.

Don’t hold onto the old thought patterns or behaviours

I asked John what he suggested for how we could cope now – it seems to me that many of us got through the initial stages of lockdown reasonably well but this has continued long term, the ongoing uncertainty has been tougher.

His advice was clear, don’t hang onto your old ways of doing things. This will only frustrate in a world where life has changed forever. Create a new version of calm and stability in your daily life.

Create your own new normal

John also suggests we create a new normal for ourselves. Kamalaya offered me a habitat away from digital distractions, demands and deadlines so I can gently reflect on my life. Could there be a Zen Wren inside me somewhere? 

I am trying to ensure that each day I nourish my mind, body and soul. I have continued to start each day drinking hot water with freshly squeezed lime to get my metabolism going and a few minutes contemplative thought, I am trying to eat better and have time off from my digital distractions.

Connect with yourself

John proposes that a little introspection and contemplative thought is all it takes to make a big difference. He does not want to call it meditation, a word that he suggests can sometimes turn people off. Instead he recommends

Fifteen minutes a day of breathing exercise will create the pause in your life to start to build a connection with yourself’.

My friend again:’The more I engaged with the staff and guests; the more I walked through the beautiful tranquil spiritual grounds, where the cave used for meditation by Buddhist monks for 300 years sat, and walked amongst the stunning estate plantation and lotus ponds surrounded by the boulders incorporated into the architecture, the more I understood their philosophy… it’s all about “reconnecting, living gently and becoming more aware of yourself and your surroundings”.’ 

Create space for a pause

Before World War II, John reminds me there were national and spiritual holidays that people respected. These were a chance to return to family, to stop and to take a pause in our lives. This does not happen in the same way now. With constant connections to everything through technology, people need to find a way to hit the pause button.

I absolutely loved my time at Kamalaya Wellness and I can already tell I will be one of those frequenters who returns again and again.

These nurturing Koh Samui environs, offer over forty therapy and treatment rooms, wellness classes and talks. The real enticement for me lies in finding the answer lies very simply within and by building the connection with self. The magic of Kamalaya is that it offers guests the space to pause and reconnect with themselves. 

My friends and I left feeling more at peace with the world. I am more inclined to come out from under the rock and embrace the boulders of life. 

Thank you, Kamalaya through the healing power of nature, you gave me the space to find order in my world. You turned strangers into friends, and all our meals were definitely feasts! I have come to accept the impermanence of life and I am ready to accept whatever the next months throw at me.

More can be found at:

Little Wandering Wren – Jenny is the content creator and chief explorer at Little Wandering Wren. She is both a Brit and an Aussie with her nest in Bangkok. She is constantly travelling and brings us her lighthearted, birds eye view of the world. Little Wandering Wren was a winner of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s International Blogger competition 2019.


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Let’s talk about plastic in the menstrual products we have been buying for so many years. You might be thinking that you read that wrong, we knew plastic is in our clothes and food but now we are learning that plastic is in our menstrual products. Gosh!! Why would anybody knowingly sell products that are damaging to our personal hygiene and to the planet. The answer to that will require another article on what corporate greed is doing to humanity and why we need to become more mindful consumers and start ensuring that there is traceability in the products we buy.

Coming back to our monthly red flow visits, did you know that most commercial pads available in the market have synthetic materials including plastics, adhesives, artificial fragrances, toxic chemicals like phthalates, dioxins and petrochemical additives. Some pads also contain chloroform which  is a carcinogen and acetone. Yuk!! When I started understanding how damaging commercial pads are to personal hygiene and the thought of millions of non biodegradable pads lying in landfills on Gods green earth literally made me have a meltdown. I was under the assumption that all pads are biodegradable. Furthermore, the average woman will use 15,000 disposable menstrual pads in her lifetime and it apparently takes more than 100 years for these pads to biodegrade. Luckily, there are various options available for eco conscious consumers today to ditch the synthetic pads and move towards plastic free menstruation.

When exploring safer plastic free alternatives, here are some things to consider.

Are the materials used biodegradable and safe

Is the packaging eco friendly

In my opinion as a writer who focuses on climate change issues, I constantly meet brands working towards creating products which mitigate climate change. I have learnt a few important things that I would like to share. The healthiest option for you and the planet will be pads made from organic and toxin free materials which have minimal packaging and are not single use. The use and throw culture has got to change so the best option is a menstrual cup, reusable pads and reusable underwear. All of these options prevent tons of plastic waste. Reusable pads and underwear are usually made from organic cotton and they are so much softer than the plastic pads. They also come in various sizes depending on your need. Menstrual cups made from silicone or rubber are gaining traction as an eco alternative to conventional tampons and I personally recommend this option because I find it extremely convenient. I made the switch more than a year back and it is one of the best decisions I have made towards a more conscious and mindful lifestyle.

