Dump the Midday Slump this #NutritionMonth

March 25th, 2015 2 Comments

Yes folks, by now you are well aware that March is national Nutrition Month. I have been featuring Dietitians of Canada’s theme: eating well at work ‘Eating 9 to 5!’ This week’s focus is that afternoon fading ebb – the midday slump. Humanoids can only handle so much work, stress and screen time. It helps to plan ways to dump that midday slump, so read on!

1. Midday slump setting in? No need for caffeine! Get back up with energy-boosting habits.

Try these three healthy habits to help yourself skip the slump:

  • Move it! Stand up during phone calls, walk to deliver messages instead of emailing, or do a few stretches at your desk.
  • Grab a small snack. If you’re hungry, have a snack with carbs to fuel your brain and protein for longer-lasting energy. Dip carrot sticks in nut butter, or enjoy cottage cheese with fruit.
  • Drink water. Staying hydrated helps you avoid that sleepy feeling. Add cucumber, lemon and mint to perk up your cup. Replenish often so you can keep on sipping before a slump sets in.
  • Thirsty? Some sweet drinks are more like dessert. Swap your sip!

2. Did you know? There’s a big difference between a snack and a treat. Snack smart!

Snacking is on the rise in Canada. We’re typically twice-a-day snackers, with more than 34% of Canadians reaching for afternoon snacks to bridge the hunger gap.

Snacking can be healthy if you’re hungry between meals; however, there’s a difference between a treat and a snack. Treats, such as cookies, chips or chocolate, are low in nutrients and best saved for occasional enjoyment.

Dietitians recommend smart snacking! Choose small portions of nutrient-rich foods to stay energized and satisfied. Nutritious snacks include a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts, whole grain crackers with cheese, yogurt with granola, or veggies with hummus.

3. Give your brain a boost with dietitians’ top 10 smart snacks to pack in your lunch bag.
Smart snacks are rich in nutrients, with carbohydrates to fuel your brain, fibre to fill you up and protein to help energy last longer. Pack these top 10 dietitian-recommended snacks in your lunch bag:

1. Whole grain crackers with a hard-boiled egg

2. Handful of grapes with a chunk of cheese

3. Veggie sticks with hummus

4. Apple slices with almond butter

5. Fresh fruit added to yogurt

6. Handful of nuts with dried fruit

7. Edamame and mint-infused water

8. Snap peas with black bean dip

9. Banana with peanut butter

10. Crunchy roasted lentils and green tea

4. Here’s the bitter truth about the sugar content of popular sweet drinks:

  • A large (473 mL) specialty coffee with syrup and whipped cream has the equivalent of 17 sugar cubes.
  • A large (541 mL) fast-food smoothie made with juice concentrate has as much sugar as 20 cream-filled chocolate cookies.
  • A big (500 mL) sweetened bubble tea has the same amount of sugar as two cans of pop.
  • A large (563 mL) coffee shop “double-double” has the same calories and more sugar than a chocolate glazed donut.

Swap your sweet sips for water, small smoothies made with fruit or plain lattes, tea or coffee.

Adapted from The Dietitians of Canada’s Nutrition Month Campaign Materials. Find more information about Nutrition Month at www.nutritionmonth2015.ca.

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Loving Lunch a Bunch this #NutritionMonth

March 18th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve been following the Dietitians of Canada theme of eating well at work as we sing along ‘Eating 9 to 5!’ throughout March, which is Nutrition Month. Statistics show that some love it and some leave it – 37% of Canadians say they prepare lunch at home while 36% admit to skipping it – good grief. If you want any hope to charge through the afternoon it’s a good idea to plug in your battery with nutrient rich choices. You don’t want to end up like Dilbert and be asleep in your cubicle in the afternoon, do you?