These options might not suit everyone, if you are someone who chooses to use disposable pads, the best option is to find brands which are making non plastic biodegradable pads. Fortunately, there are a few companies making pads from coconut fibre, banana fibre, bamboo fibre etc. which are 100% biodegradable. I have not personally come across any in Thailand but there are a few in India. I worked on a small project with an organisation in India which is educating women on the importance of plastic free menstruation. I learnt about a few different biodegradable pads which are safe for human use from them. I was very impressed to see the work the organisation is doing at the grass root level to educate women and to eradicate plastic from menstrual products.

Have you already started your journey towards plastic free menstruation? What are the issues which are holding you back? I would love to hear from you and answer your questions. For more queries, kindly get in touch with me @[email protected] and I will answer all your questions and hopefully we can all collectively ensure that we can eradicate plastic from menstrual products and move towards a plastic free menstruation.

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  1. Skip breakfast

Most people skip their breakfast because they don’t have time to prepare their meals. They might even say I’m “fasting” just another excuse of I don’t have time to eat in the morning so I start eating my first meal at lunch which might lead to sluggish metabolism over time. I don’t have anything against fasting, I used to do fasting. But most people only have 2 meals a day (not having enough nutrients) and call it fasting.

We’re all busy I get it but if your goal is weight loss and fat loss then you better start having breakfast! What’s more, eating one piece of fruit or processed fare like packaged muffins won’t keep you full until lunch, which has a ripple effect on how well you function. “When my clients eat a more satisfying breakfast, they’re more energetic, less irritable and more productive.” Aim for 20-30 grams of protein by including options like cottage cheese or hard boiled eggs.

  1. Lacking magnesium

Weight loss isn’t just about diet and exercise, and you’ve likely heard about how sleep is essential for a healthy weight. Skimping on sleep increases your hunger hormones, and you may find you reach for a sugary snack as a pick-me-up more often. 

Of course stopping the pre-bed social media scroll is important, but you probably also haven’t considered how your magnesium levels play a role in shut eye. “Most people do not consume an adequate amount of the mineral, and this can interfere with proper sleep,” Try adding almondstofu and leafy greens to your diet. Or you might consider taking magnesium supplements. When I was training hard and I found myself having trouble sleeping I took Magnesium Glycinate it helped me fall asleep better.

  1. Having a “bad food” mentality

What if I told you there’s no “good” or “bad” food? Food gives you energy, different food gives you different nutrients therefore you should get a variety of food. Having a piece of Oreo cookie dipped in milk isn’t the end of the world. If you’re being good 80% of the time (have a balanced diet) then you can leave the 20% for some fun (enjoy your chocolate cake guilt free).

  1. Exercising only to burn calories

Some girls I’ve talked with confess that they use exercise as a punishment. When they eat a lot the next day, they kill themselves at the gym, was hoping to burn those calories they consumed. You need to shift your mindset and think of exercise as part of your healthy lifestyle. You eat, shower, sleep and exercise. 

  1. Eat the same food every day

Going on a diet shouldn’t be boring and you shouldn’t have to eat the same food every day, obviously not chicken and broccoli if you want to lose weight! There are many varieties of food out there. You can steam, grill, or bake the chicken or fish. You can add different spices to enhance the flavour. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be plain and tasteless. You should be happy when you eat or have food.

  1. Not eating enough

I can say if you’ve been going on a diet for a while trying to lose weight but you haven’t seen any result, I bet you don’t eat enough! That’s right you heard me, most girls are not eating enough because they’re scared to gain fat. If there’s not enough food or water in our body, the metabolism slows down.

Our body is so smart, it has been designed to survive in any circumstances. However they don’t have a clue that you only eat little because you want to lose weight. They think I don’t have enough resources for me to function well so I’m going to slow down or might even shut down. So now it doesn’t matter what you eat it’s not going to burn that calorie because it gets used to the very little food in the system.

  1. Not tracking your intake

“Making sure you’re eating in a slight caloric deficit is important for weight loss,”. While you don’t need to button up so much that you’re eating too little, you’re also going to want to reduce the excess fluff. To find what that might be, you should track your food, at least in the beginning. “It can be easy to forget about what we ate previously and make it harder to pinpoint what’s preventing you from reaching your goals,”. My favourite free app is MyFitnessPal.