Here are top tips to help you get good grub in your tummy at lunch to revitalize your workday:

1. Give your lunch bag a one-two punch! Perk up your packed lunch with four tasty energizing options.

You’ll love these quick, simple and tasty make-and-take lunches:

  • Layer black bean dip, avocado and peppery arugula on a rustic whole-grain baguette for a simple sandwich with big flavour.
  • Pack hard-boiled eggs, cheese, fresh veggies, a few olives and whole-grain crackers for a super snack-like lunch.
  • Mix lentils, roasted sweet potato and red peppers, quinoa and a drizzle of lemony dressing for a protein-packed salad bowl.
  • Toss light tuna, snow peas and grape tomatoes with leftover whole grain pasta, basil-filled pesto and a pinch of chili flakes – this dish is great cold or heated.

2. Lunching at work? Think outside the cubicle. Start a healthy lunch club.

Want a healthy homemade lunch at work but don’t have time to make it? Form a lunch club with co-workers and take turns making and bringing a nutritious lunch.

Keep it simple with a salad, soup or sandwich club. You could also have fun with weekly themes, like cuisine from different cultures or dishes featuring specific nutrient-rich ingredients, such as legumes, cheese, barley or colourful vegetables.

Whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly, a workplace lunch club lets you enjoy a healthy homemade lunch and share good eating habits with your colleagues.

3. No time to pack lunch? Navigate the food court or cafeteria with dietitian-approved tips.

I spy with my little eye something that is healthier:

  • Want salad satisfaction? Choose dark leafy greens, colourful veggies, protein-packed legumes (beans, peas and lentils) and whole grains such as barley or quinoa. Drizzle dressing lightly.
  • Love pizza? Get a thin whole grain crust, load on the veggie toppings, stick to a single layer of cheese and steer clear of salty, high-fat meats.
  • Craving a sandwich? Choose whole grain bread. Double up on veggies. Skip deli meats – go grilled instead. Get spreads on the side and use just a little.
  • Satisfied by stir-fries? Ask for extra veggies and less sauce with your chicken, tofu or shrimp stir-fry. Choose brown rice instead of white.

4. Eating out at work? Make better choices with expert tips from dietitians.

Keep dietitians’ tried-and-true tips in mind when you’re eating out:

  • Downsize it. Ask for half-portions or save part of your meal for tomorrow’s lunch.
  • Choose steamed – or baked, broiled, grilled or roasted – instead of fried.
  • Double up on veggies. Choose leafy green salads or cooked veggies for sides. Pile veggies on your wrap, pizza or burger.
  • Don’t get too saucy! Salad dressings, spreads and sauces can add a lot of fat, calories and sodium. Get them on the side and use just enough for flavour.

Adapted from The Dietitians of Canada’s Nutrition Month Campaign Materials. Find more information about Nutrition Month at www.nutritionmonth2015.ca.

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Manage the Minefields at Work this #NutritionMonth

March 11th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

Yes folks, March is national Nutrition Month and I will be featuring the theme of eating well at work ‘Eating 9 to 5!’ throughout. I’m focusing on meetings, events and the workplace this week. Pat Benetar sings that Love is a Battlefield well her sequel to that should be Work is a Minefield! Depending on the day, there could be food traps galore, stress on stress with a side order of stress, not to mention peer pressure to nosh along with the in crowd… oh boy are we celebrating another birthday? What gives!!

Dietitians of Canada has you covered with a wide array of solutions to your common workplace food challenges:

1. Did you know? In a company of 100 staff, celebrating each birthday adds eight slices of cake a month!

Work events focused on food may be causing you to overeat. That’s because eating with others can influence what and how much you eat. You might feel pressure to eat to fit in with your peers or find it tough to resist treats.

Try these tips to avoid workplace food traps:

  • Celebrate everyone’s birthday together once a month.
  • Skip sweets at events. Enjoy fresh fruit platters instead.
  • Don’t offer food at meetings. If you do, order better choices.
  • Opt out of Friday fast-food lunches. Brown bag it, then walk ’n’ talk after you eat.

2. Manage workplace munchies with Mother Nature’s candy dish – a big bowl of fresh fruit.

Is a workplace candy dish tempting you to eat too many sweet treats? Research shows that when treat-type foods are close by at work, you’re more likely to nibble.

Trying to resist those treats can be distracting, leading to less productive work time.

Here’s a sweet idea: keep workplace common areas free of treats. Instead, put out a fresh fruit bowl. Keep it free, charge a small fee or take turns filling the bowl with a variety of fruit.

3. Get the most out of your meetings. Order brain food, not drain food!

Next time you’re planning a meeting that’s scheduled over a mealtime, order food that will help keep attendees focused and productive:

  • Put pitchers of plain water on the table to quench thirst, boost hydration and keep workers alert.
  • Keep lunch light with salads and wraps filled with veggies and protein such as chicken, cheese, eggs or legumes (beans, peas or lentils).
  • Replace sweet desserts; offer fresh fruit or small portions of nutrient-rich snacks such as yogurt or whole grain mini muffins.
  • Be sure to schedule an activity break to keep everyone energized.

4. Is workplace stress eating away at you? Don’t feed your feelings with food!

If you reach for a sweet treat when you’re stressed at work, you’re not alone. Studies show that stress increases the desire to eat for some people. High-fat, sugary snacks are common comfort foods chosen to cope with stress.

The next time you’re stressed at work and craving a treat, ask yourself: am I hungry? If the craving comes from stress rather than hunger, food won’t satisfy it. If eating to deal with stress becomes a habit, it could be bad for your waistline. Don’t let food be your comfort.

5. Want a career path advantage? Add healthy eating to your to-do list!

Eating well at work can boost your concentration, productivity and vitality. It can also reduce missed days of work by helping to boost your overall health. Fuel your workday the healthy way with these five helpful tips:

  • Bring lunch from home so you don’t have to eat out.
  • Take a break away from your desk to enjoy your lunch.
  • Reduce boredom or stress by taking a brisk walk instead of nibbling.
  • Pack smart snacks so you can skip the vending machine’s sugary and salty treats.
  • Hydrate with water instead of caffeinated drinks.

Adapted from The Dietitians of Canada’s Nutrition Month Campaign Materials. Find more information about Nutrition Month at www.nutritionmonth2015.ca.

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Crush the Morning Rush this #NutritionMonth!

March 4th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , ,

Well folks, the calendar page has turned yet again. What do you know, it’s March already and March is nutrition month! This year Dietitians of Canada is featuring ways to eat well at work, focusing on ‘Eating 9 to 5!’ Sing along with me during the month, won’t you?!

An Ipsos Reid poll they conducted showed 45% of people find it challenging to eat well at work. Well that’s no surprise. For many, most of weekday waking hours are spent at work. It makes so much sense to extend our healthy eating goals and efforts from home into the workplace.

This week I’m focusing on rushed mornings. “How did that “snooze” button get pushed yet again?” you ask. We all live in the era of the “time crunch” but it feels like we’re hit hardest as we roll out of bed. Decisions, decisions, decisions galore as we wipe the sleepies out of our eyes to put our best face forward and take on the day. I don’t know about you, but easing up on morning stress is how I prefer to start my day. Missing breakfast isn’t an option in my home, so I get it ready the night before.

When you decide and prepare for breakfasts whether on weekends or each evening, that’s one less decision to make in the morning. It’s already decided! Fast and easy is another rule of the day.

Beat morning mayhem and eat well all day long with these helpful tips from Dietitians of Canada for prepping meals and snacks the night before:

  • Put dinner leftovers into containers and refrigerate for tomorrow’s lunch.
  • Portion and pack lunchbox snacks, such as fruit, vegetables with hummus, or roasted nuts.
  • Fill up and refrigerate your reusable water bottle for sipping at work.
  • Prep breakfast: wash and chop fruit, get out the breakfast dishes and set up the coffee maker.
  • Get ready for tomorrow night’s dinner. Cut veggies, cook grains and marinate meat.

Here are more top tips from Dietitians of Canada so you can drive by the drive thru:

  • Make barley, quinoa or oat porridge and refrigerate in portions. Reheat with mix-ins, such as fruit and seeds, in the morning.
  • Bake and freeze whole grain muffins, pancakes and mini frittatas.
  • Stock up on ready-to-eat items such as fruit and containers of yogurt, and pack individual portions of trail mix to grab ’n’ go.
  • Mix up some muesli with toasted oats, dates, coconut and almonds to enjoy with fruit and yogurt.
  • Make hard-boiled eggs for breakfast on the run. Refrigerate for up to one week.