  1. Setting unrealistic goals

While what you’re eating matters, it’s not the only piece of the equation. “Other factors can affect how our body utilises, burns and stores calories or energy,”. Those include metabolism, age, geneticsstress and hormones, and “can also play a role in being able to get past a certain point on the scale.” Meaning: Just because you choose a certain number does not mean it’s a goal weight that may be attainable, comfortable or sustaining for you. While that may seem like a downer at the outset, it’s actually incredibly freeing. A realistic goal is achievable, makes you feel good and is one you can maintain for the long term.

Do you really want a six pack abs? Or you just want to look good in a swimming suit? Because having six pack abs require hard work; strict dieting and exercise and if you’re a busy woman (not a fitness model) it might not suit your lifestyle.

  1. Ignoring your stress level

For many of us, responding to stress means reaching for comfort foods while watching Netflix. While doing so is perfectly fine on occasion, it’s important to have healthy, non-food-related outlets for reducing stress. “Stress can negatively affect metabolism and get in the way of reaching weight or fitness goals,”. Helpful ways to mitigate stress include meditation, taking a walk outdoors, or reading a good book.

  1. Gut health

Happy gut, happy you. Gut health refers to the balance of microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. Looking after the health of the gut and maintaining the right balance of these microorganisms is vital for physical and mental health, immunity, and more.

These bacteria, yeasts, and viruses – of which there are around 100 trillion – are also called the “gut microbiome” or “gut flora.” One way to look after your gut is to take probiotics and eat fermented foods. 

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How to check your breasts

When you are checking your breasts, look at the size and shape of each breast and check for any lumps. Make sure you check your nipples and the skin on your breasts. Check each area for any pain when you are touching them, too. You might notice that your breasts feel different at different times in the month; it’s a good idea to become familiar with what’s normal for you during these times, so you can spot anything unusual.

What to look out for

• A change in the size or shape of your breast

• A change in the look or feel of your skin

• A new lump, thickening or bumpy area in one breast or armpit 

• Discharge or bleeding from your nipple

• Any new discomfort or pain in one breast that does not go away. 

How often should I be checking my breasts?

Try to get into the habit of checking your breasts regularly – as a general guide, aim for at least once a month. Find a suitable time that works for you; perhaps it’s after you have had a bath, when you are getting dressed or when you’re settling down for the evening. What is also important that you are aware of what’s normal for you and your body. You should be mindful that your breasts will change during your monthly cycle, pregnancy and menopause.

How early should you start checking for lumps?

Whilst there’s no specific age you should start checking your breasts, checking them from an early age will help you to become more aware of how they usually look and feel, and to help you spot any changes. If you’re over 50, you will be invited for a breast screening (mammogram). You are offered this screening every three years until you are 70. You should still be checking your breasts regularly – a breast screening shouldn’t replace your regular breast checks.

What should you do if you find a lump?

If you notice a lump in your breast, it is really important to get this checked by your doctor. A lump or change to the feel or appearance of your breasts should never be ignored. Whilst it may not be anything serious, it can help put your mind at ease to speak to your doctor about any changes you spot.

Are there any breast abnormalities to look out for that may not be cancer?

Your breasts will change naturally each month and as you get older, and they may feel tender, heavy or lumpy at the end of your monthly cycle. These changes should normalise once your period starts. It is easier to check your breasts regularly outside of your monthly cycle. If you are pregnant, your breasts will change while your baby is developing to get ready for breastfeeding, which means they may get bigger and feel sore and tender. When you reach the menopause, the amount of glandular tissue in your breasts reduces, because of the changes to your hormones. This can make your breasts feel different, and some women find they are softer and less firm. It’s really important that when you’re checking your breasts (make sure you’re checking the whole of your breast area), you are looking for any changes that feel different for you. It is best to speak to your GP about anything you are feeling unsure, worried or anxious about – as they’ll be able to help you.

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A conference was held at Shangri-La Hotel Chiang Mai, which was themed “Rape and Sexual Assault Survivor Handling Conference”. The conference was supported by the British Embassy Bangkok and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) UK partner, Glasgow & Clyde Rape Crisis Centre.

Thailand is a popular international tourist destination which like any country experiences some incidents involving tourists. This conference was held to highlight problems and disseminate solutions and best practices for the many agencies involved in assisting victims. The focus of the conference, was on rape and sexual assault and how the police, Tourist Assistance Authority, medical staff, consulate staff or counsellor’s respond to victims.