For tasty make-ahead recipes, visit Cookspiration – that popular app.

Start the day off right by having a fast, easy and balanced breakfast to get you through the morning.

Adapted from The Dietitians of Canada’s Nutrition Month Campaign Materials. Find more information about Nutrition Month at www.nutritionmonth2015.ca

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Treat Your Body Right, Build a Healthy Lifestyle

February 25th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

When you’re in good health it’s easy to take it for granted. That ability to take on the day like a bull fighter is great. When you’re totally on your game it’s a snap to add more “to-do’s” to your day because you have the time and zest to do them. You embrace your day effortlessly with vim and vigour.

Take a few weeks ago; I joined a special someone on a business trip to Geneva. My down time was spent taking long walks in the old town, along the serene Lake Geneva looking for Shania Twain, meandering near the United Nations building and more. Each evening was spent taking another stroll to and from dinner, not giving walking an extra few miles a second thought. We probably clocked 7 to 11 miles each day to’ing and fro’ing.

Coming home on the plane I sat near a fellow who coughed the entire flight. I was doomed. The next day I succumbed to this year’s flu bug, UG. I truly can’t remember the last time I was so sick. You know the score, high fever, achy muscles, a splitting head ache and left with little energy even to sip water. I turned from a free spirit who could walk 10 miles in a day to a shut in who was winded after shuffling 10 steps, what gives!

It got me thinking about what a blessing good health truly is. During one of my usual daily Twittersphere scans I read a brash tweet that read “I know what’s good for my health and choose NOT to do it.” Hmmmm, I thought how strange it is to deliberately do the opposite of what’s good for me. As I recuperated that week how good it felt to do things that made me feel better. As I tend to say, “don’t mess with the machine!

It was wonderful to regain my energy to bundle up and head out for a daily walk again. It felt great to unravel my mat to bend and stretch and reach for the stars. I also listened attentively to my body’s cues for the whole foods it craved to help whip my systems back into shape – one day I yearned for homemade apple sauce; another homemade soup; then to eggs and toast; to fresh berries and plain Greek-style yogurt. I knew I was really coming around when I pined for ribs!

Establishing a healthy lifestyle is the best gift you can give yourself. Having it helps you be the best you can absolutely be. Your body truly is your temple, so treat it right!

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Shades of Grey 5 MORE Ways

February 18th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

Thought I’d follow that “shades of grey” theme from last week. There certainly are a multitude of grey zone issues in the realm of food and nutrition. I thought I’d feature a few more for you to digest!

Test, Test, Put Your Favourite Food to My Eating Satisfaction Test - Gotta love a test involving savouring your most favourite food, right? I used to be in love with anything deep fried, salted that went CRUNCH, until I put it to this test and it fell off my favourite food list. Go figure! My love of pie however, has endured…

Thoughts on Healthy – Everyone who eats is a self promoted nutrition expert, it would seem. From, “Eat your carrots!” to “Don’t let Timbits touch your lips!” and more. What’s my favourite line of singer Barry White “…too much of anything’s not good for you baby….” Right on Barry!

Weighing in on “Full” – Why is it that fullness and satiety are so elusive and ever changing? Here are some tips to help you get more satisfaction with less which’ll bring you double the joy AND more eating enjoyment!

Grey Matter Matters! – This is less about grey zone and  more about grey matter…I write on about eating well and getting fit, but alas I have spent too little time writing about ways to nurture your noodle – your bountiful brain. Grey matter should be top of mind!

What’s the best diet out there? – This is “greyist” question of them all! What can I say in short: own it, stick with science, don’t mess with the machine, follow the loser and enjoy the journey!

So there you have it folks, another smattering of grey zone food and nutrition issues to mull over as February rolls on. Anyone can manage in the absolutes of black and white, but the grey zone is where real complexities lie.
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Shades of Grey 5 Ways

February 11th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

We live in a world filled with shades of grey. I assume you can create your own steamy 50 Shades of Grey sequel for Valentine’s without advice from this square RD! It is good, however, to learn to manage life in the grey zone on many fronts. The world of food and nutrition is no different, there are numerous “grey zone” issues to make sense of. So here you go a compilation of food and nutrition grey zone issues. Some food for thought to help build your love affair with food and activity. Enjoy!

Thinking of trying a diet? Put it to my Thanksgiving Dinner Test - Want to know what I think of any diet plan you’re contemplating? Put it through my simple test to see if it passes, if it doesn’t don’t give it another thought. Save your effort and money.

What’s so super about “super food” you ask? – What’s the “food jag du jour”? Is quinoa still in or is it barley? Should I awash myself with droplets of hallowed vitamin water…drip, drop, drip? Does an apple a day still keep the doctor away? Let’s get to the bottom of what’s really super, shall we!

Enjoy Maxing Out Nutrient Richness – Get real with your food. Now is a perfect time to up the natural nutrient richness in your diet. Calorie counting is SOOOO yesterday. Put the abacus away already! Fill yourself up with natural goodness containing more nutrients. Your body will smile back at you when you do!

Keeping Your Activity Routine Flexible – So much has been written about staying limber. Even more needs to written on how to keep our activity routines fluid and flexible to help us keep active every season, on busy work days, on fun holidays, when the sun’s shining or when snow is pelting. I know one thing for sure, KEEP MOVING and while you’re at it, make it a double (2 times a day!)

Grey Zone on Bad Food, Good Food & Piglets - One of my readers outed her “ice cream lovin’” Dad a while back. So I tried to set the record straight. Now I have a regular reader, guess which one?

So there you have it folks, a smattering of grey zone food and nutrition issues to mull over during this month that’s been very grey of late. There is beauty in grey, so embrace it. Once you learn to manage in that zone, you’ll know how to spot garbage when you read it and will be sailing right along…upward and onward ho!
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How are your goals taking shape?

February 4th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

Well, well, well, the calendar page has turned to February already. So how are your goals taking shape now that we’re well into 2015? If you were planning to make some significant changes in your regime this year and have slipped up a bit, don’t lose heart; that’s part of the journey to a healthier you. Let’s review, reflect and reframe!

Journalling Journey – Have you considered starting journalling your eating and activity journey this New Year? As you get into the groove of jotting details in a journal you will begin to uncover your eating and activity finger print. If your one major goal for 2015 is to create a love affair with eating and activity then let it all hang out in your journal. After all it’s for your eyes only. Let’s get to the bottom of what’s been holding you back. It doesn’t need to be January 1st to start, every day is a perfect day to make a goal or two. Press the “start” button today!

3 x 3 Triad to Success – I wrote about working on changing 3 habits x 3 weeks starting with the easiest ones first. How’s that going? Beginning with the easiest behaviours to master first is a brilliant way to get your motivation soaring, even if you haven’t totally bought in to all of this yet. Don’t take any shortcuts and stick out each 3-week interval to ensure you fully adopt new positive habits. If you need more time, take it. If you want to only work on 1 new behaviour at a time, then go for it!

Focus on Behaviour, Not Food – I love encouraging people to focus on non-food goals, allowing all food to fit. I’m a food loving Italian after all, remember? This will get you focusing on your eating experience more completely and in time will help you lose the guilt of eating your favourite foods. You’ll even enjoy your food more. This approach is essential if you truly want to love your food more. We can all use more love in our lives, keep at it!

Getting to Love Your Moves – I also want you to build a loving relationship with your activity too. Some people have sour memories of being picked last for dodge ball in gym and hate the thought of being humiliated when doing sports and exercise. I get it! I want you to take the pressure off, no Lululemons needed for you. Work on healthy and stealthy “interval training” by finding 15 minute intervals to begin your personal “movement movement”. In time you will build up the number of intervals you do each day because you’re feeling good and your body is yearning for it. No need to get ahead of yourself at this point, but let’s press the re-start button and lose the old adage of “no pain, no gain”. Who needs more pain? No one, that’s who!