The British Embassy announced that over the past few years there had been over 40 cases of rape of UK nationals in Thailand reported to the Bangkok Embassy, averaging around 15 cases per year. According to The Crime Survey for England and Wales, 83% of rape victims do not report their rape, which means the actual number must be much higher.

The Embassy stressed that Thailand is still a safe destination to travel. According to Derek Johnstone, Vice Consul at British Embassy Bangkok, “The British embassy does not want to portray Thailand as a dangerous country to visit, but that there are victims of crime in all countries, not only in Thailand. The important thing is working with the host country to ensure that any victims are treated sensitively”.

This has meant that the Embassy has had to deal with an increasing number of incidents which has led it to focus on two things; that of informing British tourists of safety and prevention measures as well as taking care of survivors.

Chiang Mai was the first city in Thailand to launch an initiative establishing structured procedures to support travellers in collaboration with multiple local agencies. As more stakeholders join the expanding network, it is crucial for the collaboration to be efficient and effective. The Embassy is acting as the centre for such collaboration between the US Consulate General, the Tourist Assistance Centre (TAC), police and hospital One-Stop Crisis Centre (OSCC).

The conference, Rape and Sexual Assault Survivors Handling was aimed at educating those agencies as to how to treat survivors in appropriate ways to avoid unnecessary trauma. First responders to rape incidents were told that the most important thing to establish upon contact with a rape survivor was their physical safety and wellbeing. They should not bombard victims with questions which may confuse them and if the victim was injured physically or mentally it was important to offer them a safe shelter and create some distance between the survivor and perpetrator and for officers to make them feel secure. Most survivors do not know what to do or how to react following the incident and they can be very unstable emotionally. No added stress must be put on them and questions and comments should be kept simple, such as, “Just take your time; there is no need for you to tell me anything you do not feel comfortable with,” or “Sounds as though you have been through a really tough time”. Here in Chiang Mai, the tourist police tend to be the first responders, and it was important that that there were female officers and interpreters present so as not to intimidate or scare the victim. Counsellors should also be provided as soon as possible. 

The British Embassy is highly committed to this issue and conducts has conducted training sessions with the U.S. Embassy, Australian Embassy and New Zealand Embassy in Bangkok. This week it has also held training sessions in for staff in various provinces across Thailand, especially those which receive high numbers of tourists such as Pattaya and Phuket.

At the end of the conference, Vice Consul Derek Johnstone said, “The next phase is to conduct more training sessions with multiple agencies across the country “.

Background: 1 million British tourists travel to Thailand each year and over sixty thousand live as expatriates on a long term basis. The consular team in Bangkok responds to over 1500 consular cases per year. Between June 2016 and June 2019 the Consular Section Bangkok assisted 40 survivors of rape and sexual assault. This is 4.2% of global cases (962) for the same period. Consideration should also be given to the number of survivors of rape who do not inform either the Police or the British Embassy about their attacks. The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) which records the propensity of survivors to report such crimes showed that around 83% did not report their experiences to the police. (U.K. Embassy in Bangkok)

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STDs can affect people from all ethnicities, races and ages, but adolescents and young people are the most impacted. Estimates suggest that even though youth make up only 25t% of the sexually active population, nearly half of all STD cases occur in people aged 15 to 24.

It is important that people in this age group receive comprehensive preventative care to ensure that they are well educated on the transmission of these diseases, how to prevent them, testing and treatment. However, there are factors like stigma and lack of access to information or services that can prevent young adults from getting the help and information they need to make sure that they have good sexual health. Providers and services need to be open about talking about these subjects and initiating the conversation about having healthy sexual interactions. 

Getting tested for STDs and STIs are one of the most important tools for prevention and treatment. Early detection is a key aspect of being tested as many STDs have no early symptoms, yet they can cause major problems in the future such as infertility and early treatment. Getting treatment early on can help minimise those effects. 

Sexually transmitted diseases/infections can be spread through contact with any body fluids: blood, semen, saliva (only for herpes). They can also spread through contact with infected skin, like sores in the mouth. The exposure to infected skin and body fluids is increased when sexually active. Illicit drug use can also spread STIs, due to sharing needles. 

Unprotected sex, multiple sex partners and illicit drug use as well as poor awareness on sexual health increase the risk of STDs. However, STDs are treatable and curable. Being conscious of the 5 Ps and awareness on sexual health can prevent these diseases, leading to a happier and healthier life. 

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