Stoke Motivation with Rewards & New Habits – Whether you’re aiming to lose weight or get more fit this year let’s use a positive approach. Working in ways to get and stay motivated is worth your time and effort and everyone around you will be happier too! Have you started that endorphin diet too? Help make yourself happier every day by flooding your senses and staying pumped.

There you have it folks, here’s a positive beginning to your year without restrictions and pressure. Find out more details in my ebook Skinny on Slim, The Little Black Dress of Diet Books and let’s keep the momentum soaring!

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Go “Bowling” on Superbowl Sunday!

January 30th, 2015 No Comments

Are you making plans for a Superbowl party? Gone are the days you drown your face in a bowl of nachos, nay nay I say! Try a flash-in-the-pan veggie pizza pie. Then go super bowling with a salad bowl full of flavour, crunch and punch! Check out these ideas to make your party EXTRA super:

Root for Arugula – Do you love a win that’s bitter, sweet? Turn over a new leaf and sub in some arugula in your super bowl. Add fruit to cut the edge and nuts for that SNAP crunch.

Superbowl Escarole & Pepper - Add some cut up pepper to your escarole and eensy bits of spicy hot salami for an extra kick for that 3-point play.

Long Bomb Cucumber, Fennel - Try this switch up of your greens with delightful ricotta. It will surely please your palate.

Hail Mary Staple Salad – Don’t want to fuss too much about putting something super in your bowl? You’ll be thankful for this flex idea. Use whatever you have on hand like the Tazmanian Devil on Bugs Bunny and serve it up with your pizza pie for a touchdown!

Franny’s Flash in the Pan Pizza Pie - My oh my, gotta love a fast and delish dish of pizza pie! This recipe is a hit when you don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen. Give it a try.

Gotta love lounging and watching the Superbowl. Who wants to spend half the day in the kitchen? Not me! The best part of the game is turning up the volume to the half time show, that’s when the game really begins right Katy? Get up off the couch and work in your activity routine as you lead some cheers before the 3rd quarter!

Who’s going to clinch it? It might be the year of the goat, but maybe it’s the year of the Seahawk, again!

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Endorphins: Mother Nature’s Blue Monday Boost

January 26th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

I have been doing quite a bit of blogging about ways to get and stay motivated this fine January. Many people take on the New Year and make a list of “what NOT to do from this day forward”. I say we should fill up our life and find ways to boost our motivation and spirits daily even on the coldest, cloudiest day. They say that the last Monday in January is the bleakest of the year. Say what? Time to tune your attitude in and work in ways to feel good, naturally.

We may live in a material world, but you can rely on the deep mysteries of your own body to lift your spirits. A special secret lies in the realities of endorphins, ahhh. It’s touted as the brain’s “feel good” chemical. Why not find ways to release more every day of the year? Flood your senses and listen UP!

Say Ommmmmm – Meditation and controlled breathing can help give you an endorphin lift. Visualize you at your goal weight and take the pressure off by taking it down a notch while relieving stress.

Unleash Your Giggler – Hearty belly laughs are an automatic joy lifter too. Look on the bright side and stop taking life so seriously. Turn that frown upside down while turning on the Comedy Channel!

Get Spicy – Hot chilli peppers added to your food can trigger a release. Sprinkle some on your eggs, pasta or stir fry and get all steamy with it as your endorphin elixir. Check out my Nan’s Arrabiatta recipe to spice it up a notch!

Turn On the Tunes – Crank up your favourite tunes and your spirits will lift as well. I love the motivation/pop music setting on Sonza as my mid-day picker upper. Check it out and work it into your routine, la la la la la la ba da ahhh.

Vamoose Your Caboose – Exercise and activity provide a whole lot of benefits on this front which can provide that “runner’s high”, decrease stress, ward off depression, boost self esteem while improving sleep to name a few of the many benefits. Make your interval training be comprised of moves you enjoy. Get outside and play!

Now here’s a spoiler alert that good lovin’, chocolate and light alcohol all boost your endorphins too. These can be enjoyed as a Valentine trifecta, which is right around the corner! Flood your senses!

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